Week 22

22 - 28 October
Psalms 105 - 106, Isaiah 40 - 55, Hebrews 1 - 9, Proverbs 24

22 October
Isaiah 40.1 - 41.16Hebrews 1.1 - 2.9 
23 October
Isaiah 41.17 - 43.21Hebrews 2.10 - 3.19
24 October
Isaiah 43.22 - 45.17Hebrews 4.1 - 5.14
25 October
Isaiah 45.18 - 47.15Hebrews 6.1 - 7.10
26 October
Isaiah 48.1 - 49.21Hebrews 7.11 - 8.7
27 October
Ps 106.24-33Isaiah 49.22 - 51.23Hebrews 8.8 - 9.10
28 October
Isaiah 52.1 - 55.13Hebrews 9.11 - 9.28


Psalm 105 describes Israel's story, basing it on the promise of the land to Abraham.  It is a hymn of praise to the God who keeps his promises.  The reason given for God's goodness to Israel is that he wanted a people who would keep his law.
Psalm 106 is the counterpart which focuses on Israel's failure to be the people God intended them to be.  Despite God's blessing, the people failed to trust and obey him.  However, the psalm never loses sight of God's intention to bless.


The Historical Background to the Old Testament prophets.

The people of Judah suffered defeat and exile at the hands of the Babylonians.  However, those who were taken into exile enjoyed better material conditions than those who were left behind in Judah, where the conflict had ruined the land and infrastructure.  Nevertheless, captivity was seen as a national shame, which was added to the threat of / temptation to cultural and religious assimilation in Babylon.
This is the background to the chapters of Isaiah we are reading this week.  This section of the book of Isaiah, considerably later than the earlier chapters, is sometimes called Second Isaiah.  We don't know anything at all about the prophet  whose message it is, although it is likely that he (or even she) lived with the exiles in Babylon.
Second Isaiah is keenly interested in international affairs, interpreting them in the light of God's activity.  But he was not simply a commentator.  He was also very aware of the anguish of the people, and the need for comfort.  He spoke to people who were on the verge of despair.
Second Isaiah is rightly known for the four Servant Songs.  God's Servant is introduced in 42.1-4.  We don't know now who Second Isaiah had in mind, but the Christian church has long interpreted these Songs in the light of Jesus.  The other Songs are in 49.1-6, 50.4-9 and 52.13-53.12.
Chapter 43 contains my favourite passage of scripture, among many beautiful passages.  Read 43.1-7, and take it to heart!  You are precious in God's sight.


The letter to the Hebrews is unlike the rest of the New Testament.  Its style and content are unique, and although there are many familiar phrases, the book as a whole is much less well known.  It is easy to get lost in the arguments.
We don't know who wrote it, we don't know when it was written (although somewhere between say 60 and 100 AD) and we don't know whom it was written for.  It's likely that it was a long sermon rather than a letter.
The Preacher is addressing a community which is exhausted, tired of serving the world, tired of worship, tired of being peculiar, tired of being disciples.  He sees the answer as being Christ, and he gives them a complex and profound discussion of who Jesus was, and what he means to us as individuals and to the whole world.
He appeals to a variety of characters from the Old Testament, especially Abraham, and a priest called Melchizedek.  We met Melchizedek back in Genesis 14, and we will meet him in Psalm 110.  In the OT, he is a small bit-player.  In Hebrews, however, he foreshadows Jesus as the great high priest.

Proverbs 24

A collection of sayings about wisdom, about how we should respond to evil-doers, and about justice and being industrious.

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