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 249 (Sept. 6): The ‘man’ shows Ezekiel the life in the river that flows from the Temple to the Dead Sea, land boundaries for tribes, tribes’ division of land, special allotment for Temple, public use are for gardens, homes and pastures, new city’s name is “The Lord is There,” God to reward Nebuchadnezzar and his army for their hard work defeating Tyre, proud Egypt and her allies will be destroyed, new Babylonian King Evilmerodach is kind to exiled King Jehoichin

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 47-48:35

Ezekiel 29:17-21

Ezekiel 30:1-19

2 Kings 25:27-30

Jeremiah 52:31-34

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 47:1-12): I assume that the river symbolizes God and from Him, comes life?

A. You got it.  Even the Dead Sea, a symbol of death if ever there was one, comes alive by God’s power.  I see this as another instance of resurrection imagery in this story: God can even bring dead seas back to life.

Q. (Ezekiel 47:21-23): Aren’t the Israelites still in Canaan?  Why don’t they just use the same distribution of territory that they had before the destruction of Israel and Judah?

A. I honestly don’t have a good answer for that, but it probably comes from God’s desire to do something new.

Q. (2 Kings 25:27): What happened to Nebuchadnezzar?

A. As we read in Daniel (Babylonian historians don’t mention the years in question for Nebuchadnezzar’s rule, which could imply the loss of his sanity as the Bible suggests), he loses his mind, but is restored according to the story.  He is not mentioned in the Bible again.

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.

Day 197 (July 16): Isaiah prophecies for Ethiopia, Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Arabia, Jerusalem, Shebna and Tyre

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 18:1-7

Isaiah 19:1-25

Isaiah 20:1-6

Isaiah 21:1-17

Isaiah 22:1-25

Isaiah 23:1-18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 18:1-7): I’m not sure what is going on here.  Why was Ethiopia brought into the picture?

A. Back on June 30th, when we last looked at Isaiah, I mentioned that this is the “Jonah” section of Isaiah.  What I mean by that is it is the section where God commands Isaiah to prophecy to various nations in the area, and now the list includes the various nations and tribes we see here, Ethiopia (other translations call it Cush), Assyria, Tyre, Edom, etc.  God is calling these other nations to repentance just as He does with Israel.

Q. (19:1): Rob, I want to look back to your second answer on Day 195 about angels and demons.  You said that fallen angels may be some of the demonic influences in other nations.   Just to get this straight, can they be associated with some of the man-made gods that were created?  Or is it more like God, unseen, but a lesser power?  I’m just bringing this up because verse 1 says “The idols in Egypt tremble.”

A. The idols worshipped in these other nations are not God, but they may — we can’t be sure — be associated with other spiritual powers such as demons.  Certainly many of the actions required of these “gods” such as human sacrifice reflect a spirit that is certainly against what the true God desires.  So in that sense, these gods are acting in ways counter to what God desires.  But it remains a mystery how much influence these evil, demonic spirits have in the OT.  We only get glimpses: our focus is to be on God.  Regarding the “quaking idols,” I believe Isaiah is using metaphorical language.

Q. (19:3): Rob, can you comment about “spirits of the dead”?

A. It’s referring to a soul or other spirit of a person disconnected from a body by death.  The ancient world believed that consulting with such spirits was one way to control the future, so it is no surprise that we see this here.  Israel was strictly forbidden from doing it, but other nations were not.

Q. (19:23-25): God is just expanding His kingdom here?

A. Sort of.  This is once again a vision of life in the Kingdom of God after the great Day of Reckoning or Judgment.  In that day, Isaiah says, the former conflicts — like the rivalries between Egypt, Israel, and Assyria — will disappear and the people will be united in the worship of God.

Q. (20:1-6): What happened?  I thought Assyria and Egypt were allies.  It seems as the king of Assyria is always a thorn in someone’s side.  Poor Isaiah — naked and barefoot for three years!  That is some servant!  Now, the Philistines are thrown into the ring too.  I don’t know what’s going on here.

A. These various factions are constantly making and shifting alliances.  We see this in the story we are reading as well: sometimes Judah and Israel (before being destroyed) were allies, and sometimes they were bitter enemies.  Assyria and Egypt are the two most powerful nations of this era at this time, so it is no surprise that they both tried to gain the upper hand against each other, even if it meant betraying former alliances.

Q. (22:1-14): So, Jerusalem finally got hit.  Reading the account is strange.  It says they were destroyed by famine and disease.  Famine and disease usually occur over time.  This account sounds like it happened in one day.  Is there any reason to the order of destruction of these countries?  Israel was destroyed some time ago.

A.  Narratively speaking, this is a prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction, not the “event” itself if that makes sense.  The city will be under siege for several years before it falls — which we will read about in Jeremiah and 2 Kings — with plenty of time for the famine and disease aspects Isaiah talks about to take place.

Q. (22:15-25): The palace administrator was obviously corrupt, but we haven’t heard much about him, right?

A. No, we do not know much of anything about him, other than the fact that his name implies that he was not an Israelite: he was most likely an Egyptian.

Q. (23:17-18): So even the most proud place will convert to God?  Why is Tyre likened to a prostitute?

A. Tyre was a sea-faring nation, and they hired their ships out to whoever gave them the most money.  They didn’t care where it came from or what it was for.  God is saying that they have sold their soul and are “whoring” themselves out in ways that do not please Him.  In the Day of the Lord, all nations will see God’s glory and turn to Him, even the most proud.

Day 141 (May 21): Solomon shows wisdom in his judgment, Solomon prepares for temple construction, Solomon builds the Lord’s temple, lavish temple interior designed

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.

1 Kings 3:16-28

1 Kings 5:1-18

2 Chronicles 2:1-18

2 Chronicles 3:1-14

1 Kings 6:14-38

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Kings 3:16-28): This well-known story almost seems like a parable.

A. I can see why you would say that, but it does match things that we know about the society at the time: part of what Moses established was a series of rulers/courts for the people to come and see justice as these women are seeking.  There may be some “parabolic” elements to it, but the author has something greater in mind that will come into view later.  I won’t spoil what yet, but I promise to bring it to your attention when we get there in a few days.

O. (5:13-15): It’s extremely hard to imagine a labor force that large — 153,600 — to build a temple.  But how many times have you been on a tour of some historic building and just wondered how many people it took to build it with all of it’s intricate details and many of them have elaborate paintings.  And this one is for God.  Just for fun, I looked up the top U.S. employers.  Check it out at http://www.statisticbrain.com/u-s-largest-employers/ Keep in mind the employees of these large companies are scattered all over.  Solomon’s laborers were concentrated in a few spots.  My husband retired from the Navy last year.  His last tour was on an aircraft carrier, which holds about 5,000 sailors.  It’s hard to imagine that many people on one ship.  But, Solomon had a crew that would fill about 31 U.S. Navy ships.

Q. (2 Chronicles 2:1-18): The 2 Chronicles account is much more detailed than the 1 Kings account.

A. Yes.  Some places Kings give the “fuller” story, and in some places its Chronicles.

Q. (1 Kings 6:2-10): This is a great visual description of the temple plans.  Will we learn what activities went on in the temple?  Solomon just mentioned to King Hiram that God was too great to have just a temple built for Him.  And that it could at least be a place to burn offerings.  Was he telling a fact or just being humble?

A. The Temple will be treated as exactly as the Tabernacle was in the wilderness: it will have the same sections and divisions as the Tabernacle: an outer court for sacrifices, an inner court for the priests, and the Holy of Holies, where the Ark will reside.  Once that happens, the people will come to the Temple to make their sacrifices and offerings.

Q. (2 Chronicles 3:3-14): I guess Solomon is dictating the size and design of the temple.  In the desert, God dictated the design for the Tabernacle.  Is this because God was teaching the Israelites what he desired and now that it’s been over 400 years since the Tabernacle was built, the Israelites have learned what God desires for a place of offering?

A. While the instructions were not “dictated” as they were to Moses, there is no reason to assume that God did not give Solomon the vision for the Temple.  I don’t know the scale, but the Temple dimensions correspond proportionally to the Tabernacle, so that is part of the plan as well.  Basically the Temple is in every way a suitable replacement for the Tabernacle.

Q. (1 Kings 6:28-29): I can’t imagine so much being overlayed with gold!  Is there any information about the whereabouts of the Temple now?  And speaking of past, sacred worshiping venues, what happened to the Tabernacle and its contents?

A. The Temple has been destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times over the centuries — I won’t say more right now, that’s part of the story.  But the area of the Temple mount is surely known to this day: a portion of the western wall — called the Wailing Wall — still stands to this day, and is a sacred place for Jews to visit in Jerusalem.  Mount Moriah is also currently the home to the Dome of the Rock erected around 700 AD, one of the sacred sites of Islam, which, as you might imagine, has created some tension over the years.  So the sight itself is well known, but as to the temple itself, hang on.  Let’s get it built first and dedicated (cool story!) before we start talking about where it is today.