Today’s Text: Matthew 2:1-23, Luke 2:39-52
Highlights: Today’s reading begins with King Herod’s attempt to destroy Jesus. This was prompted by the report of the wise men from the east who come to worship Jesus. God helps Jesus escape.
It then skips to the incident when Jesus is 12 and he remains behind in Jerusalem in the temple with the teachers there.
Something amazing about this section is that there are 3 prophecies in Matthew 2 (2:6, 15, and 23) that make statements about where Jesus would come from – 3 different places. This could be seen as a contradiction but they are all true! Name the 3 places. More importantly, what does the fact that all 3 were true each in their own way, teach us about God and His control over these events?
Today’s Reading: Luke 1:5-80, Matt 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-38
Highlights: The births of John and Jesus are announced by Gabriel to Zacharias (father of John) and Mary. Their births are recorded.
Question: Its difficult to put into words the wonderful event in today’s story. God’s son being born into humanity. One of the most fascinating parts of this reading is the many outstanding prophecies concerning Jesus. See Luke 1:13-17, 31-33, 68-79, and Matthew 1:20-21, for example. There is one prophecy that is somewhat ominous (especially compared to the others). What did Simeon tell Mary (Luke 2:27-35) that was very sobering? From our perspective what all might this have in mind? How do you think these words affected Mary?
Text: Matt 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38
Highlights: Uh oh! Genealogies in the New Testament also? I thought we were through with those! Yes there are these two, but they are very important. Both Matthew and Luke have a genealogy of Jesus.
As you read you will notice Matthew and Luke’s genealogy differ in some points. The best explanation I have seen is that Matthew is written to Jews and traces the genealogy through Joseph (Jesus’ legal father according to Jewish law) back to Abraham (the father of the Jewish nation). Luke was written for Gentiles as well as Jews, and traces the genealogy through Mary (Jesus’ actual blood line) back to Adam (the original father of all mankind). It is important that both lines unite at David (through whom the Messiah must come) and then take different branches through different sons of David, Solomon and Nathan (not the prophet). I admit some difficulties remain, but this may explain the main question of why the genealogies differ.
Question: In Matthew 1:3-6 we read the names of 4 women in the genealogy of Jesus. Name them. Also, why is it significant that these are included?
Today’ Reading: Mark 1:1, John 1:1-18, Luke 1:1-4
Highlights: Today we read the introductions to the books of Mark, Luke, and John. These books were written by different authors to different audiences with a different purpose which explains how different the introductions are from one another.
Mark gets straight to the point saying this is how the “good news” about Jesus, the Son of God begins. Luke is very practical – explaining his intention to give an accurate, detailed, historical account. John is deeply philosophical. He speaks of “the Word”, “the beginning”. “creation”, “light and darkness” and “life”, and how we can become “sons of God” ourselves.
Question: The name “Jesus” is not found in John’s gospel until verse 16 but we do read about “the Word”. Note what is said about “The Word” in 1:1-3 and 14. Why do we conclude this is Jesus? What does it teach us about Him? Any thoughts on why Jesus is identified as “The Word”?
Having finished the Old Testament we now have a few days off till we begin the New Testament on Friday October 18th. The Bible itself is “silent” for about 4oo years until the arrival of John, the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah. If you have LaGard Smith’s Daily Bible there is some great background information contained there for the readings for these 3 days.
Reading the Bible with the Daily Bible Review this year helps us see how much longer the Old Testament is than the New. The New takes up less that 1/4 the Bible story. Does it seem strange to you that we are given much more information about the Old Law than the New? There are a lot of great things (events, people, laws) in the Old Testament but how would our lives be less complete if the story ended there?
Look for a new reading assignment and blog entry here early Friday morning.
Today’s Text: Nehemiah 4-9
Our last Old Testament reading completes the genealogies in the early part of Chronicles. This may be the most challenging reading of the year.
Some of the reasons genealogies were important are: (1) The land was divided to families according to their tribes. The possessions were to be permanent and would be retained when they returned from captivity. (2) The royal family line would need to be identified, and finally, (3) the family of the priesthood would need to be identified.
One interesting, non-geneological statement is the famous “prayer of Jabez” in 4:9-10. It is the basis of the book “the prayer of Jabez” which sold 9 million copies. What do we know about Jabez? Why do you think this prayer is so popular? Does God promise to bless us in a similar way?
THE NEW TESTAMENT STARTS ON FRIDAY!!! We have two more Old Testament readings, then we have a break of 3 days before we start the New Testament on Friday, October 18.
Today’s Reading: 1 Chronicles 1-3.
Highlights: It may seem odd to go back to 1 Chronicles for our last 2 readings but we should consider that the books of Chronicles are just that, a “Chronicle”, a description of events in the order they happened” in the nation of Judah.
The first 9 chapters of Chronicles is devoted to genealogies. It appears to have been compiled after the return from captivity because it includes the names of captives who returned, and the most popular opinion about the author is that it was Ezra.
Chapters 1-3 starts with Adam. It lists the descendants of Noah, Abraham, and Israel. Chapter 2 gives us the sons of Jacob then focuses in on Jacob’s son Judah through whom David (Chapter 3), the kings of Judah, and ultimately, the Messiah will come.
Today’s Text: Nehemiah 12:27-47, Nehemiah 13
Highlights: Chapter 12 tells us about the dedication of the wall. It mentions two large thanksgiving choirs, the offering of sacrifices, and joyous worship, and says that “the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off” (12:43). Chapter 13 tells us they read the law of Moses that day and then it records 4 cases of disobedience (allowing Amonites and Moabites in the assembly, intermarriage, commerce on the Sabbath, and failure to support the house of God with tithes) which Nehemiah corrects.
Thus closes the book and great career of Nehemiah, the wall builder. This also concludes the Old Testament history (we have 2 more readings in the Old Testament which are genealogical records from the Chronicles).
We see the children of Israel have been brought back to Jerusalem and the wall and temple are rebuilt but they are still struggling with keeping God’s law.
Several times in chapter 13 (verses 14, 22, 29, 31; also 5:14), after correcting a particular sin, Nehemiah says something like “Remember me O God for good for all I have done”. What is your sense of his motivation in making that simple prayer?
Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 8, 9, 10
Highlights: Today we read about a great assembly in which Ezra teaches the law. In reading they rediscover and then observe the feast of tabernacles. (Back in March one of our readers, Norma, described this feast as a “week long camp out full of rejoicing and thanksgiving” – an accurate description based on Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16).
Later we read about a day of fasting, and confession of Israel’s sin going all the way back to the Exodus and up to the present day. The nation then makes a covenant to keep God’s law: “a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it” (9:38).
As the great prayer in chapter 9 shows, the children of Israel had rebelled and repented many times. Does their commitment on this occasion seem to you to be different in anyway? What all has happened recently to encourage such a zealous response?
Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 7, 11, 12:1-26
Highlights: Having completed the building of the wall Nehemiah now deals with matters such as resettling the city of Jerusalem and appointing leaders over the city. Most of those who returned had settled in the countryside leaving the city unpopulated. Chapter 7:4 says “the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it”. Of roughly 50,000 who returned one-tenth are chosen by casting lots to settle in Jerusalem.
Concerning the leaders appointed, 7:2 says Hanai was chosen, along with Hananiah. What does it say about the one who was chosen? Going forward why will this be important? Should that be a consideration in choosing leaders today?