Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, June 9, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 84

Prayer Point.  Without pain, we would lose our hunger for heaven. Pray that God will use the pain in our lives to increase our longing for heaven, our true home, and God, our true Father.  Pray for God’s strength to persevere while we wait.

Matthew  15:29-39

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Over a thousand years earlier, a group of Israelites, newly freed from slavery in Egypt, faced starvation in the desert. Moses, their prophet, cried out to God on their behalf and God answered with bread from heaven. The miracle was performed through Moses, but Moses pointed forward to one who would look and act like himself. This one would be greater, for he would be God in the flesh. In today’s reading, we discover that the prophet of whom Moses spoke was Jesus.

Pay close attention …

  • Why the crowds are attracted to Jesus and how Jesus feels about them.
  • Why Jesus’ concern for the crowds unnerves the disciples.
  • What Jesus asks of his disciples. What Jesus provides himself. Is there enough? What does this tell you about our resources, God, and the needs of the world?

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.

Revelation 12:1-12

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Revelation 12 is one of several visions in this book that tell the story of human history from the perspective of heaven. There are three central characters that must be identified: the woman giving birth, the child, and the dragon.

The woman. Compare John’s vision of the woman to Joseph’s dream recorded in Genesis 37:9-11. What images are present in both dreams? How did Joseph’s father, Jacob, interpret the images in his son’s dream? How does that shed light on the identity of the woman in Revelation 12? Based on the parallels between the two dreams and the details of the story that unfolds in chapter 12, we will identify the woman with God’s people. She is Israel before the coming of Jesus and the church after his coming.

The child. In the background of John’s dream is the promise God made to Adam and Eve. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [the serpent – identified with the dragon in Revelation 12] and hers; he [the child] will crush your heel and you will strike his head.” (Genesis 3:15) Who is this offspring? None other than Jesus Christ, who will destroy the dragon by his crucifixion and resurrection and rule as king forever.

The dragon. The dragon throughout the Bible represents the kingdoms that opposed God’s people, but most importantly the power behind these kingdoms, Satan. John and his readers would have identified the dragon with Rome and the power behind Rome, the Devil.

All battles on earth have a spiritual and heavenly dimension to them. As the story of Jesus and his church played out on earth, the battle also rages in heaven between the Archangel Michael and Satan the dragon. God’s people, flee to the desert where they are protected for 1,260 days, Revelation’s symbolic number for a period of trouble.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the dragon attempts to do to the child when he is born and how his plan is thwarted. Compare this to Matthew 2:13-23 and Luke 24:36-52.
  • What happens to the woman after the birth of the child.
  • Compare the 1260 days to the 42 months (1260 days) that the witnesses are protected in Revelation 11:2-3.
  • What God is promising to do for his faithful people (Israel, the church) during this 3 ½ years of trouble (1260 days).
  • What happens to Satan in the aftermath of the war. The name ‘Satan’ is actually a title meaning “prosecutor or accuser.” Where was Satan before the battle? Where is he now? Who has taken the prosecutor’s place (see Romans 8:31-34)?
  • The opponents of the early Christians would have attributed their suffering to the fact that they had abandoned the gods of their ancestors. How does Revelation 12 explain the church’s suffering?

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.

Numbers 6:22-27

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? Use the “Background” below to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. What is the point of this priestly blessing?  (“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:27 NIV))

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.

Sirach 46:11-20 *Sirach is not considered to be Scripture, but is still worthwhile reading.

We have looked at the Judges before. These are the leaders of Israel who brought the Israelites out from their enemies during that period between Joshua and the establishment of the kingdom with the anointing of Saul as king. The prevailing thought in those days went something like this: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25 NIV)

This was not a sterling period in Israel’s history. There was no strong leader so everyone went his own way as echoed by Isaiah: “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6 KJV) In today’s world this attitude would represent anarchy and the result, as expected, is that the Hebrews would be overrun by their neighbors and enemies. The LORD would take it upon himself to send someone (usually reluctantly) to champion for Israel. Of the more notable judges Deborah stands out by virtue of the fact that she was a woman! Others include, Gideon (who sorely pressed his luck in demanding (or rather, asking) for signs from the LORD to prove himself. Jephthah, who foolishly gambled with his daughter’s life in an attempt to “pay” for the LORD’s victory over the Ammonites. (See Judges Chapter 11 for more.) Then there was Samson, who, as far as I’m concerned, tempted the Lord to the point of stupidity (with his business with Delilah), and finally the most famous Judge of them all was the last one: Samuel, who, as it turns out, will anoint Saul as King of Israel ushering in the Davidic kingdom.

This is Sirach’s summary of the Judges:

Sirach
Chapter 46
Verses 11-20
11 The judges also, with their respective names,
whose hearts did not fall into idolatry
and who did not turn away from the LORD —
may their memory be blessed!
12 May their bones send forth new life from where they lie,
and may the names of those who have been honored
live again in their children!
13 Samuel was beloved by his LORD;
a prophet of the LORD, he established the kingdom
and anointed rulers over his people.
14 By the law of the LORD he judged the congregation,
and the LORD watched over Jacob.
15 By his faithfulness he was proved to be a prophet,
and by his words he became known as a trustworthy seer.
16 He called upon the LORD, the Mighty One,
when his enemies pressed him on every side,
and he offered in sacrifice a suckling lamb.
17 Then he LORD thundered from heaven,
and made his voice heard with a mighty sound;
18 he subdued the leaders of the enemy
and all the rulers of the Philistines.
19 Before the time of his eternal sleep,
Samuel bore witness before he LORD his anointed:
“No property, not so much as a pair of shoes,
have I taken from anyone!”
And no one accused him.
20 Even after he had fallen asleep, he prophesied
and made known to the king his death,
and lifted up his voice from the ground
in prophesy, to blot out the wickedness of the people.

Just a reminder: all of this was in song for ease in remembering.

Pay close attention to …

  • “Even after he had fallen asleep he prophesied …”
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