GodSpeak: By the (Good) Book – “Bethel”

GodSpeak for the Week of October 14



This week we stay with the Lectionary, with a special focus on…Bethel?!


Day 1…Read Amos 5:6-7

  • Consider this – Bethel was a town in ancient Israel…a town whose name means “House of God”…a town that had always been CONTESTED.
    • It had been founded on the spot where Jacob – in the process of fleeing Esau’s wrath – had his dream about the ladder going up to heaven.
    • Later, it was in the part of the country where Benjamin had settled. But, then it had been conquered by the Tribe of Ephraim.
    • Still later, King Jeroboam had put a golden calf in the temple at Bethel – a place for folks to worship and “see” their god.
    • It was conquered once again – by Roman Emperor, Vespasian.
  • Answer this – why would a place, like Bethel…a place which literally means “House of God”…be so historically CONTESTED?
    • Why can’t this place be one of peace, quiet and faithful worship?
    • Compare a place, like Bethel, to what Jesus says in Mark 6:4: “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” [ESV]
      • How is what Jesus says, in this verse, helpful in understanding what Bethel has gone through historically?

Day 2…Read Amos 5:10-15

  • Consider this – the prophet is speaking, here, of folks who’ve gotten too comfortable with their relationship to and with God.
    • The key verse is 14: “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say He is.”
  • Answer this – how often do we get too familiar with God/Jesus…too “buddy-buddy”?
    • What’s the difference – and the faithful BENEFIT – in keeping God/Jesus absolutely superior to ourselves?
    • What’s the difference – and the faithful BENEFIT – in wanting God Himself (in all His Law and Gospel glory) versus wanting simply what God GIVES us?

 Day 3…Read Hebrews 3:12-19

  • Compare this – to our reading from Numbers (11:4-6) from a couple of weeks ago.
  • Answer this – how had God’s people’s hearts been hardened by “sin’s deceitfulness” in that story?
    • What might the writer of Hebrews have counseled some of God’s people to do for the “rabble” in the wilderness?
    • How does this help inform our faith and witness?

Day 4…Read Hebrews 3:12-19 (again)

  • Answer this – where are our hearts most “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” in our day-and-age?
    • How can we best take and apply the counsel of the writer of Hebrews?

 Day 5…Read Mark 10:17-22

  • Consider this – this episode presents one of few times Jesus’ tone MAY have been a tad testy (cf. his tone and attitude in the Temple courtyard, when He overturns the money-changing tables).
  • Answer this – borrowing from Jesus’ response to the man…so, why DID the man call Him “good”?
    • What did the man hope to gain, by doing so?

Day 6…Read Mark 10:17-22 (again)

  • Answer this – do you think Jesus was making this command of JUST THIS man, or of all us in general?
    • In other words, is Jesus’ command specifically tailored to THIS man’s needs (i.e., because he’s too tied to his stuff)?
    • Regardless, how is this episode instructive for all of us?

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