Day 201 (July 20): Lord’s case against Israel, Israel’s guilt and punishment, misery turned to hope, Lord’s compassion for Israel, Assyria invades Judah, Assyria king threatens 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.

Micah 6-7

2 Chronicles 32:1-8

2 Kings 18:13-18

Isaiah 36:1-3

2 Kings 18:19-37

Isaiah 36:4-22

Questions & Observations

Q. (Micah 6:8): I have a good understanding of the requirements of doing what is right and having mercy that Micah is telling the Israelites they need to have.  But, walking humbly with God is a little foggy to exactly what that should look like.  Can you describe that or better yet, how we should walk with God?  And, I take it that “walk” means have Him in our hearts.  Just another observance is that Micah clearly states here that all the offerings are no longer desired by God.  He wants a personal relationship with His people, right?

A. To me, the key word in that sentence is “humbly.”  Israel, like all of us, had an issue with pride that needed to be resolved if any sort of good relationship with God was going to be established.  We’ve actually been talking about a lot of different ways we can walk humbly with God: we’ve discussed having genuine faith that God has our best interest at heart, and praying accordingly, we’ve discussed the importance of worship, loving God by loving others, and so forth.  To me, when we see God for who He truly is (as the Bible describes it in both the OT and NT), we simply have no choice to be humble before all that God has done for us.  That, I think, is the starting point of a humble walk with God.

O. (6:10b-11): Talk about unfair pricing.  Sometimes I see this unjust pricing today.  If you have ever bought one of those craft kits for kids that are $6-$15 with all the cool photos of what you can make on the outside.  Then, you open it up and there are a few things in it that are worth about $1.  Then, there is the things you see on TV — I am an occasional sucker, not often though — like the slushes.  We try it and it kind of works, but I think that I could probably just make these with some ice cubes and a cup with a lid.  But, no, I paid $19.99 for it.  It makes me feel like a fool.  But then, I think that what person could sell this stuff and feel good about it!  I just watched Mystery Diner last night.  If you haven’t seen that, it’s pretty cool.  They caught people red-handed stealing or throwing away profits from the restaurant owner.  It was hundreds of dollars a day.

Q. (7:16-17): Here Micah is — and we have seen this a lot of other places too — describing the Israelites pretty much enjoying the astonishment that their enemies are experiencing.  I think we all do this or have done this imagining the shock of others when they realize how great we are — here the greatness comes from God.  But, I always thought the feeling of enjoying the fruits of revenge was not proper or godly.

A. I see a couple of problems with your reading.  First of all, I didn’t see any sense of revenge on Israel’s part in the passage.  It is God’s free choice to avenge His people in whatever timeframe He deems appropriate.  Another issue I see is that God is talking about a day in the future (i.e. something that hasn’t happened yet).  Once again, God is most likely speaking (through Micah) about His Day of Judgment that we’ve been talking about recently.  The nations will truly be in awe, but NOT in awe of Israel.  They will be in awe of God.  When we are living a life that truly pleases and brings glory to God, He will get the credit for it — as He deserves — not us.

Q. (7:18-20): And here, the Israelites seem to be taking God’s mercy for granted.

A. Now that I can say they clearly did.  It will be their downfall, but God has a bigger plan at work that we will have to watch unfold.

Q. (2 Chronicles 32:5-8): I think there is an argument with some folks that God will take care of you, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride and let God build your business or fight your battles.  Is this what God intended?  Or, do we still have to work hard, but know that if we follow God, he will make our lives good, especially the everlasting one.

A. God guarantees us nothing this side of His Kingdom.  Anything that He provides us is a blessing that is to be used for His glory, not our pocketbooks.  So I would say there is great incentive to be hard working — don’t forget that in Genesis, work predates the Fall (work is good!) — and to be proactive about the decisions that we are making.  But as Micah 6:8 reminds us, we must do so humbly, and remember the source of it all.  If we do that, then I believe that God will provide the guidance we need, even if we are not aware of the ways that He is bringing about His glory through us.

Q. (2 Kings 18:25): Is this true?  God set them up to attack?

A. I think the commander is lying to try and intimidate the people.  But, let’s see what happens, shall we?  If what the commander says is true, then nothing will be able to stop Jerusalem’s destruction.

O. (2 Kings 18:37, Isaiah 36:22): Can’t wait to hear the rest of this story!

Day 95 (April 5): Samson carries off Gaza’s gates, Samson and deceptive Delilah, Samson pleads to God for one last big hoorah, Micah and his twisted religion, Dan attacks Micah’s land and worships his idol

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.

Judges 16-18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Judges 16:1): Samson seems to have a thing for Philistine women.  The Philistines were ruling, so maybe they wore beautiful clothes and nice perfume?  They may have been more attractive than Israelite women?  But, this was part of God’s plan for Samson?

A. I do not think that Samson’s lusting after Philistine women (for whatever reason) is something that God desired, but He did use it to bring down the rulers of the Philistines.

Q. (16:4-19): So, up until 16:21, Samson thought that Delilah was just playing a lover’s game?  Surely, he didn’t realize that she was trying to trap him or he wouldn’t have played along.  Samson really didn’t take heed to his parents warning about getting involved with a Philistine woman when he was courting his first wife.  But, like it says, in 13:5, Samson will begin to deliver Israelites from Philistine rule.  So, how do we know when to break societal rules — like not marrying the enemy — and know that it is God’s plan?   Maybe they didn’t know it then and didn’t need to know it, but it’s important for readers now?

A. I think the implication of the story is that Samson got by for a long time on his immense strength, but he abused the privilege and violated his Nazirite vows.  If you note the sequence of the story, he has touched the lion corpse, consumed alcohol at his wedding, and now in this story has his hair cut, which wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t reveal it — making it ultimately his fault.  These were the exact things that the Nazirite vows said he couldn’t do (Numbers 6:1-8).  Samson was clearly aware of what he was doing; he refers to himself as a Nazirite in 16:17, so he is taking for granted that the blessing of his strength will always be there.  But, oops, he pays dearly for his pride and is forced into slave labor for the amusement of the Philistines.  That doesn’t exactly ring true for me as a message of “sometimes its ok to violate what God has made perfectly clear.”  It seems more like, “you reap what you sow,” which comes for scripture as well (Galatians 6:7).

I knew a minister in college that memorably told me that you never grow closer to God by sinning, and I think that it is good advice.  This is not to say, as we see in this story, that God cannot redeem a man even as prideful as Samson, but who knows how God might have better used Samson if he had been more faithful and less self-serving.

O. (16:22): So we can see here that God is not done with Samson yet.  His hair is growing back.

Q. (16:30): Why did Samson want to die with the Philistines?  He did cross the Philistine/Israel line a lot.  Did he feel like he just needed to go down with them?  I wish we could known more about Samson.  We don’t know much about his heart.  We just know that he liked Philistine women and that got him into trouble.  But in the end, God was victorious via Samson.  Something great can come from suffering.  This copies Christ’s death to some degree.

A. Samson’s death was redemptive to a degree.  It certainly points to the idea that Samson turned to God when he had LITERALLY nothing left, but he did turn to Him.  I don’t really know why Samson wanted to die with the Philistines.  He certainly hated them, and I don’t think he, in any way, thought of himself as “like them,” he just was attracted to their women for some reason.  I think it ultimately was his understanding that he was never going to get such an opportunity again to take out so many important Philistines at once, so he acted on it even though he understood it would cost him his life.

Q. (Judges 17-18): Is this a “stay-tuned” passage?  Micah and his mother sound like they have heard parts of how to properly worship God, but they have obviously missed the bulk of God’s guidance.  Micah steals, his mother says it’s OK sense he admitted it, and from that point on, the story is lacking God.  I need some closure here.

A. Nope.  No “stay tuned”, no other resolution, just some powerful irony, and a whole lot of not God.  This passage — and the one for our reading tomorrow — is a epilogue on the story of Judges that is basically a late way of saying, “how did the Israelites reject God in the Promised Land?”  This story is a powerful indictment of the way that some of the people strayed, and traded in God for false idols.

But for the sake of some closure, let’s do a little summary shall we?  This silver idol that Micah sets up has its origins in his STEALING FROM HIS MOTHER.  From here, rather than using this ill-gotten gain to provide for the poor or donate it to God, he MAKES a god of his own, and SETS UP A HOUSE OF WORSHIP for his idol.  Then, he “ordains” his own son to be the priest of this idol.  If you’re following, what Micah has done is setup a rival religion against God, right in the Promised Land.  Then, he gets a corrupt Levite to run his little house or worship, and he thinks he is all set — that God will actually bless him for what he has done (17:12).

But then, oh irony.  He has his idols, wealth, and his Levite stolen from him by a corrupt group from the tribe of Dan.  Don’t miss this: Micah attempts to chase down and rescue his idols- these same “gods” that he likely turned to for protection.  So not only do we have the almost karmic punishment of Micah having stolen from him what he stole from his mother, but now his own gods need “rescuing,” and in the end, he has nothing.  On top of all of this, the religion and priest that he set up are now leading an entire tribe (Dan) away from God.  Frankly, I think that this is exactly what the storyteller intended for us to understand about Micah and this corrupt tribe.  The people were lawless: rejecting God and setting up gods for themselves, and living not by the Law of Moses, but rather by “might makes right.”  And that, I think, is all the closure this story needs.