The Living Word for Sunday, Nov 14, 2021, is a non-denominational Bible study which relies on the Bible explaining the Bible, uninfluenced by any church’s traditions or preferences, and following the Bible’s sequence of progressive revelation. Read the whole passage first and let the Holy Spirit begin speaking to you through it, then go deeper with the verse by verse commentary and reflections. The week’s readings are as set by the Revised Common Lectionary, an inter-denominational resource shared by many different churches and chapels. The Bible version, widely used in contemporary churches, is the NIV © Biblica. Ref. TLW45B
OT1: 1 Samuel 1:4-20 – Hannah, unable to conceive, keeps trusting in God’s good purposes for her, and God’s answer to her desperate prayer impacts history
OT2: Daniel 12:1-3, Daniel’s vision of the end-time deliverance of those whose names are in the Book of Life
NT gospel: Mark 13:1-8 – Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple and, later, disasters and widespread spiritual deception in the end times
NT letter: Hebrews 10:11-25 — The Holy Spirit reveals the New Covenant we have through trusting in Jesus’ blood and sacrifice, which makes us confident believers
Theme: Confident hope arises from knowing God’s constant work of salvation
• See this week’s linked article ‘How God’s Repeated Works of Salvation Give Us Confidence’
• And this week’s video introduction to the message ‘What Is God’s Plan? Our Salvation!’
1 Samuel 1:4-20 – God’s answer to a desperate prayer impacts history
Hannah’s failure to conceive does not dampen her trust in God’s goodness
4-8 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
“Hannah” – the name means ‘grace’. The wider story is God’s miraculous intervention with this faithful woman, Hannah. She raised up the last of Israel’s judges who would give righteous leadership to the nation at a time of crisis as it moved towards a monarchy.
“Peninnah… Hannah” – although monogamy was the rule, two people becoming one flesh, Gen. 2:24, there were social pressures through young men being killed in battle.
9-11 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if You will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
“Eli…on his chair by the…Lord’s house” – the chair is the priest’s place and authority; later, rabbis would sit to teach. Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father.
“Deep anguish” – barrenness in OT times was considered a failure and social embarrassment.
12-14 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“She kept on praying” – Hannah was mocked by a woman who shared her husband and dismissed by the high priest who failed to understand her motives. But she maintained her focus on God and as she prayed, opened the way for Him to work.
15-16 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
“Not… a wicked woman” — alcoholic consumption in the tabernacle precincts was a grave offence, Lev. 10:9; Ezek. 44:21.
17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.”
18 She said, “May your servant find favour in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
19-20 Early the next morning they arose and worshipped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
“Samuel” — lit. ‘name of God’ but sounding like ‘heard by God’. God had heard her prayer,
Daniel 12:1-3 – End-times resurrection: either to everlasting life, or shame
1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people — everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered.
“At that time” – the antichrist’s attempt to annihilate the Jewish people, Daniel 11:36-45. A time of both unprecedented distress but also hope for true believers, who have turned in faith to their Messiah Jesus, Zech. 12:10; Romans 11:25-27.
“Name… written in the book” — the book of the saved, Malachi 3:16-4:3; Luke 10:20; Rev. 13:8.
2-3 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
“Some to everlasting life, others to shame” — the first resurrection reference, both the righteous to everlasting life and peace, and the wicked to rejection.
• For further study, read Job 19:25-26; Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 26:19; John 5:24-29.
“Everlasting life” – the phrase is unique here in the OT.
SUMMARY The story of Hannah speaks of God’s goodness, to all who have been misunderstood, disappointed and put down by others. Her self-esteem had been shredded, but her faith was still growing. She knew that God is good, even though it didn’t feel that way to her, and she kept on praying.
APPLICATION Life’s more difficult experiences and God’s eternal plan of salvation are difficult for us to reconcile this side of heaven. Both Hannah’s story, and Daniel’s vision of the end time, remind us that God is always working for salvation, whatever conflict we may be experiencing.
QUESTION What does Hannah’s story and Daniel’s prophetic vision tell us about spiritual conflict in heaven and our experience on earth? What does it encourage us to do?
Mark 13:1-8 – Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple
The end times will bring wars, disasters and widespread spiritual deception
1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to Him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
“Massive stones” – foundation stones the size of a double-decker bus.
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
“Every one… thrown down’ – destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. The Jewish authorities, who didn’t welcome their Messiah but murdered Him, were ‘rebellious tenants’ marked for destruction.
• For further study, Mark 11:18 and 11:9-11, 27-33, Mark 12:9-10.
3-4 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
“What will be the sign” — the disciples were expecting the temple destruction to herald the last times. Jesus is speaking of future events but in a prophetic way, free of our sense of chronological order.
5-8 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.”
“Watch out… be on your guard” — Jesus’ commanding tone points to deception being the primary danger for the disciples to guard against.
SUMMARY Jesus warned that the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah would result in the destruction of the new temple with its massive foundations, the landmark of their national pride — and it happened within a generation. This ‘sign of the end times’ came with terrible bloodshed as Jerusalem and its revolt was destroyed by the Romans.
APPLICATION Jesus’ words for us, point to a greater conflict yet to come, as the end-times extend. Perhaps the greatest danger is satanic deception. The kingdom message: know God’s love, love Him and love others, is so straightforward we easily miss its simplicity and turn it into something else. With spiritual maturity, we recognise which kingdom is dark, and which is light.
QUESTION What does this word and its fulfilment teach us about the consequences of our attitudes and actions?
Hebrews 10:11-25 — Knowing who we are in Jesus is our confidence
The Holy Spirit reveals the New Covenant we have in Jesus’ blood and sacrifice
11-14 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool. For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
“Every priest stands… this Priest… sat down” – while every levitical priest stood to perform the repeated religious duties, Christ is seated, His work finished, brought out in the layered emphases: “one sacrifice”, “for all time”, “He sat down…and…waits” etc.
15-16 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First He says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put My laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
“I will put My laws in their hearts” – as Jeremiah had prophesied, Jer. 31:31-34, seeing a future era and what should be our post-resurrection experience of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding believers. These verses explain”being made holy” while also being described as “made perfect”, v.14, by the finished work of Christ. We are identified by our new nature in Christ, while being a work in progress.
17-18 Then He adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
Sins…remember no more” – contrasts with “annual reminder of sins”, Heb. 10:3. We are not under the Old Covenant, needing to confess sins repeatedly because the New Covenant assures us that Christ forgives sins completely, Psalm 40:6-8. Sins we confess and renounce are both forgiven and forgotten.
19-25 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a Great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
“Therefore… let us…” — the incredible good news that we are forgiven is the best reason to keep on meeting joyfully and encouraging one another.
“Draw near… with…” — the confidence of freedom from guilt.
SUMMARY A key word in this passage is ‘confidence’ and confidence in God’s goodness is a fair definition for Christian hope, also prominent in this passage. This is confidence in Christ’s completed or perfect work which has redeemed and renewed us who have trusted Him — and set us on a path of growing holiness at the same time.
APPLICATION When we come to know God through trusting in Jesus, many changes in us occur. This is new life, with a new identity: not condemned to carry shame, but released and accepted — by God Almighty! As a result, we live differently — we raise our game. We don’t need a homily in church telling us to. After all, we belong to Him now! Almighty!
QUESTION Does this passage tell you you are not worthy to gather up crumbs under the Lord’s table, or that you can confidently draw near in faith?
PRAYER Lord, no one knows the time of Your return and all we really understand about the end-times is that at the end of the book, the Lamb wins!
Fill use afresh with the Holy Spirit who gives holy confidence. Help us to maintain a praising spirit, able to declare the cost of Your victory in pain and blood but full of joy as those who know the closing score. Amen.
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