Good morning dear listener and welcome to this morning episode of From Alpha To God. I will come up with a better name, because that doesn’t sound all too descend.
First two questions: what am I going to do and why am I going to do that. The answer to the first questions couldn’t be more straightforward, because basically what I’m going to do is Bible study. I’ll read for a little bit, preferably one chapter and tell you what I think about it. So why do I want to do this? I recently noticed that my walk with God became a bit more on the background. I prayed less, read the Bible less than I used to do and I thought: ‘Well, that’s a bit of a shame actually’. Although I think that pattern of ups and downs is quite usual among Christians. Still I was a bit bummed out by it, so I thought: how can I handle this?
I tried several things, like following a reading plan or listening to podcasts (for example Ask Pastor John), but it didn’t seem to work out. Or to say it in another way: I couldn’t persist.
I think that’s one of the most challenging things in Christianity, to start your day, everyday, with God. I think there’s a lot of value in that time with God in the morning and that’s why I thought: ‘Okay, let’s try this and see how it goes’. I hope I can do this for as long as I can, but I made it my own goal to try this for at least a week and see how long I can persist.
So, Bible study. The hardest question to ask before one starts is: which translation do I use. For those reading the transcript it’s not relevant, because when you read this you probably don’t know the Dutch translations, but I chose for the ‘Herziene Statenvertaling’. For the transcription readers you can pick whatever translation you want. For English translations I prefer the ESV.
My idea for this was to start with the Gospels. I think it’s good for any Christian to read the gospel front to end, no matter how often you read it. You’ll probably find something new still.
To prevent getting the Christmas feeling too much I’ll start with Matthew 1, because in my opinion aside from the start of the Christmas tale there’s a lot of value in the first chapter of Matthew. I’ll skip Matthew 2 and then jump to Matthew 3, where John the Baptist already comes into sight.
Matthew 1: read verse 1-17.
When you read this you might wonder: Wow, that’s a lot of names, but what do I care? Great that Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel, but what do I care? People who read the Bible for the first time and start with the Gospel read this and might think: ‘What on earth is going on here?’
I think it’s pretty important, because the last bit of Matthew tells some more about Jesus, let’s take a look.
Matthew 1: read verse 18-25.
So, a few important things. First, the genealogy of Jesus. I’m not sure why it’s in there and why the book starts with the genealogy, but I think the author wanted to convince the reader that the Jesus described in the coming chapters really is the Son of David and Abraham. Although the 3 times 14 generations looks quite nice, people argue that Matthew chose it to be that way, but that’s not even the main point. The author wanted to convince the reader: look, this man really was the promised Son of God.
Second, another point to notice. The text clearly states: “they shall call his name Immanuel
, which means, God with us”. I think that’s the most important thing at the beginning of the Gospel.
God was with His people during the time Israel still had a temple. He was in the temple and therefore was accessible to the people. That was different though, because what about when the temple was destroyed? Was God still with them? Moreover, the people of Israel failed so many times to do the Will of the Lord and they turned to other gods so many times. They had turned their backs to God more often than not. God could’ve easily said: ‘Whatever, I won’t bother anymore with you guys.’ But He didn’t do that, because He promised a new covenant with His people, to send His Son to the earth. That’s something we’ll read more often in the coming chapters, that “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet”. With this the author says: look, the Old Testament already said it, and now God kept His promise.
God is truly with us, through Jesus.
I hope you, dear reader, can do something with that. It always is the question what you can do with a piece of texts you read in the Bible. Because when you read the Bible you go into the world. You study, go to school or go to work. What do you do with that piece of text you just read?
I hope the idea that Jesus came to earth and God fulfilled His promises can change our day just a little bit. He goes wherever we go, He is with us.
I’d like to end this recording with a prayer.
Dear Lord, Father in heaven. Thank you for your word, that it is accessible to us. That we have the luxury of picking the translation we like best. In other countries they might not even have a complete Bible, but you gave us your Word. Thank you that you show us through your word that You are with us. That you send your Son to the earth, that we can trust You and that You show us that You keep Your promises. Please go with us today when we go into our daily lives again.
Bless us Lord, with peace, love and the necessary motivation to do what we have to do or do what we love to do. Amen.