Daily Bible Readings – Monday, January 20, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 9

Prayer Point. Why should God be thanked and praised? Psalm 9 reminds us that he secures justice for us (we don’t do it ourselves), he protects the oppressed, provides for the needy and gives hope to the afflicted and that is just the beginning.  Read through this psalm slowly and pick two or three examples that you have personally experienced and thank God for them.

John 2:23-3:15

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 guide you.

Background. Nicodemus, as a member of the ruling council and a Pharisee, has a lot to lose in meeting with Jesus which is why he visits him at night under a cloak of secrecy. The Pharisees believed that God would send the Messiah to establish the Kingdom of God on earth and give his people eternal life, once sufficient numbers of Jews kept the Law of Moses.  This is why they zealously followed the Law and pressured others to do the same.  They believed it would speed the arrival of the Messiah. You can imagine how Jesus was threatening to them, as he challenged their authority and their interpretation of the Law.

Nicodemus was one of a handful of Pharisees who quietly respected Jesus and wanted to learn more. He comes seeking to hear more of Jesus’ teaching, but Jesus will challenge his understanding of the kingdom of God and how one enters it. Nicodemus, like most Jews of his day, believed that his countrymen were “in” by virtue of their birth, except for egregious sinners like tax-collectors or prostitutes.

A couple more things to make this chapter easier to understand. Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man” which is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14 and a bold assertion of his power and divinity. In verse 14 he will compare himself to the snake Moses lifted in the wilderness. This snake was actually a bronze snake that Moses fashioned and lifted up on a pole. God had sent snakes into Israel’s camp as punishment for their sin, but the bronze snake was graciously provided as those who looked upon it were healed of their snakebites (see Numbers 21:4-9).

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus responds to those who see the miracles and believe.
  • What Jesus says must happen for someone to enter the kingdom of God and Nicodemus’ reaction.
  • How Jesus, the Son of Man, is compared to the bronze snake Moses lifted in the wilderness.

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.

Hebrews 4:14-5:6

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 guide you.

Background. Over a thousand years  before the letter to the Hebrews was written, the Israelites looked out over the land that God had promised them, but they refused to go in (see Numbers 13-14 for that tragic story). The had an opportunity to enter the land of God’s rest, but they shrank back. Why? Because they feared the people of Canaan more than they believed in God’s power to keep his promises.

The Christians addressed in today’s reading are tempted by the same fear and unbelief.  They have begun to follow Christ, but they, like their ancestors, are considering giving up the journey.  The opposition is too stiff and their faith is growing weaker by the day. The author writes to convince them not to succumb to fear and unbelief.

Central to the writer’s argument is Jesus’ role as high priest or more properly the high priest. The priests of the Old Testament and the ones who served at the temple were descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron.  They represented the people of Israel before God, offering sacrifices to him on their behalf. Jesus, as you will see from today’s reading, is of a high order of priest, not a son of Aaron, but a forever priest in the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek, whose name means “king of righteousness”, was the ancient king-priest of Salem which would later be called Jerusalem.  He was recognized by Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, to be a priest of God and greater than himself and greater than priests that would descend from his own great-grandson, Levi.  Aaron was a descendent of Levi. (See Genesis 14:18-20 for Melchizedek’s story.)

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus’ superior qualities as a high priest gives us the confidence to persevere under trial.

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.

Genesis 8:6-22

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 guide you.

Background. Chapter 7 of Genesis tells us that it rained for forty days and that the “waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. No matter how you slice it, Noah was in that ark with all those animals for just over a year (370 days – Chart from the ESV Study Bible p. 63). I think the reality of what happened is quite lost on us today. The fact is that animals smell and I hazard a guess that after twelve months the smell was rather rank. I’m sure Noah (and perhaps more particularly his wife) had had his fill of all of this. Alas, we’re not done yet.

Once the one hundred and fifty days were accomplished, the waters began to recede. It took another three months for the tops of the mountains to be spotted. Noah waited yet another forty days before opening the window of the ark. So we’re looking at about a year in the ark with all those people (7+1) and animals.

What does Noah do first once the window of the ark is opened?
[He sends out a raven, “and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth” v. 6.]

What happens next?
[Noah next sends out a dove, but alas, it returns for there is no place where it can land. Seven days later Noah tries this again but this time the dove returns with the leaf of an olive tree. The third foray of the dove a week later results with the dove not returning. The earth is finally dry.]

According to Genesis 7:16 “… the LORD shut him [Noah] in.” (While the scripture does not say this, I think that since the LORD “shut him in” that the LORD then opened the door of the ark to release the captives. Perhaps not! j.t.)

When next we hear from the Lord, what is it he is saying?
[“Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you – the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground…” vv. 15-17a NIV]

What is the “great commission” given in Chapter 8?
[“…so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.” v. 17b]

What is the first thing Noah does once he disembarks from the ark?
[“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” v. 20 (Somewhere along the way the LORD must have shown Noah how to distinguish between the “clean” and “unclean” animals and birds. This occurs long before those designations outlined in Exodus. This may have been one reason why there were seven (!) pairs of “clean” animals and birds chosen as compared to the “unclean” where only one pair was collected; i.e., so there would be enough for sacrifice as well as procreation. j.t.)

What very interesting oath does the LORD make in verses 21-22 and to whom does he make it?
[First things first, the LORD swears this oath to himself. Never again will he curse the ground because of man. We, of a certain age, remember the phrase “The devil made me do it.” Here it may be intimated that “man made the LORD do it.” I hope we begin to get a glimpse of how much the LORD hates sin and just how evil it is. Last week when we looked at Chapter 6, I quoted from Habakkuk 1:13: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” (NIV) The King James Version puts that verse (to my way of thinking) more eloquently: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”]

The imagery of the ark will be important to remember especially when we look at the Ark of the Covenant later in Exodus. Jesus will prove to be the eternal Ark of the Covenant. The ark saved Noah and his family (and humanity) from complete destruction and Jesus saves any and all who will believe in him. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

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.

One thought on “Daily Bible Readings – Monday, January 20, 2014

  1. I enjoyed reading this post. I gained an understanding of why we cannot enter into God’s blessings because we fear the enemy more than we trust God. Thanks for sharing.

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