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.
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!