Day 220 (Aug. 8): False prophets and teachers are not spakeing for the Lord, mourning for Judah, no trust left between the people, weeping everywhere, bodies will be scattered, hypocrits will be revealed and punished, idolatry brings destruction, idolatry worshipers are foolish, God is the only Creator, destruction to all of Judah, Jeremiah prays for wrath for wicked, Judah’s broken covenant, God reassures Jeremiah of His protection

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 8:4-11:23

Questions & Observations

O. (Jeremiah 8:4-11): This whole passage put a thought in my head of how impressionable we are from our parents and teachers.  Family businesses, customs, recipes, beliefs and so many other things are handed down from generation to generation and they become so engrained in our minds that it’s hard to change them.  That is all great, unless someone is handing down the wrong information from generation to generation and never questions it or looks at the rulebook, the Bible.  What I’m saying is that we have a responsibility to check the rulebook and question what information we are being fed and then, what we hand down to our children.  I think, that, in part, is some of what’s happening here.  Remember when we went through the deluge of kings and many of them said that they were “evil in the Lord’s sight. (They) followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.”  So, what one teacher or parent does is extremely impressionable on children.  Two Sundays ago, the pastor was commenting on how people become what their parents envision.  His dad said he would be a great leader.  Now he is.  Not that you should determine what profession your kids will go into, rather teach them love and point out their talents that they may want to share with others.  And, question those practices that “are because they are and always have been.”  When my mom was here this last summer, she told me she thought it was a good idea for me to continue working at this preschool.  The school was great, but teaching is not a gift I have never had and probably never will.  So, I told her I was trying to follow God’s direction.  I must say though, it is not always easy to know where he is directing me.  He has shown me my talents, but I don’t have a clear way of using them.  (It just dawned on me that I am right now in this blog.  So I need to be patient and open my eyes to what he reveals to me.)

Q. (8:18-9:2): When I first read this I thought it somewhat mimics the feelings Jesus went through as he struggled to get the people, especially the church leaders, to follow Him.  Here, we are seeing God’s grief for His people.  Is he sad because he has lost so many people?  Is He angry or embarrassed because this nation who he is trying to make an example of is failing Him?  Regardless, we see His steadfast love for them.

A. I don’t think God feels embarrassment, because that would imply that He was ashamed of something, but I think that He is wholeheartedly expressing anger and sadness for the way that Israel’s sin has hurt the people.  It isn’t just the idolatry, it is the effect their sinfulness is having on their relationships with each other: their sin is leading to corruption of the leaders, exploitation of the people, and violence.  These are always the consequences of sin left to its own devices.  That, ultimately, is what God is upset about: the way the people’s sin is causing them to turn on their own people in order to get ahead.

O. (9:23-24): This is an unexpected nice little pearl in the midst of all this upheaval, bloodshed, destruction and rot.

23 This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.

24 But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

(And I say, AMEN!! I’m a big foe of boasting!)

Q. (9:25): God is talking about those who have the mark of the Lord, but are void of the Holy Spirit?

A. He is talking about people who have the “outer” marking of belonging to God (circumcision), but whose hearts are unchanged by their relationship with God.  This is a theme Jeremiah will continue to explore.  Also, Paul takes up a discussion of this theme in Romans chapter 2, so watch for that down the road.

Q. (10:23, 25, 11:4): Rob, I know you are a believer that we have free choice.  But, what do you say about Jeremiah’s statement in v. 23: I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.  We are not able to plan our own course.?  Yet, in v. 25, Jeremiah says, “Pour out your wrath … on the peoples that do not call upon your name,” which indicates these people have a choice.  V. 11:4 further hints at free choice when it says “If you obey me and do whatever I command you …” Is there any books you can recommend for the free-will vs. predestination debate?

A. There is ample evidence for both positions in the Bible, it is simply a matter of deciding how the theology of Predestination and Free Will “fit” into the greater story.  I’m not sure I could recommend a volume on both positions, but I would recommend the work of Roger E. Olson on Free Will Theology (also called Arminianism) and the works of Kenneth Stewart on Calvinism.

Q. (11:14): God has definitely counted past three with no response.  He’s done.  The Israelites have obviously not been reminded lately of the story of Noah and the Ark!  All the evil people died!

A. All of Judah will be punished, though not all of them will die.  You have seen in our reading that it is already happening.

Q. (11:21-23): I like these verses.  Jeremiah asks the Lord to get even.  He basically says, “don’t worry, they will pay.  That is my job as the great judge.”  I enjoy the ending, “I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”  God is gently telling Jeremiah that He will take care of them, but reminding Jeremiah that He is Lord and it will come when He’s ready, not Jeremiah.  So, don’t wait around for it.  Go on with your life.

A. It can be of great assurance to some people that there will be a reckoning in life.  There is an expectation among many of our most corrupt and wealthy today — sadly including clergy — that they can do whatever they want because they have the money and power to do so.  I’m thinking of those individuals who basically wrecked our economy and caused millions to lose their homes by recklessly playing the financial market in order to make a ton of money.  Jeremiah’s message rings for them as well: Beware!  Judgment is coming, and you will have to answer for what you have done.

 

Day 213 (Aug. 1): Josiah renews covenant with God, Josiah rids region of pagan worship, Josiah reenstates Passover, Nahum speaks of God’s anger toward Ninevah, the fall of Ninevah, judgment of Ninevah

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 23:1-20

2 Chronicles 34:29-33

2 Kings 23:21-28

2 Chronicles 35:1-19

Nahum 1-3:19

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 23:18): Who was the “old prophet” from Samaria?

A. He was unnamed, but he was the man of God described in 1 Kings 13 who warned King Jereboam about Josiah’s actions.  He was also the man who foolishly ate the meal with the other “old prophet” when God had told him to take no food in Samaria and he was killed by a lion on the road the next day.  The story there describes the man’s burial marking the spot that Josiah recognized and asked about.

Q. (2 Kings 23:19-20): Wow, don’t mess with Josiah!  I don’t like the idea of burning any human.  I know he was trying to erase any signs of idol worship.  I would have thought that Josiah could have tried to convince the priests to lay down their beliefs and turn to God.  But, maybe Josiah didn’t want any trace left, giving the priests a chance to start up the pagan worship in hiding.  Would God be pleased with Josiah burning these priests?

A. He’s not burning the priests.  He is killing them (bad enough I know, but this is righteous vengeance against pagan worship that was destroying Judah), and once they are buried, he is burning other human remains (bones) over their graves to desecrate them.

Q. (2 Chronicles 34:29-33): Sounds great, but we know it won’t last long because of all the prophecies that Judah will be destroyed.  You’re going to say wait and see, right?

A. Eventually.  There’s still a lot to happen, which we will see unfold in Jeremiah.

Q. (2 Kings 23:25): As far as Bible characters or heroes — I hate to use those words because it makes the Bible sound like fiction — we don’t here about Josiah much at all.  We hear mostly about David and Solomon.  Is this because Josiah doesn’t have a lot written about him?  David and Solomon were in a lot more stories and authored text.

A. Honestly I don’t have a great answer for that.  It is possible that Josiah doesn’t get much “press” because his kingdom is so much smaller than David or Solomon’s (i.e. just little Judah), or also because he is “sandwiched” between such evil men, that his good efforts become less noticed.  Part of the issue is probably that his reforms won’t last.

Q. (2 Kings 23:26-27): Why isn’t God seeing Josiah seriously trying to turn the Israelites back to Him?

A. Good question, probably because they won’t last.  Remember yesterday what God promised: you (Josiah) will be spared seeing this happen, but the city will not; it is too late.

Q. (2 Chronicles 35:7): I’ve commented on this before.  It’s still hard to imagine this many animals being sacrificed.  Was the number to allow for the number of people that needed to be fed, or was the number for the sacrifice of giving up livestock?

A. It should be based upon the number of livestock, but there is no way to know exactly.

Q. (Nahum 2:1-2): I am so confused.  I didn’t see where Judah had definitely been destroyed.  Was it in Jeremiah 6:22-30?  It’s hard to tell where the prophets are prophesying the future and narrating actual events.  I didn’t think it had happened yet because Josiah was turning to God.  I guess Hilkiah found the scrolls after the destruction of Judah?

A. You are right, but the things we read about in Jeremiah come later (i.e. they haven’t happened yet in our reading timeline).  What this refers to is Assyria’s encroachment into Judah that we read about in 2 Kings 18, where we saw the messenger of the king come and threaten the people.  But the conquest was not completed: Jerusalem withstood the threat, though other cities in Judah did not.  That is what the destruction of Judah refers to: Assyria’s efforts to conquer the nation of Judah (including Jerusalem, its capital) that were turned away by God’s intervention on Judah’s behalf.

Q. (Nahum 2:1-13): Do we know who destroyed Ninevah?  God said he would destroy their family lines.  We see this in v. 13 where the young men are killed in battle?

A. Yes, Ninevah, as capital of Assyria, is conquered in 612 BC by a combined force of Babylon and another nation called Medes, both of which will play a large role in the next phase of Israel’s history: the captivity.

Q. (Nahum 3:5): I don’t know if this was funny then, but it is now.

A. This would have been the most common method of publicly shaming a prostitute or adulteress, but I can see how the humor might be seen.

Q. The difference between the destruction of Judah and Ninevah is that God is Israel’s leader and redeemer.  He will bring them back.  Ninevah doesn’t have God.

A. Yes, but it will be a very painful process, that will take nearly a hundred years to walk through.

Day 178 (June 27): Hosea tells of Israel’s sins and immenent punishment, Israel breaks covenant and will suffer consequences, wrongs of Israel and Judah, God’s wrath for wickedness, healing for those who repent

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.

Hosea 9-14

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hosea 9:10): When God first named Israel His people, they were few.  It seems that as they grew in number, like God promised the ancestors, that they fell to evil.  With greater numbers comes a greater chance for evil.  And, as we saw with Adam and Eve who were by themselves, that it doesn’t take much to tempt someone.  With more people, the evil just multiplies.

A. That is certainly true.  But Israel in particular has compounded the problem by putting corrupt and evil men on the throne (like Ahab and Jezebel), and continuous worshipping of other Canaanite gods.  They have abandoned God, just as Moses foresaw and warned the people against way back in Deuteronomy.  He warned them that choosing the path without God had only one end: death.  So Israel has reaped what it sowed.

Q. (9:15, 10:8, 10:9): The Lord mentions three places where evil started.  Can you refresh our memory of the sins of Gilgal, Aven (Beth-aven) and Gibeah?

A. Gilgal was the place where Israel camped after crossing the Jordan back in Joshua 4 and 5.  It was the place of ceremony where Joshua and the people re-established the covenant with God and remember His faithfulness.  Apparently this was a place of pagan worship of some sort, but we are not given the details.  Surely it was a great insult to God that a place that had been so significant between God and Israel be used for the spiritual “prostitution” as Hosea has put it.

Beth-Aven is actually making a mockery of the name Bethel.  It is the place where Jacob wrestled with God way back in Genesis 32.  Bethel means “house of God,” Beth Aven means “house of idols” or perhaps “house of nothing,” so you see the mockery of Hosea here.  Anyway, Beth-Aven is the location of one of the golden calves that Jeroboam established to keep people from returning to Judah back in 1 Kings 12 — it’s the thing that God keeps on referring to as the “original sin” of Israel.  All the problems Israel has come back to that moment.

Lastly, Gibeah, one of your favorite stories as I recall (note: Rob is being sarcastic!), was the place back in Judges 19-21 where the tribe of Benjamin went to war with the rest of the tribes over the killing of a concubine by the priest.  The tribe was nearly wiped out, and the other tribes had to resort to basically letting them kidnap virgin women in order to survive.  It was one of the most corrupt moments of Israel’s history, and one that God is recalling now to basically say that nothing has changed.

Q. (10:1): I think this is true today.  The richer we get, the cockier and more prideful we get and think we are self-sufficient, self-motivated and successful.  We probably worship things like work, TV, luxury.  But, why would the Israelites turn to other gods?  Oh, right, because you said when creating a God, you can try to control it — which does nothing anyway.  Whereas with God, He is in control, giving us no self-control.

A. I think you’ve got your own answer.  Don’t forget also, that Israel’s problem started with the king trying to control the people (don’t miss the irony of that statement as it relates to God!) via idols.  Jeroboam wanted the people to worship gods he could control, not the true God that he couldn’t.

Q. (11:8): I think we have found an answer here to the question of “Why did God not give up on the Israelites?”  He has given them so many chances because He remembers the companionship and trust that He had from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.  Maybe He longs for that hoping Israel will turn around.  And, I’m sure that He wants to share His kingdom with them.

A. One of the central concepts of covenant is the idea that if one side of the parties involved does not keep its end of the bargain, the other party does not walk away.  God is demonstrating His faithfulness to His people, by giving them every chance to repent of their sin and return to Him.  But since they will not, they have repentance forced upon them, as we will see.

Q. (14:4): Why is God no longer angry?

A. Once the people have paid their penalty (and they will), then God’s anger (what we would call wrath) in this matter is complete.  He will be able to restore them to a right relationship with Him, and when there is right relationship between God and man — as Jesus will establish for each of us — there is no need for God to be wrathful.

Day 143 (May 23): Solomon moved the Ark to the Lord’s new temple, Solomon delivers amazing prayer, Solomon dedicates Temple to God, Solomon asks God to uphold ‘throne’ vow to David

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.

1 Kings 8:1-21

2 Chronicles 6:1-11

1 Kings 8:22-53

2 Chronicles 6:12-42

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Kings 8:1): OK, Jerusalem and the City of David are the same, right?  Sorry, I’m a little foggy on this.  Did the City of David get renamed Jerusalem.  If so, why?  So they didn’t have to move the Ark too far?  And, it still has all of it’s belongings from the Tabernacle in the desert?

A. Bethlehem is the city of David, not Jerusalem, but it’s a journey of only a few miles, so its not that far either.  The text does say that it was the items from the desert, though perhaps it means the versions of the ones they are using such as the new tent David had designed.  I’m not exactly sure.

Q. (2 Chronicles 5:1-14): How nice to hear such reverence for the Lord again!  The Israelites have been like a yo-yo with their loyalty to God.  After all of the work and years put into the Ark, I’m sure opening the Temple was the pinnacle of the decade … or century.  It is amazing that the Israelites have managed to carry on the stories of God throughout the centuries and retain their faith (though not all of the time!)  On that note, it’s also miraculous that the Israelites still have the Ark.

A. The Temple dedication is one of the high points of the entire nation’s history, no mistake about it.  I think they only had the Ark because of (what else) God’s mercy upon His people.

O. (1 Kings 8:22-53): Nice prayer! Solomon sounds like he is great ruler material!  I also noticed how much Solomon gives tribute to his father, David.  He reminds God of his love for David and asks that He remember the oath he had with David to have his line on the throne forever.  The relationship between Solomon and his father seems strong.  David obviously spent time with Solomon teaching him about God’s ways and all of His miracles he performed for their ancestors.  This shows how the stories were handed down.  It’s just amazing that they weren’t lost in those long years when Israel strayed from God.  Then again, God probably deserves a lot of the credit for giving Solomon wisdom, a virtue that he requested.

Day 114 (April 24): David and God talk of temples and houses, David expresses his gratitude to God for his blessings, David’s many victories

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 Samuel 7:1-17

1 Chronicles 17:1-15

2 Samuel 7:18-29

1 Chronicles 17:16-27

2 Samuel 8:1-14

1 Chronicles 18:1-13

Psalm 60

Questions & Observations

O. (2 Samuel 1:2): I am glad that David realized he was treating himself better than the Ark.

Q. (7:11b-16): At first, I thought God was telling Nathan about Solomon.  Because, I believe he builds a temple for God.  But then, verse 14 lets us know he is talking about Jesus, because it says, “I will be his father, and he will be my son.”  So, we know that Jesus is a descendant of David.  Right?  God also says that if He sins, God will discipline Him, just like a father would do.  But, as Christians, we believe in the Trinity.  Why would God punish himself?  He knows Jesus won’t sin anyway, right?  Also, this sounds as if the blessings should continue in Jesus’s descendants.  There are thoughts that Jesus was married and maybe had kids.  Do we get into this at all in the NT?  I think this is a question of curiosity, though, and not important to God’s message?  Back up to verse 13.  God says to Nathan, “He is the one who will build a house — a temple — for my name.  Are we talking about a literal house here, or is this a figure of speech?

A. This is a complicated passage, without a simple explanation.  What God is saying in this promise to David is that his line will never fail, but it does NOT say that the line itself will be eternal and we will see how this unfolds at the story moves into Kings.  So, because God is speaking of a dynasty of rulers, there are multiple ways to interpret the passage.  First, it is Solomon, David’s son, who will build the temple, but it is Jesus — also David’s son and descendent — who will replace the existing temple (that will be destroyed) with an eternal KINGDOM that will never fail.  So God CAN rebuke David’s sons when they go astray and rebuke them (and He will), without excluding the possibility of a son, Jesus, that will NOT NEED rebuking.  Now in the sense that Jesus is eternal, God is speaking of His plans for an eternal temple/kingdom/house in a metaphorical sense.  This sidesteps the ridiculous nonsense about Jesus having children: there was no longer a need for an heir, because Jesus is now eternally alive, having defeated death itself.  We will see numerous examples of this type of prophecy throughout the rest of the OT: in one sense it refers to temporal events and people, but in a deeper sense, God is speaking of things of His Kingdom and eternity.  It would be helpful if you approach passages without a singular idea in mind about “what this means”: prophecies regularly have multiple — and correct — interpretations that will only be seen in hindsight.

Q. Why does Chronicles copy 2 Samuel almost verbatim?

A. Because it very likely used Samuel (and Kings) as sources.  Part of what is hard to tell from the way this daily reader is setup is places where Chronicles deviates from the story to tell us some other detail- that would only occur if we were reading the books straight through.  Samuel and Kings tell very important parts of Israel’s history, so it is unsurprising that Chronicles would use this good source material to tell its own version of the story of this period.

Q. (8:1-2): This sounds like Hitler.  Did God command David to do all this killing?  God created the Moabites too.  Why does He not value their lives?

A. David is going into combat against nations that are acting as enemies of Israel.  And once these nations are defeated, oftentimes some of the people are executed, as in this case, if not all of them.  The author does not say whether God ordered the killing, only that He was with David and gave him victory.  It would seem unlikely to me that David would have been given these great victories if what he had done was outside of what God desired.  This isn’t total war: David is allowing members of all of these tribes to live, even if it is as his servants.  Requiring tribute of survivors in military victory was common practice then, and it continues to this day.

Q. (Psalm 60:10): Why is David doubting that God is with him after David and his soldiers have won battle after battle?

A. It looks to me like 60:10 is rhetorical, noting that without God, victory is not possible.  So in asking “are you with us, God?” what he’s really saying is, “if you’re not with us, we won’t win.”  Perhaps the question is asked in the midst of buildup to a great battle, where moments of doubt and trepidation are natural, even to a seasoned army and king like David.  It is hard to say.  The other thing I see is the poem’s structure is that it starts in a dark place in verse 1, but moves to one of victory around verse 5.  It might be that the writer is repeating this structure — dark to victory — at the end using poetic license.  Don’t forget, this is a poem, and we would not hold a poet to the same standards we would expect from a biographer.  Considering the genre of writing is crucial for understanding the various writings of scripture.

Thanks for reading along.  We welcome you to join us tomorrow and every day

Day 89 (March 30): Easterners return home after years of battles, Easterners build altar to preserve memory of union between Western Canaan and Eastern Canaan, Altar sparks controversy but quickly resolved, Joshua delivers final words to Israelites, Joshua renews Israel’s covenant with God, Joshua dies, Eleazer dies

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

Joshua 22-24

Questions & Observations

Q. (Joshua 22:10-34): So, there was a big gap in communication here.  Apparently, to build another altar to sacrifice would have been severely disrespecting God’s wishes?  But, the 2½ tribes didn’t build it for sacrifice; they built it as a reminder.  The reminder serves as a bridge between the Israelites east of the Jordan and those west of the Jordan.  The easterners were concerned that the westerners may not allow the easterners in to worship the Lord and make sacrifices?  I was under the impression that the tribes’ borders were transparent and they could just flow between the territories, but always belong to one.  Was there hostility between them?

A. It reads to me as though the Eastern tribes were saying, “Everything is great now, but what happens in a hundred years when every one of us is long dead?  Will our people still be welcome?”  So they set this plan in motion to build a reminder that they are in fact a united people.  I think that the Western tribes were willing to go to war to ensure that the Eastern tribes hadn’t given up on God, but all was well once the emissaries were able to talk.

Q. I feel like we are going through a big change now.  Joshua and Eleazer both died without appointing a new leader.  That gives me a feeling of bad things to come.

A. I don’t want to spoil a good story (Judges is a good story), so I’ll just say that we will see the way that God will provide for His people in their hour(s) of need.

And, that’s the end of Joshua.  Tomorrow, we start Judges!

Day 83 (March 24): Achan disobeys God causing Israelites to lose a battle with Ai, culprit found and punished, Israelites defeat Ai, Covenant renewed, Gibeonites trick Israel, God is angry because Israelites left Him out of a decision

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.  Hope you enjoy!

Day 83 (March 24)

New Living Translation, Biblegateway.com

Joshua 7

Ai Defeats the Israelites

7 But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord.[a] A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri[b] son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.

1 Chronicles 2:7

The son of Carmi (a descendant of Zimri) was Achan,[a] who brought disaster on Israel by taking plunder that had been set apart for the Lord.[b]

Joshua 7:2

Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”

So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries,[c] and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.

Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”

10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.

13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

14 “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one. 15 The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”

Achan’s Sin

16 Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Judah was singled out. 17 Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out. 18 Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out.

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”

20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon,[d] 200 silver coins,[e] and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound.[f] I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”

22 So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. 23 They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord.

24 Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. 25 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble[g] ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.

The Israelites Defeat Ai

8 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.”

So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to attack Ai. Joshua chose 30,000 of his best warriors and sent them out at night with these orders: “Hide in ambush close behind the town and be ready for action. When our main army attacks, the men of Ai will come out to fight as they did before, and we will run away from them. We will let them chase us until we have drawn them away from the town. For they will say, ‘The Israelites are running away from us as they did before.’ Then, while we are running from them, you will jump up from your ambush and take possession of the town, for the Lord your God will give it to you. Set the town on fire, as the Lord has commanded. You have your orders.”

So they left and went to the place of ambush between Bethel and the west side of Ai. But Joshua remained among the people in the camp that night. 10 Early the next morning Joshua roused his men and started toward Ai, accompanied by the elders of Israel. 11 All the fighting men who were with Joshua marched in front of the town and camped on the north side of Ai, with a valley between them and the town. 12 That night Joshua sent 5,000 men to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the town. 13 So they stationed the main army north of the town and the ambush west of the town. Joshua himself spent that night in the valley.

14 When the king of Ai saw the Israelites across the valley, he and all his army hurried out early in the morning and attacked the Israelites at a place overlooking the Jordan Valley.[h] But he didn’t realize there was an ambush behind the town. 15 Joshua and the Israelite army fled toward the wilderness as though they were badly beaten. 16 Then all the men in the town were called out to chase after them. In this way, they were lured away from the town. 17 There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel[i] who did not chase after the Israelites, and the town was left wide open.

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Point the spear in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the town over to you.” Joshua did as he was commanded. 19 As soon as Joshua gave this signal, all the men in ambush jumped up from their position and poured into the town. They quickly captured it and set it on fire.

20 When the men of Ai looked behind them, smoke from the town was filling the sky, and they had nowhere to go. For the Israelites who had fled in the direction of the wilderness now turned on their pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all the other Israelites saw that the ambush had succeeded and that smoke was rising from the town, they turned and attacked the men of Ai. 22 Meanwhile, the Israelites who were inside the town came out and attacked the enemy from the rear. So the men of Ai were caught in the middle, with Israelite fighters on both sides. Israel attacked them, and not a single person survived or escaped. 23 Only the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.

24 When the Israelite army finished chasing and killing all the men of Ai in the open fields, they went back and finished off everyone inside. 25 So the entire population of Ai, including men and women, was wiped out that day—12,000 in all. 26 For Joshua kept holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely destroyed.[j] 27 Only the livestock and the treasures of the town were not destroyed, for the Israelites kept these as plunder for themselves, as the Lord had commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned the town of Ai,[k] and it became a permanent mound of ruins, desolate to this very day.

29 Joshua impaled the king of Ai on a sharpened pole and left him there until evening. At sunset the Israelites took down the body, as Joshua commanded, and threw it in front of the town gate. They piled a great heap of stones over him that can still be seen today.

The Lord’s Covenant Renewed

30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. 31 He followed the commands that Moses the Lord’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.”[l] Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 32 And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied onto the stones of the altar[m] the instructions Moses had given them.

33 Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously given for blessing the people of Israel.

34 Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. 35 Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them.

The Gibeonites Deceive Israel

9 Now all the kings west of the Jordan River heard about what had happened. These were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who lived in the hill country, in the western foothills,[n] and along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[o] as far north as the Lebanon mountains. These kings combined their armies to fight as one against Joshua and the Israelites.

But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy. When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to ask you to make a peace treaty with us.”

The Israelites replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.”

They replied, “We are your servants.”

“But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?”

They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt. 10 We have also heard what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan (who lived in Ashtaroth). 11 So our elders and all our people instructed us, ‘Take supplies for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and tell them, “We are your servants; please make a treaty with us.”’

12 “This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. 13 These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.”

14 So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord. 15 Then Joshua made a peace treaty with them and guaranteed their safety, and the leaders of the community ratified their agreement with a binding oath.

16 Three days after making the treaty, they learned that these people actually lived nearby! 17 The Israelites set out at once to investigate and reached their towns in three days. The names of these towns were Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18 But the Israelites did not attack the towns, for the Israelite leaders had made a vow to them in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.

The people of Israel grumbled against their leaders because of the treaty. 19 But the leaders replied, “Since we have sworn an oath in the presence of the Lord, the God of Israel, we cannot touch them. 20 This is what we must do. We must let them live, for divine anger would come upon us if we broke our oath. 21 Let them live.” So they made them woodcutters and water carriers for the entire community, as the Israelite leaders directed.

22 Joshua called together the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you lie to us? Why did you say that you live in a distant land when you live right here among us? 23 May you be cursed! From now on you will always be servants who cut wood and carry water for the house of my God.”

24 They replied, “We did it because we—your servants—were clearly told that the Lord your God commanded his servant Moses to give you this entire land and to destroy all the people living in it. So we feared greatly for our lives because of you. That is why we have done this. 25 Now we are at your mercy—do to us whatever you think is right.”

26 So Joshua did not allow the people of Israel to kill them. 27 But that day he made the Gibeonites the woodcutters and water carriers for the community of Israel and for the altar of the Lord—wherever the Lord would choose to build it. And that is what they do to this day.

∆ ∆ ∆

Questions & Observations

Q. (Joshua 7:25): Achan’s family was killed as punishment because maybe they knew of Achan’s sin, but hid it from everyone?

A. I’m not entirely sure, but it appears that they did so to purge the evil of Achan completely.  I would guess that as the patriarch of his family, Achan’s involvement in the theft and deceit is what got his family killed.

Q. (Joshua 8:2): Why can the Israelites keep war plunder sometimes and in other times, God tells them they can’t keep it.  Is it just a matter of obeying what God says?

A. I’m not sure if there is a pattern, but it is simply a matter of following God’s orders.

Q. (8:25): Here we get the town size of Ai to be 12,000.  Do you know if that is a typical town size?  If so, the Israelites numbers are much, much larger and should be no match for these towns.

A. It appears to be a small town in this era, according to what 7:3 tells us.  The spies informed Joshua that the area had few fighters, and could be taken without the full force.  My notes tell me that the journey from Jericho to Ai is around 15 miles uphill, which might explain why Joshua was not eager to send his whole force.

Q. (8:28-29): There are many references we have read thus far, including this one, that state the sites can still be seen today.  Why is this important for the author to convey to the readers?

A. The author appears to be marking locations throughout the nation as a way of saying, “if you don’t believe me, go see the sites for yourself.”

Q. (8:30-32): Why doesn’t God instruct the Israelites to set up the Tabernacle to offer sacrifices?  Is it because they are on the move right now?  Or, maybe they use it also as a monument to mark God’s territory?

A. The Tabernacle will be setup when the conquest is complete.  As we saw in Jericho, that doesn’t mean that the Ark is not in “use” as it were.

Q. (9:14): So, God was obviously upset with the Israelites for not confirming the identities of these travelers with Him.  So, the punishment is that these people tricked them and now they have to accept them into their society.  But, God wanted all the land wiped clean.  Was this part of his plan that the Israelites would now have laborers?

A. I couldn’t tell you for sure, but I can tell you that by making the oath he did, Joshua ensured that these people became a part of God’s plans for His nation.  There will be various references to Gibeonites throughout the OT as servants of Israel, and one location where the Tabernacle will be set is Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:3-5).  Based upon the descriptions we saw for the Tabernacle, you could imagine that it required a lot of wood for the altar, and a lot of water for the washing basin- there appears to be a lot of menial labor associated with the Tabernacle and later the temple.  Perhaps God is making provision for His people in this way.

Thanks for joining in.  Hope to see you again!  Enjoy your day!

Day 82 (March 23): Israelites cross the Jordan, Ark parted the waters, memorial to crossing Jordan, circumcision requirement reestablished, Joshua bows to commander of Lord’s army, march around Jericho, Jericho’s walls crumble, Rahab and family saved

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

Joshua 3-6

Questions & Observations

Q. (3:13): I like how God uses a parting of the waters again to enter into a new land.  The Israelites who witnessed this miracle at the Exodus are no longer living.  So, it is wonderful that the new generation can see the power of God parting water.  Is there anything symbolic of parting water?

A. Water was an ancient symbol of life giving deities.  By turning the Nile to blood, parting the Red Sea, and the Jordan River, God is demonstrating His power of these other false gods.

Q. (3:17): I thought the Israelites were told to stay a half mile back because of the holiness of the Ark, but here, they are passing by it.  Can you explain?

A. They were told to stay back until the Ark got to the middle of the Jordan and the water receded.  Then they could cross by it.

Q. (4:12): I notice that the warriors from the tribes that asked for the land east of the Jordan instead of west of the Jordan are asked to go first.  Is this sort of a payment of these tribes for asking for the land on the east side of the Jordan River, sort of rejecting the land that God had promised them?

A. As we mentioned yesterday, that was the bargain that Moses struck with the tribes: your leadership in battle in exchange for this good land.  As far as I know, the land on the east side of the Jordan is Canaan as well, so it was part of what God intended for Israel.

Q. (5:2): We have discussed the Lord’s requirement of circumcision of the Israelite males in Day 5’s reading (Jan. 5).  You can find it by clicking on “Index.”  Rob, anything to add here?

A. Yes, this passage indicates that exception had been made for this generation of Israel: those born in the wilderness (i.e. the generation who would take the Promised Land, as opposed to those who died out) were not circumcised, for reasons that are not explained.  The rite is simply suspended for 40 years.  This passage indicates that when Israel crossed the Jordan, the religious observances were reestablished- note that after the covenant is reaffirmed by circumcision, they celebrate Passover.  It also tells us that the manna disappears, indicating a closure to that chapter of God’s provision for His people.  My notes also tell me that it was in Canaan that Abraham and his family members were first circumcised, so doing this ceremony in the Promised Land is a way of renewing the covenant relationship that he established.

O. (5:9): I had never thought about any shame the Israelites would have carried from being former slaves.  I guess that would have been a burden to carry and now God somehow took that feeling away.

O. (6:1-5): Remember the discussion about the importance of certain numbers in the Bible?  Seven signifies completeness and fulfillment, and traces its roots back the seven days of creation.  To see other important numbers Rob told us about, see the first answer on Day 3.

Q. (6:25): Will Rahab or her descendants come up again?

A.  I don’t think so, but Rahab’s faith does get her two mentions in the NT: in Hebrews 11 (the hall of fame passage) and James 2.  Not a bad consolation, right?

Thanks for checking out BibleBum.com!  Hope to see you tomorrow!

Day 79 (March 20): Moses reviews Covenant, God shows mercy for those who stray but return, life choices, Joshua is Israel’s new leader, Book of Instruction, Israel’s disobedience predicted

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

Deuteronomy 29:2-31:29

Questions & Observations

Q. (Deuteronomy 29:29): This is an interesting verse.  Has God said this before that there are secrets that He has not revealed?

A. I don’t think it has come up to this point, but honestly, there will always be things about the infinite God that are incomprehensible to the finite “us.”  I don’t really like the way that this verse in translated in this version.  The NIV makes Moses’ point more carefully.  The focus is not on God and His secrets, i.e. things He has not revealed, but rather on the Law as a blessing to the people and future generations of their children.

O. (30:1-10): Yeah!  God has mercy on the Israelites.  I thought that once they sinned, they are doomed.  God is merciful.

O. (30:9-10): This passage made me smile.  It’s nice to know we can delight God.  So many times, it feels like we can either make Him happy or make Him mad.  But, the thought that we can bring joy to His heart brings joy to my heart, much like when I look at my girls and think how lucky I am that God gave them to me.

Q. (30:17): I know these commandments are for the Israelites — I never really differentiated that rules were for them and not necessarily for us today until Rob explained that — nevertheless, we can still learn from them, right?  Here Moses is telling the Israelites that if they worship other gods, they will be destroyed.  There are other false gods to worship, but I think that once you become a Christian, you are not likely to be lured by other cults, religions, etc., but we have idolatry of today: TV, work, temptations, food, alcohol, sports, anything that we give so much importance to that we forget about God.  Would you say that applying this passage to today in this way is accurate?

A. I think it is.  You have begun to see the way that we should think about idolatry today: as anything that competes with God for our attention and time.  It is anything that we trust in besides God.  Having said that, I think that we as a society are moving toward a more open view of mixed religious theology.  We usually call it pluralism, and say things like, “all roads lead to God.”  Unfortunately, this goes exactly against what Moses is teaching the people here.  We must be very careful about allowing other religious ideas to infiltrate our faith.  Intermixing their faith in God with other faiths will get the Israelites in a lot of trouble.

O. (31:1-8): Just reading this gets my heart pounding.  I imagine the Israelites thinking about how big and numerous these inhabitants were and here God said He is going to conquer them.  And now, since they did not actually see the miracles in Egypt, there may be many who doubt these commands.  But, Moses keeps reminding them of the deliverance and miracles and I’m sure their parents did — the loyal, wise ones anyway.

Q. (31:12): What is in the Book of Instruction?  The curses and the blessings?  Was this book placed in the Ark of the Covenant also?  Do any of these exist in museums today?  That’s another question.  Can you give us a nutshell version of where all of the scrolls that form the Bible were found?

A. The Book of Instruction is the Law.  It is basically some form of the previous four books we have been reading: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  I suspect the versions of the books that we have been reading were edited together to combine the instructions of the Law with the journey in the wilderness that we have been reading about.  There will be various references to copies of the Law throughout the OT, but it appears a copy of the Law did end up in the Ark.  It is very unlikely, however, that it was a copy that would have been used.  It is likely that other copies made by the priests were used for everyday study.

Regarding your other question, you’ve touched upon a complex subject: the transmission of the OT.  There’s a few things to note.  First, the oldest known copy of the complete OT in Hebrew is called the Masoretic Text (usually MT), which is a medieval copy of the OT from the Middle Ages.  We have portions of the OT that are found throughout the Middle East, but there’s a catch.  In the late BC era, the OT was translated into ancient Greek, to create a document known as the Septuagint (from the Greek word for seventy from the number of translators who worked on it).  Most of the ancient copies of the OT are Septuagints: Greek, not Hebrew copies.  Modern Jews reject the use of the Septuagint (probably because it’s the version that many early Christians, including Paul, used), and feel that only the Hebrew is valid for translation.  So while we have many fragments of the OT in Hebrew, and several copies in Greek, the oldest complete text comes from the Middle Ages.

I hear the questions rising now: isn’t that a long time?  Yes it is, but one of the coolest discoveries of modern Biblical archeology was the discovery of what is known as the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s and 50s- found near the Dead Sea in the West Bank.  This was a collection of nearly a thousand clay pots that contained scrolls of various sizes.  These scrolls contained various portions of nearly every book of the OT (the exception was Esther, for reasons that don’t concern us here).  The ultimate find, however, was a full-length copy of the Book of Isaiah on a 12-foot scroll.  The coolest part of the discovery: the text of Isaiah matched more than 99% of the Masoretic text, despite being more than a thousand years older!  This, I think, tells us the great care with which Jews have copied their sacred text (and the way early Christians transmitted theirs), and gives me great confidence that the copies of the Bible that we have today are accurate representations of what the original author and editors desired to write about God.

O. (31:16-18) I doubt this is news that sits well with Moses, especially on the day of his death!

Q. (31:29): So much for peace in the valley of milk and honey.  Why does the disobedience have to continue?  From reading the Bible thus far, it seems that God does have a hand in what disasters strike.  Is this just more of God testing to see who deserves His blessings?

A. The people continue to rebel against God.  And just because God can “see it coming” as it were, does not make the people any less responsible for their actions, which is part of what God is telling Moses here.  The purpose of the curses, the droughts, the conquest by other tribes, these are all tools used by God to call His people back to Him.  None of us deserve the blessings God provides for us.  Like the Israelites, our call is to be faithful to God, and He will handle the rest.

Tune in tomorrow for the Song God gave Moses to share with the Israelites.

Day 42 (Feb. 11): The Golden Calf, Moses pleas for Israel, Lord’s glory shines on Moses, Covenantx2

Exodus 32-34

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 32:1): The Israelites seem to be so impatient.  But, 40 days does seem like an eternity.  I guess with that many people, the unrest would spread rampantly.  But, I am surprised that Aaron caved so quickly.

A. Yea, this isn’t Aaron’s best moment.  He caves to the pressure quickly — some extra-biblical traditions say his friend was murdered or his family was held hostage, etc. — but there is no excuse for his sin.  Worse yet, he lies to Moses about it when Moses comes down: really, the calf formed itself.  Sure it did…

Q. (32:9-14): It seems like I always here that our Lord is exact, true and unwavering.  But we have seen several times where His chosen have pleaded with him to spare His people.  The conversation sounds like two old friends who confide in one another.  I always thought of God’s directions as final, “It’s my way or the highway.”  But, God makes exceptions.  Last Sunday, our minister talked about giving God some of your time — not just making a date for 15 minutes, saying “Hi, how are you?, the kids OK, and here’s my list of requests, gotta go, amen.”  He said to give him an hour, a half day, even a whole day and just walk with Him.  In these passages, Moses spend days with Him.  Our lives don’t really make room for such a long visit, but we should give him the time.  He is here to help us, counsel, listen and just talk to.  When we spend more time with something meaningless as TV than God, that has to hurt His feelings.  Rob, can you comment on God changing His mind and on how he has, to me, almost human emotions?

A. There is, as one might expect, a lot of discussion about whether God really changed His mind in the sense we are familiar with, but there are important things we can derive from this passage.  To me, God appears to test Moses as He tested Abraham, except this time, there was a whole nation in the balance.  God tells Moses, “go away so I can get angry and kill them,” but Moses is quick to speak up for his people.  They screwed up, Moses says, but its not in your character to wipe them out, you don’t really mean what you’re saying, right God?  It appears Moses was willing to be bold even to God in fighting for his people.  No wonder the writer proclaims Moses and God talked as friends!

Q. (Exodus 32:27-28): Moses just told God to spare the Israelites.  Then, he goes down from the mountain and commands the Levites to kill everyone.  They only killed 3,000.  Can you explain these two conflicting statements — the sparing and not killing everyone?

A. It appears that Moses and the Levites killed in order to re-establish order among the ranks and stop the madness.  That had to be done, or there would be no chance of making amends with God.  What God was suggesting was the wipe out the ENTIRE nation and start again with Moses.  So while Moses’ actions seems violent, it certainly was more desirable then losing the whole nation.

Q. (32:34): What is the Lord referring to when he says, “when I come to call the people to account, I will certainly hold them responsible for their sins.”

A. It appears to be directly tied to the plague that strikes the people in the next verse.

Q. (32:3): From earlier Exodus reading, it sounded like God wanted to reside among the Israelites when he was giving the particulars of the Ark and Tabernacle construction.  Now, he has changed his mind because of the Israelites actions?

A. Like the decision to destroy the nation, God will heed Moses’ pleading to not abandon His people and will travel with them.  Hang on for the end of the story: it’s really cool.

O. (33:16): LOVE THIS VERSE: Moses says, “For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”

Q. (33:21-23): We have talked about this before, but can you remind us of the differences between God talking to Abraham and to Moses.  God appeared as a traveling man to Abraham, but here God says he is too glorious to be seen.

A. Moses is asking for the full deal: he wants to see the full extent of who God is.  And God tells him, you’re asking too much for any person.  God chooses to reveal himself in different ways to different people — I’m thinking of Isaiah, Joel, and Ezekiel, among others — throughout His story, so it is clear that people do, in some form, see the Lord, but they do not see the full weight of who God is.  That is the implication to me about what would be “too much” for poor Moses to handle.  Still, Moses appears to be able to handle a lot of seeing most of God truly is — as close as any person ever has according to the text.  This is a big part of the reason that he is such a revered figure in Judaism, even bigger than Abraham.

Q. (34:7): I don’t understand “I forgive iniquity, rebellion and sin.  But I don’t not excuse the guilty.”

A. Actually, I think that this is a profound statement of God’s mercy and grace (what He desired to share with Moses about His nature).  I like the way that NIV renders it: “forgiving…rebellion and sin.  Yet, He does not leave the guilty unpunished.”  I think they “yet,” rather than the “but” of NLT, makes the message more clear: God is willing to forgive our sins, but the sins themselves often come with natural punishment that God does not prevent us from suffering.  As we talked about some days ago, it is often children who suffer the worst consequences for the sins of their parents, which is what the end of the verse talks about.  So in this profound statement, God is basically saying, “you and I can be reconciled” by Me forgiving you, but you must still deal with the consequences of your actions.  To me, this points to the reality of God’s grace, but also that God does not wink at sin and say, “oh well, boys will be boys” or whatever.  God takes our sins very seriously — mostly because of their deadly effect on us — even when He grants us forgiveness.