Day 241 (Aug. 29): Remnant of Judah ask Jeremiah to pray for them, God warns Judeans to stay where they are and not flee to Egypt for famine and disease will be their fate, the people disobeyed God and fled to Egypt to dodge Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah prophesies Babylon’s invasion of Egypt

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 42-44

Ezekiel 33:21-33

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 43:6): Why is Jeremiah fleeing to Egypt too?

A. He’s being taken there.  It’s not his idea to go in defiance of what God commanded.

Q. (44:28): It seems that God always gives hope or a way out.  In all the prophecies, He usually says that if they stop obeying idols, they will avoid His wrath.  But, here, God says that a small number of Judeans living in Egypt will escape the war and famine.  So, essentially, many of them may be hanging on — that there is hope they will spared.  Is there a reason God hands out this hope?

A. God is saying that He will not kill them all for their continued defiance, which is the same thing He has been saying all along — a remnant will survive, but it will be brutal for them.  It sure sounds like a warning to me, even if there is a note of hope in it.

Q. (Ezekiel 33:30-33): I wonder what God’s reason was for telling Ezekiel that the people think he is a big joke.

A. Perhaps He’s trying to stir Ezekiel up, but I’m not sure.  I honestly doubt it was news to Ezekiel that the people were ignoring him.

 

Day 240 (Aug. 28): Jeremiah cries out the woes of Jerusalem, Jeremiah asks God if He is still angry, Obadiah prophesies that Edom will be condemned for celebrating Judah’s fall, Jerusalem to become a refuge for those who escape, Israelites to take over defeated nations, Ishmael revolts at Gedaliah’s appointment to govern Judah

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.

Lamentations 5:1-22

Obadiah 1:1-21

2 Kings 25:22-26

Jeremiah 40:7-16

Jeremiah 41:1-18

Questions & Observations

O. (Lamentations 5:7): Jeremiah, who wrote this (Jeremiah does not identify himself, but tradition holds that he is the writer- Rob), is obviously suffering, but we see that he still has his wits about him because after his complaints in v. 5:1-18, he praises the Lord … briefly.  I wanted to point out that in v. 7, Jeremiah is blaming the Israelites ancestors for all of their present suffering.  My first thought was, “Excuse me, God has been warning you over and over again — through you, no less — that the idol worship had to stop or Judah would see doom.  And, it didn’t stop.  But, in reality, their ancestors are the ones who set the precedent.  Of course, they could change their ways, but as we have discussed before, change is hard and what your ancestors taught you is engrained.  So, in all fairness, the ancestors deserve their fair share of blame.  (I’m not trying to approve or disapprove of God’s actions here.  I know better!)  The subject of being so engrained in your world that you can’t leave it all to follow Christ came up in a speech that the headmaster of my daughters’ school, Rev. Bob Ingram, gave at their convocation chapel this past week.  He discussed having a hardened heart.  Check it out at:

http://www.genevaschool.org/wp-content/uploads/08.22.13-Opening-Convocation.Ingram.pdf.  When I think of a hardened heart, I think of pharaoh not letting the Egyptians go because God hardened his heart, which pretty much means he was stubborn and prideful.  In another example, in his speech, Rev. Ingram brings up the wealthy man in the NT who followed Jesus and obeyed all of the laws.  He asked Jesus what more he could do.  Jesus told him that there was one thing left: to sell his possessions, give it to the poor and follow Me.  He couldn’t do it.  That is how our hearts are hardened today.  We can be good Christians and do everything that society tells us to do, but can we give our entire lives over to Jesus?  There is a family in one of my daughter’s classes that are interviewing to be missionary directors or something like that in South America.  Here they are, both have great jobs, their daughters are in an awesome school, they have family close by, but they listened to God’s calling.  The husband had heard God call him to mission work.  He finally told his wife and she said, “OK.”  I’m not saying that we all need to do mission work, just that we need to listen to God and give ourselves to Him.  I always put myself in other people’s shoes and compare myself — a self-defeating habit I’m trying to squash — and think that maybe I should take in a foster child or go on a mission trip.  Well … not that it’s a bad thing, but God hasn’t called me to do that.  He did call me to do this blog and I think that I have mission work in my future.   You?

O. For a quick look at Obadiah, go to: http://biblesummary.org/obadiah/1.htm

Q. (Obadiah 1:19-21): I guess this is why God has scattered the remaining Israelites — so they will inhabit all of the surrounding nations?

A. It appears to be part of the way that God has ensured the survival of His people throughout the ages.

Q. (2 Kings 25:25): Why did Ishmael kill Gedaliah and all of those with him?

A. There could be a number of factors at play here.  First, he might have been loyal to Zedekiah and avenging his capture.  He also might have been an ally of Ammon, which was mentioned, whose people may have pushed him to kill the ruler.  A third possibility is that he was angry at Gedaliah for encouraging the people to submit to Babylon and killed him in a desire to continue the revolt against Babylon.

Q. (Jeremiah 41:1-18): Is there any importance to Ishmael killing Gedaliah?

A. Not especially.  I’m not aware of any particular way that this affects the “downstream” action.  From here, we will focus on the captivity in Babylon through Ezekiel, Daniel, and Ester, and begin the restoration of the nation via our other writings.

Day 239: (Aug. 27): Lord’s anger is like an enemy’s to Jerusalem, Jeremiah cries out to God for mercy, Jeremiah tells of his mockery, Jeremiah is steadfast to hope for relief, Jeremiah asks God for revenge on his enemies, after all the destruction and suffering, God’s anger is satisfied, Edom will be punished for celebrating Jerusalem’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.

Lamentation 2-4

Questions & Observations

Q. (Lamentations 2:1-22): Reading this, I can’t help but imagine what Jeremiah is going through.  He prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the anguish of the people.  Now, he is living among it.  I was tearing up as I read His description.  Then, we read where He is pleading to God to be fair.  V. 20 was a clear image where he says, “Should mothers eat their own children, those once they bounced on their knees?”  So, this goes on for 70 years?

A. No, he’s describing the condition of the siege.  Once Jerusalem was destroyed, the people became subjects of Babylon and under the rule of the leader of Judea, who would take better care of them in theory at least.  That’s not to say they had it easy, but nowhere nearly as bad as during the siege.

Q. (3:1-20): I never imagined that Jeremiah would not be spared.  I didn’t think about him suffering along with the others.  He is obviously pouring out his anger at God for these devastating times.  But, then in v. 21, he does a 180° turn and proclaims God.  This reminds me of Job, David, Solomon and others who have cried out to God, blaming him, but then following it with their faithfulness to Him.

A. Lamentations 3 is one of my favorite chapters of the whole Bible, because it lays out the devastation of God’s wrath and the anguish of Jeremiah in agonizing words, but then turns to say that God is still the hope of His people, and His mercies are ever new.  Amazing!

O. (4:12): Like I have said, sometimes I’m slow to realize things.  I always thought Jerusalem was a lesser metropolis because we continuously talk about her invaders, especially Babylon and Egypt and how powerful they were.  But, here, it’s apparent that Jerusalem really was grand because it says, “Not a king in all the earth — no on in all the world — would have believed that an enemy could march through the gates of Jerusalem.”  (And, like Rob said the other day, Jerusalem was on higher ground with land “flowing with milk and honey.”)

Day 238 (Aug. 26): Nebuchadnezzar frees Jeremiah, Jeremiah returns to Jerulsalem, Babylonian Captain of the Guard Nebuzaradan, oversees the destruction of Jerusalem, Babylonians strip Jerusalem of temple’s bronze, 70 years of rest for the land of Judah, Jeremiah mourns for Jerusalem in Lamentations

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 39:11-18

Jeremiah 40:1-6

2 Kings 25:8-21

Jeremiah 52:12-27

2 Chronicles 36:15-21

Lamentations 1:1-22

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 39:11-40:6): So, Nebuchadnezzar understands that Babylon’s taking of Jerusalem is all of God’s doing, just as Jeremiah had prophesied.  And, thus, he releases Jeremiah because he is God’s messenger.

A. It does appear that way, yes.  God has clearly intervened in the mind of the king on Jeremiah’s behalf.

Q. (39:16): We have seen Ebed-melech the Ethiopian a couple of times now.  Is this connection to him or Ethiopia of significance?

A. He was a palace official of some sort, and apparently not a Jew, but his loyalty to Jeremiah (he’s the man who rescued him from the cistern in chapter 38) caused God to spare his life.  We don’t really know anything else about him, as these are the only two references to the name (38 and 39).

Q. (2 Kings 25:8-21): Now what happened?  I thought King Nebuchadnezzar and his followers were now respecting God after His messages came true.  But here, they are ravishing Jerusalem.  Then, in v. 18, I thought Zedekiah and all of the leaders fled Jerusalem the night that the Babylonian soldiers stormed the city.  Maybe the priests stayed behind.  The priests that were taken were not godly, right?

A. Nope, bad priests, just like the bad fruit God said would be left behind.  Jerusalem was destroyed because of Zedekiah’s revolt, and Nebuchadnezzar showed no mercy, as God intended.  God, as the reading indicates, desired for the land of Judah to be “fallow” and renewed in time.

Q. (2 Kings 25:13-17): There is a lot of bronze here!

A. It was the most accessible material for making shapes and metallic objects.  Iron ore was very expensive, as were silver and gold, obviously.

O. I had an epiphany earlier today.  It’s one of those that I should have realized a long time ago.  Sometimes, I’m a little slow!  Here God raised up Israel to be His model nation, to show the world what God can do for His people.  I had always thought of the other nations as Israel’s enemy, but God loved them too.  He wanted them to look to Israel and learn and love.  But, Israel failed Him time and time again.  So, not only was Israel failing God and themselves, they were failing the whole world because they were not a good ambassador for God.  Also, a destruction ordered by His own authority, how hard it must have been for God to see the beautiful city that Solomon built and God blessed be destroyed.  I guess He did it to let the land lay fallow and heal from all of the wickedness.

Q. (Lamentations 1:1-2): How beautiful Jerusalem is personified here — literally, not spiritually.  Jeremiah writes this as if there is a female beholder of Jerusalem and now her wickedness is crushed and she no longer has anyone to partner with.

A. It is a powerful lament for the city — note that it is an acrostic with the Hebrew alphabet like several of the Psalms we read — by the man that has been known throughout the ages as the “weeping” prophet.

Q. There sure are a lot of Babylonian names that begin with an “N”.

A. The Babylonian deity of wisdom — and the son of one of their primary god Marduk — was known as Nabu or Nebo.  Nebuchadnezzar means, “god Nabu, defend my firstborn son,” and many of these other names also relate to the deity Nabu.  It is a similar reason to why many names in Hebrew (when translated into English) begin with “J” (Joshua, Joseph, Jabez, Jacob, Jeremiah etc.)- the Hebrew name from God is transliterated in Egnlish as Jehovah (Yahweh).

 

Day 236 (Aug. 24): God tells Jeremiah to purchase land, God tells of people returning and restoring Canaan to all of its glory, God gives a promise of restoration to the Israelites and a desire to worship Him, God tells of a righteous descendant, Tyre celebrates Jerusalem’s demise which Tyre says will be great for their economy

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 32-33:26

Ezekiel 26:1-14

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 32:1): I thought it would be a good idea to give the status of the main characters in this story.  I think it’s captivating to have two prophets at the center of attention.

A. Jehoiachin: Captured by King Nebuchadnezzar, Jehoiachin is in Babylon under some form of guard (we don’t know exactly) along with around 3,000 Jews, including Ezekiel and Daniel, who were taken from Judah as the “best and brightest” in order to assimilate them into Babylonian culture.  According to 2 Kings 25, Jehoiachin was a prisoner of some sort for almost forty years (which we are still in the “middle” of), and was probably taken captive in 598 BC.  My notes indicate that the Jews, both in Jerusalem and in Babylon, still think of him as the true king, and not…

Zedekiah: Still in Jerusalem, as king, surrounded by other stubborn, wicked leaders and about to be captured.

Jeremiah: Currently imprisoned in the court of Zedekiah, but we do not know how long he is there.  The Babylonians will show him great kindness after Jerusalem is destroyed, and he will live out his days in one of the regions near Jerusalem (we don’t know where exactly) under the governor appointed by Babylon to control Judah after Jerusalem’s destruction.

Ezekiel: Ezekiel is one of the Jews taken into captivity by Babylon, and as such, his messages are primarily directed at them.  We don’t really know anything more than we he has been telling us in his writings about his circumstances (i.e. the death of his wife), and there is no record of his death, but the dating given in the text tells us that he heard from the Lord beginning around 590 BC, around 9 years into his captivity, and concluding, possibly with his death, in 570 BC.

Nebuchadnezzar: The story tells us that the great king attacked and conquered Jerusalem at least twice: the first time to take the captives as we have mentioned, and the second time to stamp out the revolt of king Zedekiah and a potential alliance with Egypt.  I do not know if he will be mentioned again in Jeremiah or Ezekiel, but I know Daniel has more to say about him.

Q. (32:8): How could Jeremiah pay for land when he was in prison?  I guess this was just God giving another demonstration to the Israelites via Jeremiah.  I wondered if Jeremiah would lose out on his purchase since he was in prison and Judah was going to be flattened.  But, the sealed deed was place into a pottery jar to preserve it.  So, this is a sign from God that there will be something for the Israelites to come back to.  They will be restored to Canaan.

A. We might think of Jeremiah as being more under house arrest rather than in a prison, so there is no reason to think that he would not have access to money.  God’s direction for Jeremiah to BUY the field despite Jerusalem’s impending destruction tells us, I think, all we need to know about God’s plans to restore His people.  Keep in mind through, as we’ve discussed, the people who are taking these actions won’t be around to see it — 70+ years is a long time.

Q. (32:18): We read previously where God was going to take away the requirements where several generations pay for their ancestor’s sins.  But here, Jeremiah accuses God of punishing more generations than the accused.

A. What we established, as I recall it anyway, was that the death that is required of sin was only on the generation that actually committed the sin, i.e. you don’t die for sins your father or mother committed, but the consequences of sin can pass from generation to generation: that has remained unchanged to this day.

Q. (32:39-40): Does this apply to God’s relationship with us today, or is it just for the Israelites?  I have a desire in my heart to follow God and I can’t imagine not worshipping Him.  But on my pessimistic side, I thought, “Well, God doesn’t always do good for me.”  Then, I remembered that He does do good for me, just not always what I want Him to do.

A. Hang in there, the NT will redefine everything that happens between God and man.  For the moment of our timeline, His words only refer to the Jews, but that will change.

Q. (Ezekiel 26:1-14): God was upset with Tyre because they rejoiced at the fall of Jerusalem or because they desired to become greater than Jerusalem?

A. The verses imply that Tyre hoped to reap the benefits of Jerusalem being wiped out (remember what I wrote about Jerusalem being an important trade point?) by taking over this trade.  God was not pleased by this part gloating and part greed.

Day 227 (Aug. 15): Jeremiah is imprisoned, Jeremiah tells Zedekiah of upcoming defeat, Jeremiah thrown into cistern and then rescued, Ezekiel’s visions begin with four-headed beings with wings, the Spirit appears to Ezekiel, God calls Ezekiel to give people His messages

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 37:11-38:28

Ezekiel 1-3:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 38:2): Why would God want the Judeans to surrender to Babylon?

A. So that they will live.  God appears to be offering them way out, but we don’t know how many took the opportunity Jeremiah promised.

Q. (Ezekiel 1:4-12): This is a very strange scene!  What is going on?  What are we supposed to take from it?

A. Ezekiel is seeing a vision of God’s power and glory.  The vision comes in four parts: the storm, the creatures, the wheels, and the glory of God directly.  The storm — represented by wind, lightening, and thunder — symbolized God’s active power at work.  As for the creatures themselves, they have been the subject of various interpretations over the centuries, but they share some characteristics of the angelic characters described in Isaiah’s vision back in Isaiah 6 — which was Isaiah’s call story, as this is Ezekiel’s.  The use of four here, repeatedly in this book, represents completeness — i.e. four corners of the earth, four winds, four seasons in a year, etc. — and the creatures themselves represent the pinnacles of Creation.  The man is the “overseer” of God’s world, the lion was considered to be the most powerful wild animal (untamed nature), the ox represented the power of domesticated nature, and the eagle represents the strongest of the birds.  These images/symbols/creatures/whatever they are will be used again in Revelation 4 in a vision of the heavenly throne.

Q. (1:15-21): What is the significance of the wheels?

A. Continuing the vision, Ezekiel next sees a vision of the “wheels in the sky,” which symbolizes God’s movement toward His captured people.  One of the major questions that the captives such as Ezekiel were asking themselves during this time is “how will we connect with God apart from the Temple?”  The only way they had known to connect with God for centuries was via the Tabernacle/Temple, and now it was gone for them —and would be destroyed by Babylon.  This wheel vision is God’s answer: God’s power — seen in the storm and creatures — moves to the people via this vision of wheels.  God has not abandoned His people, but is in fact “moving” towards them with His all-powerful presence.

Q. (2:1-3:15): I am a little confused as to what is going on here too.

A. This is a call ceremony.  God is giving Ezekiel a vision of “putting His word” into the prophet, which is what they scroll consumption symbolizes — and it is very unlikely a literal consumption, simply a vision of one, and it won’t be the last thing he “eats”.  God commissions Ezekiel to “consume” and disperse God’s word to the people in captivity, despite the hardships that will arise (symbolized by the scorpions and brambles in 2:6).  The central theme of the call is that Ezekiel is to “listen” (3:10) and to proclaim boldly despite persecution and setbacks in his mission.  The listening will be a central theme of the book, and in that regard, will make Ezekiel a marked contrast to the other people of Israel, who, as God points out, do NOT listen to Him.  The book of Ezekiel is filled with visions of a man many assume to be crazy, but which nonetheless express powerful visions of God at work with His people, even in a foreign land.  I’m looking forward to walking through these strange, highly symbolic, visions with you.

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 224 (Aug. 12): False prophets will be punished, Zedekiah and and people left in Judah will be object of horror and a symbol of evil, Lord charges Judean exiles to prosper in Babylon, Shemaiah and his family will be punished for false prophecy, God promises to return and restore Judah and Israel

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 23:33-24:10

Jeremiah 29-31:14

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 24:1-10): Just checking on the status of David’s lineage.  Is King Zedekiah, “a bad fig,” of David’s descent?  Maybe Daniel who was exiled to Babylon?  I have lost track.

A. Yes he is (he’s Josiah’s son, who was the last of the “good” kings), and he will be the last to sit on the throne of David as we currently understand it.  Daniel is of the same tribe as David (Judah), but he is not directly related to him.  After Zedekiah, there will no longer be a need to keep track of David’s ancestry until Jesus and the NT.

Q. (Jeremiah 29:3): I just want to make a note of the community of families that we come across.  I have just blown over a lot of the names because they are strange and too many to remember, except the major characters.  However, Hilkiah stood out to me.  Hilkiah is the one who discovered the scrolls in the temple and, when the scrolls were read to the king, he had one prophet killed and had Jeremiah in hiding, right?  Anyway, here, we see Hilkiah’s grandson delivering a letter for Jeremiah.  I just wanted to note the similarities we have now in knowing families for generations.

A. You’ve got it right.  See my answer to the next question to see why family is so important to God.

Q. (29:5-9): I find it interesting that God tells the exiled Israelites to work hard and prosper in the land where they are captives.  What is the purpose of this?  Can we apply it to our lives today?

A. I heard a great sermon on this back in college pointing to the idea of God’s multigenerational approach to His people.  In this chapter, He speaks (via Jeremiah) of “you” being restored after 70 years.  But note clearly: everyone who would have heard this message as it was first written would have been dead by the time 70 years had passed.  So how does this have anything to do with “you”?  Simple, God is speaking to His people over multiple generations.  If you consider the message from this perspective, it is easy to see, I think, why God says settle down, plant gardens, have families, and marry off your children: He is telling the people how He will redeem them- by their children and grandchildren, who will be the ones to receive the restored Promised Land, which is coming in a few weeks.

So how might this apply to us?  Well, certainly, I believe that it says that God places INCREDIBLE value on family and children, in a way that our society seems to have lost.  Children are too often seen as a burden today, or as a social appendage to be “in”.  But, God sees great value in Christians raising their own children to know their faith and pass it along to the next generation, so that the Word of God carries on even after many generations are dead.  One what we might call “unintended” benefit of this type of multi-generational thinking is that it removes much of the pride and self-centeredness that too often plagues us.  If we think of children and the next generation as being more important than ourselves, then we can find it easier to love them and make sacrifices on their behalf.  This type of thinking puts an entirely new spin on being “pro-family,” doesn’t it?

O. (29:24-32): God’s “gotcha” message.

Q. (30:1-24): In reading this, I just think of how our lives today compare to back then.  I know we haven’t got to Jesus dying on the cross and it changing the requirements and discipline of believers, but I do wonder how much some of God’s requirements are alive today.  Obviously, the leaders and many people of Jerusalem were worshiping idols and doing things that are wicked in the eyes of the Lord.  There aren’t many man-made idols that the people reading this blog are worshiping today.  However, I question how close we are to God.  How much time do we spend with God?  I definitely talk to God fairly often.  But, I still let my brain swim in some problems where I should give it up.  And, whenever God has spoken to me, He has shouted, which is probably because I am doing all the talking.  I don’t sit and just wait for Him to talk to me.  I just started reading “Jesus Calling” where the author has done the same thing, not given God some quiet time.  As busy moms, we hardly have some quiet time without laundry and dishes piling up and kids being ignored and wrecking the house.  But, like exercise, I just let my time with God go.  So, I am trying to make time for Him … and exercise.  I try to talk to Him when I exercise, but I have to admit that it does not come naturally.  It feels awkward.  It’s so hard to sit quietly.  But, like exercise, I’m trying to make time for it.  And I am looking forward to seeing the results … of becoming closer to God.

The other thing I wonder about myself is how much have I given up of myself to God.  I have asked for a lot of things and not received them.  He has given me a lot of things also, some that I have asked for strongly.  But, I look at my life and think I still have things around that I am stubbornly hanging onto that I know He wants me to give up.

A. There are any number of important ways that we can grow closer to God, but one point that I want to make up front about the “requirement” that we do so.  I want to try and distinguish between requirement or obligation and desire.  I believe that God does not want us to see steps towards growing towards Him as something we are obligated to do, but rather something that we desire to do, and I hope you can see the difference.  When we are in love with someone, we often change little things about ourselves to suit them, and some of these changes can be painful and difficult, but we do these things out of love, not obligation.  We choose to love, and to make changes, on behalf of a spouse, or a partner.

One of the biggest paradigm shifts of early Christianity was the movement away from legalism and requirement that so dominated the OT covenant.  In the New Covenant, made in the blood of Jesus, God shifted the relationship from our requirement to His.  We can do nothing to earn the love and status we have with God, but are only required to believe through faith.  We do not bring anything, and in that since, we are, mercifully, not REQUIRED to do anything.  It cannot be earned, it can only be accepted.  So here again, the steps that we take after our believing faith are steps taken out of LOVE for God and praise for His works.  They are not requirements.  We cannot ADD anything to what God has done in Christ, we can only respond in the way that He desires.

Some of those ways are things we have already talked about: discerning what God has done in our lives and how He desires us to use our gifts and talents.  Practicing good habits when it comes to reading scripture (like, say a daily Bible reading), prayer, and other classical disciplines of the long tradition of the Church.  Now responding to some of your specific questions in a way that I hope will help all our dear readers (thanks as always, for reading this by the way!)  I’m a book person, so most of my advice tends to revolve around reading suggestions, and I won’t deviate from that here.  But the books themselves I hope will spur us toward finding our unique path with God.  Gary Thomas wrote a wonderful book called Sacred Pathways (http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Pathways-Discover-Your-Souls/dp/0310329884) in which he talks about the many ways that people connect with God: some do so in nature, others via silence, still others via discussion with others (that’s mine!).  One of the main ideas of the book is that there is not merely one way to connect with God.  If quiet time just doesn’t work for you — it often doesn’t for me, but I can talk about God for hours — then try something different.  The book is super helpful in finding the “pathway” that best helps you connect with God.  If you are interested in learning more about the classical disciplines themselves, then I would recommend two works of our modern spiritual giants: Richard Foster and Dallas Willard.  I would recommend any of Foster’s books, who generally writes about classical disciplines such as prayer, but if you want a good summary, read his book Celebration of Discipline (http://www.amazon.com/Celebration-Discipline-Path-Spiritual-Growth/dp/0060628391/), which I have plugged on this blog before.  It is very approachable, and easy to read.  Willard, who recently passed away, sadly, wrote a more technical book called The Spirit of the Disciplines (http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Disciplines-Understanding-Changes-Lives/dp/0060694424/) which is also an excellent read on how Christians can connect with 2,000+ years of Church tradition on their walk with God.

Let’s try to re-examine some of this matter as we enter the NT, especially Paul’s letters, since he will be among the most important figures in discerning how God has truly changed things in Christ, and how we should properly respond.  May your walk be blessed!

Day 223 (Aug. 11): God’s destruction of Ammon, terror in Edom, fear in Damascus, Nebuchadnezzar sets sites on Kedar and Hazor, Jehoiachin reigns after Jeoiakim dies, Reign of David’s descendants ends with Jehoiachin, God tells of righteous descendant coming, Lord gives warning against 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.

Jeremiah 49:1-33

2 Kings 24:5-7 / 597 BC

2 Chronicles 36:6-8

2 Kings 24:8-9

2 Chronicles 36:9

Jeremiah 22:24-23:32

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 49:1-33): What are we supposed to take from this scripture other than God is cleansing the earth?  I can see why he chose a flood the first time.  I think it would be easier and a lot less to orchestrate, but, probably harder to rebuild.  And, do we know why God chose Nebuchadnezzar to do a lot of the fighting?

A. God is not cleansing the whole earth, but all of the nations spoken of here (including Judah) are in the path of the Babylonian army, who is conquering this area on their way to Egypt, as the writing eludes to.  Why God chose Nebuchadnezzar specifically is something of a mystery, but perhaps some further readings from Daniel might help spell it out: the story of Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel 4 is one of my favorite OT scriptures.

Q. (22:30): Does God really halt the lineage of David as king?

A. Yes.  For their sins, David’s descendants will no longer serve as king — the nation has no king anyway, they will be in exile under a foreign ruler — but there is a loophole that we will come to much later.

O. (23:12): I really like when God says, “I, the Lord, have spoken!”  It feels like he is a judge and putting his stamp on it.

Q. (23:14): Why are Sodom and Gomorrah brought up fairly often?  I know what happened and that the townspeople were horribly wicked, but I wouldn’t have thought that this was a story that was handed down near as much as the Flood, Joseph and Pharaoh, and the Exodus.

A. Because they are (ok, were…) in this area of the Middle East and much closer than Egypt.  At least that would be my guess.

Q. (23:17): I find that the last two lines of this verse is a subject that has been on my mind.  Are all of our actions supposed to coincide with God’s desires?  I don’t know anyone who has that strong of a relationship with God that He will guide them through their every move.  But, let’s just talk about our important desires, mainly the thing that we do, like what work, volunteering, starting a new business, joining a new group, getting deeply involved in a hobby.  Are the things that we spend most of our time doing supposed to glorify God?  Here are some specific examples: training for a marathon, decorating our house, surfing or other water sports, watching sports, crafts, etc.  Basically, we can spend hours doing things we enjoy, but do they glorify God?  There are millions of people out there that need to be saved, so how can we justify spending hours on ourselves?  I question some big projects that I want to do.  This blog is the start of one.  I want to expand it.  I felt God’s guidance when the ideas popped into my head.  But, I haven’t heard that affirmation in a long time.  Does God just need to say it once, like the above observation says, “I, the Lord, have spoken,” and he doesn’t need to say anymore?  Then, there are all of those desires that God has not directed me on.  How am I supposed to view those?

A. The further we walk with God, and the closer we grow to Him, I think, we will find the answer to your questions, though probably not with 100% certainty.  Think of it as a relationship with a human friend: the more time you spend with that friend, the more you know that person’s desires, and at a certain point (say with a spouse), you can probably guess with a fair degree of accuracy what that person would do or would ask YOU to do in a certain situation.  It is the same with God: as we grow to be more like Him in the person of Jesus, we will come to know the ways that God is glorified by our actions.  I believe that God is most glorified by us being the people that He designed us to be.  If God has given you a head for business ventures, then He is glorified in you when you do so well, though only if you give Him the credit for what you accomplish.  God certainly desires us to be healthy, so training for a marathon or other event is surely God-honoring.  So part of our mission in our walk is to figure out what exactly God has given to us in terms of spiritual gifts (a NT topic we will walk through later) and natural abilities.  With this information, and the Spirit as our guide, I believe that we will be able to act in ways that give God glory, even if we never hear Him directly speak to us.  We do not necessarily need to hear from Him in order to know what He desires, that is one of the main functions of reading scripture.  I hope that helps.

Day 222 (Aug. 10): God tells Jeremiah to not marry or have kids, no mourning for the dead, Israelites will be forced to other lands because of their sins and their ancestors’ sins, God promises to bring them back to Canaan, God to hand over Judah’s treasures to enemy, cursed are those who put trust in humans and not God, Jeremiah asks God to follow through with his promises so he will avoid shame, God reminds Judeans to keep the Sabbath holy, Jeremiah tells God that enemies are plotting against him, Recabites escape to Judah, Recabites obey and Judah still refuses

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 16-18:23

Jeremiah 35:1-19

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 17:3): I can think of several reasons that God would hand over Judah’s possessions: they have been defiled, to give the people of God no rewards for their bad behavior, to leave Judah a ghost town with nothing to offer, and to allow the Israelites to start fresh when they return.

A. I like your list.  I would only add that they took pride in their possessions, and that likely added to their problems.

Q. (17:4b): Is their any long-term meaning to the last two lines of this verse, like alluding to hell?

A. I don’t believe so, God is alluding to temporal, not eternal, punishment.

O. (17:5-10): What a profound passage.  This pretty much says the main fall of humans, I believe.

Q. (35:19): First, what is the purpose of having the Recabites in this story?  Why have a group that does obey God come to Judah?  Does the last sentence mean that the Recabites will be royalty under God?

A. The Recabites are NOT obeying God in this example; they are obeying the command of their forefathers (there is some degree of debate as to whether this is a Jewish or non-Jewish group).  God is using them as an example to rebuke the people of Judah by saying, “look if these people can keep a human rule within a family, why can’t you citizens of Judah do the same for My laws?”  There is some Jewish tradition that states that the Recabites will have a role in the post-exile Temple, though there are no more specific scriptures that mention this role, so we can’t be certain.