Day 358 (Dec. 24): God is light, live as Jesus did, love your brothers and sisters, remain faithful in what you have been taught from the beginning so you may inherit eternal life, the Holy Spirit teaches truth, eagerness to know who we will be when Jesus returns keeps us pure, if you live in Him you will not sin, leaving guilt behind we can go to Him with confidence that we will receive what we ask of Him, identifying false prophets

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 wrote his letters sometimes between the 60s and the 90s of the first century AD.

1 John 1-4:6

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 John 2:8, 3:6): The first of these verses says we all sin and if we say we don’t then we are calling God a liar.  But, 3:6 says that if we live in Him we won’t sin and anyone who keeps sinning does not know Him.  So, on the face of it, these sound a little contradictory.  But, I think what they say together is that we all have sin and have sin in us, but the more we live in the love of Jesus/God/Holy Spirit, the less likely we are to sin and more pure we become.

A. I’m not going to take credit for the effort, but I am glad to see that you are expanding your understanding of the depth of Scripture: not everything that SOUNDS like a contradiction is one.  I think that you are right about this reading, and that we can grow to be more like God (including sinning less — we are unlikely to stop sinning all together) over time.

Q. (3:21): Here, John says that feeling guilty is pretty much a sin.  It keeps us from feeling worthy of all the gifts He offers.

A. Guilt, while sometimes motivating, is ultimately not an emotion that brings us closer to God.  If we understand our worth comes from God and not from our actions, we will frankly be less likely to turn to our guilt instead of our God.

Q. Anything else, Rob?  Did you want to say anything about John himself?  I am curious about who he is.

A. Church tradition holds that the Apostle John is the writer of this letter, the one referred to as the “apostle Jesus loved.”  We do not know if this is true or not (he doesn’t identify himself), but it is quite clear if you examine the language of this letter that the writer of this letter also wrote the Gospel of John.  Compare John 1 and 1 John 1’s first few verses and you will see what I mean.

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.

Day 201 (July 20): Lord’s case against Israel, Israel’s guilt and punishment, misery turned to hope, Lord’s compassion for Israel, Assyria invades Judah, Assyria king threatens Jerusalem

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.

Micah 6-7

2 Chronicles 32:1-8

2 Kings 18:13-18

Isaiah 36:1-3

2 Kings 18:19-37

Isaiah 36:4-22

Questions & Observations

Q. (Micah 6:8): I have a good understanding of the requirements of doing what is right and having mercy that Micah is telling the Israelites they need to have.  But, walking humbly with God is a little foggy to exactly what that should look like.  Can you describe that or better yet, how we should walk with God?  And, I take it that “walk” means have Him in our hearts.  Just another observance is that Micah clearly states here that all the offerings are no longer desired by God.  He wants a personal relationship with His people, right?

A. To me, the key word in that sentence is “humbly.”  Israel, like all of us, had an issue with pride that needed to be resolved if any sort of good relationship with God was going to be established.  We’ve actually been talking about a lot of different ways we can walk humbly with God: we’ve discussed having genuine faith that God has our best interest at heart, and praying accordingly, we’ve discussed the importance of worship, loving God by loving others, and so forth.  To me, when we see God for who He truly is (as the Bible describes it in both the OT and NT), we simply have no choice to be humble before all that God has done for us.  That, I think, is the starting point of a humble walk with God.

O. (6:10b-11): Talk about unfair pricing.  Sometimes I see this unjust pricing today.  If you have ever bought one of those craft kits for kids that are $6-$15 with all the cool photos of what you can make on the outside.  Then, you open it up and there are a few things in it that are worth about $1.  Then, there is the things you see on TV — I am an occasional sucker, not often though — like the slushes.  We try it and it kind of works, but I think that I could probably just make these with some ice cubes and a cup with a lid.  But, no, I paid $19.99 for it.  It makes me feel like a fool.  But then, I think that what person could sell this stuff and feel good about it!  I just watched Mystery Diner last night.  If you haven’t seen that, it’s pretty cool.  They caught people red-handed stealing or throwing away profits from the restaurant owner.  It was hundreds of dollars a day.

Q. (7:16-17): Here Micah is — and we have seen this a lot of other places too — describing the Israelites pretty much enjoying the astonishment that their enemies are experiencing.  I think we all do this or have done this imagining the shock of others when they realize how great we are — here the greatness comes from God.  But, I always thought the feeling of enjoying the fruits of revenge was not proper or godly.

A. I see a couple of problems with your reading.  First of all, I didn’t see any sense of revenge on Israel’s part in the passage.  It is God’s free choice to avenge His people in whatever timeframe He deems appropriate.  Another issue I see is that God is talking about a day in the future (i.e. something that hasn’t happened yet).  Once again, God is most likely speaking (through Micah) about His Day of Judgment that we’ve been talking about recently.  The nations will truly be in awe, but NOT in awe of Israel.  They will be in awe of God.  When we are living a life that truly pleases and brings glory to God, He will get the credit for it — as He deserves — not us.

Q. (7:18-20): And here, the Israelites seem to be taking God’s mercy for granted.

A. Now that I can say they clearly did.  It will be their downfall, but God has a bigger plan at work that we will have to watch unfold.

Q. (2 Chronicles 32:5-8): I think there is an argument with some folks that God will take care of you, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride and let God build your business or fight your battles.  Is this what God intended?  Or, do we still have to work hard, but know that if we follow God, he will make our lives good, especially the everlasting one.

A. God guarantees us nothing this side of His Kingdom.  Anything that He provides us is a blessing that is to be used for His glory, not our pocketbooks.  So I would say there is great incentive to be hard working — don’t forget that in Genesis, work predates the Fall (work is good!) — and to be proactive about the decisions that we are making.  But as Micah 6:8 reminds us, we must do so humbly, and remember the source of it all.  If we do that, then I believe that God will provide the guidance we need, even if we are not aware of the ways that He is bringing about His glory through us.

Q. (2 Kings 18:25): Is this true?  God set them up to attack?

A. I think the commander is lying to try and intimidate the people.  But, let’s see what happens, shall we?  If what the commander says is true, then nothing will be able to stop Jerusalem’s destruction.

O. (2 Kings 18:37, Isaiah 36:22): Can’t wait to hear the rest of this story!