Day 283 (Oct. 10): Jesus is the bread of life, disciples desert Jesus, Jesus teaches about inner purity

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

John 6:22-71

Mark 7:1-23

Matthew 15:1-20

Questions & Observations

Q. (John 6:37): What does Jesus mean by “those the Father has given me”?

A. It would appear to be saying those God has selected for salvation.  You can take it as a mark of predestination or not (I personally do not, but understand why people do), but the most important thing that both sides agree on is salvation comes from God’s actions, not ours.

Q. (6:41): I can imagine that these people think Jesus is telling wild stories because they know he is Joseph and Mary’s son.  So, we can see that they have to be hit on the head — meaning they have to be shocked by Jesus being crucified and resurrected — to acknowledge that Jesus is special.  You said a day or two back when Mary and her children came hollering for Jesus to come out and join them that they thought He was “losing” it.  I would think that Mary would be fully supporting Jesus because she knows how He came to be.  I would think that she would validate that Jesus was sent from heaven to those who thought He was delusional.

A. No one (even Jesus’ family) had any idea the steps that Jesus/God would take to have Him fulfill His role as Messiah and be “crowned” eternal King in a deadly ceremony (watch for coronation imagery in the crucifixion story).  Even if Mary obviously understood Jesus’ origins that would be no guarantee she would understand what God was doing in the long term.  Don’t worry, the family comes around!

Q. (6:46): I guess this means that no one has seen God in full form; He always appeared as an angel (but we don’t know what He looks like, so it could have been Him.)  Moses was with God on Mount Sinai and He saw Him in the burning bush, Jacob is thought to have wrestled with Him, Abraham saw Him.  But, if Jesus says that no one has seen God but Him, I would take His word for it and think that these other OT occurrences were not God himself.

A. I think Jesus means no one has seen the full deity of God, and it would be impossible for the finite to absorb the infinite.  We have encountered places where we have seen messengers, and glimpses of God, but never the whole Person.

Q. (6:52, 60): This is what you have said about the crucifixion making everything make sense?  Without the crucifixion and resurrection, none of Jesus talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood would make sense.  And, this is the answer to v. 60: Most will not understand nor accept who Jesus is until they see Him nailed to the cross.

A. Even then they won’t understand it.  Only after His resurrection will it become clear.

Q. (Mark 7:7): So, their laws, like hand washing, are not ordered by God.  But, because the priests hands had to be cleansed — washed — before making sacrifices, they made a law that everyone had to wash their hands before they ate.  Then, they put authority to it and made it an offense to eat with dirty hands.  When, it’s not even God’s law, but they get bent out of shape by the offenders.  Thus, they are losing site of God’s purpose.

A. They would not have called it law, they called it tradition as we see in this story.  But you’ve got the idea right: they adapted portions of the Law and expanded them in ways that God never intended.  In doing so, they stripped away the meaning that the sense of compassion central to the Law and just kept to manmade traditions.

Q. (Mark 7:15, 19): Jesus is addressing the “meat” and “kosher” rules here, right?  I don’t think he’s saying you can stuff your face with Little Debbies and be OK with it.  He is saying that the food laws about what animals you can and can’t eat are no longer an issue.

A. He is altering the course of subsequent Christian understanding about eating various foods.  It has nothing to do with what kind of food you choose (a radical break, frankly, from Jewish tradition), but rather was His way of addressing the more pertinent issue here, as Matthew emphasizes: the Pharisees were convinced that the most important issue was the WASHING.  This, as Jesus reminds them, has NOTHING to do with holiness, only man’s tradition.  I suspect that was what He was getting at, but in doing so, He demonstrated a first step in the move from legalism to freedom (something Paul will take up later).

Q. (Matthew 15:13): Jesus is talking about false prophets here when he says, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted?”

A. Nope, He’s talking about the religious leaders that are opposing Him here.  He correctly notes that their rule will soon be at an end (the city will be destroyed within a generation of Jesus’ death).  So in that regard, Jesus’ followers should follow what He is teaching them, rather than those who will soon lose their seat of power.

Q. (15:19): Rob, would you say that an accurate definition of defile means “being unworthy of God’s love”?  Notice that all the things listed here — evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander — are things that would hurt others physically and emotionally.  Thus, if you hurt others, you hurt God.  Another word for not having these sins is “pure at heart.”  That’s what I’m striving for, but wow, does it take some soul searching to get rid of some learned and innate thought processes, and focusing on God.  How many times have you said something negative about someone?  You don’t know their full story. God made them and He loves them just like He loves you.  So, what right do you have to say anything negative about anyone?  Besides, it’s His place to judge, not ours!  How many times have you took a trip down memory lane thinking about an old love.  That hurts your spouse.  Even if he or she doesn’t realize it, your thought processes are not engaged with him or her and you can start questioning your affections for him or her.  So, see it’s not just the murderers, thieves and liars, we all need to keep watch on our heart!

A. Even on our best day, we are unworthy of God’s love, but this does not prevent Him from choosing to love us.  I think defiling here means something more like, “choosing to go our own way, against the desires of God”.  Watch for the way that Jesus will pull together some of this language when we get to Luke 15.  But regardless of my semantic disagreement with you, I feel that you have soundly grasped the danger and inherent ugliness to many of our sins.  It is hard to change our ways: it is in our nature to keep going back and making bad decisions, but God has offered us a way out, and from there it is not just knowing the way out, but choosing to walk it.

Day 266 (Sept. 23): Malachi tells of unworthy sacrifices, God rebukes divorce, coming day of judgment, Lord says he will bless Israel again if they tithe, those who keep the will rejoice on judgment day

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.

Malachi 2:10-4:6

Joel 1-3

Questions & Observations

Q. (Malachi 2:15-16): God definitely speaks out against divorce because of the hurt it causes.  I am curious if this changes in the NT.

A. You are asking if God will change His mind about divorce? I wouldn’t count on it.

Q. (Malachi 4:5): Elijah is returning from heaven?

A. Yes, since most Bibles have Malachi as the last book of the OT, the “parting thought” of this story is the return of Elijah, who represents the prophets.  The traditional thinking of the NT is that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of this prophecy, as he is a prophetic voice (i.e. a prototype of Elijah, not the person reborn) calling the nation to prepare the way for God’s chosen one, Jesus.  John denies being Elijah (John 1:21), but if you read Matthew 17, Jesus Himself explicitly tells His followers that this refers to John the Baptist.

O. (Joel 1:1): Wikipedia just says that Joel was one of the 12 minor prophets.  “Minor” refers to the amount of text that is attributed to them in the Bible.

Q. (Joel 1:2-Joel 2:11): Just to clarify.  Joel speaks of a locust invasion only, right?  This isn’t a metaphor for an invading army of soldiers?  V. 2:20 speaks of armies from the north.  Who is Joel referring to?  I’m just confused if Joel is referring to an army of soldiers as locusts or vice versa.

A. The “army” that Joel refers to is a plague of locusts.  The reference in 2:20 is to a human army, and takes place after this prophetic plague has “passed” if you follow me.  Since there is very little in the way of dating for Joel, there are many ideas about what this can mean (was there an actual plague, or it is a metaphor for Jerusalem’s destruction), but no one is really certain.

Day 260 (Sept. 17): Ezra learns of intermarriage and falls in shame before God, Ezra sets to purify Israel of sin of breaking Law of Moses, people confess sin of intermarriage, list of those intermarriage offenders, Nehemiah’s alarmed over Jerusalem’s state, King grants Nehemiah’s wish to secure Jerusalem by rebuilding it’s wall, Nehemiah sneaks out to inspect the wall

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Ezra 9-10

Questions & Observations

Q. Ezra feels such remorse here.  Can we apply this to today?  Is it wrong by God to marry someone who is not a Christian?  I know several who have married non-believers and they really struggle with the fact that they won’t go to church with them.  I think that we will learn in the NT that they will be saved by their spouse’s faith?  Then, (this is not quite the subject matter, but let’s talk about it anyway) there are others who believe, but have no interest in going to church for whatever reason.  These are some of them: I was in church and it was nothing but power struggles; Sundays are our only day when we don’t have anything to do; I don’t know anyone who goes to church, among others.  But, they believe in God.  So, I think we will learn in the NT that they will be saved, but God also notes that deeds and faith will earn rewards in heaven.  Is that accurate?

A. The NT (Paul’s writings in particular) describe the dangers of being what he calls “yoked” with a non-believer: it puts a serious strain on your own walk with God, as you note.  Too often, you are forced to make decisions that either harm your relationship with your spouse, or your personal walk with God.  Frankly, neither of these decisions honors God (who greatly desires us to honor our marriage, just not at the expense of our relationship with Him).  Thus, it is not hard to see why Paul advises against marrying a non-Christian.  There are certainly issues with children to consider.  As to being in a married relationship with someone of another faith, I can’t see how that would work without major compromises to either their religious faith or yours, and I don’t see the value in such half-hearted religion.

As to whether we are “saved” by our spouses as you suggest, I’m not familiar with the passages in question.  As far as I know, the only instance of Paul describing someone’s faith saving someone else is as it relates to children, not another adult.  We must all make our decisions about what god we will serve, and no one but ourselves will answer to God for it.

Q. (Ezra 10:18-44): I guess by naming each of them, they are held accountable?  And, what about the children?  They are also considered to defile Israel?

A. Yes and yes.  The children are the “fruit” of this series of compromises that clearly did not honor God.

Q. (Nehemiah 1:1): Had Nehemiah lived in Jerusalem?

A. I doubt it.  It was such a long way — a journey of several months — that very few people would make the trip (a very dangerous path, as we read in Ezra) unless it was absolutely necessary.  It is most likely that Nehemiah grew up in the court of Xerxes (Artaxerxes’ father) and was groomed for a position in Artaxerxes’ court.

Q. (2:1-2): We have seen the “cup-bearer” position many times, but I never asked what are the duties of the cup-bearer?  Now that I see Nehemiah doing it, I think of it as a bartender.  Someone who provides the king his drink, someone he could trust and confide in.  Good analogy? (lol)

A. Since one of the easiest and secretive ways of killing a king would be to poison him, the cupbearer would have been a closely trusted ally of the king, who would personally look after all the king would consume on a daily basis.  He was something of a personal aide as well.  It is also very likely, as you infer, that he would have been a confidante of the royal family, and would have had a position of great influence.

Q. (2:10): What would an Ammonite and a Horonite be doing in Jerusalem?  They are not a part of Israel are they?

A. Remember that there is no king of Israel at this point: Jerusalem is being ruled from Samaria, and that is the region of these other tribes.  That is mostly likely why they are there.  It is very likely that the men mentioned had a great financial interest in keeping Jerusalem “down.”

Q. (2:11-20): Nehemiah is so secretive because he was afraid he would counter some objection to rebuilding the wall.  That doesn’t seem right.  Why would anyone object?  And, in v. 2:19, what king is being referred to that Nehemiah would be rebelling against.  I’m confused if there is a king of Judah, Jerusalem or Israel right now.  Wasn’t Ezra given those duties?

A. They are accusing Nehemiah of revolting against Artaxerxes, the only king that mattered in this region.  They are basically accusing him — and will continue to do so — of taking the money provided by the king and using it to lead an insurrection against him.  Nehemiah is doing nothing of the sort, but as I said in my last question, it is very likely that Jerusalem becoming important again was going to hurt these men’s sphere of influence and their pocketbook.  They will prove powerful enemies for our story.

O. (2:18): I can imagine the shame and depression that would go along with having a city in ruins with burnt gates and a trampled wall.  Go into a neighborhood with graffiti and there is no pride felt there.  Or even your nice home.  Whenever it’s messy or the yard is unkempt, it feels shameful.  But here, they get hope that their shame will be lifted.