Bible Reading Plan

Being connected to God is important. Diving into the Word daily is a great way to ensure that you are continually developing a relationship with your creator. Join us as we read through the Bible.

This is a Two-Year Bible Reading Plan.  We are currently in Year 2 of the Study.  
 
A prayer for when you read the Scriptures:
 

“Take away, O Lord, the veil of my heart while I read the Scriptures.  Blessed art thou, O Lord:  O teach me thy statutes!  Give me a word, O Word of the Father: touch my heart:  enlighten the understandings of my heart:  open my lips and fill them with thy praise.”

-Lancelot Andrewes (1755-1626), quoted in the Oxford Book of Prayer, 285

April

1 Hosea 7:8 – 9:9; Romans 13:1 – 7

2 Hosea 9:10 – 11:11; Romans 13:8 – 14

3 Hosea 11:12 – 14:9; Romans 14:1 – 12

4 2 Kings 17:1 – 23; Romans 14:13 – 23

5 2 Kings 17:24 – 41; Romans 15:1 – 13

6 Micah 1, 2; Romans 15:14 – 21

7 Micah 3, 4; Romans 15:22 – 33

8 Micah 5, 6; Romans 16:1 – 16

9 Micah 7; Romans 16:17 – 27

10 2 Kings 18; Acts 20:7 – 16

11 2 Kings 19; Acts 20:17 – 24

12 2 Kings 20; Acts 20:25 – 38

13 Isaiah 1; Acts 21:1 – 6

14 Isaiah 2; Acts 21:7 – 16

15 Isaiah 3, 4; Acts 21:17 – 26

 

16 Isaiah 5; Acts 21:27 – 36

17 Isaiah 6, 7; Acts 21:37 – 22:5

18 Isaiah 8 – 9:7; Acts 22:6 – 16

19 Isaiah 9:8 – 10:4; Acts 22:17 – 29

20 Isaiah 10:5 – 34; Acts 22:30 – 23:11

21 Isaiah 11, 12; Acts 23:12 – 22

22 Isaiah 13 – 14:23; Acts 23:23 – 35

23 Isaiah 14:24 – 16:14; Acts 24:1 – 9

24 Isaiah 17, 18; Acts 24:10 – 23

25 Isaiah 19, 20; Acts 24:24 – 27

26 Isaiah 21, 22; Acts 25:1 – 12

27 Isaiah 23; Acts 25:13 – 22

28 Isaiah 24, 25; Acts 25:23 – 27

29 Isaiah 26, 27; Acts 26:1 – 11

30 Isaiah 28; Acts 26:12 – 23

 

 

 

 

Below are some questions, reflections, and notes to aid you in this week’s reading.
 
April 22-28

 

Isaiah 13.1-14.23

 

13.1-23.18 contain oracles against foreign nations.  Cf. Jeremiah 46-51; Ezekiel 35-32.  “The word ‘oracle’ (burden) is a technical term and occurs in the headings of Isaiah’s speeches (against each nation (13.1—Babylon; 17.1—Damascus; 19.1—Egypt; 23.1—Tyre)” (Willem A. VanGemeren, “Isaiah,” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1989), 484).

 

13.1-5.  The armies of the Lord gather in order to do battle against Babylon.  “This introduction employs what is known as “Day of the Lord” language. As such, it is a mixture of historical and suprahistorical references” (Johnson).

 

13.6-8.  The “day of the Lord” is described in traditional imagery (Harper Collins Study Bible).  For the imagery of “birth pangs,” cf. 21.3; 26.17-18; 66.7-8; Jeremiah 4.31; 22.23; Micah 4.9-10; Matthew 24.8; Romans 8.22.

 

13.9-10.  The “day of the Lord” is drawing near and has cosmic implications.  See the Scriptures quoted above.

 

13.11-14.  It is not just Babylon who will be punished but the entire world will be punished for its evil, iniquity, and arrogance.  “The historical event (of Babylon’s fall) is described in cosmic, larger-than-life terms because of the greater reality that it anticipates and points to:  the eventual fall of the whole world system which stands in opposition to God” (Barry G. Webb, Isaiah, BST. (Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP, 1996), 81).

            13.12.  For Ophir, cf. 1 Kings 9.26-28; Job 22.24; Psalm 45.9.

 

13.15-16.  The destruction will be horrific.  For the imagery of children being “dashed to pieces,” see Hosea 10.14; 13.16; Nahum 3.10.

 

13.17-18.  The Medes, in Isaiah’s day, “were the barbarians of the ancient Near East, living beyond the eastern fringe of the civilized world and always threatening to overwhelm it” (Webb, 81).  The Medes were later incorporated into the Persian Empire which eventually captured Babylon in 539 BC. 

 

13.19-22.  For the first time since the introduction to the oracle in verse 1, Babylon is mentioned by name.  Isaiah’s oracle sees Babylon being devastated and inhabited only by wild animals.  “The Chaldeans were an Aramean tribe from southern Babylonia that dominated Babylon from about 725 until 539 BC” (Harper Collins Study Bible).

 

14.1-2.  A brief interlude in which Israel’s restoration is foreseen.  This would have been a word of comfort to the Israelites.  What promises of God do you need to claim today?

 

14.3-4.  Israel is encouraged to take up a “dirge,” a traditional funeral song, which mocks the end  of Babylon. 

 

14.5-7.  The defeat of Babylon leads to peace in the earth.

 

14.8.  The nations, compared to trees, rejoice that Babylon will no longer be able to “cut them down.”

 

14.9-11.  The kings of the other nations who have already died welcome the king of Babylon to “the realm of the dead” (literally, Sheol).  The king of Babylon is now no better than they are!

 

14.12-15.  Though the king of Babylon once thought of himself as God, he has brought down into Sheol, “the realm of the dead.”  Though multiple interpreters have seen in these verses a reference to the fall of Satan, there is nothing in the context which suggests this.  It may be, though, that “the king of Babylon…is a representative figure, the embodiment of that worldly arrogance that defies God and tramples on others in its lust for power” (Webb, 83).  In any case, the verses remind us of the destructiveness of earthly pride and arrogance and how, ultimately, all humans are destined for the grave (unless the Lord returns first).

 

14.16-21.  The other kings in Sheol continue to mock the king of Babylon.  Indeed, unlike the other kings, the king of Babylon will be denied a proper burial. Verse 20 may be a reference to the way that kings of Babylon killed their own citizens in order to keep control. 

 

14.22-23.  A conclusion concerning the fate of Babylon.  “Its judgment is sealed, and its final state is likened to a swamp, good only for animals” (VanGemeren, 485).

 

Isaiah 14.24-16.14

 

14.24-27.  An oracle against Assyria which would have been the great world power in Isaiah’s day.  “This oracle is a testimony to the certainty of Yahweh’s plan. He swears it; it will be done. Assyria will be destroyed” (Dan Johnson, “Isaiah,” in the Asbury Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), accessed at http: biblegateway.com).

            14.25.  Cf. 10.27-32.

            14.26.  Cf. 10.4.

 

14.28-32.  An oracle against Philistia spoken approximately 715 BC (the year King Ahaz died).  The Philistines (supported by the Egyptians) carried out a revolt against Assyria after the death of Shalmaneser V (who died in the 720’s).  Verse 32 suggests that the Philistines endeavored to enlist the aid of Judah under Hezekiah.  In contrast to the plans of man, Isaiah urges trust in the Lord.  Assyria, as Isaiah predicted, would ultimately crush the revolt.  “In contrast to the wise and invincible plan of the Lord are the foolhardy plans concocted by men who refuse to acknowledge the Lord” (Webb, 85).

 

15.1-16.14.  An oracle against Moab.  Moab was Judah’s neighbor to the east.  The tone of this oracle is considerably different than the ones against Babylon and Philistia.  Perhaps Isaiah and his people are shocked by the devastation against Moab.  For Moab’s relationship to Judah, cf. Genesis 19.36-38; Judges 3.12-30; 2 Samuel 8.2.

 

15.1-9.  Multiple cites of Moab are mentioned encompassing the nation from north to south (though no particular order is apparent).  It appears that Moab joined Philistia in the revolt against Assyria.

            15.2-3.  For Nebo, cf. Numbers 32.3, 38.  The mourning ranges from the “high places” to the streets.  The mention of “high places” may suggest pagan worship practices and serve as an inherent warning to Judah to trust the Lord fully rather than the Canaanite gods.

            15.5.  “My heart cries out…”  These may be Isaiah’s words or the Lord’s words (speaking through Isaiah).

            15.7-8.  The “Ravine of the Poplars” (NIV: “Wadi of the Willows,” NRSV) may refer “to the Zered River which marked the Moab/Edom border” (Webb, 87) though the location is uncertain.  Regardless, the listing of cities from all over Moab suggests total destruction.

            15.9.  As the NIV footnotes suggests, Dimon apparently represents a wordplay on the city of Dibon;  (see verse 2); Dimon sounds like the Hebrew for blood.

 

16.1-5.  Moab’s refugees seek shelter from Judah.  Verses 4b-5 suggest that Moab’s ultimate safety (as well as Judah’s) will be found when “the messianic kingdom will be established, when a king will rule on David’s throne with faithfulness, justice and righteousness” (VanGemeren, 485).

 

16.6-7.  Moab’s pride has caused its own disaster.  Does our pride ever cause “disaster” for us?

 

16.8-11.  “In verses 6-7 the prophet speaks on behalf of all his countrymen; in verses 8-11, he speaks for himself” (Webb, 88) as he takes up the lament for Moab and mourns its destruction.

 

16.12-14.  Isaiah concludes and applies the oracle against Moab.  Moab will not find security in its high places or sanctuaries (verse 12).  Within a short period (three years), Moab will be completely destroyed (verses 13-14). “How foolish Judah would be, then, to seek security in an alliance with Moab” (Webb, 89)!

 

Isaiah 17-18

 

17.1-6.  An oracle against Damascus, the capital city of the Aramean nation, begins.  Damascus was located to the north of Judah (Babylon and Moab east, Philistia west.  The oracles are moving around the compass).  Perhaps because Aram and the northern kingdom of Israel/Ephriam/Jacob (verses 3-4) had allied against Judah in what is known as the “Syro-Ephramite war” (735-732 BC; cf. chapter 7), Isaiah lumps them together in this oracle of destruction.  Assyria destroyed Damascus in 732 BC and Samaria (the capital of Israel) in 722 BC. (Johnson).  Look for the repetition of “on that day” in verses 4, 7, and 9.

            17.1-2.  Damascus traced its origins to a desert oasis.  “The judgment reverses the progress of Damascus; it will again be a place where flocks are pastured” (VanGemeren, 486).

            17.3-4.  The northern kingdom comes into the oracle. 

            17.5-6.  Very little will be left of the northern kingdom.

 

17.7-8.  The judgment on Israel will actually lead to repentance and the turning away from idolatry.  Has suffering ever led you to a time of repentance?

 

17.9.  The cities of Israel will become like the cities fled by their predecessors in the land of Canaan, desolate.

 

17.10-11.  The reason for Israel’s judgment is given.  It is not because they foolishly joined Aram in an alliance against Assyria (though they did); it was because Israel has “forgotten God (their) Savior and have not remembered the Rock…”  The imagery of the latter part of the verses may be derived from “the worship of the Canaanites (which) consisted largely of the performance of rites which were thought to induce fertility in flock and field by a kind of sympathetic magic” (Webb, 91).

 

17.12-14.  Though the Lord’s enemies sound like the “roaring of waters,” they are mere “chaff” and “dust” blowing in the wind, gone in a moment.  What “troubles” in your life sound like “roaring waters?”  In what way do you need to trust the Lord to deal with them?

 

18.1-2.  Isaiah turns his attention to “Cush,” a land which included present-day Ethiopia (as it is translated in NRSV).  Instead of being introduced as “an oracle,” the passage begins with “Woe” (cf. 17.12 where the same word appears).  Cush was to the south of Judah, thus bringing the “compass” to more or less full circle.  By this time, Cush was incorporated into Egypt; hence, this chapter forms a transition to the oracle against Egypt which follows.  It’s possible that this chapter was inspired by “envoys (who) were sent to Jerusalem to persuade Judah to join with them in a revolt against Assyria. Isaiah may have been on hand to see them arrive” (Johnson).

            18.1.  Land of “whirring wings” connects Cush as the origin of locusts.

            18.2.  Cush was divided by the Nile.

 

18.3-6.  People must wait for the Lord’s harvest.  The Lord will cut off the branches of the nations as a vineyard keeper cuts off “the shoots with pruning hooks” (NRSV).  How often do we run ahead of God?

 

18.7.  The nation that sent “messengers of war” (verse 2) will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. 

 

 

Isaiah 19-20

 

19.1-4.  An oracle against Egypt (the nation to whom Judah was tempted to turn when threatened by Assyria and later Babylon).  The judgment against Egypt will be swift and result in internal division (verse 2), confusion (verse 3), and tyrannical rulers (verse 3).  It’s possible that this reflects the rule of the Ethiopian Piankhi who founded the twenty-fifth dynasty beginning in 715 BC (Harper Collins Study Bible).

 

19.5-10.  “The death of Egyptian society is symbolized in the death of the heart of Egypt, the Nile” (Johnson).

 

19.11-15.  Egypt was renowned for its wisdom teachers.  Yet, Egypt’s wisdom is foolishness because it cannot explain the Lord’s plans and is “powerless to counteract them” (Webb, 95).  Cf. Paul’s insight into human wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1.18-25.

 

19.16-25.  An expansion of the oracle against Egypt divided into five segments introduced by “In that day” (verses 16, 18, 19, 23, and 24).  The segments move from Egypt fearing Judah to Egypt’s turning to the Lord in faith.  Verses 20b-22 represent a “reverse” Exodus in which the Lord will strike Egypt with plagues not to rescue Israel but to heal Egypt.  Egypt will be joined in its faith towards the Lord by Assyria with both being united with Israel.

 

20.1-2.  Ashdod (Philistia) joined Egypt in a revolt against Assyria in 714-711 BC.  Isaiah is instructed to walk around “naked and barefoot” which would mark him as a “prisoner of war.” Total nudity is not necessarily implied nor does it necessarily mean that Isaiah was constantly naked. 

 

20.3-4.  Isaiah’s behavior was a sign that the Assyrians would “lead the Egyptians and Ethiopians” away as captives. 

 

20.5-6.  To rely on Egypt was sheer folly for Ashdod (as well as for Judah).  It is a reminder for us that “the crises we face will not be solved by looking to the world for solutions” (Webb, 98).

 

Isaiah 23

 

23.1.  An oracle against Tyre.  Tyre was a power for international commerce.  Tarshish may have been a Phoenician colony in Spain (or elsewhere in the western Mediterranean) but its exact location is unknown.  In any case, “ships of Tarshish” became synonymous with large trading ships (cf. Jonah 1.3).

 

23.2-3.  Sidon was a neighbor Phoenician city to Tyre. 

“of the island,” parts of Tyre were built on two islands off the coast of Phoenicia (present-day Lebanon).

“the harvest of the Nile…”  Tyre and Sidon had been enriched by trade with Egypt.

 

23.4-5.  Word of Tyre’s destruction is spread throughout the Mediterranean area.

 

23.6-7.  The people are warned to flee the destruction of Tyre.

 

23.8-9.  How did this destruction of Tyre come about?  It was the Lord’s plan to “bring low the pride of all glory.”  Tyre had no doubt placed its trust in riches rather than in the Lord.  How are we tempted to do the same?

 

23.10-12a.  The ships of Tarshish no longer have a harbor due to the Lord’s judgment against Tyre.

 

23.12b-13.  Babylon was attacked by Assyria in both 710 and 689 BC with the latter resulting in more destruction.

 

23.14.  The cry for the Ships of Tarshish to “wail” is repeated from verse one producing “bookends” for the passage.

 

23.15-18.  “Tyre is compared to an old prostitute unable to attract interest…After a period of time the people will be restored, but they must also recognize that a portion of their income must be set apart for the Lord of Hosts” (Willem A. VanGemeren, “Isaiah,” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1989), 489). 

 

Isaiah 24-25

 

Chapters 24-27 “are known as Isaiah’s ‘apocalypse’ because in them the prophet Isaiah introduces God’s universal judgment, the renewal of the earth, the removal of death, and the effects of sin, the deliverance of his people, and the victorious rule of God” (VanGemeren, 490).  “Apocalypse” literally means “the revealing” and is the Greek word translated “revelation” (as in the book of Revelation).

 

24.1-3.  The entire world is about to be completely laid waste.  For verse 2, cf. Hosea 4.9.

 

24.4-6.  The reasons for God’s judgment is given.  Compare what Paul writes in Romans 1.18-32.  “The present passage shows us a world so abused by those to whom it was entrusted that it can no longer sustain life…” (Barry G. Webb, Isaiah, BST. (Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP, 1996), 106).

 

24.7-13.  All the vineyards have withered due to famine; the result is that there is no wine with which to celebrate.  The city is one of “chaos” (verse 10) and “desolation” (verse 12).

 

24.14-16a.  Though there is no joy for the land in chaos, there is joy for the remnant “who acknowledge the Lord and welcome his judgment as the triumph of right over wrong” (Webb, 107).  Cf. Revelation 5.9-10.

 

24.16b-20.  There is no escape from judgment.  Note the emphasis on “the earth.”

 

24.21-23.  “On that day…” cf. 17.4, 7, 9.  “All powers, spirits, demons, and forces of evil will be cast out of heaven and imprisoned in a ‘dungeon’ (cf. 2 Peter 2.4; Revelation 19.20-21; 20.10)” (VanGemeren, 490).

 

25.1-5.  A hymn of praise from the remnant for their redemption.  Read it slowly and make it your hymn of praise.

 

25.6-8.  The Lord prepares a feast for all peoples (verse 6).  He will destroy death and wipe away tears (cf. Revelation 7.17; 21.4).

 

25.9-10a.  The people respond with praise.  Note the emphasis on “we have waited” (NIV—“trusted”).

 

25.10b-12.  While God’s people respond with praise, his enemies (represented by Moab) will be “trodden down” and laid low” (NRSV).

 

Acts 23.23-35

 

23.23-24.  The tribune gives orders to two “centurions” to prepare an escort of heavy infantry, calvary, and other armed troops.  He was not going to risk being responsible for the assassination of a Roman citizen.

 

23.25-26.  We learn the name of the tribune (Claudius Lysias) for the first time.  Lysias suggests that he was Greek by birth.  We also learn the name of the “governor” (Felix) as the tribune addresses the letter.  It would be interesting to know how Luke got access to the contents of the letter though the wording “after this form” (verse 25) suggests that Luke’s report of the letter is not necessarily “verbatim.”

 

23.27.  Lysias “cleans it up” a bit for Felix.  He did not learn that Paul was “a Roman” (that is, a citizen) until almost having him flogged (22.24ff.) (which he conveniently leaves out!).

 

23.28-29.  Lysias has at least figured out by now that the question is one of “theological interpretation.”

 

23.30.  We had not been told that Lysias has ordered Paul’s accusers to take their case to the governor.

 

23.31-32.  The soldiers leave around 9 PM and march the approximately 35-40 miles from Jerusalem overnight.  The infantry leaves Paul with the calvary to make the additional 25 miles trip to Caesarea.

 

23.33-35.  “Officials had the authority to try the accused, where he might be from, for crimes committed in their region of jurisdiction; but the reverse was also true, and it would be easier for Felix to expel Paul from his own region than to take time to try him…Cilicia (at this time) was governed as part of Syria.  The Syrian legate had too much territory to concern himself with a relatively minor case, so Felix assumes jurisdiction he might otherwise have deferred” (Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Downers Grove, IL:  IVP, 1993), 394). 

 

Acts 24.1-9

 

24.1.  An attorney named Tertullus is enlisted by the leaders of the Sanhedrin to bring the charges against Paul.

 

24.2-4.  Both flattery and the promise of brevity were customary in rhetorical arguments of the day. The word translated “be kind enough” (NIV, verse 4) was used as an honorific title (“Your Clemency”).

 

24.5-6.  Tertullus makes three charges against Paul, beginning with the more general and concluding with the more specific:  he was a troublemaker (“pest”), a ringleader of the Nazarene sect (the only place in the New Testament where the term Nazarene/Nazorean is used in reference to followers of Jesus), and he tried to desecrate the temple (a serious charge and difficult to both disprove or prove).

 

24.6b-7.  Note the NIV’s footnote.

 

24.8-9.  Tertullus puts the ball in Felix’s court, and the Jewish leaders with him agree with the charges.

 

Acts 24.10-23

 

24.10.  Paul spends considerably less time “buttering Felix up.”

 

24.11.  Paul acknowledges that Felix can discover the true facts for himself.

 

24.12-13.  Paul refutes the charges directly.  Note how Paul’s response is much more specific than his accusers.

 

24.14-16.  While refuting the charges, this is what Paul does admit:  he’s a follower of “the Way,” a believer in the resurrection, and one who “strives” to keep his conscience clear (cf. 23.1).

 

24.17.  Paul had returned to Jerusalem in order to bring “alms and offerings” to the poor.  This is the only reference in Acts to the collection which Paul had organized in the Gentile churches (cf 2 Corinthians 8-9, and multiple other references in the letters).

 

24.18.  Paul categorically denies the accusation that he had “defiled the Temple.”

 

24.19.  It was not Paul who had caused the tumult but “Jews from the province of Asia (present-day Turkey).

 

24.20-21.  Cf. 23.6. 

 

24.22.  Some speculate that Felix’s knowledge of “the Way” came from his wife Drusilla (verse 24).  In any case, it’s a surprising bit of information.

 

24.23.  Felix chooses to wait to get more information from Lysias the Tribune, and he gives Paul a reasonable amount of freedom “as befitted a Roman citizen against whom no crime was proved” (Bruce, 471).

 

Acts 24.24-27

 

24.24.  Drusilla was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I and was probably not yet 20 years of age. 

 

24.25.  Apparently these three subjects made Felix and Drusilla very uncomfortable!

 

24.26.  It’s unclear why Felix thought that Paul had access to money.  But the description is in keeping with what we know of Felix.  The historian Tacitus said of Felix that “he exercised the power of a king with the mind of a slave.”

 

24.27.  Note that Paul is in prison in Caesarea for two years!  Since Felix had gotten his position due to the influence of his brother, Pallas, who had lost his position in Rome, he needed all the “friends” he could get.  Felix’s governorship is dated from AD 52-59.

 

Acts 25.1-12

 

 

Acts 25.13-22

 

25.13.  “King Agrippa” is Herod Agrippa II, son of Agrippa I who was “King” of Judaea from 41-44 (his death is noted in 12.1).  Agrippa II was only 17 when his father died.  He later succeeded his uncle (Herod of Chalcis) as “king of Chalcis and eventually more territory was placed under his control.  Bernice was Agrippa’s younger (by a year) sister.  She had married her uncle when she was 13 but left him and lived with Agrippa.

 

25.14.  Agrippa had the reputation of being an expert in the Jewish religion so Festus turns to him for advice concerning Paul’s case.

 

25.15-19.  Festus gives an account of the case to Agrippa II.  The case centered on disputed points of Jewish law, in particular on a “dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.”

 

25.20-21.  Festus had suggested that Paul stand trial in Jerusalem, but Paul appealed to Caesar.

 

25.22.  Agrippa wants to hear Paul for himself.

 

Acts 25.23-27

 

25.23.  With much pomp, Agrippa II and Bernice enter the hall.  In addition to Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice, Festus’ staff is there along with the leading citizens of Caesarea.  Like formal ceremonies today, it was meant “to impress.”

 

24.24-25.  Festus hands over the conduct of the inquiry to Agrippa.

 

24.26-27.  Festus is at a loss as to how he should draw up his report.

 

Reflect on this comment by F. F. Bruce regarding verse 23:  “All the Very Important Persons would have been greatly surprised and not a little scandalized had they been able to foresee the relative estimates that later generations would form of them and the handcuffed Jew who stood before them to plead his cause” (The Book of the Acts.  NICNT.  (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 1981 (reprint), 484).