2016 Bible in a Year Challenge – week 4

christ_handing_the_keys_to_st-_peter_by_pietro_peruginoOn January 18, liturgical churches commemorate the confession of Peter’s faith in Christ as the Messiah (see Matthew 16:13-20).  Protestant churches look to the confession itself as a key element of Christian unity.  The witness of the apostles is a foundation upon which the whole church is built, as it says in Ephesians 2: 19-22:

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

As we read through the Bible this week, let us consider how all Christians are united in the simple confession that Jesus is the Christ.

Notes for the Week

Growth of the Kingdom: In this week’s Old Testament readings, we see that the small family of Abraham has grown into a large family that includes 12 sons (who give names to the 12 tribes of Israel). Then in Exodus, the family grows into a nation. God was faithful to his promise to Abraham to raise a nation out of him. In like manner, Jesus tells parables of the Kingdom of God, and these parables all point to astounding growth and multiplication of the Kingdom. As you read these passages, consider 2000 years of church history – how the faith grew from a persecuted sect in Rome to become the world’s largest religion today. 

Opposition to the Kingdom: We also see significant and powerful opposition to the Kingdom in these passages – both in the Egyptian Pharaoh’s active persecution of the Israelites and also in the self-indulgent narcissism of Herod’s execution of John the Baptist. Jesus teaches in the parable of the weeds about an enemy (Matthew 13:24-43). This is Satan, the spiritual force behind all earthly opposition to the kingdom. We should not be surprised at opposition to the Kingdom even in our day.

Victory of the Kingdom: Though there is opposition to the Kingdom, Scripture teaches that God is victorious over all opposition. We see this truth evident in Joseph’s analysis of his brother’s betrayal: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good….” Similarly, in the parable of the weeds, the landowner turns the tables on his enemy’s plot. What men and Satan scheme for evil, God redeems for good.

Readings for the Week:

Sunday January 17

Old Testament: Genesis 41-42

New Testament: Matthew 12:1-23

Monday January 18

Old Testament: Genesis 43-45

New Testament: Matthew 12:24-50

Tuesday January 19

Old Testament: Genesis 46-48

New Testament: Matthew 13:1-30

Wednesday January 20

Old Testament: Genesis 49-50

New Testament: Matthew 13:31-58

Thursday January 21

Old Testament: Exodus 1-3

New Testament: Matthew 14:1-21

Friday January 22

Old Testament: Exodus 4-6

New Testament: Matthew 14:22-30

Saturday January 23

Old Testament: Exodus 7-8

New Testament: Matthew 15:1-20

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