Daily Bible Reading – Sunday, May 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 34

Prayer Point.  David is remembering when God miraculously saved him and allowing that memory to move to worship. Take time today to think about a time when God intervened in your life and offer God your own prayer of praise.

Matthew 13:24-34

Background. Jesus tells three stories, or parables, to illustrate the growth of the kingdom of heaven on earth.  God’s will is obeyed perfectly in heaven, but through Jesus and his ministry, this kingdom is now invading the earth.  Jesus’ mission will not be complete until all evil on earth is eradicated and God’s will is obeyed on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’ previous story, the Parable of the Sower (Luke 13:1-23), seeds symbolize Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God.  These seeds are planted in the soil of the human heart and if the soil is good, having been prepared by God himself, the seed springs to life and produces a harvest.

In today’s reading, the good seed, the mustard seed and the yeast will continue that same metaphor; symbolizing Jesus’ message.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the enemy attempts to spoil the harvest of good seed (verses 25).
  • When the farmer will deal with the weeds and why.
  • If the good seed is Jesus’ words planted in the hearts of his followers, the weeds symbolize _____________.
  • In the parable of the mustard seed, how does the kingdom of heaven begin and where does it end up.
  • What the spread of the yeast tells us about how the kingdom of heaven spreads.

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)

1 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Background. 1 Timothy is a letter from Paul to Timothy, Paul’s “son in the faith” who was personally mentored  by him.  At the time this letter was written, Timothy is now on his own.  Paul continues to guide him through letters such as this one. “I am writing these instructions so that … you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household …” (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

Pay close attention to …

  • The mystery and source of godliness.  Note that Jesus is the “he” of verse 16.
  • The challenges the church will face in verses 4:1-5.
  • What the false teachers are saying that is contrary to what God said.

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)

Leviticus 25:1-17

Well, if the week has seven days, and one is to rest on one of the seven days (the Sabbath), it stands to reason that the LORD would declare, with regard to tilling the land, that the seventh year would be a year of rest for the land.

Now, if planting is forbidden, how are the people to gather food for themselves? (“Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you – for yourself, your manservant and maidservant, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your lands. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.” (Leviticus 25:6-7 NIV))

What makes the Year of Jubilee the Year of Jubilee? Again with the sevens. Seven times seven comes to forty-nine. Seven sabbaths of years. During the seventh (!) month (that month of the New Year, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths) the trumpet will sound on the tenth day of the seventh month (the Day of Atonement). What happens then? (“Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines.” (Leviticus 25:10-11 NIV) It is traditional in our culture to refer to marriages which have reached fifty years as a “Golden Jubilee”. I wonder if there is a connection to this.)

“In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own __________________. (Property)

If land had to be sold during the time up to the Year of Jubilee, how was it to be returned to the rightful owner? (The price of the land was to be, what we call, prorated. “You are to buy from your countryman on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And he is to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what he is really selling you is the number of crops.” (Leviticus 25:15-16 NIV))

The Lord wants to believe his people are honest. What does he tell them to encourage them to honesty? (“Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God.” (Leviticus 25:17 NIV))

Ecclesiasticus 43:1-12; 27-32 (Not Scripture but still worthwhile reading)

1    But the ungodly were assailed to the end by
pitiless anger,
for God knew in advance even their future actions:
2    how, though they themselves had permitted your
people to depart
and hastily sent them out,
they would change their minds and pursue them.
3    For while they were still engaged in
mourning
and were lamenting at the graves of their dead,
they reached another foolish decision,
and pursued as fugitives those whom they had
begged and compelled to leave.
4    For the fate they deserved drew them on to their
end,
and made them forget what had happened,
in order that they might fill up the punishment
that their torments still lacked,
and that your people might experience an
incredible journey,
but they themselves might meet a strange death.

6    For the whole creation in its nature was
fashioned anew,
complying with your commands,
so that your children might be kept unharmed.
7    The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp,
and dry land emerging where water had stood
before,
an unhindered way out of the Red Sea,
and a grassy plain out of the raging waves,
8    where those protected by your hand passed through
as one nation,
after gazing on marvelous wonders.

—————————————————————————————————————–

18    For the elements changed places with one another,
as on a harp the notes vary the nature of the
rhythm,
while each note remains the same.
This may be clearly inferred from the sight of what
took place.
19    For land animals were transformed into water creatures,
and creatures that swim moved over to the land.
20    Fire even in water retained its normal power,
and water forgot its fire-quenching nature.
21    Flames, on the contrary, failed to consume
the flesh of perishable creatures that walked among
them
nor did they melt the crystalline, quick-melting
kind of heavenly food.

22    For in everything, O LORD, you have exalted and
glorified your people,
and you have not neglected to help them at all
times and in all places.

Pay close attention to …

  • How reckless the Egyptians became; mad with rage (vv. 1-8 )
  • How nature took part in Israel’s escape (vv. 18-22 )

Unfortunately even with this accounting of the Exodus, Israel managed to “forget” the LORD and began a regime of whining and bellyaching as they roamed throughout the wilderness.  Memories run short on blessings but long on grudges.

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)

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Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, May 4, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 23

Prayer Point.  God’s way is a journey that leads us to the house of the LORD, but takes us through the valleys of the shadow of death. It is difficult journey, but God promises to be with us everywhere we go. Meditate on the promises this psalm offers us and prayer for the faith to believe them.

Luke 9:1-17

Background. Jewish rabbis educated their disciples (students) following a simple pattern:
The rabbi does and the disciples watch.
The disciples do and the rabbi watches.
The disciples  are released to carry on the rabbi’s ministry and teaching on their own.

So far in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ disciples have watched while Jesus preached the kingdom of God and healed the sick.  Now, the disciples are ready for the second stage in their training.  They will be sent out to do what Jesus has been doing.

Herod the tetrarch is the local ruler of province of Judea.  Despite his fear of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, he had him put to death in order to save face (Matthew 14:1-12).  Needless to say, Herod is stricken by a paranoid and guilty fear.

Pay close attention to …

  • The two things the disciples are sent to do.
  • What Jesus provides them (verse 1) and does not provide them (verse 3) for their mission.
  • Where the disciples are to go and how long they are to stay and what they are to do if they are refused hospitality.
  • How Herod reacts to the news of the mission of Jesus’ disciples and why.
  • What the disciples do when they return to Jesus and think about how it fits into their education as disciples (verse 10).
  • How Jesus tests his disciples a second time when the crowds flock to him.
  • What the way Jesus fed the crowds says about his power and his ability to provide. What did the disciples provide?  What do Jesus do with it?

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)

Romans 15:1-13

Background.  Every church will have strong and weak Christians. In a world where the weak are always forced to serve the strong, Paul calls us to something different.

Pay close attention to …

  • How strong Christians are called to treat weak Christians and why (verses 1-4).
  • How Jews and Gentiles are called to treat each other in the church and why it is so important.

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)

Leviticus 23:23-44

Chapter 23 goes into greater detail regarding the feasts of the LORD which occur in the seventh month (that would correspond with our September – October.) The Feast of Trumpets: the Jewish New Year. Since there were no written calendars rampant throughout Israel a system was developed to announce the beginning of the month. The system chosen upon was that of announcing the new month with the blasts of the trumpet. However, in the seventh month, this was to be a sacred celebration which was launched by a gathering of the sacred assembly. So the first day of the seventh month was to be a Sabbath to the LORD. Today we know this day as Rosh Hashanah.

What is next on the agenda for the seventh month (see verses 26-32)? (The next big event – perhaps the biggest in the year – is the “Day of Atonement”.)
How important does the LORD view this Day of Atonement? (“Do not work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. (Leviticus 23:28-32 NIV))

What day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement? (The Day of Atonement is to be celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month. v. 26)
The Feast of Tabernacles can be described in two ways. Can you describe them? (The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) might be likened to a celebration at the harvest. The celebration begins with a sabbath of a solemn assembly and is marked by the people living in booths or tabernacles.)
What is the point of living in tents (or booths or tabernacles) for seven days? (“Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt.” (Leviticus 23:42-43 NIV))

What is special about the sabbath?  (“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly.  You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:3 NIV))

This is clearly outlined in the fourth commandment “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”  What does the Sabbath represent?  (The Sabbath reminds us that the LORD made all of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day.  If it is good enough for God it shall be good enough for all of us.  The Sabbath will be restored, along with everything else, once Jesus returns.)

When is the Passover to begin?  (The Passover is to be observed on the evening of the 14th day of the first month (March – April) and is to last for seven days.)

The principal feature about the Passover is the absence of ________________________.  (Yeast or leaven)
How are the beginning and the ending of the Passover celebrated?  (There is to be a sacred assembly and no one is to do any regular work.  These, then, become Sabbaths to the LORD.)

What is the next feast described? (The next feast is the Feast of the Firstfruits.)

What would be the purpose of the Feast of the Firstfruits?  (The Feast of the Firstfruits was to give thanks to the LORD for the coming harvest.  Typically the barley would be the first crop which would be followed by the wheat harvest.  So the Feast of the Firstfruits would be both a thanksgiving for the LORD’s bounty as well as the promise of more bounty to come.)

The offering to the LORD was to be a sheaf of the first grain; a sacrifice of a lamb a year old (without defect, of course); a grain offering of  two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil which is offered by fire, and a quarter of a hin of wine.  [An ephah was about 3/5 of a bushel – whatever 1/5 of that was = the offering;  a hin equals about 4 quarts (a gallon) and in this case a quart of wine.)  What was prohibited until the very day this offering was made?  (One must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain.)

Roughly how much time elapses between Passover and the “Feast of Weeks”?  (There are approximately 50 days between Passover and the Feast of Weeks.)

What is the rendering of this feast in the New Testament?  (The New Testament uses the Greek terminology for this time-frame: Pentecost, i.e., fifty days)

What is the reminder regarding the reaping of the harvest in verse 22?  (The reminder is not to glean the excess of the harvest, but rather, to leave it for the poor and the alien.)

Wisdom 19:1-8, 18-22 (Not Scripture but still worthwhile reading)

1    But the ungodly were assailed to the end by
pitiless anger,
for God knew in advance even their future actions:
2    how, though they themselves had permitted your
people to depart
and hastily sent them out,
they would change their minds and pursue them.
3    For while they were still engaged in
mourning
and were lamenting at the graves of their dead,
they reached another foolish decision,
and pursued as fugitives those whom they had
begged and compelled to leave.
4    For the fate they deserved drew them on to their
end,
and made them forget what had happened,
in order that they might fill up the punishment
that their torments still lacked,
and that your people might experience an
incredible journey,
but they themselves might meet a strange death.

6    For the whole creation in its nature was
fashioned anew,
complying with your commands,
so that your children might be kept unharmed.
7    The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp,
and dry land emerging where water had stood
before,
an unhindered way out of the Red Sea,
and a grassy plain out of the raging waves,
8    where those protected by your hand passed through
as one nation,
after gazing on marvelous wonders.

—————————————————————————————————————–

18    For the elements changed places with one another,
as on a harp the notes vary the nature of the
rhythm,
while each note remains the same.
This may be clearly inferred from the sight of what
took place.
19    For land animals were transformed into water creatures,
and creatures that swim moved over to the land.
20    Fire even in water retained its normal power,
and water forgot its fire-quenching nature.
21    Flames, on the contrary, failed to consume
the flesh of perishable creatures that walked among
them
nor did they melt the crystalline, quick-melting
kind of heavenly food.

22    For in everything, O LORD, you have exalted and
glorified your people,
and you have not neglected to help them at all
times and in all places.

Pay close attention to …

  • How reckless the Egyptians became; mad with rage (vv. 1-8 )
  • How nature took part in Israel’s escape (vv. 18-22 )

Unfortunately even with this accounting of the Exodus, Israel managed to “forget” the LORD and began a regime of whining and bellyaching as they roamed throughout the wilderness.  Memories run short on blessings but long on grudges.

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)

Daily Bible Readings – Friday, May 3, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 106

Prayer Point.  I can’t read this psalm without hearing of the voice of the crucified thief pleading with Jesus, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He was a sinner who hoped that somehow Jesus might open the doors of paradise for him. We are in the same position. Psalm 106 is a psalm of repentance. It speaks of Israel’s sins, but what are yours? Confess them to God and ask him for his forgiveness and the hope of eternal life.

Luke 8:40-56

Background.  While Jesus was on the other side of the sea of Galilee healing a demon-possessed Gentile man (see Luke 8:26-39), the twelve year old daughter of a synagogue ruler (sort of like a pastor) falls ill and is close to death. Jairus, the girl’s father, begs Jesus to hurry, but Jesus does not seem to be in a rush.

On the way to the house, Jesus will encounter a women who had been bleeding for 12 twelve years.  This was far more than a medical problem.  She was considered unclean while she bled and everyone and everything she touched became unclean as well and was forced to undergo an elaborate cleansing ritual.  For all that time this woman was deprived of human touch and  closeness.

Pay close attention to …

  • Who is important enough for Jesus to delay his visit to Jairus’ house.
  • How the bleeding woman reacts to being discovered by Jesus and why.
  • What happens to the woman once she touches Jesus and why.  In Jewish law, when a clean person comes in contact with the unclean, the clean becomes unclean. With Jesus, the unclean becomes _____________________.

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)

Romans 14:13-23

Background. The Jewish dietary laws that governed which foods were clean (fit for eating) and unclean (unfit for eating) were overturned by God after the death and resurrection of Jesus (see Acts 9:9-15).  These laws were no longer necessary, but old habits die hard and many Jewish followers of Jesus continued to follow the old dietary laws.  This threatened to split the church between those who ate everything and those who continued to follow the old traditions.

Paul believes that Christians are free to eat what the Law of Moses had previously considered to be unclean foods. But there is something greater than being right.  It’s the call to love those whose faith may not be as strong as our own.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is more important to Paul than his freedom to eat whatever he wanted. For what reason should we sometimes put aside our freedom.

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)

Leviticus 23:1-22

What is special about the sabbath?  (“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly.  You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:3 NIV))

This is clearly outlined in the fourth commandment “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”  What does the Sabbath represent?  (The Sabbath reminds us that the LORD made all of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day.  If it is good enough for God it shall be good enough for all of us.  The Sabbath will be restored, along with everything else, once Jesus returns.)

When is the Passover to begin?  (The Passover is to be observed on the evening of the 14th day of the first month (March – April) and is to last for seven days.)

The principal feature about the Passover is the absence of ________________________.  (Yeast or leaven)
How are the beginning and the ending of the Passover celebrated?  (There is to be a sacred assembly and no one is to do any regular work.  These, then, become Sabbaths to the LORD.)

What is the next feast described? (The next feast is the Feast of the Firstfruits.)

What would be the purpose of the Feast of the Firstfruits?  (The Feast of the Firstfruits was to give thanks to the LORD for the coming harvest.  Typically the barley would be the first crop which would be followed by the wheat harvest.  So the Feast of the Firstfruits would be both a thanksgiving for the LORD’s bounty as well as the promise of more bounty to come.)

The offering to the LORD was to be a sheaf of the first grain; a sacrifice of a lamb a year old (without defect, of course); a grain offering of  two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil which is offered by fire, and a quarter of a hin of wine.  [An ephah was about 3/5 of a bushel – whatever 1/5 of that was = the offering;  a hin equals about 4 quarts (a gallon) and in this case a quart of wine.)  What was prohibited until the very day this offering was made?  (One must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain.)

Roughly how much time elapses between Passover and the “Feast of Weeks”?  (There are approximately 50 days between Passover and the Feast of Weeks.)

What is the rendering of this feast in the New Testament?  (The New Testament uses the Greek terminology for this time-frame: Pentecost, i.e., fifty days)

What is the reminder regarding the reaping of the harvest in verse 22?  (The reminder is not to glean the excess of the harvest, but rather, to leave it for the poor and the alien.)

Wisdom 16:15 – 17:1 (Not Scripture but still worthwhile reading)

15    To escape from your hand is impossible;
16    for the ungodly, refusing to know you,
were flogged by the strength of your arm,
pursued by unusual rains and hail
and relentless storms,
and utterly consumed by fire.
17    For — most incredible of all — in water, which
quenches all things,
the fire had still greater effect,
for the universe defends the righteous.
18    At one time the flame was restrained,
so that it might not consume the creatures sent
against the ungodly,
but that seeing this they might know
that they were being pursued by the
judgment of God;
19    and at another time even in the midst of water it
burned more intensely than fire,
to destroy the crops of the unrighteous land.

20    Instead of these things you gave your people food of angels,
and without their toil you supplied them from
heaven with bread ready to eat,
providing every pleasure and suited to every taste.
21    For your sustenance manifested your
sweetness toward your children;
and the bread, ministering to the desire of the one
who took it,
was changed to suit everyone’s liking.
22    Snow and ice withstood fire without melting,
so that they might know that the crops of their
enemies
were being destroyed by the fire that blazed in the
hail
and flashed in the showers of rain;
23    whereas the fire, in order that the righteous might
be fed,
even forgot its native power.

24    For creation, serving you who made it,
exerts itself to punish the unrighteous,
and in kindness relaxes on behalf of those who
trust in you.
25    Therefore at that time also, changed into all forms,
it [creation] served your all-nourishing bounty,
according to the desire of those who had need,
26    so that your children, whom you loved, O LORD,
might learn
that it is not the production of crops that feeds
mankind
but that your word sustains those who trust in you. [← See Deuteronomy 8:3]
27    For what was not destroyed by fire
was melted when simply warmed by a
fleeting ray of the sun,
28    to make it known that one must rise before the sun
to give you thanks,
and must pray to you at the dawning of the light;
29    for the hope of an ungrateful person will melt like
wintry frost,
and flow away like waste water.

Chapter 17
Verse 1

1    Great are your judgments and hard
to describe;
therefore uninstructed souls have gone astray.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why it is impossible for the ungodly to escape from God’s hand (vv. 16:16-19 )
  • How God provided for his people (v.16:(20 )
  • How fire is “changed” to suit God’s purposes (vv. 16:22-23 )
  • How God used creation (vv. 16:24-25 )
  • Verse 16:26 referring to God’s word as a source of sustenance

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)

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, May 2, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 74

Prayer Point.  How do you pray when you lose something you believed was forever? That is the dark place this prayer originates. Asaph laments the destruction of his beloved city, Jerusalem, and God’s temple. He asks, “why have you rejected us forever, O God?” Think of someone in your life that is in this place and pray psalm 74 on their behalf.

Luke 8:26-39

Background. Jesus has just sailed with his disciples through a violent storm (see Luke 8:22-25) to save one filthy demon-possessed Gentile man. We know that Jesus has left Israel and entered Gentile territory because the local villagers kept herds of pigs. Pigs could not be eaten according to Old Testament law and therefore would not be seen in a Jewish community.

The sea is also significant in this story.  The sea was regarded by the ancients as a place of evil and fear, largely because of the storms that Jesus and his disciples had just experienced.  The Abyss is a place where demons, angels who fell into sin, are sometimes imprisoned as they await the judgment of God (see Revelation 20:1-3).

Pay close attention to …

  • How the legion of demons within the possessed man react to the presence of Jesus.
  • Where the demons are sent instead of the Abyss.
  • The local villagers’ reaction to seeing the demon-possessed man clothed and in his right mind.
  • Why Jesus refuses the healed man’s request to come with him and what he asks him to do instead.

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)

Romans 14:1-12

Background.  Here is a quick outline of Paul’s letter to the Romans:

  • What God the Father did for sinners  through Jesus Christ (chapters 1-11).
  • What we do in response to God’s grace (chapters 12-15).

Jewish dietary laws divided Christians in Paul’s day.  We know from Acts 9:9-15 that the Old Testament laws governing what foods could and could not be eaten had been abolished. The problem was that many who had “weak” faith could not bring themselves to break with the tradition that had been handed down to Moses and continued the same practices.  This created a divide in the church between those who ate meats that had previously been forbidden and those who could not.

Pay close attention to …

  • How those with “strong” faith and ate everything are to view those with “weaker” faith.

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)

Leviticus 19:26-37

“Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.  Do not practice divination or sorcery.”  Why would there be a law against eating meat with the blood still in it?  (In fairness, you will have to refer to Chapter 17 verse 11 which states: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for one’s life.  Therefore I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.’”  What is interesting is that the laws the LORD set forth are not limited to only the Israelites but to for foreigner among them as well.  Okay, I can’t find among the Ten Commandments how this prohibition would fit in.)

Why is there a prohibition against sorcery or divination?  Were not the prophets “diviners”? (The prophets of Baal were considered “diviners” whereas the prophets of the LORD were considered “seers”.  That may seem like semantics or “hair-splitting”, but it is a valid distinction.  The false prophets “prophesy” what they think the king wants to hear.  The LORD will send a spirit of delusion among these false prophets so that they believe their own deceptions.  1 Kings Chapter 22 recounts a vivid encounter of one true prophet of the LORD against four hundred or so prophets of Baal.  Here the four hundred plus prophets are advising the king (Ahab) to go to war against the king of Aram to reclaim the territory known as Ramoth Gilead.  Ahab, the king of Israel, has asked Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to join him.  Jehoshaphat makes only one request: that Ahab seek the LORD’s counsel.  Now Ahab trots out the only prophet of the LORD in Israel.  Micaiah, the true prophet at first urges on Ahab, evidently in such a sarcastic manner that it prompts Ahab to say: “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” (1 Kings 22:16 NIV)  Micaiah continues: “‘I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, “These people have no master.  Let each one go home in peace.”  The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?’  Micaiah continued, ‘Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right hand and on his left.  And the LORD said, “Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?” … Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, “I will entice him.”  “By what means?”  The LORD asked.  “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said.  “You will succeed in enticing him,” said the LORD.  “Go do it.”’  ‘“So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours.  The LORD has decreed disaster for you.’”  Clearly Ahab was unimpressed with Micaiah’s encouraging words and sentenced him off to prison until he should return victorious, to which Micaiah replies: “If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.”  (1 Kings 22:1-28 NIV)  The principal reason to avoid diviners, soothsayers, fortunetellers is because they provide inroads of evil spirits into one’s life.   Another event regarding fortunetellers can be found in 1 Samuel Chapter 28 where Saul consults the Witch of Endor.  Again, a wrong turn for Saul.  Here the witch actually brings up Samuel’s spirit whereupon Samuel condemns the act and informs Saul that his life will end on the morrow.  Exciting reading!  All of this just for divination and sorcery!)

Verse 27 talks of not cutting the hair at the sides of your head or clipping off the edges of one’s beard.  These prohibitions were instituted because this was the type of thing the Canaanites practiced.  The Jews were to remain separate.  This practice is still observed by many orthodox Jews even today.

The laws against cutting one’s body and applying a tattoo (for the dead) to the body again reflect the practices of the heathen of the land.  While I have no personal opposition to tattoos on people, nowadays the tattoos are going a bit far – both in number and in graphics.  Anyway, an argument could be made against tattoos by virtue of the fact that the believers’ body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 29 is self-explanatory.   Prostitution, not good.  Judah, one of Joseph’s older brothers had dealings with a prostitute (or so he thought).  See what happened to him in Genesis Chapter 38.

Verse 30 is another reminder to “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy”, the fourth commandment.

Verse 31 revisits which verse from above?  (Verse 26b)

Respect for the elderly is emphasized in verse 32.  Why is it important to respect the elderly?  (The elderly have earned wisdom – they have had experiences which can help to guide the generations behind them.  In our society we have a tendency to warehouse our older people.  The psalmist (David, in this case,) had good things to say about them: “The righteous will flourish like to palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”   (Psalm 92:12-15 NIV))

Why is the alien or foreigner to be treated just as one of the people of Israel?  (“Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:34 NIV))

Verses 35 & 36 deal with keeping honest weights.  What command supports this action?  (The eighth command – “You shall not steal.”  Cheating, stealing, dishonest gain… all of those are covered under the eighth commandment.)

Wisdom 14:27-15:3 (Not Scripture but still worthwhile reading)

27    For the worship of idols not to be named
is the beginning and cause and end of every evil.
28    For their worshipers either rave in
exultation,
or prophesy lies, or live unrighteously, or readily
commit perjury;
29    for because they trust in lifeless idols
they swear wicked oaths and expect to suffer no harm.
30    But just penalties will overtake them on two counts;
[1] because they thought wrongly about God in
devoting themselves to idols
and [2] because in deceit they swore
unrighteously through contempt for holiness.
31    For it is not the power of the things by which people swear,
but the just penalty for those who sin,
that always pursues the transgression of the unrighteous.

Chapter 15
Verses 1-3

1    But you, our God, are kind and true,
patient, and ruling all things in mercy.
2    For even if we sin we are yours, knowing your
power;
but we will not sin, because we know that you
acknowledge us as yours.
3    For to know you is complete righteousness,
and to know your power is the root of immortality.

Pay close attention to …

  • The “end” of every evil (v.14:27 )
  • Why the worshippers “expect to suffer no harm” (vv.14:28-29 )
  • Where they [these idol worshippers] guess wrong (vv.14:30-31 )
  • How God rules (v. 15:1 )
  • Complete righteousness (v. 15:3 )
  • The root of immortality (v. 15:3 )

Do not be trapped into thinking that idol worship consists only in bowing down to a statue or some such religious object.  The tenth Commandment “Thou shalt not covet…” begins to uncover the deeper meaning of what idol worship is all about.  Anything or anyone which is given supreme devotion becomes an idol and a false god.  Remembering just how needy we are before God will help us to offer deep devotion and gratitude to all that he does for us.  Gratitude may rank among the highest of praises to the LORD.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

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Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:73-96

Prayer Point.  The God who made us is  the God we must obey if we seek to live with wisdom. His law are the path to life. But there are obstacles that block our attempts to follow him: our own ignorance, sin, and the brokenness of our world. What is getting in your way as you try to follow Jesus?  Lift those to God, ask him to remove them that we might live according to his will.

Luke 8:16-25

Background. In yesterday’s reading, Jesus compared his teachings, the very Word of God, to seeds planted by a farmer.  In today’s reading, he will liken his words to light.

In our educational system, it is enough that a student knows and understands the ideas taught by the teacher, but Jesus is looking for something more from his disciples and from us.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus expects us to do with the light of his teaching and what will happen if we     don’t (verses 16-18).
  • Jesus’ true family and its connection to what is to be done with his teaching (19-21).
  • What is lacking in Jesus’ disciples as they are caught in the storm (22-25).
  • The reaction of the disciples’ after Jesus calms the storm.

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)

Romans 13:1-14

Background. The first eleven chapters of Romans lays out what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Chapters 13-15 describe the life we are to live in response to God’s grace and mercy. In verse 9 Paul will use some of the 10 Commandments to describe that grace-filled way of life.  For Paul, the Law is not the way we make ourselves acceptable to God, but it does gives us a way to express to our neighbors the love that God the Father has poured into our hearts through Jesus Christ.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Christians are to relate to those who are in authority (verses 1-9).  Note that these Christians lived under the pagan, cruel and corrupt Roman Empire.
  • The one rule that sums up all the commandments (verses 8-10).
  • How we are to live knowing that Christ’s return is near (verses 11-14).

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)
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Leviticus 19:1-18

What is the first pronouncement in Chapter 19?  (“Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:1 NIV))

The next verse is a nod to the fifth commandment and to the fourth commandment.  Can you name them?  (The fifth commandment is a reminder to “Honor your father and your mother.”  The fourth commandment: “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 20:12 and 8))

Given that then next item is one of the LORD’s pet peeves, it surprises me that it is not delivered earlier in this chapter.  What am I talking about?  (“Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves.  I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:4 NIV))

To which commandment is LORD referring in verse 4?  (The LORD is referring to the second commandment.)

In verses 5-6 of Chapter 19, the LORD lays out strict guidelines (or are they commands?) regarding the consumption of the fellowship offerings.  What are they?  (The offerings are to be eaten for only the first two days.  Any remaining must be burned with fire on the third day.)

Why, do you suppose, the offerings to be eaten cannot be eaten on the third day?  (The offering is impure on the third day and the consequences of ignoring this command is to be “cut off” from the people.)

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen.  Leave them for the poor and the alien.  I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10 NIV)  Apart from the obvious reason of urging his people to have a heart for the poor and the alien, what other message can be gleaned from this verse?  (I think the message is that the LORD has freely given; you must freely give.  It is not unlike forgiveness.  Freely we have been forgiven; we must be able to forgive freely.)

Verse 11 discusses at least two of the Ten Commandments.  Which ones are they?  (The eighth commandment forbids stealing; the ninth commandment condemns giving false testimony against one’s neighbor.  Lying and deceiving are two peas in a pod.  Giving false testimony is lying.)

What is the difference between lying, giving false testimony, and swearing falsely by the LORD’s name?  (The big difference is that taking the LORD’s name falsely is put in a category all by itself.  That is the third command.  This is serious because by doing this one is asking God to swear that a lie is the truth.)

Verse 13 warns against defrauding your neighbor or robbing him.  What command does this one address?  (Defrauding and robbing are key elements of stealing – i.e., a violation of the eighth commandment.)

Verse 13 further warns against holding back the wages of a hired man overnight.  This also is a clear violation of the eighth commandment.

“Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God.  I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:14 NIV)  Does this prohibition fall under one of the Ten Commandments?  (Since I think every prohibition can be categorized somewhere among the Ten Commandments, I place this one with the sixth commandment – against murder.  What is your opinion?)

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” (Leviticus 19:15 NIV)  How can these two offenses be listed among the Ten Commandments?  (Since showing partiality to the poor and favoritism to the great would be, shall we say, exaggerating, and since exaggerating is less than truthful, i.e,. a lie, I believe these violate the ninth command which prohibits false witness.)

Slander is always a lie.  “Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.” (Leviticus 19:16b NIV)  What commandment does this fall under?  (This one can possibly fall under two commands: the sixth which prohibits murder and the tenth against coveting what does not belong to one.  David will certainly be found guilty of this offense in the case of Uriah the Hittite which was later identified as murder.  King Ahab went from coveting his neighbor’s vineyard to killing him for it.)

The culmination of this set of instructions ends with Jesus’ declaration of the second of the two greatest commandments, i.e., love your neighbor as yourself.   Why is the command against seeking revenge just “plain good sense”?  (Since revenge “is best served cold” it tends to take its toll more on the one holding the grudge than on the object of the revenge.  Objectively speaking, seeking revenge or holding a grudge is a waste of time.)

Six commands govern our behavior to our “neighbors”.  The first four govern our behavior toward God.

Verse 19 prohibits planting a field with two kinds of seed, the wearing of clothing of two kinds of material and the mating of different kinds of animals.  I can understand not crossbreeding animals.  I don’t pretend to understand the other two.  So I sought some help from both the NIV Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible.  The NIV Study Bible: p. 172  “19:19 Do not mate … plant … wear.  Such mixing symbolically violated the distinction God established in the creation order.”

The ESV Study Bible: p. 243  “19:19  Two different kinds of domesticated animals are not to be crossbred, and types of cloth are not to be worn together.  Ceremonial holiness requires that things stay in their proper sphere, just as Israel must observe its separation from the nations (20:22-26)”

Wisdom 13:1-9  (Not Scripture, but still worthwhile reading for the Christian)

For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;
and they were unable from the good things that are seen
to know the one who exists,
nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;
2    but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air,
or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,
or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.
3    If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods,
let them know how much better than these is their LORD,
for the author of beauty created them.
4    And if people were amazed at their power and working,
let them perceive from them
how much more powerful is the one who formed them.
5    For from the greatness and beauty of created things
comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
6    Yet these people are little to be blamed,
for perhaps they go astray
while seeking God and desiring to find him.
7    For while they live among his works, they keep
searching,
and they trust in what they see, because the things
that are seen are beautiful.
8    Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
9    for if they had the power to know so much
that they could investigate the world,
how did the fail to find sooner the LORD of these things?

Pay close attention to …

  • How the writer describes these folks who appear to be ignorant of God (v. 1 and Romans 1:18-20 )*
  • How the writer leads us through all of creation and its wonders and beauty to bring us to faith in God (vv. 3-9 )

*On Monday I pointed out that wisdom at that time was thought of as doing the right thing.  This suggests that to do the opposite (to do the wrong thing) is foolishness.  As Paul puts it: “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:22-23 NIV)  [As described here by Paul, wisdom appears to be much as we think it today: i.e., expertise in some field of study — j.t.]

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

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What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
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Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 68

Prayer Point.  God is our conquering and victorious king. That is why David invites us to praise him: “Praise be to the LORD, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.” Is there a situation in your life where God has recently delivered you? Have you thought about how Jesus rescued us from the curse of death and offers us the hope of resurrection? Take time today to thank God our king.

Luke 8:1-15

Background. Jesus’ disciples were an unlikely lot: fishermen, a tax-collector, a terrorist (zealot) and Judas who would later betray Jesus; hardly the kind of men that rabbis selected to be their disciples. Then there were the women. Rabbis rarely taught or even socialized with women who were outside of their families and yet there are three women who traveled with Jesus. This is not the kind of soil where a rabbi would sow his teaching, but God’s definition of “good soil” is different than ours.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the seed sown by the farmer symbolizes.
  • The soil where the seed never sprouts to life and why.
  • The two soils where the seed sprouts but does not grow to maturity and what it tells us about the dangers that threaten a Christian’s soul.
  • The one soil that produces a harvest and what it tells us about being a disciple of Jesus.

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)

Romans 12:1-21

Background. After having spent the first eleven chapters of his letter to the Romans describing the grace and love of God the Father demonstrated through the life, death and resurrection of his Son Jesus, Paul now lays out the life we are to live in response.

Pay close attention to …

  • What we are to offer God in response to his mercy (verse 1).
  • What we are no longer to conform to and the new pattern of thinking that replaces it (verse 2).
  • How we are to view ourselves (verse 3).
  • How we are to see ourselves to relation to other followers of Jesus. The purpose of our gifts (talents, time and resources) (verses 4-8).
  • The objects of our love (verses 9-10).
  • How we respond to our own struggles (verse 12) and the struggles of others (verse 13).
  • What loving our neighbor looks likes (verses 14-21).

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)

Leviticus 16:20-34

What is the first thing that Aaron (the high priest) supposed to do to the goat?  Why?  (“He is to lay both his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites – all their sins – and put them on the goat’s head.” (Leviticus 16:20b-21 NIV)  We have seen the practice of imposing hands on the head as far back as Jacob when he blessed Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh.  It was customary also in the early church to commission people by means of the laying on of hands. At one point in most ordinations (of ministers and priests and bishops) there is the laying on of hands as a sign of authority being conferred.)

What happens to the goat next?  ([The high priest] “shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task.  The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.” (Leviticus 16:21b-22 NIV)  All of this activity takes place outside the camp.  This is significant, especially when applied to Jesus, who as the world’s sacrificial, lamb was taken outside the camp (in this case Jerusalem) and sacrificed.) )

This is the most sacred aspect of the “Day of Atonement”.  The high priest [in this case Aaron] will then will remove his sacred garments and then bathe, redress in his regular garb and sacrifice the burnt offering for the people and to make atonement for himself and the people.  What becomes of the live goat and the man caring for it?  (The goat is released in the desert there to bear the sins of the people in the wilderness.  The guardian of the goat will then wash his clothes and bathe himself and then return to the camp.  Chapter 4 of Leviticus discusses the sin offering to be made for the people in greater detail.)

Yesterday we saw that the high priest had a bull and two goats.  What was the fate of the ram and the other goat?  (The bull and the goat were sacrificed and the excess were brought outside the camp.  “The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and offal are to be burned up.  The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.” (Leviticus 16:27-28))

When is all this gory activity to take place?  (“On the tenth day of the seventh month [that would correspond in our calendar to September-October] you must deny yourselves and not do any work – whether native-born or an alien living among you – because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you.  Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins.  It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance.” (Leviticus 16:29-31 NIV))

Who is the one who presides over this ceremony?  (“The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement.” (Leviticus 16:32 NIV))

Wisdom 10:1-4, 13-21  (Not Scripture, but still worthwhile reading for the Christian)

Chapter 10
Verses 1-4, 13-21

1    Wisdom protected the first-formed father of
the world, when he alone had been created;
she delivered him from his transgression,
2    and gave him strength to rule all things.
3    But when an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger,
he perished because in rage he killed his brother.
4    When the earth was flooded because of him, wisdom again saved it,
steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood.

—————————————————————————————————————–

13    When a righteous man was sold, wisdom did not desert him,
but delivered him from sin.
She descended with him into the dungeon,
14    and when he was in prison she did not leave him,
until she brought him the scepter of a kingdom
and authority over is masters.
Those who accused him she showed to be false,
and she gave him everlasting honor.

15    A holy people and blameless race
wisdom delivered from a nation of oppressors.
16    She entered the soul of a servant of the LORD,
and withstood dread kings with wonders and signs.
17    She gave to holy people the reward of their labors;
she guided them along a marvelous way,
and became a shelter to them by day,
and a starry flame through the night.
18    She brought them over the Red Sea,
and led them though deep waters;
19    but she drowned their enemies,
and cast them up from the depth of the sea.
20    Therefore the righteous plundered the ungodly;
they sing hymns, O LORD, to your holy name,
and praised with one accord your defending hand;
21    for wisdom opened the mouths of those who were mute,
and made the tongues of infants speak clearly.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is being recounted in this passage
  • Who is the “unrighteous man” in verse 3
  • Who is the righteous man in verse 13
  • The reward for the righteous man in verse 13 (v. 14 )
  • The servant of the Lord spoken of in verse 16
  • Who gets the credit for all the wonders performed in the sight of the people

This personification of wisdom described here we believe to be the working of the Holy Spirit among his people as they sojourned throughout the wilderness and into to the Promised Land.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

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Daily Bible Readings – Monday, April 29, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 64

Prayer Point.  Before you pray this psalm, put yourselves in the shoes of someone you know who is a victim of injustice. Following the flow of this psalm pray that: God will hear them, cause the plans of the wicked to backfire, and that God’s intervention will cause our world to fear and worship him.

Matthew 7:36-50

Background.  Hospitality, sharing meals and touching were highly significant acts in Jesus’ culture.  Holy people did not eat with sinners and certainly did not allow themselves to be touched by them. To eat with someone was to identify with him, but we see a certain amount of reserve in Simon the Pharisee.  He has failed to offer water to Jesus to wash his feet, violating one of the most basic rules of hospitality in that day.  Simon eats with Jesus, not so much to enjoy him, but to examine him.

Pay close attention to …

  • The hospitality of the sinful woman in contrast to Simon’s and why.
  • How the parable of the moneylender explains the source of love for God.
  • Why the sinful woman went home forgiven and why Simon failed to love.

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)
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Colossians 3:18-4-18

Background.  Roman society demanded blind obedience from wives, children and slaves to husbands, fathers, and masters without demanding that those in authority act responsibly towards those under them.  The Romans ordered their society in this way because they considered women, children and slaves to be inherently inferior.  While the Apostle Paul will ask wives to submit to their husbands, children to obey their parents and slaves to obey their masters, his teaching is a direct challenge to Roman culture. For Paul, submission is not an admission of inferiority, but a mark of their new relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why children, wives and slaves asked to submit to their fathers, husbands and masters. Who are they really serving? What is promised to those who endure suffering? It is interesting that one member of Paul’s mission team, Onesimus, was a runaway slave (see Colossians 4:8). For more information see the book of Philemon.
  • The unroman-like demands that Paul places on masters, husbands and fathers and why.
  • How the Colossians are to pray (verses 4:2-4).
  • How they are to relate to outsiders (verses 5).
  • What should season their conversations (verse 6).
  • How the final greetings (verses 7-18) shed light on the relationships between the Colossian church and Paul and his mission team.

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)

Leviticus 16:1-19

Within the tabernacle (the tent of meeting) there was a room called the Most Holy Place.  It was cordoned off by a curtain and in it was the Ark of the Covenant, the place where God’s presence was concentrated.  Why wasn’t Aaron the High Priest allowed to enter the Most Holy Place any time he chose?  For more on the death of Aaron’s sons see the story of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.  What was the ritual Aaron had to go through?  Why do you think it was so involved?  What does it say about God?  What does it say about us?

Luke 27:50-51 And when Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.

Wisdom 9:1, 7-18  (Not Scripture, but still worthwhile reading for the Christian)

1    “O God of my fathers and LORD of mercy,
who have made all things by your word,

7    You have chosen me to be king of your people
and to be judge over your sons and daughters.
8    You have given command to build a temple on your holy mountain,
and an altar in the city of your habitation,
a copy of the holy tent that you prepared from the beginning.
9    With you is wisdom, she who knows your works
and was present when you made the world;
she understands what is pleasing in your sight
and what is right according to your commandments.
10    Send her forth from the holy heavens,
and from the throne of  your glory send her,
that she may labor at my side,
and that I may learn what is pleasing to you.
11    For she knows and understands all things,
and she will guide me wisely in my actions
and guard me with her glory.
12    Then my works will be acceptable,
and I shall judge your people justly,
and shall be worthy of the throne of my father.
13    For who can learn the counsel of God?
Or who can discern what the LORD wills?
14    For the reasoning of man is worthless,
and our designs are likely to fail;
15    for a perishable body weighs down the soul,
and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind.
16    We can hardly guess at what is on earth,
and what is at hand we find with labor;
but who has traced out what is in the heavens?
17    Who has learned your counsel,
unless you have given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
18    And thus the paths of those on earth were set right,
and the people were taught what pleases you,
and were saved by wisdom.”

Pay close attention to …

  • The subject of the writing
  • How all things were (v. 1 )
  • How wisdom is personified (v. 9 )
  • How wisdom works (v. 11 )
  • What weighs down the soul (v. 15 )
  • How people were saved (v. 18 )

One note on wisdom: when I was discussing the subject of wisdom with our resident bible scholar (Nathan), he clarified that the wisdom spoken of in the Old Testament was more what we think of as righteousness and justice; the wise person would do the right thing (even when no one was looking).

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)