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
Deuteronomy 28:20-34:12, Joshua 1, and Psalm 119:25-122:9
Where We Are In The Story (Deuteronomy)
Background of Deuteronomy: Deuteronomy picks up with Moses’ word from the Lord to the Israelites at Mount Horeb at the end of their forty years of wilderness wanderings.Deuteronomy presents the Law (much of what is in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers) in a preached format, and it contains three of Moses’ sermons to the people of Israel that both rehearse their history and instruct them in how they are to live as God’s people in the Land of Promise. While Moses wrote this book, the end of the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy) has an unnamed author since Moses did not write about his own death in Deuteronomy 34.
Structure of Deuteronomy:
- Deuteronomy 1:1-4:49 reviews Israel’s history from Mt. Sinai through their wilderness wanderings.
- Deuteronomy 5-28 rehearses God’s covenant with Israel and exhorts the people to keep the covenant.
- Deuteronomy 29-30 records a renewal of the covenant between God and Israel.
- Deuteronomy 31-34 reports Joshua’s succession of Moses, Joshua’s commission, a song of Moses, and the death of Moses.
This Week in Deuteronomy: We pick up in Deuteronomy 28 with the curses God establishes for Israel should they disobey Him. These things later took place in the nation and resulted in the Assyrian Captivity (722 B.C.) and the Babylonian Captivity (587 B.C.). While the consequences of disobedience may appear harsh, they highlight the magnitude of the offense of infidelity to God, and while punishing the guilty, God offers grace and mercy when His people repent. All of this describes how Israel’s prosperity in the land stemmed from God’s provision and blessing, which hinged on the covenant faithfulness of the people.
Deuteronomy 29 begins Moses’ third message in the book, and in Deuteronomy 29-30, he exhorts the people to “choose life” (30:19) by determining to love and obey God. He calls them to renew their commitment to God. In Deuteronomy 31, Moses commissions Joshua as his successor in leading the people, and he encourages the people of Israel to “be strong and courageous” and not to fear the people of the land because God would go with them and would not forsake them (31:6). Such encouragement was needed in light of the epic fail of the nation forty years earlier. Then Moses offers the same instruction specifically to Joshua in front of the nation as he takes over leadership of the people.
God led Moses to write the words of the Law for the people to read them every Sabbath Year (31:9-13) as well as the words to a song of praise (31:30-32:43). During the Sabbath Year, the people were not to work the land, and instead, the proclaimed Law of the Lord was meant to remind them that God and His Word is their life and satisfaction. Deuteronomy 32 -34closes with God’s instructions to Moses regarding his death, Moses’ final blessings on Israel, and his death on Mount Nebo, in modern-day Jordan. From this mount, even today, one can see the Promised Land, the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem to the west. While prohibited from entering the land because of his own sin, God did permit Moses a panoramic view of the Promised Land that Israel would inherit.
Where We Are In The Story (Joshua)
Background of Joshua: While authorship of this book is unknown, the book’s name derives from the name of its main character, Joshua, who was Moses’ successor in leading the people of Israel. His name means “Yahweh delivers” or “Yahweh saves,” which is an apt title of the book since it describes God’s work in defeating the nations of the Promised Land and giving the land to His people. Joshua presents the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give their descendants the land of Canaan, and it describes the military conquests that brought this to pass. Written as a historical book for Israel, Joshua also emphasizes God’s sovereignty, omnipotence, and faithfulness to His word, and Joshua 21:43-45 provides a fitting summary of God’s character as One who keeps all of His promises.
Structure of Joshua:
- Joshua 1-5 describes Israel’s preparations before taking the Promised Land.
- Joshua 6-12 depicts the military conquests of the nation.
- Joshua 13-21 explains the distribution of the land among the tribes, highlighting the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people.
- Joshua 22-24 records Joshua’s final instructions and exhortations to the nation before his death.
This Week in Joshua: Joshua 1 includes both God’s encouragement to Joshua as he prepared to lead the nation into the Promised Land as well as the nation’s affirmation of his leadership. While placing on him the responsibility of leading His people, God promised to be with Joshua, and no matter Joshua’s fears or skills, God’s promises His sufficiency. The linchpin of Joshua’s success and the nation’s triumph is found in God’s charge to Joshua verses 7-8 when God directs him to meditate on His law and to adhere to it. In the Old Testament era, meditation would have involved focusing upon God’s character, works, and words, and reminding one’s self of these things by reading or reciting them aloud. Inundating himself with God’s Word would be paramount for Joshua to lead effectively.
Where We Are In The Story (Psalms)
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:
- The longest psalm in the book, Psalm 119 consists of 176 verses that are arranged in twenty-two stanzas of eight verses with the stanzas arranged in alphabetical order and with every line of the stanza starting with that letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The entire psalm focuses on the subject of God’s law, and it includes many features of a wisdom psalm.
- Psalm 120 begins a series of fifteen pilgrim psalms (Psalms 120-134) called the Songs of Ascent. As the Israelites traveled to Jerusalem for the yearly feasts (Passover, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles), they sang these psalms as they journeyed. In light of this context, Psalm 120 contrasts the heathen who surround the pilgrim and records the traveler’s desire for peace and his prayers for God’s deliverance.
- Psalm 121 proclaims the pilgrim’s trust in the Lord as he journeys. The psalmist reiterates the word “keep” six times in this short psalm, emphasizing God’s preservation of His people and His loving care for them.
- The pilgrim would sing Psalm 122 upon his arrival in Jerusalem, and in this psalm, the psalmist calls for the people to pray for Jerusalem’s security and for peace.