Daily Bible Readings – Monday, February 10, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 77

Prayer Point. Asaph, the author of Psalm 77, is thinking back on how he prayed during a dark period in his life.  He cried out to God and refused to be comforted. He then reminds God of the great things he has done and asks him to do it again. Try following this prayer today, either for yourself or someone you know that is in need.

John 7:37-52

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.  The Feast of Tabernacles commemorated Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness between their liberation from slavery in Egypt and their entrance into the Promised Land. The people lived in tents (tabernacles, hence the name of the feast) during that time and there God taught them to rely on him daily.  When they were hungry, he gave them manna, daily bread. When they were thirsty, he split the rocks, providing fresh water for his thirsty people.

Pay close attention to …

  • What and who Jesus offers to those who are thirsty. Note the connection to the Feast of Tabernacles.
  • Why the temple guards are unable to arrest Jesus.
  • Who steps forward to defend Jesus and why his rebuffed.  Notice what the Pharisees don’t know about Jesus (see verses 27, 45-52 and Luke 2:1-7).

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 13:1-16

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. The letter to the Hebrews was written to a particular church what was made up of converts from Judaism. Because they were members of a what was regarded as new religion, these Christians faced persecution from the Roman authorities and they were ostracized by the Jewish community. Life was hard and they wondered if they had made the right decision. Maybe we should abandon our faith in Jesus?  That is the question that is being addressed.

Hebrews is a letter encouraging these Christians, and ourselves, to keep on keeping on.

What is this church encouraged to do and not do as they endured persecution? List out the commands to you see in verses 1 – 16.

The central theme of this letter is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law and rituals.. In verse 11 we see yet another example. How is Jesus’ crucifixion compared to the Old Testament sacrifices? Why are they encouraged to share in Jesus’ shame? What hope is held out for them?  

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 25:19-34

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. While we won’t be discussing it here, the first part of Chapter 25 of Genesis tells us that Abraham got married again after Sarah died.  His second wife’s name was Keturah and she bore to Abraham six more sons.  When Abraham died (at the age of 175 years) he left all that he had to Isaac.  (Abraham had distributed gifts while he lived to the sons of Keturah.)

So, Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah but, alas, she was found to be “barren”.  What does Isaac do about this?  He had to do something to make sure he had children otherwise what happens to the promise the LORD had made?
[He prays “to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren”. (v. 25:21 NIV)]

What is the difference here between Abraham/Sarah, and Isaac/Rebekah?
[The LORD had promised Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah, but the LORD’s timing is woefully slow for us.  We, like Abraham, want things to happen now; we, like Abraham, cannot wait for the LORD.  So Sarah takes matters into her own hands and tells Abraham to get himself a child from her servant Hagar.  That is Sarah’s solution to the problem.  We saw how that worked out.  Isaac’s solution was a much better one: he prayed to the LORD to provide him with a son.]

What was the result of Isaac’s prayer for a son?
[Rebekah conceived of twins: Esau and Jacob.]

Something troubles Rebekah while she is pregnant.  What is it?
[The twins in her womb begin to fight.  I think Rebekah was afraid she would miscarry of her baby.]

What does Rebekah do and what does she find out?
[Rebekah prays to the LORD and the first thing she finds out is that she is going to have twins – boys.  The next thing is a prophecy: “… the older will serve the younger.” (v. 25:23b NIV)  We have to respect both Isaac and Rebekah because it seems that their first recourse to a problem (certainly at this point) is to go the LORD in prayer.  Unhappily, as we shall see, that tendency does not continue.]

Since, as we have seen, names which are given in the Old Testament are meaningful, what is the significance of the names of Esau and Jacob?
[Esau may mean “hairy”; “… and his whole body was like a hairy garment”. (v. 25:25 NIV)  Esau and his descendents will also become known as Edom (a perennial enemy of the Jews [Israel] which may mean “red”: “The first to come out was red.” (v. 25:25 NIV)  Esau was ruddy and hairy; this will play an important role later in Esau’s life.  “His brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel…” (v. 25:26 NIV)  So Jacob actually means “he grasps the heel” [from the footnotes of the NIV], which, because of what happens later, came to mean “deceiver”.]

We know that Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born to him; how old was Isaac when his sons were born to him?
[Isaac was sixty years old when Esau and Jacob were born.)]

Now the trouble begins.  It will be important to remember the promise that the LORD made to Rebekah regarding her sons: i.e., “… and the older will serve the younger” (v. 25:23b NIV).  Why, do you suppose, Isaac loves Esau over Jacob?
[I believe that Isaac loves Esau as is first-born son.  To him belongs the inheritance (Isaac’s).  The thing is we don’t know if Isaac was ever aware of the prophecy that Rebekah had received from the LORD regarding Jacob – that he would inherit as a first-born son should.  Esau was the outdoorsman and he became an experienced hunter and Isaac “…had a taste for wild game…” (v. 25:28 NIV)]

“… but Rebekah loved Jacob.” (v. 25:28b NIV)  Why would Rebekah prefer Jacob over Esau?
[In truth, the Scripture does not tell us why Rebekah preferred Jacob, but perhaps her maternal instinct to protect the younger and less-favored son kicked in.  Perhaps she remembered the prophecy of the Lord.  Actually, I doubt she remembered the prophecy regarding her younger son given what happens next.]

Phase One

The next scene is phase one of Jacob’s plan to usurp Esau’s favor with Isaac (through deception).  What is significant about the stew?  (This is a minor detail but it proves of some importance in verse 25:30.)  What does Esau say about himself which sounds rather exaggerated?  What is the cost of that exaggeration?
[The significant thing about the stew is that Esau describes it as being “red”.  In verse 25:30 “That is why he [Esau] is also called Edom.”  Esau claims to be famished unto death.  “Look, I am about to die. … What good is the birthright to me?” (v. 25:32 NIV)  So Jacob requires Esau to surrender his birthright (as the first-born) for a bowl of (red) stew.  In the NIV Study Bible notes p. 46: “25:33 Swear to me first.  A verbal oath was all that was required to make the transaction legal and forever binding.”  Times certainly have changed: today such a notion would be laughable.]

Verse 25:34b sums up Esau’s attitude: “So Esau despised his birthright.”

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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