Bible Reading Week 9 (Feb 28th – March 6th, 2022)

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7; Week 8

The lectionary for this week takes us right up to the edge of two great turning points in the narrative. In Exodus 7-13 in the Old Testament readings, we encounter the 10 plagues, the passover and the Israelite departure from Egypt. We stop just short of the crossing of the Red Sea.

In the journey through the gospel of Matthew, we read of further miracles (12:15-21; 14:13-36; 15:29-39), teaching episodes (e.g. on family, 12:46-50; 13:53-58), the third “sermon” which takes the form of an extended series of parables (13), and the increasing tensions between Jesus and the Pharisees (12:22-42; 15:1-20; 16:1-12). We stop just short of the turning point of Matthew, when Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (16:16).

This week’s notes are limited to just the list of questions, which I hope to return to and address at a later point.

List of Questions

  1. Exodus 7:3, 13, 22, 8:15, 19, 32, 9:12, 34-35, 10:1, 20, 27, 11:10: what does it mean for God to harden Pharaoh’s heart? And what is the relationship of this to Pharaoh hardening his own heart?
  2. Exodus 8:4-5: why is there no initial response this time from Pharaoh?
  3. Exodus 8:18: why can’t the magicians produce gnats?
  4. Exodus 8:22: why now the distinction between Israelites and Egyptians?
  5. Exodus 9:31-32: what’s the purpose of these two verses? 
  6. Exodus 12:23: what is the destroyer?
  7. Exodus 12:37: is 600,000 the right translation?
  8. Exodus 12:42: when was this written? There seems to very much be a later present day sense to this account.
  9. Exodus 12:43, 48: so can a foreigner eat Passover?
  10. Exodus 13:6-7: why is this material repeated?
  11. Exodus 13:13: what does it mean to redeem a firstborn donkey with a lamb?
  12. Exodus 13:21-23: why a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire?
  13. Matthew 12:25-27: what is the logic of Jesus’ argument here?
  14. Matthew 12:31-32: what is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
  15. Matthew 12:36-37: what is the role of speech in the judgment? How does this relate to the verses on speech in Matthew 7:21-23?
  16. Matthew 12:43-45: what is the meaning of these verses?
  17. Matthew 12:46-50: what do these verses say about family? 
  18. Matthew 13:10-17: so why does Jesus speak to the people in parables?
  19. Matthew 13:39-40, 49-50: is the role of angels here in judgment consistent with other early Christian and Jewish texts? 
  20. Matthew 14:9: why is Herod distressed at having John executed if he wanted him killed (5)?
  21. Matthew 14:28: why would Jesus asking Peter to come out of the boat on to the water convince Peter that it was Jesus?
  22. Matthew 15:1-10: what, in context, is Jesus saying about the traditions of the Pharisees and the elders?
  23. Matthew 15:21-28: is Jesus initially reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman’s daughter and if so why?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Bible Reading Week 8 (Feb 21st- 27th, 2022)

Week 1Week 2Week 3; Week 4; Week 5; Week 6; Week 7

This week sees us finds us at the beginnning of Exodus in the OT/HB readings and in a section of Matthew’s gospel that begins to introduce more overtly, the opposition Jesus and his followers will face.

Exodus is vital for our understanding of covenant (cf. 2:24), atonement and salvation (see the final plague or act in Exodus 12), and political theology (it is particularly poignant to read of Israel’s harsh treatment at the hands of the oppressive Pharoah on this week of all weeks). In this week’s section, it is the nature and character of God that stands out. In particular, we encounter God’s presence and his name. We are re-introduced once more to the care and concern of a God who is concerned present or “with” his people (see the references to God being with Israel in 3:12, 18; 4:12, 15; 5:3, picking up on God’s promises to be with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob throughout Genesis). And we read the amazingly rich account of God revealing his name, in three stages, to Moses in Exodus 3.

In Matthew, we begin with a cycle of miracles and healings (8:18-9:38) that introduce Jesus’s power over nature and illness and his ability to forgive sins. Dark clouds of opposition appear as Jesus is accused both of having a demon and blaspheming. Matthew then introduces the second block of teaching (after the Sermon on the Mount, 5-7) with the missionary sermon/sending of the 12 (Matthew 10). This section introduces further promises of opposition and hardship for thsoe who follow Jesus (cf. 10:24-25 which neatly connects the opposition Jesus encounters with the expectation his followers should have of similar treatment). Chapter 11 introduces further disputes over fasting, woes on unrepentant Jewish cities. This week’s readings then conclude with two disputes about the Sabbath (12:1-21). The question this week deals with Pharoah’s enslavement of the Israelites.

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