Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 72

Prayer Point.  What will the world look like when Jesus’ kingdom fully comes to earth? Psalm 72 gives us a preview. What aspect of things psalm’s dream does not yet exist in our world? Lift those things to God and pray “your kingdom come.”

Matthew 13:53-58

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. Why is Jesus rejected in his hometown? Consider this: Jesus probably lived and worked as a carpenter in Nazareth for at least 15 years before he began his public ministry preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. Why does Jesus decide not to perform miracles in Nazareth? You might notice as you read the gospels that Jesus performed miracles as acts of compassion or to confirm someone’s faith, but never to convince someone that he was God. He was to be glorified, not by acts of power, but by submitting himself to the cross and rising from the dead.

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 12:1-12

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Revelation 12 is one of several visions in this book that tell the story of human history from the perspective of heaven. There are three central characters that must be identified: the woman giving birth, the child, and the dragon.

The woman. Compare John’s vision of the woman to Joseph’s dream recorded in Genesis 37:9-11. What images are present in both dreams? How did Joseph’s father, Jacob, interpret the images in his son’s dream? How does that shed light on the identity of the woman in Revelation 12? Based on the parallels between the two dreams and the details of the story that unfolds in chapter 12, we will identify the woman with God’s people. She is Israel before the coming of Jesus and the church after his coming.

The child. In the background of John’s dream is the promise God made to Adam and Eve. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [the serpent – identified with the dragon in Revelation 12] and hers; he [the child] will crush your heel and you will strike his head.” (Genesis 3:15) Who is this offspring? None other than Jesus Christ, who will destroy the dragon by his crucifixion and resurrection and rule as king forever.

The dragon. The dragon throughout the Bible represents the kingdoms that opposed God’s people, but most importantly the power behind these kingdoms, Satan. John and his readers would have identified the dragon with Rome and the power behind Rome, the Devil.

All battles on earth have a spiritual and heavenly dimension to them. As the story of Jesus and his church played out on earth, the battle also rages in heaven between the Archangel Michael and Satan the dragon. God’s people, flee to the desert where they are protected for 1,260 days, Revelation’s symbolic number for a period of trouble.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the dragon attempts to do to the child when he is born and how his plan is thwarted. Compare this to Matthew 2:13-23 and Luke 24:36-52.
  • What happens to the woman after the birth of the child.
  • Compare the 1260 days to the 42 months (1260 days) that the witnesses are protected in Revelation 11:2-3.
  • What God is promising to do for his faithful people (Israel, the church) during this 3 ½ years of trouble (1260 days).
  • What happens to Satan in the aftermath of the war. The name ‘Satan’ is actually a title meaning “prosecutor or accuser.” Where was Satan before the battle? Where is he now? Who has taken the prosecutor’s place (see Romans 8:31-34)?
  • The opponents of the early Christians would have attributed their suffering to the fact that they had abandoned the gods of their ancestors. How does Revelation 12 explain the church’s suffering?

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.

Nehemiah 13:4-22

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. Eliashib was, unfortunately, related to Tobiah – unfortunate for Eliashib that is. Perhaps now that Nehemiah has returned to Susa to see the king Tobiah will be able to execute his master plan. You may recall that Tobiah, along with Sanballat and some Arab (Geshem by name) had conspired to bring down all activity in Jerusalem. Tobiah took this opportunity and his close relational connection to Eliashib to move his quarters into the temple itself.

What reforms begin to erode in Nehemiah’s absence? Why were these problems significant? How does Nehemiah, God’s great leader, attack the problems he encounters?

The exclusion of the Ammonites and Moabites from the temple may sound ethnocentric to us, even racist. But notice the reason. These peoples had opposed the people of God from the very beginning. They tried to obstruct them as they entered the Promised Land and Tobiah, the Ammonite, opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple from the very beginning.

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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