Day 353 (Dec. 19): Christ is our High Priest, New Covenant forgives and erases sins, New System is better than Old Rules for worship and redemption, Christ offered himself to purify God’s house, Jesus’s offering made perfect those who are being made holy, motivate one another to acts of love and good works, those who know yet continue to sin will not be forgiven, patient endurance will earn you your reward

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.

Hebrews 8-10:39

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hebrews 8:10-12): This passage confuses me.  I think the author is referring to Jesus’s crucifixion, but then v. 10 refers to “laws” which I thought was obsolete and v. 11 says that we won’t need to teach our neighbors about God because they will already know.  I don’t think that has happened yet.

A. Remember that as Christians, we live in the tension of “already” but “not yet.”  The first part of what God has promised has come true: Jesus has made the sacrifice that has cleared the way for the Spirit to take up residence within us and teach us the Word of God, but we have not yet entered into the full knowledge of God because Christ has not yet returned.  That is the day the prophet speaks of, and the writer refers to.

Q. (9:1-10): Why is it important to know the details of the Tabernacle if it’s no longer used.  And, for that matter, why do we need to study the Old Testament?  I guess there a few — more like a ton — of examples of ways to live and not live in there.  And, if we know the OT, we can say that Jesus’s coming made the Scriptures true.

A. We might think of the OT as the metaphorical foundation upon which the Gospel was built.  One of the things that you have pointed out in our readings is that the OT has helped you understand the world into which Jesus was born, and the Jewish society in general of the time.  That is very observant of you: it would be impossible to understand what Jesus came into the world to do if we did not have the old system that is the “shadow” of the true Tabernacle in heaven.  That, I think, is why the study of the OT is valuable: the things that Jesus did gain meaning and significance because of the prior understanding of the ways that God had acted in the world.  Don’t forget as well, Jesus was born into the human lineage of a proud race of people that God personally chose to bring salvation to the whole world.

Q. (7:15-28): I have to tell you that it really takes strong acts of faith to believe all of this stuff that is so intangible.  And in many places in the Bible the authors talk of the impending return of Christ like it will happen in their lifetime.  Jumping ahead to v. 10:36 is a call to have patient endurance.  With all due respect, I wouldn’t think that it would be centuries later that He comes and it may be that much again or more.

A. Christians must always have one eye on eternity — one of the key things that the Bible wants us to understand is that our world, while real, is not the TRUE world, not our TRUE home.  That is somewhere else, and it is waiting for just the right moment to break into this world (2 Peter will provide insight into why it hasn’t happened yet, so we will hold off on that discussion for the moment).  I have my suspicions that the Spirit used the sense of impending return — which obviously didn’t happen — to spread the Gospel far and wide.  People who feel that time is short are much more likely to share what is most central to their hearts, and for early Christians (as well as millions today), that is the Gospel.

Q. (10:10): So, if we open our hearts to God and accept Jesus as Our Savior, love God and others, then we are holy?  I have really not ever thought of myself, or any other of my Christian friends, as “holy.”  I reserve that word for God, Jesus, the Spirit, angels and the things that are pure.  Guess I’m wrong?

A. One of the images of what happens when we come to faith is what we might call an exchange of “garments.”  We come to God in our bloody, dirty, sin-covered wear, and say, “I need your help.”  And like any loving parent to a child, God provides: He gives us the best garment that there could ever be.  He gives us the grace of Jesus Christ.  This “garment,” when placed over us, replaces the dirt and sin and whatever, and makes us appear holy.  Sin may still have a hold in our lives — it does for everyone — but from God’s perspective, we have been made holy not by what we have done, but by what Jesus has.  When God the Father looks at us, He sees the holiness of Christ as the garment we wear.

Q. (10:15-16): So the Holy Spirit is saying this?  I didn’t think He talked?  I would love a study about the Holy Spirit!  Then, when He says, “I will put my laws in their hearts,” does that mean that the laws of loving God and others?

A. The Holy Spirit does not have a physical body, so, I presume, He would not choose to speak audibly, and would instead speak to our own spirits via our mind and conscience.  That does not mean that the Spirit “doesn’t talk,” the writers of the NT assume that the Spirit was the guide for all of the words written in the OT.  In addition, I believe that the idea of putting the law on people’s hearts refers to the coming of the Spirit, who will guide our hearts in the ways that God desires if we let Him.

Q. (10:23): I don’t understand the virtue of hope.  Why should we hope for something if we believe it will happen?  To me hoping signifies doubt.  But, the teachings of the Bible encourage hope.

A. Um, hold that one until tomorrow’s reading- you’ll see why.

O. (10:26): I like that this verse is in here.  We can all help one another and, in turn, it helps the greater good.

Q. (10:26-31): OK, I’m not going to worry about my salvation, right?  I am concerned that I’m not righteous enough.  But, like you said the other day, it’s a process.  I think I’m confusing trying to be closer to God and not feeling worthy of it to sinning.  Not being as close as I want to be does not mean I’m sinning.  I question so much that I do, but I guess if I let Jesus live in my heart that I won’t have to question it so much because I will naturally do what is good and loving.  See some growth in me, Rob? J  In v. 30, who is “the one”?

A. The one is God the Father, with the warnings coming via the Spirit, if that makes sense.  I’m proud of your growth, so keep on going!

Day 292 (Oct. 19): Disciples must give up their life, lost sheep parable, lost coin parable, lost son parable, shrewd manager parable, resurrection of Lazarus, severe punishment for those who tempt

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.

Luke 14:25-17:10

John 11:1-37

Questions & Observations

Q. (Luke 14:27): Ok, what does “carry your own cross” mean exactly?  I think it’s going to be a good answer!

A. It was part of the burden of the person who was going to be crucified to carry their own cross, kind of like if you were required to carry a noose to the sight of your hanging or your own electric chair.  This was part of the humiliation involved in the crucifixion process — more on that later).  Jesus is using an image His audience was familiar with (and they would be VERY familiar with it soon) to describe the burden (easy and light as Jesus tells us, but still a burden) that must be considered before starting to follow after God.  It is actually a problem I have experienced first hand in our evangelism efforts: we who share the Gospel message often proclaim it in such a way as to mask the cost of following Jesus.  There is a cost to be considered, and it is wrong for us to make any sort of claim otherwise.  Count the cost, Jesus says, then follow Me.

Q. (14:34-35): So, basically, if you are not ready to follow Jesus it would be like dead weight tagging along with him.  Accurate?

A. Don’t forget what we have established when Jesus uses the word “salt”: salt is the essence of the Gospel, that which preserves and flavors life.  Without the salt of the Gospel, life will ultimately end up without meaning: that’s how it ends up on the manure pile.

Q. (14:7, 15:8-10, 15:11-22): This isn’t to say that the one is more important than the 99, right?  Just that there is more joy because the lost sinner has returned.

A. The parable says nothing of importance, just of joy and celebration at repentence.

Q. (16:1-18): I had to read this several times to understand you have to read the whole passage to get the message.  Basically, the Pharisees are honest on paper, but not in their souls.  And, just because a Pharisee appears to be godly, God’s laws are firm and not blind to the Pharisees injustices.  How’s that, Rob?

A. This is a tricky passage, no doubt about it.  In my reading and studying this passage, I have found that there is NOT a deep theological meaning contained in it: Jesus is basically saying, “you have got to be shrewd like the people of this world, but do so in a way that you are thinking of the next world, not just this one.”  That’s it.

Q. (16:19-31): So I take it that the rich man was an Israelite and would know God’s laws.  There had to be people who didn’t know them.  As I heard in a sermon, only 4% of the population could read.  And, the Bible manuscripts wouldn’t have been available to many at all.  So, the rich man had to be sent to the place of the dead knowing he was not compassionate.

A. The rich man most likely represents a king or other ruler (possibly Herod Antipas, who was known to wear purple robes during his rule.  Purple was the most expensive color of that day.  So if it is Antipas, then he was not a Jew, but would have been familiar with Jewish customs.  He is in torment not for being rich, but for his lack of generosity.  Note that the rich man does not deny his crimes, but rather looks for mercy from Abraham.  A few other notes: the concept of Abraham’s side was something of a short-hand for “heaven” or “paradise” in Jesus’ day (they used it the way we use the image of the pearly gates and St. Peter).  As with our understanding of these images, they did NOT treat them as literal, just as we don’t believe that heaven is a gated community with a doorman.  It’s just an image of our culture.  Jesus is using this familiar image to warn people about the reality of a lack of generosity, and what it can cost.  Note the powerful image of the great chasm in the story: there is a gap between those in paradise and those in torment, and no one can “move” unless the gap is overcome.  Jesus also cleverly inserts a frankly brilliant line about not being convinced even if someone comes back from the dead.  Both of those lines are major foreshadowing on Jesus’ part.  I love the deep images of this parable.

Q. (17:1-2): To me, someone who is tempting another to sin is like Satan himself.

A. Satan is sure not above that type of thing.

Q. (17:7-10): So, this story paints a picture that as Jesus servants, we are to serve Him without expecting a “thank you” — he doesn’t need to thank us anyway after he died on the cross.  This picture sounds bleak.  But, in reality, I see the opposite: Following Jesus brings joy.

A. This parable is meant to be a lesson on knowing our place and being humble before the One True King.  Jesus is basically telling His disciples, who are a little too eager for power, that they are merely servants.  For the moment, that is enough.

Q. (John 11:33-37): In v. 33-34, I don’t understand why Jesus was angry.  I take it he is upset because his friend is dead and because Mary is wailing and He doesn’t like to see her like that.

A. I don’t think He was, and I dislike the way they have translated that word.  The image I get (see for yourself: http://biblehub.com/text/john/11-33.htm) is of emotional pain (not anger), and being deeply moved by the death of His friend.