We’re starting a regular weekly cycle reading passages from the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, in imitation of how Jesus and the disciples studied the scriptures. The whole process will take three and a half years. Passages from the Prophets and the Psalms are paired with those from the Torah, which often brings out hidden meaning and clarifies many of the sayings of Jesus.
We’ll publish the readings for each week here, and you are encouraged to comment, ask questions or add insights each week. Follow along with us!
More background on the Triennial Cycle is found here.
Torah Readings – Gen. 5:1 – 6:8 – Adam’s generations, the Nephilim
Satan’s first attempts to thwart God’s promise of the Messiah by corrupting Adam’s bloodline.
Haftorah – Isaiah 29:18-24; 30:15
Notes on Genesis 5:1 – 6:8
Fallen Angels and Evil Spirits
More on the Nephilim
Notes on Psalm 4
Notes on Isaiah 29:18-24; 30:15
Torah Reading – Gen. 3:22 – 4:26 – Banished from Eden, Cain & Abel
God promises that if we “do not well” like Cain, the sin offering is always available if we repent.
Haftorah – Ezekiel 28:13-19 + 24-26
Notes on Genesis 3:22-4:26
Humanity lost and regained
Psalm 3 Notes
Ezekiel 28 Notes
This year we’re bringing the ethrog ceremony – one of the most important aspects of the Tabernacles Feast – front and center.
The ethrog is a special fruit that was a vital part of the eight-day Jewish harvest festival of Tabernacles.
In a ritual ceremony, the “lulav” bundle of palm, willow, and myrtle branches is held in one hand and the ethrog in the other, and both are “waved.” The Talmud says the lulav and etrog represent the whole human body, with the ethrog representing the heart. Waving them reflects the command to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” Continue reading
Torah Reading – Gen. 2:4 – 3:21 – Adam and Eve, the Fall
Humankind’s fall into bondage to sin, and the promise of a Deliverer through the “seed of the woman.”
Haftorah – Isaiah 51:6-16
Isaiah 40:26 – 41:4
These readings span two weeks, through the Feast of Tabernacles.
See more notes here.
Why was Adam placed in the Garden?
The Garden was a test
Additional notes on Genesis 3.
Note: Genesis 3:15 as a prophecy of Christ
Notes on Psalm 2
The binding of Isaac is said to have occurred on Yom Kippur. The fast, which we will observe September 24-25, coincided with the sin offering offered for all Israel and the Kol Nidrei, the absolution of vows. Twin goats were chosen by lot, one for sacrifice and the other for release, bearing away the people’s guilt. It was the one time of the year that the high priest entered into the Temple’s Holy of Holies. Jesus fulfilled this feast:
Hebrews 9:12 – “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
Read the Yom Kippur memo here.
The Triennial Cycle Torah readings will resume October 2.
Torah Reading – Gen. 1:1 – 2:3 – Creation
We’re also celebrating Rosh Hashanah!
Psalm 1 – Delight in the Torah
Haftorah – Isaiah 42:5-13 + 21; Isaiah 44:24 – 45:5, 7;
Isaiah 45:18-25; 46:9-10
Isaiah 65:17-25; 66:22
Special: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20
See some additional notes.
Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez, 1867.
Zechariah 8:19 – Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.
The Fast of Tammuz, which we will celebrate this year on July 24, and the Fast of Ab on Aug. 14, mark off a season of mourning. The first fast reminded Jews of the day when the wall of Jerusalem was breached by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. (and later by the Romans in 70 A.D.). The second fast designated the complete destruction of the Temple and Israel carried off into captivity. The focus is on the idolatry that brought God’s judgment upon them, and a search to rid themselves of any idolatry within.
The medieval Jewish commentator Maimonides said that all these fasts would cease in the times of the Messiah. So Zechariah’s prophesy points to God’s final victory, which as believers we celebrate from our position as “seated with him in the heavenlies.”
The Passover that was celebrated by King Josiah was said to be like none since the days of Samuel the prophet. Why? Because after a copy of the Law was discovered, Josiah realized how far Israel had drifted from the truth. Josiah repented, and overturned all the idolatry that had permeated the nation. (This was also a foreshadowing of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple) Once there were no “strange gods” among them, Israel could celebrate the feast properly, with hearts open before God.
Let’s have that kind of Passover this year!
II Chronicles 35:18 – “And there was no Passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
(Image: King Josiah Destroying the Idols of Baal by Gustave Dore)
“I say to you, do not swear at all.” (Matthew 5:33-37).
The Bible is full of warnings about vows and expectations on ourselves or others. The reason? Instead of asking God to meet our needs, a vow (or a New Year’s resolution) puts us in the position of swearing before God that we’re going to accomplish something on our own.
Besides, it’s presumptuous. Consider James 4:13-15 – “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
The Jewish ceremony of Kol Nidrei on Yom Kippur declared all our vows as annulled and “made void.” And for those who “place no confidence in man,” the Kol Nidrei should apply every day.
Thankfully, God provides another way: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6).