Bible reading for weekend December 10 -- 12
Dec 10 -- Zephaniah 2 and Luke 24
Dec 11 -- Zephaniah 3 and John 1
Dec 12 -- Haggai 2 and John 2
"The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)
ZEPHANIAH (ch 2-3). The God of justice is also the God who joyfully sings over his people (3:17). The purpose of his judgment is not simply to bring justice to his creation, but also to purify a people for himself (3:9-13). In the NT we read that our Lord Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works" (Titus 2:14). One specific area of purification noted by Zephaniah is that of language: "For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord" (3:9). Along with Israel the nations were characterized by boasting, taunting, reviling, deception, and lies (2:8, 10; 3:13). God gave us the gift of communication that we might speak truthfully and reverently about God (Ex 20:7; Deut 6:7), and to speak truth about (and to) one another (Ex 20:16). Note, two of the Ten Commandments -- no. 3 and no. 9 -- have to do with speaking. This is reiterated in the NT, as well: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Eph 4:29; cf 4:25; 5:4, 19-20; Jas 3:2-12).
HAGGAI (ch 1). Now we jump ahead to the period after the Jews' return from Babylonian exile (538 -- 516 BC). The last three prophets in the OT canon are called the post-exilic prophets (see chart above). Zerubbabel, a descendant of King Josiah, has been appointed governor by the Persians, and in his person he continues the kingly Davidic line. He is named in Jesus' genealogy (Matt 1:12-13; Lu 3:27). (BTW, some of the genealogies in the Bible are "open" genealogies, which means not every link is named. "The son of..." can mean, "the grandson (or great-grandson) of.") The issue in this short book of Haggai is that the people who have returned are more concerned with getting their homes built, furnished, and beautified, than they are in rebuilding the temple, where they would gather to worship God. In the NT Jesus says, "I will build my church..." (Matt 16:18), which is not a building, but a body of people who gather in his name. We too may find it easy to neglect meeting together (Heb 10:24-25) in order to spend too much time, energy, and money making our families more comfortable.
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)
RESURRECTION (Lu 24). Read about the Emmaus Road encounter here.
A NEW CREATION (Jn 1). How many wonderful truths are packed into this one chapter, which is a prologue to the Gospel of John! Christ's deity, pre-existence, eternality, incarnation, and his work of redemption, as well as, grace, faith, and becoming children of God. Many themes here will re-appear later in this gospel. This is the Apostle John's personal account, likely written some years after the other gospels, but no later than AD 90. The opening verses call us back to Genesis 1 and teach us that, not only was Christ co-creator with the Father at the beginning, but he also is the fount of the new creation. He is the Son who ever beholds the Father's face. He comes as light and life from God into the dark and spiritually dead world. He takes on flesh (a human nature); he is rejected; and in his death as the sacrificial Lamb of God he will take away the sin of the world (1:29). A Jewish hearer would quickly pick up that Jesus as the Lamb of God would not cover over sin for a time -- the meaning of atonement in the OT sacrifices -- but that in fulfillment of all of God's promises he would take away the sin, not just of Israel, but of the world.
RECEIVE HIM AS HE IS OFFERED! "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." The "him" here is the Lord Jesus as presented and described in the gospel. Some scholars say that the writer of this gospel holds to a "high Christology". That is, this exalted view of Jesus goes beyond him being a teacher, miracle-worker, or social revolutionary. He is the pre-existent, eternal Son of God who comes into the world, combining sinless humanity and deity in the incarnation, fulfilling Old Testament hopes, and in his work as the substitutionary sacrifice removes the guilt and power of sin from all who believe in him. This gospel-writer, John, is a trustworthy eyewitness to the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus (Jn 21:24). Sometimes, people today will say, "The Jesus I believe in would never say or do ________." All of the writers of the New Testament would reject the notion that people are free to pick and choose what they believe about Jesus, or to receive him merely as they conceive him to be. We receive Jesus as he is offered to us in the gospel, or else we do not receive him as he really is.
THE WEDDING AT CANA (ch 2). Read about the first of Jesus' signs here.
BIBLE READING PROJECT. I am winding down this writing project, begun two years ago. If you joined along the way and would like to complete the cycle of Bible reading (year one: NT, Psalms, first half OT; and year two: NT, Psalms, second half of OT) then go to my website and find where to continue your reading. Just pull down the Archive menu from the upper right corner. Year one began Jan 1, 2020. And year two began Jan 1, 2021.
Image credit: a chronological arrangement of the OT, based upon a handwritten chart made by Howard G. Hendricks and given to us by him in seminary. 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.