Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church


Enlarge your tent (God takes away your disgrace)

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Monday Isaiah 54:1-5 (NRSV)
Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, says the LORD. Enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will settle the desolate towns. Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

Isaiah told barren women, “Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor!” What do you think of the command to sing and shout before being in labor, to praise God before you see evidence that you’ll get what you want?

What would it feel like if “the disgrace of your widowhood you remembered no more”?

What unfulfilled dreams do you have?

What would it mean for you to “enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out”?

Tuesday Luke 1:24-25 (NRSV)
After those days [Zechariah’s] wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, "This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people."

Isaiah’s promise (and Gabriel’s in Luke 1:13-17) came true for Elizabeth. When she was getting on in years and when her husband was old, she conceived.

What is something you want (or wanted in the past) that you don’t have yet?

Are you still waiting for it?

Are you taking action to get ready for it?

Wednesday Malachi 4:1-3 (NRSV)
See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi prophesied a day would come when justice would be served – the evildoers who have prospered will come to an end, with no possibility of a future (they will have neither root nor branch left) and the people who revere God’s name would be renewed and refreshed.

How much hope do you have for the day of judgment?

Are you counting on it? Hoping it doesn’t happen? Thinking it won’t?

How would your life be different if you lived each moment aware of the promise in Malachi 4:1-3?

Thursday Malachi 4:4-6 (NRSV)
Remember the teaching of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.

One of the Ten Commandments says you need to honor your father and mother, which will bring a blessing. (See Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:1-4.)

What do you think it means that the return of Elijah will “turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse”?

What are some ways that you honor your father and mother?

Friday Matthew 3:7-12 (NRSV)
When [John the Baptist] saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

What do you think of John the Baptist’s description of Jesus that he “will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire"?

Do you think the fire has already happened or still is to come?

Saturday Matthew 11:7-15 (NRSV)
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John [the Baptist]: "What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Jesus said John the Baptist (the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah in their old age) and his call to repentance fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy that Elijah would return.

Malachi had prophesied, “I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.” Would you have guessed that John the Baptist’s life was the promised return of Elijah?

What are you doing this week because you’re a Christian?
What would you like help with?