Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 45

Prayer Point.  Today’s psalm was written for the wedding of a Jewish King, but I think it is best understood in light of the great wedding when King Jesus will marry his bride, the church at the end of all things. The poet expresses a number of hopes for the world under the reign of this great king. Pick two or three that resonate with you and pray “your kingdom come.”

Matthew 13:1-9

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Jesus often told stories, parables, to describe the kingdom that he came to establish. These parables drew from images of everyday agricultural life. The explanation of the parable will come with this week’s readings, but take a stab at the meaning of the parable. You’ll be able to check your answers as you read on in chapter 13.

Who is the farmer? The seed? Why do you think there are four different types of soils, four different outcomes for the seeds that are planted?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey 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?

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

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

Revelation 4:1-11

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. As chapter 4 begins, John’s perspective will be changed from the earth’s to heaven’s point of view. What does John see in God’s heavenly throne room? To make sense of what we are seeing let’s review the principles we learned yesterday:

  • Numbers are highly symbolic in Jewish and Christian writing. In this case, seven means perfection.
  • John is describing a dream and in a dream images are symbols that refer to something else. How do you interpret these symbols? You look for other passages in the Scriptures that contain these same symbols.

From earth’s perspective it looks like Rome has all the power and Caesar will forever reign on the throne. Who is in on the throne from heaven’s perspective? How does this vision embolden John and the Christians of the seven churches? Why are there seven lamps before God’s throne? What do they represent (think about our interpretive principles and see also verse 5)? Where have we seen rainbows in the Bible and what do they represent (see Genesis 9:12-15)?

The identity of the twenty four elders is a little tricky, but following our interpretive principles we can reasonably assume that the 24 elders represent God’s people who have died and are in heaven, made up of the nation of Israel (12 tribes) and the church (represented by the 12 apostles). (12+12=24). From earth’s perspective, God’s people look like a powerless and persecuted minority. What do God’s people look like from heaven’s perspective? What are God’s people doing? What do they do with their crowns? What aspect of God’s character are they responding to in worship?

“The sea of glass, clear as crystal.” (verse 6). Do you remember the story where Jesus calmed the sea in Mark 4:37-41? The sea was the most feared force in the ancient world and it was associated with evil. A sea of glass, is a sea that has been calmed and an image of God’s power and future destruction of all that is evil. Imagine how that image encouraged John, who witnessed Jesus calming the sea, and his seven churches.

Compare the description of the strange living creatures in Revelation 1 to the living creature Ezekiel sees in his own vision of God (Ezekiel 1:1-28) and Isaiah’s vision of seraphim (angels) in Isaiah 6:1-3. What are the living creatures doing? While interpreting visions in the book of Revelation is never an exact science, these creatures seem to represent creation and by extension the glory of the Creator.

In the perspective from below, the earth is cruel place where evil goes unchecked. But when we see the world from heaven’s perspective, we see our glorious future, where God’s people joins with all creation worshiping around the throne of our God who made us, sustains us and saves us. No wonder Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey 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?

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

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

Ezra 5:1-17

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. 

Not only did the prophets predict the restoration of Jerusalem, they also spurred the people into action and even rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty. What does this tell you about the nature of faith? See also James 2:17. What makes this faith all the more remarkable is that while Cyrus gave the order to begin work on the temple (Ezra1:2-4), a later order issued by King Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:23) halting the project had never been rescinded.

While the Jews put their faith into action by restarting work on the temple, God supplied the power. How does God prevent the work on the temple from being halted?

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?

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

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