My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Monday, April 30, 2007

Micah 2

The people's prophet

Summary:
Some people plan to do as much evil as they can, but God's plan to to destroy those people, and they can't avoid it.

I am being silenced by other prophets! They don't want to hear bad news even if it's the truth! You want a prophet who tells you want you wanna hear!

But a remnant will be lead out by a King and God himself.

Key verse:
11. If a liar and deceiver comes and says,
'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,'
he would be just the prophet for this people!

My thoughts:
How willing are we to receive truth even when it's not what we wanna hear? So often in our Christian lives we only accept the parts which we like, rather than taking it all together. A pick-and-mix faith is completely illogical if you have any respect for a real God, rather than a God who's just a good idea!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Micah 1

Puntastic

Summary:
Micah prophesied about Jerusalem and Samaria. As God comes, the mountains melt like wax before him. He is coming to destroy Samaria and Jerusalem for their sin.

So I'll mourn naked, because Judah cannot recover. The whole nation should be covered in mourning. Lachish started the sin. All other parts will be punished in witty ways making puns of the names of the cities. Everyone should shave their heads.

Key verse:
4. The mountains melt beneath him
and the valleys split apart,
like wax before the fire,
like water rushing down a slope.

My thoughts:
It's always hard to follow a text which talks about a bunch of places which you know nothing about.

Anyway, every judgement in this chapters is playing on the name of the city in Hebrew. It's like saying Rotorua will be rotoruined. I totally should've been chosen to write the Bible...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Jonah 4

Perspective

Summary:
Jonah got pissed off because God had forgiven them. That's why he ran away! God didn't think that was fair.

Jonah went off to have a cry and watch the city to see if God might actually still destroy it. God have him a vine for shelter, and it was good, but then the vine died, which pissed Jonah off more.

God didn't think he had a right to be angry! Jonah was so concerned about the vine he didn't care about 120,000 souls in Nineveh!

Key verse:
11. Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?

My thoughts:
Ah, perspective! Sometimes it gets in the way. Especially when you're having a hissy fit.

We're all like Jonah so often. Or maybe just me. We're so pissed off about some dumb thing that we go against God when he's actually doing something important. Well, at least I'm like that sometimes! Sometimes we just have to get over ourselves.

I like Jonah. Here God is a God of justice, but also of love and compassion. A God who knows what is really important; people! Jonah was basically racist. These were gentiles, and Yahweh was not their God, so they didn't deserve salvation. But God had a better perspective than Jonah.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jonah 3

Nineveh repents

Summary:
This time Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh, and told them that they had forty days before being destroyed. They whole city believed, fasted and repented. Even the King ordered a fast, in the hope that God would show mercy. So God showed them mercy.

Key verse:
10. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

My thoughts:
Interesting how God declares destruction as a certainty in verse 4, but by verse 10, it is downgraded to a threat. This maybe puts the rest of Biblical prophesy into perspective! Maybe the use of certainty is more a warning than an actual certainty... interesting...

Anyway, God loves good ol' fashioned honest repentance. If you want to get God wrapped around your finger then do some good repentin'. Nineveh's vast repentance is kinda in contrast to Israel lack of repentance.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jonah 2

Jonah's prayer

Summary:
Jonah prayed in the fish.

God heard my cries! I have been thrown into the sea. I thought I was gone for good! But you brought me back as my prayers went to your temple. Idols are useless. You are my salvation.

So God made the fish vomit Jonah up.

Key verse:
7. When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

My thoughts:
This has an interesting view of the temple as the destination of prayers. This perhaps shows some development in the understanding of prayer in ancient Hebrew religion.

By the way, Nineveh was a very important city at this time of the Near Middle East.

Anyway there's plenty of discussion on the intertubes about whether someone could actually survive being swallowed by a big fish. Some people point to possible example of this. But if it's possible, then how would it be a miracle? People who say the Bible is wrong because it contains things which scientifically can't happen are just being dumb, because the whole point of a miracle is that it goes against the natural order of things. Similarly Christians who try to defend the more extreme stories by explaining how they could've happened are dumb. That defeats the point of a miracle. I believe in a miraculous God.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jonah 1

I will not go to Nineveh. I will go the other way.

Summary:
God told Jonah to prophesy to Nineveh for their sin, but he ran off and took a boat to Tarshish. During the trip there was a big storm, and when the sailors realised that Jonah was running from a powerful God, the threw him overboard after struggling against the storm for a while longer. After this, a big fish swallowed Jonah.

Key verse:
3. But Jonah ran away from the Lord

My thoughts:
Ah Jonah. The reluctant prophet. His story is favoured by early Christians, but I'm not sure why. Maybe because he had to deal with the fact that God forgave gentiles.

Yea, you can't really run from God. It doesn't work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Obadiah 1

Sibling rivalry

Summary:
You're so proud, but God will bring you down. You, Esau, will be ransacked! Your friends will become enemies. You will be destroyed for violence against Jacob. You shouldn't look down on Jacob and enjoy his downfall. You will get your just desserts. Jacob and the other nations will eat you.

Key verse:
15.
The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.

My thoughts:
This is the shortest book in the Old Testament. It is a simple prophecy against Edom (Esau) for sinning against Israel (Jacob). It's nice that Israel isn't so much in the firing line for once!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Amos 9

David... of the North!

Summary:
God ordered the pillars to be destroyed so that no-one survived. There is nowhere anyone can hide. God is pretty powerful. The cosmos is his house. Israel is like any other sinful nation. God will destroy her.

But God will restore his nation to prosperity again. David will be restored.

Key verse:
11. In that day I will restore
David's fallen tent.
I will repair its broken places,
restore its ruins,
and build it as it used to be

My thoughts:
It's interesting reading Amos because of its Northern flavour. There is, however, much Southern influence on the book, and Amos himself appears to be a Southerner. Here we have direct reference to David's dynasty, which is really only a Southern concern.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Amos 8

It's either the others gods or me

Summary:
God showed Amos some ripe fruit, because Israel was ripe for the picking. Wailing will come from the temple, and people will want the festivals to end! People will be sold at low prices. God won't forget their sin. The land will suffer, the sun will turn black. Your feasts will become funerals and famines. God's word will be gone. The strong will be weak.

So long as there are other gods in Israel, then Israel will fall.

Key verse:
14. 'As surely as your god lives, O Dan,'
or, 'As surely as the god of Beersheba lives'—
they will fall,
never to rise again.

My thoughts:
This is God's statement. Get the other gods out. He's not putting up with them any more. Israel's sin is not ambiguous or uncertain. God is making an ultimatum to Israel.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Amos 7

Amos the shepherd

Summary:
Amos saw God planning to strip Israel clean with locusts. But it didn't happen. He planned fire from heaven. But it didn't happen. But now God is measuring to see whether Israel stands up, and this time they won't be spared.

Amaziah, the priest at Bethel, told the king that Amos was conspiring against him. Amaziah told Amos to go back to Judah. Amos replied that he wasn't a prophet, but just a shepherd who God had called. So Amaziah's life got ruined.

Key verse:
15. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'

My thoughts:
So being a prophet in those days was an occupation, and that wasn't Amos' occupation. God has always moved in people despite their backgrounds and statuses. God is the God of ordinary people. It is through ordinary people that he moves.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Amos 6

Self-security

Summary:
Don't feel complacent and secure. You will be destroyed like the nations around you. You aren't concerned about what's happening around you, so you will go to exile first.

God has ordered your destruction. Your attitude towards justice is like making horses sprint on coral. But you just keep boasting of your own strength.

Key verse:
6. You drink wine by the bowlful
and use the finest lotions,
but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

My thoughts:
We let our own lives get in the way of noticing what's really important. We are so focussed on making sure we have a good life ourselves, that we never grieve or act upon the atrocities this world has.

I'm convicted.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Amos 5

Justice like a river

Summary:
Israel has fallen, never to rise. They will be decimated. Don't hope in your cities, but hope in God. God is powerful, but you reject everything that is good. You exploit to get nice houses, but God won't let you live in them. God can see your sin. Do what is good!

You look for to God's great day. Why? It'll be terrible! It's like running from a lion into a bear with snakes for fingers. That's not fun! God hates your religiousness! He wants justice! You will be exiled for your idols

Key verses:
21-24. I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.

Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.

Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

My thoughts:
I probably say this a lot, but how often do we replace all that God values with religion. God values relationship and justice, but we so often just follow religion, because it's so much easier.

This is me as a teacher. Awesome.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Amos 4

Fat cows

Summary:
You fat cows! You will be hooked! Go and sin in Bethel and Gilgal! Boast about your 'holiness'! You love it.

You haven't turned to me in the good or the bad. I made life suck for you, but you didn't realise that you had to turn to me. Prepare to meet your maker...

Key verse:
1. Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,
you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy
and say to your husbands, "Bring us some drinks!"

My thoughts:
This is a brilliant verse. It was my favourite for some time, until it was replaces by Isaiah 4:1. So when you call women 'cows', you're using Bible talk! Fantastic.

Ah... I remember the days when context was irrelevant. I wonder how on earth I found this verse...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Amos 3

The purpose-driven destruction

Summary:
I chose you alone, Israel. Everything has a purpose, as set by me, God. God will bring the Philistines and the Egyptians against Samaria and show them Samaria's sin. Imagine someone being eaten by a lions but then someone comes and pulls out a bone or two from the lions jaw. That's what will be left of Israel and Samaria. But the foreign altars will be destroyed with it, which is good.

Key verse:
7. Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.

My thoughts:
It's quite interesting having the focus on the North rather than the South. Samaria is to Israel as Jerusalem is to Judah. This must express quite early traditions as the North became quite irrelevant after about 700BCE. To a certain extent anyway.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Amos 2

Israel not exempt

Summary:
God will destroy Moab for her sin. As with Judah and Israel.

The Israelites deny justice and are incestuous. God took you out of Egypt and destroyed the Amorites before you. God gave you prophets, whom you silenced. The fastest and strongest will not escape God's wrath.

Key verse:
6. For three sins of Israel,
even for four, I will not turn back

My thoughts:
Finally, we see now a focus of the list of the nations God will punish. It's point seems to be that God will punish Israel (and Judah) just as he would punish all other nations. They are not special in that regard. In fact, the length of the diatribe against Israel suggests that they are the worst sinners. I believe Amos was based in Israel rather than Judah.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Amos 1

Amos hatez the nations

Summary:
Amos the shepherd prophesied.

God will destroy Damascus for her sin. Same with Gaza, Tyre, Edom and Ammon.

Key verses:
3, 6, 9, 11, 13. For three sins of _____,
even for four, I will not turn back my wrath .
Because ...

My thoughts:
This is some nice, formulaic prophecy! You're all screwed for your own reasons. I remember being told that Amos prophesies against the nations and all Israel is a logical order. Systematic prophecy.

Do you know what is fun? Putting sentences into Japanese using Babel, and then putting them back in English using Babel. The above sentence comes out:

This is splendid, it is formulaic prophecy! Because of your yourself reason it tightens entirely with the screw. Amos you remember that it is said to thing me where prophesies and Israeli republic everything are logical order vis-a-vis the nation. Organizational prophecy.

That's awesome.

Or should I say: That it keeps being surprised.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Joel 3

Now that's a true prophecy

Summary:
God's people will be drawn together at Jerusalem. The surrounding nations hated us for no reason. Everyone get your armour. It's time to fight.

Jerusalem's hill is holy and will never be invaded again, though Egypt will be barren.

Key verse:
17. Jerusalem will be holy;
never again will foreigners invade her.

My thoughts:
Now, that's just not true. If you were going to make a call about one city that wasn't going to be invaded again, I wouldn't choose Jerusalem.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Joel 2

The indiscriminate Spirit

Summary:
God day and a massive army is coming. They will come like massive horses, these locusts. They'll charge upon warriors and get everywhere. God heads the army.

"Return" says God, "A broken heart means more than broken clothes!". God might just spare us yet!

God will have pity and defend Israel against the North. Be happy because God has given us many things and will reimburse us for what the locusts did. They you will know who your God is.

Then God will give his spirit to all people of all ages and genders. Everyone who calls will be saved.

Key verse:
28. I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.

My thoughts:
Verses 28-32 are made famous by Peter in his first sermon in Jerusalem at Pentecost in Acts 2. Here we see God's desire to fill all people of all types with his Spirit, and this is ultimately fulfilled in Acts 2. What and awesome gift for God to give. His Spirit is not for the elite.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Joel 1

Locusts and sacks

Summary:
Let all the generations know! Has there ever been a locust swarm so bad? The nation has been attacked and it's produce taken. Mourn because of this.

Fast, repent and wear sackcloth! God's judgement is coming. Our food has run out but I call to God.

Key verse:
13. Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn;
wail, you who minister before the altar.
Come, spend the night in sackcloth,
you who minister before my God

My thoughts:
Joel is mostly famous for his middle chapter, which Peter quotes in the New Testament.

The Hebrew word for sack is sack.

I suspect this locust plague represents a foreign invading army. But it could just be a locust plague.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hosea 14

Time to return

Summary:
Come back! Ask for forgiveness. Assyria can't save you. God will be your provider again. If you're smart, you'll realise this!

Key verse:
7. Men will dwell again in his shade.
He will flourish like the grain.
He will blossom like a vine,
and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.

My thoughts:
God is constantly summoning us to return to him. It's up to us what we do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hosea 13

Ephraim is screwed

Summary:
Ephraim was powerful, but now has turned to Baal. So they'll evaporate like the dew. I'll destroy you like a wild animal would. I gave you the king you wanted, but now I've taken him away. But I'll redeem them from death.

Key verse:
14. I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction?

My thoughts:
This verse seems out of context. Either that or I've misunderstood it. I mean, it's clearly a prediction of Jesus.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hosea 12

The heel-striker

Summary:
God will repay Jacob, he who deceived his brother and fought and talked with the angel. You have to return to your God! You use wealth to cover up sin! It doesn't work. God has looked after you through a prophet. You can here from tents, and he will send you back to tents if you're not careful!

Key verse:
6. But you must return to your God;
maintain love and justice,
and wait for your God always.

My thoughts:
Waiting on God is something we don't do very well. We like to rush out and do stuff before God leads us anywhere. We like to preempt him. Often God is just waiting for us to shut up and sit down and listen.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hosea 11

I love you really...

Summary:
Israel was my loved child. I, God, taught her to walk and took away their burdens. By the closer I got to her the more she ran. They are determined to leave, but I don't want to give them up. I won't destroy them completely, and they'll come back.

Key verse:
9. I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man

My thoughts:
And in the midst of all the proclaimed punishment, some grace. Is God's bark perhaps worse than his bite?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hosea 10

Unoriginal propheteering

Summary:
Israel, you have used your prosperity to sin. You will have no King nor any God protecting you. Your nation is covered in law suits! Your precious idols will be stolen. Ephraim and Judah will be yoked and made to work hard. You will reap what you sow, and foreigners will go to war against you.

Key verse:
13. But you have planted wickedness,
you have reaped evil

My thoughts:
I think Hosea's point is that Israel and Judah will be punished for their sin. I think.

Often Ephraim means all of the northern tribes which were the nation Israel.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Hosea 6

If you sin, life sucks. Guess what. You've sinned.

Summary:
Don't be happy, Israel, because you disobeyed and are going to starve. You will be exiled and unable to practise your faith. You think that the prophet who watches over you is a madman. Israel was like nice fruit, but has now defiled herself. Ephraim will have no children.

Key verse:
17. My God will reject them
because they have not obeyed him;
they will be wanderers among the nations.

My thoughts:
When I read this, I wonder whether it would be better for someone to be born outside of Israel so that the expectation on them was much less. You wouldn't constantly have a God on your back bringing you unhappiness when you sin.

But then I think of it as parenthood. You could have a parent who doesn't discipline you and teach you what is right, and though you'd be able to do what you want you would never grow to become a good well-balanced person. A good parent will discipline you, but sometimes it is hard to see the rewards in spiritual terms because the 'benefits' may not happen in this life. As society becomes more secular (focused on 'this world'), it becomes harder to hold on to promises which only seem to exist in the other world. But I truly believe that pure secularism, the focus on 'this world' as the only truly important thing, is a myth that has sucked many people in.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hosea 8

Ignorance

Summary:
A eagle is coming to Israel because of their sin and false acknowledgement of God. They choose their own leaders, against God's will. Samaria has to get rid of those golden calves! Israel is no more than just another nation now! God will, however, bring them together under a foreigner. You make altars to get rid of sin, but they just add to it! They don't even know the law. Israel and Judah don't know their God.

Key verse:
14. Israel has forgotten his Maker

My thoughts:
Hosea is bemoaning the apparent complete irrelevance of the Yahwist cult in Hebrew society. Like today, society had become pluralist and forgotten their roots. God would sort them out though.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hosea 7

Oven-like peoples

Summary:
It's like they forget that God remembers their sin. The princes are drunkards. They are more hot-headed than ovens.

Israel refuses to turn to God. They are like doves with no sense of direction, and God will trap them. Useless.

Key verse:
15. I trained them and strengthened them,
but they plot evil against me.

My thoughts:
It's interesting that the dominant form of prophecy in the Old Testament is slagging Israel and Judah off. You could put this down to many reasons, but I would rather say that it was a genuine statement from God about his dissatisfaction with how things had turned out.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hosea 6

Jesus and Moby

Summary:
Let's go back to God. He hurt us but he'll restore us on the third day. If we look to him, he'll come like the sun.

Sacrifices are useless compared to mercy. You haven't figured this out yet. Israel's streets are covered in bloodshed. You have brought sin in like Adam.

Key verses:
2. After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
6. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

My thoughts:
More direct prophecy of Jesus in verse 2.

I saw Moby using Hosea 6:6 to state that vegetarianism is supported by the Bible. Weird. The point of Hosea 6:6 is a good one though. Mercy is better than religious activities.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Hosea 5

Beating into submission

Summary:
All Israel should know, from top to bottom, that God knows what they've done. They will not find God, and they aren't allowed to return. Ephraim will be crushed, and Judah's leaders lie. God is their rot. Ephraim turned to Assyria for help, but that didn't help. God will destroy them until they come back out of sheer desperation.

Key verse:
15. Then I will go back to my place
until they admit their guilt.
And they will seek my face;
in their misery they will earnestly seek me.

My thoughts:
I guess when you truly are all-powerful like God you can use the pummel-them-into-submission strategy. Nasty.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hosea 4

Men are worse than woman

Summary:
Instead of acknowledging God, you just lie and murder. The land mourns and your accusations are points. I'll kill your mum. The more priests you have, the more sin you have. So you will never be satisfied. You will look to wood and stone for answers. Your daughters won't be guilty when they become prostitutes because it is the men are worse. Judah should leave Israel alone. They're about as sinful as you get.

Key verse:
14. I will not punish your daughters
when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes

My thoughts:
It's nice to see some recognition that prostitution isn't just a female problem.