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June Lectionary Background

The seasonal canticle for June consists of another two of Isaiah's psalms or songs of praise for deliverance. With the people of Israel, we can sing them today, as in Jesus God has delivered us from sin.

Now about halfway through the Church Year, in June we complete our first run through the Psalms and begin the second. Specific psalms to give special attention to this month are Psalm 1 (about the two "ways" or paths), Psalm 2 (quoted frequently by the New Testament and applied to Christ), Psalm 22 (from which Jesus Himself quotes while on the cross), and Psalm 23 (to be related to Jesus' self identification as the Good Shepherd in John 10 and just part of the rich Old Testament shepherd background for Jesus' teaching in the New Testament).

In the beginning of June, we finish the book of Acts. We pick up the story of the spread of the Church after Jesus' ascension with the account of the Jerusalem conference, which conference took place after St. Paul's first missionary journey (chapter 15), and we follow his second and third journeys and the unexpected way he got to Rome. (See Romans itself for St. Paul's expressing his desire to get there.)

On the 8th of June, we return to the Old Testament, starting to read what are called "The Former Prophets." Picking up where Moses left off in Deuteronomy (in more ways than one), the book of Joshua details the conquest and fulfillment of God working through the people of Israel now in the Promised Land. Joshua himself is a living prophecy of the God-man with the same name, Whom we know as Jesus. It may have been a pre-incarnate Jesus who makes a brief appearance in this book, and the book also tells of one of Jesus' ancestors, and it may surprise you who it is!

From June 14-June 20 we read Judges. The book of Judges, which word also means "leaders", tells of the days after Joshua died and again shows God's gracious provision of spiritual and political deliverers. Take special note of the cycle of disobedience and apostasy, foreign oppression, cries of distress, and deliverance. The people were faithless, but God was faithful. The events are strikingly like our time (in society and church) in that "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6 KJV).

On June 21st, we read Ruth. The book of Ruth is in sharp contrast to the accounts of the book of Judges, though set at the same time. This book tells more about the ancestry of David and thus also Jesus, but more importantly it shows us salvation is by faith and that deliverance comes from our Redeemer. Ruth 1:16-17 is frequently used as a wedding text, but note how its context is not that of a wedding, though there are weddings in the book of Ruth. (I have a recording of a wonderful contemporary musical based on Ruth, if anyone is interested in hearing it.)

On June 22nd, we continue in canonical and chronological order with 1 Samuel. Samuel, too, is a living prophecy of Jesus in that he was prophet, priest, and "king", even before there was a king. Samuel on God's behalf anointed Israel's first two kings and was instrumental in establishing the kingship as God's service. In June we read only as far as chapter 27; the ending of Saul's and the beginning of David's kingship will wait until July.


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