Day 312 (Nov. 8): Peter heals lame beggar, Peter preaches about Jesus, council tries to hush Peter and John, disciples pray for courage, believers become a community sharing wealth and possessions, Ananias and Sapphira try to cheat eh church, disciples heal many, disciples imprisoned but escape, disciples flogged but continued to preach about Jesus!

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.

Acts 3-5:42

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 3:22): Why did Moses refer to Jesus as a Prophet instead of the Messiah?

A. Remember that Messiah is a title that means “anointed” or “chosen,” and one of the OT offices that was anointed was the office of Prophet (the others are King and Priest, more on those later).  So when Moses refers to the One who is coming as a Prophet, he is not referring to Jesus incorrectly, but merely describing a single aspect of His ministry- that of being THE Prophet who will bring His people back to God.

Q. (Acts 4:8-11): I love how the Holy Spirit takes over Peter’s speech here.  I have heard other people say how sometimes when talking to someone about God that they can’t believe what comes out of their mouth.  They felt the Holy Spirit control their speech.

A. That is certainly the implication of what Jesus advised His followers during the Last Supper — sometimes if we act in boldness to proclaim His truth, we never know the ways that God might show up via the Spirit.

Q. (Acts 5:1-11): Would it have been a big deal for Ananias and Sapphira to keep some of the money anyway?  I take it that it’s just because they lied about giving the full amount to the apostles when they didn’t?

A. I think the deceit is certainly the big deal — they were attempting to show off to the community, while keeping some of the money to themselves.  And this is exactly what Peter says: you could have kept some of the money, but you chose to lie about it.

Q. (Acts 5:15): How could Peter’s shadow heal people?  Peter seems to be taking a lead position with the disciples.

A. I have no idea.  And yes, Peter will be the primary focus of Acts for the first half of the story, and then someone else will take over.

Q. (Acts 5:31): How do the people know that God put Jesus at His right hand?  Through the apostles teaching?

A. Peter is not necessarily referring to an ACTUAL throne, but rather that Jesus is in the place of honor, as we have discussed.  The right hand was a trusted advisor who had the “ear” of the King.

Q. (Acts 5:33-41): If the Jewish leaders accepted Gamaliel’s advice, why did they flog the disciples?  I guess flogging is OK, but death is not?

A. I think they were looking for a way to take out their jealous feelings, and perhaps make one more attempt to push the disciples into silence.  Fat chance.

Day 284 (Oct. 11): Jesus helps Gentile woman, Jesus heals deaf man and others, Jesus feeds 4,000, Pharisees asked Jesus to show them a miracle

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.

Mark 7:24-30

Matthew 15:21-28

Mark 7:31-37

Matthew 15:29-31

Mark 8:1-10

Matthew 15:32-39

Matthew 16:1-4

Mark 8:11-21

Matthew 16:5-12

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 7:26b, 28): How would one know if someone was a Jew or Gentile without talking to them?  Jesus is calling the Gentiles “dogs” right?  He’s saying that He is supposed to take care of his own people before others?  She said though even the dogs are hanging around and getting love from the master.  But, this woman proved faithful, a hint that Jesus’s love and his salvation are meant for everyone?

A. Pretty much if they didn’t live in Judea, they were a Gentile.  It is very likely they dressed different as well.  In the story Jesus appears to be testing the woman (for reasons lost on me) and say that He has been sent to the Jews first (which is consistent with what He’s been saying the whole time).  But since her faith is proven, Jesus grants her daughter’s healing.

Q. (Mark 8:1-10, Matthew 15:32-39): Why do we hear this same story again only with 1,000 (plus wives and children) fewer people?  I’m guessing it’s because that the people — Jesus’s disciples, in particular — were still wavering on who Jesus was.

A. This crowd was probably more of a Gentile gathering than the feeding of the 5000, and note that Jesus refers to both feedings, which indicate their separate inclusion is not an accident.  It certainly appears to be something of a repetition to emphasize Jesus’ care for the needs of the crowd.

Q. (Matthew 15:33): The wilderness is brought up many times in the New Testament.  I’m guessing that the wilderness symbolizes a place 180° from the towns.  It’s where you could be alone with God and away from all the bad influences in crowded areas.  It’s also a place where you would become more dependent on and thus, close to, God, relying on Him for your own survival.

A. You’ve got the idea.  Jesus, in entering the wilderness, is again connecting with the history of His people, since they obviously spent many years in the wilderness during the Exodus period (a Matthew theme).

Q. (16:2-4): Can you explain why Jesus is referring the Pharisees and Sadducees to the story of Jonah?

A. In Jonah’s story, Jonah spent time in the belly of the great fish (a whale by tradition, but the word whale is never used either in Jonah or by Jesus).  He spent three days and nights in the belly of the fish.  There is some thinking that goes that since Jonah was inside the fish, the stomach acids discolored Jonah’s skin and hair, which would have made him look very strange.  Thus, when he finally traveled to Nineveh on his mission, it would have been very easy to get the people’s attention: he looked discolored, and possibly pale white.  This was apparently a sign to the people of Nineveh.  In the same way, Jesus’ body being buried and then returning to life in a different form (more on that later) was the sign to all those who were seeking after Him that His words were true.  The resurrection would prove to be the final “sign” that the people (including the religious leaders) sought, and many, including some of those leaders, would come to believe.  That’s the sign of Jonah Jesus refers to.

Q. (Mark 8:21): Jesus will give you all that you need.  He won’t skimp.

A. I like it.

Day 280 (Oct. 7): Jesus cast out demon but scares people, Jesus heals woman with faith

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.

Mark 5:1-20

Matthew 8:28-34

Luke 8:26-39

Mark 5:21-43

Matthew 9:18-26

Luke 8:40-56

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 5:1-20, Matthew 8:28-34, Luke 8:26-39): Here are three accounts of Legion, the man with many demons, of which Jesus cast into a herd of pigs.  Why does it say there are two men in Matthew’s version?  Other than that, they are basically the same story.  After seeing 2,000 pigs drown, the people of the region wanted Jesus to leave because they didn’t want to see anymore of their livestock die.  Right?  I’m sure Jesus didn’t want to upset them by killing their livestock.  From his ability to cast out the demons, they should see that Jesus wasn’t an ordinary man and the fact that He healed a man is more important than 2,000 pigs.  But, would the people know enough about the Messiah to know that if they were short on food, he would give them provisions?

A. I don’t know why Matthew’s version lists two healings, there’s some sort of quirk in the text.  As to your other questions, it’s important to note where we are when Jesus and his men cross over.  Across the Sea of Galilee, they were no longer in Jewish territory, but we are near the Gentile area of the Decapolis (Ten cities).  The key to telling this is the very pigs you mentioned: no Jew would herd pigs, only a Gentile would.  So the residents were probably concerned that Jesus was some sort of powerful magician or someone that they should fear.  It is unlikely any of them would have had any idea of what the Messiah was, but they will after this incident — Jesus left a man behind to see to that.

Q. (Mark 5:21-43, Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 8:40-56): We have seen that Jesus has lots of respect for those with pure, genuine, undeniable faith.  Why didn’t Jesus want the parents to tell anyone about His healing power?

A. Probably because He did not want any more publicity from these healings.  It is also in keeping with a major theme of Mark: the secret Messiah.  Jesus does not want to become too well known as the Messiah before His mission is complete for reasons that will become clear later.

Day 275 (Oct. 2): Word spreads about Jesus’s miracles, Jesus draws crowds, Jesus prays and chooses 12 disciples, Sermon on the mount, Beatitudes, sorrow awaits the rich, teaching about salt and light, followers of God’s law will be rewarded, reconcile your anger, lessons on: adultery, divorce, vows, revenge, love for enemies, giving to needy

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.

Mark 3:7-19

Luke 6:12-16

Matthew 5:1-12

Luke 6:17-26

Matthew 5:13-48

Luke 6:27-36

Matthew 6:1-4

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 3:9): Jesus seems to use a boat often.  Is there any significance to that or is it just a way to speak to a crowd without getting trampled?

A. It would allow Him to be seen by the crowd as well.

Q. (Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16): Rob, I believe you mentioned the number “12” way back one of our tribes of Israel discussion because, of course, there were 12 tribes.  Now we have 12 apostles.  Any significance?  And, the words “apostles” and “disciples” mean the same thing, right?  From Luke 6:12-16, it sounds as if maybe God helped Jesus choose which men to pick for His followers since Jesus prayed all night.

A. Yes, there was definitely a political message here, and it would have been read as such by all the Jews Jesus encountered.  In selecting 12 close followers, Jesus was basically implying the creation of a new nation — he was selecting 12 new “patriarchs,” implying a renewal or radical movement within Judaism.  Overall, it would actually have been interpreted in a fairly similar manner to His discussion of new wineskins from our previous reading: the old way isn’t enough anymore; I’m doing something new.

O. (Matthew 5:3-10): I remember sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table learning the books of the Bible, the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes.  I learned the New International Version, which, to me, flows more smoothly.  Here it is:

Matthew 5:3-12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

O. (Matthew 5:11-12, Luke 6:22-23): How funny this would be to have someone mocking someone and mockee starts giggling and jumping for joy.

O. (Luke 6:24-26): The subject of this verse must be the direct opposite of the Beatitudes.

Q. (Matthew 5:14-16): I would take it that this doesn’t mean showing off.  It means that your good deeds should be a reflection of God.  Your deeds should make others happy, thus spreading God’s light.  Is this an accurate interpretation?

A. I think a more accurate way to think of it would be to say your deeds should reflect God’s heart, regardless of how they make people feel.  If done in the right spirit this is a powerful witness to God’s ability to change and direct our lives.

Q. (Matthew 5:19): So, here is one of the verses I was looking for during the Old Testament readings.  There are heavenly rewards for obedience to the Laws of Moses.  Those who are doers of the Word and not just believers will earn extra credit in Heaven?  I think we’ve talked about this before.

A. It is hard to tell exactly what Jesus means here, but I think the implication is clear: the desire to follow God’s Law (not because we have to, but because we choose to) is a noble desire, one that God rewards in some way.

Q. (Matthew 5:22, 23-24): Just when I was feeling good about my performance on earth and who I am becoming, I find a verse that I’m guilty of.  I know I have called several people “idiots” in my life time, one in particular, which I’m sure I need to repent.  When we repent, are we to go to the person with whom we have a conflict and right it with them and then go to God?  I always just thought repenting means to go to God.  Is repenting from something 10 years ago still required?  Honestly, this guy at work was above me and not qualified for his job.  He was making tons of mistakes in newsprint.  And, I have never felt the need to tell him I was sorry for my attitude toward him.  I feel more like I should apologize to God.

A. The Sermon on the Mount (what the version from Matthew is called) is a guide to living for those who are in Christ.  It is not a list of requirements or things we must do in order to make God love us.  So remove any ideas of “requirement” from your mind: that’s not what this is about.  This is about the best way to live in God-honoring relationship with the people around us, and much of it starts with our desire to repent of our actions.  If you feel like you should seek out forgiveness from those you have wronged, it might be the Spirit compelling you to do so, even if it would be uncomfortable.  Seeking forgiveness and repenting (even if the other person doesn’t know about the wrong) is certainly good advice in how to maintain peace within your own soul.  How far you go and who you tell is between you and God.

Q. (Matthew 5:27-30): There are tons of people guilty of this.  Not only do you have the ones that have had a divorce and knowingly cheated on their spouses, but here you have all of those folks that raise an eyebrow to anyone they find attractive.  These are those thoughts that you can hide from most everyone except God.

A. Admiring a woman’s (or man’s — women are not excluded) beauty is not the sin.  It is what you might call “lingering” on it, or envisioning yourself in ways that are inappropriate, and you certainly wouldn’t be willing to share with the person.  If you would be completely uncomfortable telling the person the thoughts you were having (i.e. the difference between “you are so beautiful” and “I’m thinking about you and I making out”), then I would say you’re on dangerous ground.

As to the divorce and adultery, I have two thoughts.  One: the mainline church has done a frankly TERRIBLE job discussing the theological implications on divorce, even as our society has come to see it as really no big deal.  But it is not that way to God, and it never will be: divorce wrecks lives and families, and those most affected are the innocent who have no say in the matter at all or are even used as leverage.  This is one place where too many clergy have toed the line that society has been pushing about divorce: if you’re not happy for ANY reason, get a divorce and start again.  I am not saying there are no grounds for divorce (Jesus just mentioned one), but we have let the pendulum swing too far the other way, where divorce is achieved for literally ANY reason at all.  Two: Jesus is pointing out a high standard in this reading, the standard of the conduct God EXPECTS of His people.  And far too often, we fall short all over the place.  That is where the grace that so permeates the ministry of Jesus comes into play: it covers a multitude of our sins.  So what Jesus is doing here is not holding anything back, not watering anything down, but just laying out God’s word among His people.  And if those people fail (which they will), there is God’s love and mercy to fall back on.

Q. (Matthew 5:33-37): Ten years ago or so, I cried out to God for forgiveness on something I was ashamed of.  He forgave me.  I told Him that I would make a book about it to help right my wrong.  I guess from reading this Scripture that I should not have made the deal.  Jesus has already paid the price.  I would still like to write the book, if I get around to it.  I feel that that project has taken a back burner to this blog.

A. One of the coolest things that learning the truth of the Gospel teaches us is that we don’t have to bargain with God, and it is often a waste of time to do so!  God’s great love helps us to move beyond making foolish promises, even if God, in His mercy, allows us to work on our own path (something Paul will discuss).  Who knows, God may desire for you to write the book, just understand that it has nothing to do with His MAKING you do it.

Q. (Matthew 5:41): What’s the deal with this?  It seems oddly specific.

A. In a Roman province (as Israel was), it was the law that a Roman soldier could force any non-Roman citizen (i.e. almost anyone in Israel) to carry his gear or other equipment for up to one mile.  Since the soldiers were surely seen as enemies in Israel (they were seen as foreign occupiers who killed many Jews), the implication is clear: don’t just do the minimum standard when your enemy has control over you- take the power back by serving him as you would a friend, and go beyond what you are required to do.

One interesting note about this information: we will see this law used in part of the Passion story, so watch for that down the road.

Q. (Matthew 5:43-48): I wouldn’t say that “loving your neighbor” was the consensus among the Israelites in the OT.

A. They don’t call it the New Testament for nothing.  Once again, this is about conduct among God’s people who have been redeemed by Christ, not steps taken to get there.  There is a natural tension in the two sides: hold up God’s standard, even if it means going to war (as Israel often did), but also be aware that God loves your enemy as well, and we should act like it.  Different churches have lived in this tension throughout the centuries, and I think it is one of the great freedoms we have in Christ that this is not only one way, but many ways in which we can honor God in our moral decision making.

Q. (Matthew 6:1-4): Matthew 5:16 says the opposite of this.  Can you explain that?

A. What Jesus is criticizing here is the public act of drawing attention to yourself, rather than God, in the midst of your service.  If you are making a big deal about yourself (rather then the Lord who saved you) as the source of your giving, I would say that Jesus is right: you’ve got your reward already, but you’ve done the Kingdom a great disservice.  I would say the difference between Matthew 5:16 and 6:1-4 comes down to humility.  If you don’t have a humble heart in your service, you are ultimately not shining the light on God, or reflecting His love.  Remember this question when we get to 1 Corinthians 13.

Day 271 (Sept. 28): Nicodemus questions Jesus about being born again, John the Baptist exalts Jesus, Jesus lights up lives of Samaritan village

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 3:1-36

John 4:1-45

Questions & Observations

Q. (John 3:1-22): Nicodemus acknowledges Jesus’s power and comes to Him to seek answers about being born again.  I don’t understand why Jesus answers in riddles instead of more directly.  Is it that Jesus knows Nicodemus’s heart, so He knows He will not understand baptism and getting to heaven?  How could Nicodemus understand baptism when it is a fairly new concept (except for you explaining how the priests were cleansed with water in the OT)?

A. I honestly have no idea why Jesus answered in the way He did, but apparently it was what Nicodemus needed to hear.  Our former pastor, Isaac, once gave a sermon about this encounter where he noted that Nicodemus probably went away from this encounter with more questions than answers.  But since he had this personal encounter with Jesus, the questions faded in significance.  He has met the Man, and so the questions no longer mattered.

I think the baptism question is understood as being something that was fairly new, but not brand new — John may have been doing it for some time before this encounter, and as I mentioned, this tradition is grounded in the priestly washing and ritual cleansing ceremonies of the Jewish faith.

Q. (John 3:16): This is probably the most recited verse in the Bible.  And, simply put, is beautiful and direct.  So, if you believe that Jesus is God’s son and our Savior, then you will live eternally.  But, in 3:5, Jesus says that we must be “born again” if we ever want to see the kingdom of heaven.  So, baptism has two purposes: to repent and wash away your sins and to receive the Spirit.  But also, when I was baptized, I was asked if I believed that Jesus was God’s son.  This is why they ask that, because you won’t receive the Spirit if you don’t believe in Jesus?  Since I was baptized so young, I often wonder if I was of the right, mature mind to do so.  I do feel the Spirit in me, but not all the time.  Many times my personality dominates, but the Spirit is getting stronger.  Like I said before, I never had that “wow” moment when Jesus came into my life.  It just seems like He was always there because I grew up going to church every Sunday.  I was 9 or 10 years old when I was baptized. I worry that my baptism wasn’t “official” in God’s eyes.

Then, there is the question about all those people who are good people, but have had little or no exposure to Jesus.  Will they be saved?  There are so many topics to discuss on baptism.

A. Wow, that was a mouthful.  Let’s untangle one of your famous 10 question questions!  (I kid!)  While baptism is an important part of the act of becoming a Christian, it is NOT what saves us: only the blood of Jesus does that, at least that’s my understanding of baptism and atonement.  Baptism is a public declaration that one has decided to follow Christ, but it does not do anything to change our state in God’s “eyes”: it is our faith in Christ that changes our standing, not immersion in water.  That’s why the questions and public declarations are so important: THEY (representing your faith) are the true mark of salvation, and what allows for the presence of the Holy Spirit to enter into our hearts.  So with that understanding, I think it is safe to say I feel no worry about your baptism being “official” to God — it ultimately matters far less than your heart and desire to be like Christ RIGHT NOW.

Alright, we’re heading for some pretty deep water in the “what about people who are good but don’t know Jesus” issue, one that has no simple answer.  I call this the “Gandhi Scenario,” since he is the most common “good person” named when this issue comes up.  I’m going to tell you my opinion, but since we’re dealing with issues of salvation and afterlife, I really can’t say I’m any sort of expert.

First, as the OT has long established, there are no “good people.”  Every human who has lived from Adam and Eve on down has chosen the path of sin and turned away from God.  So trying to say that there’s “good” people out there who just haven’t heard the Gospel is stacking the deck on this question.  It simply doesn’t in any way match what Scripture tells us (take for example, Isaiah 64:6, Jeremiah 6:13, and Psalm 14:1-3).  One of the central understandings needed to fully grasp Christianity is the gravity of our situation: we think of ourselves (and others) as good people who just need a little “help,” but the reality the Bible points to is that we are impossibly corrupt people who have hearts of stone and no desire to follow after God!  None!  It is not simply that we want help but can’t get it, it is that we flatly REJECT the very notion that we need God’s help.  The ship is going down, and we say, “I’m fine on my own” to the person (Jesus) offering us a lifejacket.  THAT is our reality, so let’s dispense with this “good person” nonsense.  We can see this truth in the people that others have throughout the generations seen as the most holy or righteous: these individuals (I’m thinking of Mother Teresa and Francis of Assisi just as two examples) are quick to say they see the corruption in their own souls, and no matter how “holy” the world sees them, the rightly see themselves as not measuring up to God’s perfect standard without His help.  So even the people who others would declare, “that’s a perfect, holy, good person” would turn and quickly say, “not compared to Christ, I’m not.  I’m hopeless without Him.”

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s address the major issue here: the necessity of having to have the Gospel preached to you in order for you to have salvation.  To be honest, this question has at its heart a core of distrust in God.  If we learned anything in the OT, it is that God is the Being who can be trusted.  As you noted, this verse (John 3:16) is everywhere, and it declares God’s everlasting love for not just His people, but the entire world — past, present, and future.  That doesn’t mean that God will ignore or not punish our sin, but that in the midst of all else, Scripture declares a love of God for His creation.  So it seems incredibly unlikely to me that God would declare eternal damnation upon a soul simply because that person never got to hear about Jesus.  Can we see God saying, “well, I’d love to admit you into heaven [we’ll deal with THAT misconception another day], but you never heard about my Son, so you’re out of luck.  Say Hi to the devil for me.”  Honestly, does that sound like the logic of God?  It certainly doesn’t to me.  In my opinion, each of us will be held responsible for acting on the information we know, not on the information that we don’t.  This is the same way I resolve all sorts of sticky issues that non-believes like to throw at Christians: what about the mentally handicapped?  What about infants who die?  What about Gandhi? Etc.  God is just, as He proved to Abraham — the Lord of all earth will do what is right (Genesis 18:25).

One more thing: just because I have made the above statement (God will do what is right) does NOT mean that I am convinced that all will be saved (a position known as Universalism).  I am simply stating that when all is said and done, each of us will know that God has done what is right and just in each of our eyes.  We will not be able to cry out to God, “it isn’t fair!”: God will have made all things right, and justice will be done.  Count on it.

O. (4:1): At many, many points in the NT, Jesus is concerned about crowds.  Here, we see that Jesus is getting a lot of attention and so He flees.  In a previous Bible study looking at the book of Mark, we discussed reasons that Jesus would have steered away from crowds: the larger the crowd, the angrier the Pharisees became; He tried to reach those in the countryside away from the larger cities; and Jesus needed to rest and the crowds wouldn’t let him.  I think the first reason was the dominant one in the study.  I just found another reason in the next day’s reading (Mark 1:38-39): he moved on to spread the word.  Upon going to my thinking spot (lol, can you tell my daughter has read A.A. Milne?), I can see where Jesus would speak and do a miracle or two, then his work was done there.  The people either accepted or proclaimed Him or they didn’t.  If they didn’t join in, staying there would only breed more rejection and then his life would be in danger.  So, why not spread the news in other places and harvest more believers!

O. (4:15): I never thought about the very nature of water before and how good it feels to the human body.  Swimming, drinking, bathing, splashing it on my face is all so refreshing.  There is nothing like it.  Then, to think Jesus is all that for eternity.  Nice symbolism.  Our bodies are made up of 70-some percent water.  Jesus should be more than that.  Just think how refreshing water is and then how refreshed Jesus can make us.

Q. (John 4:34-38): So, I understand that Jesus is finishing the work of God here.  God’s work is giving the people His Word and now His Son.  Jesus’s end of it is to spread the Word, be a live demonstration of God’s promises making more believers to the Kingdom of Heaven?  Although, we are nowhere near the awesomeness of Jesus, we are supposed to take His example and apply it to our own lives.  I do struggle with hearing God.  I listen for Him, but many times I do what I think is right in His eyes.  I have the Word to guide me and the Spirit, but many times I don’t know whether to take Road A or Road B.  Specifically, I have plans to expand this blog into something else.  It just popped into my head once when I was with my daughter and we immediately started brainstorming.  I assume this idea and some others that are related to it are from the Spirit.  But, since we are scraping by financially — God is providing what we need when we need it — I keep feeling the guilt for not bringing home a paycheck.  My brain says to keep charging ahead and I pray that my husband’s business will start earning more money (which it is picking up).  The waiting is so hard!

Back to the scripture.  I love how it says that some may plant, but He sends us to harvest things that we have not planted.  And we will all come together to gather the harvest (people brought to eternal life).  I like the picture painted here of God’s people working as one, all enjoying the harvest, not one taking credit for his/her work.

A.  Me too.  This is one of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible (John 4).  Watch for other references to Samaria and Samaritans in the coming days, and let’s talk about who they were at a future date.

Day 166 (June 15): Whirlwind takes Elijah to heaven, Elisha gives double spirit of Elijah, Elisha starts miracles right away, Elisha saves widow’s sons, Elisha helps Shunem woman’s son, Elisha feeds thousands with little flour

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 2:1-25

2 Kings 4:1-44

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 2:1-6): How far is it from Bethel to Jericho to the Jordan River?  Could Elijah and Elisha made it to all three places in one day?

A. Don’t forget where they started, at Gilgal, so they didn’t even start in Bethel.  The notes that I have say that this is a total journey of between 25 and 30 miles.  That’s a long way, but not outside the realm of possibility.  My notes also say that we tend to assume, but it doesn’t say, that they walked the entire distance.  They might have had transportation for some portion of the trip.

Q. (2:9-10): Is Elisha being greedy here, asking for a double share of Elijah’s spirit?  Elijah said it would be a difficult thing to get.

A. Apparently God didn’t think so, because He granted the request, as confirmed with the cloak parting the Jordan.

Q. (2:17): Is Elisha showing weakness here by allowing the men to go search for Elijah?  Apparently Elisha was the only one that witnessed Elijah going up in the chariot?

A. I think he just wanted to stop hearing about it, he knew Elijah was gone, but couldn’t convince his companions until they couldn’t find him on their own.  The story implies Elisha was the only one to see Elijah being taken.

Q. (2:24): I would think that a more proper response for this situation would be for Elisha to influence the youth in a positive way without having them killed.  They are youth and kind of expected to make unwise choices, but instruction could set them straight.  But I am not a prophet.

A. The cultural gist of the insult — calling him bald — that the boys/young men use (these aren’t children we’re talking about here!) is that Elisha is diseased and unclean.  That is most likely why he cursed them.  I’m not really clear on why he reacts the way he does either, but, as you said, he is a man of God.

O. (4:8-37): The faith of the woman from Shunem is strong and true!

Q. (4:42-44): This story mirrors Jesus feeding the 5,000 with fish and bread.  The olive oil story (4:1-7) is also used at least one more time.  Is there some message the authors intended for readers today with the repetition of these stories, like “God WILL provide?”

A. While the idea of God’s provision is a major theme of scripture — think of the manna and water in the Exodus — these texts were not written with “modern” audiences in mind at all.  They were written to tell the history of the Jewish people, including the fact that God was indeed faithful, to future generations of Jews.  We are “eavesdropping,” if you will, on that conversation.  One of the ways that this occurs, however, is that the Spirit of God works in the hearts of people today to remind them of things that we can learn by studying books like Kings.  So there can be great benefit to us, even if it wasn’t “for” us.

As to the stories matching with things in the gospels, that is not a coincidence.  One of the things that Jesus taught his followers is that He was, and is, the fulfillment of the Law, associated with Moses, and the Prophets — including Elijah and Elisha, see Matthew 11:13 and Luke 16:16.  So it is no surprise to me that the gospel writers would share with their audience places where they saw Jesus doing things that Moses (trials in the wilderness, Matthew 4), or the Prophets did (like feeding people where there didn’t seem to be enough food, Mark 6).  Part of that is emphasis, but part of it also is that understanding of the NT that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the best of old way, the OT, while establishing the NEW one.