~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Genesis 1:1-2:25 ~ Matthew 1:1-2:12
Psalm 1:1-6 ~ Proverbs 1:1-6
Old Testament - Today we begin the book of Genesis! Genesis means "birth", "genealogy", and "history of origin". Clearly, Genesis is a book of beginnings. Very fitting for the start of our new year. :) A book of beginnings...
Moses is the author/compiler of the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch, or the books of the Law. It is believed that these five books were written by Moses during Israel's 40 years in the desert after the exodus from Egypt - which was between 1446 B.C. and 1406 B.C. The book of Genesis is foundational to understanding the rest of the Bible. It is a book of relationships - between God and his creation; between God and humans; and between humans themselves. In Genesis, God pledges his love and faithfulness to humans through covenants. It is a narrative that continually demonstrates faith. Please see more commentary of the book of Genesis online at bible.org at this link, and at this link, and at this link.
In today's Genesis readings we read about the Creation account and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There is so much happening in today's readings, that this little daily blog will not do it all justice... :) Chapter 1 verse 27 certainly jumps out in today's readings - "So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them." Do you realize that you are made in the image of God? Does this give you a sense of possibility for your life? A sense that you were made for a great purpose in this life?
Chapter 2 verse 3 is beautiful - "And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation." A day of rest. One day a week. If God did this, think we should too? :) 6 days of hustle and bustle and 1 day each week of rest.... I confess I like the concept a lot more than I actually put it into practice. Perhaps 2005 can be a year of new beginnings where a Sabbath day of rest enters our lives each week?
New Testament - Today we begin the gospel of Matthew! Matthew is one of the three "Synoptic Gospels", along with Mark and Luke. These 3 gospels are similar in language and material and thus are synoptic - or "seeing together". 91% of Mark's gospel is contained in Matthew and 53% of Mark is found in Luke, so it is speculated that both Matthew and Luke may have used Mark as a major source of their gospels.
Matthew, one of the 12 apostles, is very likely the author of this first gospel. Matthew's name means "gift of the Lord", and he was a tax collector who abandoned his work to follow Jesus. This gospel was likely written in the 50's or 60's A.D. and was likely written in Israel. This gospel was written primarily with a Jewish audience in mind and thus has more quotations from the Old Testament than any other gospel. Matthew's purpose of this gospel is to prove that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament predictions of the coming Messiah. Please see more commentary of the gospel of Matthew online at bible.org at this link, and at this link, and at this link.
In today's Matthew readings, we read about the genealogy of Jesus, Jesus' birth, and the visit from the magi after his birth. I know that genealogy's can sometimes be a bit boring to read, but this one in Matthew is phenomenal! If you just finished reading the One Year Bible in 2004, you will recognize many of these names. Or - let me encourage you to come back and read this genealogy again on January 1, 2006, if you are going through the entire Bible for your first time this year in 2005. This genealogy will amaze you. One of the cool things to note in this genealogy is the mention of 5 women - Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. It was not the norm in these days to list women in genealogies - only men. At least 3 of these women were Gentiles (not Jewish) - Tamara, Rahab, and Ruth. Matthew was potentially trying to indicate to his Jewish readers that God's work in this world is not limited to the people of Israel - nor was God's work limited to men.
Chapter 1 verse 23 is certainly a huge prophecy from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah being fulfilled through the birth of Jesus - ""Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son,
and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us)."" Jesus is God and came to literally be with us. To experience our human sufferings and temptations - and joys and triumphs. The importance of this birth of Immanuel cannot be overstated.... God came to be with us in flesh and blood.
Chapter 2 verse 6 is very cool in that the 2004 One Year Bible crew recently read about the prophet Micah's prophesying of Jesus being born in Bethlehem - "`O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah,
for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.'" Here again you can see Matthew writing for his Jewish audience - quoting an Old Testament prophet and also focusing in on the town of "Bethlehem of Judah" - the City of David. This was to demonstrate again that Jesus was from the lineage of King David.
Verse 10 is a brief verse showing us the reaction of the magi in being led to Jesus - "When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!" The magi were also Gentiles and likely astrologers - following a star might lead one to think this... :) But no matter where they were from and what they believed prior, they were filled with joy at being led to the Messiah, Jesus. And they gave him gifts and worshipped him. And for us today - are we filled with joy in reading about the birth of Jesus? Do we realize what this meant back then - and even today? That Immanuel was born - that God was now with us.
Psalms - Psalm 1 kicks off the 150 Psalms of the Psalter! You'll note that in the One Year Bible we actually read through the Psalms twice during the course of the year. I think this is good because the Psalms have taken some time to really sink in for me, personally. Once they sink in, they are phenomenal. I have a great friend who has shared with me that she "Prays the Psalms" every morning. I pray that during the course of this year you will have the experience of Praying the Psalms as you go through the One Year Bible.
It is often said that in 65 of the books of the Bible God speaks to us, but in the Psalter, the book of Psalms, we have the opportunity to speak to God. And in all kinds of ways and with all kinds of emotions. The Psalms can help you learn to express in pray everything to God – what you are happy about and what is troubling you. The Psalms are religious poetry. The 150 Psalms are comprised of Laments, Confessions, Crys, Petitions, Praise, Reflection, Reports, History, Blessings, and Wisdom.
The author of many of the Psalms was King David. The Psalms were compiled over centuries and reached this final form in approximately the third century B.C. The Psalms were prayed in the temple and have been prayed in churches for the past two thousand years. The Psalms were quoted by Jesus, including Psalm 22:1 when Jesus was on the cross – ""My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"" (see Matthew 27:46) It is thought that the book of Psalms is one of the two books of the Old Testament most frequently quotes in the New Testament – along with the book of Isaiah.
Martin Luther said this about the book of Psalms – "The Psalter is the favorite book of all the saints.… [Each person], whatever his circumstances may be, finds in [the book] psalms and words which are appropriate to the circumstances in which he finds himself and meet his needs as adequately as if they were composed exclusively for his sake, and in such a way that he himself could not improve on them nor find or desire any better psalms or words."
Psalm 1 verse 2 jumped out at me in today's readings in discussing the godly - "But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law." How well does this ring true with our lives? Do we delight in being obedient to God? Do we think about God's Word, the Bible, day and night? Should we?
Proverbs - The author of the majority of the Proverbs was King Solomon, the son of King David. This means that most of the Proverbs were written in the 10th century B.C. when Israel was a united kingdom. It may be that the Proverbs were not officially compiled together as a book until the 6th century B.C. Agur son of Jakeh, King Lemuel, and "wisemen" were the other authors of the Proverbs.
Bob Deffinbaugh, Th.M., with bible.org has a wonderful Introduction to Proverbs found on this link - http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=609 Please see more commentary on the Proverbs online at bible.org at this link, and at this link, and at this link.
Verses 2 through 4 in today's readings certainly give a great overview of why we should read and study the Proverbs - "The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings. Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people." Do you want wisdom? Do you want discipline in your life? Do you want to do what is right, just and fair? Do you want purpose for your life?
I think you've come to the right place looking for these very things - God's Word, the Bible! Thank you for embarking on this One Year Bible journey with us in 2005!
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!