Studying the Historical Books


After completing our 3 1/2-year cycle of readings in the Torah, we decided to continue with the historical books that follow, beginning with Joshua.

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July 21, 2024 – Observe the Fast of Tammuz

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 begins a three-week season of mourning and repentance. 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 Fast of Ab three weeks later designates the complete destruction of the Temple and Israel carried off into captivity. The focus of this season is on the idolatry that brought God’s judgment upon them, and a search to rid ourselves of any idolatry within ourselves.

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.”

Notes on the Fast of Tammuz

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July 14, 2024 – 2 Kings 1 – Ahaziah’s Short, Pathetic Reign

Ahab is succeeded by his son Ahaziah. The new king falls through the railing on the roof of his palace and is injured. He sends messengers to ask for healing from Baalzebub, the god of Ekron. Elijah intercepts his messengers and tells them that the king will die. The king sends soldiers to arrest Elijah, but God consumes them in fire from heaven. Elijah eventually confronts the king in person, and his prophecy comes true – Ahaziah dies.

Notes on 2 Kings 1:1-18

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July 7, 2024 – 1 Kings 22 – Ahab is killed, and ‘dogs lick his blood’

When Israel’s King Ahab tries to convince Judah’s King Jehoshaphat to join him in retaking a city from the Syrians, he has 400 false prophets predict victory. But one prophet – Micaiah – instead says Ahab will die, and dogs will lick his blood. Micaiah is thrown back into prison, but events turn out as he predicted.

Notes on 1 Kings 22:1-53

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June 30, 2024 – 1 Kings 21 – Naboth’s Vineyard

King Ahab wants to buy a vineyard from Naboth, but is refused. The Law forbade Jews from relinquishing their inheritance in the Promised Land. Queen Jezebel conducts a treacherous scheme to falsely accuse Naboth of blasphemy and disloyalty, and he is executed. Ahab then seizes the vineyard, but God sends Elijah to confront Ahab with a dire prophecy.

Notes on 1 Kings 21:1-29

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June 2, 2024 – 1 Kings 20 – ‘Slay Each His Man’

A war with the Syrian king Benhadad prompts an unnamed prophet to promise King Ahab victory. But he fails to finish the job by executing Benhadad – “A man whom I appointed to utter destruction.”  The story reveals an underlying thread of gospel truth, that we each must “slay our man” i.e. ourselves – accept our death and go to the cross.

Notes on 1 Kings 20:1-43

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May 12, 2024 – More on Mt. Horeb and 1 Kings 19

Rabbinical tradition considered Mt. Horeb (Sinai) as a sacred mountain, and found references to mountains serving as types for Israel and even the Messiah.  Elijah’s experience of the “still, small voice” of God there embodied a whole host of meanings –  from the death and resurrection of the Israelites at the giving of the Law to the suffering of the Messiah to come. The concept we would call death to self and or picking up the cross was present in Jewish tradition even at the time of Christ.

Notes in Mt. Horeb, Counting the Omer, and ‘Nullification of Self’

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April 27, 2024 – 1 Kings 19:9-21 – Elijah Travels to Mr. Sinai

We find the prophet Elijah depressed and at the lowest point in his life. He flees to Mt. Sinai (Horeb), where God speaks to him in a “still, small voice.” On his return he calls Elisha to be his companion.

Notes on 1 Kings 19:9-21

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