Day 266 (Sept. 23): Malachi tells of unworthy sacrifices, God rebukes divorce, coming day of judgment, Lord says he will bless Israel again if they tithe, those who keep the will rejoice on judgment day

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.

Malachi 2:10-4:6

Joel 1-3

Questions & Observations

Q. (Malachi 2:15-16): God definitely speaks out against divorce because of the hurt it causes.  I am curious if this changes in the NT.

A. You are asking if God will change His mind about divorce? I wouldn’t count on it.

Q. (Malachi 4:5): Elijah is returning from heaven?

A. Yes, since most Bibles have Malachi as the last book of the OT, the “parting thought” of this story is the return of Elijah, who represents the prophets.  The traditional thinking of the NT is that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of this prophecy, as he is a prophetic voice (i.e. a prototype of Elijah, not the person reborn) calling the nation to prepare the way for God’s chosen one, Jesus.  John denies being Elijah (John 1:21), but if you read Matthew 17, Jesus Himself explicitly tells His followers that this refers to John the Baptist.

O. (Joel 1:1): Wikipedia just says that Joel was one of the 12 minor prophets.  “Minor” refers to the amount of text that is attributed to them in the Bible.

Q. (Joel 1:2-Joel 2:11): Just to clarify.  Joel speaks of a locust invasion only, right?  This isn’t a metaphor for an invading army of soldiers?  V. 2:20 speaks of armies from the north.  Who is Joel referring to?  I’m just confused if Joel is referring to an army of soldiers as locusts or vice versa.

A. The “army” that Joel refers to is a plague of locusts.  The reference in 2:20 is to a human army, and takes place after this prophetic plague has “passed” if you follow me.  Since there is very little in the way of dating for Joel, there are many ideas about what this can mean (was there an actual plague, or it is a metaphor for Jerusalem’s destruction), but no one is really certain.

Day 78 (March 19): Offering of first crops of new land, obey God’s commands, curses, blessings,

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.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Deuteronomy 26-29:1

Questions & Observations

Q. (Deuteronomy 27:15-26): I don’t remember the implementation of curses thus far.  How is “cursing” different from laws, rules and covenants?

A. As this passage is laid out, the curses have nothing to do with the Law.  Where the blessings and curses come into play is they are the result of obedience to God’s law (blessing) or disobedience/rejection of God’s law (curse).  Don’t think of the curses or blessings as being in a separate category from the regulations, they are the result of them.  That covers the laws and rules part of the question, and basically, Moses is telling people THIS is the covenant: if you obey, God will bless you like you have never known, and if you disobey, God will make you wish you were never born.  In the book of Judges in particular, we will see periods of both: disobedience brings about curse (the people are defeated in combat, crops don’t grow, etc.) and this, in turn, causes the people to repent of their sin, at which point, the curse is lifted.  Repentance will play a big role in the way the rest of the story will unfold in the OT.

Q. (Deuteronomy 28:15-68): Wow.  I don’t see that the Israelites really had a choice not to follow God.  I don’t know if this text is foreshadowing what will happen — that people are cursed in future readings because of disobedience — or the curses scare them so bad that they dare not disobey.

A. As I mentioned in the previous question, we will actually see instances of both.  Blessings and curses will also be central themes in the book of Judges, which we should be getting to in a week or two.  Hang in there.

Blessings!  See you tomorrow!

Day 75 (March 16): Idolatry warning, clean/unclean animals, tithes, treatment of debtors, slaves, firstborn male animal sacrifices, Passover, Festival of Unleavened Bread, Festival of Harvest, Festival of Shelters

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.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Deuteronomy 13-16:17

Questions & Observations

Q. (13:1-18): In this passage, God speaks out against those who lure others into idolatry and those who are lured.  That was then, I’m sure we will learn in our NT reading — when we get there much later this year — what God or Jesus says about dealing with others pushing idolatry.  I certainly don’t think the OT will say, “stone them.”  And, we certainly don’t do that today.  We are more of a “coexist” society today.  I wonder what God thinks of that?  I can only imagine that He’s not too happy with it.

A. One big difference between then and now is that God is establishing a pure nation set apart from Him, and a big part of what He was trying to do was keep the Israelites from worshipping other gods.  Today, these boundaries (between Jew and Gentile, between Christian and Muslim) make it very difficult to keep any such society “pure” in the sense that was being described in the text.  The NT in particular will talk about being at peace with those around you, especially those who do not share your God.

Q. (Deuteronomy 13:1-18): At first, I read this and thought that God purposely luring us to other gods or idols to test us just sounds sneaky.  But then, I thought, I guess he does need to test them to find out their heart.  Someone could get easily lost in the crowd, grow up with followers of God, but not really have felt the love in their heart for God or been tested of their faith.  So, tempting them is one way to weed out the unbelievers.  And, it doubles in getting rid of all of those who do the tempting, for they also fail to have God in their heart.  Is this an accurate assessment of this lesson?

A. I can certainly see some wisdom in your description, and I think you’ve hit upon part of it.  I also think it is worth mentioning that people change over time, and the call to remain faithful to God is part of what this is about.  God is calling the people to be ever vigilant against the corrupting forces of false religions and idols.

Q. This may seem like a dumb question, but there are no dumb questions, right?  Anyway, I have always used the names God and Lord interchangeably.  But, do the two words have different meanings, in reference to our God?

A. No.  They are two different names given to God, where many names are used.  The most reverent name in scripture (to Jews anyway) is the true name of God: Yahweh, represented by the four letters YHWH (called the Tetragrammaton), printed Hebrew does not have vowels.  Whenever you see the use of LORD in all caps, it is a translation of YHWH, which in our version for this study is just rendered God.  But there are other words for God as well, and when Jews refer to God, since Yahweh is such a reverent name, they used the name Elohim or AdonaiElohim is usually how you see the word God presented, and Adonai means “lord,” so when you see only the first “L” capitalized (Lord, not LORD), the translation is referring to Adonai.  So the differences are actually harder to see in the NLT, but are fairly clear in some other Bibles.  Hope that helps.  If not, check this out: http://www.gotquestions.org/LORD-GOD-Lord-God.html

Q. (14:3-4): I thought the ceremonially clean/unclean requirement was lifted?

A. Nope.  Observant Jews keep the dietary laws (kosher) to this day.  What we were looking at yesterday, which is what I think you are referring to, is the idea that people could consume their own herd animals or certain animals that they caught, such as deer and gazelle.  But the rules about what animals they could eat did not change.

O. (14:22-23): I finally got it and won’t ask about sacrificing (here tithing) again.  It’s not about gruesome slaughtering, it’s about giving their best to the Creator.  It serves two purposes: sacrificing their best stuff or giving it up and honoring God.

Q. (16:10): This is the first time I have seen the request to bring “a voluntary offering in proportion to the blessings you have received from him.”  Most of the time, God has been very specific about what he wants to be offered or sacrificed.  Also, I know I have commented on the amount of offerings, gifts, sacrifices to the Lord and what a heap of stuff it must be.  Rob, I don’t think you had a definite answer of what happens to all of the gifts?

A. The implication of these verses is that they were shared among the people, including the Levites and the poor in the various community centers where sacrifices were to be brought.  The sacrifices at the Tabernacle, brought to make atonement for sin or other purposes, were either consumed by the priests or burned completely.

Hope you enjoyed today’s reading.  See you tomorrow.