Day 226 (Aug. 14): Jeremiah praises God, Babylon’s destroying power will be punished, exiles told to flee Babylon before the fall, Babylon will be leveled, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and carried away it’s treasures, Nebuchadnezzar took 10,000 captives including King Jehoiachin, Zedekiah rules Jerusalem for 11 years, Egypt came to help Judah against Babylon but Babylon retreated, God said they will return and destroy

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 51:15-58

2 Kings 24:10-17

2 Chronicles 36:10

1 Chronicles 3:10-16

2 Chronicles 36:11-14

Jeremiah 52:1-3

2 Kings 24:18-20a

Jeremiah 37:1-10

Questions & Observations

Q. (Jeremiah 51:15-19): This is a lovely hymn of praise.  I do like to read them.  They usually paint a picture of what life is like living with God near.  However, I do start taking them for granted, just glossing over them because I get the gist of them.  I am guilty also of doing this with prayer and praise.  I get lazy.  For instance, for a while, I was praying before I did every blog.  Now, it’s rare.  I do talk to God throughout the day, but I wondered if you had any suggestions on how to keep praising God without it feeling redundant.  If you give praise from the heart, it helps.

A. There’s a natural ebb and flow to our prayer life and our walk with God, and what you are describing is perfectly natural.  Redundancy can be very difficult to combat, and the laziness it tends to breed in us can make you feel like a failure.  So, first, know that God still loves each of us, even when we fall short despite our best intentions not to.  Among my advice for you would be to determine, as we talked about recently, what your “pathway” is to God: if you know how you best connect with God, it will tend to be the way that is least vulnerable to the apathy you’re describing.  Keep trying new things as well: find different places to pray, or things to read (besides the Bible) to keep your intellect engaged.  Lastly, finding ways to “act out” what you are reading or praying about (aka service to others) will surely help to keep apathy from setting in.

Q. (51:27): Where did Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz come from?

A. They are the names of other nations in this part of the ancient world, but we don’t know exactly where they refer to.

Q. (51:44): I haven’t heard of Bel.

A. We saw it yesterday and maybe a couple of quick references to it, but no, it’s not a term that we would be familiar with yet.  Bel refers to the chief deity of the Babylonians (it is a title, like lord, rather than a proper name), whose “proper” name is Marduk, the sun deity and patron god of Babylon.

Q. (37:3): I think it’s so amusing, crazy — I’m not sure of the word — when these kings do things that are wicked in God’s sight, but then somehow acknowledge Him like Zedekiah is doing here when he asks Jeremiah to pray for him and his people.

A. He wants the benefits of a relationship with God without having to make any sacrifices for it.  Sounds like human nature to me.

Day 216 (Aug. 4): Jehoahaz rules Judah for three months, Egypt’s king made Eliakim the next king and changed his name to Jehoiakim, warning that Judah will be rubble, the temple will fall, Jehoiakim rules with evil and will be punished, Jeremiah escapes death, Judah faces 70 years of captivity

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.

2 Chronicles 36:1-4

2 Kings 23:31-37

2 Chronicles 36:5

Jeremiah 22:1-23

Jeremiah 26:1-24

2 Kings 24:1-4

Jeremiah 25:1-14

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Chronicles 36:1-4, 2 Kings 23:31-35): This seems like an odd move of the king of Egypt to take one brother as a prisoner and make another brother ruler. The Kings’ version tells us that Jehoahaz was evil.  This isn’t why Egypt’s King Neco would remove him though, right?

A. No, Neco likely installed a sibling that he felt that he could control, and possibly one that was weak or easily manipulated.  But regardless, God was not pleased with either of the brothers and the ways that they strayed from their father’s choices.

Q. (Jeremiah 22:1-5): So at this point, Judah has been pretty much destroyed, but Jerusalem still stands in fairly good shape?  So, this is a warning told to Jehoiakim in Jerusalem?

A. It is hard to tell, but Judah’s territory did keep shrinking.  I don’t know the exact breakdown of the territory, but the warning is for the capital.

O. (26:1-19): I love this scripture because it is so clear and easy to understand what is happening.  It has a person who is saying it, a place where it is being said and a good reason for saying it.  Jeremiah has captured the people’s attention.  To me, this is a much different, much more specific style of writing than we have seen from the other prophets.

Q. (26:16, 23-24): Is there something here to make note of?  Why was Uriah killed, but not Jeremiah?

A. He was protected by God and the city elders/leaders, for reasons that only God knows, but he’s not out of danger yet.

Q. (25:11-14): Again, this is clear text and we see exactly what’s happening.  Seventy years of captivity is a long time. Does this have anything to do with 70 years would be a good amount of time for a generation to be gone which would help rid the people of their evil?

A. It is surely a multi-generational punishment (remember 40 is one of our numbers that symbolizes a generation).  The 70 years is also a round figure, corresponding to the period from roughly 605 BC to around 538 BC, when Judah began to return from exile for reasons that will be clear later.  Other scholars believe that this section is prophetic, and refers to a later action in which Jerusalem, including Solomon’s Temple, is destroyed, which takes place in 583 BC, and the rebuilding of the Temple, which begins around 515 BC.

The important thing to note is that Judah will be conquered and controlled by Babylon, but not demolished for a period of many years (roughly 605 to 583 BC).  The Babylonian leadership will begin to take the best and brightest of Judah’s leaders (royal advisors, priests, civil leaders, etc.) and bring them to Babylon as slaves in order to strengthen their own society and weaken Judah.  So by 583, the city is weak, and easily conquered, though there are still some events to come.  So this is why some of the materials that, say, Jeremiah will write will make reference to the people in captivity (Jeremiah 29 is a perfect example): he is writing to the leaders who have been taken hostage, but does so before Jerusalem is actually leveled.  I hope that information can be a guide for our next few days of reading.

Day 186 (July 5): Praises to God from Korah, Jerusalem is glorious, riches are meaningless, the godly will rule over them, His kingdom is awesome, other kingdoms will join 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.

Psalms 47-49, 84-85, 87

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 47-49, 84-85, 87): These Psalms were probably grouped together because they were all about or by — whatever it means by “of” the descendants of Korah — the descendants of Korah.  Korah was a tribe of Esau, right?  They have joined the Israelites or at least acknowledged God’s supremacy?  Their words are very glorifying!

A. There is a Korah mentioned as being a son of Esau (Genesis 36:5), but it much more likely refers to the children of the Korah that instigated a rebellion against Moses back in Numbers.  Back on Day 136 (May 16th) when we first came across a Korah psalm, you asked me about that Korah, and here’s what I wrote:

Korah was the leader of the insurrection against Moses and Aaron way back in Numbers 16 and was swallowed up by the earth.  But there are elements of redemption in the story as well.  Numbers 26:11 tells us that the descendants of Korah survived the death of their father, and were part of the Levitical priesthood.  They played a role as door/gate keepers and some form of musicians (1 Chronicles 9) for David.  Several psalms are credited to them.  Part of the redemption for me is we see the element of grace at work.  Our past does not have to be our future because of God’s grace.  One of the clearest messages of scripture is that God can redeem anyone, no matter what horrible things have been done in their past, or even their families’ past.

Q. (48:4-7): What incident is the psalm speaking about here?

A. It’s a good question, and I don’t have a great answer.  There are a couple of times where foreign enemies allied themselves against Israel, including 2 Chronicles 20, where forces, Moab and Ammon, ally against Jehoshaphat and fail, but there are other possibilities.  We don’t know for sure.

Q. (49): What an awesome psalm to bluntly say that riches get you nowhere!  We heard in Psalm 48 how beautiful and fortified Jerusalem was, how it was so magnificent that it scared away rival kings.  We are saying that this city was strong because it was God’s city, right?  Psalm 49 could be looked at as contradicting because it’s saying wealth is meaningless in the life-and-death spectrum.  We are talking of two different things —  the beauty of Jerusalem because it’s God’s city and the wasteful riches of people?

A. Yes, I think you have that right.

Q. (84:5-7): Would you say that we could apply these verses to our lives?  The more we bring God into our heart, the stronger we become?

A. As a general rule yes (remember our rules for Proverbs: generally very helpful, but not ironclad).  I would say the same applies here.

O. (84:10-12): Love the song that comes from this verse.  The first time I stepped into our old church in Yorktown, VA they were playing that song.  Brought me to tears.  You can listen to it on youtube.com, just type in “better is one day in your courts.”  The next two verses, 11-12 are awesome too.  What a reward to follow him.

Q. (85): Is this psalm asking that if Israel or Judah become corrupt again, will God come to their rescue?

A. It seems more like the writer is demanding rescue.  Pretty gutsy expectation if you ask me, but God has surely proven Himself faithful to His people, so maybe this guy is on to something.

Q. (87): So, Jerusalem absorbs other nations because they have seen God’s magnificence and accepted Him as their God?

A. This psalm casts a unique vision (for the Psalms anyway), but it reads very similarly to verses and concepts that we have read about in Isaiah and Micah — the idea that the Kingdom God will one day establish will be gathered around Jerusalem and the concept of the Mountain of God — Zion.  Those other stories spoke of all nations gathering in Jerusalem/Zion to be a part of His holy Kingdom (see Micah 4 for instance).  For what its worth, the Book of Revelation contains a very similar image, albeit from a very different Jerusalem (Revelation 21 and 22:1-5), but no less the Kingdom of God.