Saturday, February 26, 2011

Summary

We are now through the historical portion of the Old Testament (minus the books of 1 & 2 Maccabees, not found in Protestant Bibles).  All the rest of the books were written about or during the time of the other books, and are not historical.  So it seems like a good time to summarize the historical events thus far.

First, God creates everything.  That's remarkably important, so we can't forget it.  He creates it out of nothing, and then creates humans.  He gives humans free will, which we use to sin against Him and His Divine plan for us; first, with Adam and Eve.  They are banished from the Garden of Eden where they could have lived in harmony with God forever.

They have such a disastrous start that God floods the Earth, continuing his relationship through Noah and his family.  Note God starts the relationship with a couple and expands to a larger group with each major part.  God is working to get us all back to a place where we can spend eternity with God.

After a time, God works through Abraham to expand again, this time to a tribe.  He makes many promises to Abraham about his future family, including many descendants, much land, and a blessing for all of humanity (us, through Jesus Christ).  Abraham and Sarah have Isaac, who has Jacob, who will be Israel.  This nation is God's favored nation, and He cares for them and works through them.

Israel is in slavery in Egypt when God works through Moses to secure their release.  He provides them with instructions for an ark for His Presence, and a Tabernacle (tent).   They have every reason to trust in Him by this point, but they rebel and refuse to enter the Promised Land He will provide for them.  So they wander 40 years in the wilderness until all of that generation has died except for two faithful men.  Joshua then leads the people into the Promised Land.  They do not follow all of God's commands though, and do not get rid of all of the pagans who worship other gods.

After Joshua dies, the people forget to trust God again, and instead start trusting the gods of the people around them, just as God said they would.  Due to their lack of faithfulness, God allows them to be attacked and conquered by various people.  Each time when they plead to him for help, he sends a judge (book of Judges) to lead them to victory and back to him.  Each time after the judge dies, they return to wickedness and abandon God.

Eventually, they demand a king to lead them just like the nations around them.  They want to be just like everyone else!  God tells Samuel to warn them of what will occur, but they still want it.  And Saul is proclaimed King.  Saul is not faithful, and loses his throne to David.  David is very far from sin-free himself, but He is faithful to God.  David's son Solomon becomes king after him, and while he is blessed with great wisdom, he stops being faithful to God.  In his life, he builds a temple to house the ark.

His son does not rule wisely, and 10 of the tribes of Israel rebel.  There then two countries - Judah and Israel.  Judah is the line of David, and has the house of Judah, Benjamin, and most of the Levites.  The books of Kings follow both lines.  Israel is the first to fall, as none of their kings remain faithful to God.  They worship other gods and utilize priests of their own making.  They do not consult God or trust Him.  They are attacked and deported by the Assyrians.  The Assyrians deport most of the population, and fill the land with other peoples who worship other gods.  The survivors marry the new people, and this is where the Samaritans (of Jesus' parable) come from.

Judah also has bad kings, but also has some good kings.  The bad kings are as bad as the kings of Israel, but the good kings are faithful to God and lead Judah in the right direction.  The bad kings lead the people into greater and greater wickedness until they are also attacked and deported by the Babylonians.

After this exile, King Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylonia, allows them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.  It is not easy rebuilding, and there is no king at that time.  This is all 500-600 years before the birth of Jesus.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Job

I am now in the book of Job. Said "Jobe," it has nothing to do with a job. Job was alive during the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). He experiences incredible suffering.

Satan shows up before God one day and God tells him all about Job and his faithfulness. Satan thinks Job is so faithful only because God has blessed him with a big happy family and large flocks. God agrees to let Satan test Job by killing off his ten kids and destroying all his stuff. Job does not curse God at this; he still remains faithful. Satan tells God Job won't be faithful if his life and body are affected, so Satan is allowed to afflict Job with sores and boils and so forth (notice even Satan has boundaries set by God; Satan is not equal with God). Anyway, Job stays faithful.

Then Job's friends show up to comfort him and this is where I get lost. It doesn't read like the history of the earlier books but more like poetry. I don't do non literal all that well. In any event, there are many chapters with Job and his friends arguing abot if he has sinned and brought this on himself. He wants a trial with God to show his innocence. Then God talks to them.

Some day, I will try to have a better understanding of this book.

Now that we are through Nehemiah, the story of the Old Testament is basically complete (sort of). Job, Esther, the Psalms, the Prophets, etc are all written or about events that occur between the start of the world and the end of the Exile. Summary this weekend.

In the Catholic Bible, there are more historical books. The books of Maccabees tell the story of some events that happen between the return from Exile and the birth of Christ.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ezra

Through Chronicles and onto Ezra!

King Cyrus is led by the Lord to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem after their exile to Babylon at the end of Kings and Chronicles.  Remember, thanks to their unfaithfulness, the kingdom of Israel was deported to Assyria and the kingdom of Judah was deported to Babylon later.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chronicles!

Chronicles is after Kings, and like Kings, it is split into two books.  It has many of the same stories as Kings, as it is a retelling of the same events.  That's why there's this pause here in the blogging.

Josiah is mentioned there as well:


2Ch 34:1-7  Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.  For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.  And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.   And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.  And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about.  And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem. 

It does contain information not in Kings, and lacks some of the details in Kings (like King David's adultery/murder incident)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

1 & 2 Kings

Just finished 1 & 2 Kings!  This moves us from David to Solomon, another not so peaceful exchange.  There's a good chunk dedicated to Solomon.  He was quite wise, after asking God for wisdom.  We should all do that.  We should not all later fall into adultery and idolatry like Solomon (married hundreds of women and had hundreds of concubines and managed to worship all their gods with them).  But the wisdom part is a good thing.  Fortunately, we have some access to that wisdom in the Bible!  Also, we should ask, as James tells us to do in the New Testament.

The books cover the time of Solomon through the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians.  Israel is divided in these books as well, with Israel to the north and Judah to the south.  Israel is also conquered earlier than Judah.  This is allowed due to their great sin and infidelity to the Lord.  Apparently burning your children alive on the altar of other gods doesn't go over so well...  something to consider when we consider the altar of selfishness and productivity we sacrifice our aborted children on.  But I digress.

We also have the prophets Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah, among others.  They make attempts to call the kings and people back into line with God's commands.  Other books in the Bible come from them, and we are familiar with the Messianic prophecies found in Isaiah especially.

If I ever have a son, I'd like for us to think about naming him Josiah Paul.  Paul after my dad, but Josiah after a king of Judah.


2Ki 23:25  And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Just thinking

Over and over, Israel and Judah fall short of the expectations.  They willfully abandon God, who has done so much for them.  I'm struck by how much like them I can be.  I can leave church on Sunday feeling invigorated about my faith, and by Monday morning have found someone to think very ill of indeed on the road or at work.  God is first and foremost in my mind far less than He should be.  I think I'm probably not alone in this.

And yet He still sent Jesus for us, to serve as the perfect sacrifice.  With perfect justice, we have no hope of making it to Heaven.  We are not perfect as God is perfect.  We do not submit to our intended functions in life, and we sin.  With God's perfect mercy, there is a way, and His name is Jesus.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1-2 Samuel

These two books tell of Samuel, Saul, David, and Solomon; and the beginning of the kingship of Israel.  It was not a peaceful process!  Samuel was the son of Hannah, who was previously unable to conceive.  Happy to be blessed with a child, she gave Samuel to serve God, and Samuel became a prophet.

What I noted in reading this is the tendency, even then, for people to want to "fit in" and be like everyone else.

1Sa 8:4-9  Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
 

But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. 

Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.


They did not trust God, but wanted a king to rule over them like the other nations.

Samuel did as God instructed and told them what a king would do for them and with them (little details like taxes), and then anointed Saul at God's command as the king.  However, Saul did not stay true to God either and was not obedient.  First, he did not wait for Samuel before a battle as instructed, but instead made an offering himself.  It seemed like the right thing to do to him, but was not obedient to God's plan.

Later, Saul did not carry out the instructions of God regarding the destruction of the Amalekites.  These events cost Saul the kingship, though he remained in power until his death when David was appointed king.

1Sa 15:9-23  But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. 


And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.  And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. 

And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
 

And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
 

Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.  And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?  And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.  Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? 

And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.   But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. 


And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.


Meanwhile, David works for Saul, slays Goliath, and in general kicks some butt with the army.  Saul becomes jealous and attempts to kill David several times, and David ends up fleeing.  Saul dies in battle, and David is crowned King.   This is a very aggressive summary of events - this takes about a book and a half in the Bible and moves us into Kings, which is the next book.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ruth

The book of Ruth is up next after Judges.  It is a short read if you'd like to read it today!  It also establishes one of the links of David's ancestry. 

Rth 4:17-22  And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Judges

Chugging right along in the B90 plan!  After Joshua, we have the book of Judges.  Israel stops paying attention to God and starts worshiping other gods, God stops protecting Israel and allows them to be conquered or attacked or otherwise oppressed, Israel remembers God, and God gives them a judge to save them.  Rinse, repeat.  Several times.  When I taught Confirmation classes, one of my girls remarked Israel sounds like a teen who does the same thing over and over and gets grounded over an over.  An apt comparison, though we do the same thing into adulthood.  We fail to trust God over and over and over, just like Israel.

Jdg 2:10-19  And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:  And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.  And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.  Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
 

Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so.

And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Readings from Today

Let's look at the readings from today.  I'm using a few translations so we can really get a better look at

Sir 15:15-20 (RSV)  If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish. Before a man are life and death, and whichever he chooses will be given to him. For great is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power and sees everything;  his eyes are on those who fear him, and he knows every deed of man. He has not commanded any one to be ungodly, and he has not given any one permission to sin. 


1Co 2:6-10 (RSV)  Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.  But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him," God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

There is a lot going on here, but I want to focus on the idea of God's wisdom first.  His wisdom is great, and He sees everything.  He knows everything.  This makes His wisdom perfect.  We are unable to attain this level of perfection because we do not know everything or see all ends.  God's wisdom is superior to anything we can come up with.

My priest pointed out in the second reading, Paul is writing to Greeks.  Philosophy was a huge deal to the Greeks, and Paul is telling them the wisdom of this age or the wisdom of the rulers is not the wisdom they should want.  The wisdom of this age will pass away.  The wisdom of the rulers now will pass away.  The wisdom of God, on the other hand, is eternal.  It never goes away,  it never changes, and it is never wrong.  Unlike the philosophy at the time, God is eternal, never ending, and perfect.  His wisdom is what we should seek after as Christians.

This is not unparalleled today.  Science is the huge deal of the day, and like the philosophy of old, the wisdom science can provide apart from God will pass away.  All of the current thoughts and models and self-serving human wisdom will fade, just like all other human inventions.  God's wisdom never fails.  In fact, God predicts this in the Word over and over again.  People continually pick the convenient, the easy, and the things they make up for themselves time and time again to their detriment.


Rom 1:18-32 (not part of today's reading) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.


Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.


For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.


And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.


People will make up a God if they don't like the one that really exists.  They may actually call it a god, or they might turn to worship of themselves or philosophy or science or any other thing that isn't really God.  They will come up with all sorts of reasons and false logic to justify their beliefs.  They will develop their own brand of religion that has nothing to do with anything, as it is based on human wisdom instead of God's.  I read an article on CNN this week that claims the Bible didn't really disprove of homosexual activity.  The article was so problematic and full of flaws; I can't believe the published it.  What is worse though is this is becoming more and more common and people are going along with it.  This is human wisdom, not God's.  Whose do we think we ought to follow?

I'm including the rest of Matthew Chapter 5, in addition to the readings from today.
Mat 5:17-48
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 

"You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.'  But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. 


"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'  But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.


"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 


"Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil. 

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'  But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.


"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.



Okay, here's God.  The author of perfect wisdom.  Telling us what He expects.  This is God's wisdom, God's word, literally talking to us, both then and now.  This is how we are to behave.  This is how we are to think.  It doesn't matter what the world says about it.  We must be strong and of good courage and follow God!  The wisdom of this world is not from God at all, and will deceive us.

Ever watch Lord of the Rings?  All the characters, great or small, would fall victim to the lure of the One Ring.  Some fell more quickly than others, and fortunately for all, hobbits took quite some time.  But they would all want it.  They would all be deceived by it.  That's what the world does to us.  Something may make perfectly good sense in our heads, or something will appeal to our feelings and our emotions, and it can be 100% deceitful and opposed to God.  We might not even realize it if we're not careful.  The road to hell is paved with what again?

Joshua

Moses dies and leaves Joshua, one of the two faithful spies who had gone to scope out the Promised Land 40 years earlier, in charge of the upcoming conquest.  This book describes Israel taking over the Promised Land.  The parting of the Red Sea in Exodus (and the Ten Commandments movie) is not the only time God parts a body of water for Israel - He also parts the Jordan to facilitate their entry into the Promised Land.  God is clearly behind the success of the conquest.

If you'd ever wondered what Paul and James were talking about when they referenced Rahab the harlot, it is from this book.  Joshua sent spies into Jericho, and they would have been caught if not for this woman hiding them.  Joshua Chapter 2:

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.  And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.  And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 

And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:  And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.

But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.


And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;   And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.   For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.  And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. 


Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token:  And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.


And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.  Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. 


And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.  And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. 


And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window. And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not. 

So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them: And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Updates

I have updated the blogs I'm linking to on the right, and added a widget allowing people to "follow" me.  I kinda wanted to rename it "minions," but didn't know if the rest of the world would find that as funny as I do...

Deuteronomy

The next book is a summary of events thus far on the 40 year journey to the Promised Land and a review/renewal of the Covenant.  There are many laws in this book, to establish and keep order once the Israelites have settled.  It also discusses the blessings Israel will receive if it is faithful, and the curses that will come about if it is not.


Deu 6:3-5  Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them; that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Numbers

Wow!  A blizzard, a big snow, and a parent with health issues really put a pause on a blog.  :)  No worries though, I'm keeping up with the Bible in 90 days plan!

After Leviticus, we have the book of Numbers!  I love this book, if just for the title.  I am an engineer, of course.  The first thing that happens is we get a count of all the people with Moses, which probably helped get the book its name.  It then tells of the Israelites and their continued unfaithfulness, which lands them 40 years of wandering around instead of marching straight on into the Promised Land.  They complained about food, complained about water, and complained about Moses.  Then, they refuse to take the Promised Land because even after all the signs God has given them, they think their enemies will crush them.  Bad call.

Moses sends spies.  These spies come back and dissuade the people from entering (except Joshua and Caleb).  End of Numbers 13 and all of 14:


And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.   And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.

Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. 


And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.  And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. 

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!   And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? 

And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
 

But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?  I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. 

And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)  And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.  Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.  And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,  The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.  Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
 

And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:   But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;  Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:  But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.   (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
 

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,  How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.   Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,  Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.  But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.  But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.  And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.   After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.   I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.

And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,  Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.  But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.
 

And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.  And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.  And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.  Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.  For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you. 

 But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.   Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

God is not an Equal Opportunity Employer

Ah, the book of Leviticus!  Okay, it is probably not as exciting as Exodus.  More exciting than Numbers, to me.  But they are all very important as they tell us about God, regardless of our interest level.

Things the ACLU would be upset over:
  • God likes firstborn sacrifices
  • They must be free of defect, in almost all cases
  • There were no female priests
  • There were no deformed male priests
  • Specific sacrifices were also gender specific
  • Women and men have different rules
  • Homosexuality is a sin.  So is adultery, but since that applies to everyone I'm sure the liberals would ignore it.
  • There is no freedom of worship.  Two of the priests did it wrong and were consumed by fire.  Wait, the ACLU might not mind that.  Or the lack of freedom of speech (taking the Lord's name in vain will get you killed).
Lev 10:1  And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
Lev 10:2  And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 


Now, we don't follow these rules anymore, but it should be noted that although there were all of these rules and differences, God was still God.  It doesn't really matter how much what He wants us to do irritates us.  Truth is not decided by a vote.  Obedience is a decision of the will, done not necessarily because you like something or agree with it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Exodus

We also get the Tabernacle in Exodus! I found it helpful to google some pictures.  There's a Wikipedia article here

Now it, the Ark, and all the items in and around the tent are described in detail twice in Exodus.  Once, when God is telling Moses how to build it all.  The second time is when they actually build it.  God demands a lot of attention to detail here!  Of course, they are building God's dwelling place here, so it better be good.  God is literally everywhere, but this place is special and is where His presence is more visibly seen.  This is also where the sacrifices were to be offered.  There are naturally a lot of rules about that place!

Exo 29:42  This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.
Exo 29:43  And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
Exo 29:44  And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office.
Exo 29:45  And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
Exo 29:46  And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Exodus

Exo 33:2  And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:
Exo 33:3  Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way. 


God initially says He will not travel with the people.  He is so holy, and they are so not holy, it would be dangerous for them.  God is perfect.  He has perfect justice.  And to be around Him, if not in His perfect mercy, makes death imminent.  Perfect justice means we get what we deserve, and the wages of our sin is death.  All the more reason to be thankful for Jesus!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Onward and Upward - Exodus

I'm actually ahead of here in my reading; almost all the way through Numbers.  Which has a lot of Numbers.  But that is okay!  For now, we're talking about Exodus.  Of course, we always think of the movie The Ten Commandments.  Well, maybe not everyone.  That movie isn't all that accurate, by the way.

Anyway, Israel is now in Egypt, living large and very happy, and then the politics change and they're enslaved.  The Egyptians want to kill off all the boys, Moses is born, ends up a prince, kills an Egyptian, flees to the desert, gets married, talks to God, comes back and saves the day.  Only on my reading this time, I noticed Moses isn't really sure about this plan.  Talk about the reluctant hero!


Exo 3:11  And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 

God tells him all about it.

Exo 4:1  And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. 

Are you sure?  God apparently was sure.


Exo 4:10  And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 

Exo 4:11  And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
Exo 4:12  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. 


Exo 4:13  And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

God tells Moses that Moses' brother Aaron can help him.  Later on, when the people were complaining, Moses will alternately beg God for their forgiveness and ask God why he has to suffer with them.  It is almost kind of annoying.

But not nearly as odd as his brother!  Aaron, who goes along with this whole plan, and sees firsthand the ten plagues in Egypt (he can't even claim he wasn't paying attention), runs off and helps build the golden calf once Moses disappears for awhile talking to God.  Just to be clear - Aaron has personally witnessed the acts of God.  He's had a meal in front of God.  Red sea?  Plagues?  All that.   And he still decides to help with the whole idol thing.

Of course it isn't just our heroes who aren't very bright.  Pharaoh was rather stubborn too, what with waiting for ten really terrible things to happen before telling them to get gone.  Then you get the people, who have also seen the great works of the Lord and still rebel, worship false idols, take heathen women, and in general complain the whole journey about God.  They get to the Promised Land and refuse to go in because they don't trust the God that freed them from Egypt and split the sea in two.

Small group discussion talked about how we're a lot like all of those people.  We may not do it in such an epic, obvious way, but we fail to trust God even though we have every evidence we should. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Genesis

Have to move fast!  Genesis only takes 4 days in the B90 plan.

Abraham has Isaac.  Isaac has Jacob (and an older brother - big story - read it yourself!).  Jacob has 12 sons with 4 women (they tried out the "here have my maid" thing like Sarah).  The 10 older sons sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt.  He fares well, and eventually interprets the dreams of Pharaoh, who subsequently puts him in charge of all of the country.  The other brothers show up looking for grain and don't realize it is their brother.  After some deception and soul searching, it all works out, and Jacob and his whole family move to Egypt.  This then sets up the movie The 10 Commandments, and the book of Exodus.

Gen 50:15-20  And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,  So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.  And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. and Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.