I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I (try to) post about what I’ve read.
So far, so good… I’m still on track with my Bible reading programme, having covered Ezra, Nehemiah, Matthew, Acts, most of Esther and part of Genesis in January. Here are some thoughts, most of which I’ve gleaned from others over time:
Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book, and they tell the story of two walls: Nehemiah’s was a physical wall and Ezra’s a spiritual wall (separating the Israelites from the peoples around them). As far as I can tell, neither gets a mention in the NT. However, the work they (unknowingly) do in preparing for the coming of Messiah is irrefutable: He was prophesied to come to Jerusalem and to the Temple, so both needed to be present at His coming.
One thing I’d never noticed is how the prayer of the Levites in Nehemiah 9 is anything but original. It contains passages from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, the Psalms… all without sounding cliché-ridden.
Finally, what about those insufferable lists full of strange names? Well, those are people who faithfully did what they could, not expecting that they’d end up in God’s holy revelation to mankind, aka the Bible (only to be ignored by readers centuries later). The Bible is closed, no one else is getting in, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be as faithful as God enables us to be in even the mundane tasks.
Matthew—see my previous post.
Acts: It is interesting how the first sermons were simply a recounting of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection…
Esther: When a king in the Bible offers a woman up to half his kingdom, someone dies. Here, it was Haman. In the NT, it was John the Baptist. (Okay, maybe that wasn’t a very helpful observation) 🙂
Genesis: Even after having God speak to them, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were pieces of work. Abraham put his marriage in jeopardy—twice—using the same trick; and agreed to sleep with Hagar after God had spoken to him more than once. Isaac pulled the same stunt as his father—and with the same person to boot. Jacob, after his dream of a stairway to heaven essentially bargains with God. Why does the Almighty put up with us?
And now for an unprofitable question: Was Abraham a Jew? If yes, then Ishmael and Esau were also Jews, yet they fathered nations that would cause Israel no small amount of grief. But then again, Ishmael and Esau both received the sign of God’s covenant, circumcision. But, but, doesn’t Paul say that not all who are descended from Abraham are true Israel (somewhere in Romans…)? I think I’ll conclude that, no, Abraham wasn’t a Jew.
Sources: Covenant Theological Seminary, Alistair Begg, D.A. Carson, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller