Bible safari: Matthew

Hi ladies and gentlemen. Can everyone here me okay? We’re here in front of the Matthew plateau where we will be exploring again today. We’re sure to find lots of interesting stories, wild tales that will make you reach for your study Bible! Fasten your seatbelts because….

First we have to take a side tour. Yes, folks, the gate was right in front of us. Believe me, you will appreciate this. We’re going back to the book at the end of the Hebrew Bible. What was the last text that Jewish believers would have read before they were introduced to Jesus?

No, good guess, but it was not Malachi. That was actually considered one of the twelve prophets and included in a different part of the Hebrew Canon. Ah, here we are.

We’re driving past the Torah, the first of three divisions. This set of books contains the history of humanity and specifically of the nation of Israel. It is a genealogy in itself. Sound familiar from our past few days in Matthew?

The next section, the  Neviʾim, is a fascinating study. It contains the history of the kingdom of Israel as well as the writings of the prophets who warned them against constantly jumping off-track to pursue other focuses than God. But up ahead is the third and final part.

And here is the Ketuvim, or “writings” which contains poetry, theology, and some history. This section has a little of everything. Make some comments and save some notes as we pass by Psalms, Song of Solomon, Proverbs. Daniel is around the corner, Ruth is right behind Proverbs there, and here is the end.

Did you notice how the road curved? Sometimes the books change places. This is a rather fluid location and can vary depending on the version you use. The last book may be Ezra/Nehemiah or Chronicles.

So how do we figure out what a devout Jew would have read as an introduction to Jesus? Well, all of it! The whole Old Testament is an introduction to Him, as shown in Matthew’s genealogy which contains three sections. Fascinating. I do not know if that has significance, but it is something to snap a picture of for later.

Specifically, 1 and 2 Chronicles review the history of the kings of Judah to show how a good king is needed. Nehemiah ends with an exasperated prayer as the newly rebuilt Jerusalem crumbles under the same disregard for God’s law that plagued it before the Babylonian captivity.

See,  here we are back at Matthew. Are you ready to go in? Ahead, you’ll notice some familiar people we waved to in our speedy run through the Hebrew Bible: Abraham and David first. Abraham was the founder of this family who was promised an everlasting covenant with God, David was the king who was promised that his house would endure, and his throne would be established forever…but not without interruption. The corruption of the section of Jesus’ genealogy surrounding the Babylonian captivity and after…there is a lot of confusion and the world seems to be a mess here.

And then we come to Matthew 1:18, and the birth of Christ. His mother was a virgin. His earthly dad was a righteous man named Joseph who had an angel give him an important message in a dream about the future. That’s an Old Testament throw-back! Just like Joseph’s dad’s name was Jacob. I wonder how much significance that has. In any case, these were people who were following God in the middle of a chaotic society.

We’re going to stop here and continue our exploration tomorrow. There is still more territory to see in Matthew 1, so be sure to come back. Please make sure to have all your belongings together, and do not forget to take all your notes! Especially sticky notes! Thanks for exploring with me today on this Bible Safari: Matthew.

God, thank You for the beauty of what You put into the Bible. I feel like today’s exploration only pointed out what I do not know about Bible history and culture. Thank You for remembering Your promises. Thank You for making promises despite what You knew would happen: human failure! Thank You for pointing the way through the Old Testament writings to Jesus, and how He would fulfill the promises and change the world. Please help me to see that more and more, and share the adventure with others. To You be the glory, Amen.

 

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