Day 347 (Dec. 13): Jealousy prevents close relationship with God, God has power to judge not humans, boasting is a sin, luxury is gained through suffering of others, patience in suffering, earnest prayer of a righteous person has power, believers should save wandering believers by bringing them back to the cross, Paul writes Timothy, Law of Moses teachers are good for teaching the lawless, Paul is thankful for God’s mercy after he blasphemed Jesus, Paul tells Timothy to cling to his faith, pray for everyone, Jesus is only one who can reconcile God and man

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 4-5:20

1 Timothy 1-2:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (James 4:2b-3): I must be guilty of this passage.  I do pray for God to bless us with more work.  He has but we could use more.  I want that so we don’t struggle to pay the bills and buy groceries.  I want it so I can buy a new computer and start another phase of this BibleBum journey which I am so looking forward to.  I want to not have to dip into our savings.  OK, that’s enough of that, you get the picture.  But, I also want to have some money to make repairs to the house and afford a nice, reasonable vacation.  Although spending quality time together with my family would give me “pleasure,” I think it’s also nice to strengthen our bond.  Families are so important!  Does pleasure here mean a mansion, a nice sports car, lavish trips, etc.?

A. I believe that James is talking about people who are not truly seeking God in the midst of their desire for riches and pleasure.  The standard is 10% to the church, be generous with what you have beyond the 10%, and you should be in good shape.  God is aware of obligations and the difficulty of certain seasons — we’ve been going through one at my house as well — but if you withhold from generosity for the purpose of gathering money above what you need, then that is when I feel we have slipped into greed, which is what James is speaking of.  We should always be listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit to let us know when we have slipped away from what God desires — and remember that God WANTS us to repent and come back to Him, not to feel guilt for our failures.

Q. (4:9b): Can you explain, “Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy”?

A. He’s talking about repentance in this passage, not just in this verse.  Having a spirit of repentance for one’s sin makes one humble before God, and that is a spirit that God can use ­— or as James puts it, to “lift up in due time.”

Q. (4:11-12): What law are they talking about here?  I’m confused if it’s the NT or the OT.

A. James is referring to the OT law, but saying that Christians should not scorn it by slandering each other and violating what it instructs about loving each other.

Q. (4:17): This is so eye-opening.  Whenever I doubt what I believe God is directing me to, I get a bad feeling — one of self-doubt, weakness, etc.  But, when I talk about it with confidence, I get fulfilled like God is saying “yes!” and “you go, girl!”  I told my husband that our pastor, Zack, had said that it was a sin to worry too.  Is that right?  To me, that goes along the lines with me worrying about my salvation.  It certainly doesn’t do any good to worry about it and takes up brain time that could be used to serve God.

A. James is talking here about one category of sins — that of omission — knowing the right thing to do and NOT doing it is just as sinful as doing the wrong thing you know you shouldn’t.  Worry is one of those things, as we have discussed: it shows a lack of faith in a God who has proclaimed loud and clear that He will provide for our needs.  Just remember that removing sin of that sort is a process, and won’t happen overnight.

Q. (5:12): What does James mean by “never take an oath?”  Is it the same thing that we talked about way back when the Scripture said to not make promises?

A. It is very similar to what James’ half brother, Jesus, said in Matthew 5:33-37 about oaths: don’t flippantly use God’s name to get what you want.  Just speak the truth, and don’t swear by anything to do so.

Q. (1 Timothy 1:3-11): So these teachers are spending time preaching the Law of Moses when, although that’s good for the lawless to help set them straight, it does no good for those believers who should be hearing that Jesus will save them, not obeying laws.

A. My notes indicate that these false teachers were going well beyond the Law of Moses into endless speculation around things like obscure genealogies of the OT.  That’s what he means by endless speculation and talk, which was taking them away from being active servants of God.  They were missing the “boat,” so to speak.

Q. (1:20): I just wondered how the guy downstairs got two different names — the devil and Satan.  And, then there’s his given name of Lucifer, right?

A. Part of the issue is the difference of language between the OT and NT.  The words “Satan” (accuser) and “Lucifer” (light bringer, which occurs ONLY in Isaiah 14:12) are both OT/Hebrew words.  The word “devil” (slanderer) is a NT word, first used in Matthew 4 to refer to Jesus’ tempter, but it means the same thing as “Satan,” simply in Greek instead of Hebrew.

Q. (2:9-10): This Scripture has it’s roots in a situation Paul dealt with where women were distracting a worship service by having revealing clothes, right?  But, I would think this would apply today also.  I would say it would apply to men, but I never see them dressed inappropriately at church.  And, I have seen plenty of Christian women today who are not modest.

A. I agree: modesty and humility are often forsaken Christian values that it would do us a great deal of good to rediscover.

Q. (2:11-15): Here we go with the women’s rights questions.  Does this still apply today that women should not teach men?  And, would this be for anything, including business matters, or just matters of the Bible?  Also, Adam allowed himself was deceived by Eve.  What does “women will be saved through childbearing” mean?

A. Your answer to “does this apply today?” question is in the eye of the beholder: some modern denominations — Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Southern Baptist are among them — see this verse as still being applicable today, but ONLY when in reference to preaching from the Word and specifically leading a congregation: this is why these groups do not ordain women.  Other denominations — United Methodists, Episcopalians, and the more frankly liberal denominations, argue that this is a relic verse that can be ignored.  I’ve heard good arguments for both, with the limits on women’s role in the church being traced back to different, God-given roles, but some of the best ministers I have personally heard preach were women, so I don’t have a strong opinion either way.  As to the “saved by childbearing” verse, I don’t really know what Paul is after here, but there is a lot of speculation that is not worth going into.  I wouldn’t sweat that verse too much.

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 345 (Dec. 11): Complaining and arguing leads to others criticism, Paul advocates Timothy and Epaphroditus, knowing Christ is priceless, stay true to the Lord ignoring enemies to the cross, don’t worry, just pray, a little sin is as big as lots of sins, faith without good deeds is dead, guard your tongue for it is a powerful tool, 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.

Philippians 2:12-4:23

Questions & Observations

Q. (Philippians 2:13): I never knew that God could give us the desire to please Him.  I thought that was a human ability.

A. All good things ultimately come from God, and the desire to please Him is a good thing.

O. (2:14): A hard one to do, but solid advice from Paul.  Bite your tongue has more uses than preventing you from saying something that might hurt someone, which I guess, in turn, ends up hurting you.  But also, complaining and criticizing damages character and people’s opinion of you.  When I go away from someone complaining, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  And, likewise, if I complain, I feel shame afterward.

Q. (4:3): What is the Book of Life?

A. The concept goes all the way back to Exodus 32 during Moses’ discussion with God after the golden calf incident.  Moses tells God that if He does not forgive the people’s sin, then he wants no part in God’s plan, and that God should blot him out of the “book” that God is writing.  God replies that it is not up to Moses who is included or not included in His book.  This exchange could mean several things, but the primary meaning that has come to be accepted is that it is the book of those who have a place in God’s Kingdom — the Book of Life.  We will see more references to this again, especially in Revelation, where it is referred to as the Lamb’s Book of Life in reference to Jesus.

O. (4:6-7): I wish I would always remember to ask for God’s help instead of stewing about issues.  It’s so wonderful to know that He truly wants to care for me.

Q. (4:12-13): Although I feel like Paul is boasting here, he always gives the glory to God, so it’s null and void.

A. He’s bragging about the one thing that he told others to boast about (1 Cor 1:31- let him who boasts boast about the Lord): his relationship with God, and how it provides him contentment even in the most dire of circumstances.  Don’t forget where Paul is when he writes this — under house arrest and expecting to be executed.  This is probably my favorite letter of Paul’s, because it creates such a contrast to the way that the world reacts to suffering and the way that Paul does. Paul says to take joy in suffering and to do so over and over (4:4)!  That is amazing to me.

Day 237 (Aug. 25): Tyre to be destroyed and not restored, Tyre’s ships and merchandise are caught in stormy sea and their fortunes are lost, Tyre’s king claims he is a god, plague hits Sidon, when Israel is restored the neighboring nations will know God, Zedekiah and soldiers fled Jerusalem, Babylonians invade city, Zedekiah captured and tortured

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 26:15-28:26

2 Kings 25:3-7

Jeremiah 52:6-11

Jeremiah 39:2-10

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 26:15-21): I’m just wondering if God is going to destroy all of the nations.  If so, how can it be rebuilt?

A. No, He won’t.  God is pronouncing judgment on Judah’s neighbors in the midst of their destruction under Nebuchadnezzar.  Note that this is most what you might call a “political” destruction — Nebuchadnezzar is seeking governments and nations that will submit to his power, as Israel did before Zedekiah’s revolt, and among those who did not yield without force were Tyre and Sidon, we will explore Tyre’s fate below.

Q. (27:1-25): So, Tyre’s sin is that they boasted?  I don’t see any idol worship.  Their city’s description sounds heavenly.  I don’t read of any wickedness except for being prideful.

A. Their idolatry was love of money.  They became wealthy at the expense of others.  Among other things, they made money off of slave trade, and were unscrupulous when it came to shipping cargo — if you had the money, it got shipped, no matter how “bad” the product might be.  So part of what is happening here is God is saying that you have made your decadence an idol, and must suffer for your boasting.

Q. (27:26-36): Is a stormy sea really how Tyre was destroyed or is that just a metaphor?

A. No.  There’s some interesting history here.  Tyre was among the nations that formed an alliance with other nations, including Egypt, to throw off Nebuchadnezzar’s rule.  According to Babylonian notes, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to it for a number of years, and it eventually surrendered to his rule — but the city itself was not destroyed, at least not at that time.  Tyre would be completely decimated, but not by Nebuchadnezzar; instead it was leveled by Alexander the Great 200 years later.  So the prophecies of Tyre’s destruction were certainly proven true, it was not Nebuchadnezzar who leveled it.

Q. (28:14): So, we have seen another reason why God destroyed Tyre because of her king saying he was a god.  But, in v. 14, he was in God’s presence or court.  So, is this one of those instances where we talked that there was some evidence in the Bible about other heavenly beings becoming “gods” of other nations?  They were envious of God, like Lucifer, and were kicked out of God’s army?  Have I gone too far with this hypothesis?

A. Honestly, there are differing interpretations of what is happening here.  One of them is that Ezekiel is comparing the king of Tyre with Lucifer — a loose comparison, but there are some similarities.  But another way to look at the passage is that Ezekiel is using a metaphor of the king being an innocent (i.e. pre-fall) person in the Garden of Eden.  That would make the king an Adam-like being.  Note the cleverness of the metaphor: while Adam and Eve were naked, the king is dressed in royal splendor, which again points to the decadence of Tyre’s people.  So the extension of the metaphor goes like this: you, oh king, live in paradise in all your great splendor.  You are even in the presence of God Himself, but your sin (trying to BE God) has caused you to lose it all, and you will be “cast out” just as Adam and Eve were for your pride.  I would say that’s the message of this passage.

Q. (2 Kings 25:3-7): Was it Ezekiel that broke through a wall in his home as a demonstration of what was to come of Jerusalem?  Now they see that God’s prophecies come true.  We did read where Zedekiah would live out his life in Babylon, but I had the impression that it was going to be an easy life.

A. Yes, that image was in Ezekiel 12.  Being aware of Zedekiah’s fate, I was hesitant to share too much about the “peace” that he would “enjoy,” but he lived.  Nebuchadnezzar was not kind to those who rebelled against him, especially since HE was the one who put Zedekiah on the throne (another reason the Jews rejected him, just as they will reject another king later in our story…).  Still, he was not executed, but I honestly can’t say I can think of a worse fate than the last thing I ever see (because he was blinded) is my children being executed and then living afterwards.  Pretty brutal.

Q. (Jeremiah 39:2-10): I like this description the best of the three that are given to us here.  Are bronze chains significant?  On Day 234, God calls the Israelites that remain in Jerusalem “worthless slag” leftover from smelting silver.  V. 10 says some of the poor were left in Judah to care for the vineyards and fields.  Was this part of God’s plan?

A. Since there remain Jews in Judea in our story, they will be able to bring news to the Jews in Babylon, which will be an important part of our story when we get to Ezra and, especially, Nehemiah.  So I would say yes, God desired that some of the people stay, but I suspect it was not by any means an easy life.

Day 188 (July 7): Give thanks to the Creator, God is eternally strong, the wicked will be judged justly, the godly get joyful rewards, nothing can conquer 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.

Psalms 92-97

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalm 92): Notice the organization of this psalm.  First, they say to give thanks and praise God in the morning in the evening (to me, whenever or as much as the feeling arises).  Second, they show their depth of knowledge of what God means, acknowledging God’s complexity and creation. And lastly, the amazing rewards for the godly.

Q. (94): Here the author is naming some ungodly traits: gloating, arrogance, boasting.  He is saying that these wicked people should wake up.  Are they so foolish that the think God will not notice their sins, that He will spare them?  This always makes me think of judgment day: those who have always rose to the top as they put others down will have the tables turned on them.  It’s bitter sweet though.  As a Christian, I feel sad for them that they didn’t see the Light and now will suffer for a very long time.

A. One of the common warnings Jesus gave during His earthly ministry is summarized in Matthew 20:16, “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”  It is what is commonly called the great reversal.  It is a clear warning to those who have enjoyed life in this world without consideration for others who are not as fortunate.  Wealth can be a great blessing from God, and in the right hands it is.  As long as we keep a proper perspective on things (i.e. all the wealth we have comes from God’s blessing, not our effort), then we will have nothing to fear from our wealth on the Day of Judgment.  But if our attitude is that we have earned all that we have, and it is to be used for our benefit and comfort alone, we will likely be in grave trouble.  Now I would add that salvation is possible for all who believe in Christ, but if a person of great wealth who uses it to exploit others, I would question whether they had understood the central message of the Gospel at all.

Q. (96): This is a psalm of huge proclamation.  Verse 13 is talking of the messiah?

A. I would say no: it appears to be speaking of the rule of God alone, and His earthly King/Messiah does not appear to come into view in this writer’s perspective.