Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, August 26, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 147

Prayer Point:   Worshiping God is good for the soul, for it was for this reason that we were created. Psalm 147 lists many reasons to praise him.  Pick several that resonate with you and use them to offer God your own prayer of worship.

Mark 6:1-6

Jesus performed miracles to confirm even the smallest faith, but never to convince those who did not believe in him. Notice that when Jesus healed the woman who touched his robe he says “your faith has healed you” (Mark 5:34), but in this chapter he is unable to perform miracles in his hometown of Nazareth because of their unbelief. Why do the people of Nazareth fail to put their faith in Jesus?

Revelation 4:1-11

As chapter 4 begins, John’s perspective will be changed from the earth’s to heaven’s point of view. What does John see in God’s heavenly throne room? To make sense of what we are seeing keep a few of these interpretive principles in mind:

  • Numbers are highly symbolic in Jewish and Christian writing. For example, ‘seven’ means perfection.
  • John is describing a dream and in a dream images are symbols that refer to something else. How do you interpret these symbols? You look for other passages in the Scriptures that contain these same symbols.

From earth’s perspective it looks like Rome has all the power and Caesar, the Roman Emperor, will reign forever. Who is in on the throne from heaven’s perspective? How would this vision embolden John and the Christians of the seven churches, all of whom were being persecuted by an all-powerful Rome? Why are there seven lamps before God’s throne? What do they represent (think about our interpretive principles and see also verse 5)? Where have we seen rainbows in the Bible and what do they represent (see Genesis 9:12-15)?

The identity of the twenty four elders is a little tricky, but following our interpretive principles we can reasonably assume that the 24 elders represent God’s people who have died and are in heaven, made up of the nation of Israel (12 tribes) and the church (represented by the 12 apostles). (12+12=24). From earth’s perspective, God’s people look like a powerless and persecuted minority. What do God’s people look like from heaven’s perspective? What are God’s people doing? What do they do with their crowns? What aspect of God’s character are they responding to in worship?

“The sea of glass, clear as crystal.” (verse 6). Do you remember the story where Jesus calmed the sea in Mark 4:37-41? The sea was the most feared force in the ancient world and it was associated with evil. A sea of glass, is a sea that has been calmed, and serves as an image of God’s power and future destruction of all that is evil. Imagine how that image encouraged John, who witnessed Jesus calming the sea, and his seven churches.

Compare the description of the strange living creatures in Revelation 4 to the living creature Ezekiel sees in his own vision of God (Ezekiel 1:1-28) and Isaiah’s vision of seraphim (angels) in Isaiah 6:1-3. What are the living creatures doing? While interpreting visions in the book of Revelation is never an exact science, these creatures seem to represent creation and by extension the glory of the Creator.

In the perspective from below, the earth is cruel place where evil goes unchecked. But when we see the world from heaven’s perspective, we see our glorious future, where God’s people join with all creation worshiping around the throne of our God, who made us, sustains us and saves us. No wonder Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Job 4:1-6; 12-21 – Eliphaz begins the discourse

What point is Eliphaz making in verses 1-6? (Evidently Job had been a paragon of virtue and hope for those who had no hope. Eliphaz wants Job to take his own advice. “Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?” (Job 4:6 NIV) That is a question I think we should all examine.)

Eliphaz tell us that “A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it.” (Job 4:12 NIV) What was this “word” which Eliphaz received? (“Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” (Job 4:17 NIV))

What is the fate of those in whom “God places no trust” … whom he charges with error? (“They are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever, how much more those who live in houses of clay [our bodies], who are crushed more readily than a moth!” (Job 4:18-19 NIV))

It seems to me that Eliphaz is cautioning Job that he should re-examine his life for his hidden sin.

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