2020 Bible Challenge – Weeks 15 & 16

1 Samuel 4 – 2 Samuel 8; Luke 9-15

Friends, 

I am so excited about your response to our group email to see that so many people are continuing to read the Bible. I am working on all your questions and thoughts, and I will send you a video with my responses in a day or two. 

By now we know that falling behind a little or skipping some parts to keep up with the plan are not reasons to quit reading. Important Old Testament stories often appear more than once in the Bible, and we are fairly familiar with the New Testament. So even if you have skipped a few chapters, you will be able to continue reading without getting lost in the text. 

1 and 2 books of Samuel are very engaging. The events go by fast, and there is a lot of political and military action sprinkled with romance – something for everyone. 1 Samuel 16 and 17 are great chapters for some detective work.

When exactly did Saul meet David for the first time? You will notice that the story jumps and some details do not perfectly fit with each other. The reason for that is the way these ancient writings were collected. The author did not try to write a seamless story, but rather to preserve all the ancient versions, even if they are slightly different in details. 

King David is quite a colorful character in the Bible. (I wonder which stories about him you have never heard before — let me know!) During our current stay-at-home circumstances, I have to cook much more than I normally do. 1 Samuel 28:23-25 put it all into a different perspective for me. And thank God for InstantPot! 

Last night I read 2 Samuel 7:6-7, right after our church gathered together on Zoom to celebrate The Lord’s Supper. These verses are very encouraging to me; God prefers to be wherever we are rather than to be bound to one special beautiful building. 

We continue to read about wars and battles, and it is hard for us to wrap our minds around God being behind the slaughter of so many people. I cringe at the stories where not only warriors, but also innocent people in cities are killed by Israelites.

God of war is not the kind of God we are used to. We experience God in different ways depending on our life circumstances.

Wars were an integral part of Israel’s culture (like any other ancient nation), and they found God even in the midst of wars. Just imagine someone trying to explain to you the will of God for an empty church on Easter morning only two months ago, before social distancing had shaped our daily lives!

Nevertheless, God remains the same, and God never abandons God’s people, no matter what season we are going through. 

You are now reading your third Gospel! Chronologically, Mark was written first, then Matthew, and only then Luke.

Luke had access to several accounts about the life of Jesus when he was writing. That is why you are finding some additional details to the stories we have read earlier in the year. And you may also notice that Luke’s writing style flows more smoothly.

Traditionally, we believe that the author is Luke the physician, who was a companion of Paul (Colossians 4:14), but we do not have much evidence for that. All four gospels in our Bible are anonymous, the names of the authors are never mentioned. The ancient authors wanted to share the Good News of Jesus Christ; they did not think that their own names were as important to pass along. 

You have already read one quarter of the Bible! And those first five books of the Old Testament are not easy to get through. I really appreciate that you are reading along with me and that we hold each other encouraged and accountable in this challenge.

Let’s keep on going! And, as we pay attention to the ancient texts, let us also be more mindful of where God is in our lives today — and how we get to experience God’s love and grace. 

God bless you, 


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

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