Day 356 (Dec. 22): Jesus is cornerstone for believers to build on and nonbelievers to stumble, respect those in authority, slaves who endure hardship will be rewarded, wives must accept husband’s authority, clothe yourself in inward beauty not outward appearance, husbands must treat wives as equal partner, pay back retaliation with blessings, God will reward those who suffer for doing what is right, live for God, watch over flock willingly not grudgingly, watch out for the prowling devil

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.

Day 356 (Dec. 22)

1 Peter 2:4-5:11

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Peter 2:18-25): On second reading, the slaves he is talking about, I think, are actual slaves, but I think this passage also includes all Christians: Those who can endure unfair treatment will be rewarded.  Does God condone slavery?  What about slavery in the U.S. was it wrong by God and should it have ended?

A. No more than any other human institution that exploits people, as slavery does.  Slavery, in its various forms, is a classic example of the exploitation that people frequently indulge in, including abuse (in all its forms), violence, and sex trafficking (which is frankly just sex slavery).  The ways that we humans too often treat each other in no way pleases God, but there can be light brought out of it as well, as Peter is describing.  If you endure suffering — suffering you don’t deserve, not that you do! — it is a powerful witness to the transformative power of Christ.  So though we often exploit each other (Americans included), Peter is saying that even the suffering of the exploited can be used to glorify God.

O. (3:3-6): My good friend is a hairstylist in Hollywood.  He sees celebrities constantly.  On a visit, his cousin wanted to go to the grocery store in the morning just dressed in casual clothes.  My friend told her no, no, you have to get ready to go to the store there.  Everyone is dressed to the nines, even on a weekend morning.  I just think about how much time that wastes and if you are out showing God’s love, how does that make people feel if, when you are talking to them all dressed up, they think that you are above their status and can’t relate to you.  It’s easy for me to get on the soapbox about this since I don’t spend hardly any time primping.  I always thought I was too lazy.  Now I can use the reason that I want my inward beauty to show.  J

Q. (4:1b): What does it mean to have “suffered physically for Christ” and “you will have finished with sin?”

A. I’m honestly not sure.  Best guess: if you are counted as a follower of Christ to the point where you are willing to suffer punishment for it, then like Christ, you have (symbolically) moved beyond sin, because those who are faithful have been purified of sin by God’s grace.

O. (4:7): Prayer is certainly something that I don’t take as seriously as I should.  And, I think more quiet time with God would draw me closer to Him.

O. (5:2b): Watching over others willingly sure makes it more enjoyable too!

Q. (5:8): This reminds me of our beloved former pastor, Isaac Hunter, who just took his own life.  I looked back on YouTube at some of his old skit videos.  He looked so normal, so together and happy.  The devil must have bore down on him hard for him to trip up and give up.  We can learn from Isaac’s fall.  The devil can trip us up so easily, we have to be on the lookout constantly.

A. While it can sound insensitive (I had tremendous respect for Isaac), what happened to Isaac did not happen overnight, or through a single “attack” of the devil.  I have a strong suspicion that Isaac suffered greatly for years because of his personal choices.  So while Satan may prowl, far too often we give him an opening and are forced to deal with the consequences, as Isaac did.  While the man that you saw in the videos presented an outward appearance of happiness — which may indeed have been genuine — I suspect that Isaac was hiding great pain that not even close friends, co-workers, or counselors could see.  He hid it so well.  Isaac was incredibly gifted, and I am so sad that those gifts have now been lost — partly because he would have been uniquely qualified to share with others about how to confront the demons that haunt you and pass to the other side with God’s help.

Day 342 (Dec. 8): Let Spirit be your power source, husbands and wives should be in a relationship as Christ is with the church, children should honor their parents, parents should bring them up in the Lord, God rewards slaves and masters alike who are in the Spirit, Put on armor of God, Pray at all times, Tychicus is going to Ephesus to give report, Paul greets church in Colosse, Christ is image of God, Christ is supreme!

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.

Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians while imprisoned in Rome.  He sent the letter to Colosse with Onesimus and Tychicus (See Col. 4:7-9), who were also carrying the letter to Ephesians (see Eph. 6:21-22).

Colossians 1:1-23

Questions & Observations

O. (Ephesians 5:18b-19, 20): I would say this is a good charge to be playing Christian music at all times.  We have a great station in Orlando, Z88.3! On a different note, v. 20 answers something I brought up a long time ago, that about when you pray, you only have to say “in Jesus name” if you ask for something.  Here it says that you should also when you give thanks.  I just think it’s important to give glory to Him every chance you get.

Q. (5:20-33): Rob, it’s OK, I’m not on my women’s equality throne.  I used to cringe at this Scripture because I never wanted to be considered less than a man.  I think the bigger picture here is our relationship with Christ.  He is the one we need to respect, honor, obey, love, worship, etc.  And, he gives us love and blesses us in return.  He really does that without us doing our part.  Likewise, if wives respect, uphold and love their husbands, just as we should with Christ, our husbands will be better people, just as Christ is better if his believers are virtuous.  After all, together, we are His body.

V. 33 hits the core, I think, of what men and women struggle with in their relationships.  Men love themselves, i.e. can have egos.  If they love their wives to the same degree, they will have a loving relationship.  If they put themselves before their wives — note Christ washes the disciples feet and he endured a grueling crucifixion — they will likely have discord.  I have seen many relationships where if the man has a strong ego, the wife is usually quiet and obedient, not a light like God desires.  And, I think some wives may struggle with the respect virtue.  We have a mind of our own, and especially in modern times, we are nearly equal in prosperity.  So, when entering a marriage, you both have to think of each other and not make major decisions by yourself.  I struggle with this, as you can probably tell, because I didn’t marry until I was 31 and had my own ways.  I was always headstrong though.  Anyway, I think some decisions he makes are wrong, but I know that he is human.  Also, I have learned that if I don’t agree with him, I shouldn’t just be quiet.  I talk through it with him so then I have understanding of his thought process and then, I can fully respect him.  This scripture describes more of working together and submitting to one another — not that husbands dominate their wives — like v. 21 says.  Note that it says, “submit to one another.”  It doesn’t say just “women submit.”

A.  You’ve hit upon the key to this section at the end: the idea is mutual submission, and the husband leads in that he is the first to submit.  That, of course, does not make him perfect, but it certainly demolishes any foolishness about this being a “men should dominate their women and the women should just take it” kind of passage.  The man should lead the relationship (and the wife should follow) in his willingness to die for her- to be willing to die to his own desires (especially control over her).  Many times men mistake the meaning of this passage (as women do) and say things like, “she won’t submit”.  But that’s not what Paul says: he says she should submit- after YOU DIE TO YOURSELF!  That is radically different, and it is a shame to me that more people of both genders do not understand the true meaning of this passage.

O. (6:1-3): Note to parents that it says children “belong to the Lord.”  That means we should cherish them treat them with respect.  I have never heard v. 3 before.  I’ll have to read that to my children.  I have a great aunt who will be 104 in January.  I think she wishes she hadn’t been so obedient.  Just kidding.  She is lonely.  All her friends are gone.

Q. (6:5-9): Rob, here’s a good one for you.  Explain slavery in the pre-Civil War U.S. in regards to this Scripture.  The war ended slavery because the Union said slavery was bad.  Here, the Scriptures say is just a way of life.

A. Ok, here goes: the slavery system in the ancient world was a system of slave debt, which frequently ended in the freedom of the slave.  People were frequently sold into slavery to settle debts in lieu of going to prison- and this type of slavery was rarely for life.  Now this is to be contrasted with the life-long, horribly abusive slavery associated with the slaves who were kidnapped from Western Africa during the colonial period of the United States and the Caribbean.  Slavery within the colonial system was for life, with beatings, brandings, separation of families (something the Roman system would not have allowed), and, don’t forget, it would have been entered into via kidnapping.  A master could also hang or beat an American slave to death, something that would NEVER have been allowed, even in barbaric Rome.

 

Something important to note here is that, despite Paul’s writings, there were people on both sides of the colonies (England and America) that took up what they saw as God’s command to abolish a slavery system that was exploitive and not necessary any longer.  You can read about one of the most famous, an Englishman named William Wilberforce- his story is told in a fairly recent movie called Amazing Grace (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454776/?ref_=nv_sr_1) which I would highly recommend to learn more about the reasons behind the abolition movement.

O. (6:8-9): Again, I would like to point out that God says everyone is equal here, no matter if you are a bazilliionaire or impoverished.  Remember where we read in the OT about how the tables will be turned when everything comes to light.  The overbearing people — rich, powerful (if used in the wrong spirit) will be shadowed by those they dominated on earth.  I think that is so cool that we will see our reward.  The test is to stay humble and on the right path.

Q. (6:11): What is the God’s armor?

A. It is a series of reminders that Paul presents using the metaphor of a solider putting on his armor for battle.  Paul is providing a reminder that there are spiritual, not merely physical, dangers in the world.  The devil has you in his crosshairs, Paul is saying, so you need to be prepared to deal with the spiritual realities of the world that we cannot see.  His advice is to remember the ways that God has provided for our spiritual needs, from the Bible, to guidance for our faith, to instruction in righteousness, in order to stand against the devil’s actions, and not retreat.  He is telling his people to stand firm!

Q. (6:18): What does it mean to “pray in the Spirit”?

A. I think he means using the Spirit to guide our prayers and give us insight into God’s will for us.

Q. (Colossians 1:22): There is so much depth to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  I have never thought of myself as holy and blameless, without fault.  That is hard to imagine/accept.

A. Well, if its any consolation to you, your blamelessness is not your doing, but rather God’s.  Amazing Grace indeed.

 

Day 323 (Nov. 19): Paul tells church not to judge others, God’s apostles are not showy, Paul condemns spiritual pride, Christians should settle their own disputes, avoid sexual immorality, marriage instructions

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 Corinthians 4-7

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Corinthians 4:9): I was almost going to say that God continues to use humble people to spread His word and now He has allowed them to be tattered, according to Paul’s letter.  However, it wasn’t really God who made them dirty, hungry, thirsty, tired, weak, bruised, etc., it was the people treating them that way.

A. That doesn’t make the people like Paul spreading the message of the Gospel less humble; if anything, through humility they are able to withstand the mistreatment of others.  I certainly think the things that Paul and his companions experienced — and will experience, including martyrdom — will only increase the power of their witness.

Q. (4:15): I don’t understand Paul saying that He became the church’s spiritual father.

A. He’s the one who founded the church at Corinth, so that makes him their spiritual father.  He’s not really bragging about this, but is rather attempting to get the Corinthians to follow his example the way that a child often tries to imitate their earthly father.

Q. (5:3-5): I don’t understand v. 5.  I think what Paul is trying to say here is that we want to save this man who is disrupting the church.

A. Paul’s order is to expel the man from the church — a form of church justice, something that is sadly rarely practiced today due to our “winking” attitude to sin.  So if the man is kicked out of “God’s” territory (the church), then he is given over to the realm that is not of God, or Satan.  This isn’t a literal punishment: Paul is not saying a demon will get him, but rather he is hoping that being expelled from the community by his friends will cause him such anguish that he will repent of his sin and return to the community a new man.

Q. (6:2): What does Paul mean by the believers will judge the world and the angels?

A. As those who will rule with Christ as heirs, we have the implication that we will have some role in judging (the Greek can also mean “rule” or “command”) the world and angels.  It is a unique passage, frankly, and Paul does not expand on what he means here, so we do not exactly know.  It is possible that Paul is sharing something that he assumes his audience will already be familiar with — i.e. something they understood in their culture that has been lost to history.  Ultimately, we don’t know for sure what he means, but I think it is safe to assume that our role in the next world will be as some sort of ruler or leader of some sort.  Interesting thought, isn’t it?

Q. (6:1-8): I think many people use the justice system to resolve disputes because it is easier than facing each other and figuring it out among themselves.  But, if believers are coming together to form the body of a church, they should be able to settle their own disputes, which I think would actually make them closer.

A. I couldn’t agree more, and I suspect that is what Paul has in mind.

Q. (6:9-11): One of my best friends growing up became gay after a couple years of college.  He has an awesome, but struggling, heart and considering what he has been through — a dad that beat and threatened him on a regular basis, a mom who also suffered physical and verbal abuse and dealt with her husband’s cheating, and had been molested by many men close to him.  With attention from these men, it’s no wonder that he leaned toward homosexuality.  I do wonder how his judgment will fair, but I know that God is God and He is the judge.  I just wish he could get pulled out of that lifestyle.  Pray, right?  I need to call him more often too.

A. There is nothing sinful about being attracted to people of the same gender, but I feel the Bible is pretty clear about sexual relationships among people of the same gender (though I am aware that not everyone feels that way).  We all have our temptations that we must face, and that honestly makes it hard for me to want to pass judgment on homosexuals as a person who has never experienced a sexual attraction to a man.  God knows our hearts, and also knows our past and difficulties, and will judge us accordingly.

Q. (7:8): By Paul saying that it’s better to stay single than married, it sounds so against the way God designed humans and the world.  He made man and woman so they could come together and create more humans.  If everyone were single, the world would die off, well … if they abstained from sex unless they were married.

A. It is interesting to me that Paul brings such a different mindset to the situation then we are used to, and that God — and the Bible — are big enough to handle multiple ideas in tension.  As you well say, without marriage and children, there is no future.  But Paul is probably looking at the situation as a man who wanted to fully devote himself to doing God’s will (as Jesus, who was also never married, did before him).  So it is certainly fascinating that the two men most responsible for the Christian faith were unmarried and celibate — a tradition that is carried to this day by priests, nuns, and monks all over the world.  God can make either way for us work, but I think that Paul at least makes it clear that there are pros and cons to being single or married.  And in a society that is literally OBSESSED with weddings (less so marriages, but anyway…), I bet there are some interesting insights about celibacy in the reading.

Q. (7:10): This verse just makes me think of the spiritual parallel that God created between man and woman should be like the relationship between God and believers, only even more devoted.

A. Yes, I would agree with that.

Q. (7:25-28): What is Paul talking about here?  Why is he advising everyone to stay single?  And, honestly, I feel that some of these letters sound like personal problems of the church way back then that isn’t really our business.  Maybe this is an example of how our secret desires and motivations will be revealed on judgment day?

A. Something I didn’t mention in my above responses was that the early church went through varying degrees of persecution, and that would certainly shade his thinking about being married and having a spouse depend on you.  Imagine the heartache of dying for your faith (or being thrown in jail or sold into slavery) with a wife, or husband, women were martyrs too, you can read about some 3rd Century women martyrs here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetua_and_Felicity)- or even children at home.  I could see why Paul would say, “that’s not a great idea.”

I would also point out, that as a married person, it would naturally be harder for you to see the benefits of being able to give every waking moment over to God as Paul was able to do — and I’m sure his being single shaded his thinking as well.  But note that even in the midst of his thoughts on staying single, he argues that there is no sin in being married (which I realize is a “duh” to us, but anyway).  As I mentioned above, I appreciate that the Bible presents a perspective so radically different than my own.

Q. (7:31b): There are several references we have seen that alludes me to the conclusion that judgment day should have been during these times.  Paul makes the end of days sound imminent.  Yet, we have also read where Jesus isn’t coming until the most evil person rises up.

A. It hasn’t happened yet is all I can tell you.  Paul goes back and forth on the matter- some places he makes it sound immenent, other places not so much, you’ll see.

Q. (7:40): Paul doesn’t sound 100 percent sure that his advice is coming from the Holy Spirit here … or God (not sure who he is referring to).

A. Same difference.  I think he is clearly stating that God has not told him explicitly either way, which is just fine with me.  If God desires to leave the matter open, and clearly He did, then Paul is willing to say so.  That sounds about right to me.

Day 234 (Aug. 23): Death of Ezekiel’s wife a picture of what’s to come, Ammonites and Moabites will be overrun by desert nomads because they disrespected Judah, God gets revenge on Edom and Philistia, Zedekiah told of Babylon’s immediate invasion and his capture, punishment handed out for enslaving Hebrews, God refuses Zedekiah’s request to save Jerusalem from Nebuchadnezzar, God charges Judah’s royalty to use justice, Egypt punished because pharaoh claimed the Nile for himself, Egypt compared to fallen Assyria

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 24:15-25:17

Jeremiah 34:1-22

Jeremiah 21:1-14

Ezekiel 29:1-16

Ezekiel 30:20-26

Ezekiel 31:1-18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 24:15-17): Reading that God killed Ezekiel’s wife as a demonstration to the people on what their lives will be like seems cruel.  Ezekiel is putting up with a lot from God.  The lack of fairness comes to mind, but being fair is not something God has promised.  After going past my initial shock of his wife dying and Ezekiel not being allowed to mourn for her, I think how desperate these times are that God had to kill his messenger’s wife to try to get through to the people and how hard it must have been for God to make such harsh demonstrations and punishments.  These people are so obstinate.

A. It is a poignant scene, no doubt.  The wife’s death appears to coincide with the destruction of the temple, which surely caused Ezekiel a great amount of anguish as a priest.  God called upon him to mourn for his wife in a way that would be an example for his people: to carry on despite the crushing loss.

Q. (25:1-17): Has Ezekiel already lain on his side for over a year to take the sins of the Israelites and Judeans?  Here he has to travel to give messages to these other kingdoms, so I guess his time bound to bed is finished?

A. The story doesn’t tell us about when he completed the action, but no, I don’t believe that he is traveling to these lands as he’s a captive in Babylon.  He’s not allowed to leave.  God instructs him to symbolically “face” these nations and issue the statements.  He is not delivering these oracles in person.

O From Rob: If there’s any movie buffs out there who are fans of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (and I can’t say I am, just passing this along), Ezekiel 25:17 is the verse that Samuel L. Jackson’s hit-man character, Jules, uses when he is about to execute his targets.  If you watch the film, however, you will quickly note that the writers, including Tarantino, MADE UP most of the “verse” that Jules “quotes”, though the ending is similar to the King James Version.  I’m not linking to the scene, because it is extremely violent, but you might get a laugh out of how exaggerated the verse Jules uses is, and the way that it is played up to “sound” like a wrathful Bible verse.  Hollywood is certainly fond of treating the Bible in such a manner, so it is certainly wise of Christians to know what the Bible ACTUALLY says.

Q. (Jeremiah 34:1-7): Zedekiah is captured here, but I thought he was going to suffer for a while.  Here, it says he will die peacefully.

A. He will suffer by being sent into exile, rather than dying in the midst of battle.  The fall of Jerusalem is the conclusion of Babylon’s war against Judah; after this, “peace” is established by virtue of Judah’s people no longer resisting.

Q. (34:8-22): Is this passage out of order?  Zedekiah has been captured.  How could he make a ruling when he’s in exile?  Did he make it a while ago and now the people are not releasing the slaves?  I don’t know who is being addressed.  Who is doing the enslaving of Hebrews?

A. It’s not out of order.  Jeremiah is saying that Zedekiah’s capture is “about” to happen, and the city will be destroyed.  Jerusalem and its surrounding cities were under a long siege, which is about to come to an end.  So Zedekiah is not YET in exile.  Babylon is the only one enslaving the Judeans, but they are doing it slowly over the course of several years.

O. (Ezekiel 29:16): It’s so interesting to see all the countries at play here to make God’s messages come true, like here when He says that Egypt will be a minor kingdom so Israel will not be tempted to trust it and see how foolish they were to ever have trusted it.

Q. (30:20-26): We see that God is strengthening Babylon and weakening most other countries, like Egypt here.  Were there reasons (weather yielding good crops, politics, uprisings, etc.) other than God planned it this way — well, really the peoples’ sinning caused the suffering — that caused all of this turmoil.  What I am asking is “is it God’s pure wrath at hand or does He use forces of nature to show His wrath?”  I may have mentioned this before that I saw a program on the History Channel or somewhere like that that told about how the plagues could actually be explained through geography.

A. God can do as He pleases with such efforts, and He is certainly capable of using a nation like Babylon to humble His people and the surrounding nations including Egypt. Like His use of messengers, God is capable of using third parties to His own ends, but He can also speak for Himself as He does in His messages to Jeremiah or Ezekiel as we read about in these chapters.

Q. (31:14): Just wondered if the “pit” here is referring to hell?

A. No, just the grave.  We won’t see much reference to hell until the NT, which certainly doesn’t jive with the common trope that God is purely wrathful in the OT and peaceful in the NT.  The NT, frankly, has MUCH more to say about eternal damnation then the OT does — something to watch for.

Day 222 (Aug. 10): God tells Jeremiah to not marry or have kids, no mourning for the dead, Israelites will be forced to other lands because of their sins and their ancestors’ sins, God promises to bring them back to Canaan, God to hand over Judah’s treasures to enemy, cursed are those who put trust in humans and not God, Jeremiah asks God to follow through with his promises so he will avoid shame, God reminds Judeans to keep the Sabbath holy, Jeremiah tells God that enemies are plotting against him, Recabites escape to Judah, Recabites obey and Judah still refuses

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 16-18:23

Jeremiah 35:1-19

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 17:3): I can think of several reasons that God would hand over Judah’s possessions: they have been defiled, to give the people of God no rewards for their bad behavior, to leave Judah a ghost town with nothing to offer, and to allow the Israelites to start fresh when they return.

A. I like your list.  I would only add that they took pride in their possessions, and that likely added to their problems.

Q. (17:4b): Is their any long-term meaning to the last two lines of this verse, like alluding to hell?

A. I don’t believe so, God is alluding to temporal, not eternal, punishment.

O. (17:5-10): What a profound passage.  This pretty much says the main fall of humans, I believe.

Q. (35:19): First, what is the purpose of having the Recabites in this story?  Why have a group that does obey God come to Judah?  Does the last sentence mean that the Recabites will be royalty under God?

A. The Recabites are NOT obeying God in this example; they are obeying the command of their forefathers (there is some degree of debate as to whether this is a Jewish or non-Jewish group).  God is using them as an example to rebuke the people of Judah by saying, “look if these people can keep a human rule within a family, why can’t you citizens of Judah do the same for My laws?”  There is some Jewish tradition that states that the Recabites will have a role in the post-exile Temple, though there are no more specific scriptures that mention this role, so we can’t be certain.

Day 184 (July 3): Agur’s proverbs, sayings of King Lemuel, characteristics of a noble wife

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.

Proverbs 30-31

Questions & Observations

Q. (Proverbs 30:1): Any info on Agur?

A. Not really.  The information we are given indicates he is most likely not an Israelite, but rather possibly a wise man or sage such as Job and his friends.

Q. (30:4): Here, Agur mentions that God has a son.  Isn’t this the first mention of that so far?   I am surprised that the fact is told here.

A. Agur doesn’t have in mind the person of Jesus.  We don’t know exactly what he is referring to here, but my suspicion is that he is asking about a king or ruler.  In those days, kings often declared themselves to be the “sons of gods,” so that would make the “son” in question to be a ruler who leads with God’s blessing.

O. (30:6): I was going to ask what happens to those who add to God’s words or twist them to fit their understanding.  But then, I thought, I don’t think it matters.  Just, don’t do it.  That’s all I need to know.

Q. (30:11): I used to know of a guy who blamed his “non-career” on his parents for not pushing him.  I agree that parents should guide you, but how long can you hold them accountable for your life? And, as far as blaming parents for how a person turns out, I do feel deep remorse for those people who were verbally and physically abused.  How can they save themselves if no one ever directs them to God?  Is their fate dependent upon other Christians?  Or, will God have mercy on their souls.  Deep thought here: We put wicked people down — drug users, thieves, bullies, and other bad apples — but should we be to blame for not dragging them out of their dark hole?

A. There’s no simple answer to that question.  Our responsibility is to faithfully carry out whatever we believe that God is leading us to do.  That’s it — though I realize the profound nature of the statement.  But part of that leading is often how we are to live and raise and care for other people.  If we are a parent, then we are responsible for teaching that child the right way to live, and doing so in a wholesome way (i.e. not being abusive as we teach).

When it comes to other people and the way that life has treated them, I think of a scene from a book called The Shack, by William Young.  The main character in the story, Mac, has an opportunity to interact with God after a man has done a great personal harm to his family.  Mac speaks with God about confronting this man, and seeing him punished for what he has done to his family.  God expresses sympathy to Mac for his situation, but asks him, “what about the abusive father who turned an innocent child into the monster who harmed your family?  Should he be punished as well?  What about the father who did it to him?  How far back do you want to go with the brokenness and punishment?  Should we go all the way back to the Garden?”  I was struck by the power of these thoughts: we can never know what a person has been through to make them the person that we see at any given moment.  Our job, even among the most unlovable, is to love them the best that we can, and seek God’s guidance in helping with their healing.  Being the hands and feet of Christ is sometimes a very difficult calling.  God very likely will ask us to do some things that will be uncomfortable, including interacting with the “bad” people in life.  But those individuals, while broken, are just as loved by God as you or I as “good” people.  It is up to us to choose to love those whom society has declared not worthy of it.  I freely confess that is much easier to write than to do, but it is the calling of the One who spent His lifetime in service to the poor and outcast.  Our job is to follow where He leads.

Q. (30:15b, 18, 21, 29): Is this repetitive phrase a style of writing for those times?

A. Its most likely a rhetorical style, yes.

Q. (31:9): I agree with this, but in our world, it’s so hard to speak up for someone in our bureaucratic social structure.  If we want to help someone, how can we figure out whom to talk to help them?  I know this is for Israel, but I would think it would apply to us today.  I feel it’s more like, if the opportunity arises to standup for someone, then we do it.

A. I would certainly agree that the “entry” into caring for someone might be tricky, but I suspect if you looked around a little and did some service for the poor, you would find opportunities to do the things that Lemuel is talking about.  Most of us don’t even KNOW a person who is that poor or in need (sometimes that’s because people hide it well, but I think oftentimes its because we really don’t pay attention to such things.  But, part of the way we can live this out is to interact with people who are in great need, and determine ways to help them on a daily basis, including going to “bat” for them when the opportunity presents itself.  The opportunities are there, we just have to be willing to get our hands a little dirty and dig in.

Q. (31:10-31): This description sounds like Wonder Woman.  I hope they are giving lots of examples of how a wife can be perfect, not that one woman does all of these things.  She would not sleep!

A. The chapter makes no claim that it is an easy task, which, I suppose, is what makes the wife so priceless to her husband.  I suspect it was meant as a standard to seek after, not a description of an actual woman, but you never know.

Day 152 (June 1): Fools have no hope, the wises’ lives are certain

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.

Proverbs 17-19

Questions & Observations

O. (17:9): I find that “dwelling on a fault” is so easy to do.  And, one of the hardest things to do in life, is go talk to that person that you find fault with.  But the quicker you talk it out or shrug it off that it deflates.  And, as they say, many times more than one person is at fault, usually me!  My best friend and I had a rift that happened a couple summers ago.  I felt she was boasting and I was just tired, worn out and irritable.  So, we both were at fault.  But, when we talked about it, it was so scary.  We could have ended our 20-year friendship.  But, we worked it out because, as she said, we had so much invested in one another.  It was almost like a marriage.  It was one of those tiffs where you think that there is no way to recover from it.  But, we did.  And, we learned that both of our actions simply stemmed from the way we were raised.  It pays to talk it out!

O. (17:17): I love this verse because I am always hesitant to ask for help.  And, many times, when I have asked for help, I’ve been turned down.  That makes me more hesitant to ask.  But, then there are the friends who have “been there, done that” and they understand why I am asking and are more likely to help us.

Q. (17:21): This is so true.  But, is there a failsafe in teaching them the Lord?  There is a verse that talks about those who raise their children knowing Christ will always come back to those teachings when they stray?

A. There are no fail-safes when it comes to teaching our children about God.  Everyone must walk their own path.  There is a proverb that tells us that if we train up a child in the way that they should go, when they are old they will not turn from it (its in chapter 22, watch for it), but as with all of these Proverbs, it is general wisdom and no guarantee of success.  Sorry!

O. (17:22): So many times I can be a Debbie downer.  I can tell that it saps the mood of those around me.  And, likewise, when I’m around someone like that, I get irritated and want to escape that bad attitude.

Q. (17:23): I think there is a saying “Money = Power.”  This verse is something our politicians really struggle with.  Is there a verse than helps keep them away from being tempted by money?

A. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Note what it does not say: Love of money is the root of ALL evil, which is a common refrain that is actually a misquotation of the verse!

Q. (18:9): It’s so easy to judge people, but we shouldn’t since we don’t know their full story.  However, what is some motivation that the Bible can offer for those couch potatoes to get off their booties and work and do God’s work — meaning to have a cheerful heart that mimics Christ?

A. Hum, I think we’ve read several of them since we got started with Proverbs.  The Bible condemns laziness (sometimes called sloth, one of those “deadly sins”), and it is clear why: God has commanded us to work (Exodus 20: six days you shall work, and then rest on the Sabbath).  Hard work would have been such a key to survival in that era — we can get by a bit more easily today — that it is no wonder sloth is condemned!

Q. (18:10): This means the godly find safety in God’s teachings?

A. Not just in His teachings, but in His very name.

O. (18:11): I have seen this recently where someone just takes their wealth for granted.  But, now that the wealth is gone, so is some comfort.  Luckily, they are believers and know God will provide.

O. (18:12): This is a hot proverb for me.  I am very quick to react on some things and need to learn to be calm, process, consider the facts and other’s actions and feelings, think WWJD and then react.

O. (18:14): Our parents have a friend that is on his last leg.  He is not a believer and is ready to go.  They said he gave up a long time ago.  They have another friend who is a believer and has a great attitude about his condition.  Attitude goes a long way!

Q. (18:18): So, there are times when we should just flip a coin to make a decision instead of talking it out?  Sometimes, there is no right or wrong answer, but a decision needs to be made.

A. Sure, it happens.  Part of the wisdom that these verses require is in how to apply them.

Q. (18:19): Then what does the Bible say on how to get those friends back?

A. Not much.  It has bigger “fish to fry.”

Q. (18:22): It’s hard to remember this when we don’t always feel like a treasure.  I feel this way most of the time.  I don’t think I reciprocate very well.  We all have our times when we don’t treat our spouse like a treasure.  I would like to think it’s something that couples can work out.  I find that money can be a big factor in spouse’s attitude toward one another.  But, also, it can bring you closer together.  Nevertheless, the money factor is there.

A. Having a genuine appreciation for a spouse — no one is perfect in this — goes such a long way toward keeping a marriage alive.

O. (19:3): Like you said earlier, these proverbs are not certain.  So, some who are not foolish can land on bad times too.  When shuffling through the Bible notes in my head, bad things can happen to Christians, but God is always there for us and He is not done with us yet.  He won’t give us more stress than we can handle.  And, we can humbly unload that stress on God and let Him handle it.

Q. (19:8): So, if you love yourself, you love knowledge?  Knowledge helps you live a fulfilled life.  I often give examples of people who fit the situation of the proverb.  I don’t know if that is OK to do or not, because I don’t know their whole story.  Only God does.  A story for this proverb is that you see those people who are always seeking new experiences and full of life.  Then, you see others who stay close to home, almost in an enclosed habitat and are very irritable. I think ienjoying God’s creations gives light to personalities.

A. You have the proverb correct.

Q. (19:12): Can you explain this one?

A. As we have seen with Solomon and David, you don’t mess with the king.  To anger him is to risk the “lion’s” wrath.

O. (19:16): This is a great verse to keep in your head to remember the result of your actions.  Plus, I think those who follow God’s Word are happier, more focused, more fulfilled and have direction.

O. (19:17): Another verse saying that your charity will be repaid.

Q. (19:21): In other words, don’t sweat the big stuff too much because God may turn you in another direction.  Around Christmas, our pastor preached about this subject using Joseph.  He was getting married, but then his betrothed wife became pregnant with a child that was not his.  And that’s just the beginning.  He looked forward to moving on, but God redirected him several times.  It was all part of the plan.  So, how far should we push ourselves?  I guess we are supposed to go in the direction that we think unless God redirects us.  But, some push through it to seek their goals and are rewarded.

A. Our main job is to trust in God, even when others do us harm, and attempt to seek His council.  To me, God is not interested in “redirecting” us every moment- much of what He desires about our hearts is perfectly clear, and it is our job to obey.

Q. (19:24): Does this mean that some people are given blessings, but then they let those blessings go to waste?

A. I would read this verse as a mocking ridicule of the lazy.  They are so lazy they don’t even eat the food they are given.