Day 363 (Dec. 29): Two witnesses take on devil and win through resurrection, seventh trumpet blast brings Ark of Covenant to life, woman takes on dragon, beast speaks blasphemies against God, three angels shout praises to God

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.

Revelation 11-14:20

Questions & Observations

Q. (Revelation 11:2): Is there anything significant about 42 months?

A. There are several numbers used in this section of the reading that all mean the same thing: 42 months, 1,260 days, and time, times, and half a time all indicate the same time period: 3½ years.  Part of the significance comes from this being exactly half of seven (which you will recall symbolizes completeness), so 3½ represents incompleteness, an uncompleted work, and chaos.  As always, there is an exact OT reference to what John is describing: in Daniel 7:25, the story speaks of God’s holy people being tormented by evil ones for this exact time frame, as part of a seven year cycle.

Q. (11:15): Any idea what “world” is referring to?  Earth?  Heaven?

A. It refers to the earth.  John has repeatedly spoken in his other volumes about not loving “the world,” by which he means the evil, sin and corruption of our planet — not hating the earth itself.

Q. (11:16): Just wondering if the 24 elders — and is there significance to 24 — is the Bible’s Hall of Fame, like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, etc.  Or, 24 is 2×12 — 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles — one of each of Abraham’s sons and the 12 disciples?

A. The last one.  There is some speculation that if this is John the Apostle writing this work (as is tradition), then the elder talking to him throughout this vision is himself as one of the 24 elders, if that makes any sense.  It is a vision after all.

Q. Why all these dragons and beasts?  Why not a man dressed in red with a pitchfork?

A. Dragons are scarier.  🙂

Q. (12:10): “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth” makes me wonder that if Lucifer became extremely jealous of God naming Jesus his Son and that’s what fueled his anger and got him kicked out of heaven.  Just wondering.

A. I do not think Satan’s sin is jealousy, but rather pride.  He sees himself as superior to God, and desires to have God’s seat.  That, by the way, is why pride is often considered to be the “father” of all sin.  All sin, whether the decision to dishonor marriage vows, to worship other gods, to steal, to lie, or to kill, is ultimately to say to God, “I think my way is better than your way and I am in charge of my life.”  THAT is pride through and through.  To me, that is part of what makes the message of the Gospel so scandalous: it says that we are not alright on our own, and that we have truly messed things up when we go our own, prideful way.

Q. (12:17): Is the devil privy to all of this end-of-days info?  If so, I would think that he would give up.  But, maybe God keeps them going because the devil does help weed out those who are noncommittal.

A. Evil can always rationalize its own existence.  There’s a scene in a movie called the Devil’s Advocate — which I am NOT recommending — in which Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino, playing the devil, discuss what the Bible says.  Reeves tells Satan, “in the Bible you lose” to which Pacino replies, “well consider your source.”  I think that conveys the sense of pride and ambition that characterizes the real Satan: he refuses to admit that he will lose, and can justify all day long his reasons for defying God.

Q. (12:18): Can you tell us anything about what this number of the beast is, Rob?

A.  You bet I can.  The number 666 — which in some texts reads 616 — is probably a multi-leveled analogy.  First, the number 6 itself, represents mankind (having been made on the sixth day), and also represent incompleteness or imperfection, in contrast to 7.  Thus you have imperfection times three.  The text tells us that the number is man’s.

The number itself is acquired by converting various letter systems into numbers based upon their order in our alphabet- for example the name “Ada” in English would be “6”, 1+4+1.  The key for the Hebrew alphabet (22 letters, no vowels), is that after you count to 10, the next number is not 11, but 20, and then after 100, 200.  It breaks down as follows:

Aleph = 1, Beth = 2, Gimel = 3, Dalet = 4, He = 5, Vav = 6, Zayin = 7, Cheth = 8, Teth = 9, Yodh = 10, Kaph = 20, Lamed = 30, Mem = 40, Nun = 50, Samekh = 60, Ayin = 70, Pe = 80, Tsadhe = 90, Koph = 100, Resh = 200, Shin = 300, Tav = 400.

The most common interpretation of the two numbers is that the represent the Emperor Nero, who is famous to this day for his brutal persecution of Christians.  He was a “beast” if ever there was one.  If we convert his name using the numbers above, the name “Neron Caesar” (translated name) in Hebrew (which would normally be read right to left) would read: (take my word for it) Nun, Resh, Vav, Nun, Koph, Samekh, Resh.  This would give you 50+200+6+50+100+60+200= 666.  (There are similar versions using the Greek alphabet, but I’ll skip those for now).  Anyway, as today, Neron was more commonly called Nero, and we would drop the second 50, giving us 616.  No other major figure for the period gives us both numbers, but people in every era have used different numerical systems to identify their own beasts.  The Reformers used Roman numerals to identify the Pope of the time as the beast.  Anyway, there’s a lot of other theories out there about what the number means, but that’s my favorite.

Q. (13:8): Rob, I know we have discussed this before.  Do you remember where?  Back to the “being chosen” readings: Why do we have to live out our lives if it is or isn’t in the Book of Life?

A. Because we don’t know whose name is written there.  There is a sense in the NT, in Paul’s letters especially, that the Christian life is a race that must be completed, and that, I think, goes a long way to giving a sense of the ultimate question: Can we be faithful to the end.  Only those who can — as this book repeatedly attests — has their name written in the book.

Q. (14:1-5): Is the “special offering” the purest believers?  These believers were the best the earth could offer God, so they were a precious personal offering to God?

A. It is probably something like that, but I am not completely sure.

Q. (14:13b): I never have read anything about the Spirit actually talking to someone.

A. While we have not seen the actual action of talking on the part of the Spirit, one of the things the NT informs us is that the role of the Spirit is to “speak” to our heart and mind and remind us of the teachings of Christ.  So in that sense, His primary role is “speaking.”

Day 326 (Nov. 22): Speaking in tongues and prophesying, worship should be orderly, resurrection review, resurrection of the dead, Christ will come again and defeat His enemies, physical bodies are seed for immortal being, work enthusiastically for God

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

1 Corinthians 14-15

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Corinthians 14:1-25): Rob, do you know if anyone today has the gift of speaking in tongues or prophesying?  To me, this passage speaks out for the gift of prophesying or preaching and not so much for speaking in tongues because the latter can only benefit the person speaking in a unique language.

A. That is a highly debated topic with no consensus.  Though I have not personally witnessed either speaking in tongues (or interpretation) or prophecy, I am surely open to the possibility that the Spirit can do as He pleases.

Q. (14:34-35): OK, Rob, talk about this one.  This is a hard one for me to swallow.  I feel like God is saying that women have no understanding of His word.  I had counseling when I was in high school because I had held my feelings in for so long because I didn’t think what I thought really mattered.  Now, God is telling me that I don’t matter because I’m a woman!  Besides, this says because the law says to be submissive.  The Law is no longer valid.

A. Ok, here goes.  The entire point of this passage is Paul’s instructions is NOT to keep women in their “place,” but rather to maintain an orderly worship.  Since in this society, it would have been improper for women to speak in public, Paul instructions are about preventing a “scene” in worship — the worship experience should present order, not disorder for non-believers.  There are other places (like Acts 11:5) where Paul would appear to go against his own instructions and expect women to pray and prophecy in church, so we’re clearly not talking about a universal, ironclad standard here.  If you examine 1 Cor 11:5, Paul himself indicates that there were times when women were permitted to speak at church.  So, I leave it to you to decide from there what he meant.

O. (15:8-11): I like what Paul says here about him being the least of the apostles.  He says he does not even deserve to be called an apostle.  Nevertheless, He has let God work through him and been more effective than the others.  But, it doesn’t matter because as long as people are preaching as God instructs them, their word is all solid.

A. God has the amazing ability to bring light out of the darkest places, even those in the human heart.  His ability to change lives, even of those closest to me, is a powerful testimony, and I believe it is the very best witness to the truth of the Gospel.

Q. (15:35-58): This is an amazing description of life after physical death that I’ve never read.  Our old bodies being a seed to our immortal spirits shows how God continues to use the same ways of life over again and again.

A. It is one of the least read and understood passages of scripture, and it does a lot of damage to the idea of the afterlife as being where disembodied souls play harps on clouds for all eternity.  That is certainly not the record of Scripture!  Wait until we wrap up with Revelation!

O. (15:58) Love this one!

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 210 (July 29): Manasseh rules in Judah for 55 years and revives to idol, Assyrian commanders captured Manasseh worship, Manasseh humbled himself to God, Amon rules Jerusalem with evil for 2 years, Josiah took over for 31 years and pleased God, Jeremiah’s call to prophesy, God speaks against Israel, Israel’s demise

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 21:1-9

2 Chronicles 33:1-9

2 Kings 21:10-17

2 Chronicles 33:10-19

2 Kings 21:18

2 Chronicles 33:20

2 Kings 21:19-26

2 Chronicles 33:21-25

2 Kings 22:1-2

2 Chronicles 34:1-7

Jeremiah 1:1-3

Jeremiah 1:4-19

Jeremiah 2:1-22

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 21:1-18, 2 Chronicles 33:1-20): I wasn’t getting it.  I was confused because I thought Hezekiah was a godly king.  I didn’t understand why there was all of this impending doom unless the people weren’t following the king’s lead.  I thought the end of Jerusalem was going to happen under Hezekiah.  Now, it makes sense since there were successive kings — Hezekiah’s son and grandson — who promoted idol worship.  This scripture was a page-turner.  I’m glad Manasseh came around at the end … after he was led with a ring through his nose.  It does seem like God’s warnings are going to happen soon, but they don’t.

A. All in due time.  The first few chapters of Jeremiah told you what order things would go down in.

Q. (Jeremiah 1: 11-14): Why is God using an almond tree branch and a pot of boiling water for Jeremiah’s visions?

A. As we discussed way, way back in February (Day 44), the Hebrew word for “almond” sounds exactly like the word for “watch,” so God is using a bit of word play here to cast a vision.  The pot — caldron would be a good translation, noting the size difference: caldrons are huge — image and the word for “pour out,” which means the same as “boil” in Hebrew paint a vision of a huge force that will be “poured out” upon the people.  The boiling pot is therefore symbol of God’s wrath.

Q. (Jeremiah 2:13): What is a cistern?

A. A cistern is a Middle Eastern water collecting/storing device, usually used for catching  and retaining rainwater.  It is distinguished from a well by most often being man-made (i.e. wells are dug, but the water itself is natural) and having an artificial, watertight barrier, most often some form of plaster.  These cisterns were vitally important to survival of life in a desert, where it might only rain a few times a year in certain areas.  So if your cistern leaked (as God alludes to), you were in big trouble, because your water was lost to the earth.  So God is here drawing the powerful contrast between Himself as a life-giving spring and the idols He has been abandoned for as leaky cisterns, which promise to provide, but end up leaving the people with nothing.  It’s a powerful contrast, and not the last time a cistern will be an important part of this story.