Studying the Truths of the Old Testament | 02
Read or listen to Isaiah 61 and Luke 4:16–30.
The Spirit of the Lord God is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify him.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins;
they will restore the former devastations;
they will renew the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
Strangers will stand and feed your flocks,
and foreigners will be your plowmen and vinedressers.
But you will be called the Lord’s priests;
they will speak of you as ministers of our God;
you will eat the wealth of the nations,
and you will boast in their riches.
In place of your shame, you will have a double portion;
in place of disgrace, they will rejoice over their share.
So they will possess double in their land,
and eternal joy will be theirs.
For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and injustice;
I will faithfully reward my people
and make a permanent covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations,
and their posterity among the peoples.
All who see them will recognize
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord,
I exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation
and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,
as a groom wears a turban
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth produces its growth,
and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me
to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
They were all speaking well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from his mouth; yet they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Then he said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Doctor, heal yourself. What we’ve heard that took place in Capernaum, do here in your hometown also.’”
He also said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them except a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had leprosy, and yet not one of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They got up, drove him out of town, and brought him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl him over the cliff. But he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
Why do you think Jesus chose to read that Old Testament passage? What are examples of his fulfillment of that Old Testament passage?
The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.
Read or listen to the blog. What is one thing you learned about the character of God?
What About the Bible?
By Stephanie Nelson
Bible Study Basics for When You’re Feeling Stuck
A few weeks ago, I was putting my three-year-old daughter to bed, and after we had brushed her teeth, put on her pink unicorn pajamas, read a few bedtime stories, and cuddled together in her too-small-for-two-people bed, it was time to end our night like we always do—singing a duet of “Jesus Loves Me.” Once we finished, I gave her a hug and a kiss and started my attempt to slip out of her room. I was almost to the door when I heard her sweet little voice call out to me, “Mom, why does the Bible tell me that Jesus loves me?” I froze, tried to gather all the pieces of my proud mom heart that had just exploded, and climbed right back into that tiny bed with her.
Lying together in the glow of her night light, I began to tell her the story of God’s love for us. And in typical three-year-old fashion, she had a lot of questions for me.
“Why didn’t the people listen to God?”
“Why did Jesus want to be with us?”
“Does the Holy Spirit have bones?”
She’s only three; they weren’t all good questions. When she finally had answers that were satisfying, I was dismissed from her room, and she quickly fell asleep cuddling several of her favorite stuffies, completely unaware of the theological depth of the topics we explored together.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Later, as I reflected on this absolutely adorable conversation, I was reminded of the value of knowing Scripture well. It’s obvious that a deeper knowledge of the Bible is helpful while we strive to disciple our children, but likewise, a strong familiarity with God’s word greatly impacts our own understanding of who God is and how much he loves us. Still, I hear time and time again from my brothers and sisters in Christ of their wish to be better-versed in Scripture (pun definitely intended). In fact, just a few moments ago, I received a message from a teenager I disciple expressing her deep desire to grow in her biblical literacy, but feeling as if she doesn’t know where to go from here. It seems like this is where I often find people: hungry, but stuck and wrestling with the nagging question of what to do next.
So, what do we do? How do we bridge that gap between our feelings of inadequacy and having confidence in our Bible study abilities? Unfortunately, I don’t have a secret formula to offer that will unlock all of the Bible’s mysteries. In fact, everything I’m about to share I’m sure you have already heard before. But important things bear repeating, so here is my simple, humble, and nothing-new advice for anyone looking to grow in biblical literacy.
Read the Bible
Often I find that people actually skip a vital first step. If we want to know Scripture well, we have to read our Bibles, and that means we have to prioritize it in our daily schedules. Reading Scripture is a discipline, and it takes work on our part. But it is one that is well worth it. As we read Scripture and walk through the entirety of the Bible (yes, even Leviticus), we can begin to see how it all comes together to tell one magnificent story of God’s love for his people. When we don’t spend time reading, or skip entire sections of the Bible altogether, we’re robbing ourselves of the beauty of how God has revealed himself to us through his word.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “That sounds great, but I just really and truly don’t have time,” I invite you to ditch the idea that a morning “Quiet Time” is the only way to do this. Sure, it’s wonderful when we get to start our day off with some alone time, a fresh cup of coffee, and an hour in the word of God, but there is nothing superior about that setting compared to reading on your lunch break, in the school carpool line, or while your kids are watching Daniel Tiger. Take some time to look at your daily schedule, be realistic, and intentionally make time to dive into Scripture daily.
Engage with the Bible
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the word of God is living and active. Being living and active, the Bible presents us with opportunities to personally engage with it as we read. Some of the ways we can practice this engagement are:
- Ask a lot of questions about a passage and seek answers
- Meditate on and reread a verse or passage again and again in an attempt to memorize it
- Journal thoughts or emotions that Scripture stirs in you
- Physically write out entire passages
- Read a passage and then sit in silence, listening for God
- Take detailed notes as you read
These practices allow us to spend time dwelling on God’s word and force us to notice subtle yet important details we might otherwise overlook. Over time, these practices can help us see trends, patterns, and themes that wonderfully illuminate the entire story revealed to us through the word of God. Even when I revisit passages I’ve read a hundred times, I’m amazed at how God continues to reveal himself in new ways through his word.
Wrestle With the Bible
There will be times when you come across some passages you simply don’t understand. When that happens, spend time sitting in the discomfort of not knowing. Resist the urge to pick up your phone and Google your questions. Instead, spend time wrestling with the word of God: read the passage again, read the surrounding passages, sit on it for a while, and come back to it later after praying for discernment. I’ve always been greatly rewarded when I chose to do this rather than seeing what quick answer the internet offers. However, after you’ve done the work of wrestling, don’t be afraid to use outside sources to understand Scripture better. We were not meant to study the Bible in isolation, so seeing what others have to say about a passage can be incredibly beneficial. Reading a book, listening to a podcast, or joining a formal Bible study are all excellent supplements to our time spent reading Scripture that can really deepen our understanding of the Bible.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a story of God and his people, and his radical love for us is the heart of all of it. As we faithfully read, engage, and wrestle with Scripture, may we grow in our knowledge of God’s word and allow it to truly transform our lives.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your word. Help us understand the whole story of the Scriptures, seeing how it all points to Jesus