The Bible in a Year – 14 September

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

14 September. 1 Chronicles chapter 6

This chapter focuses solely on the descendants of Levi, who were the temple priests and servants. Levi was great-grandfather to, among others, the three siblings Aaron, Moses and Miriam, whose exploits make up much of the book of Exodus.

Unlike the genealogies of other tribes, this chapter also lists the various towns and villages “and their pasture lands” which were to belong to the Levites.  Why the pasture lands? Because the sacrificial system meant that large numbers of cattle and sheep were needed, and it would be the duty of those Levites who were not required for service in the Temple itself to do the necessary farming.

There is also a particular mention of those families who “ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem; and they performed their service in due order” (6:32). Along with sacrifice, the Tabernacle/Temple required songs of praise to be sung.    This twin emphasis on sacrifice and praise was to be at the heart of Jewish life for centuries.

The sacrifices have gone, but the praise continues, and the two are conflated; Hebrews 13:15 refers to Christians “offering a sacrifice of praise”.  Taking time to worship God, and to let him develop in us spiritual gifts (words of prayer or prophecy, musical talent, or indeed the visual arts) in doing so is a kind of sacrifice or our self-interest, but one that reaps great rewards.

The Bible in a Year – 27 January

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

27 January. Exodus chapters 28-29

These chapters, with their extremely detailed instructions for vestments and the manner of sacrifice, seem at first sight irrelevant to us today in an age when no religious groups practice animal sacrifice.  What we can perhaps take from it is that the priest (in the widest sense of any religious leader) needs to be set apart in order to represent people before God in prayer. The provision of jewelled robes for him, and the names of the tribes of Israel engraved on the gemstones, show how important this representative function is.  People today who have no connection with the church will still ask Christian friends, especially those who are ministers in the church, to pray for them.

The Bible in a Year – 19 January

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

19 January. Exodus chapters 4 – 6

When Moses is given instructions on negotiating with Pharaoh for the release of his people, his complaint (to God!) is that he is not eloquent in speech – the same claim was made by St Paul (regarded as one of the most influential evangelists and writers of the early church) and is echoed in Isaiah’s “I am a man of unclean lips” (in fact a footnote tells us that Moses literally said “I am uncircumcised of lips”, much the same idea). So God suggests that his brother Aaron does the talking, while he gifts Moses with the ability to perform miracles that will outdo the tricks of the Egyptian magicians. It often seems to be the case that people are reluctant to recognise ways in which they can be of service to God, thinking that because they may not be “perfect” they are unworthy to serve at all. But in fact it is “in weakness that God’s power is made perfect”, and if we recognise in us the urging of the Holy Spirit towards some kind of service (be it preaching, evangelism, pastoral care, community service or political engagement) then we should pray for confidence and opportunities to put that call into practice, not shrink from the task on the grounds of inexperience.