Welcome to a new year in the Bible
I hope you are planning to read the Bible in 2021. If you are following my schedule in Concealed and Revealed : a year in the old and new testaments, this week's readings will take us through Genesis 1-19 and Matthew 1-6. You may find the following thoughts helpful as we begin.
1. What the Bible is about
· The Bible is about God.
The first words of Genesis introduce Him. His attributes are on display from the first sentence of Genesis. Who is God? Wise and not-so-wise answers have been attempted. Some have understood God to be something like a superhero, like a human only without many of our limitations. My favorite answer to the question is “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” We can see if that definition of God holds up against the Bible as we read.
· The Bible is about mankind, our relationship to God and to one another.
What unfolds through the Old and New Testaments is a true story that tells us where we as humans came from and where we are going: our origin, our identity, our purpose, and our destiny. The story can be summarized under these headings: creation, corruption, redemption, and consummation.
2. Why a knowledge of the Bible is beneficial
· The Bible claims to give a divine perspective on reality.
To perceive what is really going on in human history would be a great and amazing thing. In the face of fake news and social media algorithms, there is a desperate need for truth we can stand on. Whether you are convinced of the truth of this story or are still unsure, to read through the Bible is to see what the Christian church has believed down through the centuries. Maybe you will be convinced to believe, too.
· The Bible claims to give a compelling basis for ethics.
To accept that we all share one Creator is to have a powerful basis for unity across racial lines. To see that we are all sinners who will stand before God someday to give account of our lives is to have a strong motivation towards humility, forgiveness, and compassion in all our relationships.
· The Bible claims to give a hopeful message of eternal glory.
To understand the grace and mercy of God who sent His Son that whoever believes in Him will not ultimately perish but have eternal life is to have lifelong assurance. To grasp that the destiny for the believer will be a glorious entrance into God’s presence is to live with a hope unshakeable by any circumstance of this life whether a worldwide pandemic or the political, social, and economic turmoil of our times.
3. What to expect in this week’s readings
In Concealed and Revealed: a year in the old and new testaments, we will be reading Genesis 1-19 and Matthew 1-6. The Genesis readings begin with the creation of all things focusing on the first man and woman. Next comes the corruption initiated through the serpent’s temptation and Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Even here there was a promise of redemption and the defeat of the serpent. But those first humans were devastated personally. Sin spread with the growth of the earth’s population. Finally, God brought judgment through a universal flood. All that was left of mankind was Noah and his family from which came his descendant Abram who will play a key role in God’s plan to bring blessing to all the families of the earth. We will begin to see the unfolding of redemption that follows the good creation of all things and the bad corruption introduced by Adam’s sin.
In Matthew, we will read about the events surrounding the miraculous birth of Jesus, his baptism by John, his personal bout with the devil, the beginning of his public ministry, and his Sermon on the Mount.
The story moves quickly in our readings this week and the plot lines are clear, but do not underestimate the importance of the rest of the old and new testaments. There is much more to come. I plan to post here every Friday throughout the year. Be sure and subscribe so you will not miss any updates.
January 1/Day 1 In the beginning (Readings Genesis 1,2; Matthew 1)
January 2/ Day 2 Battle Lines Drawn (Genesis 3-5; Matthew 2)
January 3 / Day 3 Water: Judgment or Deliverance? (Genesis 6-8; Matthew 3)
January 4 / Day 4 A Call to Repent (Genesis 9-11; Matthew 4)
January 5 / Day 5 Holiness: The Struggle (Genesis 12-14; Matthew 5:1-26)
January 6 / Day 6 God Counts Faith as Righteousness (Genesis 15-17; Matthew 5:27-48)
January 7 / Day 7 What’s Important? I Forget (Genesis 18-19; Matthew 6)