Day 233 (Aug. 21): God insulted by Israelite leaders request for a ‘message’, God reminds them of their sins and their ancestors sins, God reprimands but promises to restore, message of fire for Negev, God draws His sword on Israel, Israel fooled by Babylon, Ammonites to be wiped out, wickedness prevails in Jerusalem

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 20-22:16

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 20:1-26): I know you will have a comeback for this gotcha questions.  But, in v. 3, God says he will not give the Israelite leaders a message, but then he goes on for the rest of this story and gives information for Ezekiel to pass on to the leaders.  Maybe it’s not the kind of “message” they desired?  Also, can you explain vs. 21-26?  In v. 25, God says that he gave Jacob’s descendants “worthless decrees and regulations.”  What story is this referring to?  God also allowed them to kill their firstborn as an offering to idols.  God has said that this is a detestable act.  Why would He allow it?

A. I’m sure “you’re going to die horribly for your sins” was not exactly the message they were seeking, so I would agree with your likely guess that God’s response was hostile.  In this instance, they were trying to take advantage of Ezekiel’s connection with God for their own gain (according to this reading), which was just one more insult to God Himself.

The verses you refer to have something to do with the radical laws of certain kings (specifically Ahaz and Manasseh) and their commands.  Per Exodus 13, as we looked at long ago, God required that every firstborn male be consecrated to Him, but it appears that these men required that the infants actually BE SACRIFICIED to these pagan gods in question (v. 26).  Not only was this a horrible affront to God as it related to His view of children, but the corruption of one of the most sacred laws of the Torah was simply insult to injury.  I think it is clear to see why God was upset.

Q. (21:4): Why would God cut off the righteous too?  In an earlier vision with the six men carrying weapons and the other wearing linen, God instructed that marks be put on some people and those people were spared in the massacre.  Here, he is not sparing anyone.

A. The punishment being enacted by God is severe, so everyone will suffer in this crisis.  This does not mean that God will kill them in the physical sense, but that they will be under judgment and part of whatever God allows to happen to the city.  In this case that is famine and suffering under siege.

Q. The sword symbolizes God’s wrath?

A. Yes, and the sword is “drawn” to bring down that wrath via the Babylonians.

Q. (21:27): Who is God referring to here when He says “it will not be restored until the one appears who has the right to judge it”?

A. My interpretation of the verse is that it refers to the Messiah, Jesus.  Note what is being said here: you princes and other rulers are about to lose your throne, and the throne will not be reestablished until I give it to one from your line (David).  No king will again sit on David’s throne until Jesus (and even He does it metaphorically), so that would be my explanation.  God will not give the true throne of Jerusalem over to anyone but the one to whom it rightly belongs: the Messiah.

Q. (22:1-16): I am confused because I thought God was going to bring the exiles back to a renewed Jerusalem, but here in v. 4, God says, “You have reached the end of your years.”

A. The judgment is upon the corrupt kings/princes that have served in Jerusalem AFTER the exiles have been taken, so God is free to proclaim judgment upon those who are left (remember our images of good and bad fruit from earlier in this book? -The bad fruit stayed in Jerusalem!) and still restore the exiles.  Only the corrupt face complete destruction; God will save His remnant, even if they must suffer through the process.

Day 220 (Aug. 8): False prophets and teachers are not spakeing for the Lord, mourning for Judah, no trust left between the people, weeping everywhere, bodies will be scattered, hypocrits will be revealed and punished, idolatry brings destruction, idolatry worshipers are foolish, God is the only Creator, destruction to all of Judah, Jeremiah prays for wrath for wicked, Judah’s broken covenant, God reassures Jeremiah of His protection

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 8:4-11:23

Questions & Observations

O. (Jeremiah 8:4-11): This whole passage put a thought in my head of how impressionable we are from our parents and teachers.  Family businesses, customs, recipes, beliefs and so many other things are handed down from generation to generation and they become so engrained in our minds that it’s hard to change them.  That is all great, unless someone is handing down the wrong information from generation to generation and never questions it or looks at the rulebook, the Bible.  What I’m saying is that we have a responsibility to check the rulebook and question what information we are being fed and then, what we hand down to our children.  I think, that, in part, is some of what’s happening here.  Remember when we went through the deluge of kings and many of them said that they were “evil in the Lord’s sight. (They) followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.”  So, what one teacher or parent does is extremely impressionable on children.  Two Sundays ago, the pastor was commenting on how people become what their parents envision.  His dad said he would be a great leader.  Now he is.  Not that you should determine what profession your kids will go into, rather teach them love and point out their talents that they may want to share with others.  And, question those practices that “are because they are and always have been.”  When my mom was here this last summer, she told me she thought it was a good idea for me to continue working at this preschool.  The school was great, but teaching is not a gift I have never had and probably never will.  So, I told her I was trying to follow God’s direction.  I must say though, it is not always easy to know where he is directing me.  He has shown me my talents, but I don’t have a clear way of using them.  (It just dawned on me that I am right now in this blog.  So I need to be patient and open my eyes to what he reveals to me.)

Q. (8:18-9:2): When I first read this I thought it somewhat mimics the feelings Jesus went through as he struggled to get the people, especially the church leaders, to follow Him.  Here, we are seeing God’s grief for His people.  Is he sad because he has lost so many people?  Is He angry or embarrassed because this nation who he is trying to make an example of is failing Him?  Regardless, we see His steadfast love for them.

A. I don’t think God feels embarrassment, because that would imply that He was ashamed of something, but I think that He is wholeheartedly expressing anger and sadness for the way that Israel’s sin has hurt the people.  It isn’t just the idolatry, it is the effect their sinfulness is having on their relationships with each other: their sin is leading to corruption of the leaders, exploitation of the people, and violence.  These are always the consequences of sin left to its own devices.  That, ultimately, is what God is upset about: the way the people’s sin is causing them to turn on their own people in order to get ahead.

O. (9:23-24): This is an unexpected nice little pearl in the midst of all this upheaval, bloodshed, destruction and rot.

23 This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.

24 But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

(And I say, AMEN!! I’m a big foe of boasting!)

Q. (9:25): God is talking about those who have the mark of the Lord, but are void of the Holy Spirit?

A. He is talking about people who have the “outer” marking of belonging to God (circumcision), but whose hearts are unchanged by their relationship with God.  This is a theme Jeremiah will continue to explore.  Also, Paul takes up a discussion of this theme in Romans chapter 2, so watch for that down the road.

Q. (10:23, 25, 11:4): Rob, I know you are a believer that we have free choice.  But, what do you say about Jeremiah’s statement in v. 23: I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.  We are not able to plan our own course.?  Yet, in v. 25, Jeremiah says, “Pour out your wrath … on the peoples that do not call upon your name,” which indicates these people have a choice.  V. 11:4 further hints at free choice when it says “If you obey me and do whatever I command you …” Is there any books you can recommend for the free-will vs. predestination debate?

A. There is ample evidence for both positions in the Bible, it is simply a matter of deciding how the theology of Predestination and Free Will “fit” into the greater story.  I’m not sure I could recommend a volume on both positions, but I would recommend the work of Roger E. Olson on Free Will Theology (also called Arminianism) and the works of Kenneth Stewart on Calvinism.

Q. (11:14): God has definitely counted past three with no response.  He’s done.  The Israelites have obviously not been reminded lately of the story of Noah and the Ark!  All the evil people died!

A. All of Judah will be punished, though not all of them will die.  You have seen in our reading that it is already happening.

Q. (11:21-23): I like these verses.  Jeremiah asks the Lord to get even.  He basically says, “don’t worry, they will pay.  That is my job as the great judge.”  I enjoy the ending, “I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”  God is gently telling Jeremiah that He will take care of them, but reminding Jeremiah that He is Lord and it will come when He’s ready, not Jeremiah.  So, don’t wait around for it.  Go on with your life.

A. It can be of great assurance to some people that there will be a reckoning in life.  There is an expectation among many of our most corrupt and wealthy today — sadly including clergy — that they can do whatever they want because they have the money and power to do so.  I’m thinking of those individuals who basically wrecked our economy and caused millions to lose their homes by recklessly playing the financial market in order to make a ton of money.  Jeremiah’s message rings for them as well: Beware!  Judgment is coming, and you will have to answer for what you have done.

 

Day 208 (July 27): Empty worship is false worship, sin separates from God, Justice comes from God not humans, evildoers will be dealt with, God’s words will give you words, all will see Jerusalem’s glory, tell everyone that the Savior is coming

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 58-63

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 58:6-7): This fasting sounds much easier than not eating.  I don’t know if everyone who tries to fast goes cuckoo.  But, I do.  My blood sugar tanks and I can’t think straight until I get some good (healthy) food.  I know that’s not the point of these verses.  I’m just admiring them, because it would bring me much more happiness to help others than to be hungry.  And, more importantly it makes me happy to please God.  I think we have talked some about fasting.  But, I think we’ll talk more about it in the NT?  Speaking of helping others: I was helping a friend move tonight and it made me think about our movers.  Being in the Navy we have had three major moves.  So, we had some experience with movers.  They definitely work hard.  When we unpacked in Guam, the workers brought all of their lunch — and napped for 30 minutes afterward, I guess it’s a custom there, which actually makes a lot of sense.  The guys who unpacked our goods in Virginia asked for lunch.  We had never been told by the housing office to provide lunch.  We gave them a little leftover pizza we had, but we were kind of annoyed at the request.  Besides, we were busy with moving.  And, we know they were told to bring their own.  So, when we packed out the last time, I had inquired with other military families if they provided lunch for their movers.  They overwhelmingly said “yes.”  No, we weren’t expected to by the housing office, but these guys are working at lightening speed and trying to be careful and lifting a lot of very heavy stuff.  I think my friends said that if you treat them well, they’ll treat your stuff well.  So, that was my motivating thought.  But, then as we talked to them and asked them what they wanted to eat and drink, we joked and got to know them better.  We memorized their favorite drinks and got them at Sonic’s happy hour.  We had a great time with them over the three days it took to load the truck.  And, they truly did take care of our furniture.  But, that wasn’t the motivating feeling anymore.  It was that we were serving them.  And, they weren’t movers anymore, they were friends.  Besides, who is more important, the people or your stuff?  Can you imagine the people standing over them day after day scrutinizing their every move?  There are probably some who aren’t careful.  But, if you are kind to them, that’s showing them God’s love and it will reflect back.  My husband was sitting down with a couple of the packers over lunch and I think they were taken aback because they weren’t used to that.  But, when we found out their life stories, it was so rewarding.  They had been movers for a very long time, like 20 some years.  I can’t imagine working that hard for that long.  They drive across the country.  They hate working in the winter and unpacking when it’s freezing.  Talk about serving others!

A. What a fascinating story about the importance of fellowship and getting to know people.  It is easy to see why Jesus spent so much of His earthly ministry during service via meals.  You bring up a good point about fasting, and we will indeed talk about it in the NT, but Jesus makes a keen observation about fasting in the Gospels: the fasting is for afterwards.  We will learn what that means in due time.

Q. (58:10): When it says, “feed the hungry and help those in trouble.”  Besides the literal meaning, can the words have a loose meaning like use your talents to help others?  I have another thought on this too.  So many people think about climbing the ladder or checking off items on their bucket list.  But, what we should really do is know what the Bible says to know what God expects of us — that is the true road to happiness anyway — and listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance on what His plan is for us.  Is that accurate?

A. Yes, I would say that’s accurate.  First of all, though, don’t ignore the legitimate need of feeding those around us: many people do not have enough food to be comfortable, and feel a great sense of shame in asking others, including their church, for assistance.  So oftentimes the issue goes unaddressed.  The Spirit can indeed be a useful guide in helping to “find” those who really do need food but do not desire to be found.  Beyond that, however, caring for the needs of a neighbor is a blank slate: you can do with it as you desire, or as you feel God leading you.

Q. (58:13): Is this just for the Israelites because of the NT’s New Covenant or should we, today, follow this advice?  Occasionally, I get “lazy” on a Sunday and “skip” church.  Of course, I feel the guilt, mostly because I worry about what my husband thinks of me playing hooky.  It’s mostly because I have been so swamped in the week and I just need a day or a morning to sleep in — and God happens to be the one that I choose to delete from my week.  Is that bad?  (Doesn’t happen often!)  Also, I feel guilty for daydreaming during songs or group prayer at church.  I feel bad to be in prayer and I’m not focused.  When I pray by myself, I am normally very focused.

A. However we interpret it — Jews maintain the Sabbath is Saturday, Christians Sunday — the Sabbath is a gift to mankind and needs to be respected.  Christians are not “required” to, in the legalistic sense of the word, but I know from personal experience that if I skip a day of rest (note the irony of that statement, and also the way you phrased your question: you described being “lazy” on the Sabbath and not going to church), I am the one who suffers.  Our lives were given to us by God to be in a certain rhythm: six days of work, and a day of rest.  We like to think of ourselves as being “better” than this requirement because we take “two” days off from work, but many times our weekends are no less busy than our weekdays.  We rarely take time to be relaxed and enjoy God and family, but I think we all would be better off if we carved out a full day (or as close as we can manage) to do so.  It is not a requirement: it is wisdom from God that few people ever see!

O. (59:9): I like this verse: There is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living.  That means we need to look to God for justice and the right ways to live.  We do not have it among ourselves.  Therefore, goodness comes from God.

Q. (59:21): “My Spirit will not leave them and neither will these words I have given you.  They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children …”  This verse is directed to Israel, but is it applicable for us?  I would think the verse means that He will give us the right words to say if we are walking with Him.  It’s like when you are thinking of something to say and you have: Option A) what your brain would think to say, and Option B) words that God puts on your lips — what I call my “God filter.”  Now that I understand more and more how I should walk with God, I don’t have to think as much about what the proper thing to say is, it’s just appears on my lips.  I think “why didn’t I think of that?”  I know the words are not my own, but I sound so much wiser.  Thank you, God!

A. Very interesting thoughts.  Though it will feel foreign to us — we tend to read the Bible as “insiders” — we as Christians should pay the closest attention to what Isaiah (and other prophets) are saying about God’s movement to OTHER NATIONS.  We are not of the tribe of Israel, so the verses about foreigners in the house of God is much more applicable to us than any verse about the word of God about Israel.  At this moment, the other nations of the world are on the “outside” looking in, but all that is about to change in the NT.

Q. (60:8-9): How does word get out about Jerusalem’s restoration?  I would think it would take awhile.

A. I think the answer to that will present itself, so let’s let the story unfold.

Q. (60): I am amazed that God is giving Israel all of this glory in light of all their disobedience and idol worship.  Vs. 19-22 sound like heaven, especially in the last line that says “At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”  Or, is it just talking about the restored Jerusalem?

A. It is talking about the Eternal Jerusalem in the Kingdom of God.  It is a vision of the final restoration of all things that centers around a renewed Jerusalem that will be God’s personal dwelling.

Q. (62:8): The thought of God handing over Jerusalem, the city of the beloved David, to enemies seems ruthless.  But, with all of the disobedience and defiance, they had it coming.  I bet it was harder on God than on them.

A. I will bet you are right.

Q. (63:1-6): I’m not sure what Isaiah is describing here.

A. Isaiah is using the image of winepress — a place where grapes are trampled and crushed to cause fermentation and make wine — and a warrior, God, who has tread the winepress of His wrath.  Note the color imagery: when you worked a winepress of what we call “red” grapes — which are really purple — you end up covered in purple/bluish pigment from the grapes.  In this image, the Warrior is covered in red (blood) from having crushed the enemies of God in the winepress of wrath.  This is actually the inspiring image and scripture for the first few lines of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, written during the U.S. Civil War.

Q. (63:7): This sounds like a proper prayer.  At Summit Orlando, we had a sermon on how to pray.  I still have the postcard that gives the directions, although I haven’t followed it even half-heartedly … yet.  But, I think it gives us a guide to build a prayer and enter God’s presence respectfully.  It’s in four parts.  But, the card doesn’t tell me if I read down or left to right, so I’m not sure of the order of the second and third part.  But, here it goes:

1) Adoration: God, I worship you because you are … (Psalm 8, 19, 23, 46, 95, 100, 148, Luke 1:46-55, 68-79.

2) Confession: I need Your forgiveness for … I need Your strength to overcome …  (Psalm 103:12, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

3) Thanksgiving: Thank You, God, for Your blessings.  I am so grateful for … (Psalm 103:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Luke 17:11-19)

4) Supplication: God, I know that no request is too big for You to handle or too small for you to care about.  I lift up these needs to You, trusting in Your plan … (Philippians 4:6, James 1:5, 4:2, 1 Peter 5:7).

So many times, I just jump to 4 if I need help.  That should be the last thing to include and know that You are asking, God is hearing and He does have a plan which will likely not be the same plan you have.  It will be better and like a surprise.  We seem to magically get money in the mail when we are wondering how we will pay insurance or something like that.  We look at it and just well up with tears.  It’s fun to see how God is going to surprise us.

A. You’ve got the order right: we begin with adoring who God is, confessing our sin, giving thanks for what He has done, and then asking Him to supply our needs.  This is hardly a “hard and fast” role, and our prayer lives should be conversational in nature, but I find that this method is useful for helping me keep “first things first”: God is the beginning of my prayer life, not my own needs.

Day 194 (July 13): Songs for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem: deliver me from those who deceive, God is always watching and helping, Jews are feeling the pressure from mockers, keep the wicked away, their days may be hard but the rewards are plentiful

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.

Psalm 120-121

Psalm 123

Psalm 125

Psalm 126

Questions & Observations

Q. These Psalms are for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.  Why are they going there?

A. They are making a pilgrimage to the holy city in order to worship God and, most likely, participate in one of the three annual festival/holy days (from Exodus 23:14-17 and 34:18-23): Pesach/ Passover, Sukkot/ Feast of Booths, and Shavuot/ Feast of Weeks.  Since Jerusalem would have been higher than the surrounding countryside, it would have required walking up the steep roads to enter the city, and it would have been treated as a formal path of pilgrimage.

Q. (Psalm 120): Any idea who wrote this or what it’s about?

A. Nope, I won’t be much help.  My notes indicate that the places described in verse 5 are in what is now Saudi Arabia, far from the Jewish nation, so this writer had quite a ways to go to reach the holy city.  Because of this distance, he likely feels very isolated and surrounded by “barbarians” who don’t know God.

Q. (121): I think many times people think they have the hard end of the relationship with God because they struggle to keep His commandments.  But, it always feels so ironic that God is doing so much work by always being there, watching over us.  He really is our servant.

A. In a manner of speaking.  God is beyond generous with each of us, but let there be no doubt that while God often “serves” us, it is only that we might turn from our sins and walk more closely with Him.  We should have no illusions about who is in charge, and it is not us.

Q. (123): It sounds like these pilgrims have had enough of taking ridicule from nonbelievers.  They are looking to God to rescue them?

A. As we get closer to the destruction of Judah, the pressure on the people will continue to mount, and the presence of foreigners who mock them for their faith will continue to grow.  The words have been a great comfort to Jews for more than 2300 years, as the people have been conquered, scattered, and persecuted by people of other faiths (including Christians, sadly) for our entire modern history.  God is certainly laying groundwork here to help His chosen people remain faithful, even after centuries of persecution.

Day 191 (July 10): Thank God for always being there to rescue, the wise will see the ways of the Lord, the godly will be honored and infuriate the wicked, God revives those who are suffering

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.

Psalms 107, 111-114

 

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalm 107:1-7): God has such grace and mercy.  No matter how far away from God one has strayed, he will always welcome them back and give them a place to reside.  What a gift we have in Him!

O. (111:10): Great verse.  I have been feeling wiser.  Reading the Bible in it’s entirety is the best decision I have ever made.  I have wanted to do it for so long and started several times.  What could be more important in life than knowing God’s textbook.  It should be the foundation for who we are and how we live!  I always said — because I hadn’t found time to read the Bible — that as long as I love everyone and act accordingly, I would “make it.”  But, I can see that I was naïve!  There is a ton more of knowledge available that is helping me know more of what my life is about.  I wish everyone could make the time!

O. (112:1): Several years ago, we were gearing up for our daughter to attend Kindergarten.  Although we lived in the best school district in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, we wanted our daughter to not just be exposed to Christianity, but to live it, to be it.  What a great decision that was!  I cringe at the thought of my kids not being allowed to pray or not taught the virtues of the Bible.  If there is any bullying going on at school, it is immediately dealt with.  In my daughter’s Second Grade class, I have witnessed kids talking through hurt feelings with love and respect.  These kids are so compassionate.  I left my daughter’s birthday party in tears.  Each child said a prayer out loud for her.  Classical Christian schools rock!  They make it very clear that God should be the center of our lives.  I know by talking about this that some may think I’m a know-it-all or inconsiderate because private schools are so expensive.  In society’s standards, we can’t afford it.  Many things have been put on hold because our children’s education comes first.  I’m just saying, check it out!  And, there are scholarships available.  (Sorry for those of you who are reading this and have no children.)

Q. (112:3): I’m holding out for the riches.  Really, God, I will be generous!  I do believe that if you follow what God wants you to do that you will have just what you need to be very happy.

A. There’s one of those old “conversations with God” that get used in sermons a lot that I have that I think sums up my thoughts on your question: I asked God to give me happiness. And God said “No”.  He said, “He gives me blessings, happiness is up to me.”

O. (112:4): I love these three virtues — generosity, compassion and righteousness.  If your life isn’t great by society’s standards, I think it’s awesome that a light can shine if you are a believer of God.  I think those three things can help you stay happy by giving of yourself.

Q. (112:7): As I have said in the above observation that our budget is tight.  We moved a year ago, my husband started his own business which can be stressful, you know this if you have ever done it, our daughter’s school bill doubled with the change of school and we have another child starting, so our school bill will be quadrupling from two years ago.  But, the more we trust in God, the less we are concerned about it.  It’s scary that it feels good.  I guess money is the fear that we are trying to hand over to God.  But, there are more fears like my in-laws are dealing with: many of their friends are fatally ill.  I’m sure that makes them look at their own vitality.  There are fears about our children being safe.  Just pray and hand those worries over to God!

A. (Just as a quick note, when I’m discussing fear in my response, I’m not talking about fear in the sense of reverence for God, and a right understanding of who He is, as in Proverbs 1:7, among other references.  I would use the word reverence myself.  That’s not the type of fear I’m going to be discussing).  Now then: fear (anxiety, cowardice, etc.) though sometimes a powerful motivator, is ultimately a fruitless emotion.  And fear is not of God.  If you think about it (and as 1 John 4:18 notes), the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.  Fear is the very antithesis of what God calls us to.  We are called to see the example of His love for us on the cross, and trust Him with the rest.  The more we trust Him, the less we will fear.  Now that doesn’t mean that fear will just, poof, disappear.  We will continue to struggle with fear and sin our whole lives, even as we grow closer to God.  But as we see the work of God in the Bible and in our lives, we will see that God calls us to have a spirit of boldness and trust, not a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  One of the most common commands in scripture (especially when encountering God or an angelic being) is, “do not fear”.  Trust in God, and learn from Christ what it means to live a bold life for Him.

Day 188 (July 7): Give thanks to the Creator, God is eternally strong, the wicked will be judged justly, the godly get joyful rewards, nothing can conquer God,

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.

Psalms 92-97

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalm 92): Notice the organization of this psalm.  First, they say to give thanks and praise God in the morning in the evening (to me, whenever or as much as the feeling arises).  Second, they show their depth of knowledge of what God means, acknowledging God’s complexity and creation. And lastly, the amazing rewards for the godly.

Q. (94): Here the author is naming some ungodly traits: gloating, arrogance, boasting.  He is saying that these wicked people should wake up.  Are they so foolish that the think God will not notice their sins, that He will spare them?  This always makes me think of judgment day: those who have always rose to the top as they put others down will have the tables turned on them.  It’s bitter sweet though.  As a Christian, I feel sad for them that they didn’t see the Light and now will suffer for a very long time.

A. One of the common warnings Jesus gave during His earthly ministry is summarized in Matthew 20:16, “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”  It is what is commonly called the great reversal.  It is a clear warning to those who have enjoyed life in this world without consideration for others who are not as fortunate.  Wealth can be a great blessing from God, and in the right hands it is.  As long as we keep a proper perspective on things (i.e. all the wealth we have comes from God’s blessing, not our effort), then we will have nothing to fear from our wealth on the Day of Judgment.  But if our attitude is that we have earned all that we have, and it is to be used for our benefit and comfort alone, we will likely be in grave trouble.  Now I would add that salvation is possible for all who believe in Christ, but if a person of great wealth who uses it to exploit others, I would question whether they had understood the central message of the Gospel at all.

Q. (96): This is a psalm of huge proclamation.  Verse 13 is talking of the messiah?

A. I would say no: it appears to be speaking of the rule of God alone, and His earthly King/Messiah does not appear to come into view in this writer’s perspective.

Day 187 (July 6): Joyful are His followers, a charge for the kings, the wicked are successful but they will feel God’s wrath, God created us, He knows us, a cry for God’s care, those who find shelter in God find rest

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.

Psalms 1-2, 10, 33, 71, 91

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalms 1:1-3): If you think about things that kind of irritate you, bring you down and you just can’t shake them, where do those thoughts stem from?  I hadn’t thought about this until just now.  Whatever those thoughts are, they do not include God.  But, when I am focused on God, I am always happy.  When I listen to our local Christian music station, 88.3 FM, I am welling with happiness.  So, set your eyes on God and you will find happiness!

O. (1:4-6): What a comfort to know that God is always watching over us, as long as we are on His path.

Q. (2:7): We talked before about the anointed kings being like God’s sons.  The people are encouraged to follow the king’s orders and the kings are charged with being wise and making good decisions.  Why does God link the kings directly to Him?

A. Ok, first things first.  Generally, one of the ways that these ancient cultures thought about royalty is that their leaders were anointed by God (or whatever other gods there were in their society), and were therefore given the title of “son” of God/god.  This is only a cultural title, and does not generally apply to actual genealogy.  Now, having said that, this Psalm is something else entirely.  Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm, one that describes actions or characteristics of the Messiah, God’s anointed or chosen, ruler, and here we see the ruler described as an earthly king.  So in this case, the writer really is referring to a father/son type relationship between God and this Messianic ruler, which the Jews of this era would have been expecting.

One of the “offices” or “titles” that the Messiah will hold (that is, and office anointed by God) is that of king (the others are priest and prophet, so watch for Messianic descriptions of these offices as well).  He is God’s chosen ruler, the one whom the government will be on His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).  He, the whole of God and the best of our humanity, will be the true ruler in the Kingdom of God.

Q. (2:16-17): This psalm and many others speaks so confidently about God’s power, yet they also speak of their reservations about God not being sovereign and failing to help ones who are suffering.

A. I think they are being true to their thoughts: they know God to be all-powerful, and trust in Him, but see that their reality is a lot more “gray” then they would like.  It, to me, is the writer’s attempt to reconcile the truth of God with what they see.

Q. This is a random thought: it seems like in Bible times, people who were following God, or any false god, made lots of time in their day to worship.  I would say a good majority of Sunday Christians just worship on Sunday and maybe say prayers before they eat dinner.  In contrast, some religions in other countries worship at set times during the day and may seem more devoted than the when-we-make-time-for-it religion. But, I’m wondering if God maybe might approve of someone’s faith in Him when they worship on their own time and don’t feel forced to attend.

A. As we have discussed with the issues that got the Jews in trouble in this era, God is after our hearts first and foremost.  So we’ve got to get rid of this idea that we are being “forced” to do anything with our relationship with God.  If you feel like you have to force yourself to be part of religious ritual, then frankly, I would say that’s a problem with you!  It should be our desire to make God the priority in our lives.  From the 10 Commandments on, however, we see that God only requires one day a week from us (the Sabbath—however we choose to interpret it).  What we give from there is, strictly speaking, up to us.  (And I would say the same applies to tithing — 10% required, more than that optional and at our discretion).  Our relationship with God should never feel forced: we would be very concerned about a person if they were asking, “how much time do I have to spend with my kids or my spouse?”  That would tell me there’s a major problem with the relationship, and it would be the same concern I would have if that’s the way they treated their relationship with God.

Now having said that, there’s a flip side to this that does need to be addressed.  I think that the record of scripture teaches clearly that giving God more of our time, talent, or treasure does NOT make Him love us more, but it may change us in the process (note the difference between the two!)  Being devoted to God more hours in a given day will not cause God to bless us more, but it might bring us into closer relationship with Him.

Q. (Psalm 71): It seems that a lot of Psalm writers are worried about God forsaking them.  The writers almost threaten God to not leave them.  Why?

A. Very likely some of these Psalms are written in the midst of terrible things happening to the people of Judah (like watching a foreign power march through and destroy Israel).  The truly insightful Jew is willing to acknowledge that God is all they are really holding onto in the end, so if He “leaves,” then you know you are out of luck.

Q. (Psalm 71:20): Would you say that some “hardship” is sometimes just part of the plan?  I know that the big picture is just to keep trusting in God and He’ll take care of you.

A. Sure.  God does not guarantee us a smooth ride in life, but we believe that He is faithful.  If we ignore His warnings though, we are in danger of being forced to deal with the consequences of our actions.  The choice to sin always bears poisonous fruit, but often we cannot tell whom it will affect.

O. (Psalm 91:4): What a picture of protection!  What a great image of God watching His sheep.  I was thinking about how Jesus, God and the Spirit work for us.  I have always thought of Jesus working for us by saving us from our sins as he was nailed to the cross.  But, His influence didn’t stop there.  Jesus was always trying to reach more people to share the word of God and give them heaven’s salvation.  We are supposed to be like Jesus, reaching out to and protecting those who don’t know Him.