Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, May 11, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 136

Prayer Point.  Why should God be thanked and praised? He is both our Creator and our Savior. Make this psalm your own by remembering the things that God has made that are precious to you and the times he rescued you and offer him your thanks.

Luke 9:37-50

Background. Most kingdoms advanced through the death and capture of their enemies, but Jesus’ kingdom expanded one healing at a time. Kingdoms of our world fight with swords, drones and armies, but Jesus’ fights with prayer.  In most kingdoms, the strong step on the weak, but Jesus imagines something different in his kingdom.

Jesus will use a child to illustrate the upside-down values of his kingdom.  Children were not revered as they are in our time and were largely regarded as the lowest of the low in his day.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why the disciples were unable to heal the demon-possessed boy.
  • The surprising fate of the Son of Man (Jesus the Messiah who is Israel’s long awaited liberator-king) and why the disciples could not understand it.
  • The argument that embroils the disciples and how it exposes their complete lack of understanding of Jesus and his kingdom.
  • Why the lowest of the low are to be loved and valued in the kingdom of God.

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 5:7-14

Background.  A priest is one who represents the people before God.  He offers sacrifices and prayers to God on their behalf.  Today’s reading describes two orders of priests that existed in the Old Testament.  The first were the descendents of Moses’ brother Aaron, who alone were chosen to serve as Israel’s priests. The second is the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek was the king of Salem, the city  which was later renamed Jerusalem. It was to Melchizedek that Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, brought a tenth of the spoils of war because he recognized him as God’s priest.  See Genesis 14:18-20 for more information about that story.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus’ earthly life qualified him to become our high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
  • What Jesus accomplishes for those who obey him.
  • Why the writer of Hebrews is unable to go deeper with his teaching (verses 11-14).

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 3:4-17

Background. As stated earlier, there were three major prophets in Judah at this time (Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel).  The very best of Judah had been re-located to Babylon and were told to resume their lives as though “normal”.  The LORD wanted the people to submit to his punishment in order to break their hearts of stone so that these hearts could be replaced with hearts of flesh desiring of God.  Over the years the prophets had warned the Jews that their disobedience of God’s law (especially those relating to the worship of false gods; disregard and contempt for the poor, the widow, and the orphan) would result in exile.  The LORD even told them just how long these unrepentant ones would be gone: seventy years.

One of the laws the people was to observe the sabbath of the land.  Sabbath of the land you say?  Yes.  “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused.  The poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave.  Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.” (Exodus 23:10-11 NIV)

“The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD.  For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops.  But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest to the LORD.  Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.  Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines.  The land is to have a year of rest.” (Leviticus 25:1-5 NIV)

Just a note: Never, until the removal of Israel and Judah, did the land enjoy so much as a day’s rest.  Thanks to the defeat of Israel/Judah the land will enjoy 70 years rest (ten times the amount the LORD had asked of the Hebrews)  Of course it is significant that the period of the exile was to last seventy years both for the people as well as the land.  (Seven and its multiples represents completion in scripture.)

Pay close attention to …

  • How the LORD leaves no “wiggle” room for the people to “misunderstand” the nature of the prophet’s message (vv. 5-6 )
  • Why the whole house of Israel will not listen (v. 7 )
  • How Ezekiel will reflect back to the “house of Israel” (vv. 8-9 )
  • How Ezekiel gets around (v. 14 )*
  • How long Ezekiel was “overwhelmed” (vv. 15b, 16 )**

* That Ezekiel was carried by the Spirit is not unprecedented.  Elijah, of whom we spoke on Wednesday, also got “caught up” by the Spirit from time to time.

Evil King Ahab had an APB (all points bulletin) out for Elijah. It seems Ahab was somewhat annoyed over Elijah’s killing of Ahab’s prophets of Baal (400 of them).  All sightings were to be reported to Ahab and a false lead would result in the death of the informer.

Obadiah, who was in charge of Ahab’s palace was out and about looking for verdant pasture and/or water as the famine and drought were severe in the land.  He happened upon Elijah (public enemy number one) and, because he had such a profound respect for him, Obadiah bowed himself to the ground.  Elijah was submitting to Ahab and so told Obadiah to inform Ahab that he (Elijah) would present himself shortly.

“As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him.  Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, ‘Is is really you, my lord Elijah?’

” ‘Yes,’ he replied.  ‘Go tell your master, Elijah is here.’ ”
” ‘What have I done wrong,’ asked Obadiah ‘that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death?  As surely as the LORD your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you.  And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear that they could not find you.  But now you tell me to go to my master and say, “Elijah is here.”  I don’t know where the Spirit of the LORD may carry you when I leave you.  If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. …’ ” (1 Kings 18:9-12 NIV)

** Ezekiel was “overwhelmed” such that he was silent for seven days.  Again, not the first time for this type of response.

“When they [Job’s three friends] saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” (Job 2:12-13 NIV)

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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