Through the BIble in a Year – July 23

The scheme for July and August can be found here

1 Ki 22; Acts 7:17-end; Psalm 106:1-23

1 Kings 22 contains a familiar scenario. False prophets prophecy good things for the whereas the truthful prophet speaks of King Ahab’s end. In the power play, Zedekiah foreshadows the treatment of Christ – slapping Micaiah around the face and calling on his to prophesy. Thus here as in so many places we see the truth that all Scripture points us to Christ.

Micaiah’s reply also echoes one who is to come after him. Truthfulness and discernment of the Spirit is to be found ‘in the inner room’. The place where only God the Father sees and is present. When we have trouble discerning the Spirit – do we too go to our inner room. Indeed have we yet discovered it?

Through the Bible in a Year – July 22

1 Ki 20-21; Acts 6:1-7-16; Psalm 105 vs 26-end

The tale of Naboths vineyard does not resonate with us as powerfully as it ought, so used are we to thinking we might buy and sell land . . .

Herein we are reminded of the deepest of truths – the Earth is the Lord’s – so it is given for an inheritance and not to be accumulated. For the Earth is a source of the gracious provision of God. None of us ‘owns’ land – and we would do well not to mask this behind careless use of the word ‘Stewardship’, a concept that has become so distorted in Christian usage as to be all but beyond redemption, were such a thing not unthinkable.

Ahab – like his ancestor David, looks out from his palace and sees that which is not his own – and covets it.

Jezebel, who is a foreigner to the tradition of Yahweh, the story of the Exodus, and the true King of Israel – tells Ahab to behave like a King. If you want it, you take it! Are you not the king??? ‘Bow down and worship me and all this will be yours’. The covetous desire to acquire is always rooted in false worship – and this tale makes that so explicit it is alarming that we still rarely see – we still seek to say – I want this for myself.

Dust we are – to dust we shall return. We are ‘Admah’ – of the Earth – how can we own it, when one day we will fertilize it?

Through the Bible in a Year – July 21

1 Ki 18-19; Acts 5; Psalm 105 vs 1-25

One of the great sins of Ahab, following in the footsteps of his ancestor Solomon, is to marry outside of Israel – thus steps onto the stage Jezebel, the follower of Baal, and the tumultuous showdown on Mount Carmel.

At stake one question. Who is God?

As Elijah – ‘The LORD is God’ – triumphs spectacularly, that question is answered resoundingly.

But this question is one that Always recurs amongst God’s people. The people of Israel proclaim, The LORD is God! But soon they ‘forget’. The weeds spring up – they have no root – the word is snatched away.

We could do worse than rise each morning to proclaim, The LORD, He is God.

Of course – as we know – the prophets are persecuted for Righteousness sake. Jezebel comes down on Elijah in fury for the slaying of the priests of Ba’al. Perhaps it is that we do not know such furious persecution because the city of our hearts ‘is full of idols’?

‘In your hearts, set apart Jesus Christ as Lord’

Through the Bible in a Year – July 4

The scheme for July and August can be found here

Prov 20-21; Matt 17; Psalm 81-82

John’s gospel declares to us the cross as the glorification of God in Christ. But this theme is not absent from the other gospels.

Jesus has announced that he is to suffer and to die in Jerusalem. Peter has told him that this must never happen and Jesus has rebuked him. Now comes the Transfiguration.

The Cross is proclaimed

Jesus is seen in glory

Through the Bible in a Year – July 20

The scheme for July and August can be found here

1 Ki 16-17; Acts 4; Psalm 104

Onto the stages of the Old Testament stride two of the key figures in the narrative. King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom, Israel – and the prophetic voice that will speak against him, Elijah the Tishbite. Ahab in some regards acts as it were for all the poison of the monarchy – we find in him elements of all the sins of his fathers, come as it were to the surface.

Elijah of course prefigures John the Baptist, the one who calls God’s people (emobodied as they are in their King), to repentance.

First there is the declaration of drought by the word of the Lord. Life giving rain is cut off, revealing the death culture of the monarchy and the people. And shockingly Elijah is sent beyond God’s people to bring life – a theme which is repeated in his successor Elisha and again prefiguring one who is to come. The Word of the Lord will not return to him empty. If the people of God are not worthy to receive life, so the gift will be given to those on the outside.

This story is of course soon to be re-enacted in Acts as the life giving word goes to the gentiles.

Herein also is a warning to us. God’s Word Will not return to him empty. Let us be continually open to his word and live in obedience, lest we suffer drought . . .

Through the Bible in a Year – July 19

The scheme for July and August can be found here

1 Ki 14-15; Acts 3; Psalm 103

One of the names by which God is known in the scriptures is Yahweh Yireh, the God who provides. This name comes from the seminal incident of the sacrifice of Isaac. ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided’

Psalm 103 is the most blessed mediation on the provision of God. It is more than worth taking much time with this and indeed  committing it to heart. One of our great failings as Christians is to fail to recognise God as provider. How infrequently for example do we say grace before eating?

Whilst we do give thanks for the death and Resurrection of Jesus, in many regards we cannot fully comprehend this provision apart from the provision of everything. Put another way, when we fully recognise God’s provision  of Life for us in Jesus, then and only then do we truly appreciate the provision of all things (Romans 8:32). If we are not living lives of blessing towards God for the provision of everything, perhaps that sense of his provision in Christ has at best fallen asleep?

Through the Bible in a Year – July 18

The scheme for July and August can be found here

1 Ki 12-13; Acts 2 Psalm 102

So, for come time now we have stepped out of the Old Testament narrative, but as I have already commented in January, on the Acts texts. So we turn our attention back to the story of the people of God as recounted in the Old Testament. And we discover Schism – the sign of death and decay – rooted unexpectedly in the story of Solomon.

So enraptured are we by the idea of ‘the wisdom of Solomon’ that we fail to see how his rule is under constant critique in the text. As his son Rehoboam succeeds him, we pick up echoes of this in the fateful dialogue with his counsellors, young and old. The old advise him to ‘lighten the yoke put on us’. Immediately the reader sensitive to the text and of course to the gospel of Matthew which we have just read, will be thinking ‘here is a critique of Solomon’, for his yoke was not ‘easy’.

The true wise ones, the elders who have seen the heavy yoke of Solomon speak well and advise him to ease the yoke, but as always those in power are filled with fear. Rehoboam is devoid of trust – he would rather listen to the advise of his young friends, who themselves must have felt threatened by the challenge of sovereignty.

So now the yoke rather than being eased from that of whips, to a just and gentle rule [‘Wise Solomon ruled God’s people with whips], it will be increased to the sting of the scorpion.

And thus Israel, the Northern Kingdom secedes.

 

 

Through the Bible in Year – July 16

The scheme for July and August can be found here

SoS 1-4; Matt 28: Psalm 97-98

One of the great blindspots in Christian theology and praxis is our lack of much by the way of understanding of the Resurrection. For many and varied reasons, its implications have been put in the draw marked ‘for after I die’. In this way we have actually undone the work that is accomplished on the cross – the reconciliation of Earth and Heaven.

We pray so often, ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ – yet fail to recognise how the life death and resurrection of Jesus answers this prayer – as it does all prayer, as He fulfils the Law and the Prophets.

Tragically, although such wisdom and understanding was commonplace in the early church it has been lost.

Perhaps this is The pearl of great price we so desperately need to seek for

 

Through the Bible in a Year – July 15

The scheme for July and August can be found here

Ecc 9-12; Matt 27; Psalm 95-96

The seasons of the Church’s year are not without benefit. They lead us through the whole story of salvation before us each year. But the story of Salvation is to be lived every day.

So we are every day to live in the light of the Incarnation. Every day to live in the Spirit as at Pentecost. Every day to be watchful as in Advent. And Every day to live before the Cross as on Good Friday.

How long is it since you last sat at the foot of the Cross?

Go there now

Through the Bible in a Year – July 14

The scheme for July and August can be found here

Ecc 5-8; Matt 26:36-end; Psalm 94

Peter thrice denies Jesus with his lips . . . but what of his heart?

In the end when Jesus speaks with Peter upon the shore of Galilee, his enquiry is not over his words – it is of his heart.

We may readily say, we would never deny Christ . . . with our lips.

But what of our hearts? Peter leaves everything to follow Jesus – his heart is right, even if his courage failed him, he truly loves Jesus. What have we left for the sake of our Lord? We may well honour him with our lips, but what do our lives say? Are our hearts given to other gods?

Matthew 15:8