Bible reading for July 28 -- 29
July 28 -- Jeremiah 24 and Mark 10
July 29 -- Jeremiah 25 and Mark 11
"I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart." (Jeremiah 24:7)
GOOD FIGS, BAD FIGS (ch 24). There were at least two deportations to Babylon before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Daniel (along with others) is deported in 606, and Ezekiel about 593. Two of the major prophets would write while living in exile in a foreign land. There apparently was the temptation to think that those carried off into exile were the Jews being judged and those being left behind were blessed, being the good guys. Not so, says the Lord, it's the other way around. Some lessons: 1) Be careful what you read into God's judgments. Things are not always what they seem (cf Lu 13:1-5). 2) Geographical distance makes no difference to the Lord. The Lord -- the true and living God -- is not a regional deity confined to one space and time. "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" he asks (Jer 23:23-24; Ps 139:7-12). 3) Even in judgment God's purposes do not change. This is his goal even in the midst of their trials in a foreign land: "they shall be my people and I will be their God" (v 7; cf Jer 31:33; Ex 6:7; Lev 26:12; Rev 21:3).
SEVENTY YEARS (ch 25). The exile to Babylon will last seventy years, after which Babylon will be judged along with the rest of the nations involved. The seventy year period can be dated from 606 (the first deportation to Babylon) to 536 (the decree of Cyrus, and the first return under Zerubbabel) = 70 years. The phrase, "all who cut the corners of their hair" (v 23; cf 9:26; Lev 19:27; 21:5; Deut 14:1-2) is a bit puzzling. It may refer to a distinctive hair and beard trimming that characterized followers of pagan deities.
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
A CHIASM (ch 10). As you read the gospels be aware that under the inspiration of God the very stories and teachings you read are themselves arranged in a purposeful way. They are not just random portions of Scripture thrown together. This chapter presents us with an arrangement called chiasmus (or chiasm), which is a literary device for arranging material in a mirrored (or circular) way to reinforce a main theme, found at the center of the chiasm. This section begins with the blessing of the children (vv 13-16). The same word for "rebuke" is used of the disciples toward the children (v 13) and later, of the crowd toward Bartimaeus at the end of the section (v 48). Next is the rich young ruler (vv 17-22) in contrast with blind Bartimaeus (vv 46-52). This is followed by a teaching on the difficulty (actually, the impossibility) of salvation (vv 23-31) and the request by James and John (vv 35-45). The central theme is Jesus' statement about his suffering and death (vv 32-34). His words, "But many who are first will be last, and the last first" (v 31) apply to the rich young ruler (the first coming in last), who with every advantage both moral and financial, turns away from following Christ. Bartimaeus, on the other hand, is an example of "the last coming first". He's blind, humble, childlike, and is rebuked by the crowd. Bartimaeus nonetheless calls out to the Lord, asking for mercy, not for "what must I do?" He casts aside his cloak and follows Christ on the road (that word hodos again). So at the heart of this chiasm is the truth about Christ's rejection, death, and resurrection, which is our only hope for salvation (to be received in child-like faith) and which also becomes the model of our service in following Christ.
TRIUMPHAL ENTRY (ch 11). Read my comments here on the donkey miracle, the triumphal entry, and the issue of authority.
Image credit. Photo of figs by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash. 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. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. 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. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.