Day 298 (Oct. 25): Two sons parable shows who belongs to God, farming parable highlights church leaders corrupt hearts, wedding feast parable shows the chosen, coin story shows importance of God, earthly relationships not important for resurrection

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.

Matthew 21:28-32

Mark 12:1-12

Matthew 21:33-46

Luke 20:9-19

Matthew 22:1-14

Mark 12:13-17

Matthew 22:15-22

Luke 20:20-26

Mark 12:18-27

Matthew 22:22-33

Luke 20:27-40

Questions & Observations

Q. (Matthew 21:28-32): This is what I think is the “moral to this story”: So, Jesus is saying that, in their hearts, the tax collector and prostitutes believe in Him, but were not following yet.  And, the ones who followed God, were not committed in their hearts.  So, the ones who believe are better off with God than the ones who follow Him by sight alone.

A. I would call that is pretty close.  The younger son is the one paying lip service to obeying his Father, but ultimately does not do what the Father says — this is the way that Jesus has repeatedly described the religious leaders.  The older son represents those who are truly following the wishes of the Father, even if they aren’t on the “inside.”  They are doing what is right, which is what the Father ultimately desires.

Q. (Mark 12:1-12, Mathew 21:33-46, Luke 20:9-19): So, I got this one.  The farmers are obviously the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, the landowner is God, the servants are prophets and Jesus is His favored son.  The farmers don’t listen to the prophets, so God sends His son to see if they will obey Him.  They still don’t, they reject Him.  So, Jesus puts the question to the farmers, or church leaders, as to what will happen next.  You would think this would open the leaders eyes to their evil ways.  Then, Jesus gives them another example of them rejecting Him, but then He becomes the cornerstone.  I like Luke’s version where he says that anyone who stumbles over the stone — fails to see Jesus’s teachings — will be destroyed.  I also noted that those who have thought they were the heirs to the Kingdom of God lose their inheritance because of their assumptions that, by default, the kingdom is theirs.  But, they are not following God’s intentions.  They are following their own selfish ways.  So, the Kingdom of God will be granted to those who they have trampled on.

A. Spot on.  Nothing to add here.

Q. (Matthew 22:1-14): God and Jesus use a lot of wedding imagery between them and their followers.  Can you talk about that?  Also, this is an easy story to understand.  But, how about explaining the last verse, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  I’m not sure what “chosen” means.  I would guess it means, “For many are called, but few are worthy.”

A. If you think weddings are a big event here, then you would REALLY be impressed by the wedding feast imagery Jesus is talking about.  Weddings in the ancient world were huge festivals, especially when a ruler such as the king in this story was throwing it.  As we mentioned a few days ago, the festival could go for days, and the exact “end” of the wedding was not entirely known.  One other note that we find humorous: after the actual ceremony, the new happy couple would leave the group and go to, uh…consummate the union.  The wedding party itself literally WOULD NOT BEGIN until they had returned.  Isn’t that something?

We need to compare the two sections of the story in order to understand what Jesus is telling us at the end.  First, the call: the call is one that, metaphorically, goes out to all humanity.  But many do not answer, mostly because like the people in this story, they are too busy with their own business and internally focused.  But the man who is in the midst of the party and not in a wedding outfit — you were expected to wear your best clothes to a wedding, just as today, and many times the host would prescribe or even provide an outfit — brings into focus the last section of the story.  It points back to Jesus’s message in Matthew 7:21-23: not everyone who comes to the party will be able to partake of it.  The image that I have seen used to help us understand the passage is the wedding clothes represent the work of Christ covering up our sins (the “dirty” clothes).  Those who arrive at the “party” without the proper garment (the blood of Jesus atoning for their sins) will, sadly, be cast out.  Without the proper attire, which can only come for the true King, we are lost on our own.  Without a proper outfit, you cannot be “chosen”.

Q. (Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 22:15-22, Luke 20:20-26): What does Jesus mean by “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.”

A. The clue is in what Jesus asks for: a Roman coin called a denarius (the equivalent of the pay for a day’s wages).  In Jesus’s day, this coin would have borne the stamped image of the Emperor Tiberius.  That is, the coin had the “image” of Caesar.  And if we go back all the way to Genesis 1, we note there that man and woman were made in the image of God.  So Jesus is basically making a simple and profound statement about our loyalties: give to Caesar, He says, the things that bear the image of Caesar (the coins), since they “belong to him.”  But, He also says, the things that bear the image of God (us) belong to God, and by extension…not to Caesar.  In summary, Jesus is saying it is right to give to earthly leaders what is owed to them (taxes), but that their leadership pales in comparison to He who made US in His image.

Q. (Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 20:27-40): Obviously, Jesus is much wiser than me because I don’t understand this one.  All I can guess is that He is saying that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not dead.  He is the Living God.  And, if He lives in us, we are eternally alive.  But, we do die an earthly death and then, when Jesus comes, we will rise again to be alive.  Right?  So, we would be dead for a time.

A. Our bodies are mortal, and will die, but our souls are immortal, and can be given the gift of eternal life from faith in Christ.  We will talk more about what the NT says about our resurrection when we get into Paul’s letters, but that’s enough for now.

Day 141 (May 21): Solomon shows wisdom in his judgment, Solomon prepares for temple construction, Solomon builds the Lord’s temple, lavish temple interior designed

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 Kings 3:16-28

1 Kings 5:1-18

2 Chronicles 2:1-18

2 Chronicles 3:1-14

1 Kings 6:14-38

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Kings 3:16-28): This well-known story almost seems like a parable.

A. I can see why you would say that, but it does match things that we know about the society at the time: part of what Moses established was a series of rulers/courts for the people to come and see justice as these women are seeking.  There may be some “parabolic” elements to it, but the author has something greater in mind that will come into view later.  I won’t spoil what yet, but I promise to bring it to your attention when we get there in a few days.

O. (5:13-15): It’s extremely hard to imagine a labor force that large — 153,600 — to build a temple.  But how many times have you been on a tour of some historic building and just wondered how many people it took to build it with all of it’s intricate details and many of them have elaborate paintings.  And this one is for God.  Just for fun, I looked up the top U.S. employers.  Check it out at http://www.statisticbrain.com/u-s-largest-employers/ Keep in mind the employees of these large companies are scattered all over.  Solomon’s laborers were concentrated in a few spots.  My husband retired from the Navy last year.  His last tour was on an aircraft carrier, which holds about 5,000 sailors.  It’s hard to imagine that many people on one ship.  But, Solomon had a crew that would fill about 31 U.S. Navy ships.

Q. (2 Chronicles 2:1-18): The 2 Chronicles account is much more detailed than the 1 Kings account.

A. Yes.  Some places Kings give the “fuller” story, and in some places its Chronicles.

Q. (1 Kings 6:2-10): This is a great visual description of the temple plans.  Will we learn what activities went on in the temple?  Solomon just mentioned to King Hiram that God was too great to have just a temple built for Him.  And that it could at least be a place to burn offerings.  Was he telling a fact or just being humble?

A. The Temple will be treated as exactly as the Tabernacle was in the wilderness: it will have the same sections and divisions as the Tabernacle: an outer court for sacrifices, an inner court for the priests, and the Holy of Holies, where the Ark will reside.  Once that happens, the people will come to the Temple to make their sacrifices and offerings.

Q. (2 Chronicles 3:3-14): I guess Solomon is dictating the size and design of the temple.  In the desert, God dictated the design for the Tabernacle.  Is this because God was teaching the Israelites what he desired and now that it’s been over 400 years since the Tabernacle was built, the Israelites have learned what God desires for a place of offering?

A. While the instructions were not “dictated” as they were to Moses, there is no reason to assume that God did not give Solomon the vision for the Temple.  I don’t know the scale, but the Temple dimensions correspond proportionally to the Tabernacle, so that is part of the plan as well.  Basically the Temple is in every way a suitable replacement for the Tabernacle.

Q. (1 Kings 6:28-29): I can’t imagine so much being overlayed with gold!  Is there any information about the whereabouts of the Temple now?  And speaking of past, sacred worshiping venues, what happened to the Tabernacle and its contents?

A. The Temple has been destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times over the centuries — I won’t say more right now, that’s part of the story.  But the area of the Temple mount is surely known to this day: a portion of the western wall — called the Wailing Wall — still stands to this day, and is a sacred place for Jews to visit in Jerusalem.  Mount Moriah is also currently the home to the Dome of the Rock erected around 700 AD, one of the sacred sites of Islam, which, as you might imagine, has created some tension over the years.  So the sight itself is well known, but as to the temple itself, hang on.  Let’s get it built first and dedicated (cool story!) before we start talking about where it is today.