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
Leviticus 2-9, John 21, & Psalms 1-10

Where We Are In The Story ~ Old Testament (Leviticus & Psalms)

Background of Leviticus: Everything in Leviticus points to the holiness of God. His perfection and man’s sinfulness stands as the reason for all of the sacrifices, laws, and regulations included in this book, for Leviticus explains how a covenant between a righteous God and a sinful people practically plays out in everyday life in the era before Christ’s resurrection. Written by Moses as Israel wandered in the wilderness, it contains divine speeches that Moses delivered to the people of Israel about how to worship God and how they should live. Modern readers of Leviticus may tire of reading the many laws and regulations, but for Israelites in the Old Testament era, Leviticus provided relevant information for how they were to go about their day-to-day lives.

Structure of Leviticus:

  • Leviticus 1-7 explains the rituals of the different sacrifices.

  • Leviticus 8-10 gives instructions for the priests of Israel.

  • Leviticus 11-15 instructs the people on cleansing and purification.

  • Leviticus 16 details the sacrifice and instructions for the Day of Atonement.

  • Leviticus 17-27 provides directions regarding the festivals, the holy days, and how the people should live.

This Week in Leviticus: With this week’s readings in Leviticus providing the foundation of Israel’s sacrificial system, it is helpful to know how believers were saved in the Old Testament era and how the sacrificial system jives with the New Testament.

  • The sacrificial system looks forward to Christ (Heb. 10:3-4).

  • It demonstrates that sinners cannot enter God’s presence apart from God’s provision.

  • It highlights the holiness and righteousness of God, for sin is offensive because of Who is offended by it.

  • It shows that humanity’s access to God requires the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:18-22).

  • The sacrifice of the animals themselves is not what saved the people from their sins (Heb. 10:1-4), for no one is saved by works. The sacrifices in the Old Testament were two-fold. They pointed to the salvation that would come through Christ, the ultimate sacrifice, and they were outward expressions of an individual’s submission to God. The offerings were how believing people renewed and maintained their relationship with God. In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem explains, “those who were saved under the old covenant were also saved through trusting in Christ, even through their faith was a forward-looking faith based on God’s word of promise that a Messiah or a Redeemer would come.”

The grain offering or the meal offering of Leviticus 2 acknowledged that everything an individual has comes from God and belongs to Him, and it was the worshipper’s way of dedicating what they have to God. When offered, the food was sacrificed after the burnt offering of Leviticus 1, but it could also be given by itself without any other sacrifice. There could be no leaven in this offering because it was to pure and without corruption.

The peace offering or the fellowship offering of Leviticus 3 and 7 was not given to make peace with God. Instead, it was offered as a celebration of the worshipper’s peace with God. Only the fat and the internal organs were burned on the altar. These organs represented the will and the emotions of the person, so by sacrificing them on the altar, the worshipper was symbolically offering themselves to the Lord. While the priests received the right shoulder and the right thigh, the rest of the animal was roasted in the courtyard and eaten as a communal meal that same day by those worshipping in the sanctuary. As the meat was roasting, the worshipper would grab the horns of the altar and praise God by declaring what the Lord had done. Through this sacrifice, the poor in Israel could come to the Temple and receive food to eat. The New Testament correlation to this offering is the Lord’s Supper, a communal meal that we eat to remember what Christ has accomplished as we look forward to His return.

The Old Testament often refers to things being either “clean” or unclean,” and a person could become unclean many different ways – skin disease, having a child, bodily discharges, coming in contact with a dead body, committing certain inadvertent sins, etc. (see Lev. 12-15). People who were unclean had to be cleansed in order to worship God in the sanctuary, and because sinners worshiped there, the sanctuary itself needed to be purified. The sin offering or the purification offering in Leviticus 4:1-5:13 was, therefore, the first sacrifice that was offered when a worshipper came to the sanctuary, for the blood of the substitute (the animal) provided purification with regard to the worshiper’s sin and to sin’s defiling effects in his life. This sacrifice in itself did not provide forgiveness of sin, for the worshiper also had to acknowledge and repent of the sin. But because sin disrupted fellowship between the worshiper and God, this sacrifice was necessary for restoring the relationship.

When an individual’s sin involved defrauding God or another person of something, the sinner was to offer a guilt offering or a reparations offering (Lev. 5:14-6:7). Therefore, this sacrifice was only offered as needed. This sacrifice indicates that the wrong committed had to be made right by the worshipper, so if a person was guilty of defrauding, then they had to give this offering and make full restitution. This offering necessitated that the sinner publicly confess their sin, make full restitution, and give an extra 20% of what they had defrauded as compensation.

Background & Structure of Psalms: God used many different writers to write Psalms: David, Moses, the sons of Korah, Asaph, etc. The book is arranged in five parts, and this arrangement occurred after the people of Israel returned to the land after the Babylonian exile. A doxology concludes each book or arrangement of psalms (Psalm 41:13 for Book 1, Psalm 72:18-19 for Book 2, Psalm 89:52 for Book 3, Psalm 106:48 for Book 4, and Psalm 150:6 for Book 5), and the entire book of Psalms climactically ends with a grand doxology of several psalms (Ps. 146-150).

  • Book 1: Psalms 1-41

  • Book 2: Psalms 42-72

  • Book 3: Psalms 73-89

  • Book 4: Psalms 90-106

  • Book 5: Psalms 107-150

This Week in Psalms: Psalms 1-2 introduce the entire book of Psalms. Psalm 1 contrasts the righteous with the wicked and sets the stage for the entire book by describing the importance of living in alignment with Scripture. Thus, Psalm 1 functions as a wisdom psalm, and it emphasizes the connection between meditating on God’s Word and living a righteous life. It also demonstrates the worthlessness of the ungodly life by comparing it to a chaff that is blown away by the wind, and it reminds the reader of the judgment that is to come, which reinforces that a person’s choice to either live a righteous or an ungodly life has eternal consequences.

As a royal psalm, Psalm 2 declares the kingship of an unnamed ruler of Israel. Royal psalms (Ps. 2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 89, 101, 110, 144) reference important occasions in the life of the king such as his coronation, wedding, or a great military victory given by the Lord, and they point to the role of the human king as God’s agent on earth. In particular, Psalm 2 reminds the nation of God’s plan for Israel and His sovereignty over all earthly kings and kingdoms. No nation can stand if God is against it. Because Psalm 2 can apply to every Davidic king, it ultimately applies to Christ, and Hebrews 1:15 and Revelation 2:27 draw upon this psalm in describing the exaltation of Christ and the establishment of His reign on earth at the second coming.

Psalms 3-7 overwhelmingly express confidence in the Lord: confidence in Him and in His plan during times of adversity (Ps. 3), confidence in His care despite antagonism from others (Ps. 4), confidence in His deliverance and in His judgment of the wicked (Ps. 5 & 7), and confidence that God forgives the penitent (Ps. 6). Psalm 8 praises God for His majesty, and Hebrews 2:6-9 and 1 Corinthians 15:27 quote this psalm in reference to God’s plan in sending Christ to be born as a man and to give Him dominion over all things. Psalm 9 gives thanks to God for punishing the wicked and for defending the oppressed, and Psalm 10 follows with a cry for God to defend the helpless and the fatherless.

Where We Are In The Story ~ New Testament (John)

Background of John: John 20:31 gives the thesis of this Gospel: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John stands distinct from Matthew, Mark, and Luke in his emphasis on eternal life and how it refers to both duration but also the quality of life that God designed us to have in Him. From John 1, this book establishes that Jesus is God in the flesh. He is fully God and fully human at the same time. Written by John who was one of Jesus’ disciples, this Gospel does not follow Jesus’ life chronologically. Instead, John 1-12 looks at the eight “I AM” statements of Jesus and at seven of His miracles in order to demonstrate by words and actions that Jesus is God, and it spends the remaining nine chapters on the night of Last Supper through Jesus’ ascension.

This Week in the New Testament: The final chapter of John’s Gospel includes three scenes that are not recorded in the other three Gospels: the catch of fish after Jesus’ resurrection, the restoration of Peter, and Jesus’ remarks about the “beloved disciple.” The theme of this chapter focuses on mission. The events of John 21:1-14 reflect the circumstances of when Jesus first called Peter, James, and John to follow Him (Lk. 5:1-11), and both Jesus’ conversation with Peter and His remarks about the beloved disciple focus on those individuals carrying out His work. Jesus’ commands to Peter to “feed my lambs,” “tend my sheep,” and “feed my sheep” reflect that He is commissioning Peter for pastoral ministry. Tradition tells us that Jesus’ prediction to Peter about His death in John 21:18-19 was fulfilled in that Peter carried his cross on his way to be crucified and that he requested to be crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die in the same way as Christ.