Day 353 (Dec. 19): Christ is our High Priest, New Covenant forgives and erases sins, New System is better than Old Rules for worship and redemption, Christ offered himself to purify God’s house, Jesus’s offering made perfect those who are being made holy, motivate one another to acts of love and good works, those who know yet continue to sin will not be forgiven, patient endurance will earn you your reward

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.

Hebrews 8-10:39

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hebrews 8:10-12): This passage confuses me.  I think the author is referring to Jesus’s crucifixion, but then v. 10 refers to “laws” which I thought was obsolete and v. 11 says that we won’t need to teach our neighbors about God because they will already know.  I don’t think that has happened yet.

A. Remember that as Christians, we live in the tension of “already” but “not yet.”  The first part of what God has promised has come true: Jesus has made the sacrifice that has cleared the way for the Spirit to take up residence within us and teach us the Word of God, but we have not yet entered into the full knowledge of God because Christ has not yet returned.  That is the day the prophet speaks of, and the writer refers to.

Q. (9:1-10): Why is it important to know the details of the Tabernacle if it’s no longer used.  And, for that matter, why do we need to study the Old Testament?  I guess there a few — more like a ton — of examples of ways to live and not live in there.  And, if we know the OT, we can say that Jesus’s coming made the Scriptures true.

A. We might think of the OT as the metaphorical foundation upon which the Gospel was built.  One of the things that you have pointed out in our readings is that the OT has helped you understand the world into which Jesus was born, and the Jewish society in general of the time.  That is very observant of you: it would be impossible to understand what Jesus came into the world to do if we did not have the old system that is the “shadow” of the true Tabernacle in heaven.  That, I think, is why the study of the OT is valuable: the things that Jesus did gain meaning and significance because of the prior understanding of the ways that God had acted in the world.  Don’t forget as well, Jesus was born into the human lineage of a proud race of people that God personally chose to bring salvation to the whole world.

Q. (7:15-28): I have to tell you that it really takes strong acts of faith to believe all of this stuff that is so intangible.  And in many places in the Bible the authors talk of the impending return of Christ like it will happen in their lifetime.  Jumping ahead to v. 10:36 is a call to have patient endurance.  With all due respect, I wouldn’t think that it would be centuries later that He comes and it may be that much again or more.

A. Christians must always have one eye on eternity — one of the key things that the Bible wants us to understand is that our world, while real, is not the TRUE world, not our TRUE home.  That is somewhere else, and it is waiting for just the right moment to break into this world (2 Peter will provide insight into why it hasn’t happened yet, so we will hold off on that discussion for the moment).  I have my suspicions that the Spirit used the sense of impending return — which obviously didn’t happen — to spread the Gospel far and wide.  People who feel that time is short are much more likely to share what is most central to their hearts, and for early Christians (as well as millions today), that is the Gospel.

Q. (10:10): So, if we open our hearts to God and accept Jesus as Our Savior, love God and others, then we are holy?  I have really not ever thought of myself, or any other of my Christian friends, as “holy.”  I reserve that word for God, Jesus, the Spirit, angels and the things that are pure.  Guess I’m wrong?

A. One of the images of what happens when we come to faith is what we might call an exchange of “garments.”  We come to God in our bloody, dirty, sin-covered wear, and say, “I need your help.”  And like any loving parent to a child, God provides: He gives us the best garment that there could ever be.  He gives us the grace of Jesus Christ.  This “garment,” when placed over us, replaces the dirt and sin and whatever, and makes us appear holy.  Sin may still have a hold in our lives — it does for everyone — but from God’s perspective, we have been made holy not by what we have done, but by what Jesus has.  When God the Father looks at us, He sees the holiness of Christ as the garment we wear.

Q. (10:15-16): So the Holy Spirit is saying this?  I didn’t think He talked?  I would love a study about the Holy Spirit!  Then, when He says, “I will put my laws in their hearts,” does that mean that the laws of loving God and others?

A. The Holy Spirit does not have a physical body, so, I presume, He would not choose to speak audibly, and would instead speak to our own spirits via our mind and conscience.  That does not mean that the Spirit “doesn’t talk,” the writers of the NT assume that the Spirit was the guide for all of the words written in the OT.  In addition, I believe that the idea of putting the law on people’s hearts refers to the coming of the Spirit, who will guide our hearts in the ways that God desires if we let Him.

Q. (10:23): I don’t understand the virtue of hope.  Why should we hope for something if we believe it will happen?  To me hoping signifies doubt.  But, the teachings of the Bible encourage hope.

A. Um, hold that one until tomorrow’s reading- you’ll see why.

O. (10:26): I like that this verse is in here.  We can all help one another and, in turn, it helps the greater good.

Q. (10:26-31): OK, I’m not going to worry about my salvation, right?  I am concerned that I’m not righteous enough.  But, like you said the other day, it’s a process.  I think I’m confusing trying to be closer to God and not feeling worthy of it to sinning.  Not being as close as I want to be does not mean I’m sinning.  I question so much that I do, but I guess if I let Jesus live in my heart that I won’t have to question it so much because I will naturally do what is good and loving.  See some growth in me, Rob? J  In v. 30, who is “the one”?

A. The one is God the Father, with the warnings coming via the Spirit, if that makes sense.  I’m proud of your growth, so keep on going!

Day 215 (Aug. 3): Moab and Ammon will be destroyed, joined by Ethiopia and Assyria, Jerusalem remains stubborn, Jerusalem will be redeemed, Josiah dies from enemy arrow, the Philistines and Moabites will see destruction

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.

Zephaniah 2:8-3:20

2 Chronicles 35:20-27

2 Kings 23:29-30

Jeremiah 47-48:47

Questions & Observations

Q. (Zephaniah 2:8-9): This is an off-the-wall observation.  I hadn’t really thought about people’s and animals’ protection of “their” borders.  Does God say anything about this instinct we have?  We watched “Chimpanzee” the other day and the chimp groups had distinct borders.  We also have personal space or borders that we don’t want people to cross.  This is a protective mechanism, a survival instinct, or what?  Does God address it anywhere?  Also, v. 9 says, “The remnant of my people will plunder them and take their land.” So, this means the Israelites have the land of Moab and Ammon in addition to Canaan?  Is this setting up for the greater nation of Israel that we have talked about where other nations join them?

A. As far as I can tell, God does not address the nature of humanity and animals to claim borders.  If anything, the Bible teaches that God Himself regularly uses and shapes borders (see Genesis 1 for example, and all the “separations” God includes).  The writer of Joshua and Judges would have us understand that God provided the borders for the 12 tribes in the new nation that they formed, so we would hardly expect Him to condemn it when animals or other nations do it.  If anything, the Bible tells us that this desire originates in God, and is reflected in His creation.

Q. (Zephaniah 2:12-15): Now Zephaniah 2:8-11 doesn’t necessarily say that these happenings are being told directly to Moab and Ammon.  I think it sounds like it is being told to the Israelites.  But, vs. 12-15 sound like they are being addressed to the Ethiopians and Assyrians.  I know it’s not that important.  I am just wondering if these happenings are warnings to the nations or if they are prophecies being told to the Israelites.

A. I believe that they are both: the prophecy against Moab and Ammon would have been powerful signs to the Israelites, who saw them as enemy nations deserving of God’s wrath.  But God clearly, as with Israel, takes no pleasure in their destruction (Jer 48:36), but apparently feels that they must pay for their mockery of Israel and their worship of the idol Chemosh.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:7): God struggles terribly with impressing His power upon the Israelites.  They just don’t listen.  Is part of their problem that God cannot be seen?

A. Sure, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior.  Part of the reason God mocks the various idols of the people so mercilessly, i.e. they are just wood or metal, is that the people seem to find security in something they can touch and see, rather than having complete faith in God Himself, which they unfortunately cannot.  I frankly see this as being a problem of human nature — we trust what we can see a lot more than what we can’t — and it is surely still a problem with the various idols in our society.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:11): I don’t understand who Zephaniah is talking about when he says “you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against me.”

A. He’s talking about the restored Kingdom of God, when the people will be purified of their sin and live in harmony with their Creator.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:15): I remember waaaay back when the Israelites were demanding to have a king.  God said it wasn’t necessary because He was their leader, their king.  But, the people demanded one.  Now, here, the kings are gone, right?  And, God says He will live among them … just like he recommended.

A. You’ve remembered correctly.  In this instance, God is speaking about His future Kingdom, where He will rule among the nations.

Q. (2 Chronicles 35:22): So, Josiah should have listened to King Neco?  This was a weakness of Josiah that he didn’t want to be told what to do?

A. It appears to be a pride moment for Josiah, and he pays a hefty price for ignoring Neco’s warning.  It is surely strange to the story, I admit, that God’s word comes via a pagan king.

Q. (Jeremiah 48:7): I don’t remember hearing about Chemosh before.  Anything special about that idol?

A. We have addressed it before, but I can’t seem to find the reference to the question.  Chemosh was the idol/god of the Moabites and occasionally Israel: Solomon built an altar to Chemosh in 1 Kings 11, and he is mentioned in Judges 11 and Numbers 21.

Q. (48:10): Does this mean that those who can’t bring themselves to kill someone else in the name of God will be cursed?

A.  No.  God has assigned an army (probably Babylon’s army under Nebuchadnezzar) to the “task” of wiping out Moab, and does not want to see them delay: He wants the task done.  It is in no way a license to kill indiscriminately.

Q. (48:35-39, 47): God is super sympathetic to Moab and acts as if it hurts Him to be doling out this destruction.  And, then in v. 47, God says He will restore Moab.  Why does God have a special connection to Moab?

A. I don’t know of anything specific, but as I mentioned above, it appears that God simply takes no pleasure in this slaughter and promises to restore the nation in some form.

Day 185 (July 4): Psalms of the descendants of Korah: the discouraged still look to God for revival, faithful question God, we worship God in all His glory, God is the answer!

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.

Psalms 42-46

Questions & Observations

Q. (42): This sounds like Job, just a roller coaster of emotion.  Question, question, question, but then proclaim God.  God could be testing here?

A. We are certainly in the midst of great trials for God’s people — which we can see they’ve brought upon themselves — but it is possible they don’t see it that way.  Regardless, God feels distant (and remember who moved when He does!), and the writer longs to be close to Him again.

Q. (44): This psalm says the authors are upright with God, are true believers, have lived up to the law, but they are being destroyed.  Can you explain this?

A. This reads to me like emotional writing of a person who does not understand what God is up to.  I am certain that within each of these generations of people suffering the losses and devastation, which will continue, there were those who remained faithful to God and did not bow to other gods.  But the problem is that “we” word, as in “we have been loyal to the covenant.”  That’s a white wash at best.  Clearly many within the nation, including its rulers, have been completely unfaithful to God, and are suffering for it now.

My reaction to these verses is they sound like a child who is crying out in anger, knowing full well what they are being punished for by a parent, but saying, “I didn’t do anything!”

Q. (45:1): What king is being praised here?  I thought it was God, but then verse 2 says the king has been blessed by God.  I’m really not sure what’s going on in this whole Psalm.

A. The Psalm is written to the kings of the throne of David, i.e. Judah, it appears as a way of honoring them on a wedding day to a foreign wife.  It generates a powerful image of a king who is almost god-like in his abilities.  Of the actual kings who ruled Judah, only David came anywhere close to this description.  But, as we have seen with other types of writings, it establishes a “type” for a godly King, one that will be seen by Christians centuries later as having revealed an image of the Kings of Kings, Jesus Christ.

Day 56 (Feb. 25): Property redemption, poor and enslaved redemption, blessings and punishments

Need some direction in your life?  Join 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.  Read on, some answers may surprise you.  Many will explain things in the Bible you may have been confused about.  Most of all, they can help you understand the Bible, which helps us lead a life that fulfills God and us.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.  Let us know if you have any comments to share.

Leviticus 25:24-26:46

Questions & Observations

Q. (Leviticus 25:24-34): This type of land agreement doesn’t make sense to me.  Why should the seller have a right to buy back the land?

A. Because they were the permanent owner.  Most of the land would be transferred back to the original owner in the Year of Jubilee.  The system was designed to prevent the type of situation that we have in our country now: too much wealth in the hands of a few people, which allows them to do as they please without consideration of others.  The wealthy in this system were not permitted to exploit those who fell upon hard times, and this is just one example of how this was carried out.

Q. (25: 44-46): We have discussed already that slaves have had an important role in the societies of the OT.  Here, it sounds that they are just to the side, but I think these verses are just being straight to the point: Slaves were a reality then as a part of a working society.  We have learned in previous readings that God does not want slaves treated harshly.  He rescued the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years.  But, it is hard to read that God would allow slaves and children to be sold.  Rob, can you offer any thing more?

A. The system is designed to protect the Israelites, and sometimes this comes at the expense of the people around them, as it does in this case.  Now having said that, even though it was clearly part of their society to have gentile, i.e. non-Jewish slaves, such slaves could NOT be mistreated, as we read in Exodus 23:9, and were to be loved as you love yourself,” as we saw in Lev 19:33-34.  So there were slaves, including children, as part of the cultural system in place, but it was the job of the Israelite owner to bear in mind their own responsibility to not exploit them.

O. (26:1-13): I have to comment on all of this good stuff.  Notice here that in the first two verses, God only asks that the Israelites not worship anything except Him, keep the Sabbath day of rest and revere His sanctuary.  Then, if they did all of that, He will give all of this: rains, crops, fruit, more than enough to eat; peace, no cause for fear, riddance of wild animals and enemies; make them fertile and multiply, a surplus of crops and that He will walk with them.

Q. (26:14-46): Here is the wrath of God which elicits the Fear of God to show how disobeying the Father causes devastation.  This passage sounds like God is foretelling that the Israelites will break His laws.  I like at the end, where after talking about the destruction that He will cause if the Israelites disobey, God will not reject them because of the Covenant He made.  Although God sounds harsh with all of His laws and punishments, we have to remember that He does it out of love.  It’s not a matter of that God is the boss, although He is, it’s a matter of listening to Him because He is the Creator, the Blesser … the Father.  He knows what He is talking about.  He tells us these rules to keep us on the right path for our own good.  Rob, did I say all of this correctly?

A. Yup: looks good to me.  This theme of choosing life over death will be repeated in Moses’ farewell address in the book of Deuteronomy.  But essentially, God is laying out a warning here that will NOT be heeded by the people.  They will turn from Him and break His laws: they will worship other gods and pay the penalty for it over and over.  These are truly prophetic words that God is laying out here: Israel has great success when it honors God (under David and Solomon for example), but horrid failure under many of the later kings, such that huge portions of the nation will be wiped off the map by foreign armies, and the entire surviving nation will be taken into captivity in Babylon.  Yet through it all, we see that God is true to His word: He does not abandon His people, and He will again and again redeem a remnant of His people in order to carry His message to all nations.  I can’t wait to walk with each of you the way the story will unfold, but you get a pretty good preview of it here!