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 225 (Aug. 13): Judah will be restored with happiness, Elam will be destroyed and then restored, armies from North to rise up against Babylon, Babylon will become a wasteland, Babylon to be punished for sins against Israel, Babylon’s enemies will claim victory over her

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 31:15-40

Jeremiah 49:34-39

Jeremiah 50-51:14

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 31:19): I have read about the young generation sewing their oats as it says here, “I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.”  It seems that so many teens and those in their 20s do some stupid things, me included!  We won’t go there.  It just seems like this time is a necessary evil to make mistakes, feel the repercussions and then correct ourselves.  Does God address this, or are all of our parents not feeding us the Word enough?  Today while I was driving I was just thinking about how we teach our girls the Bible stories and what God/Jesus would want us to do in certain situations, but we never talk to them about spending time with God.  I am hoping this new plan of mine will be beneficial to them now and forever.

A. Being young and wild is addressed in places (I’m thinking of the arrogant path the Prodigal Son takes in Jesus’ parable before he comes home in Luke 15), but honestly most people in the societies’ the Bible was written for did not have any time for such luxuries; they were simply trying to survive.

Q. (31:29): To me this means that the old generation of Israel/Judah lived a sour life.  They were led by wicked, wayward leaders.  Now, the generation that will return to Judah will reject the ways of the dead generation.  Is that in the ballpark?

A. Yes, I would say that’s a fair interpretation.

Q. (31:33-34): Rob, can you explain what God is talking about here?  I don’t know if this is the Judah’s reconciliation or is this about when Jesus was crucified.

A. Hmm, I would say that the situation God is describing is a description of the New Covenant, which comes about via the death of Jesus.  The early Church interpreted what Jeremiah is talking about here as the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, since they believed that the Spirit takes up residence within our hearts.  But it should be noted that this is also pretty clearly describing a “Kingdom” theology: it is describing the way people will act after the Day of Judgment, just as we have seen described in Isaiah.

Q. (49:34-39): It looks like God’s strategy is to destroy all the evil surrounding nations of Israel and establish himself as king.  This helps answer the previous question of everyone will know God?  There will be no need for explanations.

A. Yes, what we see here is, as we read about in Isaiah, is a time of trial and “winnowing,” and afterward, the establishment of God Himself as King (Christians hold that Jesus is this King, Jews do not of course!).

Q. (50:1-3): It’s hard to imagine anyone stronger than Babylon, except for God leading an army!

A. Just from the secular history of Babylon: under King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon was basically never defeated; he basically WAS the Babylonian empire.  When he dies, his descendants will not be able to maintain his level of near-god like power, and things will unravel quickly for the nation.

Q. (50:21-51:14): So, I get from this reading that Babylon’s end is eminent and very near.  I am hearing the warnings to the exiles to escape, right?  But, has Jerusalem completely been destroyed?  Was it destroyed when they were talking about the rotting figs.  And, has it been 70 years?  I am just trying to understand the timeline here and if everything that God said will happen has happened yet before Babylon is destroyed.  And, any idea what reason the armies from the North (is this the kings of Medes from v. 11) had for attacking Babylon?

A. This is during the first exile period, but before Jerusalem has been destroyed.  Nebuchadnezzar will rule unchallenged until 562 BC, and Jerusalem will be destroyed in 586, which is still coming in our timeline.  After this the Medes and Persians (modern day Iran) will conquer the land and things will begin to change for Judah’s fortunes.

Q. Last question.  Rob, I remember when I first met you to talk about this blog project, you talked about a book that bridges the time period between the OT and the NT, telling what the times were like.  We start the NT on Sept. 24.  Would you recommend reading this book before we get to the NT?  If so, what’s its title again?

A. You certainly can, its called, The True Story of the Whole World by Bartholomew and Goheen (link) and it contains a section called Intermission, between the Testaments.  This section is very useful for describing the so-called “silent” period in which Israel awaited the Messiah and fought for independence before being conquered by the Greeks under Alexander the Great and then the Romans, who will occupy Israel in the era of the NT.

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 203 (July 22): Hezekiah’s sickness and God’s healing him, God is displeased with Hezekiah’s pride

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.

2 Kings 20:1-11

Isaiah 38:1-8

2 Chronicles 32:24-31

Isaiah 38:9-22

2 Kings 20:12-19

Isaiah 39:1-8

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Chronicles 32:25): Wealth is such a double-edged sword.  Here Hezekiah prayed that this illness would not kill Him.  God appreciated his humbleness and rewarded him greatly.  But, as his wealth was building, it seems that his pride was growing.  Wealth and power can really belittle me, and likewise, empower the wealthy.  If I’m around power or wealth, I feel inferior and on the flip side, I think the wealthy and powerful feed off of that superiority feeling. Here, Hezekiah clearly got his wealth and power from God, yet he still flaunted it.

A. Wealth and power have a near irresistible ability to corrupt us.  We must truly tread carefully around them.  It becomes so easy to forget the source of all good things when we have so much ability to control our lives and the lives of others around us via money or power.  It is a repeated warning in the Bible that we must avoid the corrupting power of riches.

Q. (32:31): I would say that most people would keep God in their hearts once He’s there.  So, why does God continuously test us?  I understand that some people do stray.  But, doesn’t God know the ones who are truly humble and faithful to Him?

A. Of course He does, but we don’t.  In 1 Peter 1:3-7, Peter describes the riches that are stored up for us in Heaven as a result of our faith in Christ.  But, he says, for the moment, you must go through various trials.  The reason?  That your faith may be proven genuine — to the community and to ourselves.  But the verses also point to another objective: the trials are a refining process that purifies us, and in the end, God is glorified by the transformation that takes place as a result of our overcoming the trials and staying faithful.  In the end, trials such as these are about learning the genuineness of our own faith, and providing glory to the One who has redeemed us.

Q. (Isaiah 38:16-17): A couple verses that tell us that discipline is used as a measure to keep us on God’s path.  Interesting.  So many folks who have had bad things happen to them come out saying that if it wouldn’t have happened, then this other good news wouldn’t have happened.

A. The great message of faith in Jesus Christ is that God is capable of bringing good out of evil — the central message of the crucifixion.  Without the crucifixion, along with the mockery, the lashings, the humiliation; without all the great suffering, there is no resurrection on Sunday.  Without Jesus’ death, there is nothing to celebrate when He rises.  So we are called to look upon Christ’s passion and resurrection and trust that if God can do it at the most crucial moment in history, He can do it for us as well.  God is capable of bringing light out of the greatest darkness of our lives — whether it is our own doing or the work of someone else.  But it is only to the one who does not give up, who perseveres through the trials, that is given the privilege of seeing the ways that God chooses to do so.

Q. (2 Kings 20:13): Why on earth would a king show a neighboring — and often enemy nation — all of his treasures?  That is a death sentence foremost and not to mention just gloating.  I guess Hezekiah is showing his pride again?  He needs to have a better memory!  I would have thought he would have learned his lesson after being healed, prospering and then being prideful of his status.

A. Babylon is a rival with Assyria (thought not as powerful as Egypt … yet), and the two nations have been at war for some times.  It is very likely that Hezekiah is “showing off” to gain an ally against Assyria.  But this will backfire on him, in the same manner that reaching out to Egypt did.  But, I certainly agree with your assessment about his need for a better memory!

Day 202 (July 21): Hezekiah seeks God’s help with Assyrians, King Sennecherib taunts Hezekiah, Isaiah predicts Judah’s deliverance

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.

2 Kings 19:1-19

Isaiah 37:1-20

2 Chronicles 32:9-19

2 Kings 19:20-37

Isaiah 37:21-38

2 Chronicles 32:20-23

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 10-13): This taunting of the Assyrian king reminds me of the devil taunting and tempting Jesus for 40 days in the wilderness.

A. I can see why you might have that type of reading, but I think the events are very different.  Taunting is not the same as tempting, and the devil was tempting Jesus, not taunting Him.  The speaker in this story is mocking the people in order to make them fear the army that is coming.  The devil had particular reasons for tempting Jesus that I really want to save until we read that story, so I look forward to reading that passage (Matthew 4) at some point in the future.

Q. (2 Kings 19:1-19, Isaiah 37:1-20): I take several messages from this text.  Hezekiah is scared, at least he seems that way to me.  But, he takes his fear to God who calms him and lets him know that He can take it from here.  And, He does.  Sometimes I feel bad because even though I am a believer, I still get scared, worried and stressed.  I think that these are feelings that we shouldn’t have as Christians.  But, is God saying in this scripture that it’s OK to be scared as long as you still believe?

A. Fear is never of God, but it is often something that even the most seasoned Christian must deal with.  God desires for us to bring our fears to Him, that He might help us turn our fears into faith.

O. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, is badly belittling God.  He must not have any idea of God’s power.  And, arrogance gets you nowhere with God!

O. (2 Kings 19:28): Wow, what a visual!

Q. (19:35-36): That’s one way to send fear to an enemy!  Also, I didn’t realize that Ninevah was the capital of Assyria.  I guess Jonah had his work cut out for him!

A. Perhaps you can see why Jonah was not eager to fulfill his mission?  Ninevah was a great enemy, though Jonah’s story takes place many years before this one.

Q. (19:37): Why would Sennacherib’s sons kill him?

A. The Biblical story doesn’t tell us, but my notes indicate that Assyrian history from this period records that it was related to the king’s choice of a successor from among his many sons.  Apparently some of his sons didn’t care for his decision, to put it mildly.

Day 201 (July 20): Lord’s case against Israel, Israel’s guilt and punishment, misery turned to hope, Lord’s compassion for Israel, Assyria invades Judah, Assyria king threatens 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.

Micah 6-7

2 Chronicles 32:1-8

2 Kings 18:13-18

Isaiah 36:1-3

2 Kings 18:19-37

Isaiah 36:4-22

Questions & Observations

Q. (Micah 6:8): I have a good understanding of the requirements of doing what is right and having mercy that Micah is telling the Israelites they need to have.  But, walking humbly with God is a little foggy to exactly what that should look like.  Can you describe that or better yet, how we should walk with God?  And, I take it that “walk” means have Him in our hearts.  Just another observance is that Micah clearly states here that all the offerings are no longer desired by God.  He wants a personal relationship with His people, right?

A. To me, the key word in that sentence is “humbly.”  Israel, like all of us, had an issue with pride that needed to be resolved if any sort of good relationship with God was going to be established.  We’ve actually been talking about a lot of different ways we can walk humbly with God: we’ve discussed having genuine faith that God has our best interest at heart, and praying accordingly, we’ve discussed the importance of worship, loving God by loving others, and so forth.  To me, when we see God for who He truly is (as the Bible describes it in both the OT and NT), we simply have no choice to be humble before all that God has done for us.  That, I think, is the starting point of a humble walk with God.

O. (6:10b-11): Talk about unfair pricing.  Sometimes I see this unjust pricing today.  If you have ever bought one of those craft kits for kids that are $6-$15 with all the cool photos of what you can make on the outside.  Then, you open it up and there are a few things in it that are worth about $1.  Then, there is the things you see on TV — I am an occasional sucker, not often though — like the slushes.  We try it and it kind of works, but I think that I could probably just make these with some ice cubes and a cup with a lid.  But, no, I paid $19.99 for it.  It makes me feel like a fool.  But then, I think that what person could sell this stuff and feel good about it!  I just watched Mystery Diner last night.  If you haven’t seen that, it’s pretty cool.  They caught people red-handed stealing or throwing away profits from the restaurant owner.  It was hundreds of dollars a day.

Q. (7:16-17): Here Micah is — and we have seen this a lot of other places too — describing the Israelites pretty much enjoying the astonishment that their enemies are experiencing.  I think we all do this or have done this imagining the shock of others when they realize how great we are — here the greatness comes from God.  But, I always thought the feeling of enjoying the fruits of revenge was not proper or godly.

A. I see a couple of problems with your reading.  First of all, I didn’t see any sense of revenge on Israel’s part in the passage.  It is God’s free choice to avenge His people in whatever timeframe He deems appropriate.  Another issue I see is that God is talking about a day in the future (i.e. something that hasn’t happened yet).  Once again, God is most likely speaking (through Micah) about His Day of Judgment that we’ve been talking about recently.  The nations will truly be in awe, but NOT in awe of Israel.  They will be in awe of God.  When we are living a life that truly pleases and brings glory to God, He will get the credit for it — as He deserves — not us.

Q. (7:18-20): And here, the Israelites seem to be taking God’s mercy for granted.

A. Now that I can say they clearly did.  It will be their downfall, but God has a bigger plan at work that we will have to watch unfold.

Q. (2 Chronicles 32:5-8): I think there is an argument with some folks that God will take care of you, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride and let God build your business or fight your battles.  Is this what God intended?  Or, do we still have to work hard, but know that if we follow God, he will make our lives good, especially the everlasting one.

A. God guarantees us nothing this side of His Kingdom.  Anything that He provides us is a blessing that is to be used for His glory, not our pocketbooks.  So I would say there is great incentive to be hard working — don’t forget that in Genesis, work predates the Fall (work is good!) — and to be proactive about the decisions that we are making.  But as Micah 6:8 reminds us, we must do so humbly, and remember the source of it all.  If we do that, then I believe that God will provide the guidance we need, even if we are not aware of the ways that He is bringing about His glory through us.

Q. (2 Kings 18:25): Is this true?  God set them up to attack?

A. I think the commander is lying to try and intimidate the people.  But, let’s see what happens, shall we?  If what the commander says is true, then nothing will be able to stop Jerusalem’s destruction.

O. (2 Kings 18:37, Isaiah 36:22): Can’t wait to hear the rest of this story!

Day 199 (July 18): Judah’s worthless treaty with Egypt, a warning for Judah, those who choose God will be blessed, sorrow for those why rely on Egypt, Israel’s ultimate deliverance, the downfall of 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.

Isaiah 30-31:9

Isaiah 32:1-20

Isaiah 33:1-24

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 30:1-7): Now this is really happening, right?  It’s not a prophecy?  Why would Judah ally with Egypt when they are so far away and across a desert?

A. Judah was seeking an ally against Assyria and the nations that would follow her, such as Babylon, the nation that will bring about Judah’s destruction.  In desperation, Judah reaches out to Egypt for protection (Egypt had great influence in this area for most of Israel’s history and used the area as a trade route).  But Isaiah is still prophesying: those who ally with Egypt will be humiliated for doing so.

O. (30:15b): I like these words “resting in me!”  Among our stresses, or Judah’s, we can rest, having faith in Him and knowing He will take care of us.

Q. (30:19b): I know that this charge is directed at Judah.  I think we can apply to our lives.  My husband always says he feels bad asking God for help.  If someone asks him if they can pray for him, he has a hard time coming up with something.  He says he feels blessed and doesn’t feel like he needs to ask for anything.  I think he gets this to, or at least I do, from the fact that we are to humble ourselves toward God.  And, asking for help would mean that God isn’t providing enough, when, in fact, He provides plenty.  I, on the other hand, differ.  I think of God as a parent.  He wants to help us.  If we don’t ask for help, then we are taking on our problems by ourselves and that’s not what He wants.  He wants us to seek Him, right?  And, acknowledging that we need help shows that we know God is in charge?

A. God does indeed desire for us to seek Him (Jeremiah 29:12-14), but there is no need to ask for help if there is no help needed.  We are not required to ask simply for the sake of asking.  But it sure is nice to know that there is help out there, just a “prayer away” as it were, when the help is needed.

Q. (30:21-22): Are these verses talking about the Holy Spirit here?  To me, it’s saying that if you ask for God’s help, He will surround you and you will know that God’s hand is in your life.

A. The Spirit of God is clearly at work in these verses, and I would say you have judged them correctly.

O. (30:26): Here is the number 7 again which signifies completeness.  See Day 3’s reading for more on the significance of several numbers used repeatedly in the Bible.

Q. (31:8): Judah and Israel are constantly at odds with the Assyrians.  What is it about Assyria?  Why are they so strong?  Why are they enemies?

A. Assyria is a powerful nation that is, frankly, much more interested in Egypt then Judah.  That’s because Egypt represents the other major power in this area.  So, basically, Judah is stuck in the middle between these two rivaling superpowers.  It’s not so much that Judah is the “enemy.”  Judah is a meaningless spec of dirt to Assyria, but it is a spec of dirt that is right in the path they desire to go in order to move against Egypt.

Q. (32:1-3): Is this a prophecy?  Who is coming?  Before I started BibleBum, I didn’t know much Old Testament past the Exodus except for a few stories here and there.  And then, I know more of the NT, well about Jesus’ birth and resurrection.  So, anytime I read scripture about a king coming, I think the author is referring to Jesus.

A. One of the “signs” of the restored kingdom is a righteous king from David’s line who will rule.  And Judah/Israel (once restored) will see this King in the incarnation of Jesus, but He will be a king like they have never seen before.  As Jesus Himself said, His kingdom is not of this world at all (John 18:36)!

Day 181 (June 30): Ahaz dies, Babylon destroyed for its sins, those who raided Israel will be Israel’s servants, Assyria will be trampled, Philistines will see fierce soldiers from north, Moab will be leveled

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.

2 Kings 16:19-20

2 Chronicles 28:26-27

Isaiah 13-16

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 13:4): Who are these armies?  Those who still believe in God?

A. Though the title of the section refers to the Babylonian army, it is actually referring to what we have been calling the Assyrians.  Babylon was their most important city, and so this section (13:1-14:27) all pertains to the Assyrian people, army, and king.  But there will be another Babylon that will come onto the scene and be a very important player in future events for Judah.

Q. (13:16,18): OK, it doesn’t look like these people are followers of God if they are raping women and killing children.  I guess God just mobilized these wicked soldiers so Babylon could look evil in the eye?

A. Isaiah is talking about the same armies we have already been seeing in the story.  The Assyrian army routed the nation of Israel and pretty much everything in their path, and did so with bloodthirsty gusto.

Q. (14:1-23): We haven’t heard much about Babylon, right?  We have mostly heard of Samaria and Jerusalem.  Why Babylon now?  What was the city known for … not counting the evil?

A. For the moment, it is known for being the capital of Assyria.  Hold onto this question, and let’s revisit it later.

Q/O. (14:24-27): You were right in one of yesterday’s questions when you said it wasn’t Assyria who would bring down Israel.

A. Hum, Assyria did destroy Israel.  What I mentioned yesterday is that Assyria would not destroy Judah, and that I stand by.

Q. (15:1-16:14): And why is destroying Moab important?  What is its relationship to Israel?  It seems like I remember battles between the two ever since the Israelites arrived in Canaan.

A. This section of Isaiah contains prophecy against many other nations (he’s going to talk about Damascus and Egypt next, for example).  So in that sense, there’s nothing special about Moab, other than it was a nation that God told Isaiah to prophecy to.  This section of Isaiah is all about God calling the nations in this part of the world to account for their sins (like Jonah was called to), while keeping the long-term focus unto the people of God.

Day 179 (June 28): Samaria’s forecast of doom, Samaria falls to Assyria, Israel has foreign settlers, God forewarns Judah

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.

Isaiah 28

2 Kings 17:5

2 Kings 17:6-23

2 Kings 17:24-41

Isaiah 1:1-20

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 28:16): What foundation stone is Isaiah talking about?

A. Isaiah is referring to Himself here.  He uses the same reference in Isaiah 8, noting that He is either the Cornerstone of our lives, or the Rock over which we fall.  I suspect what he is talking about is the contrasting vision of the Temple of the true God (and built of stone) with the false gods that the people had been worshipping in Samaria.  Against this standard or plumb line (v. 17), the Israelites do not measure up to God’s standard of justice.

Q. (Isaiah 28:22): This speech makes me think of what I would call a crazy person on a street corner.  Any idea if prophets were thought of as crazy or did everyone know they were holy?

A. Oh I am sure people thought they were crazy, especially when the spoke truth to power as we say.  But they were called to declare God’s word to an unfaithful people, and they did so, even in ways that sound crazy to us.  Some are even more out there than Isaiah.  Wait until you meet Ezekiel!

Q. (2 Kings 18:10-12): Is this God’s prophecy of the fall of Israel starting?

A. No, it is a summary of what happened.  The deed is done, and in our reckoning, Israel has been destroyed.

Q. (2 Kings 17:17): I caution asking this, but … God sacrificed His son so how is this different?

A. I see no harm in the question, but there were very different things at work.  The people, including some of the kings, who sacrificed children to Molech, who required a live offering, the child, to be fully consumed by fire, were doing so for the express purpose of manipulating this god to favor their cause.  It’s the same thing we saw in 2 Kings 3:27, when the king of Moab sacrificed his son in order to stop Israel’s troops from conquering him.  Children, as we have seen and discussed, are a blessing of God, and therefore are not to be sacrificed in order for personal gain.  We are disgusted by such a practice today, but in this era children were generally seen as having no value at all, so sacrificing them made them “useful” to the parent, in a way that was surely revolting to God.

But what God did in the sacrifice of Christ was something very different.  God did not offer up Christ for the purpose of personal gain — God needs nothing — but rather so that salvation might be opened up to the entire world.  The sacrifices made to Molech were ultimately selfish and about power and control via manipulation.  The sacrifice of God’s son was the ultimate reversal of this exploitation: in this moment of sacrifice  —and don’t forget, Jesus went willingly to His death — Jesus made it possible for all of us to be children of God.  So in my mind, these two examples of child sacrifice couldn’t be more different!

Day 175 (June 24): Foretelling of invasion, call to trust the Lord, Telling of the Messiah, Lord’s anger for Israel, judgment against Assyria, still hope for Lord’s people, David’s branch will come and bring new power, Judah and Israel will reunite

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.

Isaiah 8-11

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 8:6-7): I notice God is using water images to describe his care — gently flowing waters of Shiloah— and his anger — a mighty flood from the Euphrates River. God is not talking about a real flood right, just that it will feel like one when the king of Assyria sweeps through. What is the significance of using water?

A. In a primarily agrarian society, it would have been imagery they would have been very familiar with.  Also, in Israel, there are many water courses called wadis — we would call them creek beds in the US — that would have been prone to flooding, so floods would have been familiar to these people as well.

Q. (8:8): Immanuel is the Lord, right?

A. Yes.  Isaiah is saying that God will remain faithful to His people, or perhaps he is calling out for the God who is with them to have mercy.

O. (8:13-14): Love these verses!

Q. (8:16-17): I don’t understand how these verses fit in with the threats of the previous verses.  If this prophecy is imminent, why follow it with these instructions?

A. It appears that these verses are meant to be instruction for Judah, which will be able to see that Isaiah’s words will come true, just as God told him, and therefore they will, hopefully, turn back to God.

Q. (8:19): This really says point blank how ridiculous it is to call on the dead for guidance.  Why should you consult someone who isn’t there?  Consult God who is sovereign.

A. Manipulating the dead for personal gain was common practice in that day, and Israel had been taken in by all kinds of pagan practices in this era.  But yes, talking to God would be the wise move.

Q. (9:1-7): This passage jumps from the 700s BC to when Jesus comes to eternity.  That’s pretty cool.  This sound like a marvelous time.  Is this the same glory described in Amos 9:11-15?  I don’t know if this is Jesus being born that is being described or the second coming of Christ.

A. It is casting a vision for the Kingdom of God, which is associated with the Jewish Day of Resurrection (much of which Isaiah and the other prophets help shape, so keep your eyes peeled for other visions), and what Christians call the Second Coming.  Both of these concepts center around the end of life as we know it and the establishment of the Messiah as the true Godly ruler.  That’s the point of deviance between Jews and Christians: who this Messiah/Christ is.  Jews believe that the Messiah has not yet come, while Christians believe that He has in the person of Jesus.

Q. (9:6b): I have heard this verse before, but I don’t know what it means, “the government will rest on his shoulders.”

A. He will be the foundation of the government.  It will “rest” upon Him.

Q. (9:8-10:4): “His fist is still poised to strike” is said 4 times here.  God is really ticked?  Rightly so!!!  Does God’s anger go away in the NT after Jesus’s death on the cross?  I just imagine that with this ultimate sacrifice — ultimate pain suffered by God and Jesus — that maybe nothing else could hurt his feelings.  He is given all he can give, so with Jesus’ death, he lays our salvation in our laps.  If we can’t accept what He did for us, then we don’t deserve heaven.

A. Our world today is no less sinful than the world these words were written in.  I would say it would not be correct to say that God’s anger (or wrath) “goes away” in our present world, but I might say it’s a fair assessment to say that the sacrifice of Jesus altered the way that God deals with sin.

Q. (9:18-21): Is this judgment day being described here?

A. It’s a description of the demise of Israel.

Q. (10:1): God speaks frequently about unjust judges and unfair scales.  I guess those who are in positions of ruling may be punished more severely for their sins?

A. In Luke 12:48, Jesus reminds us that to whom much is given, much is expected, and James 3:1 warns that people in positions of authority — he’s talking about teachers, but the point is extensive — will be held to a higher standard.  I think it is very fair to say that this is a Biblical standard.

O. (10:15): I like Isaiah’s metaphors for God’s power.  Nothing has (good) power without the will of God.

Q. (10:20): Isaiah is speaking of Assyria here when he says, “allies who seek to destroy them?”

A. Not specifically.  He’s saying that Israel will no longer have to make “deals with the devil”: they will be free from having to make deals with other nations who may not have their best interest at heart.

Q. (11:15-16): Is the Euphrates like this today, split into seven streams?  Is “seven” significant here?  We also have some re-enacting of Exodus here?

A. No, the Euphrates is a huge river even today.  These verses are talking about defeating the enemies of Israel.  The Assyrians would have come from Iraq, where the Euphrates runs through.  Isaiah is basically saying that God will defeat two of Israel’s enemies (at least) by destroying their water supply.  He is also using Exodus imagery, but only to show that God has already “defeated” the Red Sea when the people crossed over.