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



Thursday, May 31, 2007

Malachi 1

Blemished sacrifices

Summary:
God loved Jacob, but hated Esau. So Edom may try to rebuild, but God will demolish. God influences beyond just Israel!

The priests have shown God contempt by bringing flawed sacrifices. They better start begging for mercy! It would be better if they didn't even use the temple! God is great and will be worshiped everywhere by all people.

God deserves your best, not your leftovers.

Key verse:
8. When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says the Lord Almighty.

My thoughts:
It's true that sometimes we think of God on another level as we think of people around us. We might think "What's so wrong with doing a ritual sacrifice of an animal with blemishes?", but if you think of it as terms of an offering that we are giving someone, our perspective changes. You wouldn't give rotting meat to someone. When we worship God, it might be helpful to think - "Would a person accept this praise?". God is more than just a person, but if we give our offerings as if we were truly giving them to a person, then they'll be more genuine.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Zechariah 14

Uniname

Summary:
A day's coming when all nations will come to take Jerusalem and succeed. Half of its people will be exiled. God himself will move mountains to fight the nations. That day will be dark, but afterwards, God himself would be king of the earth. Jerusalem will be secure, but all the attacking nations will rot alive. The survivors will worship God. All common things will be inscribed as holy.

Key verse:
9. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.

My thoughts:
I presume that this isn't to be taken literally, as it would be very confusing if everyone and everything was called 'Yahweh'.

Ah, the Day of the Lord... I know exactly when it's going to happen and what exactly's going to happen. I'm just not telling you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Zechariah 13

Scattered sheep

Summary:
Then there will be a fountain in Jerusalem capable of washing sin. False prophets and idols will be forgotten. The prophets will be embarrassed and will lie about their prophetic past.

Get the shepherd, so the sheep are scattered. Two-thirds of Israel will perish. The final third will be refined by God himself.

Key verse:
7. Strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered,

My thoughts:
If you think I go a long way to connect Old Testament passages with the events of the New Testament, then look at Jesus' interpretation! This seemingly irrelevant verse actually secretly refers to the disciples once Jesus is taken!

Two things:
1) Jesus had obviously read Zechariah. This has some bearing on his choice of entry into Jerusalem
2) Is Jesus wrong? Is it wrong to use this passage to refer to the disciples? It obviously wasn't specifically in the mind of the original author, but that does not make it an invalid interpretation. In light of Jesus, I would actually say that his interpretation is a correct one, to the point that we can say "One of the things which Zechariah 13:7 refers to is the state of the disciples once Jesus is taken".

Monday, May 28, 2007

Zechariah 12

Gawking at the pierced

Summary:
When Jerusalem is right against her back, God will send all her enemies packing. Anyone who tries to attack will just hurt themselves. Her leaders in that day will consume all other nations. God will save Judah first.

They will be given new grace. They will mourn that they pierced their God. All the clans will weep.

Key verse:
10. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

My thoughts:
OMGosh! Jesus! This is getting boring. Zechariah is scattered with Jesusisms.

In comparison to other prophetic texts, Zechariah seems to focus more on God's support of his chosen nation, rather than his judgment. It still holds to the same pattern as God's current judgment but coming restoration, but God seems more defiant in his defense of Judah that in other books.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Zechariah 11

Good and bad shepherds

Summary:
Lebanon and Jordan and their forests will be ruined.

Your leaders are like shepherds! All they want is to send you into the slaughterhouse to make some money. So God became the shepherd of the flock destined for death and gave them favour and unity. But the flock hated God, so he took away the favour. God, as shepherd was paid 30 silver pieces, which he threw to the potter. He also took away the unity, so Judah and Israel were separated. A bad shepherd then took over.

Key verse:
12. I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

My thoughts:
OMGosh! Judas!

Well maybe. It could just be a generically, commonly used amount of pay for a short term job. Why does God throw it to the potter? Does that mean more than it seems?

Anyway, this is a cool little image of God striving to take care of those destined for death (ie. us).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Zechariah 10

God will look after Judah

Summary:
Ask God to look after you. He's the provider. Your 'holy men' and leaders are liars, and God will destroy them. You are lost without a real leader. God will look after Judah, and a great leader will come from her (OMGosh! Jesus!) .

Their people will be mighty again. God will bring all the people back and strengthen them.

Key verse:
4. From Judah will come the cornerstone,
from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
from him every ruler.

My thoughts:
Jesus is referred to as the cornerstone/capstone in many parts of the New Testament, mostly referencing Psalm 118:22. But I'm going to claim this one too.

Wait!! Are cornerstone and capstone the complete opposite? Not the same? Gosh... I don't know anything about building! My whole theology is falling down around me! Ahh!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Zechariah 9

Ass

Summary:
God is against Tyre and Sidon and Damascus and the Philistines. Their 'strength' will mean nothing to God. Only the godly will be left. God will defend his people.

Look! The king is coming on a donkey! Israel will be protected from attack.

God himself will come and save.

Key verse:
9. See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

My thoughts:
Jesus! Lol!

When Jesus came in on a donkey it was certainly interpreted Messianically by the people of the time. The triumphal entry is one of the most well documented events of the New Testament.

Of course, Jesus could have set this all up with the knowledge of Zechariah 9. A statement that he is the Messiah as such.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Zechariah 8

I wanna be like Jew!

Summary:
God will come back and live in Jerusalem. People will live to a ripe old age there. What seems impossible to you is simple to God. People will be brought back to Jerusalem, and it'll be safe enough to begin the rebuilding. You will be blessed. Just like God planned destruction in the past, he has now planned blessing. Jews will be honoured among people because they have God. The times of mourning will become times of celebration.

Key verse:
23. In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'

My thoughts:
The use of the term 'Jew' here implies that this is a later text, as it was not until after the Babylonian exile that this people group began to be known thus. Perhaps this passage is referring simply to the second temple period.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Zechariah 7

You gotta do what's right

Summary:
The people wanted to ask God whether they should fast like they usually did in the exile. But God thought that they had been fasting for selfish reasons. They should just do what is right, but they seem to have struggled with that! That makes God angry. That's why they were scattered!

Key verses:
9-10. This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'

My thoughts:
This is one of the more powerful reoccurring themes of the prophetic literature of the Old Testament. That is, the fact that God prefers justice and right action over religious activities.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Zechariah 6

Chariots and Priestkings

Summary:
Four chariots came from between mountains. They were the four spirits of heaven and they went throughout the earth, North, South, East and West. The Spirit rested where the one going North went.

Zechariah was told to make a crown for Joshua, and he was called the Branch who would build the temple. He would be the kingly priest. No longer would there separate roles for priests and kings.

Key verse:
13. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.

My thoughts:
So there perhaps here seems to be an affinity between Joshua and Jesus. Jesus is heralded in the New Testament as both the High Priest and King, and is prophesied here. Pretty cool...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Zechariah 5

Flying scrolls and baskets of sin-women

Summary:
Then a flying curse came by, which cursed all thieves and liars.

Then a basket holding the land's sin came down, and in the covered basket was Woman Wickedness. The basket was taken to Babylon.

Key verse:
8. He said, "This is wickedness," and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth.

My thoughts:
Would it be wrong to conclude that all women are wicked?

So I dunno... Is this Israel's sin that is being taken away from her, or is it just Babylon's sin?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Zechariah 4

The olive trees and the lampstand

Summary:
Zechariah saw two olive trees on either side of a lampstand with a bowl on it.

Zerubbabel would be strong by God's Spirit rather than by might or power. He would start and finish the building of the temple. People will be happy when he is in control!

The olive trees are the two set apart to serve God.

Key verse:
6. 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty.

My thoughts:
So the two trees are Joshua and Zerubbabel, the king and the priest, and their olive trees produce oil. Which is the Spirit. The Spirit flows from their service to fill the bowl of the lampstand to fuel the lampstand.

In all things we should remember to do things by God's Spirit. So often we try to depend on our own strength, but in doing that we are holding ourselves back from the true power of what God can do for us. Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Zechariah 3

A single day

Summary:
Then there was Joshua the priest, with Satan on one shoulder and God's angel on the other. God rebuked Satan, and replaced Joshua's dirty clothes with clean ones, because his sin was gone. God told him to do what was right.

God was bringing his servant. He would remove the sin of the land in a single day. There will be peace among neighbours.

Key verse:
9. I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

My thoughts:
Here we see congruency between this prophecy and Jesus' life. Jesus, of course, took away all our sin in one day in his death.

Perhaps this chapter is where the idea of having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other came from. Perhaps...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Zechariah 2

The apple of God's eye

Summary:
One angel went off the measure Jerusalem, and another came to declare that Jerusalem have so many people that there could be no wall, except the fire of God! Escape from exile! God will punish those who touch his kids! Be happy. Many nations, not just one, will worship God in the future, and God will live amongst his people.

Key verse:
11. Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.

My thoughts:
God has always been interested in the whole world, not just his one nation. Here we see many nations worshipping God, as they do now under Jesus.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Zechariah 1

Four horns thrashed by four craftsmen

Summary:
Whilst Judah was in Persia, God called his people back to himself, to be unlike their disobedient fathers.

Zechariah saw a man on a red horse, with multicolour horses behind him. They went throughout the earth and found it to be peaceful. The angel escorting Zechariah asked God how long he would stay angry with Judah. God thought that the ruling empires had become too comfortable, so Judah would be restored and prosper.

Then there were four horns, the ones which had scattered Judah and Israel. But four craftsmen were coming to scare the horns away.

Key verse:
3. 'Return to me,' declares the Lord Almighty, 'and I will return to you,'

My thoughts:
Ah! I love apocalyptic literature! This passage is clearly referring to Jesus... as four craftsmen. This represents the four stages of Jesus's life; birth and childhood, ministry, death, resurrection. It couldn't be any clearer!

Zechariah's a good book!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Haggai 2

From now on

Summary:
Haggai challenged the leaders with how the temple now looked compared to how it used to look. God was on their side though. So far has been tough. Everything's been defiled and diminishing, but God will bless from today onwards.

God told Zerubbabel that he would conquer nations, and that Zerubbabel would be like his signet ring.

Key verse:
19. From this day on I will bless you.

My thoughts:
The past is the past and should be left behind. We should strive towards the future. That is what God is doing here. Things had been messed up in the past, but from now on, there would only be blessings. Always from now on...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Haggai 1

Build God's house, not yours!

Summary:
After the exile, Haggai went to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah and to Joshua the priest. He challenged them as to why everyone's house was nicely rebuilt except for the Lord's; the temple. Think! Why put so much energy into something that gives little return!

Build God's house, and you will stop struggling in vain.

So everyone started building.

Key verse:
9. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the Lord Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.

My thoughts:
Haggai is a simple two chapter book simply calling the remnant to prioritise the rebuilding of the temple over other things. So often we focus on our immediate needs, but we should be focusing on God, and let everything else fall into place.

The dual characters of Zerubbabel, the ruler, and Joshua, the priest, set the tone for later Judah, where there is always the ruler and the priest. There is much in Zechariah, one of the few books in the Old Testament we haven't looked at yet, about Joshua and Zerubbabel.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Zephaniah 3

Poor Jerusalem

Summary:
Sucks to be Jerusalem, who is disobedient and doesn't trust God. Her rulers, prophets and priests are the worst. They are in stark contrast to their perfect God. God is perfectly capable of destroying this city.

God thought they'd learn but then did. So now he's waiting to give them the final judgment. God's people will be purified, and the obedient will not be shamed. The remnant will be sweet. It'll be awesome for them.

God is able to save. He will bring justice for the oppressed. You will be praised!

Key verse:
17. The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.

My thoughts:
This key verse is only really a key verse due to it being in a song we sing at church. The song's called 'Mighty To Save". Genius. And you thought you had never read Zephaniah...

Apparently Zephaniah is a great-grandson of Hezekiah. That's good breeding. Good ol' Wikipedia.

It appears that Zephaniah prophesied during Josiah's reign, which makes the content of his prophecy interesting, as Judah went through a massive religious reformation during Josiah's reign, yet Zephaniah is still prophesying destruction for sin.

Did you know that 'the' is by far the most common word in the NIV. Good ol' concordance!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Zephaniah 2

Say sorry. No... say it like you mean it!

Summary:
Get together and get humble before God turns up.

Philistia is screwed. All her cities and sea peoples will be gone, and Judah's remnant will take it.

Because of their mocking, Moab and Ammon will be like Sodom and Gomorrah. Cushites too.

Nineveh thought she was sweet, but she and he country Assyria will be screwed. Animals will live there.

Key verse:
3. Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you will be sheltered
on the day of the Lord's anger.

My thoughts:
It's amazing that even if you've been really bad, truly excessive humility can tone down many punishments. No-one really wants to punish truly repentant people. Even God.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Zephaniah 1

God's not dead, NO! He is alive!

Summary:
God will kill everything. God will destroy Judah for turning from him to other gods. The day is near. God will punish everyone regardless of status. There will be great crying. Do not think that your God is idle.

The great day is near. There'll be wailing. There'll be war cries. Money will save no-one.

Key verse:
12. I will search Jerusalem with lamps
and punish those who are complacent,
who are like wine left on its dregs,
who think, 'The Lord will do nothing,
either good or bad.'

My thoughts:
A foolish but common thought that God is idle, and won't do anything. God's pace is different to ours, so some people can kid themselves into thinking that God is not idle.

Anyway, I'm up to date today! Hoorah! I haven't been up to date since November last year! That's well over six months ago, but today, I am up to date. Yay Pete!

I also got a complete NIV concordance, and Biblical Greek flash cards yesterday. Yay Pete!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Habakkuk 3

So Habakkuk prayed

Summary:
God, do great deeds again! God was awesome, and terrifyingly powerful. You controlled everything and are eternal. You split the earth, and the splits are now rivers. Nature fears you, yet you deliver your people.

It was terrible when they attacked. I'm waiting for their downfall. Despite all this, I trust God. He makes me strong.

Key verse:
18. yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

My thoughts:
As I read verse 18, I feel that this is a decision rather than a feeling. Habakkuk has decided to rejoice, rather than just it happening naturally. We need to do the same. We need to decide to do what we know we are to do, rather than being governed by changing feelings.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Habakkuk 2

Arrogant but useful. Just like me!

Summary:
God: Ok, write this down because it reveals the future. Sure, Babylon is arrogant and violent, but submission will give life. It'll suck for extortionists! Babylon will have conquered the world, but they will be conquered. I've already planned for people's work to be futile. Soon the earth will be covered with God's clearly apparent reality.

Don't do daterape, or you'll get dateraped yourself. Idols are useless, but God is in his temple.

Key verse:
14. For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea.

My thoughts:
This is a difficult chapter to comprehend, but I think it's simply referring to Babylon's judgment after God has finished using them.

Yea, so you might've picked that Habakkuk is all about Babylon and God's relationship to them and how he uses them in response to some theodical questioning.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Habakkuk 1

An active God

Summary:
Habakkuk: God! Why don't you listen?! There's injustice going on!
God: Wait and watching. I'm getting the violent Babylonians to kill the unjust people.
Habakkuk: God, you're perfect and cannot tolerate evil. We're like little fish to you. Why would you allow other nations to hook us like fish forever?

Key verse:
5. Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

My thoughts:
This has gotta be one of my favourite verses in the Old Testament. This isn't a God who does nothing. This is a God who acts and can answer questions of his justice. Yay God.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nahum 3

The fatal wound

Summary:
Flash! Bang! People dying! Swords clanging! All because of your spiritual prostitution. You will be shamed, and no-one will mourn Nineveh. All other strongholds have fallen, and so will you. Your cities are ripe for the picking. You fight like girls! You have many merchants, but your guards will fly away. Your people are scattered.

Your injury is fatal.

Key verse:
13. Look at your troops—
they are all women!

My thoughts:
Heh heh. Biblical.

I was just randomly witnessing to some people I was helping at work. (They asked for it. Like actually... they did). And I was basically saying that we all have a fatal wound. We all have gone past the point of no return. We're screwed. Same for Nineveh. Except we have Jesus.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Nahum 2

Sucks to be Nineveh. Or a plugless bath.

Summary:
Nineveh will be attacked, and Israel restored. The city is taken over, and it's guard collapses with the palace. Nineveh will be carried away in exile. If Nineveh was a bath, its plug would be pulled. The city is plundered, the lions are eating you, and God is against you.

Key verse:
13. "I am against you,"
declares the Lord Almighty.

My thoughts:
Ooh... burn... That's a nasty sentence to be issued! Be aware that Nineveh was a massive city at the time, and declaring its downfall was a massive call.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Nahum 1

Nahum? You can't just make up books...

Summary:
About Nineveh.

God is vengeful, but is not angered easily, but when he is, he is powerful. He controls nature and no-one can stand against him. Nineveh will be flooded. They will be destroyed for opposing God. Your allies will flee, but Judah, your punishment is over. God will set your free.

But Nineveh will not be remembered. Judah will, however, get good news.

Key verse:
13. Now I will break their yoke from your neck
and tear your shackles away.

My thoughts:
For me, Nahum is a forgotten book. In general for Christians many of the minor prophets get largely forgotten, and though Obadiah and Zephaniah seem to enjoy some privacy, Nahum takes the cake for me as the book for which people say "Is that even in the Bible?". I will have read it a good 4 or so times in my life thus far, but it still manages to creep up on me sometimes.

If you love someone... set them free!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Micah 7

Be slow to kick those who are down

Summary:
I'm so sad. It's like going to the pantry to find no food. Our good people are gone, and our evil is well practiced. But God is turning up now. You can't trust anyone, so I only trust God.

But don't be quick to mock Israel. Sure, she's being punished now, but God will lift her up. The days for expansion are coming.

God will look after us like when we left Egypt. The nations will be shamed. No-one is as compassionate as God!

Key verse:
18. Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.

My thoughts:
As Christians, sometimes we feel that God is being mean to us, but we always need to keep that in mind of the fact that we are his people. He treats the 'other' differently, and though he may discipline us, it only makes sense in context of our relationship with him.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Micah 6

It's really quite simple

Summary:
God pleaded his case to the world. He has done only good things for Israel, bringing them out of Egypt. What can we give? He only asks that we do what is right.

Should God ignore those who blatantly cheat others? Your destruction has begun.

Key verse:
8. He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

My thoughts:
That's a nice wee verse that puts a lot of following God into perspective. As with all summaries of what God demands there are two parts. Our relationship with other and our relationship with God. Get these two things right and you have everything.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Micah 5

Bethlehemi ruler

Summary:
Israel will be oppressed until the ruler from Bethlehem comes. With God's strength, he will look after his people.

Seven or eight leaders will deliver us against Assyria. Israel's remnant will be like an uncontrollable lion. In that day God will destroy all the armies cities and bad religious stuff of Israel.

Key verse:
2. But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.

My thoughts:
OMGosh... Jesus!!!!

Of course, as Bethlehem is the town of David, the original meaning would have referred to that, but that doesn't mean it doesn't also refer to Jesus' coming.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Micah 4

No war! No war! la-de-da-de-da-daa!

Summary:
At the end, God's mountain will be the best. People will be drawn to there. There will be no war and there will be personal peace. Other nations may have their gods, but we will have the Lord.

God will bring back a remnant. Your kingship will be restored. Cry right now, because you're going to Babylon, but God will save you. People mock you, but they don't know God's plans. You will be powerful again.

Key verse:
3. He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

My thoughts:
God's ultimate plan is peace. God seems to bring on a lot of war in the Old Testament (and a bit in the New), but this is never his heart or plan. I guess for God the ends can justify the means.


Fools! There will be war! I will be your war!!!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Micah 3

One true prophet

Summary:
You should know justice, but you eat people instead! God won't hear your cries. The prophets conform to the will of the people. So you will be in darkness, and God will speak no more.

But I, Micah, have the Spirit and can proclaim your judgment. You accept bribes, and expect God to look aside. But you will be punished!

Key verse:
8. But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin.

My thoughts:
This sounds like arrogance, but when you know, you know.

I preached at church last night, and it was awesome. Like what God did rather than what I did. God really touched people's lives, and it was a privilege to be a part of it!