Daily Bible Readings – Monday, May 13, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 89

Prayer Point.  God’s story with Israel is a tale of God’s faithfulness despite their faithlessness. God saves. His people forget. his people. God sends judgment. His people cry out and God sends a Savior. Israel’s story is our story. Praise God for the ways he has been faithful to you. Confess the way you have been unfaithful to him.  Lift up your needs to him and ask him to save you.

Luke 9:51-62

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The resistance Jesus runs into is rooted in a conflict that was hundreds of years old. The kingdom of Israel split into the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom following the death of King Solomon.  The Samaritans that Jesus encounters are descendants of the old Northern Kingdom.  In an effort to build a national identity, the early kings of Samaria built their own temple as an alternative to traveling to the Southern Kingdom and worshiping God in Jerusalem.

Jesus enters the final stage of his earthly ministry as he begins his final journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. He knows that his time to die on the cross, rise from the dead and return to his Father has come.

Jesus will encounter a man who wishes to follow him, but asks first to bury his father.  It is highly unlikely that the man’s father died that day as the Jews buried the dead with twenty-four hours and the man would not have been out in public where he could have met Jesus.  Burial was a two step process.  First the body was placed in a tomb and then months later the the bones were collected and placed in a bone box.  Sons were expected to see their father’s burial through until the second stage was completed.

Pay close attention to …

  • James and John’s reaction to the Samaritan rejection of Jesus and how it contrasts with Jesus’ response.
  • What Jesus expects out of his disciples and what it costs to follow him.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

Hebrews 6:1-12

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Hebrews is a letter written to Jewish Christians who are considering abandoning their faith in Jesus because of persecution.  Being a Christian meant rejection by their Jewish neighbors and imprisonment, confiscation of property and even death by the hands of the Romans.  A return to Judaism would mean an end to their difficulties.

The writer has dealt largely with the elementary elements of the faith, repentance, baptism, judgment and the hope of the resurrection, in an effort to convince them to persevere in their journey following Jesus.  In today’s reading, he hopes to push beyond the basics.

Throughout the New Testament there is a creative tension between the command to persevere in following Jesus and the belief that is God is the one that hangs on to us.  Here is one example:

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Pay close attention to …

  • The warning the writer of Hebrews gives to those who are considering giving up their faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Why the author is confident that this fate will not fall on his readers.
  • How these Christians are called to respond to God’s efforts to hold on to them.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

Ezekiel 4:1-17

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. It has been the unhappy lot of prophets often to display somewhat erratic behavior: we have Isaiah running around naked; we have Jeremiah at one point conducting business wearing an ox yoke; we also have John the Baptist living like a wild man wearing camel’s hair and eating such delicacies as wild locusts and honey.  All of this behavior is to draw attention to two things: The LORD is endeavoring to communicate to his [deaf] people and the other is to demonstrate the obedience of the prophet.  It may well have been that the weirder one was in the olden days, the more likely he was to be a prophet.  No normal person would put himself on display like this.  It is now Ezekiel’s turn.

This chapter will show Ezekiel to be both strange (to the average eyes) and obedient.  At that time when someone said “God told me to do such and such…” he wasn’t at first thought to be crazy as we reckon such behavior today.  Perhaps that is also why God seems not to speak to us today as he did back then.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the LORD wants Ezekiel to do (vv. 1-3 )
  • How many years the “house of Israel” [the northern kingdom] had sinned (vv. 4-5 )
  • How many years for Judah (vv. 6-8 )
  • Ezekiel’s diet and the unusual fuel he is to use to prepare his food (vv. 9-13 )
  • Ezekiel’s objection (vv. 14-15 )
  • The point of the exercise (vv. 16-17 )

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

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Background. It has been the unhappy lot of prophets often to display somewhat erratic behavior: we have Isaiah running around naked; we have Jeremiah at one point conducting business wearing an ox yoke; we also have John the Baptist living like a wild man wearing camel’s hair and eating such delicacies as wild locusts and honey.  All of this behavior is to draw attention to two things: The LORD is endeavoring to communicate to his [deaf] people and the other is to demonstrate the obedience of the prophet.  It may well have been that the weirder one was in the olden days, the more likely he was to be a prophet.  No normal person would put himself on display like this.  It is now Ezekiel’s turn. 

 

This chapter will show Ezekiel to be both strange (to the average eyes) and obedient.  At that time when someone said “God told me to do such and such…” he wasn’t at first thought to be crazy as we reckon such behavior today.  Perhaps that is also why God seems not to speak to us today as he did back then.

 

Pay close attention to …

·         What the LORD wants Ezekiel to do (vv. 1-3[JT1] )

·         How many years the “house of Israel” [the northern kingdom] had sinned (vv. 4-5[JT2] )

·         How many years for Judah (vv. 6-8[JT3] )

·         Ezekiel’s diet and the unusual fuel he is to use to prepare his food (vv. 9-13[JT4] )

·         Ezekiel’s objection (vv. 14-15[JT5] )

·         The point of the exercise (vv. 16-17[JT6] )


 [JT1]With a little help from The ESV Study Bible (p. 1506) we see Ezekiel performing what we would call street theatre.  Actually, I thought it was simply a case of a grown man playing in the sand and thus drawing attention to himself.  Whatever your take on this scene, it is clear that the Lord is sending a message of imminent destruction.  The timeframe for this event is clearly before the fall of Jerusalem which is what this scene depicts.

 [JT2]Israel had sinned for 390 years (almost as many years as those spent in slavery in Egypt) — so Ezekiel had to sleep on his left side for about thirteen months.

 [JT3]Judah’s sin was for forty years but the twist here is that Ezekiel is tied up so that he cannot turn for one side to another. (He must have been very uncomfortable!)  He is to face this siege work and to prophesy against Jerusalem during this time.

 [JT4]Ezekiel was to use wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt as ingredients to make bread.  The bread was to be made using human waste as a source of fuel. (Sounds appetizing!)

 [JT5]As if the LORD was unfamiliar with dietary laws Ezekiel’s objection is that using human excrement would be unclean (!).  The LORD compromises and allows Ezekiel to bake with cow dung!

 [JT6]This is a graphic depiction of what will happen when Jerusalem is besieged by the Babylonians. 

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