Day 215 (Aug. 3): Moab and Ammon will be destroyed, joined by Ethiopia and Assyria, Jerusalem remains stubborn, Jerusalem will be redeemed, Josiah dies from enemy arrow, the Philistines and Moabites will see destruction

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.

Zephaniah 2:8-3:20

2 Chronicles 35:20-27

2 Kings 23:29-30

Jeremiah 47-48:47

Questions & Observations

Q. (Zephaniah 2:8-9): This is an off-the-wall observation.  I hadn’t really thought about people’s and animals’ protection of “their” borders.  Does God say anything about this instinct we have?  We watched “Chimpanzee” the other day and the chimp groups had distinct borders.  We also have personal space or borders that we don’t want people to cross.  This is a protective mechanism, a survival instinct, or what?  Does God address it anywhere?  Also, v. 9 says, “The remnant of my people will plunder them and take their land.” So, this means the Israelites have the land of Moab and Ammon in addition to Canaan?  Is this setting up for the greater nation of Israel that we have talked about where other nations join them?

A. As far as I can tell, God does not address the nature of humanity and animals to claim borders.  If anything, the Bible teaches that God Himself regularly uses and shapes borders (see Genesis 1 for example, and all the “separations” God includes).  The writer of Joshua and Judges would have us understand that God provided the borders for the 12 tribes in the new nation that they formed, so we would hardly expect Him to condemn it when animals or other nations do it.  If anything, the Bible tells us that this desire originates in God, and is reflected in His creation.

Q. (Zephaniah 2:12-15): Now Zephaniah 2:8-11 doesn’t necessarily say that these happenings are being told directly to Moab and Ammon.  I think it sounds like it is being told to the Israelites.  But, vs. 12-15 sound like they are being addressed to the Ethiopians and Assyrians.  I know it’s not that important.  I am just wondering if these happenings are warnings to the nations or if they are prophecies being told to the Israelites.

A. I believe that they are both: the prophecy against Moab and Ammon would have been powerful signs to the Israelites, who saw them as enemy nations deserving of God’s wrath.  But God clearly, as with Israel, takes no pleasure in their destruction (Jer 48:36), but apparently feels that they must pay for their mockery of Israel and their worship of the idol Chemosh.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:7): God struggles terribly with impressing His power upon the Israelites.  They just don’t listen.  Is part of their problem that God cannot be seen?

A. Sure, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior.  Part of the reason God mocks the various idols of the people so mercilessly, i.e. they are just wood or metal, is that the people seem to find security in something they can touch and see, rather than having complete faith in God Himself, which they unfortunately cannot.  I frankly see this as being a problem of human nature — we trust what we can see a lot more than what we can’t — and it is surely still a problem with the various idols in our society.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:11): I don’t understand who Zephaniah is talking about when he says “you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against me.”

A. He’s talking about the restored Kingdom of God, when the people will be purified of their sin and live in harmony with their Creator.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:15): I remember waaaay back when the Israelites were demanding to have a king.  God said it wasn’t necessary because He was their leader, their king.  But, the people demanded one.  Now, here, the kings are gone, right?  And, God says He will live among them … just like he recommended.

A. You’ve remembered correctly.  In this instance, God is speaking about His future Kingdom, where He will rule among the nations.

Q. (2 Chronicles 35:22): So, Josiah should have listened to King Neco?  This was a weakness of Josiah that he didn’t want to be told what to do?

A. It appears to be a pride moment for Josiah, and he pays a hefty price for ignoring Neco’s warning.  It is surely strange to the story, I admit, that God’s word comes via a pagan king.

Q. (Jeremiah 48:7): I don’t remember hearing about Chemosh before.  Anything special about that idol?

A. We have addressed it before, but I can’t seem to find the reference to the question.  Chemosh was the idol/god of the Moabites and occasionally Israel: Solomon built an altar to Chemosh in 1 Kings 11, and he is mentioned in Judges 11 and Numbers 21.

Q. (48:10): Does this mean that those who can’t bring themselves to kill someone else in the name of God will be cursed?

A.  No.  God has assigned an army (probably Babylon’s army under Nebuchadnezzar) to the “task” of wiping out Moab, and does not want to see them delay: He wants the task done.  It is in no way a license to kill indiscriminately.

Q. (48:35-39, 47): God is super sympathetic to Moab and acts as if it hurts Him to be doling out this destruction.  And, then in v. 47, God says He will restore Moab.  Why does God have a special connection to Moab?

A. I don’t know of anything specific, but as I mentioned above, it appears that God simply takes no pleasure in this slaughter and promises to restore the nation in some form.

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 212 (July 31): Warning to Judah to open their eyes to their evil, Jerusalem’s last warning, warnings fall on deaf ears of Judah, Judah totally disregards God’s commands, invasion from the North, priest discovers God’s law in temple, Josiah purifies Judah and avoids the prophesied disaster

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 5:20-6:30

2 Kings 22:3-20

2 Chronicles 34:8-28

Questions & Observations

O. (Jeremiah 5:24): It is amazing to think that God orchestrates our world so that rain comes in the spring and fall to give us food to eat.

Q. (6:1-9): I understand that God is giving them one last out, but why would they listen if they haven’t listened to the countless warnings thus far?  Why the effort?

A. God will take no pleasure in the destruction of His chosen city, and I believe that He still desired to see it spared, but it had, according to this lesson, become hopelessly corrupt.  So this is a final warning of sorts.

Q. (6:9): This means every last one in Jerusalem will be cast out, killed or whatever?

A. Yes, the city will be sieged and then emptied, one way or another, but it won’t all happen at once: you’ll see.

O. (6:15): Maybe this is disrespectful, but this verse reminds me of many politicians … at least from what we hear and read in the news.

Q. (6:24b): I know this is not the larger picture here, but I want to make note of it.  I was going to before, but thought maybe it wasn’t that important.  Anyway, we have seen many, many times where the pain that Jerusalem will face is like a woman in labor.  Any comment?

A. It’s a common metaphor that was clearly well understood among the people, and it will continue to be used.  Note clearly what God is saying, however: the agony of labor is only temporary, and there is great joy in the aftermath.  So file that part away for later.

Q. So, Jerusalem is still not invaded here, right?  This has just sounded like what is to come?

A. Yes, and the story will still continue to unfold, there is much that still has to happen.  Jerusalem will be under siege for several years.

Q. (2 Kings 22:14): Sorry, I get excited whenever I see a female main character.  Is Huldah the first female prophet we have met?  Do you know anything more about her?

A. The two women who have been given the title of prophetess (female prophet) prior to Huldah are Miriam (Moses’ older sister, Exodus 20-21), and Deborah (Judges 4:4).

Q. (2 Kings 11-20): Josiah got a free pass to get out of the disaster here.  If it weren’t for Hilkiah the priest finding God’s law on a scroll, Josiah would have faced disaster.

A. I guess you could see it that way.  What it looks like to me is Josiah’s humility and repentance is what spared him facing the disaster.

Day 211 (July 30): Israel was drowning in idol worship, Judah follows in Israel’s footsteps, God calls his faithless Israelites back to him, the foretelling of Jerusalem’s destruction, Jeremiah is sorrowful for Israelites, Jerusalem filled with sinners, Israel and Judah filled with thankless people, mighty nation will conquer 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.

Jeremiah 2:23-5:19

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 3:9): Worshiping idols made of wood and stone is mentioned here.  Don’t some Christians, like Catholics, bow or pray to statues? If so, how does this fit into God’s idea of bowing to something man-made?  I understand that the statues represent Jesus, Mary, the Saints — I hope we get into that subject — but, when they are worshipped, I question whether people are directing their thoughts to the statues or are they thinking of the actual divinity?

A. A faithful Catholic will, or should, tell you that they do not worship the statues, and there is a long and complex history regarding the subject.  Various controversies have broken out over the centuries by Church leaders who have tried to deal with the subject of images — sometimes called icons — of religious figures.  Where the line is between offering people — don’t forget many of them could not read! — a beautiful image of the works of the Gospels or the actions of the saints, and making the icon an idol?  It’s a tough question, and frankly there has never been a consensual answer.  But to its own credit, the two oldest branches of Christianity — Catholicism and Orthodoxy — have done their best to walk that line so as to keep the figures of the Bible accessible to the masses while trying to prevent idol worship.  Don’t forget, by the way, that the idols the people were worshipping in this story were the “wrong” ones: they were not God, but false gods.

Q. (Jeremiah 4:4): Pride and power are being blamed here for causing Judah to sin.  I think that is the hardest thing to give up.  We are raised to do our best.  So, we take charge and try to attain success ourselves.  So, I need to teach my kids to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.  And all these thing will be added unto you!”  I don’t know where that comes from except a hymn I grew up with.  But, it’s true.  It’s just such a non-human concept, which makes it really hard to do.

A. It’s from Matthew 6:33 (part the Sermon on the Mount).  As I’ve mentioned in response to similar questions throughout our journey, human pride can be more easily brought into line (in theory anyway) with the proper understanding that all we have we owe to God.  But as soon as we see our blessings as somehow having been earned by our own achievement, we are on dangerous ground.  God blesses hard work, and desires that we use the gifts that He has given us, but as soon as we start to take credit for the things we have — i.e. as soon as we forget God, as the people Jeremiah is talking to did — we have moved into sin.

O. (4:22c): I like the line “They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!”

Q. (4:23-31): This sounds like a volcano!

A. There’s an eruption coming, no doubt about it.

Q. Today’s reading is all about Judah’s impending doom because of their worship of idols and denouncing God.  Sure, there are other religions that have their idols.  But, I believe Christians have their fair share of idols — houses, cars, TV, fashion, gambling, you name it.  Even on a “smaller” scale — I don’t think there is such a thing as a small idol — too much computer time, food (mine is snacking why I do this blog), bargain shopping (it’s OK to buy if it’s 75% off and I will use it J), soda.  Basically, if something is constantly taking away our focus from God, it’s considered idolatry, right?

A. I would say that you have given a fair description.  Don’t forget our work, consumer culture, video games (guilty!), and other distractions.  Idols are everywhere in our society, and also our hearts, but God’s love and power can allow us to see them for what they truly are and conquer them.

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 160 (June 9): Prophet gives Jeroboam a message from God, prophet reveals Jeroboam’s son’s fate, summary of Rehoboam’s reign, Egypt invades Judah, Israel and Judah battle, Asa was loyal to God, Nadab set on Israel’s throne after Jeroboam, Baasha rules in Israel, Asa rallies Judah for 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 Kings 13-14:24

2 Chronicles 12:13-14

2 Chronicles 11:18-12:12

1 Kings 14:25-28

2 Chronicles 12:15-16

1 Kings 14:29-31

1 Kings 15:1-5

2 Chronicles 13:1-22

 

1 Kings 15:6-8

2 Chronicles 14:1-8

1 Kings 15:9-15

1 Kings 14:19-20

1 Kings 15:25-26

1 Kings 15:27-34

2 Chronicles 14:9-15

2 Chronicles 15:1-19

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Kings 13:18-19): Why would one prophet deceive another?

A. We don’t know exactly what prompted this deceit.  It is possible that the old prophet was maliciously trying to get the young prophet in trouble, or that he simply wanted to spend time with this man, so he lied to bring it about.  Either way, the deception did no excuse the man of God’s explicit order to not take food or drink, and he paid dearly for his poor decision.

Q. (13:22): Is not being buried with your ancestors an insult?

A. Yes.  It meant that you were not buried at home or not buried by your loved ones.

Q. (13:27-28): What is the significance of the lion and the donkey?

A. The lion and the donkey were a confirmation of the truth of God’s prophecies: the first about the royal family being killed off (fulfilled in 15:29), but also a confirmation that He had spoken judgment through the old prophet to the younger man of God.  The idea is that such a miracle should have convinced Jeroboam that he needed to repent and beg for God’s mercy, but he did not.

Q. (14:22-23): Here it says that there was wickedness under Rehoboam, but priests left Jeroboam so they could worship God.

A. That movement does not preclude wickedness in Judah.  What Jeroboam was doing was going a step further, and preventing the Levites and priests from doing their job intentionally.  Even with the priesthood working, the people were capable of wickedness Think of the Israelites in the wilderness during Exodus: They also had priests, but were still plenty sinful.

Q. (14:24): Was their adoption of the pagan nations’ practices because all of the nations were not destroyed when Joshua went to war to take over Canaan?

A. That’s one explanation.  The other is that there were still various Canaanite tribes living in the surrounding areas, and the king may have invited them to come and practice their from of pagan worship in Israel and Judah.

Q. (2 Chronicles 11:22): Just reading this automatically made me think of what kind of environment is stirred up when a king is on his way out and whom to groom to be king has to be decided.  The fact that one son is picked to be king among a lot of brothers fosters jealousy, discord and battles.  I remember way back when the Israelites wanted an earthly king because all of the other nations had one.  They didn’t need a king.  They already had a leader — God.  So, could sibling rivalry for the throne be one reason God warned against having a king?

A. There were lots of reasons, but surely that is one of them.  Sibling rivalry has basically haunted each generation from David’s family on down.

Q. (12:2): So, how does the Israelites’ unfaithfulness to God cause King Shishak of Egypt to attack Israel?

A. One of the things that God chooses to do to get Israel or Judah to repent is to raise up a foreign power that is mightier then His people.  Cornered, and without another way out, the people, including the king, are forced to see that they have sinned and repent.  We see this in Asa’s story as well (or rather, the opposite): for those who are faithful to the Lord, they are often given times of peace and prosperity, as David and Solomon both enjoyed at times in their lives.  Bottom line: an invading army is used by God to get the people to, once again, see their need for Him.

Q. (1 Kings 15:3-5): God’s love of David has pardoned a lot if his ancestors.

A. It surely did.

Q. (2 Chronicles 13:10-12): 1 Kings says Abijah committed the same sins as Rehoboam.  Now he says his people serve God.  Is he delusional?

A. I would say no.  This is a turning point for Abijah, who though having failed to this point, leads his people by example in turning to God, and reminding the lapsed people of Israel what it is they are doing by giving up God.  He is greatly rewarded for his turning.

Q. (2 Chronicles 14:1-8): I wonder after a line of ancestors who didn’t follow God how Asa came to follow Him?

A. It’s a good question, and I don’t have a great answer.  One of the most awesome things about God is that through His grace, our past does not have to be our future.  We are not bound to the same mistakes that our family members have made.  We can keep our marriage together even if previous generations have divorced.  We can stop the cycle of abuse from being passed down.  We can raise ourselves up to new heights via God’s might and mercy.

Though several generations of Asa’s ancestors had failed miserably, Asa kept his focus on pleasing God, and was rewarded for his faithfulness … at least for the moment.  Keep reading for a bit more on Asa.

Q. (1 Kings 15:25-26): Israel has been split for a while.  Are both sides still considered God’s chosen people?

A. Israel is pretty much a lost cause, as we will see.  The people are all still God’s, but the people of Israel are digging themselves a deep hole they won’t be able to get out of.