Find the full reading plan here.
- Offerings: Many more offerings are prescribed in addition to the other offerings.
- Battles: Numbers 31: Balaam and the Midianites were the source of some trouble back in Numbers 22-23. See also Numbers 25:17.
- Inheritance: The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh take an inheritance East of the Jordan, around Gilead. Notice the specificity the Lord gives for their boundaries. Notice also the wisdom of having Levite cities among the inheritance of each tribe.
- Warnings: The Lord warns them of the danger of the idolatry in the land and its people, Numbers 33:50-56. The clear mandate of God is for the Israelites to completely eradicate false religions from the land.
- Cities of Refuge: Numbers 35:9-29 details the cities of refuge, designed to be a refuge for those who commit manslaughter rather than first degree murder. They essentially gain a life sentence – only it is not measure by their life! It’s measured by the life of the High Priest of the city. How does this look forward to the work of Christ?
- Female heirs and vows: Special consideration is given to inheritances when there is no male heir, Numbers 36:1-12. This becomes a major plot point in the book of Ruth and intersects the line of Christ.
- This book is essentially an extended “sermon” by Moses. The setting is that the Israelites have just defeated two kings east of the Jordan River and they are within sight of the promised. This is Moses’ final formal address to the people to prepare them for entering the land under the leadership of Joshua.
- Deuteronomy 1-3: A recap of the first attempt to enter the promised land, the forty years of wandering, the defeat of Sihon and Og, and his Moses’ own personal failure.
- Deuteronomy 4: An admonition to obey all the words of the Law. Moses’ certainly understood the importance of this, didn’t he? Deuteronomy 4:26 is less than encouraging. This is not the only mention of this sad truth however. See Deuteronomy 30:18-19, 31:28.
- Deuteronomy 5: Here’s a review of the Ten Commandments. The understanding was that no one could be in the presences of God and live. They were astonished that they had. See Deuteronomy 4:33, 5:24-25. Deuteronomy 5:33 is one of many reminders of the fact that the covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai was conditional. Their behavior in the land would determine their lifestyle in the land and whether or not they would keep the land. However, the covenant God made with Abraham was unconditional, and that is the promise upon which the church is built.
- Reading the gospels: Pay attention to what Jesus says and does, but also how people respond to Him in words and deeds. Also pay attention to testimonies about Him. The gospels are designed for every detail to point to Jesus primarily and mankind in relation to Him secondarily.
- Luke 2: Luke continues to show that the kingdom indeed comes for everyone. Jesus is born in a small town, in the lowliest of situations, and the first announcement is to shepherd. Shepherds were despised, poor, and ceremonially unclean. Had Jesus been in a regular dwelling place, they may not have been able to approach him. How did the shepherds respond to the news? To seeing Jesus? What does that say for us? Pay attention in this chapter to what people are saying about Jesus: The angels, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna. Compare Hebrews 2:10 to Luke 1:52. Remember that Jesus has a mission, and everything he does is the will of the Father.
- Luke 3: Note that John was prophesied just as the Messiah was. How was his message received? Do many today preach about repentance, wrath, and unworthiness? Note that all this was part of the gospel message of John. The word literally means “good news,” Luke 3:18. Did you notice the Trinity in Luke 3:21-22? Notice that Jesus’ her is traced back to Adam, but Matthew only traces his lineage back to Abraham, Matthew 1:2. Matthew seemed to have Jews as his primary audience, but one of Luke’s themes is the universal appeal of Jesus Christ – the servant of all mankind.
- Luke 4: The temptation should also remind us of the fact that Jesus was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin, Hebrews 2:18, 4:15. Jesus answers every temptation with scripture – a very clear lesson to us. In Luke 4:16-21 is a very clear claim to be the Messiah. “he has anointed me” is a form of the word Messiah in the Hebrew of Isaiah and the word Christ in the Greek. Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2, and he cuts off mid-sentence from verse in Isaiah, right before it says, “and the day of vengeance of our God.” So in a single sentence it Isaiah, we find prophecies of both his first and second comings. This teaches us to examine the scriptures very carefully. What is effectively a comma in English represent about 2000 years of human history! Even with this obvious reference, Jesus was largely rejected because he did not meet the expectations of the people there. He takes the opportunity to condemn their unbelief. In contrast, the demons seem to know who he is.
- Luke 5: Jesus calls the disciples to follow him, and they do. He showed them many signs and wonders. Notice that Jesus touched the Leper, Luke 5:13. He had healed others without touching them, so what is He trying to show us by touching a Leper? Touching a Leper would make someone unclean and unable to go into the temple. Luke 5:17-26 shows clearly that Jesus was claiming to be God by claiming to forgive sins. This also shows us why he did signs and wonders. They were not done to show us what to do, but to show us who he is. Since one cannot see the forgiveness of sins, Jesus demonstrated his power and authority by healing the man. Keep track of who Jesus minsters to. So far he has touched a leper, called fishermen into his service, and now calls a tax collector – the most despised of professions in those days – to follow him as one of the twelve! Luke 5:33-39 shows clearly that things after Jesus are going to be fundamentally different. Think about how this goes along with what we learned in the book of Hebrews.
- Luke 6: The “Lord of the Sabbath,” really begins to claim tremendous authority, and is making enemies of the Jewish leadership. A shortened version of the Beatitudes appears in Luke 6:20-26 with contrasting woes. Much of this material is similar to Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. Luke 6:37-38 can be understood this way: Real kingdom citizens do not judge or condemn because they are humble and know their status as sinners – they have become aware of the log in their eye. They also forgive, because they have been forgiven. Sometimes, particularly in the gospels, the result is substituted for the cause in a discourse. For example, forgiving others does not cause you to be forgiven, rather forgiving others is the result of being forgiven. The point of “log and speck” saying is not that can only point out another’s sin and need for redemption once we understand our own sin and need for redemption. Final lesson: Build your house on the rock – the words that Jesus has said.
- Psalm 35: Again, good praises and prayers from David. Remember that our real opposition is not of this world – so apply these prayer principles praying against those spiritual forces that oppose us and the message of Jesus.
- Psalm 36: Look at the imagery that contrasts the wicked with those who find their refuge in the Lord. Remember always the promises of God and lift them up to him in praise and petition.
- The word Psalm simply means song. So the book of Psalms is truly the songbook of God’s people. The Psalms have inspired even many modern hymns and worship songs to this day. Here is an example of one based on Psalm 36 called, Your Love, Oh Lord by the artists Third Day.
The Hypostatic Union in Jesus Christ
In Jesus Christ, the scriptures make clear that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. This is difficult for us to get our minds around, because it is like saying that He is two things at once. One hundred percent God and one hundred percent man – that makes a total of two hundred percent, a quantity without meaning in our world. However, we’re talking about the one and only Son of God, the one through whom all things were made, by whom all things hold together, and for whom they exist. We must leave room for some things to be beyond our grasp. After all, just because we cannot comprehend it, does not mean it is untrue. There are many truths we can grasp without fully comprehending the full why or how of them. In the fifth century, many heresies arose concerning this topic. Some challenged that Jesus Christ was fully God, and others challenged that He was fully man. So many church leaders around the Roman empire gathered together in AD 451 in the city of Chalcedon to prayerfully search the scriptures, debate the issue, and formulate a statement summarizing the truth. The following is the definition for what is called “the hypostatic union”:
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.
Hypostatic Union, Chalcedonian Definition (AD 451)