Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, November 9, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 76

Prayer Point.  Psalm 76 reminds us that we need a big God in a world with big problems. He will destroy the powers of this world and establish an eternal peace. Pray that we might believe this so that we will not succumb to fear.

Matthew 14:22-36

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 dismisses his disciples some time in the afternoon, but he does not rescue them until the fourth watch of the night, that is the last quarter of the night before dawn. Why would Jesus deliberately allow his disciples to sail into a storm and why does he wait so long to save them? What is he doing while his disciples are caught in the storm? What do the disciples learn about themselves? What do they learn about Jesus?

One note on where Peter gets the crazy idea to get out of the boat. In the video “Dust”, Rob Bell points out that the aim of a Jewish rabbi (a religious teacher) was to teach his disciples  (students) not only what he knew, but to teach to them to do what he did. Peter is Jesus’ disciple, and so he takes this extraordinary step of faith and figures that he must learn walk on water as well. What causes Peter’s faith to fail?

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 17:1-14

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. JRR Tolkien one wrote that evil cannot create, it can only mock the beauty that God has created. In chapter 14, we saw God’s people depicted as a woman. The woman in chapter 17, the whore of Babylon, is a mockery of the bride of Christ, the church. The beast, Satan, mocks the Lamb of God.

How does the life trajectory of the beast in verse 8 mock the life story of Jesus, the Lamb of God? What is the woman’s relationship with the kings of the earth and to the beast? What are the kings relationship to the beast? Is the woman wealthy or poor? What is she drunk on? Who is seduced by the beast?

Who will the kings of the earth, the woman, and the beast make war against? How is John and the seven churches who originally received the book of Revelation already feeling the effects of this war?

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 9:1-15

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. “When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you … and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them and show no mercy to them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. (Deuteronomy 7:1-4 ESV emphasis added) [Well, maybe not so quickly. – j.t.]

From at least the time of Solomon, intermarriage with non-Israelites had been at the root of all of the evils that had pervaded the land. As indicated above in Deuteronomy, the infection results in idolatry. Because Ezra can read, he must have familiarized himself with the relative recent history of Israel (from the time of the tearing of the kingdom until the Babylonian Captivity). Prophet after prophet had proclaimed the word of the LORD regarding the national sin of idolatry which they linked to the intermarriage of the people with the heathen. Solomon, the wisest of the kings, was ensnared by idolatry.

Was nothing learned by the dispersion and the captivity? The Northern Tribes were dispersed and managed to lose their tribal identity. The prophets had continually warned both Israel and Judah that the LORD would cast them out of his sight because of idolatry. I wish I had Ezra’s sensitivity about my own sin as he had for his people.

Why does Ezra respond the way he does to the news of widespread intermarriage between the Jews and the neighboring peoples?

Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

How does Ezra the priest play the role of Jesus the High Priest for the remnant of Israel?

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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