Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The One Year Bible March 1, 2006

Congratulations on completing two months in God’s word. For those of you just joining us, welcome to the adventure. Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The season of Lent has been seen as a time to “give up” something. This was not something commanded by Scripture but may have some value to people who want to remind themselves of what Jesus gave up for us. Lent can also be a time to reflect on the disciplines of being a Christian. One such discipline is taking time each day to read and meditate on God’s word. There may be some who begin their journey of daily Bible reading during this time and I pray that everyone will continue this long after the season of Lent is over. This study will continue each week so you are welcome to log on and be renewed by the Word. On to the study for today:

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
The readings in Leviticus continue to spell out the regulations for the life of God’s chosen people. Many rituals are described and life for the Israelites is set in place. Some of the important festivals and celebrations for the church are also explained. One of which is called “The Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur). This was the most sacred of all days in the Jewish year. It was the day the high priest would go into the Most Holy Place (where the Ark of God was) and would offer a sacrifice for the forgiveness of all the people. Other festivals include the Passover, The Festival of Unleavened bread, and the festival of booths (or shelters).

In my seminary classes we are taught that the Bible is a book of one story. It is a book about Christ. We call it “Chirstocentric”, meaning the Bible revolves around Christ. One of my professors said it this way, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” That made sense to me, and then I started thinking about some of the readings in Leviticus. How is a story of mildew in a house about Jesus? Can all of the Bible really be about Jesus? So I asked my professor about this and he said that the story of the mildew actually does point to Jesus. Let me back up a second so we are all on the same page. As Lutherans we see that there are two teachings in the Bible: Law and Gospel. The Law shows us our sin and our need of a savior, and the Gospel shows us our Savior and the Grace that was given to us by the life, suffering, and death of Jesus. So back to the mildew; my professor says (and I agree) that this account, as well as others in the Old Testament describe the condition of the world because of sin. The reason a priest was called to look at mildew in the house was because it was a spiritual problem. Please don’t read into this as my saying that because of the sins of the homeowner they have mildew, not at all. What I am saying is we have mildew and other things that destroy and make people sick because of the sinful state of the world. I think at times we neglect the root of many of our problems and we try to just put a “band-aid” on them. So you see, because of sin we are in need of a savior. So sometimes these readings do not look to be about Jesus but once you start to dig a bit deeper, you can see that there is nothing in the Bible that is not about Christ. OK enough of this tangent on to the New Testament.

The New Testament
In our readings in Mark we see more miracles and stories of Jesus. In Mark 7, Jesus makes reference to some of the washings we have been reading about in Leviticus. Jesus makes some people angry when he says its not all about keeping the laws and traditions. In fact, there is much more to it. We need to not only be clean on the outside, we must be cleaned on the inside as well. It is not what comes from inside that makes us unclean, but what comes out of our heart. Just a small aside here; the heart was seen by a Jew as the center of not only the emotions but also the entire soul, including the intellect. When Jesus says these things come from our heart, he is saying that our entire being is full of wickedness. This is something we all need to hear. We are all sinful and unclean. There is not one who does good. And we all fall short of the glory of God. We are in need of a Savior. Jesus has some words for the disciples about being a servant. The disciples were fighting about who was the greatest and once again Jesus turns conventional wisdom on its ear. He tells them they must be a servant of everyone else. They must put the needs of others before their own. This was a radical way of thinking. We sometimes forget how radical Jesus’ words were.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
We will be finishing up the book of Leviticus this week and we will get into the book of Numbers. I will give you an introduction to that book next week. Just to get you started, Numbers was written by Moses and tells the story of the people of Israel and their Journey from Mt. Sinai to the planes of Moab on the boarder of the Promised Land. The narrative story will continue as we follow the events in the Desert.

The New Testament
In Mark, Jesus will predict his own death and heal another blind man. Then in Ch. 11 we have the Triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the clearing of the temple. Chapter 12 contains both a parable and some more teachings of Jesus including the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31). With this Jesus summarizes the 10 commandments (I mean the 9 words) in two sentences. I will have more to say about this next week. Jesus will also talk about the signs of the end of the age.

Key Verses

Psalm 39:4-5
Psalm 40:1-2 (This is one of my most favorite Psalms)
Mark 7:14-16
Psalm 41:1
Psalm 42:1-2
Mark 9:35-37
Mark 10:14-15
Mark 10:31

Let us all journey to the cross this Lenten season! May you continue to work at the discipline of daily Bible reading with the help of the Lord.


At March 02, 2006 4:28 PM, Blogger Ingrid said...

Seth...I'm so glad you post these insights for the One Year Bible. Leviticus is not my favorite read and I'm encouraged by this weeks devo!


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