Thursday, May 25, 2006

The One Year Bible- May 25th

Wow, what at week! It week has been awesome but busy. I spent all weekend with the youth of Bethany at the annual Crossroads retreat. It was a fantastic weekend with great studies of God’s word and bonding time. It was a time to honor our seniors who will be graduating and welcome the eighth graders into the high school program. Those weekends are demanding and I usually take a day or two off right after them, but this week I attended a conference on Monday and Tuesday so I had to keep myself going. The conference was great but now I am tired. I even fell asleep at my desk yesterday! Have you had weeks like this? We all have. The unfortunate thing is that my Bible reading took a backseat. I am not proud of that but I want to be honest with you. At times our lives get so busy and hectic that we forget to get into the Word. It is at times like these that we need to be in prayer and ask for the strength and focus we need to get it done. I have since caught up and now we are ready for our study this week…

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
The saga of David and Saul continues in our Old Testament readings this week. The story has it’s climax towards the end of 1 Samuel. I think that David and Saul had a very co-dependant relationship. They both hated and loved each other and this made things very confusing. One moment they want to kill each other, the next they say how much they love and respect one another. We see some interesting things about David’s character in this story too. David is revered as one of the best kings that Israel ever had. But his record is not spotless. In fact he is not the nicest of guys at all. This weekend at our youth retreat my pal Ingrid talked about David in our studies. She mentioned that during David’s life, he often took the high road (i.e. not killing Saul in the cave) but equally as often he took the low road (i.e. taking multiple wives and the fiasco with Bathsheba). David is an interesting king for sure. I think that remembering that David took the low road at times is something we must remember. Even after all the bad things that he did, God still loved him and promised that his kingdom will last forever in the person of Jesus. A couple of other things from this week that I want to make note of: I have always liked the story of Saul going to see the medium at Endor. For those of you who are fans of the Star Wars movies you would remember that George Lucas called one of the planets in the Star Wars universe by the same name. It was on a moon of Endor that the final battle in “Return of the Jedi” took place. Did George Lucas know his Bible or did someone feed him that place, I don’t know. It is just another example that things from the Bible are everywhere. That story has another point. Saul has lost his trust in God. He seeks the advice of a medium to try to get information. The LORD has left him and is with David and that makes Saul angry. Finally during a battle Saul is injured and falls on his own sword and dies. It was a bad day for the house of Saul. “So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all dies together that same day.” (1 Samuel 31:6 NLT) This starts another Civil War and eventually David becomes king. In our readings for May 24th we hear the story of Saul’s son Mephibosheth. He will be more important later. For now just remember his name and his situation. I find it odd that the first thing that David builds in the new capital of Jerusalem is a palace for himself. He does not built a place for God or for the Ark. We will see why a bit later. You might not have noticed, especially if you are reading through a special One Year Bible, but we moved into the book of 2 Samuel. It is basically the continuation of the same story but here are the vital stats of the book:

PURPOSES: To Record the history of David's reign; to demonstrate effective leadership under God; to reveal that one person can make a difference; to show the personal qualities that please God; the depict David as an ideal leader of an imperfect kingdom, and to forshadow Christ, who will be the ideal leader of a new and perfect kingdom.

AUTHOR: Unknown; some have suggested that Nathan's son Zabud may have been the author; the book also includes writings from Nathan and Gad

SETTING: The land of Israel under David's rule

KEY VERSE: "And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel" (5:12)

SPECIAL FEATURES: This book was named after the prophet who anointed David and guided him in living for God.

The New Testament

The “I Am” statements keep flying out of Jesus’ mouth in John. Jesus says “I am the gate” meaning that he is the only way into heaven. There is no other way for salvation. It is by him and through him that we are saved and enter the safety of the heavenly sheep pen. He also says, “I am the good shepherd”. Is he really a good shepherd? He leaves all the other sheep unprotected to look for one lost one. But that is the point. Jesus will do anything, even give up his own life in order to save the sheep. He knows all of the sheep and will sacrifice his life for each and every one of them. Jesus also spends a lot of time trying to show the relationship he has with the father. The disciples just don’t seem to get it. Jesus says that he and the father are one, and that he is doing the work of the father. In the story of the death of Lazarus, Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life.” What a great analogy and given at the right time. It is by the power of Jesus that Lazarus was raised from death to life again. We see a glimpse of the human side of Jesus, showing love in the shortest verse of the bible, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Confirmation students often want to memorize this verse because it is so short, and most teachers don’t let them but it is a powerful verse. Jesus shows his emotion and his love for his friend Lazarus, and it is that same love he has for us. He died not only for Lazarus but for us as well. Our resurrection will not be in this world but will be in heaven on the last day. What a great comfort. Jesus shows that love a few verses later when he washes the disciples feet. That was a tender act of love that shows the servant heart of our Lord. Just after this we have another great “I Am”. “I tell you this before hand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah.” (John 13:19 NLT) This “I Am” statement is a direct pointer to the name Yahweh. Jesus was again telling them who he was and what he was all about. There is a lot more in this section of scripture, but I don’t have the time to dig into all of it. If you have any questions please let me know.

We started reading Psalm 119 this week and I want to make a few comments. First of all, it is the longest Psalm in the Bible, secondly the Psalm is a giant acrostic. There are twenty two stanzas in the Psalm, one for each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within each stanza begins with the Hebrew letter named in its heading. Of course, once you translate it you loose this unique structure. This is a common literary form used for Hebrew poetry. When you know some of the structure, you can see more of the beauty of the original.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
This week we will see the establishment of the Davidic kingdom. David starts out well and the LORD is with him. Pay close attention to the story of Mephibosheth. I will spend some time next week talking about this rather unfamiliar story. We will also read about the second most famous story about David (after his defeat of Goliath), the fiasco with Bathsheba. This is what soap operas are made of. Because of this the house of David will seem some turbulence and problems. Note especially what happens between David and his son Absalom.

The New Testament
We will see a couple of more “I Am” statements before John gives his account of the Passion. We will get through the trial, the crucifixion and the death of Jesus. (If you must feel free to read ahead to chapter 20 for the good news of the resurrection.) We are almost finished with the Gospels and we will soon move on to the book of Acts. You will want to find yourself a good map before we start the book of Acts because things will start to get confusing if you don’t locate all of the cities and regions that will be mentioned.

Key Verses

John 10:9-16
Psalm 115:1
John 10:27-28
John 11:25-26
John 11:35
Psalm 118:8-9
John 12:23-24
Psalm 118:22 (Messianic)
John 13:19
2 Samuel 5:4-5
John 14:6-7

Talk with you soon. God Bless!!!


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