Day 343 (Dec. 9): Paul’s letter to Colosse, Paul’s work for the church, Christ can take over as the old self dies, those who live in Christ will share His glory, behave as an ambassador to Jesus, instructions for Christian households, pray, reflect Jesus in your actions

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.

Colossians 1:24-4:18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Colossians 1:27): What does “Christ lives in you” mean?

A. He’s referring to the presence of God within us, though I confess I am not clear on why he refers to Christ within us rather than the Spirit (though note that his larger point is that the Gentiles have been accepted into God’s family).

Q. (2:7):  How do you “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him?  I would take it to mean that you take Jesus’ love into your heart and let it change who you are.  You let it grow until it takes over.  Then, you will be fulfilled?

A. What Paul is describing is cultivating a relationship with Christ via prayer, the reading of Scripture, and fellowship with other believers.  This is what will allow Jesus’ “roots” to grow in us, and make us more like Him.

Q. (2:20-23): Instead of following the ways of the world, we are to follow Jesus and copy his love and grace in our own way.

A. Yes.  Christ calls us to follow Him in our present circumstances.  What I mean by that is that Jesus does NOT want us to move to the Holy Land and walk around with a group of followers and the die for the sins of the world.  The real Jesus already did that: He doesn’t want clones, but people who willingly follow His teachings and act in the ways that He would act if He were living in your present circumstances.

O. (3:17): This made me think of how different I may act if I wore a name tag that said, “Leigh An, Ambassador for Christ.”  It certainly makes me sit up and think twice about it.

Q. (4:2-6): I admit it — God knows anyway — that I’m a daydreamer when it comes to praying.  I start off a little hasty because I am usually squeezing the prayer between two other projects, errands, etc.  I don’t think I pray respectfully.  Feedback, Rob?

A. Keep trying.  Like anything worth doing, it requires practice.  You must train your body in how to pray, and only you can make the process work — with God’s help, of course.

Day 324 (Nov. 20): Set a good example for new believers, Paul is a slave to spreading the gospel, Israel’s idolatry is a lesson, do all for the glory of God

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.

1 Corinthians 8-11:1

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Corinthians 8:1-13): I understand part of this, I think — eating food that has been sacrificed to an idol is no big deal because the idols are not real and thus, it is not a sin against God, right?  But, I don’t get the part where it can negatively influence other novice believers.  Does it mean that if they see a strong believer eating food sacrificed to an idol, that even though you know it’s false, they would think that you are acknowledging the idol by eating the food.  Then, that could influence them and turn them toward the idol and away from God?

A. I think Paul’s concern is that people will be setting a bad example for new “weaker” believers, and since they might be less sure about their faith, it might cause them to stumble, even though it was not done intentionally.  But you have the first part right.

O. (9:1-27): Paul’s story here sounds like a true description of what it means to be a soldier of God.  He changes to be whomever he needs to be to impress upon people the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Paul knows his mission and does whatever he needs to deliver God’s message.  He keeps his body ready to do what he needs for his missionary journeys.  I would think this means no boozing it up, no gorging because this would make him tired, lazy and less fit to do his work.

Q. (10:4): Looking back to the Israelites’ exodus, are there any references to Jesus living among them?

A. No, Paul is not speaking of the literal presence of Christ among the Israelites, but is rather symbolically saying that He was the ultimate source of their provision.  Paul is using a metaphor.

Q. (10:12-14): I would say that these verses support free will.  Here it says that God gives tests that we can handle and a choice to resist what we are being tempted with.

A. Dealing with temptation is certainly a big part of free will considerations.

Day 229 (Aug. 17): God walks Ezekiel through coming judgment, Ezekiel prophecies destruction from mountaintops, desolation of Israel, people will know God when they see devastation, idolatry in the temple, God spares the sorrowful and punishes the wicked

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.

Ezekiel 5-9

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 5:1): Why does God call Ezekiel “Son of Man?”

A. I don’t have a great answer to this question since it is not a term God uses for people elsewhere, but we each understand God in our own personal ways, so this might be the way that God chose to speak to him.  The term is a reminder of Ezekiel’s humanity, in strong contrast to the transcendence of the Almighty.

Q. (5:1-4): Why use hairs?  We don’t know if this really happened, right?  Or, if God is saying this as a demonstration.

A. I see no reason to assume that it didn’t happen as God instructs Ezekiel — it is a demonstration of sorts — but I do not know why God instructs the use of hair.  It might be so that Ezekiel would stand out and be in a “state of mourning” for Jerusalem after he shaved his hair, as we have seen the use of shaving to signify grief in multiple OT locations.

Q. (8:1-18): This is a vision.  What is the purpose of the vision?  I am guessing it is to show Ezekiel why God is so mad at Judah’s leaders so he will be totally on board with God, especially given what God is asking him to do!

A. God is explaining to Ezekiel what exactly it is the people are guilty of, and how they will be punished for their sins as the vision continues in chapter 9.

Q. (9:1-11): This is a vision too?  Because I thought that armies from the north were going to destroy Jerusalem, not from six men with deadly weapons and a man dressed in linen.

A. This section is a vision, full of symbolism of things to come.  The Babylonian army destroys Jerusalem, but God is symbolizing judgment on the corrupt in Jerusalem via these angelic beings.  Note what God orders: that those who truly repent (the remnant) will be spared, and the rest are given the death sentence for their crimes.  It was surely a horrific scene for Ezekiel to watch unfold, but sadly the vision God paints is nothing compared to the famine within the besieged city that will lead many of Judeans to horrific acts such as cannibalism and other horrors.  God’s vision to Ezekiel is frankly more human than the real life story.

Day 220 (Aug. 8): False prophets and teachers are not spakeing for the Lord, mourning for Judah, no trust left between the people, weeping everywhere, bodies will be scattered, hypocrits will be revealed and punished, idolatry brings destruction, idolatry worshipers are foolish, God is the only Creator, destruction to all of Judah, Jeremiah prays for wrath for wicked, Judah’s broken covenant, God reassures Jeremiah of His protection

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.

Jeremiah 8:4-11:23

Questions & Observations

O. (Jeremiah 8:4-11): This whole passage put a thought in my head of how impressionable we are from our parents and teachers.  Family businesses, customs, recipes, beliefs and so many other things are handed down from generation to generation and they become so engrained in our minds that it’s hard to change them.  That is all great, unless someone is handing down the wrong information from generation to generation and never questions it or looks at the rulebook, the Bible.  What I’m saying is that we have a responsibility to check the rulebook and question what information we are being fed and then, what we hand down to our children.  I think, that, in part, is some of what’s happening here.  Remember when we went through the deluge of kings and many of them said that they were “evil in the Lord’s sight. (They) followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.”  So, what one teacher or parent does is extremely impressionable on children.  Two Sundays ago, the pastor was commenting on how people become what their parents envision.  His dad said he would be a great leader.  Now he is.  Not that you should determine what profession your kids will go into, rather teach them love and point out their talents that they may want to share with others.  And, question those practices that “are because they are and always have been.”  When my mom was here this last summer, she told me she thought it was a good idea for me to continue working at this preschool.  The school was great, but teaching is not a gift I have never had and probably never will.  So, I told her I was trying to follow God’s direction.  I must say though, it is not always easy to know where he is directing me.  He has shown me my talents, but I don’t have a clear way of using them.  (It just dawned on me that I am right now in this blog.  So I need to be patient and open my eyes to what he reveals to me.)

Q. (8:18-9:2): When I first read this I thought it somewhat mimics the feelings Jesus went through as he struggled to get the people, especially the church leaders, to follow Him.  Here, we are seeing God’s grief for His people.  Is he sad because he has lost so many people?  Is He angry or embarrassed because this nation who he is trying to make an example of is failing Him?  Regardless, we see His steadfast love for them.

A. I don’t think God feels embarrassment, because that would imply that He was ashamed of something, but I think that He is wholeheartedly expressing anger and sadness for the way that Israel’s sin has hurt the people.  It isn’t just the idolatry, it is the effect their sinfulness is having on their relationships with each other: their sin is leading to corruption of the leaders, exploitation of the people, and violence.  These are always the consequences of sin left to its own devices.  That, ultimately, is what God is upset about: the way the people’s sin is causing them to turn on their own people in order to get ahead.

O. (9:23-24): This is an unexpected nice little pearl in the midst of all this upheaval, bloodshed, destruction and rot.

23 This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.

24 But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

(And I say, AMEN!! I’m a big foe of boasting!)

Q. (9:25): God is talking about those who have the mark of the Lord, but are void of the Holy Spirit?

A. He is talking about people who have the “outer” marking of belonging to God (circumcision), but whose hearts are unchanged by their relationship with God.  This is a theme Jeremiah will continue to explore.  Also, Paul takes up a discussion of this theme in Romans chapter 2, so watch for that down the road.

Q. (10:23, 25, 11:4): Rob, I know you are a believer that we have free choice.  But, what do you say about Jeremiah’s statement in v. 23: I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.  We are not able to plan our own course.?  Yet, in v. 25, Jeremiah says, “Pour out your wrath … on the peoples that do not call upon your name,” which indicates these people have a choice.  V. 11:4 further hints at free choice when it says “If you obey me and do whatever I command you …” Is there any books you can recommend for the free-will vs. predestination debate?

A. There is ample evidence for both positions in the Bible, it is simply a matter of deciding how the theology of Predestination and Free Will “fit” into the greater story.  I’m not sure I could recommend a volume on both positions, but I would recommend the work of Roger E. Olson on Free Will Theology (also called Arminianism) and the works of Kenneth Stewart on Calvinism.

Q. (11:14): God has definitely counted past three with no response.  He’s done.  The Israelites have obviously not been reminded lately of the story of Noah and the Ark!  All the evil people died!

A. All of Judah will be punished, though not all of them will die.  You have seen in our reading that it is already happening.

Q. (11:21-23): I like these verses.  Jeremiah asks the Lord to get even.  He basically says, “don’t worry, they will pay.  That is my job as the great judge.”  I enjoy the ending, “I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”  God is gently telling Jeremiah that He will take care of them, but reminding Jeremiah that He is Lord and it will come when He’s ready, not Jeremiah.  So, don’t wait around for it.  Go on with your life.

A. It can be of great assurance to some people that there will be a reckoning in life.  There is an expectation among many of our most corrupt and wealthy today — sadly including clergy — that they can do whatever they want because they have the money and power to do so.  I’m thinking of those individuals who basically wrecked our economy and caused millions to lose their homes by recklessly playing the financial market in order to make a ton of money.  Jeremiah’s message rings for them as well: Beware!  Judgment is coming, and you will have to answer for what you have done.

 

Day 213 (Aug. 1): Josiah renews covenant with God, Josiah rids region of pagan worship, Josiah reenstates Passover, Nahum speaks of God’s anger toward Ninevah, the fall of Ninevah, judgment of Ninevah

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 Kings 23:1-20

2 Chronicles 34:29-33

2 Kings 23:21-28

2 Chronicles 35:1-19

Nahum 1-3:19

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 23:18): Who was the “old prophet” from Samaria?

A. He was unnamed, but he was the man of God described in 1 Kings 13 who warned King Jereboam about Josiah’s actions.  He was also the man who foolishly ate the meal with the other “old prophet” when God had told him to take no food in Samaria and he was killed by a lion on the road the next day.  The story there describes the man’s burial marking the spot that Josiah recognized and asked about.

Q. (2 Kings 23:19-20): Wow, don’t mess with Josiah!  I don’t like the idea of burning any human.  I know he was trying to erase any signs of idol worship.  I would have thought that Josiah could have tried to convince the priests to lay down their beliefs and turn to God.  But, maybe Josiah didn’t want any trace left, giving the priests a chance to start up the pagan worship in hiding.  Would God be pleased with Josiah burning these priests?

A. He’s not burning the priests.  He is killing them (bad enough I know, but this is righteous vengeance against pagan worship that was destroying Judah), and once they are buried, he is burning other human remains (bones) over their graves to desecrate them.

Q. (2 Chronicles 34:29-33): Sounds great, but we know it won’t last long because of all the prophecies that Judah will be destroyed.  You’re going to say wait and see, right?

A. Eventually.  There’s still a lot to happen, which we will see unfold in Jeremiah.

Q. (2 Kings 23:25): As far as Bible characters or heroes — I hate to use those words because it makes the Bible sound like fiction — we don’t here about Josiah much at all.  We hear mostly about David and Solomon.  Is this because Josiah doesn’t have a lot written about him?  David and Solomon were in a lot more stories and authored text.

A. Honestly I don’t have a great answer for that.  It is possible that Josiah doesn’t get much “press” because his kingdom is so much smaller than David or Solomon’s (i.e. just little Judah), or also because he is “sandwiched” between such evil men, that his good efforts become less noticed.  Part of the issue is probably that his reforms won’t last.

Q. (2 Kings 23:26-27): Why isn’t God seeing Josiah seriously trying to turn the Israelites back to Him?

A. Good question, probably because they won’t last.  Remember yesterday what God promised: you (Josiah) will be spared seeing this happen, but the city will not; it is too late.

Q. (2 Chronicles 35:7): I’ve commented on this before.  It’s still hard to imagine this many animals being sacrificed.  Was the number to allow for the number of people that needed to be fed, or was the number for the sacrifice of giving up livestock?

A. It should be based upon the number of livestock, but there is no way to know exactly.

Q. (Nahum 2:1-2): I am so confused.  I didn’t see where Judah had definitely been destroyed.  Was it in Jeremiah 6:22-30?  It’s hard to tell where the prophets are prophesying the future and narrating actual events.  I didn’t think it had happened yet because Josiah was turning to God.  I guess Hilkiah found the scrolls after the destruction of Judah?

A. You are right, but the things we read about in Jeremiah come later (i.e. they haven’t happened yet in our reading timeline).  What this refers to is Assyria’s encroachment into Judah that we read about in 2 Kings 18, where we saw the messenger of the king come and threaten the people.  But the conquest was not completed: Jerusalem withstood the threat, though other cities in Judah did not.  That is what the destruction of Judah refers to: Assyria’s efforts to conquer the nation of Judah (including Jerusalem, its capital) that were turned away by God’s intervention on Judah’s behalf.

Q. (Nahum 2:1-13): Do we know who destroyed Ninevah?  God said he would destroy their family lines.  We see this in v. 13 where the young men are killed in battle?

A. Yes, Ninevah, as capital of Assyria, is conquered in 612 BC by a combined force of Babylon and another nation called Medes, both of which will play a large role in the next phase of Israel’s history: the captivity.

Q. (Nahum 3:5): I don’t know if this was funny then, but it is now.

A. This would have been the most common method of publicly shaming a prostitute or adulteress, but I can see how the humor might be seen.

Q. The difference between the destruction of Judah and Ninevah is that God is Israel’s leader and redeemer.  He will bring them back.  Ninevah doesn’t have God.

A. Yes, but it will be a very painful process, that will take nearly a hundred years to walk through.

Day 210 (July 29): Manasseh rules in Judah for 55 years and revives to idol, Assyrian commanders captured Manasseh worship, Manasseh humbled himself to God, Amon rules Jerusalem with evil for 2 years, Josiah took over for 31 years and pleased God, Jeremiah’s call to prophesy, God speaks against Israel, Israel’s demise

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 Kings 21:1-9

2 Chronicles 33:1-9

2 Kings 21:10-17

2 Chronicles 33:10-19

2 Kings 21:18

2 Chronicles 33:20

2 Kings 21:19-26

2 Chronicles 33:21-25

2 Kings 22:1-2

2 Chronicles 34:1-7

Jeremiah 1:1-3

Jeremiah 1:4-19

Jeremiah 2:1-22

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 21:1-18, 2 Chronicles 33:1-20): I wasn’t getting it.  I was confused because I thought Hezekiah was a godly king.  I didn’t understand why there was all of this impending doom unless the people weren’t following the king’s lead.  I thought the end of Jerusalem was going to happen under Hezekiah.  Now, it makes sense since there were successive kings — Hezekiah’s son and grandson — who promoted idol worship.  This scripture was a page-turner.  I’m glad Manasseh came around at the end … after he was led with a ring through his nose.  It does seem like God’s warnings are going to happen soon, but they don’t.

A. All in due time.  The first few chapters of Jeremiah told you what order things would go down in.

Q. (Jeremiah 1: 11-14): Why is God using an almond tree branch and a pot of boiling water for Jeremiah’s visions?

A. As we discussed way, way back in February (Day 44), the Hebrew word for “almond” sounds exactly like the word for “watch,” so God is using a bit of word play here to cast a vision.  The pot — caldron would be a good translation, noting the size difference: caldrons are huge — image and the word for “pour out,” which means the same as “boil” in Hebrew paint a vision of a huge force that will be “poured out” upon the people.  The boiling pot is therefore symbol of God’s wrath.

Q. (Jeremiah 2:13): What is a cistern?

A. A cistern is a Middle Eastern water collecting/storing device, usually used for catching  and retaining rainwater.  It is distinguished from a well by most often being man-made (i.e. wells are dug, but the water itself is natural) and having an artificial, watertight barrier, most often some form of plaster.  These cisterns were vitally important to survival of life in a desert, where it might only rain a few times a year in certain areas.  So if your cistern leaked (as God alludes to), you were in big trouble, because your water was lost to the earth.  So God is here drawing the powerful contrast between Himself as a life-giving spring and the idols He has been abandoned for as leaky cisterns, which promise to provide, but end up leaving the people with nothing.  It’s a powerful contrast, and not the last time a cistern will be an important part of this story.

Day 207 (July 26): God’s humble servant, Jerusalem will be rebuilt showing God’s glory, take in the Lord’s offer of salvation, be just and fair to all, sinful leaders are condemned, idolatry condemned, God forgives those who repent

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.

Isaiah 52:13-57:21

Questions & Observations

O. (Isaiah 52:13-15): This sounds like the scene from Shrek 2 — I think that was the one — where Shrek and Fiona travel to meet Fiona’s parents and the whole kingdom is eagerly awaiting what they assumed was the beautiful prince and princess.  The crowd went from cheering to jaws dropping as soon as the royal couple stepped out of their cage and showed their ogre selves.

Q. (53:4): Why did Cyrus take on the burden of others’ sins?

A. This section does not describe Cyrus (who is a messiah, but not THE MESSIAH), but rather Jesus.  This section is one of the clearest sections we have that explicitly lay out what God was doing in offering up Jesus on the cross: He was suffering for the sins of many, and by His suffering, we find healing.

Q. (53:4-9): Cyrus’s description sounds similar to Jesus’s.  How does Cyrus, this rescuer, change the attitudes of the Israelites?  Why should he even care about them?

A. See my above answer, but if the question is “why should Jesus care about them?” then that’s a good question.  Why, indeed, did Jesus choose to love the people who had Him killed (both directly and indirectly)?  It was because of the great love that the Trinity had for all humanity, and the realization that we were hopelessly lost on our own.  With the death of Jesus, we see the paradigm completely shifted between God and man, the rift between them is bridged, and the Spirit moves into the hearts of the faithful to guide them in relationship with God the Father via the work of the Son.

O. (54:9): All of those verses that say God’s love is everlasting … Here’s proof.  He’s bringing up Noah and the flood from hundreds of years and many generations ago.  He never forgets!

Q. (55:2): Could we say that this is a “junk food is bad” verse?

A. Only if that junk food is salvation outside of God.  This refers not to physical food, but the spiritual food from God that nourishes our souls.  Jesus will tell us more about this food at a later date.

Q. (56:3): I thought we had talked about eunuchs before, but not sure.  I just looked it up and it is an eye-opener for today’s culture.  Long ago, a eunuch was a castrated male that guards the living quarters of women in an oriental court.  Just for expanding our minds, could you tell us a little about eunuchs.  Why were they castrated?  How were they viewed by society?  Were they slaves and forced to be eunuchs?

A. I’m sure you had fun reading about this particular cultural touchstone of ancient society.  Eunuchs played an important role in ancient society (though Jews did not generally practice this type of action, it mostly refers to the eunuchs Jews would have encountered in Egypt, Babylon, etc.) and many if not most of them were slaves.  They were usually castrated at a young age to prepare them for their livelihood as a slave.  It gave their masters the option to allow these men to guard the chambers of women, often royalty or other important females in society.  This was done to ensure that the eunuch could not rape the woman or even have consensual sex with her.  In that regard, he was the perfect bodyguard for women.

Now because of the fairly obvious implications of being a eunuch, they were fairly poorly regarded among Jews, who saw children as a blessing for God and a continuing of their family line.  Since eunuchs would have no family line, they were considered less than full people in Jewish society and were not allowed to participate in the ceremonial worship of God.  Deuteronomy 23:1 forbid them to be part of the assembly (one reason Jews did not practice ritual castration).  But the NT will have some interesting things to say about their place in God’s coming Kingdom, and they will be based upon what Isaiah is saying here.

Q. (56:6-7): These verses finally welcome God’s love to all nations.  This changes the whole story that we have been reading up to this point.  Thus far, the main, good characters were exclusively the Israelites, with a few exceptions.  So, I would say this changes the social atmosphere of the world.

A. I suppose it does, but frankly that’s only because the Israelites were so terrible about sharing God’s actions with the nations around them.  Remember, God’s choosing of Israel was never about Israel in and of itself, but for the benefit of every nation.  We see a glimpse of the salvation that comes to all nations (via Jesus, who was a Jew) in these verses.

O. (57:1-2): These are extremely soothing words.  Reminds me of the Psalm 23.

O. (57:6b): “They (worthless idols), not I, are your inheritance” is a nice quip.

O. (57:11): Yeah, I wonder what laws these man-made idols have decreed. Ha.

Q. (57:15): I would say that society teaches us to be brave, forward and strong.  Here God calls first these with crushed spirits.  So many people are “type A” personalities and driven.  Where do they fall with God?  Many type A’s I’m sure do a lot of God’s work.  As long as they don’t step on toes, they should be OK with God?  Is it just those who have suffered will be brought out of their misery first?

A. I think that this section has less to do with the “type” of personality a person has and more to do with providing healing to those people whose spirit has been broken by life’s circumstances or by others.  It is a verse about healing and restoration, not personality types.  But to broaden my answer, no one (regardless of personality type) who walks faithfully with God has anything to worry about when it comes to judgment.

Day 75 (March 16): Idolatry warning, clean/unclean animals, tithes, treatment of debtors, slaves, firstborn male animal sacrifices, Passover, Festival of Unleavened Bread, Festival of Harvest, Festival of Shelters

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.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Deuteronomy 13-16:17

Questions & Observations

Q. (13:1-18): In this passage, God speaks out against those who lure others into idolatry and those who are lured.  That was then, I’m sure we will learn in our NT reading — when we get there much later this year — what God or Jesus says about dealing with others pushing idolatry.  I certainly don’t think the OT will say, “stone them.”  And, we certainly don’t do that today.  We are more of a “coexist” society today.  I wonder what God thinks of that?  I can only imagine that He’s not too happy with it.

A. One big difference between then and now is that God is establishing a pure nation set apart from Him, and a big part of what He was trying to do was keep the Israelites from worshipping other gods.  Today, these boundaries (between Jew and Gentile, between Christian and Muslim) make it very difficult to keep any such society “pure” in the sense that was being described in the text.  The NT in particular will talk about being at peace with those around you, especially those who do not share your God.

Q. (Deuteronomy 13:1-18): At first, I read this and thought that God purposely luring us to other gods or idols to test us just sounds sneaky.  But then, I thought, I guess he does need to test them to find out their heart.  Someone could get easily lost in the crowd, grow up with followers of God, but not really have felt the love in their heart for God or been tested of their faith.  So, tempting them is one way to weed out the unbelievers.  And, it doubles in getting rid of all of those who do the tempting, for they also fail to have God in their heart.  Is this an accurate assessment of this lesson?

A. I can certainly see some wisdom in your description, and I think you’ve hit upon part of it.  I also think it is worth mentioning that people change over time, and the call to remain faithful to God is part of what this is about.  God is calling the people to be ever vigilant against the corrupting forces of false religions and idols.

Q. This may seem like a dumb question, but there are no dumb questions, right?  Anyway, I have always used the names God and Lord interchangeably.  But, do the two words have different meanings, in reference to our God?

A. No.  They are two different names given to God, where many names are used.  The most reverent name in scripture (to Jews anyway) is the true name of God: Yahweh, represented by the four letters YHWH (called the Tetragrammaton), printed Hebrew does not have vowels.  Whenever you see the use of LORD in all caps, it is a translation of YHWH, which in our version for this study is just rendered God.  But there are other words for God as well, and when Jews refer to God, since Yahweh is such a reverent name, they used the name Elohim or AdonaiElohim is usually how you see the word God presented, and Adonai means “lord,” so when you see only the first “L” capitalized (Lord, not LORD), the translation is referring to Adonai.  So the differences are actually harder to see in the NLT, but are fairly clear in some other Bibles.  Hope that helps.  If not, check this out: http://www.gotquestions.org/LORD-GOD-Lord-God.html

Q. (14:3-4): I thought the ceremonially clean/unclean requirement was lifted?

A. Nope.  Observant Jews keep the dietary laws (kosher) to this day.  What we were looking at yesterday, which is what I think you are referring to, is the idea that people could consume their own herd animals or certain animals that they caught, such as deer and gazelle.  But the rules about what animals they could eat did not change.

O. (14:22-23): I finally got it and won’t ask about sacrificing (here tithing) again.  It’s not about gruesome slaughtering, it’s about giving their best to the Creator.  It serves two purposes: sacrificing their best stuff or giving it up and honoring God.

Q. (16:10): This is the first time I have seen the request to bring “a voluntary offering in proportion to the blessings you have received from him.”  Most of the time, God has been very specific about what he wants to be offered or sacrificed.  Also, I know I have commented on the amount of offerings, gifts, sacrifices to the Lord and what a heap of stuff it must be.  Rob, I don’t think you had a definite answer of what happens to all of the gifts?

A. The implication of these verses is that they were shared among the people, including the Levites and the poor in the various community centers where sacrifices were to be brought.  The sacrifices at the Tabernacle, brought to make atonement for sin or other purposes, were either consumed by the priests or burned completely.

Hope you enjoyed today’s reading.  See you tomorrow.