2020 Bible Challenge: Weeks 20 & 21

2 Kings 13 – 1 Chronicles 24; John 2-8

Friends, 

I am glad that I am getting back on track with our reading plan. In the last few weeks I have fallen behind, then caught up about one thousand times. I am grateful for all of you, because you keep me going. None of us knew in January that this is what the year will bring to us. The Challenge has taken a whole new meaning for me. But enough whining, let’s see where we are. 

Reading the reports about all the kings sounds like a broken record – the vast majority of them screwed up. A few of them gave away the sanctified objects from the Temple to the foreign kings. We even notice a few reports about child sacrifices (2 Kings 16:3, 17:17) – how worse can it get? Judah sees some good times during the reigns of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18-20) and Josiah (2 Kings 22-23), but do not get your hopes up. 2 Kings 20:17-18 tells us what is lying ahead – the exile in Babylon.

And why is it all in our Bible? The destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the Babylonian exile and the return from the exile (coming soon in our reading plan) are key events in the history of Judaism. These tragic events were not a sign that our God is weak and cannot protect God’s people from the enemies. Instead 2 Kings shows us that God is patient and forgiving but the choices of many generations to rebel against God led to the devastation of the nation. When we read the books of the prophets later in the year, we will see how God over and over again called the people to stop worshipping other gods and stay true to the covenants that God made with them earlier in the Bible. 

Here is a quote from my Wesley Study Bible comments for 2 Kings 9:

“Here, we must reach deep and wide for a concept of God’s goodness that can see beyond the ancient memory of God’s involvement in bloodshed and vengeance. Perhaps it is enough to know that in God’s time there will be a reckoning and that one day, peace and justice will rule. Prayer and contemplation are the grounding necessary to deal with the parts of the Bible that make us uncomfortable. Let our prayer be that we grow closer to God and more fully into God’s image. Let our prayer be that we become peacemakers in a world so desperate for peace.” 

1 Chronicles starts with Adam and then for the first few chapters looks like a baby name book for Jewish boys (and some girls). Feel free to skim through these chapters (unless you want to trace someone’s genealogy). In the mix of all the names there are stories about the characters we have already met. King David gets a lot of attention. Remember, our Bible is a collection of ancient texts, put together much later. It is more of a library, rather than one book. Important stories and characters were preserved in the history, and we are blessed to have several accounts of their lives and walks with God. 

What do you think of the gospel of John so far? I bet you have noticed a different tone starting right from John 1:1. The Gospel of John was written after the other three gospels, by a second or third generation Christian. Some of the stories about Jesus appear only in this gospel, like John 2:1-11 or John 3:1-21. Some of your Bibles may mark John 7:53-8:11 as later addition to the gospel. We do not have original manuscripts of any of our books in the Bible, only later copies. Our Bibles were reconstructed by tedious comparisons of different manuscripts, so these differences and additions are not as rare as we may think. 

Finally, friends, I pray that during this season we use our Bible reading plan as a scaffolding for building a deeper relationship with God. Just as people in the Bible did, we may sometimes wonder where God is right now, in the midst of pandemic and crisis. And just as in the Bible, our faith affirms that our God is walking with us and leading us through these times. 

Let me know how your reading is going, and send along your questions and thoughts. We will plan to meet on Zoom for now: 

Saturdays
June 6, July 11, August 1, September 5, October 3, November 7, December 26, 2020
9:00 – 10:00 am

Mondays
June 8, July 6, September 14, October 5, November 2, 2020
1:30 – 2:30 pm

https://zoom.us/j/8173367276

Meeting ID: 817 336 7276

God bless, 


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

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