Happy New Year one and all. I hope that you are looking forward to this New Year as much as I am and that you will experience God’s blessings on your life as we travel through yet another year in which we may serve the Lord. I want to praise the Lord for all He has done for me in the previous year and dedicate myself to seeking how I may serve Him in the coming year. I ask God to place His Spirit upon me to direct me in the path He has chosen for me.
I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. In order to make that possible I read the passages and write my thoughts a day in advance. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.
I start the year with the Genesis account of creation. Actually we have two separate accounts here. However, they are not contradictory accounts, they merely have different foci. The first is about the creation of the universe and the creatures which live within it. The focus of this story is that God created the universe and all of the beings within it. It has as a secondary point establishing the position of mankind in relation to God and to all other living creatures. Mankind was created in God’s image to be God’s friend, although subordinate to God. However, mankind was placed in charge of all other living creatures so that he could manage them for God’s glory. God looked at all He had created and it was very good.
The second creation story focuses on how mankind relates to one another, in particular how men relate to women. When God placed man in the Garden of Eden to tend it and watch over it, He gave man a helper. So God took a rib from man and created woman to be similar to man, but not the same. Woman was created to complete man. While this story could be interpreted that woman is secondary to man, I do not believe that is what is meant at all. Woman complements man and makes him complete, just as man complements woman and makes her complete. The two are united into one and are made complete by this union. Men and women are designed to be partners who work together to serve God and tend to this world which He created.
Matthew here gives his account of Jesus’ birth. He tells us that Mary and Joseph were pledged to be married, something that was in that day more binding than engagements are today. Before they came together to consummate the marriage, Mary became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, while still a virgin. Joseph initially assumed that some other man was the father, but did not desire to publicly shame Mary. As a result, he decided to quietly divorce her. The implication is that he wished to leave her free to marry the man he believed she must prefer to himself (this is my understanding of Joseph’s thinking and is not supported by anything in either the Bible or other literature, nor is it contradicted, as far as I am aware). We are told that Joseph was a good man.
Having made his decision, Joseph fell asleep. In a dream an angel appeared to him and told him that he should not fear that Mary desired another man. Rather she had become pregnant at the working of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was to marry her and name the son she would bear, Jesus (which means “the Lord saves”). Joseph did as the angel instructed him, but did not consummate the marriage until after the child was born. Matthew tells us that this occurred to fulfill the prophecy given in Isaiah 7:14.
Matthew tells us that shortly after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem some dignitaries, or wise men, from the east arrived in Jerusalem. They began asking after the newborn king of the Jews, telling people that they had seen his star rise in the east. Matthew tells us that their questions disturbed King Herod, and consequently disturbed everyone in Jerusalem. Herod recognized that such a star could indicate the birth of no one other than the expected Anointed One (Messiah) of God. So he gathered the chief priests and religious leaders to ask them where the prophets said that the Messiah would be born. They informed him that it would be in Bethlehem of Judea. Herod called the wise men to him and told them to go to Bethlehem and search for the child. He requested that when they had found the child they return and tell him where it was, so that he could go and worship it as well.
As we read this, we realize that there were many in Jerusalem who understood that the portents pointed to the long promised Messiah being born in Bethlehem and that the appearance of the star in the east could only mean one thing. Yet, here we have Herod planning, not to accede to God’s will and acknowledge the One whom He had sent, but rather attempting to prevent it from coming to pass. We have in this passage a contrast between two men: Joseph, who did as God desired, and Herod, who attempted to circumvent God’s will. I pray to God the His Spirit rest upon me so that I may follow Joseph’s example and not that of Herod. The latter can only lead to heartache and pain.
If we delight in God’s commands and meditate on His word, we will prosper and bear fruit like a tree planted on a river bank. We will neither take advice from the wicked, nor hang out with sinners, nor join in mocking others. Those who follow those latter practices will be scattered by the wind and never amount to anything of worth. God will watch over our path if we strive to be godly, but the path followed by the wicked leads to destruction.
Studying the proverbs will teach us wisdom and discipline. Listening to the wisdom they contain and following the discipline they advise will help us to do what is right, just, and fair. Listening to proverbs will help the wise become wiser and give guidance to those who possess understanding. I will explore the meanings of the proverbs throughout the year so that I may better serve God.