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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Day 67 (More Editing)

[reaction to OYB's July 21-23 readings]

So both Kings and Chronicles blame Rehoboam's decision to listen to the young punks advising him instead of the elders as the reason that Jeroboam is able to break Israel in half. It seems like a modern idea for some reason. But, maybe not. A rebuke of the younger generation.

From Paul, we get a bit of an eye into his world view. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Paul was a slave to sin. Specifically, at least in the written translation, he is a slave to the "members of [his] body." Rom. 7:23. However, we've run across another scrubbing of the scripture in the online version. Remember while reading Leviticus we came across an example of the NIV editors adding the modern term "homosexuality" to the Scripture. Well, this talk of Paul having trouble the members of his body--a little to close to Reverend Haggard. So, here's the sanitized version. At least the footnotes include the word "flesh." See here. Troubling.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Day 66 (Sin)

[reaction to OYB's July 18-20 readings]

First a couple of one liners. Romans 4:16 says, "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all." This statement interests me at a time when the children of the faiths of Abraham are fighting with each other.

Proverbs 19:17 reads, "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done." Compare with Matthew 25:40, "‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" A nice illustration of how Jesus' teachings were Jewish teachings.

The big story in today's reading is the full on expression of Christianity as a way to be free from sin. In Romans 6, we read get this idea, I believe for the first time. The Sermon on the Mount moves the focus from actions alone to actions plus intent, which seems to me to personalize the scriptural focus. But not until Paul do we see such a focus on sin. And lets not forget, that Jesus mostly emphasized healing people and taking care of the poor. There are certainly Christians who focus more on Paul's emphasis that Jesus'.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Day 65 (Faith & Law)

[reaction to OYB's July 15-17 readings]

"In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, Joab led out the armed forces. He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it, but David remained in Jerusalem. Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins." 1 Chron. 20:1 (emphasis added). Sad but true, that even when God was appointing kings Godself, that the glory associated with war lured kings into have a time when they went off to it.

There is a pretty typical struggle between faith and the law that plays out in Paul's letters. According to Paul, faith, or what seems to be the law of God that is not the same as the written law, has always been there. Jesus was shedding light on what already was. Paul cites to Abraham and David in support of Jesus' Way. But don't forget, Paul does not claim that faith replaces the law. Rather it upholds it. Rom. 3:31-4:12.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Day 64 (Modern Meaning)

A note from Chronicles. David is unifying power, although only after "[t]he whole assembly agreed to this, because it seemed right to all people." 1 Chron. 13:4; cf. Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte. God blesses this move, and tells David this of David's son, "I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor." 1 Chron. 17:13.

In Paul's letter to the Romans, we learn first that God is apparent. Although God's power is invisible, everyone can see the product of God's work. (Cool, I agree.) Also, God's law is apparent because those who violate it suffer. (Go on.) Well, for example,
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Rom. 1:21-23. Okay, but this doesn't happen much today. So, while I suppose if someone prayed to a statue of a golden calf, it would be sinful, it is not a major problem we have today. How shall we modernize this lesson? Should we ban likeness of animals from our houses? I believe some Muslims take this position, but I don't know any Christians who do. Should we remove all images of Jesus from our churches? I think Quakers do this. Or should we look for practices that suplant our loyality to God and to the Way of Jesus Christ? The modern application for this is those who rely on money for security, when the truth is, on faith can make you secure. (Debatable, I agree, but it is what I believe and I think what Paul is teaching.) So, while attacking statues has the appeal of tracking the letter of the letter, it is more helpful to apply the meaning if we want to get a modern benefit.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Rom. 1:26-27. This has two purposes. One, I've heard lesbians say on more than one ocassion that nothing in the Bible condemns lesbian relationships. My comments that follow notwithstanding, this seems to through them in the same boat a gay men. More importantly, though, what is the take away from this passage? How do we modernize Paul's advice. I think it is a prohbition against sexual immorality, which I take to be meaningless sex. I think pulling the requirement from Paul to justify banning gay marriage makes as much sense as using the earlier passage to ban nic nacs.

Day 63 (Literary Finale)

[reaction to One Year Bible's July 9-11 readings]

First, in the vein of the prayer of Jabez, this little snip-it from Chronicles might make a good women's empowerment movement. "His daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah." The Sheerah She Rocks movement.

Today's readings concluded the book of Acts. I will try to reflect on the Gospels + Acts in a separate post, but I wanted to mention here how beautifully Luke tells the final story in chapters 27 & 28. At first it reminds me of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Then it gets all Captain's Courage. And ends on an up note. Maybe like Swiss Family Robinson--although I haven't read that one.
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

That is the end of story telling in the New Testament. From here on out it is letters discussing theology and spiritual discipline. The Old Testament is retelling 1-2Kings in 1-2Chronicles and we still have Ezra & Nehamiah.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Day 62 (Citizenship)

[reaction to One Year Bible's July 6-8 readings]

Well, I finished 2 Kings in the last reading and so took advantage of 1 Chronicles' extensive the sons of X are A through ZZ sections in order to cover some ground quickly and catch back up. It is worthwhile to note the source of a recent Prayer of Jabez phenomena. It falls right in the middle of these lists of names, although it is not the only such mini-story.

More intriguing to me is Paul elevate his appeal of poor treatment by virtue of his elevated status. He was a Roman citizen. First the high priests came after him when he makes this non-admission.
However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
Then he is before the local Roman authority and finally appeals all the way to Caesar himself. We again read about Roman authorities who find no crime committed by the Christian ala Pilate. We get one gem: "For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner without specifying the charges against him," Acts 25:27 (evidently no military tribunals in Rome). Full story here.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Day 61(Misc.)

[reaction to One Year Bible's July 3-5 readings]

King Josiah of Judah was good, really good, but not good enough. Hence, before too long Judah is carried off, although by Babylon not Assyria.

Paul distracts the Sanhedrin by sewing discontent between the body's Sadducees and Pharisees over the issue of resurrection. I thought the use of resurrection by this passage was interesting.

Finally, notice how the Psalmist declares himself to be God's Son in Psalm 2. Curious, right?

Day 60 (The End)

[reaction to One Year Bible's June 30-July 2 readings]

Israel falls to the Assyrian king and its people are thrown into exile. This gives birth to the Samaritans. In 2 Kings 17, you learn that they do indeed worship YHWH. However, they do so in a "corrupt" way. Same diety, worshipped differently results in intense distrust. Sound familiar?

The we have a nice exchange of trash talk between Assyria and Israel. Note, we are introduced to Prophetic hero Isaiah in the last years of the Israeli hold out, Judah. Suggestion that Assyria will have to liberate the crap out of Judah. Judah's suggestion that Assyria go fly a kite.

Under translational curiosities, ask yourself why it matters that the girl mocking Assyria and tossing her hair as they flee has not yet had sexual intercorse. I wonder if "virgin" is the right word. Who knows?

Day 59 (Big's Bad?)

[reaction to One Year Bible's June 27-29 readings]

There is quite a contrast between reading about the demise of Israel & Judah and reading about the growth of the early church in Acts. Question: Is the real problem size? Is it impossible to have a gigantic just organization? After chapter after chapter of kings not doing what is right in the ways of the lord, the exile of Israel to Assyria begins. And even the line of David ruling over Judah lets itself become subjects of a foreign king.

Historical/sociological question: How common is it for there to be a cultural victory before a political victory? Seems that the Assyrian cultural was took over before the king did.

Also, here' a shout out to the most power city clerk I've ever read about.