This is my twelfth year
in a row reading through The One Year
Each time I do it I see new
things and my routine of reading is a bit different.
Most days I have been pretty good about
reading in the mornings right when I get to the office.
As soon as I get in I close my door, and vow
not to turn on the computer or listen to voicemail until I have done my
This has worked pretty
I hope you are finding a time and
a routine that is working for you.
amazing how God continues to speak to us through his word every day.
I hope you are finding that being in the word
has been a blessing to you and your life with Christ.
On to the study...
The Old Testament
The book of Song of Songs is unique to scripture. It my mind it is like a
Broadway Musical (but rated at least PG-13). We have the lovely song of the
young woman, with a response from her true love. The chorus comes in on
occasion to fill out the story. I love the point, counterpoint of the verses
and the overarching theme of love. On the surface this book is all about young
love. Going a bit deeper, there is another story at work. A frequent image in
the Old Testament of the relationship between God and Israel is that of husband
and wife. God loves his chosen bride, Israel and would do anything to keep that
relationship in tact. God continues to care for Israel no matter what. But
Israel is unfaithful. She goes off and does he own thing. She gets into trouble
and turns her back on God. But God’s love is amazing. It continues to love in
all circumstances. This theme will be played out in the book of Hosea as well.
This relationship is also seen in how Jesus relates to his bride the church.
When all is going well, love abounds and beautiful music is made. But often
times we, as the church, mess things up. We fall away and become unfaithful. The
moral of all the stories is God is faithful no matter what. His love endures to
the ends of the earth and conquers time and space.
The book of the prophet Isaiah is considered by many
Biblical scholars to be the theological textbook of the Old Testament. Many key
doctrines and themes that form the foundation of faith and relationship to God
are found within its pages. Martin Luther says that the, “chief and leading
theme of all the prophets is their aim to keep the people in eager anticipation
of the coming Christ.” Isaiah is an amazing book. Let me give you a few of
my personal insights and some key themes this week. We will have plenty of time
to talk about this most wonderful book. First of all Isaiah did not sit down
and write the book in one sitting. This is more like a journal of the prophet
and his dealings with God and the kingdom of Judah. The events take place over
the entire life of the prophet. It is important to have this perspective when reading.
There is a marked division in the book. Chapters 1-39 are directed to the time
of Isaiah. Chapters 40-66 are a vision of the future captivity in Babylon. The
second part is filled with figurative language as Isaiah struggled to relate
his visions to his contemporaries. I find it interesting to note that there are
39 chapters in the first part and 27 chapters in the second part of Isaiah.
Remember there are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
Pretty cool, huh?? Some have even called Isaiah “The Bible in Miniature”. Now I
would not press the analogy too far but it does make one stop and think. One
other thing of note is the mention of “The
Holy One of Israel”. Most theologians agree that this term makes reference
to the Messiah. This is the one who will deliver the people from oppression and
bring about an eternal kingdom. When you come across this term, spend some time
looking at the context and see if you can see Jesus there. I will have a lot
more to say in the next few weeks.
The New Testament
We will finish up 2 Corinthians this week, and what a finish. Paul gives some
great instruction right at the end. One thing we have heard here at Bethany is
the idea of “my stuff is not my stuff”. Paul tells the Corinthians just this
same thing in Chapter 9. Giving to God comes from the heart. In chapter 10 Paul
spends some time on boasting. He says that boasting about what has happened
within the boundaries of the work of God is a good thing. We must rejoice in
what God is doing, and we can boast in Him at all times. In Chapter 11 Paul
gives his defense for being an apostle. Paul lays it all out on the line and
asserts that his message is valid and useful. Paul’s over all theme here at the
end is about being proud and arrogant. He gives us a glimpse into his personal
life when he admits to some sort of “thorn in the flesh”. We are not sure what
this was. Speculation ranges from an ulcer, to a mental disability, to a
physical deformity. What is was is beside the point, the fact is it has kept
him humble and focused in service to his Lord. Paul wraps it all up in Chapter
13. I love his closing words, “Finally,
brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind,
live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV). In just a few
sentences, Paul summarizes what it means to live the Christian life.
Bits and Pieces
The Old Testament
Remember to read Isaiah like you just picked up the journal of the prophet.
This week we will read entries that contain prophecies against Moab, Damascus,
Cush, Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Arabia, Jerusalem, and Tyre. Isaiah will enter some
songs of praise to God and deliverance of Israel. There will be woes to
Ephraim, David’s city, the obstinate Nation, and to those who rely on Egypt.
Chapter 36 begins a section of prose and gives some of the historical context
for the prophecy. Keep looking for “The Holy One of Israel” as you read.
The New Testament
We move on to the book of Galatians this week. Here are the vital stats for the
PURPOSE: To refute the Judaizers (who taught that Gentile
believers must obey the Jewish Law in order to be saved), and to call
Christians to faith and freedom in Christ
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The churches in southern Galatia founded on
Paul’s first missionary journey (including Iconium, Lystra, Derbe), and
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 49 from Antioch, prior to the
Jerusalem council (A.D. 50)
SETTING: The most pressing controversy in the early church
was the relationship of new believers, particularly Gentiles, to the Jewish
laws. This was especially a problem for the converts and for the young churches
that Paul had founded on his first missionary journey. Paul wrote to correct
this problem. Later, at the council in Jerusalem, the church leaders officially
resolved the conflict.
KEY VERSE: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of
LAW THEMES: The threat of subtle false teaching; hypocrisy;
works cannot justify; the Law’s curse; works of the flesh; the Law of Christ.
GOSPEL THEMES: One saving Gospel; God’s gracious call;
justified through faith in Christ; the gift of the Spirit; adoption as God’s
own sons; freedom in Christ.
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Peter, Barnabus, Titus, Abraham, false
KEY PLACES: Galatia, Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: This letter is not addressed to any
specific body of believers and was probably circulated to several churches in