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 34: Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah

“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (NIV)

What’s Going On? / When and Where Are We? / Who’s Who?

This group of prophets probably all lived during the same time period as Isaiah, right before the Fall of Israel. Not all of the prophets identify the time period they lived in, but the messages are all similar – REPENT! These prophets are speaking mostly to Israel in the time before it was conquered by Assyria. God is speaking to His people through His prophets that He loves them and doesn’t want to see them destroyed. Oh, if only they had listened. Oh, if only WE would listen.

Joel (?)  Locusts. Can you imagine? It’s an attention-getter. I think of a swarm of grasshoppers, the closest thing I know of to locust, so thick they will block out the sun. And the noise they would make would be thunderous. They would eat and destroy everything they came in contact with. Joel says the locust and a severe drought are just an inkling of how things will be on the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” when Israel will be judged, even though Israel was looking forward to a ‘day of the Lord’ where Israel would be victorious over the neighboring lands.  Joel tells the people to repent before the Lord’s Army comes in like the locusts and devours their land. But, the Lord says after the judgment He will pour out His Spirit on ALL people and not only will His people Israel be restored, but ALL who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved just as He had once promised Abraham in Genesis 12:3.

Amos (750)  Although he was from a town in the southern kingdom of Judah, Amos was sent to the northern kingdom of Israel and probably hung out near the makeshift temple that Israel had set up in Bethel so that they could worship without having to go to Jerusalem. But the temple in Bethel also offered a place to worship the gods of the nations around them and now those nations would be judged right along with Israel. Idolatry was the norm. Israel found herself at peace with the nations around her. Funny how when a nation prospers, morality soon declines. Amos spoke to both Israel and Judah about the coming judgment and a time of exile because Israel has turned her back on the Lord. But, Amos also tells them of God’s plan for restoration after the time of judgment is complete.  

Obadiah (?)  The shortest book in the Bible, tells what God has to say about Edom. Edom is the land of the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, who thought himself the rightful heir to the land promised to Jacob (Israel). Edom was located on top of a mountain surrounded by sheer rock cliffs and thought itself higher than any other nation. God says otherwise.

Jonah (790-750) The story is probably familiar (who doesn’t love VeggieTales?) but the meaning comes to life now that we can put it in context. God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh. That was the capitol of Assyria! Nineveh, an ancient city established in Genesis 10:11, was the very center of the nation God would eventually use to defeat Israel. It was a wicked place and Jonah didn’t want to go. Can’t blame him, really. He was being sent into the belly of the beast. So when he runs away, guess where he ends up? In the belly of a whale! He was heading for Tarshish, the place farthest away from Assyria he could go. If you look at a map, Tarshish may have actually been located on the shores of Spain all the way on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. Of course, it only took being thrown overboard and eaten then thrown up by a whale to get Jonah to obey the Lord and actually go to Nineveh. Surprisingly, the Ninevites listen to Jonah, fear the Lord, and repent of their evil ways. It’s Jonah who has to learn the lesson that God will have compassion on anyone – ANYONE – who repents of their evil ways.

Micah (740-690)  Micah prophesied during the time of Judah’s kings Jotham, who was mostly a good king but allowed altars to foreign gods, Ahaz, who was a horrible king who teamed up with Assyria, and Hezekiah, who was a great king who brought about religious reform in Judah, although only temporarily. Micah’s prophesies are all about the political climate of the day and all that was at stake for Samaria, the capitol of Israel, and Jerusalem, the capitol of Judah. It wasn’t long after he and the other early prophets predicted it that Israel fell to the Assyrians. And yet, there is a message of hope that will probably sound familiar. Bethlehem will hold a special place in the future of Israel.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Joel 1-3
  • Tuesday: Amos 1-5
  • Wednesday: Amos 6-9
  • Thursday: Obadiah, Jonah 1-4
  • Friday: Micah 1-4
  • Saturday: Micah 5-7
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Week 33: Ezekiel 25-48

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG)

What’s Going On? / When and Where Are We? / Who’s Who?
This week we will finish up with the Major (longer) Prophets and begin reading the Minor (shorter) Prophets. The Major Prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel have basically fallen in chronological order although they have spanned a time period of about two hundred years, from the time right before the Fall of Israel (722 BC) until after the Fall of Jerusalem (586 BC). Unfortunately when we get to the Minor Prophets, we’ll have to jump back in time and cover these same time periods all over again. Therefore, as a guideline to the time frame of each of the Minor Prophets, I am going to group them into three groups, each lining up with a Major Prophet. We must realize that not all of the Minor Prophets tell us exactly where they fall so some assumption is made as to where they might fit in. There is no universally accepted time frame so this is just one possibility. Notice that the Minor Prophets actually do fall in book-by-book order.

Group 1 – Isaiah: These prophets will speak right before and during the Fall of Israel to Assyria. They will either be located in or speak to Israel approx. 785-681 BC

            Hosea, Joel (?), Amos, Obadiah (?), Jonah, Micah

Group 2 – Jeremiah: These prophets will speak right before and during the Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. They will either be in or speak to Judah approx. 650-585 BC

Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah

Group 3 – Ezekiel and Daniel: These prophets will speak during and after the Fall of Jerusalem, during the Exile and Return. They will speak to the returned exiles in Jerusalem. 600-430 BC

             Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Daniel (605-530) The book of Daniel takes place in Babylon and will include several visions and prophecies involving not only the near future for the Hebrew people but also apocalyptic prophecies of end times. Daniel will see the transition from the Babylonian kingdom (Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar) to the Medo-Persian Kingdom (Darius and Cyrus). The first seven chapters are written in Aramaic (common language) and foretell the downfall of the gentile empires that have ruled or will rule over Israel: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel interprets the dreams of both King Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar showing that these nations will only rule for a time. Chapters 8-12 are written in Hebrew and concern the prophecy for the nation of Israel, explained by heavenly beings. Both Gabriel and Michael are archangels that are seen to speak with Daniel and explain his own visions. Throughout the book there is symbolic language that will remind you of the book of Revelation, but throughout the symbols, visions, interpretations, and events there is one overlying message of hope: God is in control and nothing happens in all the world that is not first planned and ultimately fulfilled to show His power, glory, authority, sovereignty, strength and grace.

Hosea (760-720) The book of Hosea is the first in the section we call the Minor Prophets and we need to jump backwards to the time before Israel fell to the Assyrians. God ordered Hosea to marry an adulterous wife, just as Israel was adulterous to the Lord, worshipping other gods and following after foreign leaders. Just as Hosea was to stay with her, God stayed with Israel, and just as they were to go through a time of separation, Hosea was to stay loyal to her until they are reunited. God’s love is like that of a loyal husband and disloyalty to Him is like adultery.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Daniel 1-4
  • Tuesday: Daniel 5-8
  • Wednesday: Daniel 9-12
  • Thursday: Hosea 1-5
  • Friday: Hosea 6-10
  • Saturday: Hosea 11-14
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Week 32: Ezekiel 25-48

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’” Ezekiel 28:25-26 (NIV)

What’s Going On?

The first half of the book of Ezekiel is all about Israel’s judgment. The second half deals with the judgment of the nations, showing that God is the God of all nations and not just of His beloved Israel. Chapter 21 told us that Babylon would be the sword God uses for this judgment. We see there will be judgment for Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and most especially Egypt. Egypt will be judged harshly for not helping Israel when given the chance and also for believing itself and its Pharaoh to be godlike and more powerful that the God of Israel. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Not long after these prophecies were given, Babylon would, in fact, invade these places. Tyre will fall not long after Jerusalem, and Egypt soon after that.

Back in chapter 3 we read that the Lord closed Ezekiel’s mouth so that his speech was limited to the words the Lord gave him to speak. Throughout the book of Ezekiel we hear Ezekiel quoting God and telling his audience: This is what the Lord says; hear the Word of the Lord. This phrase is used over a hundred times indicating that Ezekiel was truly an instrument for God, His messenger sent to give His people His Word. But in chapter 33 we see this lifted and Ezekiel’s mouth is once again opened as his speech in no longer restricted. Notice also how often you read the words, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” The prophecies, the actions, the visions are all given for that one singular purpose – to show both Israel and all the world that He is the Lord.

When word finally reaches Ezekiel that Jerusalem has fallen to Babylon, his mission turns from that of the watchman sounding the alarm to the messenger offering comfort to those who mourn. He continues to prophesy that Babylon will not go unpunished and Jerusalem will have new life. The Spirit of the Lord even shows Ezekiel the image of dry bones coming back to life as an illustration of what the Lord will do for his beloved Israel. There can also be a personal message there that says God can bring life into things once thought dead. It’s only dead if it isn’t in God’s will to be used for His Glory. The Spirit then goes on to show Ezekiel in great detail how the Temple will be restored and find new life in a new era of renewal when the people of Israel will return and resettle in and around Jerusalem. I love how the book comes to an end with the words: “The Lord is there” or Yahweh-Shammah

When and Where Are We?

Ezekiel was among the first wave of Jews to leave Judah, along with King Jehoiachin, in the year 597 BC. The Fall of Jerusalem occurred in 586 BC, eleven years after he left Jerusalem. When a section begins with “In the ninth year” etc, he is referring to nine years since his exile began in 597, so nine years later would be 588 BC, which is still two years BEFORE the Fall of Jerusalem. The latest recorded date is twenty-five years after his exile began, which would be the year 572 BC.

Remember that even though there are places in this week’s reading that sound like they are taking place in Jerusalem, Ezekiel is still in Babylon and being shown visions of what is taking place, and what will take place, in Jerusalem.

Who’s Who?

The Spirit – We see the Spirit at work throughout the book of Ezekiel, not as Christians are used to experiencing the indwelling of Christ, but as an actual person acting on behalf of God or in some places entering into Ezekiel in order to carry out the will of God. We also see the Lord say He is going to pour out His Spirit onto His people, giving them a new heart and a new spirit. We’ll see evidence of this when we get to the book of Acts in the New Testament.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Ezekiel 25-28
  • Tuesday: Ezekiel 29-32
  • Wednesday: Ezekiel 33-36
  • Thursday: Ezekiel 37-39
  • Friday: Ezekiel 40-44
  • Saturday: Ezekiel 45-48
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Week 31: Ezekiel 1-24

“Stand up, son of man,” said the voice. “I want to speak with you.” The Spirit came into me as He spoke, and He set me on my feet. I listened carefully to His words.  “Son of man,” He said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against Me to this very day.  They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ And whether they listen or refuse to listen—for remember, they are rebels—at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.  (Ezekiel 2:1-2 NLT)

What’s Going On?

Ezekiel was one of the Jews deported from Judah, along with King Jehoiachin, ten years before the Fall of Jerusalem. We learn that he is from a family of priests and living in a settlement of exiles along the Kebar/Chebar River in Chaldea, just south of Babylon. He is thirty years old when the Lord began to speak to him and show him visions, prophesying to the other exiles in Babylon. We’ll read about two of his visions this week (chap 1 and 8) and then another next week (chap 40). These visions seem odd to us, but can you imagine how odd they would have seemed to its original audience?

Ezekiel, like all of the prophets, will deliver messages from God. The messages are given to Ezekiel both directly and indirectly, both verbally and visually, both literally and symbolically, involving both heavenly things and earthly things. Sometimes God will tell him exactly what to say and other times He will use parable and allegory. Notice the way the words are laid out on the page. This is written mainly in prose where most of the other books in this section are written as poetry.

While Jeremiah was called to deliver the Word of God to the people in Jerusalem, Ezekiel will speak only to those already in exile. Ezekiel may have known Jeremiah, but if you remember, the priests didn’t take too kindly to the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem. After these prophecies came true, it’s possible that Ezekiel remembered the words of Jeremiah and understood them more clearly. But, like Jeremiah, Ezekiel will also speak of a future restoration of Jerusalem. His message in the first part of the book is one of judgment but next week he will turn to words of Salvation. Hope. There was a flicker of hope amidst all of the despair.

There will be a lot of symbolism used throughout the book of Ezekiel with references to Israel and Judah as well as Jerusalem and Babylon. Sometimes these will be obvious as in chapter 16 where Israel is the bride who prostituted herself with others. Other times these symbolisms aren’t as obvious. I’m sure there are volumes of research on the matter, but as we read through Ezekiel just notice the wide range of symbols used, even if we don’t understand them all.

When and Where Are We?

Ezekiel probably arrives in Babylon during the second wave of deportations in 597 BC. (The first wave was in 605.) This is about ten years before the Fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel lives as an exile in the Babylonian kingdom and most scholars agree that Ezekiel never physically went back to Israel but was transported there in his visions only. Some of the story takes place in Jerusalem, but Ezekiel is probably a thousand miles away and only able to witness the events through his visions. Notice that many of Ezekiel’s prophecies have specific dates giving historical accuracy.

Who’s Who

  • Ezekiel – priest, prophet, seer living in Babylonian exile during the time of the Fall of Jerusalem; often called “Son of Man.”
  • Nebuchadnezzar – ruler of Babylonian Empire
  • Jehoiachin – the last king of Judah who is deported as an exile to Babylon
  • Zedekiah – Jehoiachin’s uncle who is left to rule the remaining Jews after Jehoiachin is taken away
  • “The prophets of Israel” – usually refers to the false prophets

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Ezekiel 1-5
  • Tuesday: Ezekiel 6-9
  • Wednesday: Ezekiel 10-12
  • Thursday: Ezekiel 13-16
  • Friday: Ezekiel 17-20
  • Saturday: Ezekiel 21-24
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Week 30: Jeremiah 40-52, Lamentations

“The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well.  All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is His Name.”    Jeremiah 50:33-34

What’s Going On?

Last week ended with a description of the Fall of Jerusalem and left Jeremiah in chains and in the care of a Babylonian guard. It’s interesting that the Hebrew people seemed to prefer the words of the false prophets over Jeremiahs, but this Babylonian starts off chapter 40 with a surprising statement that he knew that what was going on had been decreed by Jeremiah’s God and then sets him free. He stays for a while with Gedaliah just outside Jerusalem. When Gedeliah is killed, Jeremiah goes to Egypt with the other Jews where tradition holds that they turned against him and stoned him to death.

The word of the Lord as spoken through Jeremiah ends at chapter 51 and it’s fitting that it is filled with hope. I counted 42 phrases where the Lord promises “I will….” and it is clear that the story of His people is far from over. In chapter 52, as in chapter 39 and 2 Kings 24-25, the account of the Fall of Jerusalem is again given in heart wrenching detail as only someone who had experienced it first-hand could give. This week’s reading is not in chronological order but seems to be grouped in subtopics of similar form and structure. Zedekiah came before Gedaliah, but the two stories aren’t in order here.

While the book of Jeremiah consists mainly of the words of God, Lamentations is man’s response. The book of Lamentations is a book of “laments” which are just sad songs. In fact, most of the books in this section of The Prophets are all sad songs in a way. This book was probably written by Jeremiah which is why it is included here. Jeremiah would certainly have been sad about what he had seen and experienced and this book can be read as a book of poetry, not unlike the books in The Writings. There is a structure and a pattern to the way the book is written and although obvious in the English translation, it was even more so in Hebrew. In fact, in Hebrew the book is made up of a series of acrostics that correspond with the Hebrew alphabet. The theme of the book: Israel blew it and deserved what it got. Maybe it can serve as a reminder that God is at work and in this case, there is honest and earnest heartache for the actions that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the hope is that a lesson might be learned from it.

When and Where Are We?

Most of Jeremiah’s adult life was spent in and around Jerusalem. In this week’s reading we’ll see him imprisoned for a while when most of the Jews were taken away and dispersed throughout the Babylonian kingdom – or killed. There were three waves of deportations: 605, 597, and the final wave in 586 BC when Jerusalem finally fell to the Babylonians. Jeremiah and Baruch then go with many of the remaining Jews to Egypt where his story comes to an end. Again, the chapters are not in chronological order but clues can be found within the order of the kings of Judah. (Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah – then Gedeliah rules before Jehoiachin is released and honored)

Who’s Who?

  • Zedekiah – the last of the kings in Judah but really a puppet to the king of Babylon. When he was captured trying to leave Jerusalem, he was forced to watch his children die, blinded, and carried away.
  • Gedaliah – a governor left behind in Judah to watch over those who stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.                                                                                                  
Lamentations 3:22-23

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Jeremiah 40-43
  • Tuesday: Jeremiah 44-46
  • Wednesday: Jeremiah 47-49
  • Thursday: Jeremiah 50-52
  • Friday: Lamentations 1-5
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Week 29: Jeremiah 20-39

“People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?’  And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’” Jeremiah 22:8-9

What’s Going On?

As Nebuchadnezzar gets closer and closer to conquering Jerusalem, Jeremiah advises them all, including the king, to surrender and not fight because it is the Lord’s will that Judah fall to Babylon as punishment for turning away from Him and anyone who rebels will be killed in battle. The ones who surrender will be taken away into exile, but they will live. The Lord, through Jeremiah, tells them to settle in Babylon until He is ready to bring them out. God will begin to change their hearts and eventually God will restore them. Jeremiah is beaten, arrested, persecuted, imprisoned, thrown into a cistern/well, and repeatedly rejected. No wonder they call him the “weeping prophet.” And yet, this section also contains one of the most loved verses: “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. Chapter 39 gives the only eyewitness account of the Fall of Jerusalem, recorded by Jeremiah.

When and Where Are We?

Be ready for some more time jumps! Jeremiah will be a prophet during the reigns of Kings Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah and also during the early years of the Babylonian exile when there is no longer a king in Judah. Almost every chapter starts off by telling you who is king – and it’s all mixed up and not in chronological order. Just don’t let it throw you. The message is valid and consistent. While this part of the story is still mainly in Jerusalem, there are also some references to both Babylon (north) and Egypt (south) and both of these areas will be very important next week.

Who’s Who

We need to back up a little and look at the family of Josiah (the last good king in Judah). When he died his son Johoahaz ruled for only three months before he was put in chanins and taken to Egypt and his brother, Jehoiakim became king. Next, Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin followed him but he surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar and was carried away as a prisoner. So his uncle, Zedekiah – Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim’s brother – also the son of Josiah, became “king” over all the people who were left in Jerusalem after most were carried away into Babylonian exile. Just to make it a little more confusing, Jehoahaz is also known as Shallum; Jehoiakim’s name was Eliakim, changed by Pharoah Neco whom he served; Zedekiah is also called Mattinaiah and Jehoiachin is also called Jeconiah.

  • Pashhur – priest and chief officer in the Temple who was likely responsible for punishment of “criminals” (there may be more than one Pashhur or it may be a title)
  • Zephaniah the Priest – not the same as Zephaniah the prophet
  • Nebuchadnezzar – King of Babylon
  • Hananiah and Shemaiah – flase prophets
  • Hanamel – Jeremiah’s cousin, the son of Shallum/Jehoahaz
  • Baruch – Jeremiah’s secretary (and most likely to have written at least some of the book)
  • Racabites – a nomad group that DID obey the Lord making Judah look bad, not mentioned elsewhere
  • Gedaliah – son of Passhur – acts as governor of Jerusalem after Zedekiah is taken away

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NIV)

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Jeremiah 20-22
  • Tuesday: Jeremiah 23-25
  • Wednesday: Jeremiah 26-28
  • Thursday: Jeremiah 29-32
  • Friday: Jeremiah 33-36
  • Saturday: Jeremiah 37-39
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Week 28: Jeremiah 1-19

“We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord, and the guilt of our ancestors; we have indeed sinned against You. For the sake of Your Name do not despise us; do not dishonor Your glorious throne. Remember Your covenant with us and do not break it.”

Jeremiah 14:20-21 (NIV)

What’s Going On?

The book of Jeremiah, like the book of Isaiah, is about God speaking through a prophet to give His message to the people of Judah. Josiah is king of Judah at the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry. During the years between the two prophets Judah’s king was Manasseh, a really, really bad king who served for 55 years and led Judah away from God and reinstated the worship of the false idols of the foreign nations that Hezekiah had removed.  

As a young king, Josiah had begun seeking God’s will and ten years later a copy of the Law was found and read publicly, turning the nation of Judah toward a spiritual awakening (2 Chron 34-35). Unfortunately, the revival didn’t last long and the people once again fell away from God. Jeremiah is then called to deliver several messages warning about the devastation to come to Judah.

Jeremiah is often referred to as “The Weeping Prophet.” Coming from a family of priests, he was chosen by God even before he was born and commissioned as prophet as a young man, possibly even in the same age range as Josiah who also served as king at very young age. Jeremiah was hesitant to accept his calling. You can’t blame him, he had already seen how other prophets had been persecuted and he knew he would likely be treated badly as well. He was right, too. His life would be filled with opposition, rejection, and persecution. By this time, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had already heard from Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea and had fallen to the Assyrians. Jonah and Nahum had also already spoken concerning the plans God had for Nineveh which will also fall to the Assyrians during Jeremiah’s lifetime. Judah had already heard from Isaiah and Micah; Habakkuk and Zephaniah will speak to Judah about the same time that Jeremiah begins his ministry. Remember that the order of the prophets in the Bible is not chronological. As we read through the section, I’ll do my best to help you see the order in which they happened.

In the book of Isaiah, when we read about Israel, it sometimes meant both Israel and Judah. This time, when we read about Israel, we ARE talking about the northern kingdom who has already been overtaken by the Assyrians and ceased to exist as a nation. God will condemn Israel for falling away from Him and use them as an example to the people of Judah, saying, “Don’t be like Israel! Turn to Me now before it is too late!” He is clear that it is because of their SIN that they will experience hardship and will fall to the nations of the north (Babylon).

When and Where Are We?

The story begins in 626 BC, about a hundred years after Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC, and will tell about the last generation to live in the Kingdom of Judah before it falls to the Babylonians in 586 BC. In this week’s reading we will mostly be in Jerusalem during the reign of King Josiah. There is a grand battle for land as the Assyrians, the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Egyptians, and later the Persians are all fighting for control, not only of Israel and Judah, but for all of the areas in what we know as the Middle East lands of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Persia. Babylon is gaining power and will swallow up the Assyrian Empire in 605 BC when Nineveh is destroyed.  

Who’s Who?

  • Jeremiah – a young priest who is called to speak for the Lord to the people of Judah
  • Josiah – King of Judah.
  • Baruch – we learn at the end of the book that he was Jeremiah’s secretary who wrote as Jeremiah dictated to him. He was likely one of the few Jeremiah could call a friend.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Jeremiah 1-3
  • Tuesday: Jeremiah 4-6
  • Wednesday: Jeremiah 7-9
  • Thursday: Jeremiah 10-12
  • Friday: Jeremiah 13-15
  • Saturday: Jeremiah 16-19
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