Random Ramblings

Reflections on my walk with God


Struggles with Romans

I initially hesitated when an idea was posted on Twitter to do a Bible study which covered the Gospels of Luke, John and the book of Acts (#luke2acts), as I had never done a Twitter Bible study before, and had just finished reading Luke-Acts. I am so glad that I decided to join in for many reasons. Reinforcement of the daily discipline of scripture reading was only one of the benefits. There was no pressure and people felt able to dip in and out as they were able. There were enough of us involved that if any slipped behind we knew that someone else would have commented. As happens in the twittersphere, new contacts were made and older ones renewed.

I enjoyed it immensely. I had previously completed book-based and online Bible studies alone, but the daily interaction and encouragement really supported my own studies and I learned a lot. Hungry for more when we finished, I suggested that we carry on! Romans to Revelation suggested itself and so #Rom2Rev was born.

I have read Romans before, twice all the way through as part of “Bible in a Year” studies (which took about 3 years and 15 months, respectively), and various chapters and passages at other times. In my previous reading I had tended to “leave to one side” the parts that are troubling. As many of us do – and not just with Romans.

I feel a real kinship with those who are participating in #Rom2Rev.  We have collectively struggled with the difficult scriptures, not necessarily finding answers but the act of delving deeper is rewarding in itself.  There are fewer of us participating in this study and along with the complexities of the material we are all having difficulties in to keeping up.

At no time have I considered myself to be the leader – just the impetuous one who thought it would be fun to carry on and so put together a timetable for the study. It has been suggested that we  take 2 days per chapter, I think that would be useful for the rest of Romans, and we may need a week or so to collect our thoughts before continuing! The other letters, hopefully, will not be so taxing so maybe we could have 2 days for the longer chapters, but stick with a day for the shorter ones. We may need much more time for Revelation!

The thought does occur and should be spoken – do we want to continue after Romans? It is a time commitment, and Twitter is certainly not the best vehicle for deep discussion, however for myself the act of trying to sum up ideas succinctly helps my understanding. I do think that none of us should feel obliged at any time to comment on every verse or even every chapter, it is enough to know that others are reading along and struggling/learning/rejoicing with us.  If time only allows the highlighting of one verse,  or even the acknowledgement of having read that day’s chapter, I think that’s enough. 

We can never aspire to truly grasp the whole meaning of these writings on this side of eternity; at present “we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 )

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The Good Shepherd

I posted this a while back as a note on YouVersion and have come back to it as I’m just reading Luke 10 as part of the #luke2acts Bible study on Twitter.

This chapter of Ezekiel has just jumped off the page at me! In it we see the whole history of the nation of Israel and God’s promises to them and to us.

The priests and leaders have not looked after the people – they have lead them astray and have exploited them.

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God : Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.(Ezekiel 34:2-4ESV)

As a result the nation has been exiled and scattered but The Lord will bring back His sheep.

So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. (Ezekiel 34:5, 6, 11-13 ESV)

The Lord himself will be the shepherd and will protect them (us) and lead them (us) to good, safe pasture.

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 34:15, 16, 23, 24, 31 ESV)

Later on we read in Zechariah
“My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like his majestic steed in battle. Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me, and with their children they shall live and return. I will bring them home from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria, and I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon, till there is no room for them. (Zechariah 10:3, 9, 10 ESV)

Compare these verses to Psalm 23 in which David recognises that The Lord is his shepherd and will lead him to safe pasture and feed and protect him.

Also we see woven through these all of verses the promise of the Messiah, who will be set above us all and will be our shepherd.

In the gospels Jesus often refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. The one who will search for the lost sheep and will gather them in.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd”. (John 10:10, 11, 14-16 ESV)