Year 2 - Week 8 (October 24 - 30)
Year 2 - Week 10 (November 7 - 13)

Year 2 - Week 9 (October 31 - November 6)

Day 1 (Monday)

Genesis 9:1-17

Last week we saw the Flood end, and Noah and his family leave the Ark and offer sacrifice to God. We saw God promise never again to destroy every living creature He had made, with a hint in that promise that God’s purpose is not to destroy the sinful world, but to save it, as He does in His Incarnation by assuming human nature. This time, we will see God respond further to the sacrifice, and establish a new covenant with Noah and his family, as He had done with Adam and Eve in the Garden. This new covenant includes new requirements and new promises.

The Covenant With Noah

9 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning; of every beast I will require it and of man; of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. 6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image. 7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, bring forth abundantly on the earth and multiply in it.”

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will look upon it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out two things. First, that God gives a commandment again, as He did in the Garden of Eden. He tells them what they can eat, that is, the flesh of every living thing, and what they cannot eat, which is to say, the blood of those animals. He then repeats the command to “be fruitful and multiply”, and then makes a promise, that He will never again destroy the world. Second, we need to pay attention to the blood; this is the place where we see that blood is treated as a sacred thing; we’ll see more about why this is so on Day 2, but for now, we need to remember that even from this point, the focus on blood is anticipating the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He sheds for the life of the world at the Crucifixion.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Leviticus 17:10–16 & Acts 15:28-29

On Day 2 we usually read something from outside the Bible; however, the Day 1 reading shows us God forbidding humanity to eat blood, and this seems strange to us until we see that this is a consistent part of God’s instructions to us, in both the Old Testament and the New. Today we will read where this commandment is repeated in the Law of Moses, and again in the Acts of the Apostles. This thing about not eating blood is one of the only parts of the Law of Moses that applies not only to the people of Israel, but even to others living among them. It doesn’t immediately make sense to us, but if we first recognize THAT it is something God commands, then we can start to think about what it means.

Leviticus 17:10–16

Eating Blood Prohibited

10 If anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens who reside among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut that person off from the people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement.

12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel: No person among you shall eat blood, nor shall any alien who resides among you eat blood. 13 And anyone of the people of Israel, or of the aliens who reside among them, who hunts down an animal or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.

14 For the life of every creature—its blood is its life; therefore I have said to the people of Israel: You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off. 15 All persons, citizens or aliens, who eat what dies of itself or what has been torn by wild animals, shall wash their clothes, and bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening; then they shall be clean. 16 But if they do not wash themselves or bathe their body, they shall bear their guilt.

This prohibition against eating blood is also one of the few parts of the Law of Moses that non-Jewish Christians were required to observe. During the early years of the life of the Church, the question was raised whether Christians who weren’t Jews needed to “become Jews” in order to be a part of the Church. Some thought that they did, that they needed to become circumcised, and observe all the requirements about food and clothing and washing and fasting. But when the Apostles and other leaders of the early Church met in Jerusalem, they decided only to require the things that God had commanded to Noah, which we see in the Day 1 reading, and see repeated above in Leviticus.

Acts 15:28–29 (NRSV)

28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”


Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (There are two reasons, basically, that they are forbidden to eat blood. The first is that it is by the Blood of Christ, when He gives up His life for the life of the world, that we are saved; for this reason, all blood is to be treated with respect, even in the Old Testament. In the sacrifices of the Old Testament, the blood is always a part of the sacrifice, and is an essential part of the reconciliation with God that the sacrifice accomplishes; the blood is wiped or smeared on people and things in order to wipe away sins. To eat it would be to mis-use it, and to “steal” what belongs to God, what has not been given to us…this makes sense especially now, that we have actually been given the Blood of God to consume for our salvation, in Holy Communion. The second reason that the eating of blood is forbidden is that it was common in pagan sacrifices to do precisely that, and therefore eating the blood of animals is strongly associated with idolatry. That the worship of demons should mis-use and corrupt the proper use of animal sacrifice is not surprising, but it does explain why this remained a significant issue, even in the New Testament. Eating the blood of the animals functioned as a mockery of Holy Communion, and is therefore still to be avoided.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

Mark 3:13-35

Last time we saw Jesus in conflict with the Pharisees about the observance of the Sabbath; to their criticisms, He replied that it was right to do good on the Sabbath, and that the day of rest had been given to humanity for their sake. They had not been created for the sole purpose of observing strict rules about the Sabbath, as the Pharisees seemed to think. This time, we will see Jesus finally pick out the twelve particular disciples.

Jesus Appoints the Twelve

13 He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus and Beelzebul

Then he went home; 20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”

23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

The True Kindred of Jesus

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that Jesus, in choosing out twelve disciples, is basically re-establishing the nation of Israel, His own priestly people, as He had originally called them to be at Mount Sinai. He should point out, too, that God’s entire purpose for the nation of Israel was to call all the peoples of the world back to Himself, and to overthrow the domination of fallen angels and evil spirits who had been ruling over the world for so long. This is why the issue of how He casts out the demons comes up, and why He replies so strongly. He is coming precisely to bind the strong ones, that is, the demon-gods of the pagan world, and to plunder them, by bringing their followers back to Him. Those who call this good thing evil, who say that God’s action against demons is itself a work of demons, are committing blasphemy. If they refuse to repent of this, they will indeed have no salvation, for they are precisely rejecting the saving action of the One Who comes to save them.

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

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