Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, December 7, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 20

Prayer Point. Our greatest hope is  that Jesus will be victorious.  That’s why Jesus taught us to “pray, your kingdom come, your will be done.” Pray today that Christ will bring his kingdom into the broken places of our world. Pray for the faith to trust not in military and political power (chariots and horses) but that our faith will rest on the name of the Lord our God.

Matthew 22:15-22

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 Pharisees and the religious leaders of Israel understood full well that Jesus’ actions in the temple (Matthew 21:12-17) and the three parables (Matthew 21:23-46) were spoken against them. Rather than humbly repent before their God, they attempt to discredit Jesus by asking a question about the most volatile issue of their time, paying taxes to the occupying Roman Empire.

Jesus knew they were putting him in an awful position. For if he answered yes, he would lose favor with the people. If he answered no, he could bring the wrath of the Romans down on his head.

How does Jesus answer their questions? Does he fall in the camp of those who want to cooperate with the Romans, or those who wish to overthrow them, or neither?

On one side of the silver denarius was a profile of Tiberius Caesar, with the Latin inscription “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus” around the coin’s perimeter. On the opposite side was a picture of the Roman goddess of peace, Pax, with the Latin inscription “High Priest”[ESV Study Bible Notes].

As humans we are all created with the image of God stamped on us. To give God the things that are God’s would simply mean to give our lives to God.

What do you think Jesus would tell us today?

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.

2 Peter 3:11-18

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. What kind of life should we live while we wait for the “day of God” (God’s final judgment of the world)? While this world will be destroyed, what hope do God’s people look forward to?

A ______________________ AND a _________________________ (verse 13)?

The Lord’s patience meant that the suffering of Peter’s readers continued for the short-term as the “day of God” was delayed. What good comes from God’s slowness? As the letter comes to close, what does Peter perceive as the greatest threat to the church while it waits for the return of Christ? What should we grow in while we wait for Jesus?

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 4:6-13

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. What calamities did God rain down on Israel?  What was the purpose of these disasters?  Did they accomplish their purpose? Why or why not?

So what does it take for them (us?) to wake up to the “low whisper” of the LORD? Low whisper indeed! Pestilence, drought, mildew and hunger! There are at least two responses to this beckoning: either to surrender to the will of God or to continue resisting. Why is submitting to the LORD so difficult? Once our hearts are finally broken submission becomes a more natural response to God.

In verse 12 “prepare to meet your God O Israel!” sounds more like a threat than a consolation. Surely after the litany of Israel’s sins, meeting God might not be at the top of the list of things to do! On Wednesday at Panera©, I was reminded that God did not need to create anything much less me. It seems to me that whenever the LORD speaks to us he is “going out of his way” because he doesn’t need us at all. This is the season of Advent and it is time to “prepare to meet your God O Israel!” Put in this context, this is not a warning but rather a hope. “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his this temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1 ESV)

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 – Thursday, December 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 18

Prayer Point. Although Psalm 18 arises out of David’s life experience, it belongs to his son, Jesus. It is Jesus who is suffering unjustly in our place. It is God the Father who rescues his Son from death and crowned him the King of Kings. Meditate on the love, forgiveness and power of God expressed through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Matthew 21:33-46

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.Jesus often used parables to explain his teachings, but here he uses a story to announce God’s judgment. The vineyard in the story represents Israel, the people of God. The landowner is God. The tenants were those who were entrusted with the care of the vineyard, the chief priests and elders of Israel. The servants of the landowner represent the prophets of Israel (Isaiah, Jeremiah are two examples). How are the prophets of God treated (see also Matthew 23:29-32)? How is the son of the landowner treated and why? Who do you think this son represents?

What will happen to the son who was killed (verse 42)? What will become of the wicked tenants? To whom will the vineyard be given? Why are the chief priests ready to kill Jesus at the end of his message?

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.

2 Peter 3:11-18

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. What kind of life should we live while we wait for the “day of God” (God’s final judgment of the world)? While this world will be destroyed, what hope do God’s people look forward to?

A ______________________ AND a _________________________ (verse 13)?

The Lord’s patience meant that the suffering of Peter’s readers continued for the short-term as the “day of God” was delayed. What good comes from God’s slowness? As the letter comes to close, what does Peter perceive as the greatest threat to the church while it waits for the return of Christ? What should we grow in while we wait for Jesus?

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 4:6-13

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. What calamities did God rain down on Israel?  What was the purpose of these disasters?  Did they accomplish their purpose? Why or why not?

So what does it take for them (us?) to wake up to the “low whisper” of the LORD? Low whisper indeed! Pestilence, drought, mildew and hunger! There are at least two responses to this beckoning: either to surrender to the will of God or to continue resisting. Why is submitting to the LORD so difficult?Once our hearts are finally broken submission becomes a more natural response to God.

In verse 12 “prepare to meet your God O Israel!” sounds more like a threat than a consolation. Surely after the litany of Israel’s sins, meeting God might not be at the top of the list of things to do! On Wednesday at Panera©, I was reminded that God did not need to create anything much less me. It seems to me that whenever the LORD speaks to us he is “going out of his way” because he doesn’t need us at all. This is the season of Advent and it is time to “prepare to meet your God O Israel!” Put in this context, this is not a warning but rather a hope. “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his this temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1 ESV)

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.

 

Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:1-24

Prayer Point. The Law of God is more than a set of rules, it is the path to becoming fully alive. Pray that God will give you a desire to follow Jesus (who perfectly kept the Law), a heart that does not stray from God, and a love for God and his way of life.

Matthew 21:23-32

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. Jesus, who has just cleared the temple of the money-changers and sellers, is challenged to prove his authority to take such action.  How does Jesus avoid answering the question directly?  Why can’t the chief priests and elders answer Jesus’ counter-question?  What motive has Jesus exposed?  Why are the tax-collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of heaven ahead of the chief priests and elders?

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.

2 Peter 3:1-10

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. We live during a time between two comings. It began in Peter’s time and it continues until this day. We look back to the first coming of Jesus who lived, died and rose from the dead. We look forward to his return. We have been waiting for close to two thousand years.

What seeds of doubt will scoffers seek to sow in the minds of believers? Why does God choose to delay the time of Jesus’ coming? What will the coming of Jesus look and feel like?

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 3:12-4:5

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. When a lion attacks a sheep what is left for a shepherd to recover (verse 12)?  A graphic image of the coming judgment.

When judgment comes, what two things are especially marked for destruction (verse 14-15)? 

Chapter 4 begins with the Lord seething in anger for he taunts his own people:

“‘Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!’ declares the LORD.” (Amos 4:4-5 ESV)

The real nasty thing in the above cited verses is the sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened (contains yeast). (During Passover a good Jew would not even have leaven in his house.) Most often leaven is a symbol of sinfulness. The sacrifices suggested here are in fact sacrilegious.

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.

 

Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 5

Prayer Point. “In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Before you begin your day today, give your concerns to God, lay them at his feet and then sit in silence.  Having sat quietly, now go through the day with an expectation that God can and will act.

Matthew 21:12-22

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. There are unfulfilled dreams for the temple which drives Jesus’ anger.  He quotes Isaiah 56:7 as he overturns the tables of the sellers and moneychangers. Here a fuller picture of that dream:

Isaiah 56:6-7 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD and to worship him … these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house [temple] will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

In the temple of Jesus’ day, there was only one place where Gentiles could come to worship God and that was the outer court called the Court of the Gentiles. That was the court where the moneychangers and sellers set up shop effectively shutting out the Gentiles from worshiping. Could you imagine worshiping God in the middle of a market? These conniving opportunists had all but killed God’s dream that the nations of the world worship him there.

It gets worse. These moneychangers and sellers also gouged the pilgrims who had no choice but to purchase their services. The poor were exploited and the foreigners were excluded in the house of God.

What does Jesus do once he shuts down the sellers and moneychangers? Who responds positively to Jesus’ actions in the temple? Who is indignant?

Verses 18-22 sound quite strange to our ears until we understand what it means for Jesus to be a prophet. Prophets not only spoke their messages, they acted them out. The fig tree in this story is a prop, a symbol for something else. Considering what you have just read, who do you think the fig tree represents? Why is the fig tree cursed? What kind of fruit was Jesus looking for in Israel that was absent?

The disciples are amazed at Jesus’ power. What will take for his disciples to do the things that Jesus did?

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.

2 Peter 1:12-21

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. 2 Peter is a letter that was written by the Apostle Peter and circulated among the churches that existed at the time. The letter opened with him encouraging the churches to grow in their faith and an observation that if they weren’t experiencing growth it was because “they had forgotten that they had been cleansed from[their] past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)

Peter will also remind the churches to pay attention to the words of the prophets. This is a reference to what we call the Old Testament and in particular books such as Isaiah, Daniel and Ezekiel. Peter does not see these books as contradictory to the teachings of Jesus, but are made “more certain” in that their words were fulfilled by the life of Christ.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Peter wants to encourage these Christians now that he knows that he is nearing the end of his life (verse 8-9, 12-14)
  • The message that Peter shared with these Christians, what he saw, what he passed on. Compare Mark 9:2-12 to verses 16-18.
  • The respect Peter gives to the Old Testament prophets in verses 19-21.

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 3:1-11

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. For all the impending disaster, still the opening line of Chapter 3 bespeaks the LORD’s anguish: “Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:…” (Amos 3:1 ESV emphasis added) The LORD then warns them that judgment is coming because of their iniquities. He goes on to point out that he had continually sent warnings and signs and prophets to proclaim, but to no avail. “For the Lord does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7 ESV) So Israel shall be surrounded by its enemies (notably Assyria) and will not succeed against them. Review the rhetorical questions in verses 2-6. How do they apply today?

What sins in Israel are provoking God to bring judgment (see verses 9-11)?

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.

 

Daily Bible Readings – Monday, December 2, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 2

Prayer Point. It is easy to forget about the power of God when we watch news or read the papers. Psalm 2 reminds us that Jesus, the Anointed One, is on the throne.  He is in control. Pray that these words might become real to us, that we might live in our world with bold, fearless love.

Matthew 21:1-11

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. It was not uncommon for Jewish royalty to ride donkeys. They rode horses during times of war, but donkeys in peacetime. When you consider this and the prophecy in Matthew 21:5, what is Jesus saying about himself and his relationship with the people in Jerusalem?

The pilgrims traveling with Jesus were coming to celebrate the Passover. The Passover is significant because it commemorated the time when God struck the Egyptians with plagues and parted the Red Sea which Israel passed through on their way to freedom. Passover raised the hopes that if God had done it in the past, perhaps this year he will do it again. What hopes do the pilgrims with Jesus have for him?

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.

2 Peter 1:1-11

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. Peter, the author of this letter, was part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples and was an “apostle” or “sent one” commissioned to bring his message to the world. This particular letter is a general letter, addressed to those who followed Jesus at the time and was circulated among their churches.

Letters from that time period followed a common format:

  • From (verse 1a)
  • To (verse 1b)
  • Greeting (verse 2)

Body of the Letter (verses 3 and following)

Pay close attention to …

  • How Peter and those he is writing to received their faith (verse 1).
  • How we receive grace and peace (verse 2).
  • What God’s power has given us (verses 3-4).
  • How we live in response to what God has done (verses 5-11).
  • Why some fail to make progress in their faith (verses 8-9).

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 2:9-16

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. In Amos 2:6, Amos directs his warnings of God’s judgment towards Israel. He reminds them that “for three transgressions of Israel and for four, I will not revoke the punishment”. (v. 5) He then lists the offenses.

We pick up the prophecy with the LORD recalling how he had destroyed the Amorites who had, before the Hebrews came on the scene, inhabited the area of Canaan which was to become the inheritance of Judah. Another reminder about the deliverance from Egypt and the sojourn in the wilderness is recounted. These memories are brought forth so that these “stiff-necked” people will finally (?) see and understand that it was not their own strength that brought them these victories.

What sins are the people of Israel guilty of (see verse 12)?

In Numbers chapter 6 the description and responsibility of the Nazirites is outlined. “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.

The most notable Nazirite (though perhaps not a great example) was Samson. Samuel and John the Baptist were believed to have been Nazirites though they are not identified as such in scripture. Paul the apostle is also thought to have taken a Nazirite vow as inferred in Acts 21:23-27. The nearest approximation we have today to a Nazirite might be monks and nuns.

The upshot of all this is that in Israel vows to the LORD were not taken seriously and were often broken.

What will judgment look like for Israel (see verses 13-16)?

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.

 

Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, December 22, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 138

Prayer Point: When Jesus taught us to pray, “hallowed be your name,” he may have had this Psalm in mind. David so treasures God that he is not content to worship him himself, he wants the whole earth to praise him. Pick two or three of the reasons David gives to worship God that jump out and offer him your own psalm of praise. Pray that you will give an opportunity to share what you’ve learned in this psalm with someone in your life so that might praise him as well.

Luke 3:1-9 

Background. Luke, the author of this book, was as a historian. You’ll notice that he is keen to demonstrate that John the Baptist was a real historical figure who ministered in the area of the Jordan River in the years 27-29 AD.

John the Baptist’s coming was foretold hundreds of years earlier by the prophet Isaiah (see verses 4-6). His role is to prepare the people of Israel for Jesus, who will bring God’s salvation.

Pay close attention …

  • How John the Baptist prepares the people for Jesus’ arrival.
  • What troubles him about the crowds that are coming out to hear him and how he warns them.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share
What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Jude 17-25 

Background. Jude, the author of this letter, is the brother of James (the one who wrote the book of James) and the half brother of Jesus. Jude is quite similar to the 2 Peter, which we have been reading this week, in both form and theme. Both books are circular letters in that they were written to Christians in general and circulated among the churches. Jude, like 2 Peter, also warns Christians of false teachers who will infiltrate the church and threaten their faith.

Pay close attention to …
The characteristics and tactics of these false teachers or scoffers (see verses 17-19).
How Christians are to stand up to these false teachers (see verses 20-21).
How we are to encourage others who are susceptible to these false teachers and are in danger of abandoning their faith in Jesus. (verses 22-23).
The only person who can keep us from falling (verses 24-25).

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share
What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Isaiah 10:20-27        The Promise to the Remnant

On whom will the remnant of Israel and the survivors [which never sounds good] of the house of Jacob lean? (“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them [Assyria — the immediate culprit], but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.” (Isaiah 10:20 ESV))

What expression is used in this reading which will trigger thoughts of the “end of the age”? (The phrase “In that day…” occurs in verse 10:20 and 10:27. This is very different from “For in a very little while…” which is slated for Assyrian judgment.)

What is significant about the term “remnant”? (The use of the term “remnant” drives home the point that “many are called but few are chosen” as Jesus would later say. (See Matthew 22:14) The prophecy to Abraham was that his descendants would be numbered like the stars or like the sand on the seashore; so great that they could not be counted. Here we are told that but a remnant of all that great multitude will “survive”.)

What does “Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness.” mean? (We have seen that idolatry is rampant all over. Certainly in the foreign nations but now also among God’s own people. It is a serious sin to worship anyone or anything except the LORD — see the Second of the Ten Commandments. This evil is far more offensive than we can imagine against such a holy God. That is why he does not take it lightly. Such idolatry requires a holy and just God to remove it by whatever means he deems just. So he will destroy but his destruction is just. “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?'”” (Isaiah 45:9 ESV) Actually, God doesn’t have to answer to us anyway — it truly is none of our business. So we end up with “destruction overflowing with righteousness.”.)

Perhaps I got a little ahead of myself. Verse 10:26 mentions that the LORD had “struck Midian at the rock of Oreb”. This I referred to above (ahem, yesterday) in my reference to Gideon.

This section closes with another reference to “in that day” which I take to mean Jesus’ second advent (coming).

Daily Bible Readings – Friday, December 21, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 51

Prayer Point: David composed this psalm in the aftermath of his biggest moral failure (read the subtitle). We too must be broken by our sin and humbly return to God. Use this psalm as your own prayer of repentance. Let it guide you as confess your sins to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Matthew 11:2-15 

Background. John the Baptist, the prophet who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, has been thrown into prison for his willingness to call out the sins of King Herod. John had expected Jesus to usher in a new kingdom, but he is discouraged because the old kings cling to power while he rots in jail. The question is “are you the one or should we wait for another …”

In this passage you will see a reference to Elijah who was one of Israel’s great prophets. It was believed that Elijah would return prior to the coming of the Messiah to prepare the people for his arrival.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus regards John despite his doubt.
  • The evidence Jesus uses to confirm that he indeed is the one the world has been waiting for.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share
What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

2 Peter 2:17-22 

Background. 2 Peter is a letter that was written by the Apostle Peter and circulated among the churches that existed at the time. In chapter two Peter warns the church of false teachers who will infiltrate the church and lead many Christians astray.

Pay close attention to …
The characteristics and behavior of the false teachers, the “them” of verse 17.
What Peter thinks of people who have heard the gospel and then gave up following Jesus as opposed to those who never heard it at all.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share
What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Isaiah 10:5-19      Assyria’s Turn for Judgment

How has the LORD used Assyria? (“Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury!” (Isaiah 10:5 ESV))

What purpose does Assyria serve? (“Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.” (Isaiah 10:6 ESV) So Israel (the northern kingdom) is being plagued both within and without. Judah’s time is coming!)

We know what the LORD intends in this venture, but what does the Assyrian hope to gain? (“…but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; for he says: ‘Are not my commander all kings?” (Isaiah 10:7b-8 ESV) The Assyrian cannot know that he is but a tool in God’s arsenal against unrighteousness, therefore he cannot imagine his own fate. Remember, while the Assyrian may be God’s instrument, he is still accountable for his own unrighteousness.)

While it is clear (to me anyway) that the LORD has declared judgment on Ephraim, it may not have served as an object lesson to Judah. In fact, it did not! What is the warning, well not so much a warning as a prophecy, in verses 10:10-11? (“As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as have done to Samaria and her images?” (ESV) I guess the question to ask here is whether Judah actually had an opportunity to repent or was the judgment already written and that it was too late?)

Why is the king of Assyria singled out for judgment? (“When the LORD has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says: ‘By the strength of my hand have I done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand … I have gathered … ” (Isaiah 10:12-13, 14 ESV) All this “I” and “my”. This is the arrogance of the king of Assyria. In the book of Judges (Chapter 7), Gideon was faced with a similar issue. He was told to gather a fighting force to go against the Midianites and others. He mustered a force of 32,000 men for the venture. “The LORD said to Gideon, ‘The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, “My own hand has saved me.”‘” Thus the LORD whittled Gideon’s force from 32,000 to a mere 300 men. Such a force would not prevail against an innumerable army (for several nations had gathered against Gideon). And yet the LORD and Gideon won the day. The LORD was the one who brought victory to Assyria and not its king. Assyria would learn.)

How does the LORD manifest his power over the Assyrians? (“Therefore the LORD GOD of hosts will send a wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. … The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the Lord will destroy, both soul and body.” (Isaiah 10:16, 18 ESV))