Day 356 (Dec. 22): Jesus is cornerstone for believers to build on and nonbelievers to stumble, respect those in authority, slaves who endure hardship will be rewarded, wives must accept husband’s authority, clothe yourself in inward beauty not outward appearance, husbands must treat wives as equal partner, pay back retaliation with blessings, God will reward those who suffer for doing what is right, live for God, watch over flock willingly not grudgingly, watch out for the prowling devil

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.

Day 356 (Dec. 22)

1 Peter 2:4-5:11

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Peter 2:18-25): On second reading, the slaves he is talking about, I think, are actual slaves, but I think this passage also includes all Christians: Those who can endure unfair treatment will be rewarded.  Does God condone slavery?  What about slavery in the U.S. was it wrong by God and should it have ended?

A. No more than any other human institution that exploits people, as slavery does.  Slavery, in its various forms, is a classic example of the exploitation that people frequently indulge in, including abuse (in all its forms), violence, and sex trafficking (which is frankly just sex slavery).  The ways that we humans too often treat each other in no way pleases God, but there can be light brought out of it as well, as Peter is describing.  If you endure suffering — suffering you don’t deserve, not that you do! — it is a powerful witness to the transformative power of Christ.  So though we often exploit each other (Americans included), Peter is saying that even the suffering of the exploited can be used to glorify God.

O. (3:3-6): My good friend is a hairstylist in Hollywood.  He sees celebrities constantly.  On a visit, his cousin wanted to go to the grocery store in the morning just dressed in casual clothes.  My friend told her no, no, you have to get ready to go to the store there.  Everyone is dressed to the nines, even on a weekend morning.  I just think about how much time that wastes and if you are out showing God’s love, how does that make people feel if, when you are talking to them all dressed up, they think that you are above their status and can’t relate to you.  It’s easy for me to get on the soapbox about this since I don’t spend hardly any time primping.  I always thought I was too lazy.  Now I can use the reason that I want my inward beauty to show.  J

Q. (4:1b): What does it mean to have “suffered physically for Christ” and “you will have finished with sin?”

A. I’m honestly not sure.  Best guess: if you are counted as a follower of Christ to the point where you are willing to suffer punishment for it, then like Christ, you have (symbolically) moved beyond sin, because those who are faithful have been purified of sin by God’s grace.

O. (4:7): Prayer is certainly something that I don’t take as seriously as I should.  And, I think more quiet time with God would draw me closer to Him.

O. (5:2b): Watching over others willingly sure makes it more enjoyable too!

Q. (5:8): This reminds me of our beloved former pastor, Isaac Hunter, who just took his own life.  I looked back on YouTube at some of his old skit videos.  He looked so normal, so together and happy.  The devil must have bore down on him hard for him to trip up and give up.  We can learn from Isaac’s fall.  The devil can trip us up so easily, we have to be on the lookout constantly.

A. While it can sound insensitive (I had tremendous respect for Isaac), what happened to Isaac did not happen overnight, or through a single “attack” of the devil.  I have a strong suspicion that Isaac suffered greatly for years because of his personal choices.  So while Satan may prowl, far too often we give him an opening and are forced to deal with the consequences, as Isaac did.  While the man that you saw in the videos presented an outward appearance of happiness — which may indeed have been genuine — I suspect that Isaac was hiding great pain that not even close friends, co-workers, or counselors could see.  He hid it so well.  Isaac was incredibly gifted, and I am so sad that those gifts have now been lost — partly because he would have been uniquely qualified to share with others about how to confront the demons that haunt you and pass to the other side with God’s help.

Day 313 (Nov. 9): Disciples chose seven men to assist them, Stephen is arrested, Stephen addresses the council

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 6-8:1a

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 6:7): It’s nice to see some Jewish priests softening up and being converted.

A. There is certainly a degree of importance in this often missed verse.  Though many of the Jewish leaders condemned themselves by siding against Jesus, they were able to find repentance and be saved by the very plan that they had themselves enacted.  Surely that is God’s grace at work!

O. (Acts 6:15): So, take that!

Q. (Acts 7:2-50): OT, in a nutshell, right?.  Thanks, Stephen!

A. Sort of.  He definitely hits the um…highlights.  But his main point is that the Jews have a long history of rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit because of their hard hearts, as they are doing here in persecuting the Church.  Stephen is accusing them of being just like their ancestors, and I would say their response indicates that they did not like that accusation.

Q. (Acts 8:59-60): I guess Jesus’s believers knew what they were getting into after seeing Jesus crucified.  Stephen showed what kind of mercy he had on people by asking God to forgive his murderers.  I take it that Stephen is asking Jesus to welcome him to His Kingdom when he asks Jesus to receive his spirit?  Pretty amazing stuff.

A. Yes, I would say that is right.

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 306 (Nov. 2): Council questions Jesus, Peter denies Jesus three times, Jesus goes before Pilate, Judas hangs himself

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 14:53-65

Matthew 26:57-68

Mark 14:66-72

Matthew 26:69-75

Luke 22:54-62

John 18:25-27

Mark 15:1

Matthew 27:1-2

Luke 22:66-71

Matthew 27:3-10

Questions & Observations

O. (Mark 14;53-65): I see several things to comment on here.  1) And what is Peter’s role here.  He seems like a coward.  2) This is the pinnacle of Jesus’s “I Am” response.  3) Here we have Jesus saying He will be at the right hand.  What did we say the right hand signified way back in the OT?  4) It’s amazing the effect on people of crowd mentality.  They become like a mindless mob.  5) V. 65: If they only knew to whom they were jeering, spitting and slapping!

A. 1) Peter is acting like a coward, just as Jesus said he would.  2) This is just one more piece of evidence that Jesus knows what is happening and is prepared to die.  The men who were accusing Him of blasphemy couldn’t get their story straight, and Jewish legal proceedings in this day required two eyewitnesses to bring blasphemy charges.  So if Jesus had just said nothing, or denied being the Messiah, He likely would’ve been freed: there would have been no ground to charge Him.  Instead, He incriminates Himself (if you want to think of it that way) by proclaiming the truth that He is the Messiah.  Without Jesus doing so, there would have been no basis to charge Him.  This passage is fascinating to me for that reason.  3) The right hand was the seat of power for a king or ruler (in this case God the Father): the trusted general or other confidant that acted on the king’s behalf.  Its where we get the term “right hand man” from.  4) I suspect that the crowd was disappointed that Jesus did not conquer the Romans when He entered the city on Sunday, as many expected Him to.  Over the course of the week, it appears that public opinion turned against Jesus.  The mob is fickle indeed.

Q. (Mark 14:66-72): Why a rooster and why would he deny Jesus three times before it crowed twice.  It’s just seems like an odd thing to happen.

A. The rooster crowed at dawn, signifying Peter’s failure during the night.  I don’t know if there is anything else special about the event, except that it is a time marker in a period where there obviously were no watches or other ways to tell time before sunrise: the rooster was it.

Q. (Mark 15:1): Because the Jewish officials took Jesus to Pilate early in the morning, is this why many churches have sunrise services?  Or is it the resurrection?

A. The resurrection, you’ll see when we get to the story.

Q. (Matthew 27:3-10):  Poor Judas!  This just shows that someone can wake up when they realize the consequences of their actions.  So, Judas hangs himself.  This is an aside comment, but isn’t it a sin to take ones life that is a ticket to Satan?  I have been told that, but I don’t think we’ve come across it in the Bible yet.  And lastly, why would the Lord want the Israelites to purchase a potter’s field with the 30 pieces of silver that Judas returned?

A. Suicide is not expressly forbidden in the Bible, but it is surely not something God desires.  It is obviously impossible to know if it is an offense that condemns one to hell, but we have established that through Jesus that no sin outside of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is unforgivable, which presumably includes suicide.  What we don’t know is if Jesus refers to sins that we can seek forgiveness for, which you can’t do in the sense that we are used to if you are dead, so it remains a mystery.  In the end, as with all things, we must trust in God’s grace, and I believe that at least some of the people who tragically commit suicide can still find forgiveness and grace in Christ.  No one is beyond His reach, but not all will seek to take hold of it.

As to the Potter’s field, the story appears to be saying that since the money was blood money, it could not be used in the Temple, so they basically found a way to get rid of the money by buying a field from a potter to make a public cemetery.  What this has to do with the role of a potter is beyond me.

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 264 (Sept. 21): Israelites settle in Jerusalem, lists of returning priests and Levites, the returning exiles

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.

Nehemiah 11-12:26

1 Chronicles 9:1-34

Questions & Observations

Q. Rob, I don’t see anything to comment on.  How about you?

A. Nothing that we have not already covered elsewhere.  Moving on…

Day 262 (Sept. 19): Nehemiah calls for registration of exiles, list of exiled families with a count for each, Israelites settle in their towns, Ezra reads Law of Moses, Nehemiah tells them to celebrate for this sacred day

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.

Nehemiah 7:4-8:12

Questions & Observations

Q. (Nehemiah 7:65): We have talked about casting lots before as a way of asking God to identify or choose.  Can you explain the process in more detail?

A. We covered this way, way back in March (the 28th to be exact, day 87), but I am happy to reexamine the question.  The two stones: seen here: http://www.bibleandscience.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=29, would have basically served as the “yes” and “no” for questions that the High Priest asked.  In the Joshua story — as we were looking at when we first addressed the topic — we saw that the priest would basically put the question or names on paper, and then cast the two stones towards the question to determine the answer.  That’s basically all there is to it.  It was one of the responsibilities of the High Priest, but both Christians and Jews have moved away from the practice.

Q. (7:66-73a): At first, I thought 42,000 people in one city is a pretty large number.  (I still can’t imagine cities as big as they were back then.  I always imagine small because of the more physical lifestyle and it was just long ago.)  But, when you consider that this was all of the men (not women, children, servants, etc.?), then it’s not much when they scatter throughout all of Israel.

A. The nation was significantly smaller than the size under David or even Joshua, but keep in mind that’s only the people who returned: there were still people, including Jews, there: the king used them to grow crops on his land.

Q. (8:8): Here they say the Book of God.  It’s the same as Book of Moses or Moses’ Law, right?

A. Yes.  Many Jews would still use that title today.