Daily Bible Readings – First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 113

Prayer Point. This psalm offers us some reasons to praise the name of the Lord.  Meditate on the ones that resonate with you and offer God your own prayer of thanksgiving.

Luke 21:5-19

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The temple in Jerusalem was one of the architectural marvels of the ancient world. What does Jesus see in the temple’s future? By the way, this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD.

What signs will indicate that the temple’s destruction is imminent? What advice does Jesus give his disciples for when these signs occur?

What will happen to the disciples before the temple is destroyed (see verse 12)? How will this serve God’s purposes (see verse 13)? What does Jesus promise his disciples (see verses 14-15)? What reward will the disciples gain for enduring intense persecution (see verse 18-19)?

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.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Old Testament prophets used the phrase, ‘the day of the Lord’ to refer to a day of God’s judgment. In this case, it appears that Paul speaks of THE day of the LORD, that is, the day of Christ’s return.

Will the world be expecting the arrival of King Jesus? How should we prepare for his coming so that we are not also caught by surprise? What hope did God the Father acquire for us through the death of his Son? What should we do with this hope?

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.

Amos 1:1-5, 13-2:8

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Amos opens telling us that he was “among the shepherds of Tekoa” (v. 1:1) which tells me that he was called to be a prophet out of his day job of tending sheep.  Later we will learn that he dressed sycamore fig trees (7:14-15) as a sideline.  While I hesitate to say that Amos is “reluctant” it is clear that he sees his calling as just that – a vocation – a calling from God to speak to both Israel and Judah.  He prophesies during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah and Jeroboam (II) of Israel sometime between 796 and 739 B.C.  As stated, Amos was, among other things, a shepherd.  In the socio-economic system then prevalent in that area of the world, shepherds were at or near the bottom.  While David was a shepherd, for some reason his greatness did not lift the life of a shepherd from the lowest ranks of society.

Amos begins by warning of judgment to the nations which surround Israel for their treatment of their neighbors. He warns Syria (Damascus); Philistia (Gaza); Phoenicia (Tyre); and Edom. All of the warnings are introduced by the phrase “For three transgressions of (…) and for four, I will not revoke the punishment…” (ESV vs. 3, 6, 9, 11)

“1:3 three transgressions … four. This poetic expression is used to introduce the judgment upon all seven of the neighboring nations, and upon Israel as well (2:6). It is a way of expressing totality: “three” expresses the plural in Hebrew, and by raising it to “four” the idea of multiplicity is conveyed.” [ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1659 regarding “for three transgressions and for four…”]

What sorts of sins of Israel’s neighbors does Amos denounce in 1:3-2:3? 

Amos sets up the readers.  As Amos announces God’s judgment on Israel’s neighbors you can imagine Israel cheering, “Yeah! Go Amos get them heathens!”  It’s human nature.   Amos is an equal-opportunity prophet. Judah (what’s left of Israel) is next.

What sins in Judah does God condemn?  How is the worship of false gods (idols) connected to way the people in Judah treated the poor and the vulnerable?

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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Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, December 15, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 42

Prayer Point:What are you thirsty for? Too often it isn’t God, but the struggles of this life can remind us of our need for him. Pray that the dryness of our lives, the difficult things, will make our parched souls thirstier for God this Advent season and cause us to crave his coming even more.

Luke 22:31-38 

Just a note that might make this passage slightly more comprehensible. Simon in verse 31 is the same guy as Peter in verse 34. He was known as Simon Peter (makes sense.)

Jesus predicts that Simon Peter will fail (be sifted as wheat). Will the failure be permanent? What will Peter do once he is restored?

How does Peter respond to Jesus’ prediction (see verse 33)? How do you think Jesus wanted him to respond? Give this some thought, because trying harder is not the answer. Jesus has just predicted his failure and we know he can’t be wrong.

In verse 35 Jesus widens his conversation to include all of the disciples. He is reminiscing about the time he sent them out to heal the sick and preach the gospel (see Luke 9:1-6 and 10:1-24). Did they lack for anything on their mission? How will things be different now that Jesus is going to be crucified (numbered with the transgressors – see Isaiah 53:1-12)?

I’d imagine it sounds a little strange to hear Jesus encouraging his disciples to go out and buy swords particularly when you consider that later in this chapter Peter attacks the servant of the high priest and Jesus orders him to put his sword away and promptly healed the man’s ear. Jesus’ description in verse 36 is not a call to arms, but a description of the difficult times the disciples are about to face when he is arrested and crucified. Life will be so desperate that selling your cloak for a sword will look like a good deal. Notice that when the disciples start collecting swords, he abruptly ends the conversation.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-18 

Verses 6-15 contain some final instructions as the letter draws to a close.

Who are the Thessalonians commanded to avoid?
Paul taught the Thessalonians to follow Jesus with words and the example of his life. How would you describe that example? What did Paul avoid? What did he do?

What right did Paul have that he chose not to exercise? Why? What kind of life does Paul urge them to live? What should be done with fellow believers who refuse to heed Paul’s warning? What is the purpose of such treatment?

Isaiah 8:1-15          The Coming of the Assyrians
Who is the “prophetess”? (The prophetess is Isaiah’s wife.)
What name is Isaiah told to name his unborn son? (Long before the days of amniocentesis Isaiah was told that his wife (the prophetess) would conceive and bear him a son. The LORD told him to name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz [which means “The spoil speeds, the prey hastens” or “quick to the plunder swift to the spoil].)
What bad news does the birth of Isaiah’s son bring? (The supposed ally of Judah [Assyria] will become its oppressor. “…for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 8:4 ESV))
What does the LORD advise Isaiah amid this turmoil? (“For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.” (Isaiah 8:11-12 ESV))
Whom should Isaiah fear and dread? (“But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13 ESV))
If we let the LORD be our fear and our dread, what is in it for us? (“And he [the LORD] will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 8:14 ESV) This imagery is also used by Paul in Romans: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone.’ As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame. (Romans 9:30-33 NIV))

Daily Bible Readings – Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 35

Prayer Point: It is amazing to consider that Jesus, the God of this world, subjected himself to taunts, beatings and ultimate crucifixion at the hands of people he easily could have destroyed. How did he do it? He committed himself to his Father and trusted him to vindicate him in the end. He did by raising him from the dead. Because the Father heard his Son’s cry and raised him from the dead, he will also hear the cries of his people who are also oppressed. Pray psalm 35 remembering Jesus in gratitude and praying it on behalf of someone you know who needs to be rescued by God.

Luke 22:14-30 

The Lord’s Supper which Jesus celebrates with his disciples, was rooted in the Passover tradition. Jesus takes an old familiar ritual and gives it new meaning. Yeast also represented sin in the Jewish mind, so unleavened bread symbolized something that was sin-free. What new meaning does Jesus give the unleavened bread of the Passover? During the Passover meal, four cups commemorating the deliverance of Israel were drunk. What new meaning does Jesus give to the cups of Passover?

What startling revelation does Jesus make?

The disciples understand that Jesus is about to establish his kingdom so they begin to argue about who will take the most important positions in Jesus’ new government. They don’t understand that his route to the throne will go through the cross and the kingdom Jesus came to set up will be unlike any the world had ever seen.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 

Notice that salvation is a group effort involving all three persons of the Trinity.

Why did God the Father chose the Thessalonians (verse 13)? Whose work sanctified them (made them holy) (verse 13)? Whose glory will they share (verse 14)?

How should the Thessalonians respond to God’s work of salvation (verse 15)? What does Paul ask God to do for them as they respond?

Why does Paul need the Thessalonians’ prayers and what does he ask them to pray for (compare this to Matthew 6:13)? What obstacles does he anticipate as they spread the gospel? How does he pray for them?

Isaiah 7:10-25          “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son…”

The scripture says “Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz…” (Isaiah 7:10 ESV). Actually I think it was Isaiah who spoke for the LORD using, of course, the LORD ‘s own words. I doubt that Ahaz actually craved Isaiah’s company — after all he had much to answer for. But what was the LORD’s message to Ahaz? (“Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” (Isaiah 7:11 ESV))

What was Ahaz’s reaction to this message? (As you may well imagine, Ahaz knows he has committed serious abominations against the Lord [the burning of his sons, to mention but one] so why would the LORD want him to ask a sign of God? He refuses, I think, reluctantly, thinking it may be presumptuous to ask anything of the LORD. — j.t. “But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test [not right now anyway — j.t.]. (Isaiah 7:12 ESV))

How does the LORD work around Ahaz’s pretended piety? (“And he [the LORD] said, ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.'” (Isaiah 7:13-14 ESV))
What does the LORD have in store for Judah and Israel (Ephraim)? (The LORD is going to visit judgment on both kingdoms. The more immediate threat is Assyria which will be instrumental in the dispersion of the Northern Kingdom. Ahaz will not seek the LORD’s help in fighting his enemies and will thus lead Judah headlong on a path toward captivity.)
What are the agricultural prospects for the land? (The land will become desolate. “In that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels of silver, will become briers and thorns.” (Isaiah 7:23 ESV))

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, December 13, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 37 Prayer Point: I am tempted to stop walking with Jesus when I envy the success of wicked people. Is the struggle worth it? Psalm 37 asks us to see the world from God’s perspective. Pray that you might have compassion on the “successful” as you consider their eternal destiny and pray for the faith to trust in the Lord, delight yourself in him, be still before him and wait patiently for him this Advent season.

Luke 22:1-13  The Feast of Unleavened Bread, also called the Passover, celebrated Israel’s liberation after 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Unleavened bread was eaten by the Israelites on the eve of their liberation because their freedom came so suddenly there was no time to let the dough rise. Passover refers to the Angel of Death who struck down the firstborn of every Egyptian family, but when the angel saw the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorposts of the Jewish homes, he “passed over” the house, sparing the first born. Look for Luke in the next couple of chapters to connect Jesus to the Passover and the Passover Lamb. Why were the chief priests and teachers of the law having trouble arresting Jesus? How do they find an opportunity to arrest him secretly? How does Jesus demonstrate his power and authority in the instructions for the Passover preparations he gives to his disciples?

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12  The “day of the Lord” refers the day of Christ’s return to earth when evil will be destroyed and God’s kingdom will be fully established on earth forever. Apparently there were teachers who had come through Thessalonica teaching that Christ had already returned. You can imagine the confusion and concern this would have caused. What two things, must happen before Christ’s return (verses 3-4)? The figure described in verses 3 and 4 as the “man of lawlessness” and the “man doomed to destruction” has come to be known as the “Anti-Christ.” This Anti-Christ is not Satan himself, but a person through whom Satan acts. You can think of him as a counterfeit Jesus who falsely claims to be God. This did not mean that Satan was not operating in the world at that time (see verse 7), but that the final expression of Satan’s power was being withheld until just before his end (see verse 6). It will be distressing to see the counterfeit “Jesus” come. How will the deception of the masses serve God’s purposes (see verses 9-12)?

Isaiah 7:1-9         Ahaz and His Enemies Who is Ahaz? (Ahaz is the son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, king of Judah. As if things are not confusing enough already, Uzziah was also known as Azariah. Uzziah (Azariah) was a “good” king in Judah and sought the LORD during the time he was consolidating his own power. Once he became strong, he didn’t need the LORD anymore and so became proud. In a fit of pride, Uzziah took it upon himself to burn incense before the LORD in the temple. The Levitical law only allowed for priests to burn incense before the Lord. Even Aaron’s two oldest sons (themselves priests) burned what was termed “unauthorized” fire before the Lord, and for their efforts they were themselves consumed in fire. So the business of burning incense before the Lord is a particularly serious one. When the priests saw what the king was doing they remonstrated him for his action and at the very same moment he was afflicted with leprosy. Since he was then deemed “unclean” his son Jotham ruled the kingdom as regent until the death of Uzziah. At this point Uzziah’s need for the Lord became evident. Alas, that is the last time we hear of Uzziah. Jotham was also a “good” king and followed after the Lord. He prospered and did not repeat the mistakes of his father. Along comes Ahaz. Ahaz was of different stripe than his father and grandfather. He turned completely away from the God of his fathers to follow after false gods and even stooped so low as to offer his sons in fire to Molech, an Ammonite god. (Ammon was the region east northeast of the Jordan.) This put him at variance with God who visited upon him his enemies in great number. Let’s just say that Ahaz would be in no mood to receive the local prophet. Ahaz is very nervous and easily frightened (with good reason).) What is Isaiah’s message to Ahaz? (“And the Lord said to Isaiah, ‘Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s field. And say to him, “Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, ‘Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,’ thus says the Lord God: ‘It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.'” (Isaiah 7:3-9 ESV) Ahaz has to be asking himself, Why would the LORD want to help me? That really is a good question for which I don’t have an answer. — j.t.)

Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 119:25-48

Prayer Point: The author Psalm 119 desires to follow the law of God but faces a number of obstacles: his own ignorance, sin and persecution of others. We desire to follow Jesus  but we face the same obstacles. Pick one or two from this reading that resonate with your experience and ask God to give you the strength to overcome them.

John 7:53-8:11

The Feast of Tabernacles has come to a close and the pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast now have returned home. The crowds are gone, but the Pharisees continue to see Jesus as a threat and seek to destroy him. With the woman caught in the act of adultery, they believe they have found their opportunity.

The idea is to put Jesus in a position where he must side either with Old Testament Law or the Roman authorities. The penalty for adultery in the Law of Moses was indeed death, although it is curious as to why only the woman was brought before Jesus, because the Law demanded the lives of both the woman and the man. Already the Pharisees are in violation of the Law.

Here’s the problem. If Jesus says, “yes, stone her,” then he would have been in trouble with the Roman authorities, because they reserved the right to impose capital punishment. If Jesus says “no” the Pharisees could accuse him of being unfaithful to Jewish Law and Tradition.

How does Jesus stop these men in their tracks and rescue this woman? Who else in this story deserves judgment under the Law of Moses? How is this woman called to respond to Jesus’ gracious act of forgiveness? How are we called to respond?

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

Paul, Silas, and Timothy traveled through what is now Syria, Turkey, Macedonia, and Greece preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and establishing new churches from among those who believed. They trained leaders and once the church could stand on its own, (sometimes it took only months) they traveled on to the next city, but the support continued in the form of letters such as 2 Thessalonians.

Why is Paul thankful for the church in Thessalonica?
How does Paul inspire them to persevere in their faith despite the persecution they faced? Who will take care of matters of justice? What reward can they expect?

It was a belief in a God of justice which freed these Christians to love their enemies. It was not their job to exact revenge. Their task was to stand firm and leave all thoughts of retaliation to God. In some cases, it was the faithful courage of early Christians that caused their oppressors to become Christians themselves.

Isaiah 6:1-13 (Wednesday) Flashback to Isaiah’s Commission (as a Prophet)

The seraphim are an angelic class whose sole office is to attend the LORD. What are these angels saying? (“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” These words “holy, holy, holy” are echoed in the Revelation Chapter 4 by four strange looking creatures, who, interestingly enough, each have six wings and eyes all about.)

What is the first thing that Isaiah himself says in this chapter? (“And I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!'” (Isaiah 6:5 ESV))

What is the first thing to happen to Isaiah? (“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips your guilt is taken away and you sin is atoned for.'” (Isaiah 6:6-7 ESV) This is, I think, the first presentation of the gospel which Jesus will later proclaim. — j.t.)

What does the Lord ask and how does Isaiah respond? (“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'” (Isaiah 6:8 ESV) Here notice that only three verses above (and who knows how much time) Isaiah was saying “Woe is me…” Now he says “Send me.”)

What is to be Isaiah’s message to the people? (“And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people: “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10 ESV) The turning mentioned here is one of repentance. Jesus cites this very passage in the gospel of Matthew Chapter 13: “The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’ … ‘This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”‘

‘In them is fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”‘” (Matthew 13:11, 13-15 NIV))
So while Isaiah is moved to repentance and is sent on a mission of bringing God’s message to his people, he is warned that it is actually through this message that the people will be hardened against the LORD. What an irony! Today we live in a world that really is dull of hearing and does not want to hear the gospel: “Your sins are forgiven!”

“But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” (Isaiah 6:13 NIV) First of all, I don’t know what a “terebinth” is, but let me go out on a limb and guess that it is either a tree or a bush (because of its proximity to “oak” in the text). But, apart from that, what is the message here? (It appears that all but a remnant will ultimately remain of the people because of their refusal to seek the Lord and to listen to him. From The ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1252:
“6:11-13 God’s discipline will leave only a remnant of his people — the holy seed — like a single stump left after a forest has been burned over. The remaining believers are set apart for God by the same grace that saved Isaiah. They are the heirs of God’s promises to Abraham, and thus the only hope for the whole world (see 10:20-23; 11-10)”)

Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 36

Prayer Point:Perhaps David, who wrote this psalm, has insight into sinful hearts because he possessed one (see 2 Samuel 11-12). Where do you see your sin in verses 1-4? Confess these to God. Meditate on how faithful God is by contrast (verses 5-9) and offer him your praise. Finally, pray that God might deliver those you know from evil.

Luke 21:29-38 

Several months ago leaves sprouted on the trees in New England announcing that spring had come and summer was just around the corner. What are the “sprouted leaves”, signs that the kingdom of God is near, according to Luke 21:25-27?

When will all of these things happen according to Jesus (see verse 32)?
Scholars have scratched their heads at this verse because it was assumed that Jesus was speaking about his return which did not happen within the lifetime of Jesus’ disciples. What did happen was the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 by the Roman Army. Much of what Jesus describes in chapter 21 fits the destruction of Jerusalem. What Jesus seems to be doing is warning his disciples about the coming destruction of Jerusalem, which in turn foreshadows the return of Jesus at the end of this age.

What will never pass away even when heaven and earth disappears (Jerusalem or whatever we depend on as being “permanent”)? What is the danger in forgetting Jesus’ words and forgetting that the troubles of this world are signs that Jesus’ coming is near? By the way, “dissipation” (verse 34) is a just a polite way of saying “binge drinking and the associated hangover.”

While we will never know the exact time or place of the return of Christ, what are the followers of Christ to do and not do while they wait?

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 

Paul wraps up his letter to the Thessalonians with some final instructions. How are church leaders to be treated (verses 12-13)? How are the Thessalonians to relate to each other (verses 14-15)? How are they to obey God’s will in their own lives (verses 16-22)?

What is Paul’s final prayer for the church in Thessalonica? Why is he confident that this prayer will be answered?

Isaiah 5:13-17         Man Is Humbled; the Lord of Hosts Is Exalted

The wickedness of the land will result in the exile of the people and their going hungry and thirsty.

What is “Sheol”? (I was tricked! In verse 14 of Chapter 5 in the ESV the word Sheol is used, alas in the NIV the translation of that word {which is “the grave”} is used. Okay, Sheol = the grave. In many places in the Old Testament in the KJV Sheol is translated as hell. The word “Sheol” does not appear in the New Testament. — j.t.)

So, what about Sheol? (The grave will be enlarged. We may agree that that means that many people will die.)

What of man and the LORD (in verses 5:15-16)? (Each to his own place: man will be humbled and the LORD will be exalted, as it should be. The irony here is that the Lord of Glory will, in fact, humble himself for his first advent! — j.t.)

Daily Bible Readings – Monday, December 10, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 9

Prayer Point: There is only one way it is possible to love your enemies as Jesus taught. It’s when we believe in a big and powerful God who defends the powerless and promises to bring justice to our world.  Follow Psalm 9’s lead in praising God for his power, justice and mercy. Pray that God will act on behalf of an oppressed group of people that you, that he will protect, deliver and secure justice for them.

Luke 21:20-38

Jesus is preparing his disciples for the coming destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in AD70 when the Romans put down a rebellion and razed the entire city to the ground. What does he advise his disciples to do when the armies approach? How extensive will the devastation be? How long will Jerusalem be trampled by the Gentiles?

History tells us that when the Roman armies marched on Jerusalem, many in Israel retreated within its walls believing that God would not allow his city and his temple to be destroyed. Jesus’ disciples, remembering Jesus’ words, fled to the east.

In verse 25 Jesus transitions to speak about his second coming. What will the signs of Jesus’ coming look and feel like? How will people on earth react to it? How are Jesus’ followers to respond in contrast?

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

The Old Testament prophets used the phrase, ‘the day of the Lord’ to refer to a day of God’s judgment. In this case, it appears that Paul speaks of THE day of the LORD, that is, the day of Christ’s return.

Will the world be expecting the arrival of King Jesus? How should we prepare for his coming so that we are not also caught by surprise? What hope did God the Father acquire for us through the death of his Son? What should we do with this hope?

Isaiah 5:7-12, 15-25  – 6 Woes

What is this first “woe” about? (Actually, that answer may not be gleaned from the text itself. From the ESV Study Bible Notes pp. 1248-9: “5:8-30 This section translates the metaphorical “wild grapes” of vv. 2and 4 into literal realities. Six “woes” lament the bitter fruits of Israel’s character (vv. 8, 11, 8, 20, 21, 22), and four “therefores” anticipate the harvest of inescapable consequences (13, 14, 24, 25). 5:8-10 Leviticus 25 taught Israel to return purchased lands in the Year of Jubilee [every 50th year]. ‘The land is mine,’ God said (Lev. 25:23, and he parceled it out to families as their permanent inheritance from him (Num. 26:55; 33:54; 1 Kings 21:1-3). Restoring property to the original owner ensured a fresh start for whomever had fallen on hard times. Therefore, those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room do business without regard for God’s instructions for his land. By accumulating more and more land, the powerful are driving the weaker members off the land that God allotted to them, and all for greed. But God sees to it that these landowners who force others out do not receive the profits they expect (Isa. 5:10).” Note: History has never recorded the releases commanded during the Year of Jubilee to have been effected.)

What of the houses and vineyards in verses 9 and 10? (The houses will remain without inhabitant. The “ten-acre” vineyard mentioned in verse 10 needs some explanation. According to the NIV footnotes: “Hebrew ten-yoke, that is, the land plowed by 10 yoke of oxen in one day.” So whatever that amount of land turns out to be, will only yield about 6 gallons of wine. The point is that the yield will be considerably less than one would anticipate.)

On to “woe” number two. What evil portent is spoken of ? (These sound like a bunch of layabouts or idlers in verse 11. These people live to drink [wine]. Verse 12 tells us that they are not appreciative of what the LORD has done for them.)

Verses 13 and 14 tell us the “therefores” of the previous verses: The people will go into exile and go hungry and thirsty.

Why is the “woe” of verses 5:18-19 so interesting? (These people want to push the sin limit with God. It looks like they want to flaunt their sin in his face and tell him “catch us if you can”.)

Why would a judgmental person like me appreciate the “woe” in verse 5:20? (“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” (NIV) This is almost self-explanatory. The society we live in today has no concept of shame but rather practices much evil to the applause of many. Abortion, unwed parenthood, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, gay marriage etc., are not soundly condemned in current mores but rather these are described as “alternative” life-styles. Let us not call sin sin! Any self-respecting dispensational would see this trend as indicative of the second advent of our Lord. Jesus is coming make no mistake about that!)

Who is the man who is “wise in his own eyes”? (That there is a “woe” attached to this verse, it may indicate the such a man is a fool.)

How does verse 5:22 give truth to verse 5:20? (According to this verse we are talking about making heroes of those at drinking wine. Perhaps this may prove to be a lost art form. — j.t.)

What are the consequences relating to verses 5:21 and 5:22? (These people can expect no harvest but rather plague-like disasters to befall them. Add to that the anger of the LORD being kindled against them does not bode well for them.)