Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, May 9, 2013 (Ascension Day)

Prayer Psalm: 24

Prayer Point.  “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” Who can make such a claim? Only Jesus can. We would have no hope of entering God’s city without Jesus. He is the King who entered the gates of Jerusalem and offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Thank God for opening the door to know and enjoy him through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Matthew 28:12-20

Background. You can imagine how distressing the news of Jesus’ resurrection was to his enemies.  Here, and in the book of Acts which continues the story of Jesus through the lives of his disciples, the chief priests will desperately try to stop the spread of Jesus’ message.  In today’s reading, we see why all attempts to stop Jesus and the advancement of his kingdom are futile.

Today’s reading are some of Jesus’ final words of his earthly ministry. He will ascend into heaven and leave his disciples on earth to continue his mission.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the chief priests attempted to contain the “damage” of Jesus’ resurrection.
  • The mission that the risen Jesus gives to his disciples now that he has received “all authority in heaven and on earth.” Considering that the main verb in verse twenty is “make disciples”, how were Jesus’ disciples commanded to make new disciples of Jesus?
  • What Jesus promises his disciples even though he is returning to his Father.  See also Acts 1:8 and 2:1-4.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Hebrews 2:5-18

Background. The book of Hebrews is written to a group of Jewish followers of Jesus who are undergoing persecution and considering giving up their faith and returning to the safety of the Judaism of their childhood.  The book’s central theme is to exalt Christ and remind these suffering Christians what Christ accomplished for them on the cross so that they might have the strength to hang on.

The author will make his case by appealing to the Old Testament and demonstrate from the Scriptures they grew up with that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes and dreams. Verses six through eight quote Psalm 8.  Psalm 22:22 appears in verse twelve and Isaiah 8 is referenced in verse thirteen.

Pay close attention to …

  • Jesus’ (the Son of Man) authority despite being “made a little lower than the angels”.
  • How Jesus was made perfect (verse 10) and what his perfection accomplished for his people (Verse 11).
  • Why Jesus shared  in our humanity and what he means to accomplish in us (verses 14-15).
  • How Jesus’ earthly life uniquely qualifies him to serve as our merciful and faithful high priest. Note that priests represented the people before God and offered sacrifices on their behalf. A sacrifice of atonement was a sacrifice that turned away God’s wrath for our sins.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Ezekiel 1:1-14, 24-28

Background. Ezekiel is one of the most outstanding prophets of Judah during their captivity in Babylon.  The other is Daniel.  While Jeremiah was also a prophet at this time, his mission was to remain with those Judeans who were not carried off to the north.  He may even have been forced to remain behind.

Let’s get this out of the way early: what is being described here is not “a close encounter of the third kind” as popular folklore might have you believe.  The only thing I can say is that what is being described certainly is not terrestrial, but neither is it “alien” as we like to think of aliens.

There are some striking parallels in Ezekiel Chapter one and Revelation Chapter four — particularly as regards the nature of these beasts.  In no way could these be viewed as “friendly” from our perspective.  I’m sure they were quite terrifying.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the faces of these beasts were (v. 10 )*
  • The sound of their wings when the creatures moved (v. 24 )
  • The image above the expanse over their heads (v. 26 )
  • What was above even that (v. 26b )
  •  The rainbow (v. 28a )**

* “In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.  The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.  Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. …” (Revelation 4:6b-8a NIV)  This Ezekiel passage and this one from St. John sound very similar.

** “At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.  And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian.  A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne….” (Revelation 4:2-3 NIV)  Here we see the throne and one sitting on it and a rainbow: all mentioned by Ezekiel.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

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