Days 3 & 4 » Micah

This blog post was written by Bonnie Duncan. Bonnie is the Director of Chi Alpha at Georgetown University.

This blog post was written by Bonnie Duncan. Bonnie is the Director of Chi Alpha at Georgetown University.

Editor’s Note: We might be a little late on this, but in our defense we were living up that Winter Retreat life.

With media filled with stories of reports, violence, corruption, war and terrorism occurring around the world, it’s easy to wonder how--or if--faith fits into it all. The book of Micah reveals that even when God seems distant or uninterested, he still deeply cares and offers a message of hope and redemption to those that remain faithful to him.

If you’re keeping up with the plan, you may be wishing scripture didn’t include scenes like these. Since the split of the of the Kingdom after the reign of David, God’s chosen people in both Israel in the north and Judah in the south have turned against their covenant with God. Micah directed much of his prophecy toward the powerful leaders of Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah, respectively (1:1).

The prophet Micah identified himself by his hometown, called Moresheth Gath, which sat near the border of Philistia and Judah about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. So basically, Micah lived in the countryside and far from the government centers of power and control. As a result, he witnessed first-hand the mistreatment of the lowly and less fortunate in society--the poor, the lame and the afflicted (Micah 4:6). Because of these experiences, social justice is a major theme in both the book of Micah and some of the other minor prophets.

Much of Micah’s book revolves around two significant predictions: one of judgment on Israel and Judah (Micah 1:1–3:12), the other of the restoration of God’s people in the millennial kingdom (4:1–5:15).

Judgment and restoration inspire fear and hope, two ideas wrapped up in the final sequence of Micah’s prophecy, a courtroom scene in which God’s people stand trial before their Creator for turning away from Him and from others (6:1–7:20). In this sequence, God reminds the people of His good works on their behalf, how He cared for them while they cared only for themselves.

The book of Micah does end on a high note with the prophet’s call on the Lord as his only source of salvation and mercy (7:7), pointing the people toward an everlasting hope in their everlasting God.

In spite of the judgement the people are facing, God still has not abandoned his plan for hope and redemption.

Day 9 » The Passover Lamb

Today's post is written by Bonnie Duncan. 

Today's post is written by Bonnie Duncan. 

Today’s Reading » Exodus 3, 11-12

I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land.” Exodus 3:7-8

Exodus is one of my favorite books in the Bible. It’s a story of God’s supernatural rescue of the Israelites from Egypt’s oppression. Despite the supernatural rescue and despite the miracles, the Israelites rebel and turn away from God. The beauty of this story is it reminds us that imperfect people can still get to know a God who loves them perfectly.

Moses wrote this book for the Israelites as a reminder of how God rescued them from slavery. Exodus is a book that details God’s progressive revelation to his people. It’s the book where God establishes trust, makes Himself known, and establishes the law to give a framework for how His people can know him and be set apart as His.

Exodus reveals God’s direct involvement in human history, his concern for the oppressed, and the lengths that He will go to reach the people He loves.

We pick up today with chapter 12: the Passover—one of the central events in the history of Israel, and yet another foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice.

Just as the Israelites were called to trust God for deliverance from their bitter enslavement to the Egyptians, so are we called to trust Jesus for deliverance from our enslavement to sin.

The details of Passover provide another glimpse of the thread of redemption:

We also see numerous other New Testament references to the Passover. 

Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians:

“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Jesus said to people on the road to Emmaus:

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27 

While Passover was the beginning of Israel’s redemption, it foreshadowed a much bigger redemption plan for the world. 

Day 2 » The Protoevangelium

Today's post is written by Jon Rice and Bonnie Duncan. Day 2 starts us with the Fall. 

Today's post is written by Jon Rice and Bonnie Duncan. Day 2 starts us with the Fall. 

Today’s Reading » Genesis 3, 6-8

Then the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 NLT

Genesis 3:15 is known as the protoevangelium — the first gospel. This is where the thread of redemption begins.

These verses introduce two elements previously unknown in the Garden of Eden, elements which are the basis of Christianity—the curse on mankind because of Adam’s sin and God’s provision for a Savior from sin who would take the curse upon Himself.

In verse 14, God is speaking to the serpent, cursing him to grovel in the dust as long as he lives. In verse 15, God switches from condemning the serpent to the one who inhabited it, Satan.

In this moment of confrontation between God and this personification of evil in this form of reptile a snake, He prophesies that these words would come true: He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

In the midst of the first sin, in the midst of the fall of mankind, God already has a plan for redemption. We see this passage as the first reference to the cross. The serpent is a personification of evil. An offspring of woman, God sent His Son Jesus into the world to destroy the power of evil and death once and for all (he will strike your head), but this wasn’t a clean blow.

It cost Jesus the striking of snake’s teeth in the heel of a man. In order to do this, Jesus had to suffer the death that we deserve. A death that is impossible to describe or fully understand. Jesus not only endured the pain, but the curse of being sub-human. During the times, Roman crucifixion was reserved for those considered sub-human.

There's a passage in the Old Testament that refers to how cursed a person is who hangs on a tree:

“The body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God.” Deuteronomy 21:23 NLT

Jesus carried the curse of God by hanging on a tree.  

In Genesis 3:15, God provides this subtle hint, this foreshadowing and an event that happened over 1,500 years later. God is saying in that moment that one day evil be destroyed, but it will cost something from a seed of the woman to crush it.

Side note (this is free):

“And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” Genesis 3:21 NLT

This begins the first animal sacrifice. In the midst of their shame and brokeness, God made them clothes. And with it this theme of life for life and blood for blood begins.  

In Exodus, the Jewish people are spared the punishment of the death of the firstborn because they put the blood on the doorpost.

In Leviticus and Deuteronomy, God establishes animal sacrificial system for different sins. But these sacrifices aren't enough. Piles of dead animals can't remove murder, adultery, idolatry, etc.

Throughout scripture there is a constant foreshadowing of a perfect sacrifice. Culminates some 1,500 years after the first words are written, in a different language, in a completely different setting. The most important event in human history takes place when God becomes man, and decides to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Everything has all been leading up to this moment, when we find ourselves in another garden, after having just celebrated the Passover, when Jesus prays and asks God to NOT die for your sins.

But that’s another blog post. Spoiler alert.