Since we have so much to read this week I want to make sure to at least give some helpful, short posts as I’m reading through 1 & 2 Kings.
In 1 Kings 5:13 we see forced labor being drafted by King Solomon for his building projects, which I believe are more than just the temple. It is an interesting thing to read of in regards to a man who has just been described as exceedingly wise and just. Even though these laborers produce some fine work for Israel, when we continue on in our reading you’ll see another result. Just read chapter 12 to find out how Israel felt about the burden that was placed upon them. They end up rebelling because their next king, rather than giving them relief, increases their burden.
Solomon’s extensive building and harsh demands on the people primed them for rebellion.
Welcome to a week of hanging out with the kings of Israel, and then the kings over a divided kingdom of Israel and Judah. We come to 1 Kings to hear more about David and Solomon, who we last read of in 2 Samuel. So while we have followed the story of God’s people through the prophets, we return to see how things progress from Solomon in a more narrative style.
It is a story with lots of kings, the building of a temple, and more prophets taking a stand. It reaches from the end of David to the Babylonian exile we’ve recently read about. Keep in mind something I’ve mentioned before–just because it occurs in the Bible it doesn’t mean it is right. The kings that we’ll read of aren’t all great leaders and followers of God. But that should come as no surprise because again, we’ve already read most of the prophets.
Starting today, we’ll spend the next three weeks reading 1 & 2 Kings and Chronicles. That doesn’t look like all that much, but maybe it is because I tried to abbreviate a bit. To make it more intimidating I’d say: 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, and 2 Chronicles. Perhaps you still don’t see the big deal. Some weeks have had four books read in one week. That is true. But these books aren’t the minor prophets.
The way I’ve ordered the weeks for Year in the Bible is to have us average about 23 chapters a week. Some weeks push us more and then periodically we have a lighter week when we read fewer chapters. This week (week 7 of quarter 3) has us reading 47. You’ve been warned.
So why in the world would I do this? Well, sometimes I think it was a good idea. Other times I’m just not sure. But it’s too late now to change it! My thinking was that these history books can include a large number of lists and genealogies and more lists. We could stretch Kings and Chronicles out over 2 months and pace ourselves, but I think that if we did so it would bring us into a lull. Instead we’re packing it in. Bear in mind that these books are more of a narrative style of writing so it is a more straightforward read. It is not as slow going as Job or Jeremiah have been. And be positive about it–there are great stories in here. We heard one this morning in our sermon and there are plenty more where that came from.
The three weeks of the blitz are laid out like this:
1 & 2 Kings – 47 chapters
1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles 1-18 – 47 chapters
2 Chronicles 19-36 – 18 chapters
My advice is to do your best to read it as assigned, and if you need that third week to catch up a few chapters, do so. I’ve already invited you to start early, but you can also carry it on into a fourth week if you’d rather. The week immediately following the history blitz is 1 John with all of its five chapters. That’s all. My intent is for that to be a breather for us so we can slow ourselves and read a great little letter. But again, if you need to use that light week to continue to read Chronicles, please do so.
We’re all adults here. My reading plan is flexible. You can always make your own decisions.
I hope you enjoy. And if you’re bitter about being assigned 47 chapters, you can email me all your complaints. (But the time you spend writing me an angry email may be better used getting all that reading done!)
Hebrews 12 opens with a description of past saints in the faith as a “great cloud of witnesses.” We are not in this journey alone and thank God. We are in great need of the encouragement of others, past and present. This has been on my mind since I’ll be talking about it in a class tomorrow morning, but it can’t be said enough that we are called to be a blessing to one another. We need the help, but we are also empowered to be the help for others.
The chapter goes on to urge the reader to cast off what slows us down and trips us up. We need to rid ourselves of sin and distractions. I think we can read this great cloud of witnesses as a contrast to these obstacles. On the one hand all that weighs us down. On the other we have brothers and sisters that lift us up. It is quite the gift that God has called us to be a church; that he calls us out of the world but into a new body.
Throughout the book of Hebrews Jesus Christ is being linked to the practices and objects of the Old Testament. For example, Christ is the veil, he is the sacrifice, and he is priest. The ways of the old covenant find their improvement in Jesus Christ and the new covenant that he has instituted.
In chapter 11 as we read about the role of faith in the people of God, going all the way back to Abel, we read one line about Moses that continues to strengthen the link of Christ to the Old Testament. Verse 26 says:
[Moses] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
It doesn’t say that Moses considered the reproach of God, but rather the reproach of Christ as a greater treasure than all that could be found in Egypt. Verse 25 tells us how Moses chose to be mistreated with God’s people rather enjoy the sinful spoils of Pharaoh’s courts. In so doing he willingly took on scorn and suffering–the reproach of others, and did so, as the NIV says in its translation, “for the sake of Christ.”
Moses did not know the name of Jesus Christ, but he put his hope in God, and that hope is Christ. Jesus is Messiah, the one in whom all the hope of Israel was wrapped. Moses trusted the promises of God, looking ahead to the reward, knowing it to be better than any fleeting treasure or pleasure. So Moses endured reproach for what to him at the time was unnamed. But now the author of Hebrews looks back and calls it what it was. Moses enduring for the sake of Christ, the only hope we have now.
Likewise we now are called to endure reproach for his sake, and opportunities are not hard to come by. It may not be a Pharaoh seeking to kill us, but we are often given the choice between the fleeting pleasures of sin and Jesus. When we choose the latter we often choose hardship, as well.