Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®

God

from the Golden Text

Isaiah 45:22

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

The presence and power of the one God are celebrated repeatedly in Hebrew writings—six times in this chapter of Isaiah alone (see also vv. 3, 5, 6, 18, 21). “The Lord our God is one Lord,” from Moses’ exhortation to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4 (citation 1), continues to be central to daily Jewish prayer.

A common scriptural phrase, “the ends of the earth” illustrates God’s far-reaching supremacy. Psalms 72:8 says, for example, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”

from the Responsive Reading

Psalms 147:1, 3–5

Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely. . . . He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. 

Scholars note the range of the poet’s praise—from recognizing God’s intimate care to acknowledging His dominion over the stars. One remarks, “The Psalms show praise as the end of prayer in both meanings of the word: the terminus, the last word in the final psalm, and the goal at which all the psalm-prayers arrive. . . . All prayer, pursued far enough, becomes praise.”

comely: agreeable; pleasing

bindeth: wraps; bandages

Proverbs 3:5, 6

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 

“All thy ways” is comprehensive. Translated from the Hebrew noun derek, it can encompass behavior, custom, and specific acts. A paraphrase offers, “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”

Yādā’, the Hebrew term rendered acknowledge here, nearly always denotes the act of knowing. It is the word Jeremiah uses in his prophecy “They shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know [yādā’] the Lord: for they shall all know [yādā’] me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:34, citation 4).

from Section 1

2 | Exodus 3:1–5, 7

Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. . . . And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.

Part of a series of unmistakable proofs of God’s guidance of the Hebrew nation—including liberation from enslavement and relocation to a new homeland—the burning bush compels Moses’ attention. That it appears to him signals his unique relationship with God and his leadership role in the Exodus.

Throughout history, reverence for sacred places has been expressed by removing one’s shoes. Circa 500   bc the Greek philosopher Pythagoras instructed his students to worship with their shoes off. And before the conquest of Jericho, God charges Joshua, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy” (Joshua 5:15). 

Taskmasters is translated from a form of the Hebrew verb nāgaś, meaning to oppress. This is a reference to the harsh treatment divinely predicted to Abram and carried out by the Egyptians (see Genesis 15:13Exodus 1:8–14).

consumed: burned up

2 | Exodus 3:10, 13, 14

Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. . . . And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 

With the command “Come now therefore,” God moves from explanation to mandate—from telling His intention to save His people to appointing Moses as His agent. A commentary describes the spiritual action that will be at work: “God will endow with authority and harness to his purpose the natural audacity, courage, and sense of justice, so strong in this man.”

God’s self-identification, suggests another source, “bespeaks power, fidelity, and presence. This God is named as the power to create, the one who causes to be. This God is the one who will be present in faithful ways to make possible what is not otherwise possible. This God is the very power of newness that will make available new life for Israel . . . .”

| Isaiah 25:8, 9 

The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.

Translation

The Lord GOD  will wipe away the tears
from every face
and remove His people’s disgrace
from the whole earth,
for the LORD  has spoken.
On that day it will be said,
“Look, this is our God;
we have waited for Him, and He has saved us.”

—Holman Christian Standard Bible

from Section 2

5 | Psalms 139:1, 3, 7–10

O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. . . . Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. . . . Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Translation

O LORD , you have examined me, and you know me. . . .
You watch me when I travel and when I rest. 
You are familiar with all my ways. . . .
Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
Where can I run to get away from you?
If I go up to heaven, you are there.
If I make my bed in hell, you are there.
If I climb upward on the rays of the morning sun
or land on the most distant shore of the sea where the sun sets,
even there your hand would guide me
and your right hand would hold on to me.

—GOD’S WORD Translation

A key theme in this psalm is that God knows His children—an awareness that reaches beyond mere acquaintance to all-encompassing direction and care. “This poem,” observes a Bible authority, “is essentially a meditation on God’s searching knowledge of man’s innermost thoughts, on the limitations of human knowledge, and on God’s inescapable presence throughout the created world.”

compassest: encircle; surround on all sides

6 | Genesis 28:10–13, 15, 16

Jacob went out from Beer–sheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; . . . And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.

Jacob is fleeing from his brother’s anger after cheating Esau out of their father’s blessing (see chap. 27). It is at this vulnerable point that God appears—not to judge Jacob but to confirm his place in the line of Hebrew patriarchs. One scholar writes, “At the very moment in which he leaves the land promised to his posterity, he is assured of his return under divine protection, and of the fulfillment of the will of God through him.” 

Jacob’s vision occurs about sixty miles (a hundred km) into his 450–mile (720–km) journey from the southern to the northern border of Canaan. Jacob names the site Beth-el, meaning “house of God” (see 28:19). Years after his reconciliation with Esau, he returns to Beth-el to build another altar (see 35:1–7). In the time of Elijah and Elisha, a prophetic community is located at Beth-el (see II Kings 2:3).

lighted upon: found; settled on

tarried: stayed; remained

| Isaiah 43:1, 4, 10 

Now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. . . . Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: . . . Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Translation

Now this is what the Lord says.
    He created you, people of Jacob.
    He formed you, people of Israel.
He says, “Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you.
    I have called you by name, and you are mine. . . .
You are precious to me. 
    I give you honor, and I love you. . . .
You are my witnesses.
    You are the servant I chose.
I chose you so you would know and believe me.
    I chose you so you would understand that I am the true
    God.
There was no God before me,
    and there will be no God after me.

—International Children’s Bible

from Section 3

| I Chronicles 29:11 

Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.

Translation

LORD , you are great and powerful.
    You have glory, victory, and honor.
    Everything in heaven and on earth belongs to you.
The kingdom belongs to you, LORD;
    you are the ruler over everything.

—New Century Version

| Jude 1:24, 25 

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. 

Translation

God can guard you so that you don’t fall and so that you can be full of joy as you stand in his glorious presence without fault. Before time began, now, and for eternity glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

—GOD’S WORD Translation

from Section 4

10 | Acts 10:38 

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

anointed: appointed for divine service

oppressed of: overpowered or harshly treated by

12 | I Corinthians 2:12

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Philosophy and intellectual reasoning were highly prized in the Greco-Roman world. Paul counsels the Corinthian Christians that “the deep things of God” (v. 10) far surpass human wisdom, and are given by Him. A commentator points out, “The truth about God is revealed not through philosophy but through prophecy, not through rhetoric but by revelation.”

13 | I Peter 4:11 

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.

Translation

Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever!

—New Living Translation

from Section 5

14 | Acts 1:1, 2

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.

Translation

To Theophilus.

The first book I wrote was about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up into heaven. Before this, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the apostles he had chosen what they should do.

—New Century Version

Much has been speculated about Theophilus. The name may refer to a generic Gentile reader or to a Gentile patron who supported Luke’s writings. In Luke 1:3, the apostle addresses him as “most excellent,” implying that this man may have been of high social or official rank. The Greek name Theophilus was not uncommon, and means “friend of God” or “dear to God.”

The “former treatise” is the Gospel of Luke. Together, the books of Luke and Acts (written by the same person) form a unified work on the development of early Christianity. “Until the day in which he was taken up” alludes to the period before Jesus’ ascension.

treatise: writing that explains a subject in detail

15 | Acts 2:1, 4–6, 12, 13 

When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. . . . And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

utterance: spoken word or statement

devout: deeply religious; sincerely committed to God

mocking: making fun of; laughing at

15 | Acts 2:14–17, 21

Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judæa, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. . . . And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

At this time many Jews held that divine prophecy had ended after the passing of such seers as Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi—and that this special ability would reappear only in “the last days,” at the arrival of the Messiah. That period was widely assumed to be in a distant future. Citing the Hebrew prophet Joel (see Joel 2:28), Peter now declares that with Christ Jesus’ advent, this moment has come, and that salvation is available to all believers. 

Peter’s Pentecost speech is the first recorded instance of kerygma—the proclamation of the facts of Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection—in Acts. Distinct from deeper teaching or exhortation, kerygma was intended to provide unmistakable proof of Jesus’ Messiahship.

from Section 6

17 | I John 4:7, 12

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Translation

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. . . . if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

—New Living Translation

Readers of this letter faced not only hostility from outsiders but also conflict within the Christian community over differing views on doctrinal issues. Love for God and each other, the author urges, is the Christly response to animosity and contention. 

A scriptural authority describes knowing God as “the knowing among members of the same family.” And that God’s love is perfected in us, he continues, “means that, though God is unseen, God is not unfelt. Our sense of the reality of God’s love for us grows and moves towards perfection.” The emphasis, he adds, is on “the process of a maturing apprehension of God’s love.”


Read a related editorial, “I John 3: 1, 2, 3” by Hermann S. Hering, at
jsh.christianscience.com/i-john-3-1-2-3.

Resources quoted in this issue

RR: Peterson, Eugene H. Conversations: The Message with Its Translator. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress Publishing Group, 2007; The Living Bible, copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Cit. 2: Buttrick, George Arthur, Nolan B. Harmon, et al., eds. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 1, General and Old Testament Articles, Genesis, Exodus. Nashville: Abingdon, 1951–57; Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 1, Introduction to the Pentateuch. Genesis. Exodus. Leviticus. Numbers. Deuteronomy. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

Cit. 5: Alter, Robert. The Hebrew Bible, Vol. 3, The Writings: A Translation with Commentary. New York and London. W.W. Norton & Company, 2019.

Cit. 6: Eiselen, Frederick Carl, Edwin Lewis, and David G. Downey, eds. The Abingdon Bible Commentary. New York: Abingdon Press, 1929.

Cit. 12: Mays, James Luther, et al., eds. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Vol. 33, First Corinthians. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1982–.

Cit. 17: Johnson, Thomas Floyd. New International Biblical Commentary—1, 2, and 3 John. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.

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