Week 7

12 - 18 February: Psalms 34 - 37, Deuteronomy 18 - Joshua 11, Acts 23 - end + 1 Thessalonians, Proverbs 8

Wednesday12 Feb Deuteronomy18 - 22Acts 23
Thursday13 Feb Deuteronomy 23 - 27Acts 24 - 25.12
Friday14 Feb Deuteronomy 28 - 29Acts 25.13 - end 26
Saturday15 Feb Deuteronomy 30 - 32Acts 278.1-21
Sunday16 Feb Deuteronomy 33 - 34
Joshua 1 - 3
Acts 288.22-end
Monday17 FebPs 37.1-19Joshua 4 - 71 Thessalonians 1 - 3
Tuesday18 FebPs 37.20-endJoshua 8 - 111 Thessalonians 4
- 5 *

* Apologies that this reading is split into two links - for some reason the Oremus Bible Browser wouldn't let me take the whole passage as one.


Psalm 34 is a prayer of thanksgiving.  It is typical of the Wisdom tradition, of which Proverbs is a part, affirming that ultimately things will go well with those who are right with God because God is in control.
Psalm 35 is a lament, in which the psalmist prays to God for relief from his enemies.
Psalm 36 is in part like Proverbs, in the Wisdom tradition, and in part a hymn of praise to God.
Psalm 37 is a Wisdom psalm.  It was written as an acrostic in Hebrew, with three sections of eight stanzas, and each stanza beginning with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  

Deuteronomy 18 - end

In chapter 18, the depiction of Moses as the ideal prophet of God reaches its climax.  His function is to mediate between God and his people, acting as God's spokesman and defending the people before God.  Chapter 34 looks ahead to a time when God sends a second ideal prophet - whom as Christians we identify with Jesus, of course.
This section of Deuteronomy also contains the rules by which Israel is to fight its battles, always remembering that it is God who provides them with victory - provided they trust him whole-heartedly.
There is also a collection of laws to ensure the purity of the people and the land.  The people were to be pure, or holy, because God is holy.  They were to show this purity by their worship, their moral and ethical life, and their daily practices and customs, in particular in marriage and family life.  Many of these laws also ensure that the vulnerable are protected and cared for.
Chapter 26 brings this section to a close, with instruction to do with worship, which should show the characteristics of thankfulness to God and obedience to him.  The whole of this book is about the gracious gifts of God - of land and provision for life - with the law given to enable Israel to be the people of God who will live in the land he has provided, enjoying the gifts he has given them.
Chapters 27 and 28 discuss how the people will keep the law, and the sanctions to be applied if they don't.
The final major section of the book, chapters 29-32, contain Moses' final address to the people and passing his leadership onto Joshua, ending with Moses' final blessing of the people, and his death.


The end of Deuteronomy marks the end of the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses.  It recounts the story of Israel from the beginning, through slavery in Egypt, to the edge of the Promised Land.  These five books open up the promises of God, and remind the people what their responsibilities are.
However, we can also see Deuteronomy as the start of the history books which run from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings, and known as the Deuteronomic history.  Scholars think that this history was largely compiled from earlier traditions during the reign of King Josiah, in  the 7th century BC, and revised as a result of the exile a century later.
One of the main themes of the book of Joshua is his promise to be with the people, as Moses was, to mediate between them and God.  Under his leadership, the people cross the Jordan (on dry land, as Moses led the people across the Red Sea on dry land), and then celebrate a Passover.
It is unlikely that the Israelites in fact conquered the land in the way described in Joshua. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Israelites occupied the land about 1200BC, but there is little evidence for the sieges and battles described from this period.  It is more likely that the people infiltrated in a less warlike way.
Joshua is presented as the ideal leader of Israel, who keeps the teaching Moses gave the people, fights holy wars in the name of God, and so becomes the prototype for the later kings.
His name, Joshua, means 'salvation' in Hebrew, and so became the basis for Jesus' name.

Acts 23 - end

By this stage, Paul is often in mortal danger.  He successfully defends himself against the charges brought against him in Jerusalem before the representatives of the Roman empire, including King Agrippa.  In giving his testimonial, Paul does not do what many do, describing his unhappy life before he met Christ - rather he tells his hearers how well he was doing.  Paul knows that it is Jesus who found him, not the other way about.  And despite the joy he felt at doing God's will, his life as a believer was far from easy!  Luke shows us that experience of the risen Christ is the bedrock of faith.
Paul and his friends then sets sail towards the end of the season, only to find it is now nature which threatens him in the shape of a storm at sea.  We see him blessing bread and breaking it, then urging his companions to eat - when threatened, that is what the church must do, as witness that even in the hardest of times, God is our refuge and he will provide for us.
Following his shipwreck on Malta, and other adventures, Paul at last sets sail for Rome.  `And that is where Luke leaves him, preaching to the Christians in Rome, despite being in prison.  It is generally believed that Paul was martyred in Rome, in the mid-60s AD, beheaded by the emperor Nero.  Recently, the tomb of Paul at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome was investigated, confirming that it does indeed contain bone from the 1st or 2nd century.
The rest of the story is the ongoing story of the church, of which we are a part.

1 Thessalonians

Paul wrote many letters to new groups of Christians around the Mediterranean, some of which are in the New Testament, and some of which are lost to us.  The order in which we have them in the New Testament is not the order in which they were written, but is probably to do with their length.
At this time, the most common ways of writing a letter were to write it yourself or to dictate the sense of it, leaving the actual writing to a secretary.  It is likely that Paul used others to write for him at times.
The first letter to the church in Thessalonica is thought to be the earliest surviving letter by Paul, and the earliest book in the New Testament also.  It is therefore the oldest known Christian document.
Thessalonica was a port city in Macedonia (now the northern part of Greece).  It was an important city on a main Roman road through the Balkans, with a thriving commercial centre and a cosmopolitan population.  Acts puts Paul, with Silvanus and Timothy, in Thessalonica on his second mission, perhaps around AD50.
In chapters 4 and 5, Paul deals with the expectation that the Lord would return soon, using symbolic language to describe what might happen in the end-times.  There is an early statement of belief in 4.14, a fore-runner to our creeds.  The Day of the Lord in 5.1-3 is an image Paul would have known from the Hebrew scriptures, especially Amos 5.18, Joel 2.1 and Zephaniah 1.7.

Proverbs 8

Chapter 8 is a second speech by Wisdom (Sophia), telling of her call, truth, integrity and value, her intellectual gifts, favours and her priority through her presence at creation.  

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