First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
A project I am currently working on has me in the time period of the Divided Kingdom, otherwise known as the time of the Old Testament after the death of Solomon.
To be honest, I, like most people, don’t know the time period of the Divided Kingdom as well as I know Genesis and Exodus, or as well as I know the Gospels. It is difficult to keep track of the kings, and to be honest, there are times where I am just not sure what exactly the sins of Israel are that kindle the anger of the Lord.
One of the reasons for the confusion I and many others suffer when it comes to this period of time, is that quite honestly, it does not come up a lot. Who wants to sit in a Bible study that talks about the unfaithfulness of the kings? Who gets up in the morning and decides to read a couple chapters of Ezekiel, or Jeremiah, or the Minor Prophets, because reading the doom and gloom of the prophets is how we all want to start our days?
And so we skip over it. We ignore the Divided Kingdom history as recorded in Kings and Chronicles, we gloss over the Major and Minor Prophets, and we go straight to the parts we know better, like Genesis and Exodus and the Gospels.
And yet there is important stuff in the Divided Kingdom period; it is not just space filler, it is the inspired Word of God, just as those more familiar books are the inspired Word of God. There are teachings of the prophets, and lessons of the kings that apply to our lives today.
And so I press on, and continue to try to make sense of the Divided Kingdom.
How do I plan to do this?
Well first and foremost, just by reading the text. You can have all the commentaries and videos and leaders in the world, but if you do not actually read the text, you are not going to get very far. Commentaries and footnotes and videos and leaders are all helpful, but they all start with the assumption that you have read the text. Hence, the first step in learning the texts of scripture, is to actually read the text.
I mention this, because one of the challenges Brian Young gave to us over A Creation Weekend was to read the Bible; and not just our favorite parts, but the entire Bible. Open the Bible and read 2-3 chapters a day, and in a year you will have read the entire Bible.
A guide for this may be found on p. 299 of Lutheran Service Book, which offers an outline for reading the Bible in a year. The schedule starts on Ash Wednesday, but just go to November 1st and start from there.
This will take discipline. This is not a 5 minute reading plan, it may take 15-20 minutes each day; and some days, it may feel much longer than that, especially when you find yourself in the prophets, and the text just does not make sense. But with time, you begin to see the history, see the connections, see that the Bible is not an impenetrable fortress, but that the Bible is a book that is tied together by a common theme: Jesus.
Martin Luther once wrote that the Bible bleeds Jesus. Every verse, every chapter, every book points us to Jesus. Sometimes this is very clear; other days not so much. But remember what the Small Catechism tells us: the purpose of the Old Testament is to point us to Jesus; and the purpose of the New Testament is to point us back to Jesus.
Jesus even shows up when you are trying to make sense of the Divided Kingdom.