Day 297 (Oct. 24): People doubt Jesus, dying fig tree used as a symbol, Jesus clears temple of ‘business,’ church leaders question Jesus’s authority

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 12:37-50

Mark 11:12-14

Matthew 21:18-22

Mark 11:15-19

Matthew 21:12-17

Luke 19:45-48

Mark 11:20-25

Mark 11:27-33

Matthew 21:23-27

Luke 20:1-8

Questions & Observations

Q. (John 12:46): So, is Jesus saying here that as long as we believe in our heart that He is our Savior, the Son of God, that we will be saved whether we obey the laws or not?

A. I would say that is a good bit outside of the proper scope of the verse.  (Leigh An: Hey, A for effort!) Jesus is talking here about the transition from darkness to light, and it does not just have to do with the afterlife, but rather is about changing the course of life RIGHT NOW.

As to the “not obeying the law” which is again well outside of what I would conclude FROM THIS VERSE, I would say this.  Christians are not under an obligation to keep the Law (this will be a big theme of the rest of the NT), but that does not mean that there is not wisdom in doing so to the best of our abilities and with God’s help.  Also, don’t forget the major emphasis that Jesus has been teaching us: those that belong to Him will keep His commands (the Law), not because they are obligated to, but because they desire to follow after Him.  One other thing: part of the reason that Jesus came into the world was to save us from our inability to follow the Law perfectly on our own: so really, NO ONE can truly obey the Law.  That’s why we need Jesus in the first place.

Q. (Mark 11:12-14, Matthew 21:18-22): I know I should ponder this fig tree message a little more to figure it out.  But, Rob, I think I’ll lean on you to explain how Jesus is using it to illustrate a point.  … Ok, on second reading, I may have got it.  If you don’t use your talents and spread the Word of God, you will be useless.  If you don’t bear fruit (produce more believers) then you may as well not be around.  How’s that?

A. Since the story is lumped in with the cleansing of the Temple (within the normal reading narrative), this story is typically seen as a statement of judgment against the failures of Israel, and especially its leadership.  But the point certainly applies to us as well: be fruitful (not just in the number of people you tell the gospel to, though that is an important part of it), or you risk being cut down.

Q. (Mark 11:15-19, Matthew 21:12-17, Luke 19:45-48): It seems Jesus may have been at His wit’s end.  I find it admirable that He stands His ground and defends the place of worship for His father.  I had always thought that He was mad at the Temple becoming a place for others to make money.  But also, on the flipside, if “worshippers” are buying their sacrifices at the Temple, it takes the meaning out of sacrifice.  Sure, they are buying them and that takes a sacrifice of money.  But also, they are supposed to take from the best from their flocks and fields.  I don’t think buying them from the Temple sellers would suffice?

A. Jesus’ real concern here (not implicit in the text) is the exchanges that are going on, and likely the money that is being made off of the pilgrims coming to the city.  In the Temple, the Jewish leadership refused to accept Roman coins (for fairly obvious reasons, which I think are good ones), but you had to pay a fee to exchange your money for “clean” Jewish coins!  Surely this is not what God desires out of such a holy place.  The other issue is the Temple rulers had the right to say, “this animal you have brought all these miles to the city is not acceptable for sacrifice,” even if the animal really was allowed.  The rulers would say, “I’m sorry, this animal is no good, but we do have our own ‘certified’ animals you can buy”.  It was a truly twisted and exploitive scheme, and it is no surprise that Jesus reacted very strongly to people being exploited in God’s house in order to make money.

Q. (Mark 11:22-25): I like these instructions for prayer!  When I pray, I mostly give thanks for all of my many blessings.  Many times, I overlook the muck in my heart that I need to ask forgiveness for.  I have to admit, there’s not much in there, so God has been working in me.  I hope this blog has been helping everyone who reads it!

A. That certainly goes for me as well.

Q. (Mark 11:27-33, Matthew 21:23-27, Luke 20:1-8): Jesus saw this as a trick by the leading priests that they were trying to find something to accuse Him of and arrest Him?

A. Something like that.  A Rabbi would have had to produce some sort of “credentials” to verify that he was from a proper “school” of Rabbinic thought.  That’s what they are asking Jesus for, His credentials.  But Jesus is not of any “school” that these rulers have seen, and He twists their desire to shame Him via authority back upon them by using John the Baptist.

Day 221 (Aug. 9): Jeremiah questions God’s justice, the rulers have poisoned the people, God will return exiles to their homes and they will prosper, God uses rotting clothes to describe wicked people, a warning against pride and arrogance, Judah’s unbearable drought, the Lord asks Jeremiah to not respond to Judah’s suffering, a prayer for Judah, Judah’s inevitable doom, Jeremiah’s complaint of persecution, God assures Jeremiah that He will protect 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.

Jeremiah 12-15:21

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 12:1-4, 5-13): Jeremiah is complaining here about the evil surrounding him and why those evil people are not suffering.  Then, God answers Him.  I think He is saying that if Jeremiah thinks he has it rough, he should step in God’s shoes and see what he has to stomach.  In v. 12, God is saying that this evil will be faced with suffering?

A. The suffering will be the consequence of the evil, yes.

Q. (12:14-17): Is God describing Judgment Day here, when the believers go to heaven and the rest … well, go somewhere else?

A. God is describing a judgment day for Judah, but not all humanity.

Q. (14:1-7): What a vivid picture this parched land paints.  I feel so sorry for the people and all other life.  But, then again they had a million chances to turn to God.  I can’t believe that the people — if that’s what is happening here, Jeremiah is speaking for them — would turn this back on God.  After all of His warnings to them, they advise Him to protect His reputation.  This has to hurt God so much to see the people He created, that He loved and wanted to nurture be so devastated, but then, they still look at God for blame instead of themselves.

A. While there is precedent for the argument (its basically the one Moses used to convince God to not destroy Israel in the wilderness in Exodus 32), it was surely shameful for the people to use God’s reputation to excuse their own actions.  As we’ve discussed a bit in Jeremiah, a big part of the people’s problem is that they are listening to the wrong voices: they are listening to false prophets and corrupt priests who proclaim peace when war and destruction is at their doorstep.

Q. (14:19-22): Do we know if this is the pulse of Judah right now, or is Jeremiah praying for the people?

A. He is making a plea on their behalf.

Q. (15:18): I feel for Jeremiah here.  I often have the same thinking, “how long can this go on?”  It’s hard to praise God when you have Him in your heart and trying to live the life He desires us to live, yet a stressful situation we/I/Jeremiah is in remains status quo.  I must say that I do love when God answers.  It’s so refreshing and exciting.  The waiting though is almost unbearable.  When I think about it, it just seems like our whole time on Earth is a testing ground for God to see if we pass the test to get into heaven.  I hope this isn’t dishonoring God by saying this.  I have often thought it, but then as my faith grows, I think that being in heaven for eternity makes our petty complaints here seem lame.

A. The perspective of eternity can surely change the way we look at and understand present circumstances.

Day 200 (July 19): Forewarning to nations of impending destruction, Edom targeted for ill treatment of Israel, the earth will be restored, wealthy oppressors judged heavily, false prophets put aside, hope for Israel’s restoration, Israel’s leaders are administering the evil, peace among nations will come, Israel’s return from exile, ruler from Bethlehem a bright light, the remnants of Israel will have power

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 34-35

Micah 2-5:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 34:1-7): This is all speaking metaphorically, right?  V. 5 says that “when my sword has finished its work in the heavens, it will fall upon Edom.” Why would God need to “clean house” in the heavens?

A. This will sound a bit odd, but it refers to the destruction and displacement of the stars/heavens in the previous verses.  I’m not exactly sure what he is saying, but it appears to mean that God will violently destroy the heavens on the Day of Judgment (to make the way for the new Heaven and Earth), and the metaphorical extension of this metaphor is to say that God will destroy these heavenly bodies with His sword.  It should as you say, in NO WAY be taken literally.

Q. (34:16): This is very clever prose.  The verse makes an emphasis on the fact that the new inhabitants of Edom — jackals, owls, desert animals, hyenas, wild goats, night creatures and buzzards — will live there with mates, ensuring that they will have offspring and continue to inhabit the land.

A. Clever isn’t it?  My notes indicate the Edom is used here as a symbolic nation that represents all the enemy nations of Israel.

Q. (Micah 2:3): I like the ring of that “I will reward evil with evil.”

A. That is God’s prerogative.  We are called to something different: Matthew 5:43-48, Romans 12:14-21.

Q. (2:6-11): Basically, this says that a crime against people is a sin against God.  You hurt his people, you answer to Him.

A. Yes, all sin is ultimately against God, including evil against other people.  It is part of the reason that when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He gave two answers: love God, and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

Q. (4:6-13): I had a thought from this passage: God is punishing the other nations for influencing them to worship other idols and act wicked.  Thus, He is destroying them and making Jerusalem a beacon to show that He is Lord of lords.  Is this accurate?

A. I would say it is.

Q. (5:2): Is Jesus the one Micah is speaking of?

A. The writer of Matthew’s Gospel sure thought so: see Matthew 2:3-6.