Through the Bible in a Year – June 15

The scheme for May – June can be found here

1 Ch 21-22; Rev 21; Psalm 58-59

Again we come upon a conundrum in the Scriptural account which we cannot simply ignore

In the Samuel account of the David story = we are told the LORD incited David to number the people. The Chronicler puts it at the door of the Satan.

There are several issues at point here. Firstly there is the question of what the author is trying to do. The Chronicler is writing in all likelihood much later than the author of Samuel. As we have seen there is a desire not to besmirch the royal name, by not mentioning David’s theft of Bathsheba. Certainly in a sense the Chronicler could be seen to be doing the same with regard to the name of God. Satan, along with all the angelic beings is in some accounts thought to emerge later in the tradition of Israel. His role as we know is veiled to some regards – certainly the opening chapters of Job suggest so. He is seen in some account as a free agent, in others a servant of the purposes of God. In a sense these two are not wholly irreconcilable.

But, and secondly, such texts do not allow us to have a simplistic approach to Scripture. ‘The Bible says . . .’ is always a line to be taken with fear and trembling – and here is one clear expression of why – for ‘The Bible says two things which to our ears sound irreconcilable’. Of course, we are also reminded that the Heart of the message of Scripture is that which we seek to hear. It is why it is Always good to read Scripture in company – none of us have our own personal hotline to the thoughts of the God whose ways and thoughts are not ours. We need to learn to hear the Word – and we do that in a community of disciples, committed above all to following Jesus, The Word made flesh.


Through the Bible in a Year – April 9 (with text this time!)

The Scheme for March – April can be found here

Deut 12-13; Col 1; Psalm 119:65-80

Paul’s letter to the Colossians is one of those texts, somewhat like John’s gospel, into which one almost fears to leap for fear the waters may be too deep. As with his letter to the Ephesians, phrase upon phrase upon phrase pour forth as if the vastness of his subject matter has taken him into a writing ecstasy.

As I have noted in the notes to this scheme – whilst there is a lower purpose of reading the scriptures through in a year, there is a greater goal, indeed a Unique goal. It is not right to say that this goal is greater, for it is not possible to compare it. And that is the goal of Koinonia, ‘Deep Fellowship’ with God in Christ himself. [For a far better exposition of how to read Scripture, Fr Stephen Freeman addresses it in depth HERE]

The Word of God is Sacramental. This nature is only fully apprehended as Scripture becomes not mere food for the mind, but the vehicle by which the Life of God, who fills everything in every way, fills and transforms us – lifting up to the heavenly places, to the fullness of life in Christ.

Thus as we read these verses, our goal is not primarily to get to the end, but to encounter the One who is The End, the goal of all creation. Thus our direction of travel through the text must be captured and taken hold of that we fall into the one who is present to us through the text.

Each verse of this opening chapter holds open a door into that life if we will but pause a while, but I would take a moment to focus on one verse, that is its heart, verse 27. The heart of it all, the Life bearing Seed, Christ in you.

there is nothing more guaranteed to release us from a religion of performance into the dance of faith than the deep apprehension of the life of God within us. It is the return to our Source. The Life we had at the first. The life which is eternal. It cannot be grasped, it cannot be attained for it just Is. Pure Gift. Glory. Grace.


Through the Bible in a Year – March 23

The Scheme for March – April can be found here

Num 14-15; 2 Cor 9-10; Psalm 105 vs 1-25

One of the key signifiers of the Truth of scripture, is its Overwhelmingly unflinching honesty about the people of God. As someone once said, ‘it is hard to sit under scripture each week, for insofar as we are the subject of scripture we are not in any sense photoshopped!’

From Moses and the Israelites, to the disciples of Jesus, to the Corinthian Christians, there is little to give us any sense of Pride over the issue of Election, indeed as a moments survey of the canyons of our own moral landscape quickly ratifies – ‘we are those of unclean lips and live amongst those of unclean lips’

Thus the wisdom of the Eastern prayer prayed without ceasing, ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me a sinner’

Through the Bible in a Year – March 1

The Scheme for March and April can be found here

Exodus 39-40; Romans 9; Psalm 77

So Moses finished the work . . . then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle.

So God finished all the work that he had done . . .

And God will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and he will be their God

The Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us, and we have seen his Glory

Throughout the entire narrative of the Bible, like the threads of Gold, blue, purple and crimson, the purposes of God are being worked out – all the while moving to the fulfilment of the new heaven and the new earth, and always prefiguring it.

The Arena of the worship of God was always meant to be Creation . . . God walking in the garden in the cool of the Day and the layout of the tabernacle, with its divisions and lights and sea, and Ark of the Covenant perfectly models the Created order.

In these last days, God himself becomes the tabernacle in Christ, and his people, the church his dwelling place.

The Saving work of God woven throughout the whole story and thus St Paul as he speaks of the Israelites, his kindred in the flesh, he too cannot but speak of God’s work throughout, his word coming down through Patriarchs and prophets in a word of Hope, that at the last, God will be all and in all – that Israel’s unbelief is somehow part of all that God is accomplishing in and through Christ.

For now we see, as through a glass darkly – like Moses we cannot bear the full weight of Glory – we are not yet made perfect in Love, so do not see as he sees. But One does, one who is Love incarnate, dwelling amongst us, and who like Obedient Israel, who camp and break camp as the cloud stops or moves, only does what he sees the Father doing.

At the Last he will weave his vision into the hearts and minds even of frail human flesh. It is of a whole.

[Once more I note that these are like those things which Paul sees in a vision, of which one may not speak, perhaps lacking a sense of the Holy in our age, it is only modern artists who try to portray the tabernacle]

Through the Bible in a Year – January 31

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Job 15-17; Acts 6:1-7:16; Psalm 39

Although our reading scheme takes us through the Old Testament chronologically – [the book of Job is read after Genesis as it is impossible to date with surety, and many consider it to be amongst the oldest of writings] – reading a Psalm and the Old and New Testament together gradually alerts us to the ways in which all of Scripture refers back and forth to itself. It is all but impossible to pray Psalm 39, and not find ourselves praying with Job, who remained silent seven days but then burst forth in speech before God, who asks that the Lord withdraw his hand from him.

And to read of Job, who was righteous like no other, who seems to suffer through no fault of his own and therein also to see Stephen – one full of wisdom and the Spirit – also righteous, and also now suffering. Stephen then in his answer to his accusers draws us back into this story, all the time the text calling to us, ‘All of Life is here – here are words of Life.’

And Stephen himself, chosen to wait on tables, to see to the daily distribution of food. As a faithful disciple his very life directs us to the Living One. Once more, the word, this time enacted directs us to The Word – the one who is full of the Spirit and Wisdom – and who took the form of a servant and gave us the bread from heaven.