Read THE Book 2019

Welcome to RTB 2019, a place to read through the Bible in the year 2019 and stay in contact with others who are doing the same thing and have a little hand-holding as you go. Want to jump right in? You can click on the “Read THE Book 2019” tab above to find the most current weekly notes.

Some of my local friends know that I’ve been teaching through the Bible chronologically for many years. My goal was to help you sort out all that confusing timeline stuff so that when you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, you have an understanding of where you are, when you are, and what was going on in the world at that time.

In 2017 I decided to do a trial run of a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year discussion group that met every week to discuss what we read as we followed a reading schedule using the traditional book by book order. Have I mentioned that “book by book order” does not flow chronologically? Nope – the books are grouped into sections, but they don’t always flow in the order that the events happened. So to help us along, I wrote a weekly reading guide with three sections: What’s Going On? When and Where Are We? And Who’s Who? This was a one page handout that gave you just a little head’s up about things I thought you might want to know at the beginning of each week’s assigned reading to help you keep your bearings. The trial run turned out to be a success for those who finished.

I have decided to go ahead and make those weekly notes available here on the website so that anyone can read along at their own pace. If you missed the January 1st start date, the notes are designed so that you can start at week 1 any time of year and begin your own journey to Read THE Book. Feel free to contact me and let me know how I can help get you started. It doesn’t matter to me how you use this information as long as it does what I always imagined it might do. If it helps you to Read THE Book, then I’m happy to know I’ve made it a little easier.

Want to be part of the local discussion group? There are two groups to choose from. One will meet in Scottsboro, AL at the First Methodist Church on Sunday nights at 5:00 PM. Another group meets at Jamoka’s Coffee shop in Guntersville, AL Mondays at noon.

And of course, I’ll be having several workshops throughout the year that give the overview of the whole Bible, known as “THE Bible Story.” I encourage anyone local to try to come to this workshop as it will really help you get all the chronology sorted out. You’ll even make your own timeline showing the major people and events from Genesis to Revelation and that will come in handy as you are reading. If you want to host a workshop at your church, just let me know

It is my prayer that anyone who is thinking about making a New Year’s Resolution to read through the Bible in 2019 will join with me and let’s make a commitment to each other to do it together! It seems like everything is just a little easier when you have friends who can share the same experience with you. The reading schedule will begin on January 1, 2019 and I’ll have all the information you need well before that, so keep checking back as I post new information here.

Let’s Do This!

Daily Reading Schedule [Word][PDF]
One-Sheet Schedule Overview [Word][PDF]

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Group Guidelines & Reading Schedule

Daily Reading Schedule [Word] [PDF]
One-Sheet Schedule Overview [Word] [PDF]

  • You may use any Bible translation that you are comfortable with.
  • I have scheduled readings for Monday through Saturday with an average of about five chapters a day. Take Sunday off, use that day to catch up, or read some Psalms.
  • Each Sunday I will post notes about what you will be reading the next week. These notes will have three sections: What’s Going On, When and Where Are We, and Who’s Who. These notes are designed to guide you as you read through the Bible and my way of pointing out some things I wish someone had told me the first time I read through the Bible. For example, there are places the books don’t go in chronological order and there are times that when you begin a new book things have changed significantly in the world. I’ll try to help you keep it all straight.
  • You can Subscribe to the blog so that you will get an email notification when a new blog is posted by adding your email on the right side of the screen and hit “Subscribe”
  • I will be leading local discussion groups and encourage you to attend if you can. Or form your own discussion group with friends where you can share your a-ha moments, questions, and reflections with each other. If you are flying solo, please stay connected by following along on the website and use the comments section if you want to ask questions or share your own thoughts. One big advantage to this format is anyone can begin their reading journey at any point in the year and follow along at their own pace.
  • If you are part of the discussion group and you get behind or take time off for vacation, illness, or unexpected what-not, I suggest you rejoin the group when you are able and pick up with where the group is reading. You might miss stuff. That’s ok! Read the notes from the weeks you missed and don’t try to catch up. The goal is to stay with the group so that you can be current on discussions. You can read what you missed later.
  • I have decided not to include the Psalms in our reading schedule. Suggestions for how you might read through them:
    • Read one Psalm every day. There are 150 so you will read each one at least twice
    • Read 3-5 Psalms every Sunday
    • Wait until December (we finish our plan on Nov 30th) and then read all of the Psalms by reading five or six Psalms each day of December
    • Work your way through the book of Psalms any way that works for you
    • I don’t normally recommend the King James Version for daily reading. But the Psalms are at their most beautiful in the KJV. Consider reading them in several different translations
  • Consider keeping a journal as you read through the Bible for personal reflection. Everyone has their own style, but you might want to keep notes and random thoughts as you go along. I filled up a large 5 subject notebook in 2017 with my own a-ha moments and I’ve read through the Bible many, many times.
  • Some weeks will be lighter than others. I tried to keep the readings even throughout, but I want us to come to natural breaks in the story at the end of each week.
  • On the master schedule, there is a place to mark what you’ve read with an X. It feels good to mark things off as you accomplish them!
  • I’ve built in two breaks. One is halfway through the Old Testament and the other is between the Old and New Testaments. Use these weeks to catch up if you need to.
  • If you have never read all the way through the Bible before, your goal is just to keep up and finish! If you have read through the Bible before, I suggest that each time you read it through you find a different goal for that year. For example, you might read a different translation or use a study Bible with notes, or you might use the various maps to follow the story by location, learn the Names of God and see how they are used differently in different passages, etc. The last time I read through the Old Testament, I underlined all the words that God spoke in red. The words of Jesus are often in red in the New Testament and I thought it would be good to see the Words of the Lord in the OT the same way.
  • If at any time you read something that troubles you, ask Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding. You may need to set something aside and trust that as the Lord wants you to learn something from that passage, He will bring it up at the right time. Don’t let it upset you if you struggle with some of the things you read. Bring it to the group and let’s talk about it. There are things that I struggle with, too. It’s ok. God knows our struggles and loves us anyway.

I suggest you begin each day with a prayer that might go something like this…..

Thank You, Father, for Your Word. Please guide me as I read today and help me understand what YOU would have me understand and absorb what YOU would have me absorb. Hide the words and the message in my heart so that I may carry it with me into everything I do. Open the eyes of my heart to what You would have me see, learn, know, and remember. Take me by the hand and walk with me on this journey. Send Holy Spirit to be my guide, my teacher, my helper, and my shield. In the Holy Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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Week 26: Isaiah 24-46

“In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” Isaiah 27:6 (NIV)

What’s Going On?

Poor Isaiah. We know very little about his life until the Lord comes to him and tells him to go talk to the King of Judah on His behalf. In the first section of Isaiah, that king was Ahaz who dies in chap 14 and you’d think Isaiah had completed the task given to him. But he still has work to do and so continues to speak for the Lord to the people of Judah and the new king, Hezekiah, who you will remember was a good king who was known for his reforms throughout Judah. He turned Judah back to the Lord and reinstated the customs and practices of worship and sacrifice.

Under king Ahaz, Judah had become subject to the Assyrians after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. You’ll see the word “vassal” used which means they were expected to pay the Assyrians to leave them alone and to do whatever Assyria asked, even though they were still considered separate (at this point) from Assyria. Judah is vulnerable to the people around them who are in constant battle over land and trade routes and Judah is located right in the middle of it all. This is partly why Isaiah keeps speaking these “oracles” or prophecies about all these foreign nations. Woe be unto whoever gets in the way of God’s People, Israel/Judah.

Last week we read a lot of “Warnings” that involved some really depressing prophecies. There was a little bit of hope sprinkled in, but this week we see a huge shift in the hope department and I must say, it is nice to finally hear some good news. We start off the week reading about the devastation of the Earth, but then quickly turn to another Song of Praise. There is some apocalyptic reference here not just about the time after Israel’s destruction but also about a future time when there will finally be peace on ALL the Earth. There is plenty more talk of judgment, destruction, death, exile and slavery in store for the people of Judah. But then – chapter 40 happens. Ahhhhhh. For those of you who know my love of Handel’s Messiah, the words of Isaiah 40:1-2 are the opening lyrics that set the tone for the rest of the work, “Comfort ye, Comfort ye My people.” In chapter 41 we read of a Helper and there is the promise that Israel will not be forgotten or left alone. God’s mercy will rain down on His People after all. We finish this week with a brief reminder that God’s judgment will involve Babylon even before we see the rise of the Babylonian empire. But next week we continue the theme of hope for the future, not just of Israel and Judah, but for all the world, including the gentiles.

When and Where Are We?

You’ll notice that there are lots of places where “Israel” is used to describe God’s People, even though the two nations are divided and Israel has already fallen to the Assyrians, these events are actually taking place in the southern kingdom of Judah. You’ll also notice that Babylon is referred to often, even though the Babylonians are not the ruling empire yet. But the city of Babylon is HUGE and powerful, and awful, and pagan, and represents everything detestable to the Lord. You’ll see this reference again later. Whenever you see Ephraim – this is a reference to the northern kingdom Israel.

Who’s Who?

  • Isaiah – prophet to Judah
  • Hezekiah – King of Judah
  • Eliakim – palace administrator; Shebna – palace secretary
  • Sennacherib – King of Assyria (Bel, Nebo, and Marduk – their gods)
  • Pharaoh Neco – King of Egypt

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”        Isaiah 43:18-19

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Isaiah 24-27
  • Tuesday: Isaiah 28-31
  • Wednesday: Isaiah 32-35
  • Thursday: Isaiah 36-39
  • Friday: Isaiah 40-43
  • Saturday: Isaiah 44-46
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Week 25: Isaiah 1-23

“Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken”                                               Isaiah 1:2a

What’s Going On?

This week we begin the last section of the Old Testament, the Prophets. This section will cover 17 books and they will parallel the time periods of the divided kingdom, the exile, and the return. Remember all those kings we read about in 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles? They will play an important part of this next section because they will help up figure out where we are on the timeline. Unfortunately, the books of the Prophets won’t fall in chronological order so we’ll need to use the Kings as references.

God began speaking to His people through messengers, known as the Prophets. He was calling His people to stop turning to the false gods of the nations around them and keep their focus on Him, the One, True God. Unfortunately, the people rarely listened and the prophets rarely lived happily ever after. We begin our reading this week in the book of Isaiah, the first of the books known as the Major Prophets. It will take us nine weeks to get through the first five books, or the Major Prophets, and only two and a half weeks to read through the twelve Minor Prophets.

We first met Isaiah in 2 Kings 19-20 when he reassures the kingdom of Judah that Assyria will fall before destroying Jerusalem. Isaiah’s ministry actually began twenty years earlier, the year that King Uzziah died, which we read about in 2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 26. Our reading this week will parallel this part of the story and will begin with the warning that the Lord’s wrath is imminent. Isaiah speaks of the judgment that is coming because the people of God have rejected Him and broken their sacred covenant with Him. God called both Israel and Judah to repent of their sins. Israel did not heed the warning and fell to the Assyrians, but under King Hezekiah, Judah did in fact turn to the Lord, thanks in part to the ministry of Isaiah.

Throughout the seventeen books of The Prophets, there are going to be three different types of prophecies. The first type will be prophecies that will come about relatively soon after the prophecy is given. For example – the Babylonian captivity. Also, there are prophecies concerning the Messiah that would be fulfilled through Jesus seven hundred years later. But there are also prophecies concerning the end times that are yet to be fulfilled (or are currently being fulfilled – depending on how you see things). There is a repeated reference to the “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord”, which most scholars agree, references the return of Christ and the end of this current age. More on that subject later.

When and Where Are We?

The book of Isaiah covers the time period of 740 BC during King Hezekiah’s reign over Judah to approximately 690 BC. During this time, Israel falls to Assyria in 722 BC, leaving Judah to defend for herself as Assyria continues to expand and conquer the lands all around her. During Hezekiah’s reign, Assyria attempted to invade Jerusalem, but thanks to Isaiah and Hezekiah’s prayers, the angel of death fell on the Assyrian army and later, its king, freeing Judah from imminent captivity. Isaiah probably spent most of his life in and around Jerusalem.

Who’s Who?

  • Isaiah, son of Amoz (not the same as Amos). His name means “The Lord Saves”
  • Hezekiah, King of Judah who led great reforms and turned Judah toward the Lord

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great Light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a Light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Isaiah 1-4
  • Tuesday: Isaiah 5-8
  • Wednesday: Isaiah 9-12
  • Thursday: Isaiah 13-16
  • Friday: Isaiah 17-20
  • Saturday: Isaiah 21-23
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Week 24: Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”         Ecclesiastes 3:1

What’s Going On?

The two books we’ll be reading this week will finish up the group of books known as The Writings, or the literature books. Like Proverbs, both are attributed to King Solomon. While we can’t say with certainty that Solomon authored any of these books, his wisdom is definitely collected in the passages. You can almost hear old King Solomon reflecting at the end of his life in the book of Ecclesiastes. He had lived a life of wealth, fame, splendor, and had opportunities few others ever would. His father, the Great King David, had left him the throne of Israel and, like his father, he was able to lead the nation with few obstacles for forty years. His wisdom was known the world over and ambassadors from other nations would visit and send gifts that will be the subject of much folklore. But at the end of his life, he recognizes that human pursuit of wisdom is nothing more than chasing after the wind. True wisdom can only belong to the One who is Creator and Author of all things, even life itself. But, while man may not be able to grasp true wisdom, faith teaches him that he is in good hands. Our role, as created beings, is to simply trust the One who watches over us, keep His commands, and live a life that honors and pleases Him. Where Proverbs gave us catchy sayings, Ecclesiastes is the epitome of philosophy and the meaning of life. As far as I can tell, the word Ecclesiastes actually means “philosopher, preacher, speaker, or teacher.”

Song of Solomon or Song of Songs, is also included in the wisdom books but focuses the subject more on love than on wisdom. It is called a song because of its structure and use of recurring refrains. There is a love theme that runs through the whole book that at first sight seems odd that it would be included with the other books of the Bible. But, when you recognize that God IS love, you can see why the love of God can so easily be understood in the comparison to the closest thing we humans can appreciate, the love shared between a man and a woman. Human love, like wisdom, is a gift from God and reflect Him in the sharing of that gift. Some have painted the picture of the love song as the reflection of love between God and man, of God and Israel, of Christ and the church. A case can be made for that. But there is also room to just call it love poetry and leave it at that. Remember, Solomon was the guy with three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines. I think his understanding of love might be hard for some of us to appreciate. In fact, in many places, the poetry is written from the woman’s perspective! While it might seem odd for us to find nature so sensuous, this was a pretty common form of poetry back in the day. So, light some candles, open the wine, and enjoy the romantic moment.  

While I can’t say this about all of the books of the Bible, the wisdom books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon just seem to sound better in the King James version. Read them any way you like, but for me, only King James will do.

When and Where Are We?

The era of King Solomon was about 900 BC. Remember, when we started this section of books, we did a time jump backwards to the era of the United Kingdom of Israel. Solomon ruled from the newly constructed Temple in Jerusalem. Although it is likely that the words were likely compiled during the time of the Exile or the Return when all of Israel is reflecting back on a time when Israel was in a much better state and lessons of old were treasured and appreciated in a whole new way.

Who’s Who?

Solomon (the teacher), a bridegroom, and his beloved are the only people named in these two books. Although, a case could be made that both Wisdom and Love take on human characteristics through the use of personification so they could technically be listed here in the Who’s Who section.

 “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it”                                    Song of Solomon 8:7a

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Ecclesiastes 1-3
  • Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 4-6
  • Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 7-10
  • Thursday: Ecclesiastes 11-12
  • Friday: Song of Solomon 1-4
  • Saturday: Song of Solomon 5-8
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Week 23: The Proverbs

God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.” 1 Kings 4:29-34 (NLT)

What’s Going On?

A Proverb is a wise saying. We’ve heard examples all our lives. “A watched pot never boils.” “Actions speak louder than words.” “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But the Proverbs recorded in the Bible are three thousand years old. They still hold up and many are familiar. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” They are Life Truths. I remember learning once that *BIBLE* stands for ‘Basic Instructions Before leaving Earth’ and nowhere in the Bible are there more instructions for daily living than in the book of Proverbs. They are wise sayings that point us toward a life of happiness, justice, wisdom, fear or reverence for the Lord, relationship advice, parenting advice, and simple truths.

We are still in the group of Literature books and this one is mainly attributed to King Solomon. Proverbs 22:17-24:34 are a collection of “Sayings of the Wise” and then chapter 25 continues with more Proverbs of Solomon that were copied down by scribes under King Hezekiah. Chapter 30 includes the sayings of Agur, and 31 is the sayings of King Lemuel, neither of which are mentioned anywhere else in the Bible and probably weren’t even Israelites. So, MOST of the proverbs are the sayings of Solomon, but not all.

Apparently, it was very common to collect “Words of Wisdom.” Similar sayings are found in Egyptian writings. In fact some are almost identical. Both use personification – speaking of wisdom as though she were a woman. Proverbs 22:17-24:22 contain thirty sayings of the wise that are almost word for word the same as The Writings of Amenemope.  If you remember, when Solomon is anointed King of Israel, God tells him he may ask for anything and it would be given to him. He asked for Wisdom and discernment to rule over the nation (1 Kings 3:5-9 and 2 Chron 1:7-10). Apparently, God granted him this wisdom as his reputation brought many to hear him. “When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions” 1 Kings 10:1. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart” 1 Kings 10:24. So here we have the grand collection of Solomon’s Wisdom.

When and Where Are We?

King Solomon lived during the era of the United Kingdom, about 1,000 BC. The last few chapters of Proverbs were copied by the scribes of Hezekiah who was King of Judah about 700 BC during the era of the Divided Kingdom. If you remember, King Hezekiah led a spiritual revival so it makes sense that the Wisdom of Solomon would have been studied and copied at that time. So even though Solomon lived years earlier, the words of The Proverbs were likely complied much later.

Who’s Who?

King Solomon – The third King of the United Kingdom of Israel, David’s son


“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (KJV)

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Proverbs 1-5
  • Tuesday: Proverbs 6-10
  • Wednesday: Proverbs 11-15
  • Thursday: Proverbs 16-20
  • Friday: Proverbs 21-25
  • Saturday: Proverbs 26-31
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Week 22: The Psalms

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100 (NIV)

What’s Going On?

The Book of the Psalms is the second of the Literature books, or The Writings, and contain some of the most beautiful and familiar passages in the Bible. The book is a collection of 150 “Psalms” or Songs; timeless prayers, devotions, pleas, praises, instructions, laments, celebrations, and expressions of every emotion imaginable. The Psalms are timeless and can be read in any order. Some Psalms express joy, some sorrow. Some are about victory, and others failure. Many of them start out expressing deep fears and sorrow, but throughout the Psalm, you see how the author almost talks himself into praise. This above all else can be our example. In good times and in bad – Praise Him.

There are five sections, each ending with its own doxology. The last psalm in each of the five sections are Psalm 41, 72, 89, 106 and the Grand Doxology 150.

Book I, or section 1, contains mostly personal psalms. Books II and III are mainly National psalms, and Books IV and V are Psalms for public worship.

Some of the Psalms are deeply personal and others were used in corporate, public worship. Many would have been set to music, but not all. You often see notes or titles –‘For the director of music’ and ‘For harp, lyre, and flute.’

The Psalms titled “song of ascent” were likely sung by the Jews as they literally climbed the mountains to get to the Temple Mount.

There are many Messianic prophesies mentioned throughout the Psalms.

Together they are The Psalms – plural. When you are referring to one of them, the singular word Psalm is used. You say Psalm 100, not Psalms 100. Sorry – personal pet peeve.

“Psalms” might be translated as “Praise Songs.” Early Christians called it the “Psalter.” In Hebrew, the word for Psalm is Tehillim which might be pronounced like “Te-hi-leem” or tehleem or Tell Him!

Psalm 118:8 is the very center of the Bible. I can’t think of a more fitting verse: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (KVJ)

When and Where Are We?

The completed version of the Psalms was probably compiled during the era of The Return and used as a worship guide, a prayer book, a hymnal, and a response book for the Jews at the Temple built by Zerubbabel and later at the Temple of Herod. The early Psalms of David were likely already grouped together in an early collection and then added to later. Psalm 90, a psalm of Moses, would have been written about 1500 BC, the Psalms of David about 1,000 BC, and the psalms written during the era of The Return around 500 BC covering a total of about 1,000 years.

Who’s Who?

Most of the Psalms are attributed to David, but you’ll also see some by others as well. Psalm 90 was written by Moses and is probably the oldest in the collection. Solomon is the author of Psalm 72 and 127. Some are attributed to Asaph, the sons of Korah, Ethan, Hemen, who were probably Temple priests and/or musicians, and many are anonymous.

Selah

(Shhhhh. Be still. Let that sink in. Meditate on it. Find Peace with it. Forever may it be so)

Weekly Reading Assignment:

There are no assigned readings this week! I did not schedule the Psalms into our yearly reading schedule. I believe it is best to read the Psalms slowly so I recommend that if you haven’t already been, start adding a Psalm or two into your weekly schedule so that you can still read them all by the end of the year. You can enjoy taking a week off, use this week to go back and catch up where you may have gotten behind, or use the week to read some of the Psalms.

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Week 21: Job

“Be watchful and control yourself. Your enemy the devil is like a roaming lion. He prowls around looking for someone to swallow up.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIRV)

What’s Going On?

We turn a huge corner in our reading this week as we begin a new section known as The Writings, or the books of poetry and literature, Job – Song of Solomon. No one knows who the author of Job was, but it’s important to notice that the book is placed in this new section because it is obviously meant to be read as a literary work because of its complex and highly organized structure.

The last few books that we’ve read appear to have been written during the time period of the exile and the return. During the era of the exile, the displaced Jews began to gather together and try to identify their new role in a foreign land. They no longer have the Temple. They no longer have the priests making intercessory sacrifice for them. Synagogues began to appear as places for the Jews to gather, discuss, and study their own history and try to understand how the Law now applies to them.

Many believe that the book of Job was also written during the time of Exile. Job appears to be written by someone who questions ‘What is the relationship between sin and suffering?’ After all, they had just witnessed Israel’s sin bring about great suffering. Although the book was possibly written during this time period, it is written about a man named Job who would have lived long, long before this, probably during the same time period as the book of Genesis. This assumption is based on the fact that there is no mention of Abraham and his decedents and no mention of Moses or the Law, so it is likely that the time period for Job predates them. His story is placed here, however, because it IS a book of poetry, but is serves a double purpose by placing it right after the books of the History and continuing the act of reflection.  

The book of Job can be difficult reading because it deals with the battle between good and evil and appears to show God and Satan playing a high stakes game of winner-takes-all over a wager that a man named Job is only able to worship God because he is blessed. Would he still praise God when he had lost everything? The reader can’t help but question justice, fairness, and the suffering of the innocent. Job’s friends do a pretty good job of offering worldly wisdom and explaining the suffering in the only way that makes sense to them – Job must have sinned. Just when we begin to understand the relationship between God and Man, now we are introduced to the adversary who plays a mean hand of poker and has no qualms playing dirty. The way his story is told is similar to, and very likely predates, great literary masterpieces such as Dante’s Devine Comedy/ The Inferno, Goethe’s Faust, and Milton’s Paradise Lost/Paradise Regainedall of which wrestle with this same idea of good vs evil. Hint – in this one, Good wins! The real moral of the story is that Job trusted God completely.

When and Where Are We?

Likely during the era of the Patriarchs about 2000 B.C. in the Land of Uz, east of the Jordan River

Who’s Who?

  • Job – a righteous man who is tested, loses everything, questions why, and then encounters God personally, prays for his misguided friends and then is blessed abundantly for his unwavering faith.  
  • Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu – the friends who try to reason out the cause of Job’s suffering, but miss the mark by offering religion over relationship, cliché, worldly wisdom, and youthful optimism.

“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:22

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Sunday: Job 1-6
  • Monday: Job 7-12
  • Tuesday: Job 13-18
  • Wednesday: Job 19-24
  • Thursday: Job 25-30
  • Friday: Job 31-36
  • Saturday: Job 37-42

NOTE: Next week we will be taking a break. If you are caught up with the reading, enjoy taking a week off! If you are behind, use this week to go back and try to get caught up.

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Week 20: Nehemiah, Esther

“Remember the instruction You gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to Me and obey My commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for My Name.’” Nehemiah 1:8-9

What’s Going On?

Last week we saw the beginning of the era known at The Return when the Israelites begin to resettle in and around Jerusalem. We saw the first wave return under the leadership of Zerubbabel who will be remembered for rebuilding a much smaller version of The Temple. During the second wave, Ezra the priest led the people to turn their hearts back to God. This week we’ll see a third wave under the leadership of Nehemiah who will take on the project of rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem.

The book of Nehemiah might have been titled ‘Ezra Part Two’ as it continues the story from our reading last week and Ezra himself is central to the storyline. Ezra has already been in Jerusalem for fourteen years when word gets to Nehemiah in Susa, Persia that they are having trouble. Nehemiah asks the Persian King to send him down to help out. When he gets there, Nehemiah inspects the wall and begins the work of rebuilding it by asking each person to repair the area in front of their homes (Facing the Giants is a movie which beautifully uses this illustration). The work is completed in just fifty-two days and then they all gather to hear Ezra read the Book of the Law. The people recommit to the Lord and then Nehemiah returns home leaving Ezra in charge. He makes a second trip to Jerusalem later when he learns that they fall short of keeping this commitment and gets them back on track.

Esther tells us of a young Jewish woman who becomes the wife of the Persian King after winning the position in a beauty contest. Once she is Queen, she uses her influence to stop an edict from killing all Jews within the Persian kingdom led by an official named Haman. One interesting thing about the book of Esther is that it is the only book in the Bible not to mention the Name of God! Also interesting, Esther’s name doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible outside this book.

When and Where Are We?

Nehemiah is living as one of the Jewish exiles in Susa on the far eastern side of the Persian Empire. He will travel about a thousand miles from Susa to Jerusalem (twice). The Persian Empire included what is today known as Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. The time period will be about 500-400 BC.

The book of Esther likely takes place at the same time as, or possibly before, the book of Ezra. It is during this time period that the word “Jew” begins to appear meaning those who came from Judah, even though this generation of Jews had been born into the Babylonian/Persian exile and had never even been to Jerusalem. You’ll also notice the word Israel no longer means the northern kingdom only, but refers to the original Israel including all 12 tribes.  Only the land around Jerusalem will be resettled, however.

Who’s Who?

  • Persian Kings – Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes (Ahaseurus), and Artaxerxes
  • Nehemiah – Persian Kings cupbearer who travels from Susa to Jerusalem to help rebuild the wall
  • Esther/Hadassah – Jewish girl who goes from beauty queen to Queen of Persia, saves Jews
  • Mordecai – Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, Esther’s older cousin and caretaker
  • Haman – an Amalekite who sends out a proclamation to have all the Jews killed

“And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this.”        Esther 4:14

Weekly Reading Schedule:

  • Monday: Nehemiah 1-4
  • Tuesday: Nehemiah 5-8
  • Wednesday: Nehemiah 9-13
  • Thursday: Esther 1-5
  • Friday: Esther 6-10
  • Saturday: (get a jump start on next week and read Job 1-6)
Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment