New Bible Study!
So, I realized that I needed to have a plan to get me to read my Bible more. And, I wanted to read it and be able to write about it on here. And... well, to be honest... I've read the Bible a lot. Like, a lot. This isn't, like, a flex or something, it's just a fact. And, so, I get kinda bored if I just read straight through.
So, after some scouring, I found a pretty beefy Bible reading plan that jumps around a lot. Which is exactly what I was hoping for.
It's the 49 week challenge on the Bible app. It goes through the whole Bible, but in a very jumpy way. Which, well, is good for me.
So, we're going to be starting day 1 today!
Today's readings are:
1 Chronicles 24
2 Chronicles 8
2 Chronicles 29
See, it jumps around a lot! Yay!
First off, this is the only Gospel that talks about the before Jesus was born stuff. Talking about John the Baptist and his importance and his relation to Jesus. And I think that's really rad.
It makes Jesus more human to me, or cements how human He was. Since He has family, He had cousins. Also showing how people, other than Jesus, were instrumental to Jesus's mission being able to pay out as it did. Sure, we all agree that Jesus was made for a certain purpose and had a mission from the day He was born.... but then we usually think that was just for Jesus. We can't have been made for a specific mission when we were born! We're just bumbling loons who slam into things until we happen to hit the right thing!
Nah, God has plans for us all too. God had John the Baptist made for a specific purpose. God has everyone in life made for a specific purpose. We can fight it and go against it as much as we want, but it is what will come to pass; like Samson and the Philistines, he was going to take down the intruders even though he was fine with doing nothing. John the Baptist, however, was someone that, as far as we know, didn't fight God's plan for him.
Let's be like that, y'all.
Another thing I really love about this is the fact that Luke takes some time to explain why he was doing this.
I also just really like Luke's background, okay?
He's a doctor, he is educated. He is the most educated person that wrote one of the Gospels. And, he is also attributed to writing Acts. The rest of the Gospels we've read before Luke were written by laymen. They each add something important to the story, and they each have equal value. But, this one is important for a different reason.
You see, Luke's narrative was used to help convert the elected officials of Rome. Using his connections and knowledge and title, he was able to use the fancier language and such needed to get the Christian movement to be treated as a real thing, instead of just some weird heretical offshoot of Judaism.
Also, you can tell all of this just by his approach and his writing style. He analyzed everything, he spent time compiling data, he ran around all of the Roman Empire searching for witnesses. The other Gospels start with Jesus. Luke asked all of Jesus's remaining earthly family and found out old family stories that pointed to Jesus before Jesus was even born.
I just find it super interesting. It's my history brain going off. And, because of Luke's need to document everything and find out all he could, he was able to let the rest of time know about another miracle that God did: the birth of John the Baptist.
(I also find it really chill that John's announcement from the angels mirrors that of Mary's about Jesus. That's really cool.)
Moving on to the next chapter....
1 Chronicles 24
I can't deny this stuff is kinda boring.
But it is kinda cool after reading what we did in Luke.
Elizabeth and Zacharias, who were John the Baptist's parents, were of the lineage of the priests. This is John the Baptist's family tree. And, it is really amazing that we can follow it completely to this point. That the record keeping has lasted this long and has been able to be proved as accurate.
I remember hearing a pastor at some convention I went to (I can't remember) telling me in a breakout session about how, in cultures in which knowing your family tree is vital, these "boring" chapters have been the ones to convince people of God's existence. Because these are real people who have lived and who are kept in the book and they can confirm the legitimacy of it.
And that, my friends, is freaking rad.
But yeah, this is just the line of Aaron, brother of Moses.
And continuing onward....
2 Chronicles 8
This chapter might seem strange out of context. It talks about building a town and making labor and military and palaces and reinstating the Levites and the line of Aaron over the temple.
This, for anyone was wondering, is during the time when Solomon was actually doing well. This was before he got too big for his britches and was still listening to God. He still took an Egyptian wife, which he probably shouldn't have done, but he was doing his best to follow God.
And Israel prospered for it. He expanded the cities, he defended the land, he made sure the people were taken care of. Because he was listening to God. And, due to his listening, he was able to make sure that the story of John the Baptist at the beginning of Luke even happened.
Also important is the order of events in which the city was built up. The first thing that Solomon did was build God's temple. God's house was first. Then he built his temple. And then he built the town. And then he built his foreign wife's home. And brought her over from Egypt once he had that figured out.
He took care of God first, then himself, then the people who depended on him, and then everyone else.
That order is important: God, you, those who need you, others.
Last section for today....
2 Chronicles 29
Hezekiah was one of the few good kings.
Read through both of the Kings and through Chronicles.... they were less than satisfactory for the most part. Most of the people who ended up sitting on the throne used the power that came with it to further their own wants and fears, rather than following God's commands to bring peace to the people of God.
The people that God uplifts in the narrative of the Bible are all people who, while human, overall chose to put God first. Did they stumble? Yes. But did they ultimately help the mission of God? Yes.
Hezekiah's father was not a good man. He caused pain and suffering.
The first thing Hezekiah did, however? Open the temple.
The first thing he did was make sure people could commune with God once more. He reinstated the priests and made sure they were following the book. He let them get right back to doing what they were supposed the whole time, helping to pardon sins and connect people back with God.
He realized that it was human hubris that destroyed Israel and Judea, and he wanted to make it right. And the first thing he did to do so was turn back to God. He made it the first priority. He didn't first check on how the treasury or army were doing. He put 100% into making sure the temple was back up to code.
One of my favorite verses in this chapter is verse 34. Due to the past generations destroying the sanctity of the priesthood, there weren't enough priests around to actually do all the offerings to God. And so, the Levites stepped in and helped. They were the tribe of Israel that was supposed to do the priesthood work anyways, so they all jumped up to assist in this monumental task of getting them back on track. It actually goes as far as to say that the Levites were more upright about the whole process.
(And guess who were Levites? Did you guess Elizabeth, Zacharias, and John the Baptist? Cause you right)
So, this Bible reading thing has a few questions that I thought I might as well answer here.
What did you learn about God, yourself, or the world?
This collection of readings reminded me of a few things. One, that I need to keep the order of operations about God in mind more often. God's things first, then what I need for me, then to anyone who needs me (youth group kids, etc), and then others (random people on the street). If I can't take care of me, I can't take care of others.
The other thing was my long thing about Luke. God needs all backgrounds, because he needed Luke the doctor to be educated enough to know to do all that research and interviewing in order to share the stories. Just like he needed Mark to be to the point, and Matthew to be so knowledgeable about Jewish prophecy, and John to be so spiritually tuned. It takes all sorts, and your sort is part of it for a reason, even if you don't get how.
Is there a verse or thought that stood out to you?
As I mentioned right above, I always love 2 Chronicles 29:34. The reminder that even if you don't have the fancy label, you can help out if you have the right heart and go after things in the best way that you can. God uses all. Even you. And I love that.