Luke 2 – The Birth of Jesus Christ

Verses 1-20 deal with the miraculous birth of Jesus.   The circumstances of His birth, the lack of great wealth on the part of His parents, and even the people who this scripture places with Him all point to a King that was not just for the favored few.

The Roman emperor Caesar Augustus was born about 62 BC, and reigned from about 32 BC until his death in about 14 AD.  Joseph and Mary had gone to Bethlehem (the city of David, of whose lineage Joseph was descended) from Nazareth because of a decree by Caesar Augustus that all subjects of the Roman Empire must be registered for the purpose of taxation.    Of course, had there been no such decree, something else would have brought them there anyway because God’s prophets had already told us that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).  Verse 7 says that Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  Those were the signs that the angel of the Lord, who appeared to some shepherds, told them to look for when they went to see for themselves (verses 8-13).

Stone manger from Bible times, perhaps similar to the one that cradled the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The manger held food for animals.

At the end of eight days, he was circumcised (according to God’s commandment to Abraham in Genesis 17:12); and named Jesus – just as Mary had been told before He was conceived (Luke 1:31-32).  Verse 22 would be 33 days later in which they would have journeyed to Jerusalem (Leviticus 12:3-8) to make their sacrifice according to the Law given to Moses.  Joseph and Mary would not have the means to offer a lamb, but would obey the Law of the Lord.  We do not know anything else about the man Simeon in verses 25-35.  The scripture says that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would see the Christ before he died, so he had obviously found favor with God.  As he held the savior in his arms, his words affirm that verse 10’s reference to “all people” means Jews and Gentiles alike as, in verse 32, he calls Jesus “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  Verses 36-38 recount more of God’s revelations about Jesus to his humblest of servants.  The family then returned to Nazareth, where verse 40 tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom and “the favor of God was upon him.”

Naturally, as verse 41 says, his parents returned to Jerusalem every year to observe the Feast of the Passover.  On the occasion of verse 42, he was 12 years old.  This may be about 7 AD, as the best estimates (contrary to what many people might assume), are that He was born about 5 BC.   It seems more than a bit strange to us that Joseph and Mary did not notice he had remained behind in Jerusalem until they well on their way back to Nazareth (verses 43-44), but we must remember that such a journey during an important festival would have had them traveling with a large group of family and friends that trusted and cared for one another.  When they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him, they finally found Him in the Temple – and as verses 46-47 say, amazing the teachers there.  He demonstrates that He already knows He is the Son of God, as He says in verse 49 “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Nehemiah 13 – Nehemiah’s Final Reforms

When Nehemiah had asked the king for leave to go to Jerusalem, Artaxerxes had made him give a time when he would return to him.  In verse 6, we find that he had done so in the thirty-second year of the king’s reign – a journey that would take far more than a month to make, in each direction.  And he well may have been gone for several years.  When he came back to Jerusalem, he found that Tobiah the Ammonite had been given a chamber in the house of God (verse 4 and 7)!  Nehemiah angrily threw all of his possessions out, and had the chambers cleansed and restored (verses 8-9).

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in Nehemiah; illustration from Sunrays quarterly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He also found that the people had not been giving the Levites their portion as commanded (verses 10-13), and that the Sabbath was being profaned (verses 15-22).  Nehemiah promptly sets those things right, appointed treasurers over the storehouses, set guards at the city gates before the Sabbath to keep people from bringing loads of wares in, and warned those lodging outside the city in wait they he would “lay hands on them” if they continued to do so.  Nehemiah was fed up.  The Lord had restored their Temple and the Wall and they were out of captivity – now they were sinking deeply into sin again!  Then, in verses 23-28, we find that the people were again marrying the foreigners and idol-worshipers that had been forbidden in the Law.  In Ezra 9 and 10, we find Ezra confronting this problem (see Ezra 9:1-2).  Apparently, his measures had not been effective.  Notice that in Ezra 9:3, Ezra tore his garments and pulled out his hair when he found out about it.  In verse 25 of this chapter, Nehemiah, upon learning of it, confronted the guilty and beat them and pulled their hair out!

In verse 30-31, Nehemiah ends the book on a positive note, listing the reforms he had made when he returned.  He was merely reporting a better condition of the state of affairs, and asking God to remember him for the good he had done.  Nehemiah always gave the glory to the Lord  – especially for the rebuilding of the wall.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Nehemiah 1 – Nehemiah’s Prayer

Jerusalem Golden Gate

Nehemiah opens 13 years after Ezra arrived in Jerusalem (compare verse 1 to Ezra 7:7).  Ezra came about 57 years after the Temple was built, which was about 515 BC.  The twentieth year in this verse refers to that of the reign of Artaxerxes, which is about 445 BC.  At least one attempt at rebuilding the wall had been started  (note Ezra 4:12), but it had never been finished.  Some have surmised that the distress of Nehemiah at the news about the condition of the wall could be because he thought that because so many captives had already returned to Jerusalem so long ago, it should have already been rebuilt.  Whatever the case, he is living hundreds of miles away in another land in the Persian citadel, or fortress, Susa.

Nehemiah was cupbearer to the Persian king – a position of some prominence, and would afford great access to the king – as well as scrutiny.  His prayer to God in verses 5-11 is one of the great ones of the Old Testament.  It includes praise to God, heartfelt and genuine confession and remorse without excuses, and a plea of petition to the Lord.  In his plea, Nehemiah humbly asks the Lord to forgive them and restore them after having been scattered for their sins, as the Lord had promised in scriptures that include Deuteronomy 4:25-30 and Deuteronomy 30:1-6.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 25 – Fall and Captivity of Judah

The events of this chapter are recounted in Jeremiah 52, as God’s judgment on Judah comes to pass.  Nebuchadnezzar and his army besieged Jerusalem for two years.  There was severe famine, and no food was left.  So Zedekiah and his men of war managed to escape through the exit in the wall that is probably referred to as the “Fountain gate” in Nehemiah 3:15.  But the Chaldeans overtook him in the plain s of Jericho.  They slaughtered his sons in front of him, put out his eyes, put him in chains, and took him to Babylon.

Two panels of Babylon gate relief by Nebuchadn...

Two panels of Babylon gate relief by Nebuchadnezzar II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then, a servant of the king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan (the captain of the bodyguard) came to Jerusalem.  He burned the house of the Lord, the Kings house, and all the great houses down (verse 9).  Verse 10: “And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.” The rest of the people were carried into exile, leaving the poorest as vinedressers and plowmen.  They took the majestic pillars of bronze that Solomon had made; and many were slaughtered.  Nebuchadnezzar made Gedeliah his vassal governor over those left behind in Judah, but he was murdered.  A more complete account of Gedeliah and the circumstances connected with his murder can be found in Jeremiah 40-41.

We close out the Books of Kings with verses 27-30.  After 37 years, Nebuchadnezzar’s son (Evil-merodach) freed Jehoiachin.  He dined at the king’s table and was given a regular allowance.   Thereby, there was hope for the Davidic line and the promises of God to David in 2 Samuel 7:15-16.

Side note: Excavations of Babylon have yielded thousands of inscribed tablets with a wealth of information for scholars. Among many other things, they list the kings of other nations who were captured and living at the palace of the Babylonian king.  Four of those tablets list “Jehoiachin, king of Judah” and his family as receiving rations from the king.  An excellent article with photos, originally posted in the Summer 2007 issue of “Bible and Spade” can be found at this link.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 24 – Jerusalem Captured

English: A hilltop view of the ancient city of...

English: A hilltop view of the ancient city of Babylon, where King Nebuchadnezzar II, whose life spanned 630-562 B.C., built his hanging gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had defeated and taken enough from Egypt, that its king “did not come again out of his land” any more.  So, in verse 1, we find that Jehoiakim has switched his allegiance from Egypt to Babylon – then he rebelled against that king.  So God sent bands against him from the Chaldeans, Moabites, Syrians and Ammonites to destroy Judah for the evils of Manasseh and the innocent blood he shed (verses 3-4).    Jehoiakim died and his son, Jehoiachin, became king in his place in 597 BC.  Nebuchadnezzar’s people besieged Jerusalem; and when Nebuchadnezzar himself came to the city, Jehoiachin surrendered to him and was taken captive.

They also carried off all the treasures from the house of the Lord and from the king’s house, just as Isaiah had told Hezekiah would happen in 2 Kings 20:16-18.  The king of Babylon took thousands captive back to Babylon; and made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king, changing his name to Zedekiah.  He did evil in the sight of the Lord as well (verse 19), and then rebelled against Babylon, as the chapter closes.  But rebellion would be futile.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 22 – Josiah Repairs the Temple

English: King Josiah by Julius Schnoor von Car...

English: King Josiah by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Josiah began his reign as king at the age of 8, after his father Amon died.  He was a great king, and “walked in all the way of David his father.”  As he had the temple repaired, the “Book of the law” was found (that term is used in the Pentateuch to mean the Book of Deuteronomy).  Having been raised in a time when the king himself and the people of the land were at the depths of apostasy, Josiah may have not heard the commandments of the Lord; and the reference to them finding it could well mean that Manasseh had hidden it.  When it was read to him, he tore his clothes in grief.

Although Jeremiah and Zephaniah both prophesied during the time of Josiah’s reign (Jeremiah 1:1-2, Zephaniah:1), Josiah sent his people to a fairly unknown (to us, at least) prophetess named Huldah.  She confirmed the prophecy of disaster for Jerusalem that we read in 2 Kings 21:11-12.  But verses 18-20, the Lord declares that He will spare Josiah from seeing that disaster.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Samuel 15 – Absalom’s Conspiracy

The trouble in David’s house has already become bad, but it will get worse.  In chapter 13, his son Amnon raped his daughter Tamar.  There just is no other word for what happened.  It was a horrible and detestable act. 2 Samuel 13:21 states that David was very angry, yet he did nothing.   David’s other son Absalom quickly finds out, and he hated Amnon for it.  But he waits 2 full years to plot his revenge, and has Amnon killed.  Absalom fled to Geshur, and was there another 3 three years (2 Samuel 13:38).  In chapter 14, Joab intercedes, and Absalom is allowed to return.  But he must stay in a separate house, and never be in David’s presence (2 Samuel 14:24).  David cannot bring himself to forgive, but he never really punishes him.  This went on for two more years. After Absalom dramatically gets Joab’s attention in 2 Samuel 14:29-31,   He has Joab tell his father to either let him back “in” or put him to death.  So a reconciliation occurs.  Or does it…?

In chapter 15, we find Absalom conspiring to take the throne.His strategy – how he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” is brilliant in verses 1-7.  This went on for four more years, then he asked David to allow him to go to Hebron to worship the Lord to fulfill a vow.  David allowed it, and he went.  But he sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to ready for the rebellion to come.  He took 200 men with him, but verse 11 says that they were innocent and did not know what was coming.

Word comes to David, and he knows that if he stays in Jerusalem , Absalom will bring his army to crush him. So he flees the city with his remaining force.  Abiathar and Zadok came with the ark, but David refuses to use it as some sort of “lucky charm,” and sends them back with it, saying that the Lord will bring him back to it and the city if it is His will (verse 26).  In verse 30, David and company reach and ascend the Mount of Olives weeping as they went.  Then he gets more bad news.  Ahithophel, his trusted counselor (and a wise man) has joined Absalom in the conspiracy.  In verse 31, he prays to the Lord to make Ahiphothel’s counsel foolishness. So he send Hushai to Jerusalem to work undercover and report to Abiathar and Zadok, so they can get word to him.   The evil being raised up against him in his own house for his sin with Bathsheba that was prophesied in 2 Samuel 12:11 has reached a new high.

Despite his sin, David has proven to be a great leader and king, as well as a man of God in contrast to Saul.  But chapters 13-14 especially have shown him to be a lousy father.  God’s word does not sugar-coat the heroes of the story of the Bible.  From Noah to Abraham to Jacob, and now David, we see them “warts and all.”  In the end, no matter how favored they are with God, they are just men.  Sinners who need God’s forgiveness – just like us.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Samuel 6 – The Ark Brought to Jerusalem

The story of the ark being brought to Jerusalem is told here, and the first attempt does not go well.  The ark was one of the “holy things,” with which they communed with the Lord – but though the Levite priests.  The detail given by the Lord for its construction was exquisite (Exodus 25:10-22, and Exodus 37:1-9).  The Koathites were to carry it – by poles through the rings.  Even they could not touch it, or they would die (Numbers 4:4-15).  None but the priests themselves could touch the holy things, as God had set the Levites apart (consecrated) for himself.

The Chastisement of Uzzah

The Chastisement of Uzzah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But they set out to bring it to Jerusalem on a cart, much as the manner in which the Philistines returned it in 1 Samuel 6:7.  The oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to take hold of it (the right thing to do, one might think). But as we have learned, when God says He will do something, He always does it.  God keeps ALL of His promises!  David and those transporting the Ark showed no respect for the Lord, and Uzzah was now dead because of his sin.

Three months pass after this incident (verse 11) before David again transports it.  This second attempt is mentioned briefly here, but in more detail in 1 Chronicles 15, as this story is told there again. As our reading has shown before, when God says something more than once, we should pay attention!  This time, the Levites carry it to Jerusalem properly.

Michal’s disdain and David’s rejection of her afterward is important to us because she will not bear him a child – Saul’s line will not be extended through the house of David.  Contrary to the picture some have painted, David was not dancing naked, but wearing a linen ephod – a simple garment as the priests wore (verse 14, and 1 Chronicles 15:27).  He had taken off his kingly robes to honor the Lord (verse 21).

When Jesus laid down His life for us and the temple curtain was torn (Matthew 27:51), Jesus became like our “ark”, just as He is our Priest, through which we can approach the Father (Hebrews 5:1-10).  Do we honor and respect this most holy and precious son of our Lord, whose very name is even used today by many to casually swear?

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Samuel 5 – David Anointed King of Israel

Ophel (City of David), Jerusalem, Israel. The ...

Ophel (City of David), Jerusalem, Israel. The Kidron Valley and Mount of Olives are in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The kingdom has become unified, and David has now become king of all Israel, just as God intended.  Now he wants Jerusalem, but the Jebusites are in the way, and they do not think David and his army are a threat (verse 6).  But his army is victorious, 1 Chronicles 11:6-9 tell us that it was this battle that resulted in Joab becoming his commander.  David took the stronghold at Zion, and it became the City of David.

Then David went up against the Philistines, whom he heard were after him (verse 20).  He defeated them at Baal-perazim (verse 20), and they left their idols there.  This is a bit ironic, as it was the Philistines who had captured the ark of the covenant in 1 Samuel 4:1-11.  It is in  1 Chronicles 14:12 that we learn that David had these idols burned.

Verse 11 tells us that “Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house.”  It is unsure whether this is the same king Hiram of Tyre that in 1 Kings 5:1–18 provided David’s son, Solomon with the cedars to build the temple – or maybe his son.  But David and his kingdom have become greater and greater (verse 10).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.