"God's Word is Living & Active!" ~ Hebrews 4:12
Genesis 1:1-2:25 ~ Matthew 1:1-2:12 ~ Psalm 1:1-6 ~ Proverbs 1:1-6
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Old Testament – Happy New Year! Welcome to the beginning of our One Year Bible journey in 2021! Today we begin with the book of Genesis!
Date: 1420 or 1220 B.C.
Content: The book of Genesis was written to explain how everything began; in fact, the very title Genesis means “origin” or “beginning”. It explains that God created the universe, how man was created and placed in a perfect environment, how sin began, and how God provided salvation for lost man. The beginning of human history is described, the beginning of arts and crafts, how human languages began, and where the various nations came from. The focus then shifts to the beginning of the Hebrew people with Abraham, followed by the histories of Isaac, Jacob and his sons, and the book ends with Joseph in Egypt.
Theme: The main idea that runs through the book is that although God made everything good, man’s sin has spoiled it. God has not given up, but is now in search of man to save him. The overall control of God is stressed, and special attention is given to how God directs history for the good of his people and their salvation.
Below is more art from Michelangelo – this is a marble statue of Moses, the author of Genesis, made in the year 1515 in Italy:
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 likely 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.
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 daily blog will not do it all justice…Today we read this incredibly powerful verse in Genesis chapter 1 verse 27: “So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.”
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 work and play and 1 day each week of resting in God.
One quick note from our readings today about the location of the Garden of Eden. It is believed to have been near where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet, in what is now southern Iraq.
Below is a very high level map:
New Testament – Today we begin the gospel of Matthew! Below is Northern Renaissance painter Jan Sanders van Hemessen’s “Jesus Summons Matthew to Leave the Tax Office” from the year 1536:
Place: Perhaps Antioch
Date: A.D. 60-70
Content: Matthew was a tax collector, called by Jesus to follow him early in his public ministry; hence, he was an eyewitness of most of the events he describes. He begins with a detailed account of Jesus’ birth of the virgin Mary, his baptism, and temptation in the wilderness. Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, entrance into which meant eternal life. One entered by repentance and faith. Matthew blocks the teaching of Jesus together into five discourses in which may be seen the ethics, the proclamation, the parables, the fellowship, and the consummation of the kingdom. Jesus’ death and resurrection end the Gospel with the command to go into all the world with the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ.
Theme: Matthew’s main purpose in writing his Gospel is to show that Jesus fulfills the promise of God in the Old Testament. For this reason Jesus is introduced as a “descendant of King David and of Abraham,” and Matthew makes use of numerous Old Testament prophecies and quotations to explain Jesus’ life. Jesus came to be the Savior of the Jews, the Gentiles, and ultimately the world. The ethics required by members of God’s kingdom are found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) where the world’s values are rejected and the Kingdom of God and his righteousness become supreme.
Below is a painting (I absolutely love this painting!) titled “The Inspiration of St. Matthew” by the Baroque Italian artist Caravaggio, circa 1602:
In today’s Matthew readings, we read the genealogy of Jesus. I know that genealogy’s can sometimes seem a bit boring to read, but this one in Matthew is phenomenal! If you just finished reading the Bible this past year, you will recognize many of these names. Or – let me encourage you to come back and read this genealogy again on January 1st of next year, if you are going through the entire Daily Bible Readings for your first time this year. This genealogy will amaze you. One of the interesting things to note in this genealogy is the mention of 5 women – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. It was not the norm in the 1st century to list women in genealogies – only men were typically listed. 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. The genealogy in Matthew is sometimes illustrated by a “Jesse Tree” showing the lineage of Jesus from Jesse, father of King David:
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 powerful in that last year’s 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.
Psalms – Psalm 1 today begins the 150 Psalms of the Psalter! You’ll note that in the Daily Bible Readings 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. I do believe praying the Psalms can indeed renew our passion for God:
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, Cry’s, 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.”
Today we read this reflection on the godly in Psalm 1 verse 2: “But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law.”
Bible.org’s commentary on Psalm 1 is at this link.
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. Below is an image of King Solomon dictating his wise maxims, the Proverbs:
Today we read in Proverbs chapter 1 verses 2 through 4 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.”
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 NLT
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