Bible reading for Aug 4 -- 5
Aug 4 -- Jeremiah 32 and Psalms 1-2
Aug 5 -- Jeremiah 33 and Psalms 3-4
"I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul." (Jeremiah 32:40-41)
LAND INVESTMENT (ch 32). To demonstrate God's promise of Judah's return to the land in seventy years, Jeremiah is instructed to buy a field and to seal the deed of the land (vv 1-15). Notice Jeremiah's prayer for understanding (vv 16-25), how he begins with the character of God and historical background before his question, or implied question, at the very end. We would do well to model his way of praying -- instead of rushing to our petition, to take time to praise and thank God, to recount his attributes and his working in history and redemption, before we ask for things. The Lord then reiterates his promise of restoration for Israel. We Gentiles are included in this new, everlasting covenant (v 40) when we come to Messiah in faith. Ten times in this passage (vv 37-41) the Lord says, "I will..." (vv 37-41). Look at each thing the Lord says he will do. He will do it! The weakness of the Mosaic covenant was that much of the blessing was dependent upon human will, exertion, and obedience, all of which is very, very fallible. We are the weakest link and so, to the glory of God and the security of our salvation, the weight of the covenant fulfillment rests upon Christ's strong shoulders. In echo of Jeremiah's statement in v 17, the Lord answers, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?" (v 27)
THE DAVIDIC COVENANT (ch 33). Closely related to the New Covenant is the covenant the Lord made with King David, that one of his descendants, the Righteous One, would rule forever over the earth (2 Sam 7:16; Ps 2; 110:1; Isa 9:6-7; Micah 5:2-4). Some details in this chapter, such as the restoration of the Levitical priesthood (vv 18, 21-22), are variously understood by Bible students. Is this referring to all believers, who are now considered as priests (e.g., 1 Pet 2:5; Heb 13:10-16; Rev 5:9-10)? Certainly, this is true, but there may yet be a more literal fulfillment of this for Israel during the Millennium (Rev 20).
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2)
ISRAEL'S SONGBOOK. Before we return to reading the Gospels, we'll go through the Psalms, which are prayers, laments, and praises to God written in Hebrew poetic form. This was Israel's hymnbook and was sung or recited in worship. Many of the Psalms were written by King David (c. 1000 BC), though some other authors are included. The first two psalms provide a thematic introduction. Psalm 1 describes the blessedness of walking in the law (or "instruction", Heb., torah) of the Lord (1:1-2). The second psalm speaks of the blessedness of finding refuge in God's Son, who is King over all the nations (2:12). The focus of the first psalm is the Law and of the second, the Lord himself. These go together. We do not have a relationship with the Lord apart from the knowledge of his Word, nor do we merely believe the content of his Word apart from a relationship of submission to the Lord. Doctrine and devotion go together.
STREAMS OF WATER (ch 1). The two primary images here are, first, the tree planted by flowing streams of water (v 1-3) and secondly, the chaff, or outer husks of wheat or barley which are blown away by the wind (v 4-6). They contrast two ways of living, and describe two ultimate destinies. We are blessed (we have a glorious future ahead) if we turn aside from worldly thinking and meditate upon God's word. An important note here for all of us who read our Bibles: it is not ten or fifteen minutes each morning, reading a passage and then ticking it off our schedule, that is commended here. It is taking delight (loving the Word) and meditating (thinking deeply about it) and doing this "day and night" (continually through the day into the evening). This is difficult to maintain, especially today with the omnipresence of the digital world -- our cell phones, social media, texts, streaming entertainment, podcasts, music, etc. -- which all clamor for our attention. En Gedi, in the photo above, was a place in the barren wilderness of Judea where David found refuge away from his enemies. Many streams in Israel are seasonal, but En Gedi has a strong flowing water supply. People would plant date palms and fig trees nearby such streams for food. This is the picture of how we should come away from the world's influence and delight in thinking deeply about the truths of God's word.
THE LORD OF ALL (ch 2). We are blessed if we walk in God's ways, and we are blessed when we honor and seek refuge in God's Son, the King. David was aware that one of his descendants would rule the nations. This psalm teaches us that, despite the rebellion of the nations against God, the divinely appointed King (the Messiah) will inherit and rule the earth. At first reading, verse 7, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you", may sound like it speaks of the relationship between the Father and Son before time began, or perhaps at the incarnation, when Christ took on human nature at his birth. But most likely this is to be understood as the King's enthronement, as seen in the previous verse: "I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill" (2:6). This is further explained by the Apostle Paul as being Christ's resurrection: "...this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, "'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'" (Acts 13:33; cf Rom 1:3-4).
A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP (ch 3-4). The older I've gotten the more thankful I am when I get a good night's sleep! It's interesting to note that the next two psalms both include the subject of sleep (3:5; 4:8). Psalm 3 regards sleep that may be affected by fear, especially regarding the threat of future harm. Psalm 4 regards sleep affected by anger, which arises as we witness the vanity and deception of the world around us. Fear (or anxiety, fretfulness) and anger (or irritation, vexation) can disrupt our sleep. Reading God's word before bed, and meditating on it (especially memorized portions), when we can't sleep is helpful. Sleep can be fitful for a variety of reasons, but dealing with underlying issues of anger and fear by applying to ourselves the truths, commandments, and promises of God, will be good for us both emotionally and spiritually.
Image credit: Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, photo from land-of-the-bible.com. 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.
Bible reading for Aug 4 -- 5