Week 21

15-21 October
Psalms 100-104, Ezekiel 36-48, James, Jude, Proverbs 23

15 October
Ezek 36 - 37.14James 1
16 October
Ezek 37.15 - 38.23James 2
17 October
Ezek 39 - 40.23 James 3
18 October
Ezek 40.24 - 41.26James 4
19 October
Ezek 42 - 44.14James 5
20 October
Ps 104.1-25Ezek 44.15 - 46.24Jude 1-13
21 October
Ezek 47 - 48Jude 14-end


Psalm 100 is a hymn focusing us on our entry into God's presence, both actually as we go into worship, and theologically as we prepare for worship.
Psalm 101 is appropriate for anyone who has responsibilities beyond their own immediate circumstance.  It was written for a king at the beginning of his reign, or perhaps at a point when his kingship was being celebrated.
Psalm 102 is a penitential prayer.  It includes a plea for help, and a plea for the restoration of Zion.  It may be that two psalms have been amalgamated at some point, or it may be that the personal was opened out into for corporate use.
Psalm 103 expresses thanks for God's mercy and graciousness, that he does not deal with us according to what we deserve.  Part of it is frequently used in funeral services: although our lives are transient compared to God's, he still cares about us and has compassion on us.
Psalm 104 praises God for his creation, and for his providence in providing for his creatures.  Traditionally, it is seen as a poetic rendering of Genesis 1.

Ezekiel 36 - 48

The Historical Background to the Old Testament prophets.

Chapters 36 and 37 continue the theme of restoration.  The return from exile is not a result of Israel putting right what was previously wrong, but is to vindicate God's holy name.  Israel was brought into being as a people to be his chosen people, the people through whom he made known his name throughout the world.  Renewal begins with an external act of sprinkling pure water, but this is only effective if accompanied by a renewal of the heart.  This renewal is God's work of transformation of his people.  (There is a clear analogy here in Christian baptism.)  This is followed by Ezekiel's account of his vision in which dry bones live again, through God's transforming action in breathing his Spirit into them.
Chapters 38 - 39 tell the story of Gog of the land of Magog, who will lead an army from the north against the unsuspecting Israelites, who nevertheless defeat the enemy and celebrate with a sacrificial banquet.  It presupposes a return to the land, but not the rebuilding of the temple.
The final chapters of the book, 40 - 48, describe Ezekiel's vision of the new temple in a restored city of Jerusalem.


There are several James mentioned in the NT, and it is not possible to be certain which (if indeed one of these) wrote this letter.  The style of the letter in Greek suggests its author was a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian, who sees religion as about worshipping God and a commitment to living a good life.  The warning against faith which does not result in good works may indicate that it was written in part to warn people who (mis)understood Paul's teaching on justification by faith in God to mean that what you did was unimportant.  Clearly there were also divisions between rich and poor, leading James to remind people that God exalts the poor and humbles the rich.
He tells people to be perfect, while reminding them that this is only achievable through our relationship with God.  God's holiness requires an answering holiness among Christians, which is about ethical conduct and standing firm in the face of trials and temptation, as much as it is about worship.  He places considerable emphasis on prayer, and on believers recognising the blessings they have already received.


The writer of 2 Peter clearly knew Jude, which provided much of the ammunition for his attack on false teachers.  Writing as a Christian teacher to fellow Christians, Jude is trying to enlist his readers to join him in opposing these false teachers, who do not show the required moral transformation of their lives.
It seems likely that Jude (Judas, but obviously not Iscariot) was a second generation Christian, educated in Greek, who looked back to the time of the apostles.

Proverbs 23

This contains advice on how to cope in the presence of royalty, plus instructions against gluttony, drunkenness, sloth, and so on.

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