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Scripture

Daily Bible Reading for August 16, 2014, with Commentary: John 5-6

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Context: In chapter 5, Jesus heals a man who had been lame for 38 years.  Often, Jesus requires that a person have faith to receive a miracle, but this time, He did not.  The man who was healed did not even know who Jesus was!  The Pharisees set very strict and specific rules about what did and did not constitute as work on the Sabbath.  Apparently, carrying a mat constituted work.  Healing was certainly considered work, as evidence by their reaction to Jesus’ healing.  Jesus further enraged the Pharisees by claiming equality with God.  Jesus offers evidence to His claim in accordance with Jewish law, which requires at least two witnesses.  Jesus offers five: John the Baptist (33-35), Jesus’ words (36), the Father (37-38), the Scriptures (39), and Moses (45-57).  The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.  The bread and fish supplied by Jesus is a reminder of the manna and water given to the Israelites in the desert, after the first Passover.  The feeding lays the foundation for the second part of the chapter.  The following morning, the people who had been fed once again sought out Jesus.  They were hungry again and wanted to use Jesus for their own purposes.  The Jews had difficulty understanding faith, as they demanded signs first, appearing to forget of the miraculous dinner they had the prior night.  Jesus explained that he had come offer bread and water that would forever fill a person.  The crowd thought he was speaking literally, not metaphorically.  Bread represented life.  Jesus was the bread of Life.  When we eat bread, we absorb it into our bodies so that it may nourish us.  When we develop a relationship with Christ, we must absorb Him into our bodies, into our lives, and he will provide spiritual nourishment.  Through Him we will have eternal life (never go hungry).  Salvation by faith cannot be achieved through works, another concept the Jews struggled to understand.  With Jesus, we never have to work for our salvation (bread).  We must only have faith.  Is this hard to understand?  Many of Jesus’ disciples also found it difficult.  Some believed Jesus was talking about cannibalism.  Because they could not grasp what Jesus was teaching they left.  None of the 12 left Him.  If you struggle to understand this passage, pray for wisdom.

 

World History: The pool which the lame gathered around was part of a superstitious belief, which is explained in verse 4, although the NIV translation omits this verse.  During that time, it was believed that an angel of the Lord would occasionally come down and stir the waters.  The first person to enter the water after it had been stirred would have been healed.

Daily Bible Reading for August 15, 2014, with Commentary: Daniel 7-12

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Context: Today’s reading contains the apocalyptic portion of Daniel.  Chapter 7 is a turning point in the book of Daniel.  The first six chapters established who Daniel was - his upbringing, education, faith, character, etc.  It is the history of Daniel.  The remainder of the book contains Daniel’s visions, many of which are dated, which can assist in understanding the prophecy.  All the prophecies contain many symbolic elements, which are too numerous to include here.  I encourage you to find further materials if you wish to have an in-depth study of these prophecies.  Chapter 7 is similar to the previous dream by Nebuchadnezzar, which Daniel had interpreted.  Chapter 8 is a prophecy that has already been fulfilled.  It foretells of the fall of the Media-Persian Empire to Alexander the Great.  Alexander conquered the known world, however he died shortly thereafter and the great empire that he had built was divided into four kingdoms, of which Israel came out of one.  Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 is powerful.  Study his prayer to learn how to pray.  The vision in chapter 9 is debated until this day.  The final three chapters are often treated as one vision concerning the history of Israel from Daniel’s present time in the Persian period, until the coming of God’s kingdom.  Chapter 10 introduces the message and the setting, provides a vision of a heavenly person, and announces the coming of the angel to interpret.  Chapter 11 focuses on the vision with a prophecy against Persia (2), against Greece (3-4), against Egypt and Syria (5-20),  against Antiochus IV Epiphanes (21-35), and the End Times (11:36-12:3).  Chapter 12 records Daniel’s final instructions, including an admonishment to preserve prophecy, additional information about the end of times, and personal remarks and promises to Daniel.

 

World History: Chapter 7 and 8 takes place during Babylonian rule, during the first and third year of King Belshazzar, before the feast which predicted the death of Belshazzar (chapter 5).  Chapters 9, 10, 11, and 12, take place during Persian rule.  Chapter 9 likely occurs before Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den (chapter 6).  Chapters 10, 11, and 12, likely occurred near the end of Daniel’s life.  Antiochus IV Epiphanes, is generally accepted as the ruler referred to in 11:21-35.  He was known for severely persecuting the Jews, worse than the actions of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

 

Daily Bible Reading for August 14, 2014, with Commentary: Proverbs 17-18

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Context: Proverbs contains advice for a multitude of situations.  Sometimes the advice is direct and easy to pick out.  Other times, the advice is indirect.  We have to look beyond the words written on the page, and fit the passage to our life.  None of us are perfect.  We have all, at one point or another, played the part of the fool, relying on ourselves and the world instead of on Christ.  We have all done the opposite of what is written in Proverbs.  When reading, identify both the good and the bad in yourself.  Be happy for your right choices.  Seek forgiveness for your bad choices and make amends.  Work to adjust your attitude and reaction to situations that lead to you being foolish instead of wise.

 

Daily Bible Reading for August 13, 2014, with Commentary: Psalm 96-98

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Context: None of the psalms we read today have credited authors.  All three psalms are psalms of joyful praise. Psalm 96 envisions the day that Christ will reign over the world.  Psalm 97 is similar to our Christmas song “Joy to the World!”  It speaks of Christ’s second coming.  Psalm 98 talks of singing a new song, as did Psalm 96.  It is a song we will sing when Christ comes again.

 

Daily Bible Reading for August 12, 2014, with Commentary: 1 Chronicles 5-9

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Context: Chapter 5 continues with the genealogy started in chapter 1.  Don’t worry!  This whole book is not genealogy!  In the first several chapters, the genealogy provides the history of Israel.  It tells from where the Israelites came, who their ancestors were, and how they came to be settled on the land they now occupy.  Remember when this book was written - as the Israelites returned from exile.  They would have had doubts and fears.  Had God abandoned them?  No!  God had played a part in their lives since Adam and He would continue to be a part of their lives. 

 

World History: Although possibly boring and tedious to read, the genealogy presented in the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles is also our genealogy.  We all came from Adam.  As children of God, this is our history.

 

Daily Bible Reading for August 11, 2014, with Commentary: Numbers 1-4

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Author: Moses

Date: One year after arriving at Mt. Sinai

 

Context: Moses is instructed to conduct a census.  Although to us, reading this may be boring, it is included in the Bible because it was important to the Lord.  To the Israelites, each name had meaning.  The census provided a two-fold purpose.  First, it counted the Israelites.  Second, it let each Israelite know from where they came, their family history.  In chapter 2, the arrangement of the camp is described.  At the center of the camp is the tabernacle.  God should always be at the center of our lives.  The details given as to how the camp was to be arranged shows that God pays attention to the smallest details.  Each part, each person has a place in the larger picture.  The Levite tribe was not included in the original census as they are set apart.  They care for and maintain the Tabernacle.  Chapter 3 contains a census of the Levites.  Chapter 4 examines the specific jobs of members of the Levite tribe.  Every man had his job and when it came time to set up camp and the Tabernacle, every man knew his job and performed his job.  What may seem like a huge undertaking (imagine moving several million people!) likely took less time than it may take many of us to set up a family campsite.  The Israelites were able to be so efficient because of the attention God paid to the details.  Even today, God pays attention to the details of our lives and assigns us specific jobs.  Are you listening?

 

World History: The Israelites remained at Mt. Sinai for one year, receiving the Law from God, and constructing the Tabernacle before continuing on with their journey to the Promised Land.

 

The Bible passage for mediation, prayer, and reflection for the week of August 10-16, 2014, is Psalm 96:10-13.  This week’s passage is one of joy and praise to the Lord.  It is a song anticipating when Christ will rule.

 

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
    Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord, for he comes,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.

(Psalm 96:10-13, ESV)

 

 

What a day it will be when Christ returns! All of His children will sing praises for His return!  All of His creation will rejoice!  What a day it will be!  Are you ready?  Psalms of praise and joy, anticipating the return of Christ, give us encouragement during our times of trials.  When we are discouraged in the present, we can look to our future, eternity with Christ!  What a day that will be!  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks verse, rejoice in your salvation in Christ!  Are you ready for His return?

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