Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday July 10, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 6

Prayer Point: Psalm 6 is proof that you can pray when you suffer from the consequences of your own sin. We can appeal to God’s faithfulness and unfailing love to save us from ourselves. Don’t be afraid to bring your shame and your guilt to God. Use this psalm as a guide to your prayers today.

Matthew 23:13-26

Jesus served in three different capacities. He was a prophet, priest and a king. In this passage, Jesus is playing his prophetic role. Notice the language “woe to you …”

For whom does Jesus have words of condemnation and why?

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law had the responsibility of interpreting the Law of Moses and teaching the people to follow it. Clearly they have failed in their responsibility since they lacked the ability to interpret the Law for themselves.

Oaths. When it came to oaths, the Pharisees believed that it is all about what you swore by. If you swore by the gold of the temple you were legally bound to keep it, if you swore by the temple, you could break it. It was like keeping your fingers crossed. What is Jesus’ view of oaths and how is greater than the Pharisees?

Tithes. The Law of Moses required the people of Israel to give 10%  of their income to God, a law that the Pharisees kept fastidiously. What had they missed? What more was Jesus looking for?

What part of the person did the Pharisees concentrate on? What was God concerned about – the outside or the inside?

Romans 8:31-39

Paul has just explained that God has declared us to be innocent because of Christ (justification), he is changing us to be like Christ (sanctification) and he will make us perfect mirrors of the love of Christ (glorification). It is all God from start to finish. So he asks, “what shall we say in response to all this?” (verse 31)

If God has already done all this, what can we trust him to do in the future? Is there anyone to condemn us for our sin? Who has taken over the role of prosecutor and why shouldn’t we fear his judgments? Who or what will be able to separate us from the love of Christ? How does knowing all this empower you to endure hardship as you follow Jesus?

Numbers 35:1-5, 9-34         The Lands Consigned to the Levites

Since the Levites will receive no territory, what provision does the LORD make for them?  (I can tell you that a total of 48 cities were to be designated for the Levites.  “The towns you give the Levites from the land the Israelites possess are to be given in proportion to the inheritance of each tribe: Take many towns from a tribe that has many, but few from one that has few.” (Numbers 35:8 NIV)  Each was to have surrounding lands for the livestock of the Levites of 3,000 square feet.  The Levite city (or village) would, in essence, be in the center with the surrounding territory (of 3,000 square feet) for their cattle. (Numbers 35:1-5))

What is a “city of refuge”?  (You will have to refer to verse six: “Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone may flee.” (Numbers 35:6 NIV)  These six cities would be taken from among the 48 assigned to the Levites.  The “person who has killed someone” is further explained in verses 16-24.  In some cases the person is a murderer (who does not deserve protection) verses one who accidently kills another (such a one deserves to be protected from the “avenger of blood”.)

The scripture is not clear exactly who the “avenger of blood” is.  It only states that he may kill the manslayer if the death occurred as a result of malice.  We are talking premeditated murder.  Intent also plays a large role in determining the nature of murder.  Someone who lies in wait for his victim to take him unawares displays malicious intent.  There were strict regulations regarding the determination of guilt or innocence in cases of wrongful death.  “[Cities of refuge] will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that a person accused of murder may not die before he stands trial before the assembly.  … Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses.  But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” (Numbers 35:12, 30 NIV)

What is the responsibility of the assembly to the accused?  (If the assembly finds that the accused is not guilty of willful murder, it must “protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood and send him back to the city of refuge to which he fled.” (Numbers 35:25 NIV))

What is the responsibility of the accused to himself?  (“He must stay there [in the city of refuge] until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.” (Numbers 35:25)

What will happen to the accused if he leaves the city of refuge?  (“But if the accused ever goes outside the limits of the city of refuge to which he has fled and the avenger of blood finds him outside the city, the avenger of blood may kill the accused without being guilty of murder. …  only after the death of the high priest may he return to his own property.” (Numbers 35:26-27, 28b NIV))

The rules concerning murder and murderers are rather stringent.  Ransoms are not permitted for anyone accused of murder (guilty or innocent).  So even the one found innocent by the assembly who must flee to a city of refuge may not come out even if a ransom is attempted.  What kind pollution is addressed in verse 33? (“Do not pollute the land where you are.  Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.” (Numbers 35:33 NIV))

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