Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The One Year Bible: April 12, 2006

The Word of the Lord is a powerful thing. For those of you who worshiped at Bethany this past weekend know, we experienced the powerful Word of the Lord. As we read through the story of the passion from Mark’s Gospel, many felt that power. I had more than one person come up to me after the service and commented on how moving the readings were. I can’t agree more. For those of us reading through the Bible this year we have begun to understand the power that comes from the Word. We should all be as bold as Paul and proclaim, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) On to the study...

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
In this weeks readings we have finished the last of the five books of Moses. These books go by some other names, The Torah, The Pentateuch, The Law, and they are the most important books for the Jewish people. Congratulations on finishing these books. They are full of theology and they form the foundation for the rest of the story. You will find many references to these books and the stories contained therein as you continue reading. We finished up our reading of Deuteronomy with the death of Moses and the beginning of Joshua’s leadership. Moses finished his pep talk to the people by reminding them of the covenant that God has made with them and the three fold promise that they are not to see first hand. As Joshua is given leadership of the people we see some very comforting words. Moses tells Joshua to “Be strong and Courageous!” He tells him twice. Then a few verses later, the LORD tells Joshua to “Be strong and Courageous.” In the first chapter of the book of Joshua we see these same words given from the LORD. Was Joshua afraid? Did he lack courage? I know I would have some fear if I had to lead an entire nation! We can take some comfort today in these words as we remember that God is in control. We can be strong and courageous in Christ who gives us the strength and the courage because of his death and resurrection.

Here are the vital stats for the book of Joshua:

Purpose: To give the history of Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land

Author: Joshua, except for the ending, which may have been written by the high priest Phinehas, an eyewitness to the events recounted there

Setting: Canaan, also called the Promised Land, which occupied the same general geographical territory of modern-day Israel

Key Verse: “Go through the camp and tell the people. ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.’” (1:11)

Key People: Joshua, Rahab, Achan, Phinehas, Eleazar

Key Places: Jericho, Ai, Mount Ebal, Mount Gerizim, Gebeon, Gilgal, Shiloh, Shechem

Special Feature: Out of over a million people, Joshua and Caleb were the only two who left Egypt and entered the Promised Land

One quick note about the name Joshua: it means “The Lord Saves” and is the Hebrew version of the Aramaic Jesus. You might guess that Joshua is a type of Christ (remember typology from a few weeks back?). Keep this in your mind as you read this book.

The New Testament
A few things jumped out at me as I read through the readings from Luke this week. After our readings in the Old Testament about washings, the section at the end of chapter 11 (readings for April 6th) where Jesus really blasts the Pharisees makes more sense to me. Jesus really lets them have it for only worrying about the outside things. He tells them in no uncertain terms that God looks at the inside as well and they need to get their act straight. In Luke 7 Jesus says some hard things. Jesus tells us that if we want to be his disciple we need to hate other things. I have always struggled with this statement. In my seminary class last week we talked about the word “hate” and how it is used in the New Testament. This is another word that we translate the Greek literally but it has some Hebrew meaning. In Hebrew this word means that we prefer one thing over the other but not necessarily at the expense of the other. In the Old Testament we read that Jacob “hated” his wife Leah, but he still cared for her, he had children with her and he provided for her. This does not sound like the “hate” we think of. Now it is true that Jacob preferred Rebekah, but he did not “hate” Leah as we see it. I hope this sheds some light on this passage for you. We are to prefer following Jesus over all others. We will still need to carry our cross and count the cost and that will only be possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

One quick comment from one of our readings this week: In Psalm 78:41 (April 7th) a reference to the “Holy One of Israel” is found. We will see this term often when we get into Isaiah and some of the other prophets. This term refers to the promised Messiah and when you see it you can be certain that this is talking about the coming of Christ.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
The book of Joshua will tell about the military conquest of the people in the Promised Land. Don’t get bogged down with the details. You might want to look at a map so you can keep the places straight. The one thing we will see is that the people don’t always do exactly what the LORD commanded. This will come back to haunt the people soon. For the mean time look how Joshua leads the people. He will show that he is strong and courageous.

The New Testament
We will see more teachings of Jesus along with a few miracles and parables. We are reaching the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and we will be getting into the story of the passion soon. Pay close attention to what Jesus has to say about money and riches this week.

Key Verses
Deuteronomy 29:15
Deuteronomy 30:6
Deuteronomy 31:6
Luke 12:22-31
Luke 12:39-40
Joshua 4:14
Luke 14:33
Luke 15:7

Have a blessed Easter!!!


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