1 - 7 January: Psalms 1-7, Genesis 1-32, Luke 1-7, Proverbs 1
|Wednesday||1 Jan||1||Genesis 1 - 4||Luke 1||1.1-6|
|Thursday||2 Jan||2||Genesis 5 - 9||Luke 2|
|Friday||3 Jan||3||Genesis 10 - 15||Luke 3|
|Saturday||4 Jan||4||Genesis 16 - 21||Luke 4||1.7-19|
|Sunday||5 Jan||5||Genesis 22 - 27||Luke 5||1.20-33|
|Monday||6 Jan||6||Genesis 28 - 30||Luke 6|
|Tuesday||7 Jan||7||Genesis 31 - 32||Luke 7|
PsalmsIt's all there in the psalms - God's amazing work in creation and salvation, his judgement, life and worship, the law, God's presence, the coming Messiah and his kingdom. They were part of the worship of Israel, and they are part of the worship of the church. Jesus would have known them well, and they are frequently quoted in the New Testament. The highs and the depths of life are there.
Many were intended to be spoken aloud in worship. In the original Hebrew, they are poems, often in acrostic form - they benefit from being read aloud, even in English translation. Traditionally, they are credited to King David, although it is unlikely he composed them all. They reflect different times in Israel's life, like the hymns in our hymn books. Some were composed for ceremonial contexts, some are much more individual. Some are full of praise, some are laments, some are cries for help, some express profound thanksgiving.
Psalm 1 invites us to consider what makes for a blessed life in the face of wickedness.
Psalm 2 speaks of God's Son, his Messiah, his King, and, not surprisingly, is much used by New Testament and later Christian writers.
Psalm 3 is a prayer for someone in a time of hostility and trouble.
Psalm 4 is a prayer for help, expressing trust in God to be faithful.
Psalm 5 is a response to a situation in which lies threaten the faithful.
Psalm 6 is an appeal to God's grace and mercy at a time when his judgement is all too real, perhaps a time of serious sickness.
Psalm 7 is a prayer to be delivered from harm, and from enemies.
GenesisGenesis tells the story of God's calling and promise to his people. The narrative tells the story of creation, and of the families who become Israel. Through this story, we see how Israel began to know what her God was like and how he would deal with his people. Whatever we think of the historicity of the account, we cannot doubt that this is the record of a people who came to know God as he revealed himself to them. These stories are to be taken seriously for what they tell us of our faith and our God.
The canvas is large, starting with the creation of the world, and of life. The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden is a profound meditation on sin and death, and its effect, resulting in the destruction of the flood. The rainbow symbolises God's covenant with his creation, never to destroy all life. The story of Abraham and Sarah, and then Jacob and his sons, describes the origins of a people called through a promise to witness to God and his power in their lives.
Luke probably wrote his gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 by the Romans (see Luke 21.5-38). He uses Mark's gospel, the earliest to be written in about 70AD, and also a source which Matthew shares. Luke's gospel is written in good Greek for a non-Jewish audience, focusing on the poor and needy, on women and slaves. In these first seven chapters, we read of Jesus' birth, and the start of his public ministry and teaching.
Collected in Proverbs is a series of short two-line sayings, with some instructions and poems included also. The sayings originate in everyday life, and cover all manner of situations. They are intended to be easily remembered, to help people behave well and to avoid unnecessary difficulty. Together they are a compendium of wisdom which is the 'fear of the Lord'. Chapter 1 introduces the book, using King Solomon's name to give authority to it, and introducing Wisdom personified as a woman (Sophia in Greek).