To download the Bible reading plan that our faith family started on January 1st, visit this site. There is also a guide to personal worship that you can download from that site. If you haven’t been reading along thus far, no worries! Jump on in with the current day’s reading.
Readings for This Week
Exodus 14-20 & Luke 17-23
Where We Are In The Story ~ Old Testament (Exodus)
Background of Exodus: The title “exodus” comes from the Greek word meaning “going out” or “departure” and describes the major event that occurs in the book. Exodus opens where Genesis leaves off – the descendants of Abraham are living in Egypt instead of in the Promised Land. The events in Exodus occur approximately four hundred years after Jacob’s family moved to Egypt, and as prophesied in Genesis 15, Abraham’s descendants became slaves. While Genesis highlights God as Creator, Exodus focuses on God as the Deliverer of His people, for He keeps His promise to free His people and to bring them back to the land of promise.
Structure of Exodus:
- Exodus 1-18 focuses on the deliverance of the people Israel from Egypt and God’s provision for His people.
- Exodus 18-24 explains God’s covenant with Israel.
- Exodus 25-31 provides instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle and explanation for the priestly role.
- Exodus 32-34 describes God’s response to His people’s idolatry.
- Exodus 35-40 highlights the nation’s obedience in building the Tabernacle.
This Week in the Old Testament: Exodus 7-17 contains the pattern of God working in a mighty way, then Israel facing a challenge, Israel murmuring and doubting God because of the hopelessness of their situation, then God protecting and providing for His people. This pattern occurs four times in these 11 chapters with the plagues and the Passover causing the release of God’s people, the crossing of the Red Sea, turning bitter water into drinkable water, and providing manna and quail for the people to eat. These events prepare the Israelites to receive the Law that God gives on Mt. Sinai by showing them that God has authority over them and that He is their Deliverer, Provider, Protector, and Creator.
In Exodus 19, God brings Israel to Mt. Sinai to have a “defining the relationship” moment, and Exodus 19-24 records this Sinaitic Covenant between God and Israel. In Exodus 19:1-6, God calls the people to be in relationship with Him and to serve Him. God continues to develop the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) by making a covenant with Israel, forming them into a nation of His people and making them a “kingdom of priests” and a “holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). This meant that Israel would need to be distinct from the world in how they lived and why they lived that way, and as a kingdom of priests, they would teach God’s Word, make intercession for others, and help others know who God is and enter into relationship with Him. In 1 Peter 2:9, these same descriptions of a “royal priesthood” and a “holy nation” apply to Christ-followers and depict how we are to live and interact with the world.
Keeping the 10 Commandments and the other laws did not save the Israelites. God’s people have never been saved by their works. It has always been by grace through faith. The contents of Exodus 19-24 were given as part of God’s covenant with Israel, and the Law lacks the power to save. In Galatians 3:24-25, Paul calls the Law our “guardian,” “pedagogue,” or “tutor” because it was meant to show us our sinfulness and guilt. We are unable to perfectly keep everything that the Law demands. The Law shows us God’s standard of how He wants His people to live.
Commandments 1-3 have to do with a person’s relationship with God, and the fourth command involves keeping the Sabbath. In the Old Testament, covenants would include a sign, which was something that the participants in the covenant would do to remind themselves of their promise(s), and God gave the Sabbath as the sign of His covenant with Israel. Commandments 5-10 involve how we relate to other people, and Matthew 5-7 either repeats or augments many of these commands. In Matthew 22:36-39, Jesus sums up the 10 Commandments (and the Law as a whole) by stating that the two greatest commands are to love God and to love your neighbor.
Where We Are In The Story ~ New Testament (Luke)
Background of Luke: In Luke 1: 1-4, Luke explains why he wrote this book – for his friend Theophilus (and for us) to have certainty regarding the identity of Jesus and the beliefs that Christ-followers commit themselves to. While Matthew focuses on Jesus as the Promised Messiah and Mark emphasizes that He is the Son of God, Luke depicts Jesus as Savior. Jesus came “to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk. 19:10), and by featuring Jesus’ interactions with three unlikely groups of people (the poor, the sinners, and the Gentiles), Luke shows that Jesus came to save all types of people – not just the Jews. These three groups were on the fringes of Jewish society, but Jesus chose to interact with them despite the comments of the Jewish religious leaders.
This Week in the New Testament: Luke 17:1-19:27 take place as Jesus journeys to Jerusalem in the weeks leading up to His death, and Luke 19:28 through the rest of the book records the events of Passover Week. Luke 18 includes two parables that are only recorded in this Gospel: the parable of the persistent widow (Lk. 18:1-8) and the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector (Lk. 18:9-14), and both parables address the subject of prayer. As Jesus teaches on the coming of the Kingdom, He instructs the disciples to pray with perseverance as the widow who repeatedly sought vindication from the judge (Lk. 17:20-18:8). With the second parable, Jesus warns against prideful motivations for prayer and piety and advocates humility and dependence on God. Luke’s descriptions of Jesus in Gethsemane are unique from the other Gospels with regards to his emphasis on prayer. Luke records Jesus’ instructions for Peter, James, and John to pray that they not fall into temptation, describes Jesus earnestly petitioning God for a different path than the cross yet being strengthened by an angel, then urging the sleepy disciples to pray so they do not fall into temptation (Lk. 22:39-46). Jesus exemplifies what He teaches and establishes the importance of praying in the midst of trials.
As with the other Gospels, Luke records Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, warnings about the cost of being His disciple, and descriptions of how His followers should live (Lk. 9:23-27, 57-62; 14:25-33). In Luke 12-16, Luke describes money as a chief hindrance to following Christ, and this theme continues in Luke 17-23. The story of the rich young ruler demonstrates the danger of possessions and wealth (Lk. 18:18-30). In contrast to the rich young ruler, Zaccheaus who was a tax collector trusted in Christ and demonstrated his repentance by restoring what he had taken (see Lk. 18:26-27). In this week’s readings, Luke contrasts wealth as a deterrant to following Christ with the generosity of both Zachaeus and the poor widow (Lk. 21:1-4).
As Jesus approaches Jerusalem on His way to Passover, Luke alone notes Jesus weeping over the city (Lk. 19:41-44). Although the people had praised Him (Lk. 19:28-40), Jesus had recently concluded a parable telling of His own rejection by the Israelites (Lk. 19:11-27), and He knew what the next week entailed. Jesus prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem that would occur in A.D. 70, and He weeps as He cites their rejection of Him as the reason for this coming judgment on the city (Lk. 19:44).