Day 340 (Dec. 6): Paul and shipwrecked passengers on Malta, Paul unharmed by poisonous snake, Paul heals sick on Malta, ship arrives in Rome, Paul preaches under guard, Paul says salvation offered to Gentiles, Paul writes to Ephesus church, Paul prays for spiritual wisdom for Ephesus, we are saved through Christ (God’s gift of grace) alone, believers united as Christ’s body

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.

Acts 28

Ephesians 1-2

Questions & Observations

Intriguing read today, eh?

Q. (Acts 28:25): Paul is talking to Romans here.  Did Romans come from Israelite ancestry?

A. No, but there was a sizable population of Jews living in Rome at this time.  That’s whom he is meeting with.

Q. (Ephesians 1:5): Why did God want us anyway?  He created us so we could share his kingdom with Him?

A. God was certainly under no obligation to work out salvation on our behalf, but did so out of His great love for each and every one of us — that’s the central message of John 3:16.

Q. (1:14): I still have trouble with not knowing why God seeks praise.  The only thing I can think of is that it keeps us focused on Him.  Also, if we are created in God’s image and He seeks praise, that tells us where we get it from?

A. As I mentioned in the previous question, God’s love and desire for relationship with humanity is a the heart of the Gospel, and part of that relationship is worship.  In times when we rightly see God for who He truly is (the central aim of true worship), we rightly praise Him for His mighty deeds for both His chosen people (Israel) and for each of us who are Gentiles.  God desires our focus, and I think that this is one of the central ways that we can grow closer to Him.  That is why I believe God requires our worship.

Q. (1:23): The church can mean a group of people who meet to worship Him and do His work, or it can mean the group of all believers as a whole, right? I think here it means the latter?

A. It means both (we sometimes use the big “C” when we refer to the eternal Church).  1:23 refers to the eternal entity of the Body of Christ — the Church for all time in every age.

Q. (2:5-10): Some revelations here!!!  It says it well and gives me some internal light that God’s willingness to let His most beloved pay for our sins and that he purchased us through is love that we could be sitting with Jesus beside God, our Father.  Grace (both Rob and I have girls named Grace) is the ultimate gift!  There is no greater!  I never thought too about salvation being something that is not to be boasted about.  It was a gift from God, we have nothing to do with it.

A. That’s not quite right: we have a role to play: we must believe.  The part that Paul wants to be clear is that we can’t brag about OUR role in the actions that brought about salvation to the world.

Q. (2:18): This verse is proof of the Trinity: 3 separate beings/spirits, but working as one.

A. Yes, each Person of the Godhead has their own role to play, and it is amazing to see them work in tandem to complete the task of salvation.

Day 32 (Feb. 1): Exodus — Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh, Pharaoh increases workload of Israelites, Israelites suffer greatly, God reaffirms covenant with His people, Moses’ and Aaron’s ancestors listed, snake wars

At first I put “Day 32 (Jan. 32).” Lol.  Congrats!  We have made it one month!  Can you believe we have learned so much in just two books?  Another 64 books and we will be the wisest ones around! I am amazed at how much I have learned, how many questions have been answered and how much more I understand about the way God is showing us to live to have a more fulfilling life.  In my BSF group, the leader asked for insight I have gained from Genesis.  I said, “the boundaries God has given us.” He tells us rules to live by to keep from falling into darkness. 

From Job, I have learned to shut up and to realize just who God is.  I question too much of God’s reasons for things.  Like Job says, who am I to ask “Why?” of the Creator of the world?  Job and his friends say over and over and over how magnificent and powerful God is.  The repetition definitely tested our patience, but they certainly succeeded in pounding in their message.  The extensive lists of what God controls, creates and cares for opened my eyes to and solidified my realization of God’s magnificence and magnitude.  And, letting go of all the questions I have, realizing I will never know all the answers, is a big weight off my back.  Just giving God your burdens is such a relief!

Thanks to Rob, our expert on board, I have also learned that although the Bible is historical, that’s not God’s purpose in giving us the information.  The purpose of the Bible is to show us how to live; to give us insight on how to deal with struggles; and how to turn to God and trust him ALWAYS!  We need to extract the wisdom from God’s Word, not pick it apart to learn all the details of a story and the reasons behind the actions.  

Let’s keep going!  Exodus is next.  For an introduction to Exodus, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/exodus/

If you are just joining us, thank you for checking out BibleBum.com, where we are reading the Bible in one year, chronologically.  This blog is unique in that at the end there are questions from the reading answered by a seminary graduate who has studied cultural history.  The information helps readers grasp confusing parts, explore deeper meanings and often times find surprises! To start this blog from the beginning, click on the index tab and find Day 1. 

I hope you find this as fun and as enriching as we have creating it!

 

Exodus 1-2:25

1 Chronicles 6:1-3a

Exodus 3:1-22

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 1:22): Here, the king’s rule spared the Hebrew girls.  Any idea why girls are treated more gently than boys?  Is this tied to being a gentleman?  I just wonder if Pharaoh was determined to subdue the Israelites, then why did he not rule to have the girls killed along with the boys?

A. The women would be unlikely to fight in any uprising against Pharaoh, and would be easy to control by comparison.  Pharaoh is, in his mind, trying to make the Israelites weak.

Q. (2:1,10): I wonder what Moses exuded that made his mother think he was special and made Pharaoh’s daughter desire to spare his life and take him as her own?  Also, did the princess have contact with Moses while his mother had him?  The only evidence I see is that the princess said she would pay Moses’ mother to care for him.  So, she may have visited him when paying her.

A. My understanding is that Moses came to be part of the house of Pharaoh when he was weaned — Pharaoh’s daughter was paying Moses’ mother to be a wet nurse, which I guess worked out pretty well for the mom.  The story doesn’t seem to tell us if the princess came to visit (I honestly don’t know), but the more important detail for the story is that Moses will be a person of two ethical heritages: he was born an Israelite, but brought up as part of an Egyptian household.  He lived in both worlds, and very likely was raised with the man who would become Pharaoh (something the movie The Prince of Egypt points to).

Q. (1 Chronicles 6:1-3a): Is there any significance from Moses coming from the line of Levi?

A. In the sense of where we’ve been, no.  But in the sense of where we’re “going” so to speak, you bet!  Moses and Aaron are two of the most important figures in Israel’s history: Moses will (of course) be the great liberator, and speak to God on behalf of his people in a way that no one (outside of Christ) has done since.  God will make Aaron the first High Priest on this journey, and Aaron’s descendants will be important members of the priesthood.  So it is in Exodus that we see Levi’s descendants first become the chosen ones to be the people’s representatives before God.  (As you will recall, because of this special religious role, the Levites will be dispersed among the other tribes and not have land of their own.)  We will see in the book of Leviticus (about the Priesthood) the way that God will provide for the priests out of the sacrifice system.

Q. (Exodus 3:1): It’s interesting that there are so many references to sheep in the Bible.  Sheep were obviously a staple back then?  Now, we have mostly cattle, swine and chicken in the U.S.  I don’t know if sheep are still as numerous in the area as they were in Bible times.  Most interesting though, is God’s use of sheep in demonstrating how Jesus, the shepherd, takes care of us, the sheep.  And here, Moses is a shepherd, which may help prepare him for taking care of the Israelites as they exit Egypt.  Any comment, Rob?

A. Sheep are still a big part of agriculture in other parts of the world (though the story will make reference to other domesticated animals as well, notably cows (and oxen) and birds — pigs were unclean, so they didn’t keep them (and still don’t).  Sheep have played an important role in the story so far, and they will continue to.  They (goats, sheep, and lambs) will play a crucial role in the sacrifice system that is established in Leviticus (other animals will be offered up to, so its not just them).  In addition, both the Old and New Testaments describe the relationship between God and humanity as a shepherd who takes great care of their flocks (for example, Psalm 23 and John 10).  Since it was such an important part of their culture, it is probably unsurprising that God would use that image.

Q. (3:6): Isn’t this the first time that we see God appear with more of a presence?  Here, God told Moses to stop where he was and take off his shoes because he was on holy ground.  Moses doesn’t go any closer and he covers his face in fear.  When God appeared to Abraham, He just showed up as a traveler, although Abraham quickly knew who He was.  Just wondering why the change?  This is the first time God has spoken to Moses. Before this, we don’t know if Moses obeyed God, right?

A. God will not appear to two people in exactly the same way throughout the Bible, for reasons known only to Him.  We don’t know much about the relationship between God and Moses to this point (though it does imply that Moses knew who was addressing him, so he had some sort of relationship with God).  Don’t forget, Moses killed a man and fled his people to live in (basically) isolation.  Just one more example of God selecting a deeply flawed person to carry out His will.  God does not call the equipped; He equips the called.

Q. (3:8): Are the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites descendants of anyone we know from Genesis?

A. No, I don’t think so.  The only one we have any connection with is Esau’s (Edom’s) relatives, and though they will be a part of the story, they live outside of Canaan, the area where these tribes live (for now).

Q. (3:14): Can you explain God calling himself “I am”?

A. Oh man.  I could write a novel in response to that question (and people have).  God is here revealing His “real” or proper name: which in Hebrew is the four letters YHWH (called the Tetragrammaton from the Latin for “four letters”).  The word “Yahweh” is derived from the YHWH (vowels do not appear in printed Hebrew) and is the third person form of the word for “I AM” (i.e. HE IS).  I AM is the way God chooses to refer to Himself, and we refer to Him (in this sense) as He IS (if that makes any sense).

Here’s a few other things we can take away from the significance of the name: the use of I AM (and I Am that I Am) both imply that God is a personal being, that He is in the present moment (you could also say He is outside of time — He is neither past or future, He just IS).  It also can tell us that God is unchanging, and that we must adapt to Him, not the other way around.

One of the best write-ups I’ve read on this matter comes from John Piper (of Desiring God ministries).  He has an entire sermon on God’s identity.  The whole thing is good, but the bottom half talks about the significance of the name in this scripture.  Check it out: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/i-am-who-i-am (and note the section Seven Implications in the Divine Name).

Q. (4:10): I have heard people mock Moses, that he’s not the most confident leader.  Again, God chooses a humble man.

A. God certainly chose a man who did not want the job, but he will be the only person who can “shepherd” (as you made reference to) his people through 40 years in the wilderness.  Despite his humble beginnings, Moses will be the single most revered person in Jewish history.