Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, January 23, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 37

Prayer Point. The wicked prosper in our world and that won’t change until Christ returns. What can change is our response. Psalm 37 lists several sinful responses to evil. Repent by confessing to God the ones you see in your life. Pray for the faith to trust God, delight in him, commit yourself to following him and to leave justice in his hands.

John 4:1-15

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 guide you.

Background.

John 4:4 Jesus had to pass this way because of geography (it was the shortest route), but the words may also indicate that Jesus’ itinerary was subject to the sovereign and providential plan of God (“had to” translates Gk. dei, “to be necessary,” which always indicates divine necessity or requirement elsewhere in John: 3:7, 14, 30; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9). Through Samaria was the usual route taken by travelers from Judea to Galilee, though strict Jews, in order to avoid defilement, could bypass Samaria by opting for a longer route that involved crossing the Jordan and traveling on the east side

[ESV Study Bible Notes].

The Samaritans were a racially mixed group of partly Jewish and partly Gentile ancestry, who were disdained by both Jews and non-Jews (see Luke 10:33; 17:16; John 8:48; see also 2 Kings 17:24–31, which describes how the king of Assyria brought foreign people to settle in Samaria in 722 b.c.; over time they had intermarried with some Jews who had remained in the area). See also note on John 4:20–21. Many inhabitants of this region between Judea and Galilee were descendants of the OT northern kingdom of Israel, although from the Jewish perspective these Samaritans had assimilated strongly into non-Jewish culture and had intermarried with Mesopotamian colonists. The Samaritans had their own version of the Pentateuch, their own temple on Mount Gerizim (see 4:20), and their own rendering of Israelite history. Copies of their Pentateuch in Hebrew (and in Targumic Aramaic) remain extant, as do their basic historical narratives. Tensions often ran high between Jews and Samaritans; thus Josephus recounts fighting between Jews and Samaritans during Claudius’s reign in the first century a.d. being so intense that Roman soldiers were called in to pacify (and to crucify) many of the rebels (Jewish War 2.232–246) [ESV Study Bible Notes].

Knowing that the Samaritans were hated by both Jews and non-Jews, why do you think Jesus traveled through Samaria? Why does the woman find it strange that Jesus would ask her for water from her water jar?

Jesus here says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” What do you think that means?

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 6:13-20

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. Abraham was an important figure to the readers of Hebrews.  He was the founder of the Jewish  nation and the first to receive the promises of God (see Genesis 12:1-5; 15:1-6).  Just as Abraham hung on to the promises of God, so also the Christians addressed in Hebrews are to hang to the promises of the Gospel.

The image of Jesus our high priest looms large as today’s reading comes to a close.  In the Old Testament, man’s sin separated him from the presence of God. God’s presence was concentrated in the inner sanctuary of the temple behind a thick curtain.  No one could enter the presence of God, save the High Priest, and he only once a year and never without a sacrifice.  The priests that served in the temple were descendants of Aaron, who in turn was a descendant of Abraham’s great-grandson, Levi. Jesus is a priest of a higher order, the order of Melchizedek that was greater than Abraham himself (see Genesis 14:17-20).

Pay close attention to …

  • The assurances these Christians are given that given that God will keep his promises. How God guaranteed his promises to them.
  • The ‘hope and anchor for the soul’ and the guarantee that God will fulfill his promises to these Christians and to us.

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 11:1-9

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?You can use the following background to guide you.

Background. With the gift of a single language, what is the goal of all the people?

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth.” Gen. 11:4

How did they plan to achieve their goal?

They were going to make bricks and bake them thoroughly and use tar to cement them together. v. 3 The making of bricks was one of the favorite pastimes of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Their brick-making was also to build cities for their slave masters. Bricks are always man-made. A Jewish rabbi has said that the mortar represents materialism. We will see later that whenever the people of God build an altar, the altar must be of uncut (not man-made) stone. Because the writer says “brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar” the distinctions between brick/tar and stone/mortar must be of some importance – at least to the writer.

The LORD makes a personal inspection of their endeavors. What is the LORD’s thought concerning this?

That this undertaking would give them a sense of their being greater than they are and lead them to think that they were capable of anything they wished. “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” v. 9:6 NIV

And the Lord’s solution?

He could have destroyed the lot, but instead he decided to confound their language and thus put an end to the project. In Acts Chapter two we see a glimpse of a reversal of this confounding at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit takes one language and makes it understandable to many people of different languages.

By what appropriate name is this incident referred?

We refer to it at the Tower of Babel – most probably from the King James Version of this account. Babel, while it hearkens to gibberish, actually may refer to that area along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers which came to be known as Babylonia.

The interesting turn of events is that in verse 4 their hope is “that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” v. 9:4 NIV Compare that with verse 9:9, “From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” The one thing they did not want was the thing they got. This shows us that God knows the hearts and minds of people.

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.

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