Day 239: (Aug. 27): Lord’s anger is like an enemy’s to Jerusalem, Jeremiah cries out to God for mercy, Jeremiah tells of his mockery, Jeremiah is steadfast to hope for relief, Jeremiah asks God for revenge on his enemies, after all the destruction and suffering, God’s anger is satisfied, Edom will be punished for celebrating Jerusalem’s demise

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.

Lamentation 2-4

Questions & Observations

Q. (Lamentations 2:1-22): Reading this, I can’t help but imagine what Jeremiah is going through.  He prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the anguish of the people.  Now, he is living among it.  I was tearing up as I read His description.  Then, we read where He is pleading to God to be fair.  V. 20 was a clear image where he says, “Should mothers eat their own children, those once they bounced on their knees?”  So, this goes on for 70 years?

A. No, he’s describing the condition of the siege.  Once Jerusalem was destroyed, the people became subjects of Babylon and under the rule of the leader of Judea, who would take better care of them in theory at least.  That’s not to say they had it easy, but nowhere nearly as bad as during the siege.

Q. (3:1-20): I never imagined that Jeremiah would not be spared.  I didn’t think about him suffering along with the others.  He is obviously pouring out his anger at God for these devastating times.  But, then in v. 21, he does a 180° turn and proclaims God.  This reminds me of Job, David, Solomon and others who have cried out to God, blaming him, but then following it with their faithfulness to Him.

A. Lamentations 3 is one of my favorite chapters of the whole Bible, because it lays out the devastation of God’s wrath and the anguish of Jeremiah in agonizing words, but then turns to say that God is still the hope of His people, and His mercies are ever new.  Amazing!

O. (4:12): Like I have said, sometimes I’m slow to realize things.  I always thought Jerusalem was a lesser metropolis because we continuously talk about her invaders, especially Babylon and Egypt and how powerful they were.  But, here, it’s apparent that Jerusalem really was grand because it says, “Not a king in all the earth — no on in all the world — would have believed that an enemy could march through the gates of Jerusalem.”  (And, like Rob said the other day, Jerusalem was on higher ground with land “flowing with milk and honey.”)

Day 234 (Aug. 22): Remaining Israelites will feel God’s anger, God compares Jerusalem and Samaria as adulterous sisters, Oholah and Oholibah committed sin by worshipping idols and sacrificing their children to their idols, Nebuchadnezzar beseized Jerusalem for two years, God says the people will burn in their filth, God gives no pity to 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 22:17-23:49

2 Kings 24:20b-25:2

Jeremiah 52:3b-5

Jeremiah 39:1

Ezekiel 24:1-14

Questions & Observations

Q. Is there significance to the names of the “sisters” in this reading?

A. Yes.  The older sister, Onolah, which represent Israel/Samaria, means “her tent.”  This is most likely a reference to the unauthorized places of worship set up in the Northern Kingdoms where the “spiritual prostitution” that Ezekiel is describing in graphic detail took place.  Judah is represented by Oholibah, which means “my tent is in her,” which refers to the place of worship in the Temple, and the pagan worship that took hold there under the corrupt kings.

Q. (Ezekiel 23:22-23): Why are all of these countries interested in attacking Jerusalem anyway?  For their treasures?  Or are we just supposed to know that God made it happen so the Israelites would be destroyed?

A. There’s a few reasons: first, as our readings have described over these last few months, the land in Judah/Israel was very desirable and good for growing crops such as olives and grapes.  Jerusalem itself was set in very high country relative to the surround area, so that also made it desirable.  But ultimately what we are talking about here is trade routes: Judah was set along a major trade road that many nations, including Egypt, used to import and export goods.  Since Babylon is a major enemy of Egypt at this point, controlling this route is a great way to weaken its great enemy.  Those, I think, provide three good reasons why Judah and Jerusalem were targeted.  But do note what got the place ultimately leveled was Zedekiah’s betrayal of his loyalty oath to Nebuchadnezzar when he tried to join Egypt against Babylon.

Q. (23:27): Is God saying that the Israelites wickedness came from Egypt back when they were enslaved or more recently?  I didn’t remember the Israelites worshiping idols until they started traveling in the desert.

A. If you remember the Golden Calf incident back in the dessert, the calf itself was an Egyptian deity — though it is possible there were other influences as well; several local cultures revered a deity represented by a bull, a common ancient symbol of strength.  You could certainly make the argument, as God is doing here, that Israel “learned” these terrible worship practices while slaves in Egypt.  Note what happened in Exodus: at the first sign of trouble with this “new God” who has rescued them (when Moses was gone for forty days), they reverted to some form of pagan worship with the calf image.  I think it is quite fair to say that they picked up this bad “habit” in Egypt.

Q. (23:46): God is asking Ezekiel to bring an army against the sisters — Samaria and Jerusalem?  How could Ezekiel do that?

A. God is pronouncing judgment on them, and not asking Ezekiel to bring this army, as we see in the last sections of this reading, the army was already there.

Q. (2 Kings 24:20b-25:2): So, it finally happens.  So, they are surrounded for two years and get no food or water from the outside?

A. Only what they could smuggle in, which surely wasn’t much.  It was surely hell for the people inside.

Day 217 (Aug. 5): God’s wrath poors over nations, Baruch reads scrolls of God’s prophecies, Baruch and Jeremiah hide for safety, King Jehoiakim burns the scroll, the scrolls are rewritten and lengthened, God empowers Baruch, Egypt’s boasting was its ruin, reassurance for the rebuilding of Israel

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.

Jeremiah 25:15-38

Jeremiah 36:1-32

Jeremiah 45:1-5

Jeremiah 46:1-28

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 24:15-29): Can you explain this “cup”?  And, how did Jeremiah get around to all of these nations?  This is something that took many, many years?  I wouldn’t think that all of these nations would have welcomed Jeremiah.  Was it in the reading that God would protect him?

A. I suspect that this section is a vision of some sort; I highly doubt that Jeremiah went to all of these nations — and as you mention, he would hardly be welcomed.  But the cup itself is an image of God’s wrath, which will be poured out upon these nations for their various sins.  This period in the Middle East was one of extreme turmoil, with nation conquering nation and repeated periods of slaughter that can be see as God’s wrath being poured out.  It was a horrible time, and poor little Judah is caught in the middle of this ongoing endless war within this region.  But surely we live in more civilized times today.

Q. (24:33): And you wonder where some people get a sick sense of humor. (lol) God is saying here that these people are basically the “sh” 4-letter word.

A. Sort of.  I think God is comparing the sheer number of unburied bodies to the mass quantity of manure that a farmer would typically use on a field.

Q. (36:5): Why does Jeremiah say he is a prisoner?

A. Jeremiah is imprisoned by the king who doesn’t like what he is saying.  I believe that we will see more about this later, though I am honestly not sure why the imprisonment didn’t come “first” in our reading.  My notes indicate that he may not have been a prisoner — other translations render this word “restricted” — but may simply have been forbidden from going to the Temple to proclaim his message.  In a linear reading of Jeremiah — which we are obviously not doing here — chapters 7 and 19-20 contain various speeches and actions at the Temple that surely made the officials and king not care much for what Jeremiah had to say.

Q. (36:19): OK, the officials were very interested in the Lord’s messages, but they told Jeremiah and Baruch to hide because they knew the king would not be receptive to them?

A. Yup.

Q. (46:20, 2-26): A horsefly, that’s funny.  What I take from this is that God’s instruction of the different kings drinking from the cup of doom is given more details of who will do what to whom.

A. Yes I would say that’s right.  Egypt will be “eaten” by this horsefly from the north — as will every nation in Babylon’s path — under Nebuchadnezzar.

Day 130 (May 10): 35) Lord, fight those who oppose me. 36) The wicked delight in themselves. Lord, you provide love and light. 37) Do not get caught up in the achievements of evildoers, for they will wither. The righteous will inherit the earth. 38) O Lord, I have no power over the guilt I feel for my sins. I confess. Lord, please here my cry to you.

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.

Psalms 35-38

 

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 35): David pleads in his psalms.  He pleads for protection for himself and vengeance for those who are evil.  Today, I feel like we make requests to God more politely and reverently in our prayers.  I do ask God for things, but I ask knowing his answer may come now, later or never.  It’s up to Him.   Are we just more polite today? Or, do we know more about God to know he works on His time, not ours?

A. There’s no reason to assume that David ALWAYS pleaded for God to help him, only when he was in desperate situations, which sometimes got written down as poems.  Still, the Bible tells us that God declared David “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22), which tells me that he knew a lot about how to properly approach God.  I would be very cautious in assuming that we know more about God than he did.  Maybe we should all pray a bit more like David.

Q. (36): What is it in sinners that makes them not see evil is bad.  You get caught, bad things happen, like going to jail, hurting others, losing your job, etc.  Yet, knowing they will be punished in some manner is not enough of a deterrent to cause them to make wise choices.  Does the Bible address this issue?  And, as Christians, what is our job in helping this problem?

A. Sin, as I learned from a minister in high school, always pleases, but only for a season.  It is too simple for us to consider sin as “just the bad stuff that people should stop doing.”  Sin almost always carries some sort of short-term benefit, that’s what makes it a temptation in the first place.  And when we start doing the “math” on making a decision we know is poor, we’ve probably already lost that particular struggle.  Sin very rarely is about the big, monumental decisions, and is much more likely to be about small, easy choices to stray from God — the classic slippery slope.  Its amazing to me how we — myself included — can be blinded to the realities of sin for so long, and then in one moment, whether we are caught, or just realize our error, all the “joy” that the sin brought us is instantly gone.  That, ultimately, is how sin traps us: it offers us something that we desire — we are NEVER going to fall into things that do not tempt us — but ultimately, leaves us with nothing but pain and heartache.  If we could just say, “why am I doing this?  I should stop!” I suspect the world would be a better place.  But it simply isn’t in our nature.  That is one of the clearest things to me about why Jesus came into the world.  He came into this world because more than anything else, we needed a savior — we would be hopelessly chained in our sins without Him.  And the ultimate irony?  Without God’s light, we will never be able to see how the sins that we love so much do nothing but leave us enslaved to them (John 8:34).

Q. (37:5-6): What does this mean?  How do we commit work, chores, homework, etc. to God?  I guess we can never do too much for God.  But, we do need to sleep, eat, clean, etc.  Rob, is there anything in the Bible that describes how we should devote our time to God?

A. Paul calls us to devote our entire being to God in Romans 12:1-2.  Here he suggests that we are to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices,” that is, given wholly over to God, and doing everything for His glory.  That starts with our increased desire to see God as the ultimate center of all things anyway, and the more we can focus on God, the more of our lives that will be given over to Him — work, school, cleaning the house, etc.  Remember that God does not merely call us to serve Him, but each other: by serving others well, we reflect His love to more of His children.  If we commit to making more and more decisions that are clearly God honoring — choosing to work sacrificially rather than being lazy for example — I think we will grow to see what God desires for us to do with each moment of each day.

O. (37:8-9): Wow, Psalms covers so many topics.  I didn’t think I would have many questions or comments, but they are rolling out!  We were talking about anger in our small group (Andy Stanley DVD study series, Life Rules) and I was talking about how I get something in my head that someone does or does not do — usually my husband J — and I get so mad and can’t let it go.  But, from knowing that anger does no good for me, my family, those around me, and God, I try to shrug the anger.  Often, I don’t want to bring it up to my husband because I don’t want to start a confrontation and make a rift.  But, I cannot hide my anger, so by not talking I cause a rift and feel like a volcano about to explode!  And, moreover, I don’t want him to prove me wrong, right?  And, I don’t say anything because I usually don’t have all the facts straight and end up being sort-of wrong.  Anyway, the last time, I just said, “phooey, I don’t want to feel like this.”  I marched into his office and unconfrontationally asked him if I could talk to him to try to understand his reasoning for what I was mad about.  And, poof, the reasons came out and made crystal clear sense.  That short conversation lifted a many-week weight off of my shoulders.  Comments Rob?

A. Anger is a tricky thing.  In the right hands, it can allow us to use our passions to confront others about their wrongs — and hopefully have them do the same for us — but we must be careful that anger is used well.

Two things that the Bible clearly says about anger: 1) in your anger do not sin (Ephesians 4:26, quoting Psalm 4): that is, there is nothing inherently sinful about being angry, but if we lose control of our anger, and it leads to us sinning by improperly using that anger (say by hurting someone or even killing them), then we have violated this ideal.  The other advice scripture has is 2) don’t let the sun go down on your anger (also from Eph 4:26).  That is, don’t hold onto anger, for doing so leads to bitterness and all kinds of other problems.  That advice might be best for your situations with your husband.  Be very careful about holding onto anger, so that you can avoid the “volcano” scenarios you describe.  You and your husband will have to work out what constitutes the “sun going down” for you.  My wife and I determined that we never went to bed without resolving an issue we could resolve that evening — obviously this doesn’t work in all situations.  By doing this, we generally prevent small areas of anger of disagreement from becoming big ones.  Anger is compounded with time, so working it out “before the sun goes down” is certainly sage advice to me.

Q. (Psalm 37:12-13): These verses paint an interesting picture, but we don’t know if it’s accurate because it comes from David, not God.  I have come up with some of my own ideas of what God is thinking.  I don’t know if that’s OK or we should just take the Bible word for word.  Or, does it matter?  Just that you think about it gives glory to God?

A. I would say that we should do our best to take the Word of God SERIOUSLY is the best way to look at it.  Expecting perfection in every word is simply not a standard that the Bible applies to itself, but that does not mean to me that the Bible is any less inspired by God.  We don’t know exactly what “inspired” means (there’s a lot of guesses though), but it is clear that scripture tells us that all of itself, including verses about God laughing at people’s foolishness as here, ultimately comes from Him (2 Tim 3:16).

Q. (37:32-33): Why is there such an attraction for some people to overthrow godly people.  Why do people want to be bad?  I really don’t get that.  Is Satan so powerful that God cannot pull these folks away from sin?  Is God relying on Christians to save these sinners?

A. Scripture clearly tells us that God is more powerful than Satan (1 John 4:4), but I believe that neither God nor Satan can do anything but influence us: we must ultimately make the decisions to renounce sin ourselves.  Why does God not pull us away from sin, because WE ARE UNWILLING to give it up!  We are lost in the seduction of sin and its temporary benefits, and so are unwilling to hear God’s call (through the Spirit) to give it up.  We don’t want to hear that in the midst of our poor decision-making.  David is writing about a very black and white world where he is right, and his enemies are wrong, but the reality for us is we are all wrong!  We all go astray, and chose ourselves over God.  It was that way for Adam and Eve, Cain, and every human being who has followed since.  Honestly, that to me is part of the answer to the question: we like to see the godly fall because that makes US feel better about our own personal failings.  Then we can say things like, “…and they were such a good person” and condescendingly think that we are better than people who we hold up as godly, even if the people in question never wanted themselves to be held up as godly themselves.  When given the choice, far too many of us will chose the path of sin and evil, not the path of God.

Q. (37:37-38): And is this to say that when people are on trial, if they are found innocent, they are godly and if they are convicted they really are guilty, because God did not rescue them?

A. I think that that’s a bit too simple a way to look at it.  God can do as He pleases (from the human perspective) with our understanding of guilt and innocence.  I would be very cautious about drawing too many conclusions about guilt and innocence just from these verses.

Q. (38): For someone who has followed God most of his life, David seems to have so much darkness surrounding him and knocking on the door to his heart.  As a follower of God, I would think that his heart would be much lighter.  Did his sins cause the depressing thoughts?

A. We can certainly see the ways that David’s poor decisions in the latter half of his life haunted him.  It cost him his son and countless lives in war and plague.  I think I would be haunted by that.