This week has been a little crazy trying to catch up on two weeks’ worth of material. We have gone through Genesis 25-50, Matthew 4-5, Mark 2-4:20, Romans 5-11, and several chapters of books on Biblical Interpretation. It would be impossible to write down all that I have learned; I would be here all day! But I can give some highlights of insights that have impacted me:
-Far-reaching faith. Joseph believed in the covenant God had made with his great grandfather. He still hadn’t seen the full accomplishment of this covenant, yet he made the sons of Israel promise to take his bones back to Canaan when God led them back there. (Gen. 50:25) He didn’t know when that would happen, only that it would; based on a promise made to his GREAT GRANDFATHER. Crazy, eh? Are we practicing far-reaching faith?
-Romans: One of the most theologically dense books of the Bible I’ve studied in a while. As Judah states: ‘It’s like you’re reading along, and you keep coming to these speed bumps.’ Seriously, though. In Biblical Interpretation, we’ve been learning about Scripture that seems to be contradictory to itself; you know, those two passages you can’t seem to reconcile? I’ve been learning that Paul must enjoy these conundrums, because he oft seems the author of them. More importantly though, they appear to have a purpose; making sure no one jumps off the deep end into one pool or the other. Or like a bungee cord stretched between two poles to keep them from flying away into oblivion. Like Paul and James on faith and works. We need both, and cannot neglect either.
-In the course of daily guided study I have been acquiring skills in studying difficult verses in the context of the whole passage and in the context of the Bible. The verse in Matthew 5:45 is a pretty well known one; ‘… for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.’ Many, including myself, take this to mean good and bad things happen to good and bad people. In reading it this morning, I have come to a different conclusion. This section of the Sermon on the Mount is speaking about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you; about greeting those who aren’t your brothers, loving those who cheat you, etc. So where would the standard ‘good and bad things happen to good and bad people’ philosophy fit in? My answer: It doesn’t fit. In our culture, many times, we see rain as a hindrance, the ‘worse’ when things can’t get any, the unfortunate event that puts everyone in a sleepy, depressed mood. But this was an agrarian culture; most people worked the land for a living. Rain was a blessing. No rain=no food=starvation=death. With a positive view of rain, this passage completely changes meaning. God gives good things to the righteous and the unrighteous (AKA: God’s friends and His enemies). The last verse of the passage now makes sense! Therefore (because you have seen how God bestows blessings on His friends AND enemies) you are to be perfect (complete, mature) as your heavenly Father is perfect. Praise God that He reveals Himself to us!
Memory Verse of the Week
YOU are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let YOUR light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. (AKA: not me) Matthew 5:14-16 (Emphases and parentheses mine, obviously).
by Kristen Weinhardt