Day 355 (Dec. 21): Love all, respect marriage, God will never fail us, World is not our permanent home, Peter reminds believers that they were chosen, believers have hope for the priceless inheritance in heaven, trials make your faith genuine and strong, faith will earn you praise when Jesus returns, call to holy living for sake of salvation, love deeply, purify yourselves by getting rid of all evil behavior

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.

Hebrews 13:1-25

Peter wrote his first and second letter from Rome shortly before his death, which probably occurred in AD 64 during the persecution of Nero.

1 Peter 1-2:3

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hebrews 13:1): So the angels delight in humans when we are kind to strangers?

A. It would appear so.  That certainly reflects the joy in heaven that Jesus describes in Luke 15.

Q. (13:13-14): Wow.  I never thought about the fact that Jesus blood was shed outside the city, making him an outcast.  As Christians, we do feel as outsiders for a good portion of the time.  But, we can find respite in the community of believers.  Also, I know I have said this before and I don’t think it’s out of discontentment, but I have never really felt at home, like I was totally happy in a place.  I was close living in Hawaii, like 90 percent close.  It is so beautiful there, what I would picture heaven to be.  But, I remember growing up that I just didn’t feel like I belonged in Kansas (spare me the Dorothy jokes, please J).  And, we moved to Florida after my husband retired from the Navy, as it was closer to the likes of Hawaii, but it still doesn’t do it for me.  Then, if we did ever move back, I would be far away from family again.  So, I just think that no place is perfect and I’ll find my spot in heaven and be totally happy.

A. Peter is noting here the special role Jesus’ body had in the sacrifice he offered: the “scape goat” took the sin of the people outside of the camp (one image — Lev 16:8), and the carcasses of certain animals used in the sacrifices were burned outside of the camp because they were unclean (another image).  In short, the idea here is that since Jesus was taken outside of the “camp” (Jerusalem) to die, he symbolically took all of the sin with Him, which was God’s plan from the beginning.

Q. (13:21): To me, this is telling us to use those God-given talents we have and make them work for His glory and good!  Use the tools He gave you to grow God’s house.

A. That image of “producing” in us comes from John 15, where Jesus tells us about abiding in Him in order to thrive and produce good fruit.

Q. (1 Peter 1:1): Here is that word, “chosen,” again.  I am setting the meaning of the “chosen” matter that God knows our hearts before we are born.  He knows we will choose Him, and thus, He has chosen those people for His kingdom.  I can HOPE in this that I am correct.  But, this “chosen” issue I have been uncertain on, so I can hope that I will get my understanding resolved.

A. I will be no help to you in this instance, I am afraid.  Protestants have been arguing about what it means to be chosen for 500 years, so it’s pretty well worn ground.  The idea of being chosen is a dividing point between Calvinism and Arminianism — Calvinists assume election based upon nothing more than God’s free choice, while Armenians, as you suggest, see this as selection by foreknowledge.  I leave it to you to decide.

O. (1:7b): Another reason to have faith in Jesus!

Q. (1:12) Pretty cool that humans are going through something that even the angels don’t know until it’s happening.

A. It is indeed an intriguing thought that beings outside of time do not know our fate, and are in suspense of sorts.  No wonder there is rejoicing in heaven!

Q. (1:15): I have a ways to go to be holy in everything I do, but at least when I know that I mess up, I apologize a.s.a.p.

A. Forgiveness and grace are the main tools that God uses to drive us to be better disciples.

Q. (1:17): Judge according to what we do … I thought we were saved by faith alone.  Is it saved by faith, judged by works?

A. Yes, you’ve got it.

Q. (1:20): So God and Jesus have known all along that Jesus would die on the cross to save us from our sins.  God seemed so disappointed with Adam and Eve, but He knew they were going to sin?  Also, some places say that God chose Jesus to be our atonement and other places say Jesus gave up himself for our sins.  Will you explain this difference?

A. Coming back around to the free will question you asked earlier: the question you ask here is a big part of the reason I lean towards free will instead of predestination — the accounting for human choice.  God has known all ends since the beginning (no one doubts that), but God took the risk and created our race because, in my opinion, He values our choice to love Him above all other things.  We must CHOOSE to follow Him, though He certainly guides our steps.  But as soon as you, or even God, open the possibility of choosing love, you have given the person the possibility of also choosing to not love, to reject relationship.  God is not interested in robots, He desires children who want to love Him, but that must, by definition, involve a choice.  Nothing pleases me more as a father of a little girl than when she runs up to me coming through the front door and says, “daddy, daddy!”  I do not make her do that, she does it out of her limited understanding of what love is — and she chooses to love me.  Is that love always guaranteed?  Of course not (something surely God understands), but God appears willing to risk the rejection of relationship for the chance that His children will come to know and love Him.  That is Good News if ever there was any.

Q. (1:22): Does brothers and sisters mean those in Christ or everyone, believers or not?

A. He’s referring to believers — note the first half of the verse — but surely Peter would not disagree with loving those who are not.

Day 297 (Oct. 24): People doubt Jesus, dying fig tree used as a symbol, Jesus clears temple of ‘business,’ church leaders question Jesus’s authority

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.

John 12:37-50

Mark 11:12-14

Matthew 21:18-22

Mark 11:15-19

Matthew 21:12-17

Luke 19:45-48

Mark 11:20-25

Mark 11:27-33

Matthew 21:23-27

Luke 20:1-8

Questions & Observations

Q. (John 12:46): So, is Jesus saying here that as long as we believe in our heart that He is our Savior, the Son of God, that we will be saved whether we obey the laws or not?

A. I would say that is a good bit outside of the proper scope of the verse.  (Leigh An: Hey, A for effort!) Jesus is talking here about the transition from darkness to light, and it does not just have to do with the afterlife, but rather is about changing the course of life RIGHT NOW.

As to the “not obeying the law” which is again well outside of what I would conclude FROM THIS VERSE, I would say this.  Christians are not under an obligation to keep the Law (this will be a big theme of the rest of the NT), but that does not mean that there is not wisdom in doing so to the best of our abilities and with God’s help.  Also, don’t forget the major emphasis that Jesus has been teaching us: those that belong to Him will keep His commands (the Law), not because they are obligated to, but because they desire to follow after Him.  One other thing: part of the reason that Jesus came into the world was to save us from our inability to follow the Law perfectly on our own: so really, NO ONE can truly obey the Law.  That’s why we need Jesus in the first place.

Q. (Mark 11:12-14, Matthew 21:18-22): I know I should ponder this fig tree message a little more to figure it out.  But, Rob, I think I’ll lean on you to explain how Jesus is using it to illustrate a point.  … Ok, on second reading, I may have got it.  If you don’t use your talents and spread the Word of God, you will be useless.  If you don’t bear fruit (produce more believers) then you may as well not be around.  How’s that?

A. Since the story is lumped in with the cleansing of the Temple (within the normal reading narrative), this story is typically seen as a statement of judgment against the failures of Israel, and especially its leadership.  But the point certainly applies to us as well: be fruitful (not just in the number of people you tell the gospel to, though that is an important part of it), or you risk being cut down.

Q. (Mark 11:15-19, Matthew 21:12-17, Luke 19:45-48): It seems Jesus may have been at His wit’s end.  I find it admirable that He stands His ground and defends the place of worship for His father.  I had always thought that He was mad at the Temple becoming a place for others to make money.  But also, on the flipside, if “worshippers” are buying their sacrifices at the Temple, it takes the meaning out of sacrifice.  Sure, they are buying them and that takes a sacrifice of money.  But also, they are supposed to take from the best from their flocks and fields.  I don’t think buying them from the Temple sellers would suffice?

A. Jesus’ real concern here (not implicit in the text) is the exchanges that are going on, and likely the money that is being made off of the pilgrims coming to the city.  In the Temple, the Jewish leadership refused to accept Roman coins (for fairly obvious reasons, which I think are good ones), but you had to pay a fee to exchange your money for “clean” Jewish coins!  Surely this is not what God desires out of such a holy place.  The other issue is the Temple rulers had the right to say, “this animal you have brought all these miles to the city is not acceptable for sacrifice,” even if the animal really was allowed.  The rulers would say, “I’m sorry, this animal is no good, but we do have our own ‘certified’ animals you can buy”.  It was a truly twisted and exploitive scheme, and it is no surprise that Jesus reacted very strongly to people being exploited in God’s house in order to make money.

Q. (Mark 11:22-25): I like these instructions for prayer!  When I pray, I mostly give thanks for all of my many blessings.  Many times, I overlook the muck in my heart that I need to ask forgiveness for.  I have to admit, there’s not much in there, so God has been working in me.  I hope this blog has been helping everyone who reads it!

A. That certainly goes for me as well.

Q. (Mark 11:27-33, Matthew 21:23-27, Luke 20:1-8): Jesus saw this as a trick by the leading priests that they were trying to find something to accuse Him of and arrest Him?

A. Something like that.  A Rabbi would have had to produce some sort of “credentials” to verify that he was from a proper “school” of Rabbinic thought.  That’s what they are asking Jesus for, His credentials.  But Jesus is not of any “school” that these rulers have seen, and He twists their desire to shame Him via authority back upon them by using John the Baptist.

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 230 (Aug. 18): The Lord’s glory left temple, God judges Jerusalem’s leaders for injustice, God promises exiles will return to Israel, Spirit leaves Jerusalem for Babylon, signs of coming exile, God says the time to destroy Jerusalem is here, God rebukes false, lying prophets, victims will be rescued from deceptive women with magic charms

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 10-13

Questions & Observations

Q. (10:15): We have talked about cherubim before.  I believe it was in the altar discussions way back in the building of the Tabernacle.  What is the significance of the four heads and the four sets of wings?  And, it says that the cherubim are “living beings” This is just a vision, right?

A. While we can’t be exactly sure what it is Ezekiel is seeing, cherubim are generally accepted to be angelic beings of some sort.  The four heads/wings symbolize completeness, as the angels are reflections of God’s perfect power.

Q. (12:3-11): I sound like a broken record.  The hole in the wall story was a “message.”  Does that mean these acts happened or is it a vision?

A. In chapter 12, I would say that God told Ezekiel to actually do these actions, including digging the hole in his wall.  I would say Ezekiel expects us to believe that he really did this.

Q. (13:1): God is telling Ezekiel to give the people messages.  Why did God use prophets?  Why didn’t he just tell the people directly?

A. I suppose you can argue that He tried, but nobody listened.  As the people became increasingly corrupt and greedy, they turned away from God, so God selected certain men (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.) in this era to bring them back.  Based upon how well we see many of these events tie together, you can see why the era of these men’s ministries is known as the Age of the Prophets.  Ultimately, I see two factors at work here: first, as both Jeremiah and Ezekiel point out, there were a number of men (and apparently women) who were making claims about what God was telling the people to do, but that were false — God was not speaking through them.  God surely might have felt concern that His people were going astray, and needed to respond via faithful members of the community.  The other factor is the fact that we tend to simply “tune out” the still, small voice of God that He uses to reach His faithful people.  When the “small” voice fails, it often requires someone with a bit more volume.

Q. (13:5b-7): This reminds me of something I have been doing lately — assuming God will make true want I want Him to because I’m a faithful servant.  My husband asked me if I felt closer to God since we moved to Florida last year.  I said, “sometimes.”  I realize much more how amazing God is.  But, I feel like I’m going through a cleansing where I get one thing worked out about God and then I need to work on another thing.  I said that I don’t know if I feel closer to God, but I’m understanding my relationship with Him more.  It’s very frustrating.  I’m struggling to get rid of my desires.  I have taken note of all of the prayer requests I’ve had and I get frustrated when they aren’t answered.  I’m doing work for God, stuff that I believe He wants me to do and there’s more for Him that I want to do.  I very much believe that He gave me the ideas.  So, why can’t He make my husband’s business take off — he started about 10 months ago — so we could have the money to start my ventures and pay for some needed house repairs.  Besides, we would give more to the church and charities too.  Then, I realize that I’m asking, but He doesn’t have to answer.  Hopefully he will eventually.  But, like Job, I still have faith.  My husband and I recently signed up to start working in the prison ministry that our church is involved with.  We got on the program’s e-mailing list right away, where my husband received this one: Our church’s pastor for the prison got an e-mail from an atheist saying, in a nutshell, that he wanted to be removed from the church’s e-mail list.  He had no idea how he got on it, being an atheist.  The pastor replied that he would be happy too.  He respects the atheist’s view.  He said he has talked with a lot of atheists in the prison (that was the punch line, in a nutshell).  He had a lot of convincing words.  And, he told the man that he would love to sit down over a drink and discuss their views.  Atheists trip me out.  How could they read the Bible and not make all the connections to see that it HAS to be true?  This made me think of a thought that popped into my mind the other day too that solidifies my belief even more.  There are a lot of religions with their “gods,” there are idols, but how many of them have said in their book that they created the heavens and the earth?  God is the only one who has made the claim that I know of.  He was the only one who was there and had someone write it down.  All the other hypotheses of how the world came to be are just that, guesses.  The Bible is historical and dates way, way, way back.  So, that’s something to put your trust and faith in!

A. Many remain unconvinced in the claims of the Bible, and see is as a collection of legends and human words that has no bearing on their lives.  They see religion as a enemy of progress (not understanding that all of Western society is founded upon Christianity/Judaism), and therefore couldn’t care less what it has to say about what this “God” has done.  Just as there are ministry resources for Christians on the Internet, there are also many websites for skeptics and outright atheists that can do a fine job undermining everything you’ve written in this question about your views on the Bible.  Belief and faith are ultimately an act of will — though faith is sustained by the Spirit of God at work — and people must choose to believe in God or not.  It is the job of Christians such as the minister you’ve discussed above to reach out and say, “don’t believe the nonsense you’ve read on the Internet, there IS a God, and you need His son Jesus Christ.”

Q. (13:15): We read a lot that God gets angry.  You can’t blame Him with everything He puts up with when He simply just says to follow Him and you’ll be blessed.  We also have read lately at his anger being satisfied, seeking revenge.  I think people would say that revenge is a human characteristic.  But, if we are created in God’s image and He obviously has been angry and sought revenge, then maybe it’s a quality from God.  I just enjoy seeing the emotional side of God because I am a highly emotional person.  It’s annoying!

A. God is permitted (by virtue of being God) to do as He pleases in terms of showing emotion and taking revenge.  But as we will see, one of the turning points of the NT is Jesus asking God the Father to not take revenge for His is suffering on the cross, but to forgive (Luke 23:34).  God’s choosing to forgive via the atoning actions of Jesus Christ is central to our understanding of the Gospel that Jesus proclaimed.  Those who are in Christ do not have to fear God’s wrath, they have passed from being people who are dying to living for the Word itself.

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

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Isaiah 52:13-57:21

Questions & Observations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 200 (July 19): Forewarning to nations of impending destruction, Edom targeted for ill treatment of Israel, the earth will be restored, wealthy oppressors judged heavily, false prophets put aside, hope for Israel’s restoration, Israel’s leaders are administering the evil, peace among nations will come, Israel’s return from exile, ruler from Bethlehem a bright light, the remnants of Israel will have power

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Isaiah 34-35

Micah 2-5:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 34:1-7): This is all speaking metaphorically, right?  V. 5 says that “when my sword has finished its work in the heavens, it will fall upon Edom.” Why would God need to “clean house” in the heavens?

A. This will sound a bit odd, but it refers to the destruction and displacement of the stars/heavens in the previous verses.  I’m not exactly sure what he is saying, but it appears to mean that God will violently destroy the heavens on the Day of Judgment (to make the way for the new Heaven and Earth), and the metaphorical extension of this metaphor is to say that God will destroy these heavenly bodies with His sword.  It should as you say, in NO WAY be taken literally.

Q. (34:16): This is very clever prose.  The verse makes an emphasis on the fact that the new inhabitants of Edom — jackals, owls, desert animals, hyenas, wild goats, night creatures and buzzards — will live there with mates, ensuring that they will have offspring and continue to inhabit the land.

A. Clever isn’t it?  My notes indicate the Edom is used here as a symbolic nation that represents all the enemy nations of Israel.

Q. (Micah 2:3): I like the ring of that “I will reward evil with evil.”

A. That is God’s prerogative.  We are called to something different: Matthew 5:43-48, Romans 12:14-21.

Q. (2:6-11): Basically, this says that a crime against people is a sin against God.  You hurt his people, you answer to Him.

A. Yes, all sin is ultimately against God, including evil against other people.  It is part of the reason that when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He gave two answers: love God, and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

Q. (4:6-13): I had a thought from this passage: God is punishing the other nations for influencing them to worship other idols and act wicked.  Thus, He is destroying them and making Jerusalem a beacon to show that He is Lord of lords.  Is this accurate?

A. I would say it is.

Q. (5:2): Is Jesus the one Micah is speaking of?

A. The writer of Matthew’s Gospel sure thought so: see Matthew 2:3-6.

Day 177 (June 26): God’s forgiving love for unfaithful Israel, Hosea’s wife is redeemed, God charges Israel with wickedness, Israel’s leaders judged hard, call to repetance, Israel’s love for wickedness, Israel harvests the whirlwind

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.

Hosea 2:14-8:14

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hosea 2:14-23, Hosea 3:5): I can guess that this is a metaphorical story for Christ coming?

A. I suppose you could make that argument, but I think that most likely it is about the restored nation of Israel that will be established after the captivity.

O. (4:12): I see humor in this that God is accusing them of making an idol out of wood and thinking it can help them.

O. (5:15): God points out how Israel and Judah are predictable in their pattern of sin and punishment, followed by crying to God to bring them out of their despair.

Q. (6:10): God calls Israelites prostitutes, referring to their attitude toward Him.  They should be like a bride and groom or husband and wife with God.  It’s a sacred relationship and when the Israelites seek another God, it’s like cheating on a spouse (God being the spouse), prostituting themselves out to a false god (a prostitute who can only give you one thing you desire).  I see more relationship comparisons.  In a marriage, the relationship may not always provide everything we want.  There are times that the romance is gone, sometimes for a reason, but we have to stick with it and wait for it to come back around.  If we can’t wait and seek something else to fill that void, then the marriage will be ruined.  Same with God.  If we do not abide by his rules, then our life goes down the wrong path because we are not including Him in the relationship.  We may seek other things, work, alcohol, possessions, luxury that get in the way.  Then when we realize that the void cannot be filled with other things and return to God, He may wait for us to show mercy before He returns to our life.

A. The idea of Israel and Judah being required to “earn” its way back to a proper relationship with her Husband is a good one for what is going to happen.

Q. (8:4): I wondered if this was a problem.  Because, starting with Saul, God told whom He wanted to be king.  Then, after Solomon, we seldom heard God telling who He wanted to be king.  And, He led very few of the revolts to dethrone a king.  The leaders were acting out their own desires.  I doubted that all of the kings were David’s descendants.  Were Judah’s kings all from David’s line?

A. Yes they were (as best I can tell).  When God spoke of Himself being faithful to David’s line (via Solomon and Rehoboam), He really meant it.

Q. (8:13b): Is returning to Egypt a metaphor, like they will be in the same despair as they were in Egypt?

A. The only part that is a metaphor is the location.  The people will once again be slaves to another nation (not Assyria), and will have to begin all over again with God.  But God knows what He is doing here, and the results will be interesting to say that least.

Day 146 (May 26): Solomon’s leaders, Solomon’s prosperity and wisdom, Psalm 72: May God give the king wisdom to rule justly, Psalm 127: Without the Lord’s direction, work is futile, blessed are the children

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 4:1-34

Psalm 72

Psalm 127

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Kings 4:20-34): This account greatly contrasts from his father’s.  Why was Solomon so blessed and David’s reign was so tumultuous?

A. Um, let’s hold that thought until the story is completed.  But the answer to your question is David’s sins.  Solomon has done pretty well to this point, but things are about to turn for the same reason David’s kingdom fell apart.

Q. (Psalm 127:3-5): I love these little sprite verses.  They make me smile.   Here it says “how joyful is the many whose quiver is full of them (children).”  We were going to talk about this before, but decided to hold off.  Here it sounds like having a lot of children is a desirable thing by society.  Nowadays, families are normally much smaller with 1-3 children.  Are there any verses that address how God views the many ways of a planned family via birth control?

A. Well, obviously, artificial birth control is a modern invention undreamed of in the days of the Bible, but many of the ways that society has shifted in the last two centuries reflect the movement away from large families (i.e. they became the exception and not the norm).  First, until the modern age, no one planned for retirement (partly because a lot of people didn’t live that long), and so if you did, you were fully dependent upon your children.  So if you had more kids, you were probably pretty safe.  This was especially true of women, who would have depended upon the care of a male relative (most likely a son) after she was widowed.

Regarding the issue of how the Bible approaches family, there’s a lot going on: many of these issues have to be held in tension, but I think there’s a consistent thread.  Part of it has to do with the distinction between OT and NT.  In the OT, the main goal for each generation was raising up a new generation who would love and have a healthy relationship with God so that they to could inherit the Promised Land.  That obviously makes family paramount, so verses like these surely express the sentiment that they felt: they honored God by having many children.  But after Jesus (who as we have discussed, was NOT married), the mission focus was expanded to not only Jews, but also the entire world, while not losing the focus on an individual family (I hope that makes sense).  The individual family was still prized by God: it is still HIS primary design for how His loved is passed from generation to generation, whether among Jew or Christian.  But with Jesus as the example, God set a new standard: family was not the ONLY way to spread His word.  So to some people who were not married — like Jesus, including Paul, and most major western Church leaders, and this would include women — God gave them the task of spreading the word about His actions and having only the congregation or Church as family, rather than offspring.  In other words, they were called to celibacy.  It goes back to Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-15: God has blessed different people in different ways — some He (clearly!) desires to have children, and others He calls to a life of celibacy that they might follow Him more closely for their lives or some portion of it, they are not mutually exclusive.

The problem is that even though God honors BOTH paths equally — as long as we are faithful to Him while on these roads — we find that our society often confuses isolation and not being married with being incomplete.  Part of that incompleteness in our world is removed by having children, but sometimes having children is actually a very selfish way of dealing with feelings of isolation or loneliness.  That is often a very tragic situation.  Now, I am not saying that God cannot redeem such situations, but as we have discussed over these months, how God acts to redeem us and WHAT HE IDEALLY DESIRES are often very different things.  When we allow anything other than God to provide our fulfillment, even children, we have created an idol, however noble its creation might appear to be.  We are not living as the men and women He desires us to be if we are seeking ultimate fulfillment in a child rather than God.  So basically, as long as we keep first things first — that is, God above all else — then I think we have a great degree of freedom as Christians to seek out a partner to have children with within community.  We must honor God with our families, whether they are biological or bound by the Spirit.

Day 124 (May 4): Gatekeeper duties, treasurers, military commanders, military divisions, tribal leaders, officials, David instructs Solomon

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 Chronicles 26-28

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Chronicles 27:25-31): Why does the king have so many possessions?  I just thought kings were there to rule and have a fancy place to live with fancy things in it and nice clothes.  Why olive oil, sheep, goats, donkeys, etc.?

A. Well, it is clear from this text that he had a lot of people in his “employment,” so that is probably part of your answer.  From what I understand, being a king involved regular work as the ambassador of your nation to those around you.  We will see more of this type of activity under Solomon than we did with David.  In order to make an impact, I suspect part of what a king would do would be to share the goods that they had stockpiled in order to make a good impression.  It would be a great way to “grease the wheels” of diplomacy.  The other thing I could see is the king’s court could serve as a kind of storehouse for the nation, so that since the king controlled these things like food, he could distribute them to those who had need.  I have no idea if David actually did this or not, but it sounds like something God would desire out of a king.