Apr 25, 2022 Devotional Bible Study

April 25, 2022
Eastertide

Today’s Readings: 

Invitatory

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [1]

O COME, LET US SING unto the Lord; * let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, * and show ourselves glad in him with psalms. 

Hymn

“Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands”

(1982 Hymnal # 186)

By Martin Luther, 1483-1546

Lyrics [3]:

1. Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands

for our offenses given;

but now at God’s right hand he stands,

and brings us life from heaven;

therefore let us joyful be,

and sing to God right thankfully

loud songs of alleluia! Alleluia!

2. It was a strange and dreadful strife

when life and death contended;

the victory remained with life;

the reign of death was ended;

stripped of power, no more he reigns,

an empty form alone remains;

his sting is lost forever! Alleluia!

3. So let us keep the festival

to which the Lord invites us;

Christ is himself the joy of all,

the sun that warms and lights us;

by his grace he doth impart

eternal sunshine to the heart;

the night of sin is ended! Alleluia!

4. Then let us feast this holy day

on the true bread of heaven;

the word of grace hath purged away

the old and wicked leaven;

Christ alone our souls will feed,

he is our meat and drink indeed;

faith lives upon no other! Alleluia!

Morning Prayer

Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your risen Son. May we, the first fruits of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Blessed be God for ever. Amen. [4]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Short Verse

The LORD is my strength and my song,* and he has become my salvation. 

Psalm 118:14

Morning Reading

Psalm 122, Peace in Jerusalem

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

I was glad when they said to me,

    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Our feet are standing

    within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem—built as a city

    that is bound firmly together.

To it the tribes go up,

    the tribes of the Lord,

as was decreed for Israel,

    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.

For there the thrones for judgment were set up,

    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

    “May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

    and security within your towers.”

For the sake of my relatives and friends

    I will say, “Peace be within you.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,

    I will seek your good.

Let us pray.

God of our pilgrimage, bring us with joy to the eternal city founded on the rock, and give to our earthly cities the peace that comes from above; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [5]

Morning Lesson

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts.

“For ancient Judah, Jerusalem served both as the religious center and a political capital, thus uniting the tenets of Jewish faith and morals into civil governance. Since the heart of the covenant between God and his people was moral law, the legislation of social justice effectively serving the common good was a wonderful feature of Jewish society. A good system of justice fosters peace, and it is no mere coincidence that “Jerusalem’ means “City of Peace.'” [6]

“Like David, we are welcomed to the Lord’s house and can rejoice at the invitation. We are drawn to a heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22). At the throne of Christ, the eternal Son of David, we find a place of peace (Rm 5:1; 8:1). • May God give us a place among all His people who walk by faith in Christ (Gal 6:16). Amen.” [7]

Midday Prayer

Almighty Savior, who at noonday called your servant Saint Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles: We pray you to illumine the world with the radiance of your glory, that all nations may come and worship you; for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen. [8]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Short Verse

May God be merciful to us and bless us,* show us the light of his countenance and come to us. Let your ways be known upon earth,* your saving health among all nations. 

Psalm 67:1–2

Esther Denouncing Haman by Ernest Normand

Midday Reading

Esther 7:1-10, Esther prevails over Haman

1 So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2 On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.”[a] 5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” 6 Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. 7 The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. 8 When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther, by Rembrandt

Midday Lesson

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it

Background:

“The central concern of this Diaspora novella is the survival of a Jewish minority in the midst of an increasingly hostile world. The book of Esther recounts a threat to the community’s survival, as well as the removal of that threat through the involvement of Mordecai, a Jewish courtier in the service of the Persian emperor and his ward Esther. Like Judith, the central character in this book is a beautiful Jewish woman whose beauty, courage, and wit save her people from certain destruction. The stories of both Esther and Mordecai recall the court tales of Joseph (in Genesis) and Daniel: these figures live as religious minorities outside of Palestine where they face challenges but also acquire privileged roles within courts.” [9]

“Esther, an orphaned Jewish girl who was the ward and cousin of Mordecai.” [10] “The name ‘Esther’ was a Mesopotamian name; her Hebrew name was Hadassah.” [11] “The story refers to Haman as an Agagite (3:1), that is, a descendant of Agag, who was the king of the Amalekites whom earlier traditions remembered as the most dangerous of ancient Israel’s opponents (Ex 17:14; Dt 25:17–19).” [12]

Early 3rd century CE Roman painting of Esther and Mordechai, Dura-Europos synagogueSyria.

“At first the story sounds like a typical tale of palace intrigue. Two royal officials, Mordecai the Jew and Haman the Agagite, are presented as rivals in the court of the Persian emperor. In chapter 3 the story takes an ominous turn. Haman plots to destroy Mordecai as well as the entire Jewish community of the Persian empire… When Esther joins Mordecai in a plan to frustrate Haman’s murderous plots, the tension is resolved. What was to be a pogrom, an officially organized massacre, against the Jews becomes a celebration of the Jews because Haman and his conspiracy fail.” [13]

Today’s passage from Esther:

In today’s passage from the book of Esther, “the tension and suspense of earlier chapters finally eases as the queen reveals her ethnic identity (a Jewess, 7:4), exposes the plot to massacre her people (the Jews, 7:4), and unmasks the evil mastermind behind it (Haman, 7:6).” [14]

Our reading begins with the king and Haman feasting with Queen Esther. “Not everything we need must be gained immediately! In this case a crucial deadline is approaching, but the queen is patient, awaiting the right time to gain the desired result, literally the salvation of her people.” [15]

The second day (v. 2) refers to “the day after Esther hosted her first dinner for the king and Haman (5:4-8).” [16] Drinking wine here “recalls the earlier drinking scene where Queen Vashti aroused the king’s wrath (1:10-12). The parallel is not lost on the narrator, who follows the deposition of Vashti and the execution of Haman with a notice that the anger of the king ‘abated’ (2:1; 7:10).” [17]

In verse 8, “the king mistakes Haman’s pleading for an act of sexual aggression against his wife.” [18] He exclaimed, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” Verse 8 tells us that the king’s words 

covered Haman’s face. This is “a poetic description of Haman’s expression when he realizes he is a condemned man.” [19]

“In a twist of poetic justice, the villain is summarily executed, impaled on the deathtrap of his own making. The gibbet was constructed on the advice of Haman’s wife (5:14).” [20] St. Jerome wrote, “Haman was burned in the fire of his own kindling.” [21]

Summary: “Haman’s end fulfills the words of Pr 26: 27 : “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.” St Paul makes the same point: “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap” ( Gal 6: 7 ). When we find ourselves entangled in sin and its consequences, our only escape is to turn in repentance to Christ and receive from Him forgiveness and renewal. • Lord, when I fall, lift me up. When I stray, restore me to the paths of righteousness. Amen.” [22]

Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther, by Pieter Lastman

Eventide Prayer

Against Presumption.

O Lord, I pray Thee let not my weakness distract me, but let my speech be of that alone in which the salvation of my soul consists; and let me never break forth to that degree both of folly and wickedness, as to wish to be a judge of Thy Omnipotence, and Thy Sacraments; and suffer me not to exalt my weak opinion above either the divine determination of Thy Infinity, or that belief of Thy Eternity which has been revealed to me. Amen.

  • William Laud, Abp of Canterbury & Martyr [23]

Short Verse

We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, to make sure that you do not grieve for them, as others do who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that in the same way God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus

1 Thessalonians 4:13–14

Eventide Reading

Revelation 1:9-20, A vision of Christ

9 I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.[a] 10 I was in the spirit[b] on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. 14 His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. 19 Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Eventide Lesson

The meanings of John’s description of Christ in Revelation 1

I was in the Spirit, verse 10, may mean John received the revelation in a visionary ecstasy (see Ezk 3:12), but more probably that he was in the worship (‘in Spirit and in truth’) of the Lord.” [24]

The Lord’s Day, Verse 10, “is the earliest reference to the Christian name for Sunday. The Didache and St. Ignatius of Antioch show this was used very early for the day when Christians gathered to celebrate the Resurrection in the Holy Eucharist. As a fulfillment of the first day of the week of the old creation, Sunday becomes the ‘eighth day,’ the ‘first day of the new creation.’ The term ‘eighth day’ is seen in 2En 33:1 and inaugurates the first day of the timeless age to come.” [25]

The loud voice, Verse 10, “as of a trumpet is a traditional, eschatological, apocalyptic introduction describing an appearance of the Lord (see Ex 19:16, 19; Mt 24:31; iCo 15:52; 1Th 4:16).” [26]

Back in verse 8, “the glorified Christ introduces himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, thus identifying Himself with God the Father (v. 8; 22:13). His position amidst the seven lampstands [of verse 12] signifies His presence in the Church (see Mt 5:14). The seven golden lampstands, a fusion of the great menorah of the temple with its seven lamps (see Ex 25:31-37; Zec 4:2; Heb 9:2) and the golden lampstands of Solomon’s temple (3Kg 7:35), represent the fullness of God’s presence.” [27]

“Also symbolized are the seven Asian churches that receive the letters of chs. 2; 3. This reference prompts some scholars to suggest John was in the church in a liturgical setting during the Revelation.” [28]

John wrote, and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man (v. 13). The description One like the Son of Man “recalls Daniel’s messianic figure (Dan 7:13— repeated by Stephen at his martyrdom, Acts 7:56). Christ called Himself Son of Man (see especially Mt 24:30ff.), for He is the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. Additional parallels may be seen in both the Old and New Testaments (Dan 10:6; Mt 17:2; Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12). We also see Him vested in high-priestly garments (see Ex 28:4; 29:5; Lv 16:4; WSol 18:24; Zec 3:4, 5). The gold with which He is girded is both royal (1Mc 10:89) and priestly.” [29]

In verses 14-16, Christ is further “described as God, His hair (v. 14) being that of Daniel’s vision of God as the ‘Ancient of Days’ (7:9; see also 1En 46:1). His eyes signify knowledge; His feet (v. 15), permanence and stability; His voice, authority or teaching; His right hand (v. 16), power; His two-edged sword, complete discernment. This imagery continues throughout Revelation to affirm the preexistence and eternal divinity of the Son of Man (see also Jn 1:1-18). Thus, in Christ man (v. 14) and God (vv. 15, 16) are united.” [30]

Verse 15 describes Christ’s feet as being like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace. “Dan 2:31-44 indicates this mysterious metal foundation not only provides stability but has the ability to forcibly crush all opposition as well. These images are contrasted with the feet of clay found in Dan 2:33, 43: the kingdoms of this world are not permanent, nor ultimately triumphant.” [31]

In verse 16, “the Lord holds the stars that represent the seven churches (1:20), and hence, the Church. For Christ is Lord of the Church. In His just judgment, the sword He wields is the Word of God, which cuts effortlessly to the very marrow and heart of humanity (see 2:16; 18:15; Is 11:4; 49:2; WSol 18:15; Eph 6:17; 2Th 2:9; Heb 4:12). The brilliance of His face recalls the Uncreated Light John saw radiating from the Savior at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.”[32]

“Mortal humanity cannot bear the revelation of divine glory, a frequent biblical theme (see Ex 19:21; 33:20; Is 6:5). Just as he fell prostrate at Mount Tabor (Mt 17:6), so also does John here [in verse 17], in the presence of the glorified Savior (see Ezk 1:27; Dan 10:7-9; see also 1En 14:24).” [33]

The phrase Do not be afraid (verse 17) “is a revelatory formula from the OT. As a signal for the theophany, it was carried over into the NT (see the Annunciation, Lk 1:30; Jesus walking upon the water, Mt 14:27— ‘Fear not, I AM’; the Transfiguration, Mt 17:7).” [34]

“In the OT God was called ‘the first and the last’ (Is 44:6; 48:12), and so, too, is the Messiah [v. 17]. Some early heresies (e.g. Docetism) held that Jesus only seemed to die. But the Lord Himself testified, I … was dead, affirming the authenticity of His death; alive forevermore, His Resurrection— the power of which effects His lordship over death and its realm.” [35] He proclaimed, in verse 18, I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. [36] An icon of the resurrected Christ used in the Orthodox Church “depicts Him with these keys (v. 18) in hand, standing triumphantly on the open gates of Hades.” [37]

Verse 19 teaches us, “John’s visions have to do with both the present (things which are) and the future.” [38]

“The angels of the seven churches [v. 20] have been variously interpreted as being (1) the guardian angels of the church communities; (2) the pastoral leadership of these local churches; (3) a personification of the prevailing spirit of the given congregations; or (4) simply the messengers responsible for delivering the letters. The term “angel” (heavenly or earthly messenger) is used over 60 times in Revelation.” [39]

Concluding Prayer of the Church

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [40]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!


Citations:

[1] Episcopal Church. (1979). Collects. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 172-173). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[2] Cobb, D., & Olsen, D. A. (2014). Saint Augustine’s prayer book: A book of devotions (Kindle ed., p. 35). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[3] The hymnal 1982: According to the use of the Episcopal Church 186. Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2021, from https://hymnary.org/hymn/EH1982/186

[4] Church House Publishing. (2005). Morning Prayer: Easter Season. In Common worship: Daily prayer (pp. 323). 

[5] Church House Publishing. (2005). Psalter. In Common worship: Daily prayer (pp. 996). 

[6] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Psalms. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 1428). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum, Ignatius Press.

[7] A., E. E. (2016). Psalms. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 3829). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[8] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 107). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[9] Senior, D., Collins, J. J., & Getty-Sullivan, M. A. (2016). Esther. In The Catholic study Bible: The New American Bible, revised edition, translated from the original languages with critical use of all the ancient sources (Third ed., p. 636). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[10] Ibid. 9, P. 639

[11] Ibid. 9, P. 639

[12] Ibid. 9, P. 639

[13] Ibid. 9, P. 638

[14] Hahn, S., Mitch, C., Villeneuve André, & Walters, R. D. (2019). In Tobit, Judith, and Esther: With introduction, commentary, and Notes (Kindle, pp. 4368). essay, Ignatius Press.

[15] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Esther. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 639). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[16] Hahn, S., Mitch, C., Villeneuve André, & Walters, R. D. (2019). In Tobit, Judith, and Esther: With introduction, commentary, and Notes (Kindle, pp. 4368). essay, Ignatius Press.

[17] Ibid. 16

[18] Ibid. 16, P. 4373

[19] Ibid. 16, P. 4373

[20] Ibid. 16, P. 4379

[21] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Esther. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 639). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[22] A., E. E. (2016). Esther. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 3046). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[23] LAUD, W. (1855). Monday: Against Presumption. In The Private Devotions of Dr. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr (Ebook ed., p. 7). London and Oxford: John Henry & Jas. Parker.

[24] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Revelation. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1744). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[25] Ibid. 24

[26] Ibid. 24

[27] Ibid. 24

[28] Ibid. 24

[29] Ibid. 24

[30] Ibid. 24

[31] Ibid. 24

[32] Ibid. 24, P. 1746

[33] Ibid. 24, P. 1746

[34] Ibid. 24, P. 1746

[35] Ibid. 24, P. 1746

[36] Ibid. 24, P. 1746

[37] Ibid. 24, P. 1746

[38] Ibid. 24, P. 1746

[39] Ibid. 24, P. 1746

[40] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 133). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

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