Day 256 (Sept. 13): Judgment against Israel’s enemies, Israel’s coming King, God will restore Israel, the responsibility of shepherds, deliverance for Jerusalem — her enemies will stagger, the people will be purified, scattering of sheep, the Lord will rule the Earth from Jerusalem, Jerusalem will be the destination for worship

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.

Zechariah 9-14

Questions & Observations

Q. (Zechariah 11:4-17): I guess God is just saying that those shepherds who only care about themselves and neglect their flock will be dealt a harsh blow?  I didn’t know why this scripture was placed here or how the broken staffs relate to the sheep, Judah and Israel.  To me, it’s a confusing passage.

A. The corrupt shepherds represent corrupt leaders who abandon the flock (the general population of the people) during times of trial, as the nation will suffer many times over for the next few hundred years, culminating with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD.  You can make the argument that since these corrupt shepherds follow after the rejection of the Good Shepherd (which the flock hates, verse 8-9), they represent the Jewish leaders who encouraged the people to reject Jesus as the Messiah and persecute the early Church.  These actions very likely led to Jerusalem’s destruction.  So overall this appears to be a prophecy about rejecting the Good Shepherd (a title Jesus uses in John 10) and the downfall that comes afterwards.

Q. (12:10-14): Why would they mourn for David who died long, long ago?  Why would they still be so connected to him?  And, why would men and women mourn separately?

A. David, as we have read many times, is an archetype for divinely led leadership that was best personified (to that point anyway) by David himself.  When Jews speak of the House of David that is what they mean: they desire a return to having a king who is selected by God and led by God.  Jesus Himself will be the fulfillment of this archetype.  As to why the people mourn in gender-separated groups, I don’t have a good answer.

Q. (12:2): Will we read when this “day” actually happens?

A. In one sense: part of what is described in many of these prophecies is the sacrifice of Christ (at least that’s what Christians believe) on the cross and the victory that He will win for us.  But no, the Day of the Lord’s final victory is still to come, at least as I understand it, even if the victory has already been won.

Q. (13:7-9): Today’s reading is a roller coaster.  It goes from God restoring people to shepherds staffs being broken and now purifying the people to just one-third of the crowd.  I am confused!

A. The staff breaking is symbolic of the people breaking the covenant with God (though God remains faithful).  As with the destruction of Jerusalem, many of these same things will happen: many will die, many people will break faith, but God’s will retain a remnant of His people, and He will begin to move outwards from the wreckage of Jerusalem with the spreading of the Gospel message.  To me, what is being described here is the movement of the Gospel to the forefront of God’s plan for the world, and the sacrifices that have to be made in order for that transition to take place.

Q. (14:6-7): These verses are amusing in a good sense.  Here, Zechariah says to not even try to figure out how it can still be light if there are no sources of light to shine.  He says only God knows.  To me, this says that we shouldn’t try to figure out the seven days of Creation scientifically.  If God said it happened, it happened and He’s the only one that knows how He did it.

A. Sounds fair to me.

Q. (14:1): We saw the Festival of Shelters way back.  Can you tell us again what it’s about and why people would come from all around to join it — other than God just made it a requirement if their nation wants rain.

A. It’s a reminder of the time the people spent in the wilderness during the Exodus.  It is one of the major Jewish holidays, but it came to be a more prominent celebration during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (i.e. our “present” time), so perhaps that is why it is selected to be the festival that gathers the nations.  It was and is a great time to celebrate God’s faithfulness to His people, something all the nations of the world can join in with.

Day 237 (Aug. 25): Tyre to be destroyed and not restored, Tyre’s ships and merchandise are caught in stormy sea and their fortunes are lost, Tyre’s king claims he is a god, plague hits Sidon, when Israel is restored the neighboring nations will know God, Zedekiah and soldiers fled Jerusalem, Babylonians invade city, Zedekiah captured and tortured

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.

Ezekiel 26:15-28:26

2 Kings 25:3-7

Jeremiah 52:6-11

Jeremiah 39:2-10

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 26:15-21): I’m just wondering if God is going to destroy all of the nations.  If so, how can it be rebuilt?

A. No, He won’t.  God is pronouncing judgment on Judah’s neighbors in the midst of their destruction under Nebuchadnezzar.  Note that this is most what you might call a “political” destruction — Nebuchadnezzar is seeking governments and nations that will submit to his power, as Israel did before Zedekiah’s revolt, and among those who did not yield without force were Tyre and Sidon, we will explore Tyre’s fate below.

Q. (27:1-25): So, Tyre’s sin is that they boasted?  I don’t see any idol worship.  Their city’s description sounds heavenly.  I don’t read of any wickedness except for being prideful.

A. Their idolatry was love of money.  They became wealthy at the expense of others.  Among other things, they made money off of slave trade, and were unscrupulous when it came to shipping cargo — if you had the money, it got shipped, no matter how “bad” the product might be.  So part of what is happening here is God is saying that you have made your decadence an idol, and must suffer for your boasting.

Q. (27:26-36): Is a stormy sea really how Tyre was destroyed or is that just a metaphor?

A. No.  There’s some interesting history here.  Tyre was among the nations that formed an alliance with other nations, including Egypt, to throw off Nebuchadnezzar’s rule.  According to Babylonian notes, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to it for a number of years, and it eventually surrendered to his rule — but the city itself was not destroyed, at least not at that time.  Tyre would be completely decimated, but not by Nebuchadnezzar; instead it was leveled by Alexander the Great 200 years later.  So the prophecies of Tyre’s destruction were certainly proven true, it was not Nebuchadnezzar who leveled it.

Q. (28:14): So, we have seen another reason why God destroyed Tyre because of her king saying he was a god.  But, in v. 14, he was in God’s presence or court.  So, is this one of those instances where we talked that there was some evidence in the Bible about other heavenly beings becoming “gods” of other nations?  They were envious of God, like Lucifer, and were kicked out of God’s army?  Have I gone too far with this hypothesis?

A. Honestly, there are differing interpretations of what is happening here.  One of them is that Ezekiel is comparing the king of Tyre with Lucifer — a loose comparison, but there are some similarities.  But another way to look at the passage is that Ezekiel is using a metaphor of the king being an innocent (i.e. pre-fall) person in the Garden of Eden.  That would make the king an Adam-like being.  Note the cleverness of the metaphor: while Adam and Eve were naked, the king is dressed in royal splendor, which again points to the decadence of Tyre’s people.  So the extension of the metaphor goes like this: you, oh king, live in paradise in all your great splendor.  You are even in the presence of God Himself, but your sin (trying to BE God) has caused you to lose it all, and you will be “cast out” just as Adam and Eve were for your pride.  I would say that’s the message of this passage.

Q. (2 Kings 25:3-7): Was it Ezekiel that broke through a wall in his home as a demonstration of what was to come of Jerusalem?  Now they see that God’s prophecies come true.  We did read where Zedekiah would live out his life in Babylon, but I had the impression that it was going to be an easy life.

A. Yes, that image was in Ezekiel 12.  Being aware of Zedekiah’s fate, I was hesitant to share too much about the “peace” that he would “enjoy,” but he lived.  Nebuchadnezzar was not kind to those who rebelled against him, especially since HE was the one who put Zedekiah on the throne (another reason the Jews rejected him, just as they will reject another king later in our story…).  Still, he was not executed, but I honestly can’t say I can think of a worse fate than the last thing I ever see (because he was blinded) is my children being executed and then living afterwards.  Pretty brutal.

Q. (Jeremiah 39:2-10): I like this description the best of the three that are given to us here.  Are bronze chains significant?  On Day 234, God calls the Israelites that remain in Jerusalem “worthless slag” leftover from smelting silver.  V. 10 says some of the poor were left in Judah to care for the vineyards and fields.  Was this part of God’s plan?

A. Since there remain Jews in Judea in our story, they will be able to bring news to the Jews in Babylon, which will be an important part of our story when we get to Ezra and, especially, Nehemiah.  So I would say yes, God desired that some of the people stay, but I suspect it was not by any means an easy life.

Day 228 (Aug. 16): God makes Ezekiel a messenger/watchman for Israel, Ezekiel only to speak when he has message from God, Ezekiel bears sins of Israel and Judah as he’s force to experience devastation of siege, Judah urged to submit to Babylon, Ignore false prophets, Jeremiah condemns Hananiah, Jeremiah prophecies that Babylon will be empty

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.

Ezekiel 3:16-4:17

Jeremiah 27-28

Jeremiah Wears an Ox Yoke

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 3:24, 4:4-7, 12): This isn’t a literal description right?  Ezekiel’s hands weren’t really tied so he couldn’t move?  It gets worse in Ch. 4.  Why such harsh treatment for someone who is to spread God’s messages?  And dung for fuel to bake his bread.  This is unbearable!

A. I believe that the being tied was symbolic.  It did not imply that he could not move, but should be understood as God restricting his movements metaphorically.  As to the rest of the requirements, it appears that God meant this literally as he made provision for Ezekiel’s needs, though scantily, of food and shelter.  The idea here is that Ezekiel will act out the siege that is befalling Jerusalem on various levels: being trapped within the “walls,” given meager rations, and forced to improvise fuel.  Dried manure was commonly used as fuel in this era, and is still used in parts of the world today.  I cannot imagine it is a pleasant fuel to use, but I believe that that was an intentional choice on God’s part: the unpleasantness was meant to be part of the symbolic penance.

Q. (4:5-6): What is the significance of the length of time Ezekiel was required to rest on his left and then right side?

A. Based upon the model he built, having Ezekiel lie on his left side would have meant he was on the “north” side of Jerusalem, which would have symbolized Israel.  Having him lay on his right side would have caused him to be on the south side, representing Judah and its sins.  The 390 years appears to be the length of time that has taken place since Solomon’s turning away from God, and all the Northern kings who followed down this path away from God.  The 40 years is a bit trickier, but is probably a reference to Manasseh’s long reign before his repentance.

Q. (Jeremiah 28:1-17): Why were there false prophets?  Were they appointed by the king to say what he wants them to say much like the king creates man-made idols to help him in the way he wants help?

A. That’s one possible explanation.  Another is that this man thought he was hearing from God but was simply mistaken as Jeremiah is told.  Telling people what they want to hear is surely a way to make oneself popular, so perhaps this man became a “prophet” because he liked being the center of attention for sharing positive messages that the king and others would have liked to hear.  Those are my guesses.