Day 351 (Dec. 17): The son radiates God’s glory, Jesus earned place of honor when he cleansed us from sin, Jesus is greater than the angels, angels care for believers, stay with the truth, Jesus more glorious than Moses, Israelites faltering in the desert serves as a heed God’s instructions, promised rest for God’s people

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 Timothy 4:19-22

The letter to the Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish Christians- and it was very likely given as a sermon since it contains no greeting.  Though Paul is the traditionally attributed writer, it is unlikely that Paul wrote it.  Instead, the author is unknown, lost to history.  The text was probably written before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70, since the letter presupposes that sacrifices were still being performed there (for example, see 5:1-3, 8:3-5, 9:6-13).

Hebrews 1-4:13

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hebrews 1:2): Can you explain this verse?  It sounds like this promise of inheritance happened at creation, so then Jesus would have to know he would be crucified back then?  I really don’t know what God is saying Jesus is inheriting.

A. The writer is describing how Jesus will be ultimate ruler of all created things — that this was God’s plan from the beginning.  This is the “everything” that Jesus has inherited by going through the process of being crucified.  If you ask me, I suspect that God knew the way that all things would unfold in Creation, including the need for Jesus to be crucified.

Q. (1:4-14): Why is the author validating that Jesus is more glorious than angels?

A. Because angel worship was a problem then as it is now, maybe more so (google “angel sightings” or “angel shrine” to see what I’m talking about).  This was an especially big problem for early Jewish Christians, who would have greatly revered angels.  The author needs to convince his audience that Jesus is superior to all the things of the OT, including Moses, the angels/messengers, and the priesthood/temple (coming soon!).

Q. (1:14): To my knowledge, I haven’t been in the presence of an angel.  In what instances do angels help us?  I guess I am confused now about angels roles vs. the Holy Spirit.  I have definitely been in the presence of a heavenly spirit, but I don’t know if it was when the Spirit was particularly strong in me, or it was an angel.  I have heard God’s voice — in my head — and I have felt that glorious feeling many times.  But, are we supposed be able to identify if it’s angels, the Spirit, Jesus or God?

A. There’s not really a clear way to do it, since the Bible shrouds such things in mystery intentionally.  But the general rule I would give you is that if you hear the “internal” voice, you are hearing the Spirit of God, and any “external” voice is that of an angelic being, who is bringing a message from God.  That last one is exceptionally rare, occurring only a few times even within Scripture.

Q. (2:18): This verse is saying that if we think of Jesus suffering on the cross that can help us make wise decisions, i.e. Jesus went to these lengths for me so I can honor His suffering by making choices with righteousness and grace?

A. I think that’s part of it, but also remember the verses we have read indicating that Jesus now prays and acts on our behalf at the very throne of God the Father.  Jesus might also be able to literally help us during times of crisis, in addition to your suggestion that His help is figurative.

Q. (3:6): So, God is Lord over all, but Jesus has authority over us?  If we use the church analogy, He is the head pastor of us and God would be the bishop (with no one over Him, of course)?

A. Trying to draw lines like that is a really tricky exercise, since the Persons of the Trinity are distinct, but also unified in a way that we as humans simply cannot comprehend.  What the NT tells us is that Jesus is the ruler of all the things that He helped create, i.e. all of Creation.

Q. (3:13): In our small group, one member said that we are to love everyone, but have an elevated relationship with other Christians.  Could this verse be the source for that thought?  We should help other brothers and sisters in Christ by watching their moves and keeping them straight.  I would think this could be a little tricky because of people’s pride (a sin), but those who are wise will take heed to the guidance.  Also, those who are setting the others straight need to make sure both of their feet and their hearts are on the right path.

A. I would partially disagree with your friend, and my reason for doing so would be because I feel like there are different seasons in a Christians life in which they may be forced to focus on other Christians more, and other seasons where they focus on non-believers more, as the Spirit guides us.  I think it is inaccurate to make blanket statements such as “always watch over Christians more,” because I simply don’t think that that is always what God wants.  Having said all that, I do believe that what you’re describing is at the heart of accountability, the watching over the hearts of Christians close to you, which is a high priority in the NT, just not the only one.  The end point for all Christian discipleship is to reach those who are not yet members of the community.  The ultimate target is those who are far from God.

Q. (4:8): What does it mean, “if Joshua had succeeded in giving them rest”?  I’m really not sure if this passage is talking about resting on the Sabbath or rest after we see Jesus come again and can enjoy the wonderment of Heaven, like a rest of struggling souls.  (I have never thought of this before: Imagine the rest your soul will enjoy after we get to heaven — rest from continuously battling with temptation and sin.  That’s a feeling we should strive for now.  If there is sin trying to influence us, toss it away so you can have that calmness where no one is trying to disturb your peace.

A. Ok, what’s going on here is the writer is comparing the rest God took on the seventh day of Creation to the “rest” that He offers those who are faithful to Him (Heaven, in other words).  The reference to Joshua relates to him being the person who led the people into the Promised Land after Moses’ death.  Entering the Promised Land has long been seen as a metaphor for dying and going to heaven to be with God, which the writer is obviously connecting with here.  But what he is saying is that entering the Promised Land for the Israelites did not bring them salvation or “rest,” but just presented them with a new set of challenges that they frequently failed.  The real rest of God, the writer is saying, won’t be like that.  It will be the true fulfillment of God’s rest for His children.

O. (4:13): Just a noteworthy verse: 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Day 329 (Nov. 25): Faith brings joy, God’s gift outweighs what Adam brought, Christ broke sin’s power, law is no longer trump, Jesus frees us from sin’s domination, Spirit can control you

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.

Romans 5-8:17

Questions & Observations

O. (Romans 5:1-11): Paul is an awesome writer!  And, if I said that to him, he would give the glory to God because God has given him the words to speak and the talent to deliver the words eloquently.  I often think of giving and receiving compliments.  I feel weird getting them, because I did what I did because of who I am and the talents I have.  I should say something about that it’s just how God made me.  Then, giving them sometimes feels awkward too, maybe because of the same thing.  It shouldn’t be the people I’m praising, but God for giving them the talents or means that would elicit that compliment.

Q. (Romans 5:17): I just wondered if that’s how Satan became ruler of the earth: because he was triumphant in getting Adam and Eve to sin that he won a little battle over earth. I’m not saying that Satan is more powerful than God, just that this was the beginning of a battle of the two for the rights of the human race and eternity.  Yes, I’m just reaching for all of this.  I’m not saying it’s true.  I think it’s OK for our minds to wonder as long as we don’t pass it on as truth?  The important point being made here is that Adam may have ushered in sin, but the more important point is that Jesus triumphed over sin by making it null and void, as long as we believe in Him and live our lives accordingly.

A. I think that the creation of man and woman was merely a new front in a struggle that has taken place outside of time, so to think of it as having a “beginning” is a little bit tricky.  I believe that the struggle between God and Satan has been going on since before time began (which is not the same as saying they have battled for eternity — only God is eternal, Satan is created).  Satan’s attacks on mankind, from the Garden on down, can be thought of in the same way that a bully by definition attacks people smaller than himself or herself.  Satan can’t attack God directly, but he can harm those who are most dear to God, His children — us, and perhaps even separate some of these vulnerable children from their Father for all eternity.  Pretty brutal tactics if you ask me.

Q. (Romans 6:1-14): I’ve said before that I was baptized in the Fourth Grade and I don’t remember a lot about it except that where it was and about how old I was.  I remember that our church always sang the hymnal versions of Power in the Blood (listen to this blue-grassy version at http://cardiphonia.bandcamp.com/track/power-in-the-blood-nothing-but-the-blood-of-jesus).  I intended to go to the baptism classes with my oldest daughter, who is 8, last time our church offered them.  I missed it.  It wasn’t on my radar loud enough.  She didn’t really say one way or the other if she wanted to do it.  However, one of their friends, who I think is 7, was baptized.  Now, my little one, 5, asked to be baptized.  I certainly didn’t tell her she couldn’t.  She said she wanted to because she loved Jesus.  I thought that was a pretty good reason.  But, I was always taught — by the church, I don’t know what the Bible says about it — that you have to be mature enough to understand the deep meaning of baptism.  Does the Bible address the timing of it?  Our church baptizes babies, right?  Or, is it a dedication or blessing?  They are sprinkled with water.  That’s another thing, I was always taught that true baptism required submersion.

A. Ah, we’re back to the baker’s dozen questions in a question.  Ok, let’s see: the Bible says nothing about the age of knowing, but there’s a good reason for that — the only accounts of baptisms are with adults (though some families are included).  So the only form of baptism presented in the Bible at all (whether by John the Baptist or by Jesus’ followers in Acts) is immersion.  This is where the tradition of immersion comes from to this day, and is the most common type of Baptism.  It’s worth pointing out, however, that really only the Baptist church (named that for a reason) says that the ONLY acceptable baptism is immersion.  Other churches have done just fine with pouring or sprinkling water onto the head of a candidate (I was baptized by sprinkling when I was 12).  Baptists are rather picky about this because of their denominational history, which is too lengthy to go into here.  Summit as a church will baptize (by sprinkling) or dedicate an infant, but they only OFFER (publicly anyway) immersion for adults, at our bi-annual beach ceremonies.  The ministers at Summit would not tell someone that their baptism “didn’t count” because they weren’t immersed, they respect all forms of baptism.

Q. (6:12-14): I certainly get this, but I struggle with the structure of it.  I never remember feeling the gift of the Holy Spirit when I was baptized, but I always had a strong conscience, even before I was baptized.  So, can you get the gift of the Spirit without being baptized?  My girls seem to have a good sense of right and wrong, around others anyway.  The other thing is this Passage makes it sound simple, like sin is so easy to give up.  And, sometimes I don’t know if some things I do are sins or not.  I know some may roll their eyes to these, but hey, I’m married with two kids at home and not much money to sin with, so the little stuff is meaningful.  I can have a cup of coffee and know it wasn’t right for me to have.  Others can drink a whole pot of coffee and not feel bad, physically or guiltily (is that even a word, jk).  I am always monitoring my words.  Sometimes I speak out and wish I had kept my mouth shut.  But, I think many times I’m being overly worried.  But, it feels like sin because anything I say should be OK with God and whatever he allows me to say, I shouldn’t feel ashamed.  And, sometimes I am ashamed of what I say (not about God.)  Anyway, are these little white sins or am I getting caught up in areas that are not important to God?  In his eyes, a little coffee or chocolate is probably no big deal.  But … if I do eat some and feel bad, then my body is not working at full capacity which would keep me from being my best, which would make me feel as if I had sinned.

A. That was pretty hard to follow, but let’s see what we can get out of it.  The Bible tells us that those who believe in Christ receive the Holy Spirit — no Baptism required.  The two are frequently intertwined, however, because Baptism was for centuries the only place where you could profess your faith and become a Christian.  Now even before a person receives the Spirit, that person has some form of moral compass (what you describe in your daughters) that I believe comes from the mark of our Creator — it is what we would call a conscience.  We don’t lose that when the Spirit enters our lives, but I believe that if we are open to His guiding, the Spirit can supersede our moral compass and guide us in truly Godly living, but it takes years of practice.  Since you bring it up, one way we can know that the Spirit is at work is that we are CONVICTED of our little sins, and guided towards repentance.  As to whether chocolate or coffee is a sin to indulge in, well, I’ll let the Spirit guide you on that one.  J

Q. (Romans 7:15-17): This is so interesting.  I never thought of myself as two different parts.  I thought that the sinner and the person were one in the same.  But, here it is saying that a person can know and understand sin, but still do it.  So, to me, this means that the person is inherently good, it’s just the sin that is living inside them that they need to dispose of.

A. I’m going to have to disagree with your assessment — the trajectory of human kind since the fall has been down, not up; bad, not good.  There is still good in us, but it is negated and corrupted by our sins.  We are capable of great acts of kindness and mercy, but also perverse acts of brutality and cruelty, but without God’s help, our good deeds simply do not outweigh our evil ones.  That is why we need God’s help so badly, and that is why Jesus came to Earth.

Q. (7:21-25): Amen, Brother Paul.  I can’t believe that even Paul has little wars going inside of his head between choosing good in the midst of sinful temptations.  This makes me think that those folks who have an air about them that they are pompously holy are putting on a big show.  If Paul struggles with sin, so do they!  I feel like the end of the Bible is the grand finale.

A. Wait until we get to the end of 2 Corinthians, you’ll love what Paul has to say.

O. (8:1-2) Sweet relief.  Thank you for your knowledge, Paul.  These verses certainly calm some anxiety!

Q. (8:9b): To me, this statement in parentheses supports your idea, Rob, that God’s chosen ones are the ones who have the Spirit in their heart, which is something that they chose to do themselves.  It has nothing to do with God selecting certain people to go to heaven.  I always have to remember to give God a lot more credit than I do.  He’s always going to be fair.  He loves all of us, equally, if we let Him.

A. Jesus desires to draw all humankind to Himself.

Q. (8:17): I’m glad Paul remembered the suffering part.  He was making it sound all too easy.

A. Frankly, I find Paul’s ability to make it sound easy with all that he went through to be the amazing part.  He will give us a rundown of his “incidents” in Philippians I think.  But never fear, suffering was never very foreign to him — it never is to those who are closest to God.  Just don’t tell that to Joel Osteen.

Day 189 (July 8): Let the world shout the Lord’s name, Jerusalem is exalted, God is our shepherd, tell God of your woes, praise God for the beauty of his complex awesome world

Good day!  I hope your summer is going wonderfully!  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 98-100, 102, 104

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 98): I notice the harp is mentioned often as a preferred instrument to accompany praises.  Any idea why?

A. I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer for that, other than to say it was a commonly owned instrument of this era, kind of like a guitar today.  When we think of the NLT’s use of “harp,” what they really mean is what we call a “lyre,” a handheld small stringed instrument, like a mini-harp.  According to my notes, there is a reference to the creator of the lyre (as Jews knew it anyway) in Genesis 4:21, and it was also noted to be the official instrument of the nation, probably made so by King David.  Check out some other readings on it here:

http://topicalbible.org/h/harp.htm

and here (lots of pictures):

http://www.rakkav.com/biblemusic/pages/instruments.htm

Q. (100:3): I bet we will see more references to God and Jesus as the shepherd of us — His sheep.  We have seen it several times already.  Why sheep?  They are meek, quiet, community oriented …

A. That last adjective made me laugh: it makes sheep sound like they form little “sheep clubs” with membership dues or something.  The primary reason, as I think we’ve discussed, though for the life of me I forget where, is that one of the main occupations of Israel was sheep herding and ranching.  Sheep would have been an animal that all Israelites would have been familiar with.  Now having visited a few farms, I would have to disagree with your assessment of sheep as being “quiet” or anything like it — they are noisy animals that only get quiet when things turn bad.  But there are lots of other reasons that I can think of why God would call us His sheep.  Since the list I’m coming up with is fairly extensive, I’m going to defer to two resources on the matter.  The first is a book, called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller (according to Amazon, you can get a used copy for a penny: http://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Looks-Psalm-23/dp/0310274419)

The other is a person’s blog whom I feel does a good job of summarizing many of the reasons I’m thinking of.  Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments.

http://inhonoroftheking.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-does-god-call-us-sheep.html

O. (102:28): How fortunate are those children who are being taught the ways of the Lord.  I feel for those children who are brought into a house of anger, violence or neglect.

Q. (104): This psalm makes me think of how much we take God’s creation for granted.  I am amazed at all the details that God included, how things were made to coexist, how it all works together.  But, I don’t think about it more than once or twice a day.  Then, of all of God’s creation, it’s the human race that He loves the most and works with the most to try to turn toward Him.  I guess this is because we are created in His image and He desires for us to be with Him to share the beauty of His creation?

A. I would say your guess is correct.

Day 1 (Jan. 1): Creation, sin, free will, punishment

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.

Genesis 1-3

Questions & Observations

We all have heard the story of creation so many times that you would think it would be an easy read with no questions.  But, I find myself pondering the same age-old questions and wanting definite answers or ways of looking at them.

Question.  (1:3): How can there be light on Day 1 without the sun, moon and stars in verse 1:14-19?

 Answer. Genesis, and the Creation chronicle in particular were not written as science textbooks, and it is unfair to think of them as such.  I tend to think of this story as an epic poem that conveys to us numerous spiritual truth, while not necessarily giving us the details of “how” God brought all of it about (aka, I personally do not read Genesis 1-3 literally, though there are plenty of people who do and love Jesus).

With those guideposts in place, it is important to understand what the text is saying: that light itself predates the creation of the source of our light: the sun (and to a lesser extent the moon) and other stars.  Genesis was originally written into a world where the sun, moon, and stars (along with countless other entities such as rivers, crops, etc.) were worshipped as gods (we call this polytheism).  What the Jewish authors of this passage (whoever they were) set out to say is that polytheism is wrong: there is only one God who rules over all things, including these objects that you worship like the moon and sun.  We can actually see some holdover here from the original thinking of the writers: the words “sun” and “moon” do not appear in the text (see 1:16), but instead are referred to as the greater and lesser lights.  Why is this?  Because the writer is pointing to the inferiority of these objects to the one true God.  He’s saying: the very light you worship does not come from sun and moon, but from the God who predates them all.

Observation.  (1:11): In Genesis, we already see how tightly God weaves the world.  He made so many likenesses and connections between different things he created.  Two points: 1) Like plants having seeds to make more of their kind, God gave this same ability to humans, making families.  2) All of creation is so interconnected that it helps us to understand other creations and we must respect and rely on them to survive.

O. (1:16): I am amazed that the vast universe and all of it’s huge lights were created to give light to little-bitty Earth.

O. (1:18): Stars are something so vital to a culture such as the ancient Polynesians for navigation, yet they did not know God.

O. (1:20): The eccentricity of some of God’s creations, like fish in the deep sea having their own lantern or birds who do a spectacular mating dance demonstrate God’s boundless creativity.

Q. (1:25): What is the explanation for dinosaurs?  Genesis doesn’t talk about them that I can tell.  Aren’t dinosaurs dated before Adam and Eve?  What is the real time line here?

 A. This part of Genesis is, in my mind, undateable, and if we interpret the story in the non-textbook way that I described above, we find it to be a difficult thing to do indeed.  There are no direct references to dinosaurs in the Bible (though there are hints and various ways of interpreting certain passages in the book of Job), but this does not in my mind mean that the Bible is telling us dinosaurs did not exist.  If you desire, you can interpret the creation of land animals (earlier in day 6) as occurring (properly) before the creation of human beings.  Honestly, that’s about as far as I feel the text can get you.  It has bigger “fish to fry” if you will.

O. (1:26):  The verse says, “Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”  God includes Jesus in this passage.  I didn’t realize until I became an adult Christian that Jesus was with God from the beginning.

Q. (1:27):  If God made us in his image, then why are we full of sin?

A. Actually, I think that Genesis 3 answers that question quite well: because we misused the gifts and blessings that God has given us, including the gift of intellect and free choice.  As a free will person, most of my understanding about God’s love and our sin is that in order for us to truly express love for our Creator, we must have the option of saying no to Him.  Real love always involves a choice.  But given that choice, we have the option to go our own way, which is basically how the Bible defines sin — choosing our own path rather than the path of God.  The New Testament in particular tells us that we are BOTH loved greatly by God, and that we still bear His image (see for example Matthew 22:15-22), but also that we are corrupted by the power of sin.

Q. (2:1): Is the 7th day really Sunday?  Is a creation day 24 hours like today?

A. Jews and Seventh Day Adventists will be happy to tell you that the Sabbath is Saturday, and has been for centuries.  Christians began to treat Sunday as a Sabbath after the resurrection of Jesus, which of course happened on a Sunday (what the gospels call the “first day of the week”)

Q. (2:9): Why were the two special trees even in the Garden of Eden?

A. According to the narrative, we were permitted to eat from any tree we desired, and to me that includes the tree of life, which represents God’s provision for us.  The tree of knowledge was, in my mind, the test: it was the place where the desire to follow after God or go our own way was presented.  And just as Adam and Eve did, we have all chosen to go our own way.

Q. (2:25): What is the significance of nakedness?

A. If you mean symbolically, I suppose it represents our pre-fall lack of desire to hide ourselves and have any sense of shame.  As I understand it, some young children run around naked with no shame to this day.

Q. (3:1): The serpent was Satan, right?  Then, what was he doing in the garden?

A. Actually, its Revelation 12:9 that comes the closest explicitly telling us that the serpent is Satan, but yup, that’s him.  Like the tree itself, in my mind, Satan appears in the garden in order to test the humans, which God permits.

Q. (3:7):  So they learned from eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that nakedness is a sin?  Why is it shameful?

A. Hum, I think that’s the wrong way to interpret the passage.  The nakedness wasn’t the sin: the sin was the disobedience of God’s command.  But in committing the sin, and becoming aware of themselves, they discover that they are naked and hide in fear of God.  They are ashamed of themselves, again symbolized by the hiding and fear described in the passage.  In their innocence, they were naked in front of God and each other for who knows how long and were never ashamed, much like the little kid I talked about earlier.  Shame and fear are learned, and taught if you will.  To this day, they are not our natural instinct: before we “know better”, we can be naked and unashamed.

Q. (3:14): Was this a curse to Satan or snakes?  How does this apply to snakes today?

A. Honestly I have no idea.  Sorry!  Can’t win em all

Q. (3:16): Why does Eve’s sin carry down to all women?

A. Not just all women, but all people (except one).  That was the price paid in the fall, according to the narrative.  The danger of sin is not just in the moment, but how the sins of fathers and mothers to this day affect the next generation.  If you want a real clear example of it, look up statistics on fetal alcohol syndrome or drug addiction: we can clearly see how the actions of the mom directly effect the next generation.  This happens outside the womb as well.  Children who are abused are more likely to abuse the next generation.  Sin has consequences, and sometimes those consequences are frequently “taken out” on the innocent.  Unfortunately, that’s the messy life we live in, and the Bible does not shy away from that.

Just as a partial aside, part of what the first 11 chapters of Genesis do is trace the “fall” of humanity over many generations, culminating in the Tower of Babel story, which shows humanity as its worst (for reasons we’ll get into in a few days I guess).  So even in these first few chapters of the story, we see the Bible point to the theme of multi generational thinking.  So that is definitely something to watch for in future readings, and I will try to point it out as we go along.

Q.  (3:19): Some work, some don’t, like folks who take advantage of government welfare.  So, how does this verse apply to those who don’t work but still get food?

A. Once again, we must understand the context of the verse: there was no welfare programs in the ancient world- if you didn’t work, you starved.  I would be very hesitant to apply this verse to modern circumstance.