Daily Scripture readings for July, set #7:
– Exodus, chapters 19-20
– Psalm, chapter 30
– Matthew 13:1-23
– Acts 18:18-28
The Exodus recording of the 10 Commandments is so much more epic than I remember. Smoke, clouds, trumpet blasts, animals dying… lots of drama. In keeping with the old covenant vs new covenant theme, I want to zero in on the Lord’s decree in verse 5 of chapter 19: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine” (19:5). IF… that is a huge if. As we all know, obeying God’s voice is not easy. A fundamental difference between old and new covenants, one that cannot be overstated, is the fact that the old covenant hinges on US, and IF we can obey God.
Already the Psalm readings have included a few texts that are familiar to me because of songs we regularly sing at New Hope Church (Psalm 25, for example). Today’s reading in Psalm 30 is another one that we often sing, forming the basis for a song called “Mourning Into Dancing.” I recently had a conversation with a friend about John Calvin’s perspective on music in the church. Calvin seems to suggest that ONLY Psalms should be sung in corporate worship gatherings. Anyone have any thoughts/reactions to that?
Matthew 13 has always been a fascinating chapter to me, and today’s reading of it was no exception. I’m struck by Jesus’ use of Isaiah quote in verses 14-15. He references Isaiah as part of his answer to the disciple’s inquiry as to why he always speaks in parables. His answer, followed by the Isaiah text, is this: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given… this is why I speak to them in parables” (vs 11-13). It’s remarkable that Jesus quotes this particular Isaiah passage, because the text quoted is part of God’s COMMISSIONING of Isaiah! It’s as if Jesus is saying: “I speak to the people in parables because they are blind to the truth anyway. Kinda like when the Father told Isaiah to go tell the people that they were blind.”
Again in Acts I’m noticing that the early church’s Gospel presentation was based on the Old Testament: “For he (Apollos) powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (vs 28). Apollos showed that Jesus was the Messiah by using the Old Testament. I wonder how many 21st century Christians could do that, if the need arose.