Bible reading for February 1--2
Feb 1 -- Esther 9-10 and Romans 4
Feb 2 -- Job 1 and Romans 5
The weather forecast is predicting a snow and ice storm for our region. Since we often loose power during those times I am getting the next Bible reading post out early. Enjoy!
"For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people." (Esther 10:3)
GOD UNSEEN, BEHIND THE SCENES. The book of Esther tells us about the historical events behind the Jewish feast of Purim. At the end not only are the Jews spared, but Mordecai, like Joseph in Egypt many generations earlier, is exalted to the second highest position in the empire. The book reveals God's providence not by miraculous power but by the seemingly coincidental. He is behind the scenes, as it were. Things that might be described as chance or random are actually incidents under God's active control. Philosophical naturalists today believe that only time, matter, energy, and chance exist. But the Bible teaches that our God is the sovereign Lord of all time, matter, energy, and whatever may appear to be random chance. He may be unseen but he is never absent!
THE BOOK OF JOB. As we begin this book we are told up front that, again, there is an unseen, supernatural dimension behind the visible events upon the earth. The best commentary on Job that I have found is Job: the Wisdom of the Cross, by Christopher Ash (Crossway, 2014). As we read Job you may want to listen to Ash's lectures on Job, given at a conference in Malaysia.
A QUOTE. "I am asked by Christians about the loss of reality in their Christian lives. Surely this is one of the greatest, and perhaps the greatest reason for a loss of reality: that while we say we believe one thing, we allow the spirit of the naturalism of the age to creep into our thinking unrecognized. All too often the reality is lost because the “ceiling” is down too close upon our heads. It is too low. And the ceiling which closes us in is the naturalistic type of thinking... The Bible insists that we live in reality in a supernatural universe." (Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality)
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE? (Rom 4) God is righteous, and we are not (ch 1-3). The gospel tells us that God righteously provides a righteousness for us through his Son, which by faith we may be clothed in, or have credited to us. In one very rich, condensed statement Paul summarizes what it is that God has done (Rom 3:21-26). In chapter four Paul takes up the second phrase of the statement, "The righteous by faith will live" (1:17). He illustrates faith in the life of Abraham, and from a statement by King David. Think about Abraham's faith as it is portrayed in this chapter. How would you describe it, and how is it the same kind of faith Christians have today?
THE BLESSINGS OF LIFE (5:1-11). Paul is expanding upon the statement, "The righteous by faith will live" (1:17). Now: what is life? Does it just mean biological longevity? Or perhaps, it means life which is true, blessed, and eternal? Go through these eleven verses and identify the various aspects of life from God now that we are justified by faith. Take each phrase and examine it as you would the facets of a beautiful jewel. If you journal, make a list of these blessings in Christ.
THROUGH ONE MAN (5:12-21). One Man alone can reverse the fall of the one man Adam. This chapter teaches what theologians call the "federal headship" of Jesus, which is a technical way of saying that Jesus has come as the Representative, or champion, for the human race (see also 1 Cor 15:21-22, 45-49). He obeys where Adam (and we) did not. He takes our sin upon himself and places his life and righteousness upon us (2 Cor 5:21). By faith we are united to Christ (more on this in chapter 6) and receive his riches for our own. Thus, there are two humanities existing on earth now: those still in Adam (Humanity 1.0) and those now in Christ (Humanity 2.0).
THE UNIVERSE NEEDED ONE MAN. Here's another quote. Christopher Ash, in writing about the meaning and purpose of the book of Job, says that “...the book ultimately makes no sense without the obedience of Jesus Christ, his obedience to death on a cross. Job is not everyman; he is not even every believer. There is something desperately extreme about Job. He foreshadows one man whose greatness exceeded even Job’s, whose sufferings took him deeper than Job, and whose perfect obedience to his Father was only anticipated in faint outline by Job. The universe needed one man who would lovingly and perfectly obey his heavenly Father in the entirety of his life and death, by whose obedience the many would be made righteous (Romans 5:19).” (Christopher Ash, Job: The Wisdom of the Cross)
Image credits. Above, quote from Schaeffer is on a stationery design created by Frank Lloyd Wright. Below, a picture of our reading for the next two months. About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Another resource I recommend is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.