Reading the Bible Together – Week 3

Romans 5-6 | Sunday: Romans 5:1-11 is worth much thought and even memorization. John Piper gives a beautiful, brief meditation on how Romans 5:8 helps us understand why God allows suffering, sin, and death to exist. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

As strange as it sounds, without sin and death we could never have fully known God’s love. Without sin and death we could never sing of the cross. God allowed what He hated (our sin and Christ’s death) so that He could show us the glory of His love.

Romans 5:12-21 describes “representative headship.” This means that a person represents others through his own actions. The human race has only had two representative heads: Adam and Jesus (see I Corinthians 15:45-49). Romans 5 shows how all humanity is born “in Adam” (our failed representative), but we can become born again “in Christ” (our triumphant representative).

For a whole sermon on this text, listen to one of our first NAC messages.

Romans 5 emphasizes salvation by sheer grace, accomplished for us by our representative. The natural question is, “Should we then sin more so that grace will increase?” Paul spends chapter 6 saying, “No! Grace is power, not just pardon.”

Genesis 8-11 | Monday: Check out another great video of Genesis 1-11 by the Bible Project. They insightfully compare the call and fall of Adam with the call and fall of Noah.

Genesis 11 tells the tower of Babel story. The exact same Hebrew word is behind the English words “Babel” and “Babylon.” So, starting as early as Genesis 11, Babylon represents fallen humanity in rebellion against the Lord. Why was their unity so bad?

Reflection and Application

Like the Babylonians, what are you building as an idol to make a great name for yourself? Jesus traded His great name for our shame on the cross so that He could give us a great name.

How is Pentecost the anti-Babel (Acts 2:1-13)? How does Revelation 5:9-10 factor into this?

For more on Babel, you could listen to this message on your commute.

Joshua 11-15 | Tuesday: This reading will likely involve some willpower to get through. It is the division of the land amongst the tribes of Israel. Why read a detailed account of the division of land among ancient tribes in Palestine more than 3,000 years ago?

First, it shows that our God keeps His promises. Next Tuesday we’ll read, “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land‘” (Genesis 12:7). In Joshua, we are watching the fulfillment of this promise nearly 500 years later! (A good reason for why we call it the Promised Land!) If God kept this promise in such a rich and detailed way, we have even greater reason to believe He’ll keep His promises to us in our day!

Second, this land points forward to and foreshadows our final inheritance: the new earth. Last week, in Romans 4:13, we read, “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” So land of Israel was a sort of downpayment on and guarantee of our ultimate inheritance, the whole world.

Third, the promised land (repeatedly called “the inheritance” in Joshua) is one of the basic components to the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament. The Kingdom of God is: God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule, and experiencing His blessing.

Joshua shows us that God keeps His word. What promises of God are you doubting this week? Let today’s reading bolster your faith.

This map may help visualize the land allotments.

Psalm 6-8 | Wednesday: Psalm 8 gives an idealized picture of the call of man to have dominion over the earth. There are several echoes of Genesis 1:26-30. The problem this raises: The world has been cursed by God and currently creation threatens and kills human beings and we do not have full dominion over the earth.

Hebrews 2:5-18 greatly clarifies this problem. Jesus is ultimate “son of man” who will subject all things in the world under His feet. He is the last Adam and fulfillment of man’s calling Genesis 1 and Psalm 8. For more, see 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

Job 5-6 | Thursday: I can’t improve on the words of Papa Fred earlier this month:

The only thing Job’s three friends did right, was to “sit with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him.” Once the friends opened their mouths they quickly revealed how little they knew about God or Job. A life lesson for all of us, as we reach out to those suffering. Sometimes our presence is all that is needed.

We should never judge what God may be doing in a person’s life. Actually, both Job and his friends were applying the wrong theology, i.e., blessings and curses from Deuteronomy and arriving at different opinions of what God was doing through Job’s suffering.

Ultimately, God never answered Job’s questions, but gave him a revelation of his sovereignty in chapter’s 38 and beyond. The rest of the story ends well for Job as God rebukes his friends and restores his fortunes. Great read, but complex as is our God.

Isaiah 12-17 | Friday: The next several weeks will be challenging in Isaiah. Don’t give up! Notice the emphasis on telling of the Lord’s salvation among the nations in chapter 12. Chapters 13-23 contain prophecies against the nations in rebellion against Yahweh. The point is “the folly of trusting such nations since they are all under judgment from Israel’s God.” (NZSB, p. 1343). Chapters 13-14 focus on God’s judgment on Babylon and its king.

Check out Revelation 18 and see which parts John is borrowing from Isaiah 13.

Isaiah 14:12-14 may compare the pride and fall of Babylon’s king to the pride and fall of Lucifer in the beginning.

Matthew 5-7 | Saturday: The Sermon on the Mount is the longest uninterrupted block of teaching we have from Jesus in the Bible. Watch Jesus focus not merely on deeds but desires; not merely actions but affections; not merely outward duty but inward delight. He reveals that we are religious hypocrites when we engage in religious activities with motives that are self-glorifying or attempting to manipulate God into giving us things.

There are essentially three kinds of people in this sermon:

1) Gentiles: In modern language, lawless ones (those Paul addressed in Romans 1).

2) The Jewish people: Those who obeyed God’s law outwardly but for the wrong reason (those Paul addressed in Romans 2).

3) The true people of God: Those who love God’s holy name, trust His fatherly love and provision for their lives, don’t want to dishonor Him by worry, love their enemies as God loved them, forgive as they are forgiven, and build their lives on the Rock.

The sermon is traditionally thought to have been given in this area, on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee:


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