Romans 7-8 | Sunday: Paul has seemed to say some very negative things about the law of God so far in Romans (for example, see 3:19-20; 3:28; 5:20). Paul says that we are saved by faith and not by works of the law. He even goes so far as to say that “the law brings wrath” (Romans 4:15).
How could God’s righteous law be an agent of death, judgment and wrath? Romans 7 is the answer. The law itself is good. The law is not the problem; it is how our flesh reacts to the law that reveals how deep our sin goes. We hate being told what to do. The fall occurred when Adam and Eve decided that they were better under their own authority than under God’s. From that time until now, the law of God has always brought out the worst in us – not because the law is bad, but because we are.
Romans 8 is the Mount Everest of the Bible. It’s hard to get higher than this chapter takes us. The promises are breathtaking. They begin in eternity past (God knew us and predestined us before time began), they encompass literally everything (all things work together for our good), and they lead out into eternity.
Romans 8: To hear Jerry Ediger on this amazing chapter, listen here.
Genesis 12-15 | Monday: These are some of the most foundational chapters in the Bible. Genesis 12:1-3 is the promise that shapes the entirety of the rest of Scripture. God promised Eve that an “offspring” would come from her and crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15).
The genealogies in Genesis trace this serpent crushing offspring from Adam and Eve to Seth, from Seth to Noah, from Noah through Shem to Abraham, from Abraham through Isaac, then through Jacob, all the way to Judah. This will eventually lead to David, then Jesus (see Matthew 1:1).
Genesis 15:6 answers the question, How did people ‘get saved’ in the Old Testament?
Application: Why Abraham? Why us?
Abraham was not counted righteous because of his works. In fact, next Tuesday we’ll read, “Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods” (Joshua 24:2). God chose Abraham as an act of completely undeserved and unmerrited grace. The same should be said of us.
Genesis 12: For a great summary, see the Bible Project here.
Genesis 14: For an NAC sermon dealing with Melchizedek, see here.
Genesis 15: For an NAC message dealing with salvation in the OT, see here.
Ur of Chaldeans is located 186 miles from modern day Baghad in Iraq. Although not original, this rebuilt ziggurat resembles the structure that existed here 4000 years ago when Abraham lived nearby and was worshiping idols. Perhaps Abraham even sacrificed to the moon god Nanna (no joke) at this very spot before Yahweh called him to leave this place (see Genesis 11:27-12:1).
Joshua 16-20 | Tuesday: This is one of the tougher readings to get through for modern readers like us. Don’t forget that all these details show the faithfulness of God to keep His promises.
Michael Horton, in the Gospel Transformation Bible (p. 286), gives us some insight:
The division of the inheritance concludes in chapters 18 with the report that, ‘Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them’ (18:1).
Just as in Genesis 1 and 2 Yahweh’s word had subdued chaos and divided creation into allotted and ordered realms under various creature-kings, with man as his representative ruler over all, Canaan’s moral chaos (think ‘darkness and void’ from Genesis 2:1) has been overcome. The serpent has been at least partially driven out. Each tribe, like a creature-king, has its realm to guard and keep on Yahweh’s behalf.
The result, at least for now, is rest: ‘The land lay subdued before them’ (18:1).
Psalm 9-11 | Wednesday: Meditate on Psalm 11:6, “Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.” Note how the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah forms the background to the judgment imagery (Genesis 19:24). See how God’s wrath on the wicked is spoken of as their “cup” to drink. Then think about Jesus’s words in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44).
Job 7-8 | Thursday: Job 8 teaches us how not to respond to a suffering friend. “Whenever we find ourselves getting exasperated, or plain mad, at someone we think needs to be ‘straightened out,’ we should consider whether we need to wait awhile before responding to them. Not only will we probably make things worse if we speak from impatience, but God has been patient with us in the gospel, giving us all the more reason to be patient with others (Matthew 18:23-35)” (Gospel Transformation Bible, p 619-620).
For a beautifully made overview of Job, see this from the Bible Project. It’s worth a few minutes!
Isaiah 18-22 | Friday: The Gospel Transformation Bible (p. 885) states the following on Isaiah 18:
How easy it is for us to look at our circumstances and imagine that God is not paying attention. Here God tells Isaiah from his throne room that he is fully aware of everything, and though for a time he will ‘quietly look from my dwelling’ (v. 4), he does not simply observe – he will act.
In this case, God’s movements against his people’s foes come just when it appears that their crop will burst into full harvest (vv. 5-6).
During times when it looks as if God has forgotten his people, we resiliently remember that in truth he is always as near as ‘clear heat in sunshine’ (v. 4). He knows. In his good time he will unmistakably act on behalf of his people.
Matthew 8-10 | Saturday: Matthew has put many of Jesus’s miracles and healings side-by-side in these chapters. The background of much of this is likely the Servant of the Lord found in Isaiah 40-60.
In these chapters, Jesus shows Himself to be the True and Last Adam. The first Adam failed to exercise dominion over the earth and sea, subjected himself to the serpent, and fell under the curse of death. The last Adam has true dominion over earth and sea, sickness and disease, even over death itself. The curse of Adam is being reversed in the person of Christ.
“No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.”
Matthew 1-13: For a helpful overview from the Bible Project, watch here.