2020 Bible Challenge: Weeks 11 & 12

Deuteronomy 7 – Joshua 15; Mark 12 – Luke 1


We are in Deuteronomy, which is the last book of Torah, or what our English Bibles often call “The Law.”  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are our foundation for understanding God’s relationship with people. This is where it all started. And in a couple of weeks, you will have read it all!

Deuteronomy is a recap of what you have already learned in the previous books. It was written during the Babylonian exile, roughly six centuries after the life of Moses and the journey from Egypt to the promised land.

When Deuteronomy was written, the Israelites were returning to their land from Babylon to rebuild their homes, cities, the Temple and the nation (30:5). The promises God gave to Moses and their ancestors were again the source of strength and hope.

You can spot throughout this book the subtle “timestamps” that indicate the distance in time between the described events (1300s BC) and the contemporary setting of the writer (700-600s BC) – for example, Deut. 3:11, 3:14, 10:8-9, 29:28, 34:6.

Both Deuteronomy and Joshua are very repetitive. In the ancient world, most people were illiterate and did not have access to manuscripts.

These texts were read out loud in public gatherings, and the most important points had to be repeated many times for people to memorize. (I can relate to that since I am married to someone with very selective hearing and memory.) So, be kind and gracious to the ancient writers, they were not writing for us, but for their ancient audiences.

Just as you have gotten through all the long lists of names in the book of Numbers, you will get through the lists of towns in Joshua. You do not need to know the locations of all these cities in order to grasp the tone of the book and its larger message: God has made a promise to the people of Israel, and God is faithful.

When you get to the last chapter of Mark, most of your Bibles will tell you that verse 8 used to be the end of the gospel in the early manuscripts. Later on, two different endings were added to the gospel.

Imagine the dramatic effect of finishing the story of Jesus with “They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.”

Wait, what?

How would you respond to this gospel writer if you were among his ancient audience?

When you get to Luke 1:1-4, I want you to pause. Luke tells us exactly how all these gospels were written, and that explains why they have some differences and some similarities between them.

I believe that most of our Bible was written in this way.

I suspect that you feel more confident now when you open your Bible. It is becoming less and less intimidating and foreign, right?

As the year goes on, our Bibles will turn into our regular conversation partners. Pretty soon (if it hasn’t happened already), that 20-30 minutes a day of reading will truly feel like a set-aside time for fellowship with God and active engagement with your faith.

Please don’t be shy about sending me your questions or concerns – we are in this together!

Let God bless us on this journey,

Dr. Zhenya Gurina-Rodriguez
Associate Pastor of Grace Groups & Discipleship

Future Meet-Ups:

Sundays: April 5, May 3, June 7, July 12, August 2, September 6, October 4, November 1, December 27, 2020
Room 350 | 8:00 – 9:00 am | Childcare provided

Mondays: April 6, May 4, June 8, July 6, (no meeting in August), September 14, October 5, November 2, 2020
1:30 – 2:30 pm | Room 154 | Childcare available upon request


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