Day 234 (Aug. 23): Death of Ezekiel’s wife a picture of what’s to come, Ammonites and Moabites will be overrun by desert nomads because they disrespected Judah, God gets revenge on Edom and Philistia, Zedekiah told of Babylon’s immediate invasion and his capture, punishment handed out for enslaving Hebrews, God refuses Zedekiah’s request to save Jerusalem from Nebuchadnezzar, God charges Judah’s royalty to use justice, Egypt punished because pharaoh claimed the Nile for himself, Egypt compared to fallen Assyria

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Ezekiel 24:15-25:17

Jeremiah 34:1-22

Jeremiah 21:1-14

Ezekiel 29:1-16

Ezekiel 30:20-26

Ezekiel 31:1-18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 24:15-17): Reading that God killed Ezekiel’s wife as a demonstration to the people on what their lives will be like seems cruel.  Ezekiel is putting up with a lot from God.  The lack of fairness comes to mind, but being fair is not something God has promised.  After going past my initial shock of his wife dying and Ezekiel not being allowed to mourn for her, I think how desperate these times are that God had to kill his messenger’s wife to try to get through to the people and how hard it must have been for God to make such harsh demonstrations and punishments.  These people are so obstinate.

A. It is a poignant scene, no doubt.  The wife’s death appears to coincide with the destruction of the temple, which surely caused Ezekiel a great amount of anguish as a priest.  God called upon him to mourn for his wife in a way that would be an example for his people: to carry on despite the crushing loss.

Q. (25:1-17): Has Ezekiel already lain on his side for over a year to take the sins of the Israelites and Judeans?  Here he has to travel to give messages to these other kingdoms, so I guess his time bound to bed is finished?

A. The story doesn’t tell us about when he completed the action, but no, I don’t believe that he is traveling to these lands as he’s a captive in Babylon.  He’s not allowed to leave.  God instructs him to symbolically “face” these nations and issue the statements.  He is not delivering these oracles in person.

O From Rob: If there’s any movie buffs out there who are fans of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (and I can’t say I am, just passing this along), Ezekiel 25:17 is the verse that Samuel L. Jackson’s hit-man character, Jules, uses when he is about to execute his targets.  If you watch the film, however, you will quickly note that the writers, including Tarantino, MADE UP most of the “verse” that Jules “quotes”, though the ending is similar to the King James Version.  I’m not linking to the scene, because it is extremely violent, but you might get a laugh out of how exaggerated the verse Jules uses is, and the way that it is played up to “sound” like a wrathful Bible verse.  Hollywood is certainly fond of treating the Bible in such a manner, so it is certainly wise of Christians to know what the Bible ACTUALLY says.

Q. (Jeremiah 34:1-7): Zedekiah is captured here, but I thought he was going to suffer for a while.  Here, it says he will die peacefully.

A. He will suffer by being sent into exile, rather than dying in the midst of battle.  The fall of Jerusalem is the conclusion of Babylon’s war against Judah; after this, “peace” is established by virtue of Judah’s people no longer resisting.

Q. (34:8-22): Is this passage out of order?  Zedekiah has been captured.  How could he make a ruling when he’s in exile?  Did he make it a while ago and now the people are not releasing the slaves?  I don’t know who is being addressed.  Who is doing the enslaving of Hebrews?

A. It’s not out of order.  Jeremiah is saying that Zedekiah’s capture is “about” to happen, and the city will be destroyed.  Jerusalem and its surrounding cities were under a long siege, which is about to come to an end.  So Zedekiah is not YET in exile.  Babylon is the only one enslaving the Judeans, but they are doing it slowly over the course of several years.

O. (Ezekiel 29:16): It’s so interesting to see all the countries at play here to make God’s messages come true, like here when He says that Egypt will be a minor kingdom so Israel will not be tempted to trust it and see how foolish they were to ever have trusted it.

Q. (30:20-26): We see that God is strengthening Babylon and weakening most other countries, like Egypt here.  Were there reasons (weather yielding good crops, politics, uprisings, etc.) other than God planned it this way — well, really the peoples’ sinning caused the suffering — that caused all of this turmoil.  What I am asking is “is it God’s pure wrath at hand or does He use forces of nature to show His wrath?”  I may have mentioned this before that I saw a program on the History Channel or somewhere like that that told about how the plagues could actually be explained through geography.

A. God can do as He pleases with such efforts, and He is certainly capable of using a nation like Babylon to humble His people and the surrounding nations including Egypt. Like His use of messengers, God is capable of using third parties to His own ends, but He can also speak for Himself as He does in His messages to Jeremiah or Ezekiel as we read about in these chapters.

Q. (31:14): Just wondered if the “pit” here is referring to hell?

A. No, just the grave.  We won’t see much reference to hell until the NT, which certainly doesn’t jive with the common trope that God is purely wrathful in the OT and peaceful in the NT.  The NT, frankly, has MUCH more to say about eternal damnation then the OT does — something to watch for.

Day 233 (Aug. 21): God insulted by Israelite leaders request for a ‘message’, God reminds them of their sins and their ancestors sins, God reprimands but promises to restore, message of fire for Negev, God draws His sword on Israel, Israel fooled by Babylon, Ammonites to be wiped out, wickedness prevails in Jerusalem

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Ezekiel 20-22:16

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 20:1-26): I know you will have a comeback for this gotcha questions.  But, in v. 3, God says he will not give the Israelite leaders a message, but then he goes on for the rest of this story and gives information for Ezekiel to pass on to the leaders.  Maybe it’s not the kind of “message” they desired?  Also, can you explain vs. 21-26?  In v. 25, God says that he gave Jacob’s descendants “worthless decrees and regulations.”  What story is this referring to?  God also allowed them to kill their firstborn as an offering to idols.  God has said that this is a detestable act.  Why would He allow it?

A. I’m sure “you’re going to die horribly for your sins” was not exactly the message they were seeking, so I would agree with your likely guess that God’s response was hostile.  In this instance, they were trying to take advantage of Ezekiel’s connection with God for their own gain (according to this reading), which was just one more insult to God Himself.

The verses you refer to have something to do with the radical laws of certain kings (specifically Ahaz and Manasseh) and their commands.  Per Exodus 13, as we looked at long ago, God required that every firstborn male be consecrated to Him, but it appears that these men required that the infants actually BE SACRIFICIED to these pagan gods in question (v. 26).  Not only was this a horrible affront to God as it related to His view of children, but the corruption of one of the most sacred laws of the Torah was simply insult to injury.  I think it is clear to see why God was upset.

Q. (21:4): Why would God cut off the righteous too?  In an earlier vision with the six men carrying weapons and the other wearing linen, God instructed that marks be put on some people and those people were spared in the massacre.  Here, he is not sparing anyone.

A. The punishment being enacted by God is severe, so everyone will suffer in this crisis.  This does not mean that God will kill them in the physical sense, but that they will be under judgment and part of whatever God allows to happen to the city.  In this case that is famine and suffering under siege.

Q. The sword symbolizes God’s wrath?

A. Yes, and the sword is “drawn” to bring down that wrath via the Babylonians.

Q. (21:27): Who is God referring to here when He says “it will not be restored until the one appears who has the right to judge it”?

A. My interpretation of the verse is that it refers to the Messiah, Jesus.  Note what is being said here: you princes and other rulers are about to lose your throne, and the throne will not be reestablished until I give it to one from your line (David).  No king will again sit on David’s throne until Jesus (and even He does it metaphorically), so that would be my explanation.  God will not give the true throne of Jerusalem over to anyone but the one to whom it rightly belongs: the Messiah.

Q. (22:1-16): I am confused because I thought God was going to bring the exiles back to a renewed Jerusalem, but here in v. 4, God says, “You have reached the end of your years.”

A. The judgment is upon the corrupt kings/princes that have served in Jerusalem AFTER the exiles have been taken, so God is free to proclaim judgment upon those who are left (remember our images of good and bad fruit from earlier in this book? -The bad fruit stayed in Jerusalem!) and still restore the exiles.  Only the corrupt face complete destruction; God will save His remnant, even if they must suffer through the process.

Day 215 (Aug. 3): Moab and Ammon will be destroyed, joined by Ethiopia and Assyria, Jerusalem remains stubborn, Jerusalem will be redeemed, Josiah dies from enemy arrow, the Philistines and Moabites will see destruction

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Zephaniah 2:8-3:20

2 Chronicles 35:20-27

2 Kings 23:29-30

Jeremiah 47-48:47

Questions & Observations

Q. (Zephaniah 2:8-9): This is an off-the-wall observation.  I hadn’t really thought about people’s and animals’ protection of “their” borders.  Does God say anything about this instinct we have?  We watched “Chimpanzee” the other day and the chimp groups had distinct borders.  We also have personal space or borders that we don’t want people to cross.  This is a protective mechanism, a survival instinct, or what?  Does God address it anywhere?  Also, v. 9 says, “The remnant of my people will plunder them and take their land.” So, this means the Israelites have the land of Moab and Ammon in addition to Canaan?  Is this setting up for the greater nation of Israel that we have talked about where other nations join them?

A. As far as I can tell, God does not address the nature of humanity and animals to claim borders.  If anything, the Bible teaches that God Himself regularly uses and shapes borders (see Genesis 1 for example, and all the “separations” God includes).  The writer of Joshua and Judges would have us understand that God provided the borders for the 12 tribes in the new nation that they formed, so we would hardly expect Him to condemn it when animals or other nations do it.  If anything, the Bible tells us that this desire originates in God, and is reflected in His creation.

Q. (Zephaniah 2:12-15): Now Zephaniah 2:8-11 doesn’t necessarily say that these happenings are being told directly to Moab and Ammon.  I think it sounds like it is being told to the Israelites.  But, vs. 12-15 sound like they are being addressed to the Ethiopians and Assyrians.  I know it’s not that important.  I am just wondering if these happenings are warnings to the nations or if they are prophecies being told to the Israelites.

A. I believe that they are both: the prophecy against Moab and Ammon would have been powerful signs to the Israelites, who saw them as enemy nations deserving of God’s wrath.  But God clearly, as with Israel, takes no pleasure in their destruction (Jer 48:36), but apparently feels that they must pay for their mockery of Israel and their worship of the idol Chemosh.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:7): God struggles terribly with impressing His power upon the Israelites.  They just don’t listen.  Is part of their problem that God cannot be seen?

A. Sure, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior.  Part of the reason God mocks the various idols of the people so mercilessly, i.e. they are just wood or metal, is that the people seem to find security in something they can touch and see, rather than having complete faith in God Himself, which they unfortunately cannot.  I frankly see this as being a problem of human nature — we trust what we can see a lot more than what we can’t — and it is surely still a problem with the various idols in our society.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:11): I don’t understand who Zephaniah is talking about when he says “you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against me.”

A. He’s talking about the restored Kingdom of God, when the people will be purified of their sin and live in harmony with their Creator.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:15): I remember waaaay back when the Israelites were demanding to have a king.  God said it wasn’t necessary because He was their leader, their king.  But, the people demanded one.  Now, here, the kings are gone, right?  And, God says He will live among them … just like he recommended.

A. You’ve remembered correctly.  In this instance, God is speaking about His future Kingdom, where He will rule among the nations.

Q. (2 Chronicles 35:22): So, Josiah should have listened to King Neco?  This was a weakness of Josiah that he didn’t want to be told what to do?

A. It appears to be a pride moment for Josiah, and he pays a hefty price for ignoring Neco’s warning.  It is surely strange to the story, I admit, that God’s word comes via a pagan king.

Q. (Jeremiah 48:7): I don’t remember hearing about Chemosh before.  Anything special about that idol?

A. We have addressed it before, but I can’t seem to find the reference to the question.  Chemosh was the idol/god of the Moabites and occasionally Israel: Solomon built an altar to Chemosh in 1 Kings 11, and he is mentioned in Judges 11 and Numbers 21.

Q. (48:10): Does this mean that those who can’t bring themselves to kill someone else in the name of God will be cursed?

A.  No.  God has assigned an army (probably Babylon’s army under Nebuchadnezzar) to the “task” of wiping out Moab, and does not want to see them delay: He wants the task done.  It is in no way a license to kill indiscriminately.

Q. (48:35-39, 47): God is super sympathetic to Moab and acts as if it hurts Him to be doling out this destruction.  And, then in v. 47, God says He will restore Moab.  Why does God have a special connection to Moab?

A. I don’t know of anything specific, but as I mentioned above, it appears that God simply takes no pleasure in this slaughter and promises to restore the nation in some form.

Day 101 (April 11): Saul searches for the one God annoints, Samuel anoints Saul, Holy Spirit came upon Saul, Saul acclaimed king, Saul defeats Ammonites, out of anger Saul cuts up oxen and sends to tribes, Samuel retells his service

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Samuel 9-12:25

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 9:21): Again, we have God choosing someone least expected, although he is the tallest in the land, so maybe that helps him get noticed?

A. It appears that the people wanted Saul as king because he was such a man of stature, but we can’t say exactly why God made Saul His king.  Saul passed the “eye test” in a way that David never will (as we will see shortly), but Saul (as we see in 10:22) is actually a fearful man who is not ready to rule the people, even though he will have his moments.  The writer clearly desires us to see the contrast between David and Saul, especially as the become rivals in a few chapters.

O. (9:22-24): So, Samuel had expected Saul all along because God had told him to expect someone to come (1 Samuel 9:15-16).

Q. (10:1): God has obviously told Samuel how to anoint someone.  Why the olive oil?  We may have talked about this before?  And, wouldn’t he go around with a oily head?  I know that’s not important, just a visual that turns on my curiosity.  About the prophets, were they in direct communication with God, or did they just here what we read in the Bible.  I would think that there are a lot of God’s messages that we don’t know about?  So, in 10:10, we read that the Spirit enters Saul and allows him to prophecy?

A. Olive oil (in addition to serving various cooking purposes as it does today) was used for a variety of health reasons — it is actually still used today as a hair treatment in the Middle East.  One of the things that the oil was used for was to protect animals (sheep in particular) from insects that would get into their ears: the oil was poured on their head to make the wool slick.  So that oil represented protection and also selection (a shepherd would use the oil to protect his sheep), which is where the symbolism comes from.  Oil represents selection or choosing when used in this way, and the most common oil was olive oil.

We obviously have no way of knowing about prophecy that is not included in scripture, but in this case, Samuel is using his prophetic vision to convince Saul that he has truly received an accurate vision of God of God’s plans for Saul.  The Spirit came UPON Saul, not within him (it is a similar idea to the anointing of oil).  The Spirit does not enter into people until Pentecost in the NT, after the atonement of Jesus.

Q. (10:9): What is meant here by God giving Saul a new heart?

A. God empowered Saul to be the king over all Israel.

Q. (10:27): Why would a king gouge out a right eye?  He is obviously a dictator.  I also don’t understand how anyone could gather that many men and perform this heinous act.  Same with when they gathered thousands of men to be circumcised, how was it possible?  Just watch the news and we see that massive imprisonments go on today by way of military.  I just wondered how they had such enforcement back then.  Military also?

A. The eye gouging would serve two purposes: first, anyone who saw the person would immediately know that they had been disfigured, which would have been a humiliation.  Secondly, there is a military significance as we discussed with the removal of big toes and thumbs: the Israelite army (like all armies of the day) would have used various forms of archer to win battles, and removing an archer’s eye would have rendered them almost useless in battle.

I don’t have a good answer on the logistics of these attacks, but I can tell you that if you have hundreds or thousands of men yourself, you can fairly quickly accomplish some pretty messy work.

Q. (11:7): Obviously, cutting something was a way to express anger in those days as we saw a few days ago with the concubine.  This act elicits a putrid image.  I’m sure Saul got everyone’s attention.  Who would be put to the task of delivering such a message to the tribes?

A. Likely servants of the tribe of Benjamin, Saul’s house.  It is possible that it was even Saul’s family servants.

Q. (12:12-17): Why did God provide a king if He is the king.  Why did he give in to the Israelites wishes?

A. Because they asked Him to.  In His mercy (9:16), He has given them the desires of their hearts, as any good Father will try to do (within reason).  The king will come to be a symbol of the entire Kingdom, so it will be able to see the fortunes of the nation in one man.  This is how the narrative will proceed until the destruction of Jerusalem almost 500 years later.

Day 93 (April 3): Shechem faces Abimelech, Tola and Jair are judges, Ammonites oppress Israel, Israelites seek exiled Jephthah as new commander

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Judges 9:22-11:28

Questions & Observations

Q. (9:57): So the curse Jotham delivered was from God?  I’m just asking because I don’t think that the Bible states that God was with Jotham.  Also, for our purposes, we don’t know much about Jotham except that he was Gideon’s youngest son and the only one of 70 sons who escaped his half-brother, Abimelech’s, killing spree.  In a Bible study I was in a year ago, we talked about how God has a purpose for everyone.  One mom had a daughter who had a severe issue with her brain.  I think she had a tumor and her life was pretty fragile.  The mom also had a brother with a severe ailment and I believe he died.  She always wondered what her brother’s purpose in life was if he was born with a disease that cut his life on earth so short.  Then, after her daughter was born, she wondered if her brother’s purpose was to prepare her for her own daughter’s medical condition, which of course, seems like a selfish reason for her and a selfless reason for her brother.  Likewise, my oldest sister has Down’s Syndrome.  I have yet to see the purpose God has for her.  She is very loving and always showed a lot of love for everyone growing up.  She would go to church and hug anyone she could.  Anyway, I know it’s not for me to figure out and it’s not important.  I just enjoy seeing God’s work.  Here, it seems that Jotham’s sole purpose, for our purposes, was to complete a scripture, which reminded the people of his curse.  Jotham does acknowledge God in his parable, but he seems to give his loyalty to his father, Gideon, alone.  He says in 9:16: “Have you treated him (Gideon) with the honor he deserves for all he accomplished?  For he fought for you and risked his life when he rescued you from the Midianites.”

A. Regarding the story, it appears that God avenged Himself against Abimelech for his misuse of the things given to him by his father, Gideon.  Gideon was the very fulfillment of what God can do with someone who society, or even the person themselves, thinks is a nobody.  But his son is the exact opposite: he took the things that God had provided his father (note that the story told us that making the ephod that caused this mess was a bad idea) and used them to corruptly rule the nation, and even murder other potential heirs to the “kingdom” Gideon established, even if Gideon explicitly said he didn’t want to be king.  Abimelech sinned greatly against God, and was called to account for it by being killed in battle in a dishonorable way — by a woman, rather than in combat, even if he tried to “fake it” afterwards.

Regarding a person’s purpose in life, you’ve literally opened an entire world of theological questions that simply do not have answers this side of heaven.  I believe that God has some purpose for each and every human life, but these purposes are not always revealed to us, and God is under no obligation to do so (Isaiah 29:16, Romans 9:20).  But since God is good, he often does reveal to us the purpose of life, and sometimes it is only at the end of our lives that we see the purpose and redemption of our lives or the lives of others.  But I suspect that because God is not a human being, and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), we may still not be satisfied — or frankly not understand — the purpose of some of the lives around us.  Until Christ returns, we live in a broken and sinful world, but even here, God has the power and desire to bring light even out of the apparent darkness of many human lives.  As with our discussion yesterday, we must ultimately decide whether we can and will trust God in these matters.  The final justice of life lies with Him alone.

Q. (10:4): I don’t think we have mentioned any importance of the number 30?

A. The number 30 is not one that is used frequently, and doesn’t appear to be a “symbolic” number.  The use of the number here is indicative of Jair’s wealth- only a wealthy man could have so much land, heirs, and livestock.

O. (10:6): This is the first time that I remember the Bible saying “again” when talking about the Israelites turning away from God.

O. (11:23-24): I like the way Jephthah turned the charge of the king of Ammon when Jephthah said the Lord gave the Israelites the land, so why should they give it back.  And for the icing on the cake, he said (11:24), “You keep whatever your god Chemosh gives you, and we will keep whatever the Lord our God gives us.”