Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The One Year Bible: March 8, 2006

So far, so good! We have already read three of the big five books of Moses in the Old Testament and we are almost halfway through the Gospels and it is only March! (Not to mention 50 Psalms and over 10 chapters of Proverbs) Yes, we have a long way to go, but we have already come so far. I am glad to be out of Leviticus. That is some tough reading. There will be more like it. When we get into Isaiah and Jeremiah (as well as some of the other prophets) the readings will be a bit tedious, but remember that the Bible has one story and that is about Christ. I hope this time in the word will help you in your Lenten journey to the cross as we all continue to work on our spiritual disciplines.

Where We Have Been
The Old Testament
We finished up Leviticus with a few more regulations. One of the more interesting is the idea of jubilee. Every 50 years all debts were cancelled and the land rested. This was not only good for the land it was good for the society. This limited social stratification that can be divisive within society. The value of land and servants etc was all based on how many years until the next jubilee. This might not be such a bad thing to consider as God’s people today. Anything that can be done to meet the needs of the people must at least be thought of. The book of Numbers continues the story of the people from Mt. Sinai on to the Promised Land. Here are the vital stats for Numbers:

Purpose: To tell the story of how Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, how they sinned and were punished, and how they prepared to try again

Author: Moses

To Whom Written: The People of Israel

Date Written: 1450-1410 B.C.

Setting: The vast desert of the Sinai region, as well as the lands just south and east of Canaan

Key Verses: “Not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” Numbers 14:22-23

Key People: Moses, Aaron, Miraim, Joshua, Caleb, Eleazar, Korah, Balaam

Key Places: Mt. Sinai, the Promised Land (Canaan), Kadesh, Mt. Hor, plains of Moab

Numbers records the story of Israel’s unbelief and should serve as a dramatic lesson for all God’s people. God loves us and wants the very best for us. He can and should be trusted. Numbers also gives a clear portrayal of God’s patience. Again and again he withholds judgment and preserves the people. But his patience must not be taken for granted. His judgment will come.

One of the recurring themes in Numbers is that of complaining. It is complaining that gets the people into trouble. Complaining and grumbling become very destructive for the people. Many of them even wanted to go back to Egypt. They had already forgotten that in Egypt they were slaves!!

One of the best know and most powerful Psalms is 51. This Psalm was written by David after he was confronted of his many sins; his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. The prophet Nathan brings it to his attention and in a spirit of contrition and repentance, David pens this Psalm. You are probably familiar with some of the words. This is a good one to memorize for when you need to ask for forgiveness as well.

The New Testament
In our readings in Mark this past week we had a few great stories and a few that have confounded scholars for generations. In ch. 11 we have the story of Palm Sunday and the triumphant entry of Jesus. This story shows a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus as well as point to his role as our King. This story also solidifies him as the promised Messiah. The story of the fig tree is a strange one. Mark divides up the story into two parts. The first part happens right before the clearing of the temple and many scholars believe that Jesus used it as an object lesson. Here was a tree that should have had some fruit on it. Most fig trees begin growing fruit at the same time they begin to grow leaves. If there are leaves on the tree then one should find fruit. Not finding any fruit Jesus curses the tree. The lesson here is that the Jews are the fig tree but they are not producing any fruit. They are just content to grow leaves. But leaves are of no value. It is the fruit that is beneficial. This leads right into the clearing of the temple. Jesus “prunes” the temple so it can bear fruit. The withered fig tree is like those who do not listen to the teaching of Jesus. They will dry up. Jesus uses similar analogies when he talks about the vine and the branches and the idea of good people bear good fruit. Another great teaching is what some scholars call “The Great Commandment”. Jesus sums up all the commandments in two sentences. “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength.” This is a summary of the first three commandments. “Love your neighbor as your self.” This summarizes the other commandments.

Where We Are Going
The Old Testament
The layout for Numbers is found in the vital stats of the book found above. You have probably guessed why the book is called Numbers already. There are a ton of lists and numbers of people in groups which give the book its name.

The New Testament
We will be finishing up the Gospel of Mark and starting the Gospel of Luke. Mark’s story of the passion is short but powerful. He cuts to the chase and tells you what is important. It ends with a call to action. Very appropriate since this is called the action Gospel. Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15 And the disciples took him up on it, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (16:20)

Key Verses

Mark 10:15
Mark 10:43-45
Psalm 46:1-3 (One of Martin Luther’s favorite Psalms)
Mark 12:29-31
Numbers 6:24-26
Mark 13:10-11
Mark 13:32-33
Psalm 51:10-12

Have a great week!!!


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counter