Day 356 (Dec. 22): Jesus is cornerstone for believers to build on and nonbelievers to stumble, respect those in authority, slaves who endure hardship will be rewarded, wives must accept husband’s authority, clothe yourself in inward beauty not outward appearance, husbands must treat wives as equal partner, pay back retaliation with blessings, God will reward those who suffer for doing what is right, live for God, watch over flock willingly not grudgingly, watch out for the prowling devil

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.

Day 356 (Dec. 22)

1 Peter 2:4-5:11

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Peter 2:18-25): On second reading, the slaves he is talking about, I think, are actual slaves, but I think this passage also includes all Christians: Those who can endure unfair treatment will be rewarded.  Does God condone slavery?  What about slavery in the U.S. was it wrong by God and should it have ended?

A. No more than any other human institution that exploits people, as slavery does.  Slavery, in its various forms, is a classic example of the exploitation that people frequently indulge in, including abuse (in all its forms), violence, and sex trafficking (which is frankly just sex slavery).  The ways that we humans too often treat each other in no way pleases God, but there can be light brought out of it as well, as Peter is describing.  If you endure suffering — suffering you don’t deserve, not that you do! — it is a powerful witness to the transformative power of Christ.  So though we often exploit each other (Americans included), Peter is saying that even the suffering of the exploited can be used to glorify God.

O. (3:3-6): My good friend is a hairstylist in Hollywood.  He sees celebrities constantly.  On a visit, his cousin wanted to go to the grocery store in the morning just dressed in casual clothes.  My friend told her no, no, you have to get ready to go to the store there.  Everyone is dressed to the nines, even on a weekend morning.  I just think about how much time that wastes and if you are out showing God’s love, how does that make people feel if, when you are talking to them all dressed up, they think that you are above their status and can’t relate to you.  It’s easy for me to get on the soapbox about this since I don’t spend hardly any time primping.  I always thought I was too lazy.  Now I can use the reason that I want my inward beauty to show.  J

Q. (4:1b): What does it mean to have “suffered physically for Christ” and “you will have finished with sin?”

A. I’m honestly not sure.  Best guess: if you are counted as a follower of Christ to the point where you are willing to suffer punishment for it, then like Christ, you have (symbolically) moved beyond sin, because those who are faithful have been purified of sin by God’s grace.

O. (4:7): Prayer is certainly something that I don’t take as seriously as I should.  And, I think more quiet time with God would draw me closer to Him.

O. (5:2b): Watching over others willingly sure makes it more enjoyable too!

Q. (5:8): This reminds me of our beloved former pastor, Isaac Hunter, who just took his own life.  I looked back on YouTube at some of his old skit videos.  He looked so normal, so together and happy.  The devil must have bore down on him hard for him to trip up and give up.  We can learn from Isaac’s fall.  The devil can trip us up so easily, we have to be on the lookout constantly.

A. While it can sound insensitive (I had tremendous respect for Isaac), what happened to Isaac did not happen overnight, or through a single “attack” of the devil.  I have a strong suspicion that Isaac suffered greatly for years because of his personal choices.  So while Satan may prowl, far too often we give him an opening and are forced to deal with the consequences, as Isaac did.  While the man that you saw in the videos presented an outward appearance of happiness — which may indeed have been genuine — I suspect that Isaac was hiding great pain that not even close friends, co-workers, or counselors could see.  He hid it so well.  Isaac was incredibly gifted, and I am so sad that those gifts have now been lost — partly because he would have been uniquely qualified to share with others about how to confront the demons that haunt you and pass to the other side with God’s help.

Day 346 (Dec. 12): James (Jesus’s brother) writes 12 tribes, get rid of human anger and accept the word in your heart, show no favoritism, faith without good deeds is dead, control your Christian tongue, true wisdom comes from God

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.

James 1-3:18

Questions & Observations

Q. Just some background info, if it’s available: Do any of Jesus’s other brothers speak out for Him?  What were the “12 tribes” that James was talking about?  How did this letter get to them?

A. There is tradition, but not certainty, that the Epistle of Jude (coming soon!) is written by another of Jesus’ brothers — it’s the same name as Judas, so they changed it for obvious reasons.  James, the half brother of Jesus and Bishop of the church of Jerusalem (which will soon be destroyed), appears to be writing to Jewish believers, though it is possible he is using metaphor and refers to both Jews and Gentiles as being part of the “12 tribes”.  Jews of this era were spread over various cities, and any letter like this one would have been sent by messenger.  We do not know who the original readers were.

O. (James 1:2-4): James speaks the truth.  I think this means that the more we endure, the more spiritual we grow until we won’t need to improve much more, if any.

O. (1:14): I think it’s so interesting to point out that evil desires come from ourselves.  We must listen to the Spirit to guide us away from these thoughts or actions.

O. (James 2:10): So, I guess if we have one or two super small sinful issues, then we are not pure.  Purity is the whole shebang.

Q. (James 2:20): Also the other way around, right?  Good deeds without faith has no value to God, right?

A. James is talking about works that are of benefit to mankind, and a faith that is visible to others as a way of spreading the Gospel.  Only God can see our true faith, so in that sense, it does no good to those around us if only God can see it.

Day 65 (March 6): Balak asks Balaam to curse Israel, God is with Balaam and ensures he is prepared, angel and donkey episode, Balaam blesses Israel, Balak furious, Balaam shares Israel’s future

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.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Numbers 22-24

Questions & Observations

Q. (Numbers 22:4): Has Balaam been mentioned in the Bible until now?  From reading today’s reading, he sounds like he is really close to God.  How come he has not been mentioned thus far, or did I miss something?

A. You did not miss anything.  This is the first time we have met Balaam, because he is not an Israelite.  This three-chapter interval in the story appears to have its origins in the fear of the Moabite king and a pagan prophet.

Q. (Numbers 22:22): I don’t understand why God was upset with Balaam for going to see Balak when God told him to go the night before.

A. Yes, this is tricky.  I would suspect that God’s anger with Balaam has to do with his motives.  God gives Balaam permission to go, but not to curse Israel, so perhaps that is what Balaam was planning to do that offended God, even after He had granted permission to go see the king.  I can see why a face value reading of the text would cause confusion, however.  There is quite possibly some sort of error in the text that presents itself as God contradicting His own order.

Q. (22:23-34): The understanding I have of this verse is that Balaam is in his own world.  He’s not looking up to see the angel of the Lord, so God knows that Balaam isn’t tuned in to him.  He sent the angel to give Balaam a wakeup call to make sure he is speaking God’s words?  Also, when Balaam is whipping the donkey, God makes the donkey talk, which made me think that God was trying to teach him a lesson that he needs to pay attention to others and not just himself.

A. I think that is very insightful.  Your suggestion could be another reason God was not pleased with Balaam and forbid him to go: he was only focusing on himself, and needed a “wake up call”.

Q. (23:1-6, 23:14) Rob, you have told us that when we see the number 7 in the Bible, it signifies completeness, how does this the seven altars signify completeness here?

A. You have correctly noticed another incident of 7.  The number apparently was significant in the minds of Israel’s neighbors as well, for they also see it as a significant number.  According to my commentary, Balaam is using a pagan technique of prophecy called liver divination, and this many animals sacrificed would surely have given Balaam plenty of organs to examine (a lovely image, isn’t it?).  This type of divination would have been specifically forbidden to the Israelites, but was commonplace for professional pagan prophets (say that 5 times fast) like Balaam.

O. (23:7-12) I can imagine how totally ticked off King Balak would be.  I guess this is God’s version of humor.  It works for me!

Q. I just wonder if Balak, after hearing the blessings prophecies, changed his mind if God would change his fate?  Or, is it already predetermined?

A. That’s a tricky question.  In the short term, Moab is NOT one of the nations that will be conquered by Israel: they are not in in the Promised Land, but are rather outside of it.  The vision that Balaam has about a specter rising to crush Moab is probably that of King David, who will conquer many of the surrounding nations.  As we keep reading, however, I think you will see the Moabite reaction to Israel.

Come back tomorrow for more Bible knowledge!

Day 31 (Jan. 31): God challenges Job, Job repents, God blesses Job

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.

I added a video Rob found to yesterday’s post.  If you missed it, you should really check it out.  It’s the book of Job in a nutshell.  http://vimeo.com/14254004

Job 40:6-42:17

Questions & Observations

Q. (Job 40:6-41:34): God details and describes a beast that is unstoppable, impenetrable.  God gives this beast as an example that, no matter what Job says and accuses Him of, he cannot hurt God.  God is invincible.

A. God is invincible, but I think what He’s saying is that Job knows nothing of power.  Only God is powerful enough to see these incredible beings (whatever they are, there’s a number of theories about that) and just consider them “part of Creation.”

O. (42:1-6): Job has finally had his day in court, as he wished.  Now, he has his answer and is humbled.  He repents!  So, after all of this back-and-forth between Job and his friends, we realize that we are not all-knowing like God and thus, have no authority to question Him.  After reading all of this, I finally understand that, although it is still extremely hard not to question God!!!!

Q. (42:7-9): Here, God addresses Job’s three friends saying that they misspoke of Him.  Job spoke correctly.  They spoke for God, as if they knew what God wanted them to say.

This does bring up something that we have not spoken of.  If you see a friend sinning, is it our responsibility to correct them?  Or, do we just pray?  I used to think that I didn’t have the courage to speak up.  Now, sometimes I do have the courage and speak up.  Sometimes it goes OK or there is not a comeback, other times I wish I had kept my mouth shut.  As disciples of God, what is our duty when it comes to wanting to steer someone right?  Clearly, from Job, we would have to know the whole story.

A.  We will never know another person’s whole story or walk with God, so we must be very careful about stepping into their lives to try and convict them of sin.  We must be discerning on when is the time to speak, and the time to be silent.  Having said that, I believe that God desires for us to be our “brother’s keeper” as it were (something old Cain was terrible at), and if we truly care about them, we should be in prayer for what is best for them and asking the Spirit for the right time to ask or speak up about what we see or think we see.

Q. (42:13-15): Here is one of the things I struggle with.  Churches vary on if men are dominant over women.  The Bible seems to hint that men were more important than women in those days by showing most of the ancestry lines of men.  This bothers me because I don’t want to think that God made me any less important than a man.  I am trying to change my way of thinking — thanks to Rob — that it’s not always the Bible’s words, it’s the message.  And, 43:14 gives me peace.  Here, God says that he made Job’s daughters lovely.  And that Job put them in his will along with his sons.  Now that Job is truly a man of God, he treats all of his “flock” with love.  In Genesis, when Sarah waited in the tent while Abraham greeted his guests, which was customary of the times.  Even though she was not visible, God addressed Sarah about having the baby.  God even asked Abraham where she was.  So, God is telling Abraham that He is addressing Sarah too.  She is a part of God’s plan.  This shows that God does not give importance to male or female, firstborn or youngest — all of His people have important roles.  I should not be concerned with the argument regarding men being more important than women, rather than what work does God have for me?  Just like Job was asking God, why are you not punishing the wicked?  Why are you persecuting me?  Job should have said, “What can I do for You?” Rob, any comment?

A. Regardless of its inspiration, I believe that the Bible does seem to focus in on men rather than women as a general rule (the rule of life then when women generally had no rights).  But, this does not mean that God desires any less for women than He desires for men: Woman was created in the image of God just as much as man was, even if she didn’t have all the benefits or status in ancient society.  I am glad to hear that you feel there is a place for women in the tale of scripture, and believe that we will see this trend continue in the first two chapter of Exodus.  Watch the way that women (including Moses’ mother) will defy Pharaoh in order to follow God.

And that’s all for Job!  All that repetition and trudging paid off.  Job answered a lot of my “life’s questions.”  How about you?