Day 291 (Oct. 18): Sheep know their shepherd because He is their protector, Jesus accused of blasphemy, Jesus tells of narrow door to get to heaven, Jesus cries out over state of Jerusalem, Jesus rebuked for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus teaches humility, parable of great feast

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.

John 10:1-42

Luke 13:22-14:24

Questions & Observations

Q. (John 10:16): I would think this is referring to the Kingdom of God?

A. Yes indeed.

Q. (10:29): I would think that “for my father has given them to me” would mean the ones who pass the tests are given to Jesus to care for.

A. Something like that.  It certainly reads like a verse that points to some form of Predestination- God has selected some people to be the “sheep” of Jesus.  What remains a mystery, however, is what “causes” God’s selection.

Q. (10:34): The prophets were called gods?  Why?

A. It is not necessarily referring to prophets.  The verse is from Psalm 82, and appears to be talking about the people of Israel being gods in the sense of having been adopted BY GOD.  Jesus is basically saying that there is scriptural precedent for Him referring to Himself as God in human form, even if those around Him do not see it that way.

Q. (Luke 13:27): So, God is saying that after judgment happens, there are no second chances — we’ve had millions already.  He, of course, used to know you, but since you chose to sin, he has turned his back on you and, frankly, doesn’t care about you, so thus doesn’t “know” you.

A. As we’ve discussed before, when we talk about our relationship with God as a race, we should consider that it is not God that moved or walked away at all, but rather that WE did.  I think that this gives us a proper understanding of what it means that God does not know us, we have no heart or consideration for the things of God, but desire only to go our own way.  This parable is also not saying that there is no hope, but it is a warning that judgment is real, and there are consequences for our rebellion.

Q. (13:30): I think this is so amazing how the tables will be completely turned around.  So, that waitress who you decided not to tip very good is rewarded much more than you are.

A. Its known as the Great Reversal: the last shall be first, and the first last.

Q. (13:33): Jesus calls himself a prophet here?  And, why Jerusalem?  Is it keeping the Scriptures true?

A. He is speaking of Himself as a messenger of God, and it will indeed get Him killed by those who claim to be of God.  Don’t forget that the midst of Jeremiah’s ministry, it was the leaders in Jerusalem who claimed to be speaking for God, but were in fact leading the people astray and telling them that everything was alright even in the midst of a coming threat.  That is the image Jesus has in mind.

Day 258 (Sept. 15): Esther cautiously takes her request to King Xerxes, Haman’s plan to kill Mordecai, Xerxes honors Mordecai, King impales Haman, decree circumvents Haman’s earlier decree to kill Jews, Jews have victory, Festival of Purim, Mordecai promoted and was a “shepherd” of Jews

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.

Esther 5-10:3

Questions & Observations

O. (Esther 5:13): This sounds like modern-day ultra racism.  It’s hard to believe that racism — like God created one race better than the others — ever existed.  But, I still hear about it, especially in the last presidential election, from both “sides.”  Some were voting for Obama because he was black and others couldn’t handle the thought of having a black man in the White House.  I don’t get that.  Vote for the guy who will do the best job, period.  Skin color doesn’t matter.  My husband and I watched “42” the other night.  It was a long movie, but worth it.  It’s about Jackie Robinson being the first black player in professional baseball.  He had to take a lot of harassment and heckling, but his manager told him to take it, not show his temper and he would come out on top, which he did.  The scene I want to highlight was when there were white people in the stands calling him names and telling him he doesn’t belong.  There was a young boy, happy and celebrating his birthday or something — I don’t remember exactly, but he was in very happy, innocent spirits.  Then, when Jackie Robinson came in the spotlight, the white crowd started heckling him, telling him he doesn’t belong in white baseball.  The boy just looked at all of his adult “role models” doing this and decided it was the right thing to do and joined in.  I’m glad I didn’t live back then!

Q. (7:10): There is something about revenge that is satisfies and calms anger.  Here, King Xerxes is satisfied after Haman is impaled on a pole.  We have read that God’s anger can be satisfied with destruction and devastation.  Why is this?  God is God and He can think, feel and do as he pleases.  But, Xerxes.  I know you have said before that that’s just how the culture was back then.  But, in our culture today, we learn tolerance and give second and third chances.  We are taught to turn the other cheek or to gently, patiently show the offender the better way.  I have also learned that for me, revenge gets you nowhere.  I have never had any huge grudges that have made me want to hurt someone — make them go away, yes, but to hurt them, no — but I do have a history of wanting things my way.  I think many of us do, which makes relationships hard.  But, I have learned that when my husband and I are having a conflict, it does no good to try to be victorious in the battle.  It comes back at me with a vengeance and makes me feel like the bad guy.  Anyway, what changed that revenge used to be OK, but now it’s not?

A. From Deuteronomy on down (32:35 to be exact), the Jews are warned to not take revenge: vengeance is God’s business, not ours.  So I guess you could say that God “changed” the policy of His people — they were not to take revenge, but rather to leave it to God.  This went a long way in ancient society to ending the “blood feuds” where families or villages would get into endless back and forth killing to avenge someone they had lost on their side.  Revenge is poison to all involved.  Note that while Haman’s death is surely a form of revenge, it is not Esther that seeks it, but only the king.  Xerxes was under no obligation of God to avoid doling out vengeance (I’m not saying that makes it right, just noting he’s not under the Jewish obligations to do so).  Jesus and Paul will both have some powerful things to say about taking revenge and its danger, so watch for that.

O. (8:10,11): Yea!  We finally see evidence of how messengers were sent to all ends of the kingdom.  This was an interesting tactic to confront the decree that was already made against the Jews!

Day 257 (Sept. 14): Temple is finished and dedicated to God, Exiles celebrate Passover, King Xerxes big banquet, Queen Vashti prohibited from ever seeing Xerxes again, Xerxes is charmed by Esther and makes her queen, Mordecai tells Xerxes of plot to kill him, Haman’s plot to kill the Jews was debunked

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.

Ezra 6:14-22

Ezra 4:6

Esther 1-4

Questions & Observations

I have heard this story quite a lot, but never in the detail that the Bible is providing.  It’s such a thorough account that I don’t have any deep questions, just technical ones.

 

Q. (Esther 1:1): Xerxes has such a huge territory from India to Ethiopia.  I can’t imagine how they would rule that many people over a long distance.  They must have had quite an organized structure of assistants.

A. These kings set up puppet regimes throughout the empire.  We will see this again in the NT, when the leaders such as Herod ruled Israel, but served the Emperor of Rome.  This is also why the decrees were so important: they were used to proclaim the king’s orders throughout the vast empire.

Q. (1:3-4): How did Xerxes get so much authority so fast?  In his third year as ruler, he threw a banquet for royalty that lasted 180 days.  And just to imagine the accommodations — they didn’t have Holiday Inn back then.  I just wonder if there were inns or if Xerxes housed them all.

A. Xerxes is king of the Persian Empire, which took over the Babylonian Empire from Nebuchadnezzar’s descendants.  So he got his great authority by inheriting it from the king before him, but he also very likely had to demonstrate his authority as some sort of under ruler, usually a general.  Inns and such places would have been commonplace in major cities of this time, as they are today.  Many times people in this area would use caravans to move large amounts of people and goods, and set up camps in the areas outside (or sometimes inside) a city.

Q. (2:12): Twleve months of beauty treatments?  This would never go today, not in my home anyway.  Who has time for that?  In a whole year, they would look older.

A. I honestly have no idea how to respond to this.  I’m just going to move on.

Q. (2:21): I don’t remember this part of the story.  It’s great to know more about Mordecai.  The whole eunuch thing is hard to accept.  The way the Bible refers to them as eunuchs and not just by name makes it sound like they are a separate “breed.”

A. I realize you’ve had some trouble with this concept, but it would have been accepted practice in the day.  It’s quite clear from the story that even the eunuchs in Xerxes’ empire could become powerful men, as we see in the man who controlled the entire harem for the king.

Q. (3:10): Why did Xerxes hand over the signet ring to Haman?  I don’t understand what authority is given to whomever has the ring.

A. The signet ring had a raised design on it, which was the mark of the king.  In an era, as we have discussed, of great distances between king and country and vast empires, the power of the king’s seal must be understood as incredibly important.  Xerxes, by giving Haman the ring, is basically allowing him to write decrees as though he is the king, because he can use the ring to seal royal letters and decrees.  That’s the real power of signet ring: basically being able to sign the king’s “name” onto something.