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August Lectionary Background

The seasonal canticle is the Psalm-like prayer of Habakkuk, who petitions God to renew His deeds. Habakkuk puts that request in the context of remembering God's former deeds. We likewise pray this canticle with confidence and trust that God will renew His deeds!

We begin August continuing the Old Testament "Writings" by reading 2 Chronicles, which details the reign of Solomon and summarizes the reigns of Judah's other kings through to Judah's exile in Babylon and promised return. Solomon is another type of Jesus, as Solomon's temple also is fulfilled in Jesus.

One of the more faithful kings after Solomon was Hezekiah, whose notable reformation the divinely-inspired Chronicler details (beginning in 2 Chronicles 29). Hezekiah not only focused on physically cleaning the House of the Lord, but he also restored the service of the House of the Lord, making provisions for music, worship, and the sacred meal, as did the 16th-century Lutheran Reformation, focusing primarily on God's service to us.

On August 13-18, we continue reading "the Writings" by taking up the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which continue the historical account where Chronicles left off. These two books from our Bible were also originally treated as one, and may have been authored by the same person as Chronicles. It is generally thought that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem first (and rebuilt the Temple) and was later joined by Nehemiah (who rebuilt the city's wall). Both books show how God fulfills His gracious promise to the people by returning them from exile (as He delivers us from sin). We also see the importance of preserving the Israelites' genealogy as they await the Messiah, coming through a specific family line.

August 19-21 we read Esther. Esther was a Jewess who became queen of Persia. Though we read her book after Ezra-Nehemiah, she likely reigned before their time. She exhibits Christ-like qualities in being willing to die for her people and advocating on their behalf. This account gives the background for the annual Jewish festival of Purim, a festival of God's faithfulness to His people. God's faithful and gracious preservation of His people in the face of danger and opposition is readily apparent in Esther, and we should remember God's promise to likewise always preserve us.

August 22nd through the month's end we read the first part of Job, which is included in a subcategory of the "Writings", the Wisdom literature. The events of this book likely took place long before Esther, while the people lived under judges (before the reign of the kings), though possibly the events were not recorded until much later. As with 1 and 2 Samuel, the name of the book does not refer to its author (who is unknown) but to its central character. The book of Job shows well how God uses suffering to test and teach us. As Job asks his wife, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10 NASB), we are reminded that all things are truly in God's control. Job also anticipates Christ well: as Mediator (9:33-34), Advocate (13:18), Atoner (14:17), and Redeemer (19:25-27-the source of a favorite Resurrection and funeral hymn, TLH #200).

 


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