Welcome to day number 1 of the Fourth Semester of the Read To Me Daily reading plan!
We have three days left over in 1st Chronicles from last semester. There was a rather important shift in Israel’s religious life that happened with David and his plans for temple worship rather than the older pattern of worship at the Tabernacle: It was that the priests and Levites were re-organized into groups appropriate to the new state of affairs, and no longer strictly based on the original family lines. This reordering was still in effect at the beginning of the New Testament, where we read that Zechariah was a member of the priestly division of Abijah.
Today’s highlighted verse from the book of Proverbs is this:
Pro. 21:30 GNT Human wisdom, brilliance, insight—
they are of no help if the Lord is against you.
Today we start the Gospel of Matthew! It is thought that Matthew could have written this narrative as early as 50 AD. Some material was based on Mark’s Gospel. Tradition claims that Matthew was Levi Matthew, the tax collector who became a follower of Jesus in chapter 9.
It is clear that Matthew’s Gospel was written for the Jewish audience. And indeed, at the time this was written, the Gospel had not yet gone far among the non-Jews. Again and again Matthew points to fulfillments of Scripture.
An odd feature of Matthew’s Gospel is that sometimes ‘one’ thing or person in another gospel’s account switches to ‘two’ in Matthew. My own original opinion on that feature is this: According to Jewish law, every assertion needed to be supported by at least two witnesses. So when Matthew’s account has ‘one becoming two’, I think Matthew was dropping the hint that he was an eyewitness.
I saved Matthew for the last of the Gospels to be read in our reading calendar because I wanted to group together several New Testament books written to the Jewish audience.
Heavenly Father and our Lord Christ Jesus, I ask You to bless my listener through this reading plan. Thank You, Father and Son, for your amazing kindness and mercy that put us right with You. Thank You that as Paul said in Titus 3, our right standing with You is not at all based on any good works done by us. We are so encouraged by Paul saying that we eternal life now, even though we wait with hope for all that will mean for us. Therefore, what use is it for us to carry around malice or hatred? None at all! Help us to get rid of all vestiges of our former foolish and disobedient life. And please help us to see that our possession of eternal life now means that most of our quarrels and arguments are useless and foolish. Guide us in maintaining the precious unity between our fellow believers. May we also, like the believers in Crete, learn how to ‘provide for real needs’— especially helping people who are sent out to do your work like Zenas and Apollos. May your gracious kindness be with us— working in our hearts, and motivating what we do and say today.