Bible reading for week Nov 22 -- 28
Nov 22 -- Jonah 1 and Luke 6
Nov 23 -- Jonah 2 and Luke 7
Nov 24 -- Jonah 3 and Luke 8
Nov 25 -- Jonah 4 and Luke 9
Nov 26 -- Micah 1 and Luke 10
Nov 27 -- Micah 2 and Luke 11
Nov 28 -- Micah 3 and Luke 12
Dear friends, our family will be gathering together this week to give thanks, and I'll have less time to write. (But this means more time to hold our newest grandchild!) So, I'm doing one Bible reading post for the week. We have so much to give thanks for! "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Psalm 103:2-5). May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving time. --Sandy
"And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:11)
THE BOOK OF JONAH. Jonah was a real person, a prophet from God (2 Kgs 14:25; ca. 780 BC), and the events of the book actually happened, as cited by our Lord Jesus himself (Matt 12:39-41). Along with the remarkable miracle of the fish (or whale) this story is a bit different in that it focuses mainly on the wrong actions and attitudes of the prophet. The book may be divided into two sections, both under the acronym of A.W.O.L. In chapters one and two Jonah is "Absent Without Leave", and in chapters three and four he is "Angry Without Love". (These titles are not original with me.) Jonah was sent to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. The Assyrians were a proud, brutal, and pagan people. The main lesson for Jonah was not merely about being obedient to the Lord, but about being compassionate toward the lost. As the Lord says to Ezekiel, "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" (Ezekiel 18:23; cf 18:32; 33:11) This is an important truth for us to embrace in our day of such widespread anger and self-righteous indignation.
THE BOOK OF MICAH. Micah prophesied in Judah at the same time that Isaiah ministered there (ca. 750-700 BC). Isaiah's ministry began before Micah's, and more of Isaiah's prophecies were committed to writing, and this is why Isaiah is included in the "major prophets," while Micah is in the "minor prophets". In other words, this has nothing to do with leagues or divisions, but about word count. Both were prophets from God, and you'll see a number of shared themes in both books. Micah says, "But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin" (3:8). We'll see next week that it was Micah who named the location of Messiah's birth.
"Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, 'Who is this, who even forgives sins?' And he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'" (Luke 7:49-50)
JESUS, LORD AND TEACHER (ch 6). Jesus demonstrates that he is Lord of the Sabbath, names his twelve apostles, and teaches his disciples, along with a multitude of followers. There are similarities here with his sermon on the mount.
FAITH IN UNEXPECTED PLACES (ch 7). Luke notes that many people, including tax collectors, were believing Jesus (7:29). He says they "justified God", that is, they acknowledged God's justice and received John's baptism as a sign of repentance. The Pharisees and lawyers, however, rejected Jesus, as well as John's baptism (7:30). True faith is a turning from self-justification to God-justification. That is, God not only has a right to judge us but his judgment is completely right. The wonderful irony of salvation is that God then "justifies" the sinner in declaring him or her "right" in God's eyes (see Romans 3-4). This chapter includes two shining examples of faith: the centurion (a Roman military officer) and an immoral woman. Each demonstrates faith, and Christ calls attention to it. The centurion (7:1-9) recognizes his own unworthiness, but believes that Jesus has greater authority than had been demonstrated so far. He believed that Jesus could heal at a distance by his word alone. This was not so much a leap of faith as it was the logic of faith, whereby the centurion reasoned upon the nature of authority as it related to the person of Jesus. The immoral woman (7:36-50) unashamedly poured out (literally) her love for Jesus. Great sin receiving great forgiveness results in great love. Late in life John Newton would say, “Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” To each of us who comes to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, just as he spoke to the woman, so the Lord Jesus says to us today, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
CONTINUING IN LUKE (ch 8-12). Read about taking up the cross (ch 9), and about the source of lasting joy (ch 10). Jesus teaches on prayer and confronts his opponents (ch 11). Finally, in this section our Lord teaches on the different lifestyle he brings (ch 12). Along these lines, an unknown writer from the early second century AD wrote about Christians living in the Roman empire then. Here is how he described their counter-cultural lifestyle:
"They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life. They are poor yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things and yet abound in all; they are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of and yet are justified; they are reviled and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor; they do good yet are punished as evildoers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum it all up in one word -- what the soul is to the body, that is what Christians are in the world." (Epistle to Diognetes, ca. AD 130)
Image credit: painting above is "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" by Jennie A. Brownscombe (1914), in the public domain. About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and 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.