Day 365 (Dec. 31): Praise the Lord for avenging the murder and suffering of His servants, rider on white horse calls to army to go against John, thousand years in waiting, defeat of Satan, final judgment, a new Jerusalem, Jesus is coming!

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.

From Leigh An: Today, we come to the end of our journey through the Bible.  I, for one, have learned so much and can honestly say that this is the best thing I have ever done.  I have a much better grasp of who I am and what this life is all about.  One year to study the whole Bible is not enough for me.  I understand most of the big picture points of the Bible, but I want to understand more of even the little stuff.  The Bible-in-a-year project is done today, but there are more ideas culminating, so be on the lookout.  Our time-frame is uncertain.  Only God will tell us that.  Just check back in periodically to see what we are up to.  But, we will take a pretty long break to rest, regroup, plan and study.  Thanks for joining us.  Happy New Year!

From Rob: I am greatly pleased by how well this project has turned out, so thanks a lot for being a part of the journey.  I hope that my answers were helpful, and that God was able to speak into your life as we walked through the Bible together.  He certainly has spoken into mine.  This is the first time I have read the Bible cover to cover.  I had read probably 95% of it at some point, mostly in seminary, but to tackle it bit by bit, day by day, was a worthy challenge, and I am glad that we were able to complete it as a joint project.  To me, there is no more worthwhile investment then learning about and consuming what God’s Word has for us. It bears the words of Truth and salvation that cannot be found anywhere else, and I praise God for His blessing to His people in all times and places.  I pray that you will keep reading, and that by doing so you can walk the path that leads to life eternal.  May God bless your journey!

Revelation 19-22:21

Questions & Observations

Q. I should have asked this already, but I didn’t.  Why is John having a vision about Babylon when the end of days is yet to come and Babylon is not around anymore?  (Go to Wikipedia.com and search Babylon for a nice bit of history and a modern photo of her remnants.)

A. There are two assumptions that you are making here that need to be corrected: as we discussed, the woman is Rome, not Babylon, which does still exist, and is now the center of the Christian world, at least for the billion or so Roman Catholics.  But the larger issue is that we must understand that what John has been doing is casting a vision to give comfort to those who are followers of God.  Even if Rome did not exist today, there is no less comfort in the message of Revelation, and that message is that God is victorious because of what He has done through Jesus Christ.  The message is meant to be encouragement to the faithful, not to say “where” such events will take place.  I simply wouldn’t read this section of the book like that.

Q. (Revelation 19:9-10): This passage puts believers on an even playing field with angels.  I would say these believers are holy.

A. Angels and men are both created beings so in that sense, they are on a level playing field.

Q. (19:11): Is Jesus the rider on the white horse?

A. He’s the One.  Max Lucado makes an interesting observation about this description in his book, When Christ Comes — which I highly recommend for anyone interested in End Times studies, it is very approachable.  Lucado walks us through the entire text of Revelation, and notes that everyone is wearing white…except Jesus.  The Rider on this horse has a robe dipped in blood, and the reason for this is important to understand: He has switched clothes with all those who believe in Him.  They are given the white robe that He rightly deserves, and He wears the robe of their sin and punishment.  What an amazing image!

Q. (19:15): Maybe the “sharp sword” here is Scripture?

A. The sword represents divine judgment, which is spoken from His mouth.

Q. (19:19-21): The beast is the devil?  There have been several beasts mentioned though.  So, how about the false prophet?  Who is he/she?  And, what about the antichrist.  Do we know any more particulars about him?

A. No, there are two beasts and one dragon.  The first beast is the Antichrist (the one out of the sea), and the second beast is those who lead the worship of the first beast (basically representing the worship of men, especially Emperors as was common in the Roman world).  The dragon is Satan.  The word antichrist gets tossed around a lot related to this book, but I would point out that the word is not used a single time in this entire book.  We have very limited knowledge about who this person is/will be, but we know that his actions will lead many to stray from God, so our world already has plenty of antichrists today.  I can’t really say if there will be THE one true, Antichrist, but if there is one, he will be a powerful leader and ruler of many.  But what motivates him will not be God, but God’s enemy.

Q. (20:1-6): So we can assume that these 1,000 years will really happen.   Everything God says — and he’s speaking through John here — is true.  Another question about the already dead: do their whole bodies die, even their Spirit?  Do they just hang out?  And, are they dead with no sense at all or are their spirits lingering?  Is it wrong to hope that I’m already dead and don’t have to witness that wrath.  I guess it’s not a big deal to witness it as long as I hold firm my beliefs.

A. 1,000 years is symbolic of the completion of a task or trial, so there is no reason to assume that we will be waiting around for a literal thousand-year period.  It sounds boring, as you say.  Having said that, there are various interpretations of the book (I frankly don’t put much stock in them, but they are out there), and several of the divisions between them focus in on how to interpret the thousand-year period.

Q. Other questions I missed asking in the same passage: This passage seems to be more believable, especially in comparison to the beasts, dragons, etc.  That means the act of doing something is easier than doing it begrudgingly.  My only guess is because it could erase the generations and generations of teaching kids bad things.

A. Chapter 20 as a whole is not about motivation, or begrudging action, but rather God symbolically setting things to rights.  And while it contains less vivid imagery (though the dragon is still there), the actions are no less symbolic.  How else could “death” and “the grave” be thrown into hell?  This is symbolic language for saying that these things will be removed from the world to come — the Second Coming is the end of death, and there will no longer be a grave to hold the dead, for there will be no dead.

Q. (Revelation 20:7-10): Burning sulfur has been used a lot when referring to the fiery furnace, any significance to that?  And, is the fiery lake for all unbelievers or just the devil, the beast and a false prophet?

A. 20:15 tells us plainly that those who do not belong to God — their names are not in His book — are cast into the lake of fire.  We can go into lots of ideas about what this means, but the bottom line, for me, is that there is a reality that God will judge us according to our actions, and those who do not have the grace of Jesus to turn to could be in very serious trouble.  Brimstone (the old word for sulfur) was frequently found among hot springs and volcanoes in that part of the world, so the idea of burning sulfur came to be associated with judgment.  To add insult to injury, brimstone smells awful, which is part of the reason that it was so noticeable in hot places.

Q. (20:13): What is meant by “death” and “grave”?

A. The reality of death and the “holding place” of those who have died.  Both of them will pass away in the world to come.

Q. (21:10): Jerusalem is the metaphorical city for heaven? Does it say anywhere in the Bible that these “metaphors” are intentional?

A. Heaven should be understood as the place where God dwells, as well as the place where those who serve Him live as well.  So in this vision of the coming kingdom, the dead do not float up to the clouds and get their wings and harps as we so frequently see heaven depicted, but that there is a new union of heaven and earth not seen since…the Garden.  It is not a coincidence that the Tree of Life makes its return in this story (22:2): the right relationship between God and man has been restored, and God can give man the privilege of living forever without worrying about the separation.  The separation of death and sin is gone.  So Revelation shows us that the end result of Jesus’ work is NOT us going to heaven, but rather heaving COMING TO US!  Right relationship is restored by God’s actions in Jesus for those who believe.  It is an amazing passage, one of my favorites.

Q. (22:21): The Bible usually mentions God’s grace not Jesus’s.  Why is that?

A. God is the one word we can use for all three Persons of the Trinity.  There is no need to refer to the grace of the Spirit or Jesus or the Father when one can simply refer to it as God’s grace.

And with that, I am signing off…

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 310 (Nov. 6): Jesus secretly walks with two followers, Jesus appears to disciples, Jesus shows ‘doubting Thomas’ the wound in His side, Jesus appears to fishermen disciples, Jesus charges disciples to the Great Commission — to go and teach the world about Him

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.

Luke 24:13-43

Mark 16:12-13

John 20:19-23

Mark 16:14

John 20:24-31

John 21:1-25

Matthew 28:16-20

Mark 16:15-18

Luke 24:44-49

Questions & Observations

Q. (Luke 24:13-34): I guess God kept the men from recognizing Jesus, so Jesus could study the prophecies with them, so they could indeed see that Jesus was the Messiah?

A. God’s reason for doing so is not exactly clear, but surely that moment of realization must have been absolutely astounding for those two people (some traditions say that one of them — the unnamed disciple, was a woman, but no one really knows).

Q. (Luke 24:35-43): Jesus showed the disciples His hands and feet that likely still had marks on them.  God must have healed Him quite a bit if He can walk after all of that suffering.  God and Jesus healed many, so I guess He would heal Jesus also.

A. Jesus’ body was something different from a normal human body, and the best that I can tell, it was something that this earth has not seen since — it must have been amazing to behold.  Hold on to the thought of the scars Jesus bears, they will be part of the NT theology later.

Q. (John 20:29): I think that because people can’t see God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, that they don’t believe.  But, I think, after people read the Bible, they may change their minds.  I’m glad God gave it to us through all of these followers.  Without it, much more of the world would be lost.

A. It is a wonder that God has left this literal life and death task to ordinary men and women, but He has, and He therefore must remain invisible in order for us to properly carry out this mission in faith.  It wouldn’t be faith if we could clearly see them.

Q. (John 21:15-23): I don’t understand what’s going on in this Passage.  And, is John a little egotistical since he insists on saying that he is the beloved disciple?  It makes me think that his accounts can be a little slanted.

A. I got a laugh out of that question, I’ve never thought of it that way.  Personally, I think John is speaking out of humility rather than naming himself over and over again, but perhaps it’s ego.

This passage is doing two things: first, Jesus is redeeming Peter from his failure and denial — note that Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him once for each time he denied before.  After this, Peter will become the central figure of the first half of the Book of Acts, our next reading.

The other thing that is going on here is that there was ancient speculation centered around John the Apostle that Jesus had declared that he would not die (John is likely the last living Apostle at the time of this writing — most scholars believe that John is the last Gospel written).  John is clarifying that Jesus did not say he wouldn’t die before Jesus’ return (having likely overheard Jesus talking to Peter), only that Jesus told Peter it wasn’t his concern.  John will be part of our next group of readings, and will be the center of some of our later readings, notably the Epistles that bear his name and the Book of Revelation.

Q. (Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-18): Jesus is talking to the disciples here.  But, is this Great Commission for all believers?  If so, how do we know it’s addressed to us?  I don’t see anyone today casting out demons.  But, is that because they don’t believe 100 percent?  And, what does “speak in new languages” mean?  And the rest of miraculous things mentioned in Mark 16:18?

A. I don’t have a great answer to this question, except to say that the Apostles will perform miracles of their own in our next readings — though not any of the things mentioned.  And that I doubt the authenticity of this section of Mark: It frankly feels embellished from the similar version of the story in Matthew.  So, honestly, I don’t pay a ton of attention to what it says here.

Q. (Luke 24: 49): Can we talk here about the Holy Spirit’s purpose or do you want to save that for later?  I am just wondering what the Holy Spirit can help people with and how does one know they are blessed with the Holy Spirit?

A. Patience, patience.  Soon all will be revealed.  The Holy Spirit will take center stage in the Book of Acts.

Day 305 (Nov. 1): Jesus is betrayed and arrested, Jesus prays at Gethsemane, Peter denies Jesus, high priest questions 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.

John 18:1-2

Mark 14:32-42

Matthew 26:36-46

Luke 22:39-46

Mark 14:43-52

Matthew 26:47-56

Luke 22:47-53

John 18:3-24

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 14:32): Do you know what the name “Gethsemane” means.  Just wondered if it is of any significance.

A. It means “oil press,” referring to the large press for the olives trees in the area. Remember the hill they are walking towards is the Mount of Olives.  Olive oil was a precious commodity in the ancient world, and used for all kinds of things.  As to significance, well, I would say you would be hard pressed (pun intended) to miss the notion of Jesus feeling “pressed in” on all sides when He is praying among an oil press.

Q. (14:34): What does Jesus mean by “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”

A. Jesus knows the agony that awaits Him, and it surely caused His human self to be anxious and grief stricken.  He was under so much pressure, that He felt that He was going to die.

Q. (14:36) And what does he mean by “cup of suffering?”

A. Over the next 20 or so hours of this story, Jesus will suffer unbelievable agony before He dies.  He is thinking of it as a bitter cup that He must drink.

Q. (14:38): Is Jesus just warning to be careful of temptation, because it is seriously easy to give into?

A. Almost all of His followers will abandon Him by the end of today’s reading.  I would say that is falling into the temptation to flee.

Q. (Mark 14:45): Why a kiss?

A. In Jesus’ day, a rabbi or other teacher would have been greeted by a student or other person wishing to show respect by offering the person a kiss on the hand or cheek.  So don’t miss the irony of Judas using a symbol of love and respect to betray His master.

O. (14:48): Jesus delivered a good punch here when he asked them why they didn’t arrest Him in the temple.  And, from what we read, Jesus was harmless and unarmed, so why did they come to get him with such force.

Q. (14:500): I guess the disciples ran because they were afraid that they may be arrested too?

A. Yes.

Q. (Matthew 26:50): I wonder why Jesus calls Judas his friend?

A. I believe that Jesus still considered him a close friend.  He loved Judas just as much as His other followers.  Judas’ actions (and ours as well) did not keep Jesus from loving him and calling him friend.

Q. (26:51, 56): I know Jesus healed the priest’s slaves’ ear because Jesus said that his arrest must happen in order for the scriptures to be true.  But, are we to follow in Jesus’s non-violent example?  I don’t recall Jesus hurting anyone as a form of punishment. Also, Rob can you tell us who said this prophecy in the OT?  Why was Jesus’s death necessary?  It was foretold in the OT.  My guess is that nothing else worked long-term for making the Israelites see the way, the truth and the life.

A. Isaiah in particular wrote about the Suffering Servant (which Christians consider to be a Suffering Messiah), and the classic passage for such examination is Isaiah 53.  What Jesus is referring to is the path that He will walk to heal all of us.  As Isaiah predicted, by His suffering, we are healed.  As to why it was necessary, let’s revisit that one when we get to the actual crucifixion: the imagery there will be helpful for a full understanding of what is going on, at least as much as I am privy to.

Q. (John 18:3-11): John has probably the most different account of this encounter.  Why is John much more descriptive of Jesus greeting the religious officials who were going to arrest Him?  In v. 11, Jesus says, “Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”  I would think that this would be addressed to future readers to mean that we must follow the path God gives us even if it includes suffering.

A. John spends more time than any other Gospel on the last night of Jesus’ life (He will be dead before sundown the next day), so it is little surprise to me that he gives some details about the Garden that the others do not include.  As to why Jesus said, “I’m going to drink the cup the Father has given Me,” it is significant because HE WILL.  I wouldn’t try to read too much into what He is saying, Jesus is describing a plan already in motion that God the Father has set in motion.  What Jesus is saying here is that what will happen to Him is no accident: it is His very purpose in coming to earth.

Q. (John 18:15-18): Why was it important for Peter to deny Jesus?

A. Peter failed his Master at the worst possible time, after BRAGGING about how HE WOULD NEVER FAIL.

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 228 (Aug. 16): God makes Ezekiel a messenger/watchman for Israel, Ezekiel only to speak when he has message from God, Ezekiel bears sins of Israel and Judah as he’s force to experience devastation of siege, Judah urged to submit to Babylon, Ignore false prophets, Jeremiah condemns Hananiah, Jeremiah prophecies that Babylon will be empty

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 3:16-4:17

Jeremiah 27-28

Jeremiah Wears an Ox Yoke

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 3:24, 4:4-7, 12): This isn’t a literal description right?  Ezekiel’s hands weren’t really tied so he couldn’t move?  It gets worse in Ch. 4.  Why such harsh treatment for someone who is to spread God’s messages?  And dung for fuel to bake his bread.  This is unbearable!

A. I believe that the being tied was symbolic.  It did not imply that he could not move, but should be understood as God restricting his movements metaphorically.  As to the rest of the requirements, it appears that God meant this literally as he made provision for Ezekiel’s needs, though scantily, of food and shelter.  The idea here is that Ezekiel will act out the siege that is befalling Jerusalem on various levels: being trapped within the “walls,” given meager rations, and forced to improvise fuel.  Dried manure was commonly used as fuel in this era, and is still used in parts of the world today.  I cannot imagine it is a pleasant fuel to use, but I believe that that was an intentional choice on God’s part: the unpleasantness was meant to be part of the symbolic penance.

Q. (4:5-6): What is the significance of the length of time Ezekiel was required to rest on his left and then right side?

A. Based upon the model he built, having Ezekiel lie on his left side would have meant he was on the “north” side of Jerusalem, which would have symbolized Israel.  Having him lay on his right side would have caused him to be on the south side, representing Judah and its sins.  The 390 years appears to be the length of time that has taken place since Solomon’s turning away from God, and all the Northern kings who followed down this path away from God.  The 40 years is a bit trickier, but is probably a reference to Manasseh’s long reign before his repentance.

Q. (Jeremiah 28:1-17): Why were there false prophets?  Were they appointed by the king to say what he wants them to say much like the king creates man-made idols to help him in the way he wants help?

A. That’s one possible explanation.  Another is that this man thought he was hearing from God but was simply mistaken as Jeremiah is told.  Telling people what they want to hear is surely a way to make oneself popular, so perhaps this man became a “prophet” because he liked being the center of attention for sharing positive messages that the king and others would have liked to hear.  Those are my guesses.

Day 205 (July 24): Idols are merely man-made objects, Jerusalem shall be populated, God empowers Cyrus, enemies with idols are ignorant, God will deliver Israel, God foretells,

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 44:6-48:11

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 44:6-8): Several readings back, you said that “other gods” of enemy nations could be fallen heavenly bodies like angels.  Here God is saying, via Isaiah, that there are no other gods.  Is this just something that is unknown?  Or, maybe He is saying that He’s the only One, True God?

A. As I mentioned in that answer, it is speculation what rule the demonic plays in the actions of gods of this era, but your last sentence is surely correct: compared even to these demonic figures, there is none like God!

Q. (44:12-17): Great speech!  (I’m not being sarcastic.)   But, those who are “stupid and ignorant,” as it says in v. 18, rarely change.  I would say mostly because they are self-centered and don’t think about the greater good?  How can Christians open their eyes to God?

A. I suppose it begins with a desire to change.  Part of the reason we are compelled to share the gospel message with others is that it is important for them to see their own great need for God in all aspects of life.  But if people see no benefit to following God, as is often proclaimed among non-believers, then frankly there is no incentive to change.  We must make the need real.  Part of what Jesus spent a lot of His time in ministry doing was talking about how good life is once we decide to follow God: we can be completely different people (primarily because of the Spirit’s guidance, not our own will).  Unfortunately, these passages, such as Matthew 5-7, often get construed as legalism: things that we must do in order to follow God and have Him love us.  But this couldn’t be further from the truth of the Gospel: God loves us already, and if we yield to Him, we can begin to change.

Q. (44:21, 45:4): Who is Cyrus?  I thought vs. 45:4-5 was going to tell us more about Cyrus, but it really doesn’t … to me.

A. Cyrus was an emperor of the Persian empire around 530 B.C., and that’s all you’re getting for now because I don’t want to spoil the story.  But you can look him up under the title of Cyrus the Great if you want to “read ahead.”

Q. (45:3, 13): Why would God give Cyrus treasures? True believers should do God’s work because we want to, not for riches.  Then, v. 13 says he helped God and was not rewarded.

A. Well, God can do as He pleases, and the reasons for doing so will be made clear, so I have the same answer: have patience.  All answers in due time.

Q. (47:13-14): Just a note about the taboo against astrology.  God says it’s all a farce?

A. Yes.

Q. Just a personal question:  The last two Sundays at church I have teared up almost nonstop … pretty much a cry.  Last Sunday, I cried over the thought of Jesus willingly dying on the cross for our sins.  And, me feeling so undeserving.  Today, it was the thought, “Am I good enough,” meaning am I good enough to go to heaven?  Most of me knows the truth, that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are real.  But, my head does the questioning.  Even when I’m asking some blog questions I feel that I am disrespecting God for asking some of them — the ones that question God and His reasons.  Then, I wonder if my heart is strong enough to receive God’s reward of eternity.  And, how do I become stronger and get rid of those doubts?

A. The longer you walk with God in communal relationship, the easier it will be, though very rarely are all our doubts put to rest this side of eternity.  I do not fear doubt, so long as it does not lead us to abandon our faith; it is the very definition of tossing out the baby with the bathwater.

Day 204 (July 23): Isaiah’s prophecies — Clear the way for the Lord is coming, no one compares to God, Israel’s enemies will shudder, the enemies’ idols will remain motionless, the Lord’s chosen servant, lessons not learned, God is always with Israel no matter the situation, revenge on Babylon, Jacob’s descendants will be blessed

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 40-44:5

Questions & Observations

O. (Isaiah 40:1-31): The message I get from this whole chapter is how amazing God is.  We cannot imagine his abilities and reasons, there is no other like Him, He is immeasurable.

Q. (40:3-4): Are these verses just saying to get ready, roll out the red carpet for God?

A. Yes.  Watch the way John the Baptist will apply them to Jesus in the NT.

Q. (40:12-15): God seems so inconceivable and if you think about it, He seems impossible.  He’s so beyond our imaginations.  It makes me question if there is a God and I know I’m not alone.  But, then I think about how I felt on my walk a couple weeks ago.  I felt like I was gushing with glory.  Like my whole body was filled with happy tears.  It was nothing I had ever felt before to that degree.  When I question, I think about how the whole world is tied together, I think about how the Bible refers back and forth to one another of a span of hundreds of years.  But, there are so many questions left unanswered.   Like a Bible study leader I had once said, “at least we have the Bible to guide us.”  I would add, we have the Spirit too!

A. One of the fundamental things that I learned in reading about apologetics (the defense of Christianity) was the central concept to what the Bible claims to be: it is a collection of writings that record encounters with the Eternal.  As you rightly point out, since God is so beyond who we are as people, then while it may be in our nature to conjecture about what this being called God is like, it will only be endless speculation unless God Himself chooses to reveal His nature to us.  That nature is most clearly seen in the God/man, the person of Jesus Christ, what Colossians 2:9 calls the fullness of the Divine in human form.  Like many Christians, I believe that the entire Bible can be best seen through the lens of this understanding of Christ: when we see “through” it properly, everything else about the Scriptures falls into line.

O. (40:31): Just noting a great verse!

O. (41:11-12): God’s word that He will fight your battles for you.  I was talking to my best friend the other day.  The last time we had talked she was struggling to confront someone she really loved with a heavy question.  I asked her what became of that.  She said, “God is taking care of that for me.”  Wow.  I hadn’t realized how powerful God’s care can be.  And, what a burden to be free from!

Q. (41:13): The verse says that God will “hold you by your right hand.”  We talked about the right hand being their sword hands for fighting.  So, this says that God is their weapon?

A. Not in this case, though I confess I’m pleased that you recalled that remark.  In this case, God is describing holding the “right hand” of the nation to keep them from falling and provide support.  It is the same thing I do when I hold the hand (right or left) of my 2-year-old-daughter: if I hold her hand, I can keep her from falling over easily, while she is still learning to walk/run.  That’s what God is describing.

Q. (41:17): This is another repeating, perplexing, hard-for-me-to-shake question about God: If God is God, then why do people have to go thirsty?  Why doesn’t everyone always have food and water that they don’t have to scrounge for?   My guess is that it keeps us looking up.  It keeps us and back then, the Israelites, dependent upon God.  Why do we need to be dependent upon God?  Because He is the truth?  If we follow Him, we will live a good life because the rules that He has made make life work.

A. There’s an old anecdote that comes to mind in discussions like this one.  Two people are having a conversation, and one of them asks, “I’d like to ask God why He allows hunger, thirst, and bloodshed when He can do something about it.”  The other person replies, “I’m afraid God might ask me the same question.”

I don’t mean for that to be snarky.  I’m not saying, “well, if people are thirsty, what are you doing about it?”  What I want to do is point to a broader truth and get us thinking about our role in providing for the needs of those who can’t take care of themselves, for whatever reason.  Part of what God desires for us to do with the central truth of His message is that we are to love those around us sacrificially — if you heard Jim Keller’s sermon today at Summit (Orlando, FL), he was talking about this exactly.  It is our requirement, but also our right and privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that is hurting.  That means that we participate in food pantries and well-water programs, we care for the elderly and the malnourished — don’t forget there are many like that right here in America — we work to rehabilitate drug addicts, prison inmates, and others that society is ready to write off.  If we are willing to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can often find ways that God desires for us to serve the needs of our neighbors — be it neighbors around the corner or across the globe.  Following Him, as you put it, is more then just about benefitting us, but also benefitting those who God desires to minister to.

O. (41:21-29): Essentially, this scripture just states that idols are empty!

Q. (42:6): I’m not sure who “you” is here.  It thought it was Israel, but then it says “I will give you to my people, Israel.”

A. This section of chapter 42 is describing a servant of the Lord, as the heading indicates.  Many — Christian and Jew alike — believe that it is describing the Messiah.  Watch for the ways that this Servant is spoken of in future chapters, as it will appear again.

Q. (42:9): The purpose of God’s prophecies are to show that God knows what will happen in the future (how could anyone know that?) thus proving that He is Lord.  Is it also truly a warning to the people too, giving them a chance to correct themselves before the impending doom?

A. Yes, I would say that it is.  But radical changes like that are rare for us: very often the path we have chosen to walk in life is very difficult to “bail out” of, even when it becomes clear that we are in danger.

O. (43:2): So no matter how hard life gets or how desperate we become, those things will not consume us.

Q. (43:14-44:5): OK, here’s another perplexing question I have.  God is a loving God, but He can have a very mean tone of voice.  But, I would think that if I had told someone something repeatedly — like I do with my children J — and they choose not to listen, my voice would — and does — get very impatient and elevated.  In a way, it’s like being a child and someone’s scolding you.  You feel terrible, but you know you did it, so who is to blame?

A. God is seeking to gain the attention of a people that have ignored Him for generations, despite all that He has done for them.  I’d say that calls for a little change in tone, don’t you?  If your child is in danger — and believe me, Judah is in danger, we’ve read about what happened to Israel — you raise your voice if your child isn’t listening.  Sometimes we understand that it is the only way.

Day 173 (June 22): Amos tells of his visions, Amos tells Jeroboam of upcoming destruction, Amos details Israel’s future, God tells of Israel’s repair, Jeroboam II, Zechariah and Shallum have short reigns in Israel, Menahem ruled for 10 years, Pekah killed Pekahiah, King Uziah of Judah died, Isaiah has vision of his redemption and destruction of Israel

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.

Amos 7-9

2 Kings 14:28-29

2 Kings 15:8-29

2 Kings 15:6-7

2 Chronicles 26:22-23

Isaiah 6:1-13

Questions & Observations

O. (Amos 7:1-3): Just a dream, but we do see God rewarding Israel since Amos was calling out to Him to spare the nation from locusts.

Q. (Amos 7:10): We are talking about Jeroboam II here, right?  If it’s the first Jeroboam, then we are not in chronological order.

A. Yes.

Q. (Amos 7:17): Is Amos speaking of this judgment day again for Israel?

A. All of the prophets from this section of Israel’s history will be talking about this upcoming day of judgment for Israel.

Q. (8:10): Amos is still speaking to Jeroboam II?

A. He is speaking the nation of Israel, though the king is usually thought of as the nation’s representative.

Q. (9:1): He is speaking here of the Temple of the Lord?  He must see it as a place of blasphemy since it is supposed to be used as a place where the Israelites praise their sovereign Lord.  It has been plundered for other gods.  What a slap in the face to God.

A. If we examine the record of what God has done for these people, it does indeed appear that way.  Wait until we get to Hosea.  He has some very colorful language for this insult.

Q. (9:7): What is the meaning of this line of questioning?  I did think the Israelites were the most important people to God.  Is he putting the Israelites in their place because they have not obeyed God’s laws, saying that they may as well be any other nation?

A.  Israel was chosen by God for the purpose of being a light to the nations, at which they have failed miserably.  Just because they were His chosen does not mean He cares for these nations (some of which have ties to Israel such as Edom) any less.

Q. (9:11-15): This prophecy sounds similar to the Flood.  I don’t know why in v. 15 God says that the Israelites will never be uprooted again because we have seen time and time again where no matter if a group starts out with good apples, some will turn bad or new ones will show up who are bad.  Is this because God is similar to a parent in this regard: After the punishment is over, we want to restore harmony and enjoy the rewards of getting rid of bad behavior?

A. I’m not trying to dodge this question, but I’d like to let the story unfold so you and our dear readers can see more clearly what God is up to and the ways that He goes about restoring Israel.

Q. (2 Kings 15:16): This is at least the second time where it is mentioned that pregnant women were cut open.  This is so detestable.  Why this practice?

A. It demonstrates brutality against the vulnerable and in doing so causes intimidation.  There is also the added “bonus” of killing the next generation of ones’ enemies.

Q. (Isaiah 6:1-13): Is Isaiah having a vision here?  Isaiah is a prophet?  What is going on in this passage?

A. This is probably the most well known passage for Isaiah’s book, one of the largest of the OT.  He is indeed having a vision, in which he is called into God’s service as a prophet, so this vision is basically the commissioning ceremony of a royal messenger.  Isaiah is being selected to proclaim a message that will be ignored by his people — hearing but not understanding — but that he will also cast a vision for the way that God will restore his people.  The last section of Isaiah (chapters 40-66) contains some of the most beautiful words ever composed in their descriptions of God and His ability to restore and make all things new.

Day 172 (June 21): Amos tells Israel’s neighbors of their judgment, Amos prophecies to Israel and Judah about upcoming destruction, God forewarns of rath and tells that they may change their ways to avoid, Israel fails to heed warnings and change her ways

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.

Amos 1-6

Questions & Observations

Q. (Amos 1:4): Didn’t God raise up these kingdoms to punish Israel?  Now they are being punished for doing what God made them do?  But, if I have my thoughts correct, God was just using them.  They were evil anyway.  He wouldn’t do that to His followers.

A. God is using these nations to punish Israel, but that does not make them any less responsible for their sins.  Like we read in Jonah, God sees the need for repentance in every nation.  And there is a great wave coming: Israelite and Gentile alike in this area are going to be swept away.

O. (1:3-2:3): Now, God is showing all nations, not just Israel, His authority.  He is the God of Israel and He is destroying these other nations for bringing harm and suffering to His people.  Now all can see that God takes care of His people.

Q. (2:16): On what day?

A. The day when His wrath is poured out.  Verse 13 points to a day in the future when the people will groan and suffer for their sins.

Q. (3:3-7): I don’t understand the point these verses are trying to make.  To some of the questions I answer “no,” to others “yes” and some are “maybe.”  To 6b I would say “no” to this answer remembering that the answer would be for that date in time in the OT.  And, verse 7 says He tells of disasters before they happen.  This is so the people know that God’s predictions do come true, so He had to have planned them.

A. Yes, you’ve got it right.  Amos is using metaphorical language; so don’t worry so much about the “content” of the question.  They are basically saying, as you suggest, God will not bring this judgment without warning the people, as He has done over and over again, and as Amos is doing here.

Q. (3:10-11): Do we know who the enemy is that is going to impart this destruction?  Is it unimportant who the enemy is?

A. It won’t really matter in the narrative of the story, but sure, the nation is the Assyrians, who originate from what is today Iraq.  Around 730 BC, they moved into what is now Jordan with a huge army and conquer/destroy everything in their path, including the entire nation of Israel, which is also being called Samaria.  They will not conquer Judah, Jerusalem in particular, for reasons that we will see.  Feel free to read more about the Assyrians from this era here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Assyrian_Empire

Q. (3:12, 4:1): So, for those living high on the hog, God will strip them of their luxurious life and leave them with little?  4:1 cracks me up!

A. It’s a pretty well known line from the OT.

Q. (4:6-10): This answers the question in 6b if God brings disasters … at this time in history.

A. Remember, the punishment is always predicted beforehand.  That’s what bothers me about folks like Pat Robertson making judgments about natural disasters: he only does it afterward.  The Bible, and the OT in particular, is clear that if God brings disaster, His reasons for doing so are spoken loud and clear through His prophets.  Nearly all the prophets — with the possible exception of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, for reasons that will become clear — proclaim a message of repentance.  They say, “It’s not too late!  Turn from this, or God will bring disaster upon you!”  That is a central theme of most of these prophecies and the genre of these books: turn back now, for it’s not too late to avoid disaster.  But if you keep going, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Q. (4:12-13): Amos is talking about the disasters God announces in 3:12-15?

A. Yes.

Q. (5:2): This sounds like a permanent death sentence for Israel, but they get an out in v. 4?

A. Nope.  It’s the same thing I’ve answered in the questions above, Amos is saying its not too late to turn, but if you don’t it will be a death sentence.

O. (5:21): I don’t know if this applies to today, but I think we can link it.  There are people who go to church just because they are “supposed to.”  I don’t know if this will get them into heaven, but like you said in a reading a while back, God doesn’t want us to just skate by.  He wants us to take Jesus example and love others the way He loves us.  So, merely showing face at church is an injustice to God.

I admit I used to be like this.  In a way, though, I’m glad that I felt I had to go to church because it helped me to remember to stay connected to God.  Now, that I am more into my faith — and try to live it, rather than be exposed to it — I have a greater appreciation for church.  I would encourage everyone to make sure they have a church that fits them.  Once you do that, reach out to get involved.  I think it’s a two-way relationship.

The church should reach out to you, but you have to reach to.  Use your talents to get involved.  I confess, that I have always battled to stay awake for church.  The monotone of most of the preachers I had would put me to sleep — that and actually sitting with no activity for an hour will do it.  But, since I have attended Summit (Orlando, FL), the sermons have been so captivating, that I’m wide awake and I take the message with me.  So, I encourage everyone to find a church that is engaging so you will want to go every week.

O. (6:6): It sounds like there were selfish people that thought as long as the disaster isn’t affecting them, they will not be alarmed and change their actions.  And, it’s this kind of attitude that infuriates the Lord and causes him to cast the punishments.

Q. (6:8): God’s frustration was started by Solomon who built his own palace larger than the Temple of the Lord?

A. No, that’s not what Amos is referring to here.  Solomon built his palace in Jerusalem, which is part of Judah, and this judgment is against Israel.  God is saying He is greatly displeased with the arrogance of the people’s trusting in stone walls and fortresses rather than God.  They are trusting their own might and power, rather than God’s.  We can clearly see here how far Israel — and to a lesser extent Judah — has fallen from being a people who trusted God with their whole heart, as when they first entered the Promised Land.  And, just as Moses predicted back in Deuteronomy, if the people reach that point, then they will suffer the judgment of God and be removed from the land.  We are at the precipice of that day.  Bad things are coming for the nation who have forsaken their God.

O. (6:14): God has had it with Israel!