Reflections on the Bible in a year

A year ago today, I posted on my intentions to read the Bible all year. I hereby report: it was FANTASTIC! I greatly benefitted from reading the Word directly and from hearing it explained by my paper pastors, old and new. I’m also convinced that many pages in my Bible were thrilled to receive air and light after such a long time. I have every intention of continuing this practice, and heartily encourage others to do the same.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it wasn’t easy. How did I get through the boring, obscure and revolting sections of the Bible? I kept reminding myself of three passages in Scripture, which I trust will also help you in your Bible reading:

  • Luke 24:44– Christ told His disciples that the Scriptures pointed to Him. (Incidentally, if I could ever travel back in time, I’d go to the scene in Luke 24:36-49 for the best Bible study ever. Picture that—studying the written word of God with the incarnated Word of God!)
  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17– Paul told Timothy that the Scriptures are able to make the reader wise for salvation through Christ
  • 1 Peter 1:10-12 – Peter tells his readers that  God revealed His coming salvation to the prophets, who, though they didn’t fully understand it, were pointing to Christ

In short: it’s about Jesus.

Now that I’m done (and I have 65 posts to prove it) there remain some battles for me to fight:

  • Pride, or thinking I’m better than other Christians who haven’t read the whole Bible.
  • Thinking there’s nothing new left for me to learn. I mean, I studied some books pretty exhaustively, and even blogged about them!
  • Always expecting something exciting every time I read the Bible. There will be days when the word of God will simply remind me of what I already know (2 Peter 1:12). And there will be days when the Holy Spirit will add to what I know. Both are necessary.
  • Loving the Bible more than the Author. The Pharisees knew a lot of Bible (John 5:39), but it didn’t transform them.

Again stating the obvious, there’s much, much more I could say. However, I shall refrain because I’d like to have something to say in future posts! 🙂

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Reflections on 2 Chronicles

I’ve been reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on 1 Chronicles, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. This is the last post on reflections on my Bible readings, and I shall post a wrap-up next week.

2 Chronicles covers much of the same ground as 2 Kings, which left me wondering what to write for this post. Finally I decided to review the profiles of the kings thematically. You may find my charts on OT kings helpful.

Those who started badly and ended badly

Jehoram/ Joram,  Ahaziah, Athaliah, Ahaz,  Amon, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah.

Jehoram, Ahaziah and Ahaz are said to have walked in the ways of Ahab, doing evil in the Lord’s sight.

  • Jehoram killed his brothers and other members of the royal family (21:4). For this and other sins, the Lord struck him with a lingering bowel disease, from which he died (21:14-15, 18-19)  He passed away to no one’s regret (21:20) and wasn’t buried with the kings.
  • Ahaziah was Jehoram’s youngest son. His brothers had all been killed by Arab raiders (22:1). On a visit to Joram, king of Israel, he is fatally wounded by Jehu, the next king of Israel (22:5-9). Jehu also kills many of the royal family.
  • Athaliah was Ahab’s daughter, Jehoram’s wife and Ahaziah’s mother. At the death of her son, she killed her grandchildren (except one), usurped the throne and ruled for six years. There was great rejoicing at her death (23:21)
  • Ahaz was idolatrous and went so far as to shut the temple (28:22-24). He wasn’t buried with the kings.
  • Of the rest, little is said. Common to them all is that they didn’t humble themselves before God.

Those who were mostly bad but had bright moments Continue reading

Reflections on Malachi

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai and Zechariah.

Malachi (which means ‘my messenger’) isn’t mentioned elsewhere in scripture, but his message is exceedingly relevant to the Bible storyline. The book’s precise dating is unknown, though it is clearly post-exilic: the temple had been rebuilt and the sacrifices re-instituted.  The external forms of worship were all in place, but the peoples’ hearts had yet to be changed.

Malachi starts off with God reassuring His people of His love. Only then does He go on to present them with six disputes, court-case style, to challenge their disobedient behaviour. Numbers three and four, right in the middle, deal with how the people were treating each other. Numbers two and five deal with how the people were dealing with their own lives. Numbers one and six deal with how the people regarded God. Continue reading

Reflections on Zechariah

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai and Malachi.

Zechariah is the longest of the minor prophets and also the one most quoted in the NT passion narratives. The book can be divided into three sections: chapters 1-6, containing a series of eight visions; chapters 7-8, containing two messages; chapters 9-14, containing two oracles.

1:1-6:8

In 1:1-6, the prophet (his name means ‘Yahweh remembers’) calls the people to return to Yahweh. This is the main message of the book. From 1:7-6:8, Zechariah records a series of eight visions he saw. Following the Hebrew pattern, the climactic points are at the beginning, middle and end.  (In modern storytelling, the climax is normally at the end.)

Visions one and eight are similar, both having variously coloured horses and messengers reporting peace. Visions four and five, in the middle, both have their fulfillment in Messiah. The fourth is about the then-high priest, Joshua; the fifth about the then-governor and heir to the throne, Zerubabbel. But as the Lord says in 3:8, Joshua and Zerubbabel were symbolic of things to come—they had no idea! Visions two and three both have God winning victories. Visions six and seven both have God purging sin. Continue reading

Reflections on Haggai

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi.

Haggai (‘festive’) is one of the post-exilic prophets who ministered to those who returned from exile in Babylon. The returnees had begun to rebuild the temple (Ezra 3:7-13), but after facing opposition (Ezra 4:1-5), they stopped. Then God raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to speak on His behalf to the remnant (Ezra 5:1. 6:14).

Haggai’s first oracle was a wake-up call to the people. They’d been looking out for their own interests and not for God’s. The people listen and obey (1:12)—a welcome departure from the ignoring and ridiculing of prophets that had gone on before. Under their leaders, Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the priest, they resume work on the temple after over a decade.

Haggai’s second oracle came seven weeks later. The people probably felt they were doing a lot of nothing (2:3). Haggai reiterates God’s promise of His presence with them (1:13, 2:4), reminding them of the covenant He’d made with the nation of Israel at the exodus. The Lord then promises, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.” (2:6-9, ESV) That must have greatly encouraged the former exiles, but they had no idea that centuries later a voice in Jerusalem would be heard saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And, “I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.” Continue reading

Reflections on Zephaniah

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

The message of the book of Zephaniah is—you guessed it—judgment and salvation. Judgment will come on the whole earth in general, and on Judah and the nations around her in particular. The people of Judah had given themselves to idolatry (1:4), to half-hearted worship of Yahweh (1:5), and to functional atheism (1:6). Contrary to what they thought (“The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad,”–1:12b), the Lord was active and was going to bring about the day of the Lord (1:14-18).

The prophet issues a call to repentance, urging the people to seek the Lord. Why on earth would they want to seek the one who was going to bring great distress on them? Because only He could help them.

The book closes in hope, with a promise of restoration for the remnant. They are exhorted to rejoice (3:14), even as Yahweh rejoices over them (3:17). Part of this oracle has already been fulfilled in the Lord Jesus’ death on the cross, and we eagerly await its completion on the coming Day.

Sources: Mark Dever, Bob Fyall.

Reflections on Habakkuk

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

Habakkuk is an unusual prophet in that he talks to God, and not to people. The prophet looks at the lamentable state of things and asks God, “Why don’t you do something?” The Lord’s reply is: “I am about to do something.” He was going to send the Babylonians against His own people.

Habakkuk is horrified, and rightly so. How could a holy God use a nation more wicked than Judah to punish them? Yahweh tells him, in essence, to wait and see. God will triumph over evil, as seen in the five woes of chapter 2. God will be glorified (2:14). Those who believe in Him will live by faith (2:4). And all the earth should be silent before the Lord (2:20).

Having heard all this, Habakkuk stops complaining and prays. He asks that the Lord would remember mercy (incidentally the only request the prophet makes here).  Habakkuk recalls God’s deeds in the days of the Exodus: if He’s done it before, He could do it again. The prophet trusts in God’s goodness, resolving two things. One, to wait patiently (3:16). Two, to rejoice in the Lord (3:18). In so doing, he wasn’t ignoring reality—verse 17 shows us that. He was claiming the Lord as his God and strength (3:17-18). Habakkuk’s name means ‘one who embraces/clings’, and he clung to Yahweh.

If we cast ourselves on His mercy, Habakkuk’s God can be our God today.

Source: Vaughan Roberts