Day 351 (Dec. 17): The son radiates God’s glory, Jesus earned place of honor when he cleansed us from sin, Jesus is greater than the angels, angels care for believers, stay with the truth, Jesus more glorious than Moses, Israelites faltering in the desert serves as a heed God’s instructions, promised rest for God’s people

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 Timothy 4:19-22

The letter to the Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish Christians- and it was very likely given as a sermon since it contains no greeting.  Though Paul is the traditionally attributed writer, it is unlikely that Paul wrote it.  Instead, the author is unknown, lost to history.  The text was probably written before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70, since the letter presupposes that sacrifices were still being performed there (for example, see 5:1-3, 8:3-5, 9:6-13).

Hebrews 1-4:13

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hebrews 1:2): Can you explain this verse?  It sounds like this promise of inheritance happened at creation, so then Jesus would have to know he would be crucified back then?  I really don’t know what God is saying Jesus is inheriting.

A. The writer is describing how Jesus will be ultimate ruler of all created things — that this was God’s plan from the beginning.  This is the “everything” that Jesus has inherited by going through the process of being crucified.  If you ask me, I suspect that God knew the way that all things would unfold in Creation, including the need for Jesus to be crucified.

Q. (1:4-14): Why is the author validating that Jesus is more glorious than angels?

A. Because angel worship was a problem then as it is now, maybe more so (google “angel sightings” or “angel shrine” to see what I’m talking about).  This was an especially big problem for early Jewish Christians, who would have greatly revered angels.  The author needs to convince his audience that Jesus is superior to all the things of the OT, including Moses, the angels/messengers, and the priesthood/temple (coming soon!).

Q. (1:14): To my knowledge, I haven’t been in the presence of an angel.  In what instances do angels help us?  I guess I am confused now about angels roles vs. the Holy Spirit.  I have definitely been in the presence of a heavenly spirit, but I don’t know if it was when the Spirit was particularly strong in me, or it was an angel.  I have heard God’s voice — in my head — and I have felt that glorious feeling many times.  But, are we supposed be able to identify if it’s angels, the Spirit, Jesus or God?

A. There’s not really a clear way to do it, since the Bible shrouds such things in mystery intentionally.  But the general rule I would give you is that if you hear the “internal” voice, you are hearing the Spirit of God, and any “external” voice is that of an angelic being, who is bringing a message from God.  That last one is exceptionally rare, occurring only a few times even within Scripture.

Q. (2:18): This verse is saying that if we think of Jesus suffering on the cross that can help us make wise decisions, i.e. Jesus went to these lengths for me so I can honor His suffering by making choices with righteousness and grace?

A. I think that’s part of it, but also remember the verses we have read indicating that Jesus now prays and acts on our behalf at the very throne of God the Father.  Jesus might also be able to literally help us during times of crisis, in addition to your suggestion that His help is figurative.

Q. (3:6): So, God is Lord over all, but Jesus has authority over us?  If we use the church analogy, He is the head pastor of us and God would be the bishop (with no one over Him, of course)?

A. Trying to draw lines like that is a really tricky exercise, since the Persons of the Trinity are distinct, but also unified in a way that we as humans simply cannot comprehend.  What the NT tells us is that Jesus is the ruler of all the things that He helped create, i.e. all of Creation.

Q. (3:13): In our small group, one member said that we are to love everyone, but have an elevated relationship with other Christians.  Could this verse be the source for that thought?  We should help other brothers and sisters in Christ by watching their moves and keeping them straight.  I would think this could be a little tricky because of people’s pride (a sin), but those who are wise will take heed to the guidance.  Also, those who are setting the others straight need to make sure both of their feet and their hearts are on the right path.

A. I would partially disagree with your friend, and my reason for doing so would be because I feel like there are different seasons in a Christians life in which they may be forced to focus on other Christians more, and other seasons where they focus on non-believers more, as the Spirit guides us.  I think it is inaccurate to make blanket statements such as “always watch over Christians more,” because I simply don’t think that that is always what God wants.  Having said all that, I do believe that what you’re describing is at the heart of accountability, the watching over the hearts of Christians close to you, which is a high priority in the NT, just not the only one.  The end point for all Christian discipleship is to reach those who are not yet members of the community.  The ultimate target is those who are far from God.

Q. (4:8): What does it mean, “if Joshua had succeeded in giving them rest”?  I’m really not sure if this passage is talking about resting on the Sabbath or rest after we see Jesus come again and can enjoy the wonderment of Heaven, like a rest of struggling souls.  (I have never thought of this before: Imagine the rest your soul will enjoy after we get to heaven — rest from continuously battling with temptation and sin.  That’s a feeling we should strive for now.  If there is sin trying to influence us, toss it away so you can have that calmness where no one is trying to disturb your peace.

A. Ok, what’s going on here is the writer is comparing the rest God took on the seventh day of Creation to the “rest” that He offers those who are faithful to Him (Heaven, in other words).  The reference to Joshua relates to him being the person who led the people into the Promised Land after Moses’ death.  Entering the Promised Land has long been seen as a metaphor for dying and going to heaven to be with God, which the writer is obviously connecting with here.  But what he is saying is that entering the Promised Land for the Israelites did not bring them salvation or “rest,” but just presented them with a new set of challenges that they frequently failed.  The real rest of God, the writer is saying, won’t be like that.  It will be the true fulfillment of God’s rest for His children.

O. (4:13): Just a noteworthy verse: 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Day 311 (Nov. 7): Jesus ascends to heaven, Matthias named new disciple, Holy Spirit comes to disciples, Peter preaches to crowd, believers form a community

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

Mark 16:19-20

Luke 24:50-53

Acts 1-2:47

Questions & Observations

Q. (Luke 24:52): So, this is the joy that you were talking about when I said how could happiness come from Jesus being crucified?  Especially since they saw Him die on the cross, resurrected and now ascending to heaven, they are sure He is the Messiah.  It would be hard to believe that the prince of heaven was right before my eyes.

A. I was referring to seeing Jesus alive at Easter and in the days that followed.  Jesus being resurrected changed everything for His followers, who are beginning to be transformed from the weak fearful men that we saw run from Jesus’ side into the men who will — with the Spirit’s help — change the world.

Q. (Acts 1:18): Here, Luke, the writer of Acts says that Judas bought a field with the 30 pieces of silver.  But, earlier, Matthew said Judas threw the coins down at the priests who then used the money to buy a field and then killed himself.  So, maybe something got lost in translation or one of them — Luke or Matthew — had their story a little mixed up.

A. Actually, it is possible to reconcile the two versions.  Church tradition holds that Judas hung himself on a tree at the top of a hill, and that either when his body decayed or when he was cut down, his body fell and broke open.  I believe that Luke, the writer, is aware that Judas didn’t DIRECTLY buy the field, but it was bought with the money that was returned to him.  Anyway, I think it is possible to reconcile the two versions of his death, but it is by no means absolutely necessary to do so.

Q. (Acts 2:1): I don’t remember talking about the day of Pentecost before.  What’s it about?

A. We have, it just wasn’t referred to by that name (since “Pentecost” is Greek).  It refers to the Feast or Festival of Weeks, which follows exactly 50 days (seven weeks and a Sabbath) after Passover.  It is described in Exodus 23 and 34, and commemorates the receiving of the Law by the Jews at Sinai, which you will remember occurred after the first Passover.  It is also in the midst of the Jewish grain harvest (the story of Ruth is frequently associated with it), which makes it a holiday that celebrates the ways in which God has provided for His people, both in their daily bread and spiritual needs.  Cool huh?

Anyway, it doesn’t take a big leap of logic to see why God would use THAT date to do a new thing with early Church — God is once again providing for the needs of His new “project,” and providing them with the very Spirit that will give them life.  One other note: it was the High Priest who was the one who declared the beginning of the festival by symbolically waving a strand of grain as the “first fruits” of the harvest.  Two of the central images of the NT theology we will explore is Jesus as our new High Priest (and an eternal one) and that He is the first fruits of the resurrection (more on what that means later).  So, the Jews who would have participated in this event would have clearly understood the significance of the date that God chose to move in a new way.

Q. (Acts: 2:3): Is this where some churches get the “speaking in tongues” part of their worship?  I have never been in a worship service where this happens, but I bet it would be interesting.  I would think though, that the Spirit allowing the disciples to speak in many languages was so they could preach the same message far and wide without language barriers.  I would think that this gift would be for the disciples only, not for talk that doesn’t make any sense and no one else can understand it.  That wasn’t the purpose of the gift, right?

A. Yes, this is the origin — but not the last occurrence — of Speaking in Tongues, one of the Spiritual Gifts.  Now later in the text, we will see instances where the Spirit moves in a person and they speak a language that no one around them understands (which was not the case here — the miracle was that the people around them DID know what they were saying!)  When no one understands what has been said, it is the NT expectation that the Spirit will gift someone with the ability to interpret what has been said, and it is always to edify the Church body.  This will lead to some issues that Paul will be discussing down the road, but we will get to that.

The true miracle of Pentecost  (one that will not be repeated in the NT) is that the Spirit spoke to people from all over the earth who were gathered in Jerusalem IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE.  That was surely an amazing event to bear witness to.

O. (Acts 2:25-28): Beautiful!  I love it!  Our church’s kids’ ministry gave out a set of key tags with Bible verses on them that show God is there always to help pull us through anything.  They are awesome verses!

Fear of rejection, Isaiah 41:10

Fear of failure, Joshua 1:9

Fear of physical danger, Psalm 56:3-4

Fear of being cared for, Luke 12:22-24

Fear of being alone, Psalm 23:4

Fear of uncertainty, Philippians 4:6-7