Day 360a (Dec. 26): Jude’s letter is similar to Peter’s second letter, beware of false teachers, remain strong in the faith as you did from the beginning, Jesus appears to John holding seven stars (angels of the seven churches) and standing amidst seven gold lampstands, church of Ephesus is told to return the strong faith they had in the beginning, church in Smyrna told of impending suffering but a reward comes afterward, Pergamum church is told to rid itself of evil teaching, and church of Thyatira is warned of Jezebel’s sexual promiscuity but tells others to hold true to their faith because they will get authority of the Father to rule

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.

The letter from Jude addresses many of the same concerns as Peter’s second letter, which suggests that the two letters were written at about the same time and to the same churches.

Jude 1:1-25

We are here at the last book of the Bible.  You did it!  This is a book like no other book in the Bible which can be quite confusing, so Rob offered up an introduction to Revelations.  It’s the next blog dated Day 360b.  Thanks, Rob!

Revelation 1-2:29

John wrote Revelation from the Island of Patmos, where he was exiled “for preaching the word of God and for (his) testimony about Jesus” (1:9).  This occurred either during the mid-60s, during Nero’s reign and before the destruction of Jerusalem, or during the mid-90s, during the reign of Domitian.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jude 1:1): Jude was Jesus’s brother too, right?

A. Jesus had a brother named Jude (also known as Judas, but not the fallen apostle), and tradition holds that this is the writer of this brief epistle.

Q. (Revelations 1:4): What is “sevenfold Spirit”?  What is the significance of seven spirits, seven stars, seven lampstands, and seven churches?

A. The number seven represents completeness, so the usage of seven is used here to have a double meaning.  It represents the presence of the seven churches — which they would have considered to each have a lampstand, a symbol of the power of God and a guardian angel — that the letter is written to, but also the seven represents the ENTIRE eternal Church body.  John is cleverly using a well-known image of the seven days taken to complete Creation (there are many similar OT images in Revelation, as we shall see) for his own purposes.  The more OT you know, the easier it is to unravel many of the mysteries of Revelation.

Q. (1:20): So, we have seen quite a change in God’s people.  The Israelite’s started out with Abraham, grew and grew to a large nation, then salvation was shared with the Gentiles and now God addresses the churches.  The “church” seems like an establishment that God wants us to make.  It’s a model of how we can all work as one for a greater good.

A. The local community church is, to mince no words, the center of God’s plan for the salvation of the ENTIRE WORLD!  So it is not really shocking that the Spirit, through John, writes to both encourage and correct congregations of this day.

Q. (2:13): Can you explain Satan’s “throne” being in Pergamum?

A. We don’t exactly know, but there are a few theories.  The most common theory is that it refers to one of the many pagan temples located in the city — most likely the massive temple to the God Jupiter/Zeus.  It was also a major “hub” of that portion of the Roman Empire, and many important rulings were issued from there, making it a “throne” area of this enemy of the Church, the Empire itself.  A throne would be a place of comfort for a “king,” in this case Satan, so another theory is that John is referring to the city being a place of comfort for the enemy king, Satan himself.  Any of those, or some combination of all of them, is probably what John has in mind.  It is a symbolic image, like many we will see in this text.  Keep reading this section for more!

Q. (2:17): What’s the white stone?

A. In the ancient world, a white stone was often “issued” as a ticket for an important event, such as a festival or wedding.  Thus, Jesus giving a person a stone with a name (likely engraved) on it should be understood as that person being invited to the ultimate celebration: His wedding (more to come on this).

Q. (2:20): Didn’t we read about another Jezebel who was a king’s wife in the OT?  Any similarities between her and this one?

A. Yes we did.  Jezebel was a great enemy of the true people of God in the OT, and so John is using her name symbolically — a running theme here — to describe a woman in the congregation who is leading people away from the true path, as Jezebel did centuries ago.  One of the recurring themes here is in this type of cryptic literature — the genre is called apocalyptic — is that the author wants to keep the true meaning of what he is saying hidden from outsiders.  So by repeatedly using names and symbols of the OT, which Jews and Christians would have been familiar with but most Greeks and Romans would not have, he can convey clear imagery to those in the “know,” but outsiders are not clear on the meaning.  It’s the ultimate in “insider” writing.

Q. (2:26): What is special about Thyatira?  Is it because those who are strong-willed enough to resist Jezebel deserve a reward?  I have thought a lot lately about how strong sexual desire is — I think probably more among men — and the reason for it.  Maybe a very hard test?  Manlihood, or to show one’s success, is a strong desire, so for men to give that up and submit to God would be a big obstacle to overcome and worth a reward?  (If you haven’t watched the movie Flywheel, it is a good movie about a man giving up his proudful manlihood and control and giving his life to God.)

A. The rewards that you see for each of the churches — there are four more to come — are speaking of the general “rewards” of being faithful to Christ, and I do not believe that there are particular rewards that will not be given to others.  It is simply a way to keep from repeating himself.

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 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 233 (Aug. 21): God insulted by Israelite leaders request for a ‘message’, God reminds them of their sins and their ancestors sins, God reprimands but promises to restore, message of fire for Negev, God draws His sword on Israel, Israel fooled by Babylon, Ammonites to be wiped out, wickedness prevails in 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.

Ezekiel 20-22:16

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 20:1-26): I know you will have a comeback for this gotcha questions.  But, in v. 3, God says he will not give the Israelite leaders a message, but then he goes on for the rest of this story and gives information for Ezekiel to pass on to the leaders.  Maybe it’s not the kind of “message” they desired?  Also, can you explain vs. 21-26?  In v. 25, God says that he gave Jacob’s descendants “worthless decrees and regulations.”  What story is this referring to?  God also allowed them to kill their firstborn as an offering to idols.  God has said that this is a detestable act.  Why would He allow it?

A. I’m sure “you’re going to die horribly for your sins” was not exactly the message they were seeking, so I would agree with your likely guess that God’s response was hostile.  In this instance, they were trying to take advantage of Ezekiel’s connection with God for their own gain (according to this reading), which was just one more insult to God Himself.

The verses you refer to have something to do with the radical laws of certain kings (specifically Ahaz and Manasseh) and their commands.  Per Exodus 13, as we looked at long ago, God required that every firstborn male be consecrated to Him, but it appears that these men required that the infants actually BE SACRIFICIED to these pagan gods in question (v. 26).  Not only was this a horrible affront to God as it related to His view of children, but the corruption of one of the most sacred laws of the Torah was simply insult to injury.  I think it is clear to see why God was upset.

Q. (21:4): Why would God cut off the righteous too?  In an earlier vision with the six men carrying weapons and the other wearing linen, God instructed that marks be put on some people and those people were spared in the massacre.  Here, he is not sparing anyone.

A. The punishment being enacted by God is severe, so everyone will suffer in this crisis.  This does not mean that God will kill them in the physical sense, but that they will be under judgment and part of whatever God allows to happen to the city.  In this case that is famine and suffering under siege.

Q. The sword symbolizes God’s wrath?

A. Yes, and the sword is “drawn” to bring down that wrath via the Babylonians.

Q. (21:27): Who is God referring to here when He says “it will not be restored until the one appears who has the right to judge it”?

A. My interpretation of the verse is that it refers to the Messiah, Jesus.  Note what is being said here: you princes and other rulers are about to lose your throne, and the throne will not be reestablished until I give it to one from your line (David).  No king will again sit on David’s throne until Jesus (and even He does it metaphorically), so that would be my explanation.  God will not give the true throne of Jerusalem over to anyone but the one to whom it rightly belongs: the Messiah.

Q. (22:1-16): I am confused because I thought God was going to bring the exiles back to a renewed Jerusalem, but here in v. 4, God says, “You have reached the end of your years.”

A. The judgment is upon the corrupt kings/princes that have served in Jerusalem AFTER the exiles have been taken, so God is free to proclaim judgment upon those who are left (remember our images of good and bad fruit from earlier in this book? -The bad fruit stayed in Jerusalem!) and still restore the exiles.  Only the corrupt face complete destruction; God will save His remnant, even if they must suffer through the process.

Day 231 (Aug. 19): Ezekiel gives God’s message to those seeking advice but have “idols in their hearts,” God to punish false prophets, even righteous characters of old couldn’t save Israelites from their punishment, people of Jerusalem are but useless grapevines, God shows that Israelites are more sinful than prostitutes, Israelites allies that they have sinned with will witness Israelites’ punishment, God says sinners of Judah will be scorned by whole world

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 14-16

Questions & Observations

O. (Ezekiel 14:14): I love when the Bible repeats past stories or characters.  It just ties it all together!  I especially appreciate Job.  He kind of came out of nowhere, but was steadfast in God and is remembered.

Q. (14:12-23): I notice the four symbolism here too — war, famine, wild animals and disease.  Those sound like all the categories that I may fear.  Does this correlate at all with the four heads of the cherubim?  One things for sure.  I don’t want to be around evil like that.  I can’t stomach it.  The other night, hubby and I were watching the Incredible Burt Wonderstone.  I couldn’t handle Jim Carrey burning the words “Happy Birthday” on his arm with candles or drilling a hole in his head.  I literally feel like I’m going to get sick.  Hopefully, I would have escaped Jerusalem a long time before all of this craziness started.  It sounds like a horror movie.

A. There was great risk outside the cities, where there pretty much was no law, so there is no guarantee that leaving the city would have improved your fortunes any.  Part of the process of sieging the city would have been to surround and patrol the city itself, to look for those who were trying to escape, so trying to “get out” would have been a great risk in and of itself.

O. (16:1-34): This is an amazing comparison — Israelites and prostitutes.  I think the point we can apply to our lives is that God gives us blessings — sustenance, shelter, family, talents, God’s Word — and we need to make sure we glorify Him with them and know that they are from Him and for Him, not for our own pride and glory.

Q. (16:53-58): Shame is almost worse than the punishment itself.

A. Shame, and public shaming in particular, was a central concept in that society, and it still is to this day in the Middle East (including Jewish culture).  To shame someone in public was to disavow them, to show that you were washing your hands of this person, and basically turning them over to the mob, as this scene illustrates.  It was a powerful method of social control.  God is using this image of shaming to demonstrate to His people what their actions are doing, and how He will respond.

Day 226 (Aug. 14): Jeremiah praises God, Babylon’s destroying power will be punished, exiles told to flee Babylon before the fall, Babylon will be leveled, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and carried away it’s treasures, Nebuchadnezzar took 10,000 captives including King Jehoiachin, Zedekiah rules Jerusalem for 11 years, Egypt came to help Judah against Babylon but Babylon retreated, God said they will return and destroy

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 51:15-58

2 Kings 24:10-17

2 Chronicles 36:10

1 Chronicles 3:10-16

2 Chronicles 36:11-14

Jeremiah 52:1-3

2 Kings 24:18-20a

Jeremiah 37:1-10

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 51:15-19): This is a lovely hymn of praise.  I do like to read them.  They usually paint a picture of what life is like living with God near.  However, I do start taking them for granted, just glossing over them because I get the gist of them.  I am guilty also of doing this with prayer and praise.  I get lazy.  For instance, for a while, I was praying before I did every blog.  Now, it’s rare.  I do talk to God throughout the day, but I wondered if you had any suggestions on how to keep praising God without it feeling redundant.  If you give praise from the heart, it helps.

A. There’s a natural ebb and flow to our prayer life and our walk with God, and what you are describing is perfectly natural.  Redundancy can be very difficult to combat, and the laziness it tends to breed in us can make you feel like a failure.  So, first, know that God still loves each of us, even when we fall short despite our best intentions not to.  Among my advice for you would be to determine, as we talked about recently, what your “pathway” is to God: if you know how you best connect with God, it will tend to be the way that is least vulnerable to the apathy you’re describing.  Keep trying new things as well: find different places to pray, or things to read (besides the Bible) to keep your intellect engaged.  Lastly, finding ways to “act out” what you are reading or praying about (aka service to others) will surely help to keep apathy from setting in.

Q. (51:27): Where did Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz come from?

A. They are the names of other nations in this part of the ancient world, but we don’t know exactly where they refer to.

Q. (51:44): I haven’t heard of Bel.

A. We saw it yesterday and maybe a couple of quick references to it, but no, it’s not a term that we would be familiar with yet.  Bel refers to the chief deity of the Babylonians (it is a title, like lord, rather than a proper name), whose “proper” name is Marduk, the sun deity and patron god of Babylon.

Q. (37:3): I think it’s so amusing, crazy — I’m not sure of the word — when these kings do things that are wicked in God’s sight, but then somehow acknowledge Him like Zedekiah is doing here when he asks Jeremiah to pray for him and his people.

A. He wants the benefits of a relationship with God without having to make any sacrifices for it.  Sounds like human nature to me.

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.