Wednesday, January 26, 2011

B90 - Day 26, January 26, 2011

1 Kings 17 - 2 Kings 4

1 Kings chapter 17 is the first time we hear of Eliyahu/Elijah. He's introduced to us as he speaks some powerful words, "As ADONAI the God of Isra'el lives, before whom I stand, there will be neither rain nor dew in the years ahead unless I say so."and then God tells Elijah to go to a stream where He will provide food and water for Elijah. It makes me wonder at the awesome relationship Elijah must have had with God. To speak those words with confidence, Elijah had a lot going on in his life and spiritual relationship that we don't even get to hear about. A few verses later, God performs two miracles - one with the sustaining of the flour and oil so that Elijah would have food and the other miracle in restoring life to the woman's dead son because Elijah had called out to God for it. After reading about all the evil kings for many chapters, it sure is uplifting to read again about God's blessings on a righteous person. 
So three years went by before Elijah heard God's word that it was time for rain and the famine would end. I don't think it was three years of spiritual famine for Elijah, though. From the following verses, I get the impression that Elijah was having a busy three years in concert with God. Look at verse 1 Kings 18:12
"But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of ADONAI will carry you off to I don't know where;
Obadiah said this because, apparently Elijah had been reported to be in many places over the last three years but then was nowhere to be found when they went to fetch him. Was God supernaturally moving him from place to place? I think it's entirely possible, and not much different from how Elijah eventually makes his exit from this world. Elijah doesn't die, he's taken to heaven. He must have been quite a man! It's also clear that Elijah, a man of God, merited a LOT more space in the Bible than the recounted stories of the evil kings who only got a few verses each. Elijah was playing a part in the redemption of Israel while the kings were dragging the nation down.
Well, I did have more thoughts on this reading but I still have two chapters to finish and it's getting to be evening so I'll post this now. See you in three days!  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

B90 - Day 23, Sunday January 23

I missed my post that was due on Thursday. Sorry... I didn't finish my Thursday reading until late in the evening when it was too late to start a post on a school night. I did have a nice evening, though. I went down to Parker (a southeast suburb of Denver) and had dinner with Ken and Perla. It was the first time I'd seen their apartment where they'd moved in early December. It's a very nice place and Perla has done a beautiful job decorating it. Ken slow-roasted some ribs all day and they were so tender and delicious!

2 Samuel 12-22:
A lot has happened in the O.T. since the last post. David is now king. 2 Sam 12 starts out with some really distasteful dirty laundry in David's family and the next few chapters recount the evil that comes from such actions. So Amnon, one of David's sons, rapes his half sister, Tamar. Tamar's brother, Avshalom, waits two years to get vengeance for Tamar and has his servants kill Amnon. Avshalom ends up estranged from his father, David, for another two years. It looks like they're going to finally reconcile but Avshalom has apparently built up a lot of resentment and ill-will toward David and decides he will take leadership of Israel from his father. And so it goes... there are two things that I noted while reading the recounting of these events. First off, I don't see Avshalom turning to God for help in overcoming this horrendous act and restoring of Tamar. I'm sure God's will would have been much more constructive than the way Avshalom went about it. Secondly, this seems to be the most vile act we've had recounted within the intimate setting of the story of any particular family. Nothing has been white-washed here - the sins of these people are set out for us to know and to see the consequences. These are real people. We are real people. The escalation from the crime to the desire for vengeance and on to the ill feelings that have been fostered throughout the years was largely the result of David's non-action. He did nothing when he heard about Amnon's rape of Tamar. As many times as we've seen David asking for God's council in regard to his rule of the people of Israel, why didn't David seek God's council in this event? I think we do the same things in our lives today. We may not be facing the same type of serious event as Amnon and Tamar, but we may find ourselves reacting the same. We pray for our church, missions in which we're involved, other folks who may be having troubles; but we handle day-to-day events from our own point of reason rather than turning to God for everything. David was seeking God's guidance on the big stuff but appears to have been making his own decisions on handling day-to-day family matters. It didn't turn out so well. Maybe we can take a lesson from that? 
In the end, despite David's hard heart toward his son, Avshalom, he was very sad when Avshalom was killed.

The rest of the chapters in today's reading play out with struggles for David and eventually his re-establishment as king. The bottom line message: there's hope and a good ending with faithfulness to God. David wasn't perfect but he was a "man after God's own heart." That doesn't mean that God condoned the bad decisions that David made. But it does mean that, despite his human weaknesses and frailties, David ultimately and always recognized God's authority, his (David's) own human sinfulness and he was a repentant man. He didn't argue with God to rationalize his behavior. I want to be a woman after God's own heart. I want to always remember God's goodness in guiding me if I will only remember to turn to him first. I want to always praise God - like David did in chapter 22!

Monday, January 17, 2011

B90 - Day 17, Monday Jan 17, 2011

Joshua 14 - Judges 4
After Day 16 I went back and read some background on the book of Joshua. I was thinking about all the war and destruction involved in God's people being given their promised land. Here is the summary of difference between wars made solely by man against man versus the wars involved in God giving the land to his people:
"Joshua is not an epic account of Israel's heroic generation or the story of Israel's conquest of Canaan with the aid of her national deity. It is rather the story of how God, to whom the whole world belongs, at one stage in the history of redemption reconquered a portion of the earth from the powers of this world that had claimed it for themselves, defending their claims by force of arms and reliance on their false gods." CJB Online-BibleStudyTools
Although this doesn't reduce the pain of war, it does help me to understand the significance of the retaking of the land through violence. I have to keep in mind that these peoples with their gods and human efforts had heard of the one God and, apparently, chose to reject him. Rahab the prostitute confirms that the people knew about God's might when the two spies entered the city where she lived. Rahab and her family were saved because she acknowledged God and asked to be spared. The other inhabitants of the city would have had the same knowledge and opportunity but chose to continue worshiping their gods.

Here's another interesting thing to think about - there is significance in Joshua's name and the events of God redeeming the land for his people that is prophetic:
The role of the central human actor in the events narrated here is reinforced by the name he bears. Earlier in his life Joshua was called simply Hoshea (Nu 13:8,16), meaning "salvation." But later Moses changed his name to Joshua, meaning "The Lord saves" (or "The Lord gives victory"). When this same name (the Greek form of which is Jesus; see NIV text note on Mt 1:21) was given to Mary's firstborn son, it identified him as the servant of God who would complete what God did for Israel in a preliminary way through the first Joshua, namely, overcome all powers of evil in the world and bring God's people into their eternal "rest" (see Heb 4:1-11 and notes)." CJB online -

Chapters 15 through 19 recount the remaining dividing of the land, by lots, among the remaining tribes of Israel. Kind of dry reading unless you take out an old map that shows the borders that are being described. It's interesting to note that, even though the territories are assigned, they're not yet occupied by the tribes - God has yet to drive out the people living in the territories. The tribes will still need to be obedient and move in to take over the territories as God prepares them for it going forward. Will Israel be obedient in these things? (hmm, don't think so.)
Chapter 20 assigns the cities of refuge and chapter 21 gives cities to the L'vi'im but there's one special assignment in verse 12. The L'vi'im were given the city of Kiryat-Arba except for: 12 but the fields and villages of the city they gave to Kalev the son of Y'funeh as his possession.
This is the specific land that Caleb had visited when Moses sent the representatives out to reconnoiter and report on the land long ago. At that time, Caleb had been promised that he would live to see the land given to Israel after the 40 years in the desert and that he would receive his portion from the land he had visited. That must have been an exciting promise fulfilled for Caleb!
The very end of chapter 21 reminds us again of God's faithfulness:
44 Then ADONAI gave them rest all around, according to everything he had sworn to their ancestors. Not a man from all their enemies stood against them; ADONAI handed all their enemies over to 45 Not one good thing that ADONAI had spoken of to the household of Isra'el failed to happen; it all took place.
Despite all the failures of Israel, God fulfilled his promises to them!

I find it amazing that, after all the years of the people of Israel seeing God's might and fulfillment of promises, that Joshua has to say to them in Jos 24: 
23 "Now," Y'hoshua urged, "put away the foreign gods you have among you, and turn your hearts to ADONAI, the God of Isra'el."  They were claiming to be witnesses against themselves that they promised to follow God and yet they still were hauling around their foreign gods??? And then I realized, we still do that today - our foreign gods are the things in our lives that take our attention away from God's will, while we claim God's promises as his children. How we must still bring heartache to ADONAI.

Interesting to note in Judges 1:16 - the decendants of Moshe's father-in-law finally moved in with Y'hudah's people and occupied that land with the Israelites. I wonder how many years it has been since Moshe invited his father-in-law and his people to "throw in" with the twelve tribes while they were still wandering the 40 years in the dessert?
Right away in Judges 1 the people are not obeying God's order to drive out the people in the lands they possess:
21 The people of Binyamin did not drive out the Y'vusi who inhabited Yerushalayim; rather, the Y'vusi continued living with the people of Binyamin in Yerushalayim, as they do to this day.
and it's in Jerusalem. I wonder how different history would have been if Israel had been true to their promises to follow all that ADONAI had commanded them? The rest of the chapter lists tribe after tribe who moved into their territories but didn't drive out the occupants, as they had been told to do. We can see where this is going...

Judges 2 starts out by saying that Israel followed God throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the lifetimes of the older men who outlived Joshua but then says:
10 When that entire generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation arose that knew neither ADONAI nor the work he had done for Isra'el.
If the next generation didn't know ADONAI or his works, then the parents must not have taught their children as they had been instructed to do. Our society over the past few generations has done the same thing, using the rationalization "We'll let them learn about the different religions and then make their own choice." Why don't we learn from history and experience? That generation that hadn't been taught about God then abandoned him and we've seen the same thing happen in our lifetime. Things don't go well for Israel from this point forward and we're seeing the same thing in our generations. We've seen times of revival in our lifetimes and then things head back for the worse and it seems to mirror the times of when God appointed a Judge and had mercy on Israel but as soon as there was no judge, the people reverted to their ways, even worse than before the judge. Apparently, there was always a remnant that was following ADONAI because there were people from whom God could appoint a judge but most of the nation was pursuing their own evil ways. That is like our society (and world) - there are followers of God, believers in Jesus, but many who are not and are not only pursuing their own ways but trying to keep believers from having influence on our society. Reading the book of Judges really gives food for thought on how we should redouble our efforts to seek Gods' will and not be quiet where we see wrong-doing. God was faithful to the judges and heard their groanings. I believe he will still hear ours.

I noticed something in Judges 4 today that I hadn't caught before. The setting is when Deborah is the judge and the people are again calling out for God to rescue them becuase they've been given over to Sisra due to their evil ways. Sisra has a large army and he is treating Israel badly. Deborah calls Barak and says that God has heard the plea of the people. Barak is to go to Mount Tavor where God will make Barak successful over Sisra and his army. Barak is not brave and says he will go only if Deborah will also go. Now here's what I noticed for the first time - Deborah says she will go but Barak will not receive any glory because ADONAI will hand Sisra over to a woman. Barak, Deborah and the men of Israel got to Mount Tavor. Sisra's army is routed, all 900 of his chariots are stopped and every member of the army is slain. I had always interpreted this as Deborah being the woman who was successful. It finally dawned on me today that it is Ya'el, the wife of Hever (of the descendants of Moshe's father-in-law.) Sisra escaped the battle and went on foot to Ya'el's tent to hide. Ya'el killed Sisra by driving a tent peg through his temple while Sisra was sleeping. It wasn't Deborah, the judge, whom God used to defeat the oppressing king. It wasn't even one of the peoples of the tribes of Israel that God had been leading for so long. It was a woman of descendants who didn't even join with Israel until after Israel had been given their territories. Wow!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

B90 - Day 14, Friday Jan 14, 2011

I'm going to try a new method of posting my thoughts for Bible in 90 Days today. I'm going to cite and include the verses from Deuteronomy chapters 8 through 23 that are giving me food for thought.

Deut 8:2 You are to remember everything of the way in which ADONAI led you these forty years in the desert, humbling and testing you in order to know what was in your heart - whether you would obey his mitzvot or not. 3 He humbled you, allowing you to become hungry, and then fed you with man, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever known, to make you understand that a person does not live on food alone but on everything that comes from the mouth of ADONAI. 4 During these forty years the clothing you were wearing didn't grow old, and your feet didn't swell up.  5 Think deeply about it: ADONAI was disciplining you, just as a man disciplines his child. Wow - 40 years of testing and discipline. If my 40 years started right now, I wouldn't have enough years left to complete them in this lifetime. I hope and pray that I've been learning and growing from God's testing and discipline for many years already. I remember the first time it sank in when I read these verses that their clothing and footwear didn't wear out during those 40 years. God preserved his people in ALL ways. Here's a sobering thought in this verse:Deut 9:4 "Don't think to yourself, after your God has pushed them out ahead of you, 'It is to reward my righteousness that ADONAI has brought me in to take possession of this land.' No, it is because these nations have been so wicked that ADONAI is driving them out ahead of you. God promised to make a great nation of the peoples of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He kept his word. It's just a sobering thought that some other peoples were so wicked that God drove them out to give the land to Israel. If God were still in the "driving out" business today, how many U.S. cities would be on the target list? Just a question... what's the proper definition of "stiffnecked"? These are awesome words of wonder to someone who likes to garden and grow food:Deut 11:10 "For the land you are entering in order to take possession of it isn't like the land of Egypt. There you would sow your seed and had to use your feet to operate its irrigation system, as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing over to take possession of is a land of hills and valleys, which soaks up water when rain falls from the sky. 12 It is a land ADONAI your God cares for. The eyes of ADONAI your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. 13 "So if you listen carefully to my mitzvot which I am giving you today, to love ADONAI your God and serve him with all your heart and all your being; 14 then, [says ADONAI,] 'I will give your land its rain at the right seasons, including the early fall rains and the late spring rains; so that you can gather in your wheat, new wine and olive oil; 15 and I will give your fields grass for your livestock; with the result that you will eat and be satisfied.' And immediately followed by a warning to NOT leave Adonai:16 But be careful not to let yourselves be seduced, so that you turn aside, serving other gods and worshipping them. 17 If you do, the anger of ADONAI will blaze up against you. He will shut up the sky, so that there will be no rain. The ground will not yield its produce, and you will quickly pass away from the good land ADONAI is giving you. 18 Therefore, you are to store up these words of mine in your heart and in all your being; tie them on your hand as a sign; put them at the front of a headband around your forehead; 19 teach them carefully to your children, talking about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up; 20 and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates -   I would think that warning and the consequences of not being true to Adonai would have sunk in better than it did. This verse makes me smile: Deut 12:5 Rather, you are to come to the place where ADONAI your God will put his name. He will choose it from all your tribes; and you will seek out that place, which is where he will live, and go there. Can't you just picture the people? Each tribe has been given a certain territory of land that will be parceled out to the families of the tribe. God is going to pick ONE PLACE from among the twelve territories as the place where He'll put his name and live. I smile because I picture the leaders of the tribes jumping up and down with their arms raised, shouting "Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick me!" I know that's what I would be doing!! I think this following verse is still so important today. Deut 13:1 "If a prophet or someone who gets messages while dreaming arises among you and he gives you a sign or wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder comes about as he predicted when he said, 'Let's follow other gods, which you have not known; and let us serve them,' 3 you are not to listen to what that prophet or dreamer says. For ADONAI your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love ADONAI your God with all your heart and being. 4 You are to follow ADONAI your God, fear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him; I believe that when we are truly in the end-end-times, there will be prophets who will do amazing things - things that many people will find miraculous. Those who are not followers of Christ will fall for false prophets. These verses imply that  some false prophets will be so impressive as to convince people who say they follow God to be influenced and turn away from the truth.  What do you think about this one? Deut 14:26 and exchange the money for anything you want - cattle, sheep, wine, other intoxicating liquor, or anything you please - and you are to eat there in the presence of ADONAI your God, and enjoy yourselves, you and your household. I do believe God loves a good party, given for the right reasons! I know we know this one. I just don't ever want to forget it:Deut 15:11 for there will always be poor people in the land. That is why I am giving you this order, 'You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.'   This is something I will be keeping in mind as I get further into the OT: Deut 17:14 "When you have entered the land ADONAI your God is giving you, have taken possession of it and are living there, you may say, 'I want to have a king over me, like all the other nations around me.' 15 In that event, you must appoint as king the one whom ADONAI your God will choose. He must be one of your kinsmen, this king you appoint over you - you are forbidden to appoint a foreigner over you who is not your kinsman. It sounds harmless enough - God is making provision for something that may occur down the road. But it seems to me that, when the people do say they want a king, God gets angry with them. Hmm... will have to ponder this more now; and again when I get to the part about their first king. This next verse has inspired me to set another goal and I plan to start when the B90 readings are finished:Deut 17:18 "When he has come to occupy the throne of his kingdom, he is to write a copy of this Torah for himself in a scroll, from the one the cohanim and L'vi'im use. If hand copying the Torah was good for the kings back then, I'm inspired to think that God can use the exercise to reach and teach me deeper, too. I'm also hoping that doing a hand-written copy of God's word will aid me in being able to better recall where certain passages are located. I've never been good at memorizing scripture by chapter and verse. There are many verses I can quote but am at a loss to identify the book, chapter or verse where it originates. Until next time - I'll be checking your blog as you share your B90 thoughts with the rest of us! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

B90 - Day 11

Today's reading is Numbers, chapters 9 through 21. Lots more of hearing the people grumble against ADONAI with just a few mentions that they did as ADONAI commanded. I would think the people would start to catch on... I guess they weren't any better at obedience then than we are now!
A few things that gave me pause:
  • Numbers 9 talks about when the people camped and when they moved. The moving part really strikes a chord with me right now since I'm working on packing for a move. I realize that they didn't have as many goods to pack and move as we accumulate in today's world but it still would take time. And think of the tent of meeting - it would need to be disassembled and reassembled each time they moved. We're taught that the people did obey ADONAI by observing His presence and moved when the cloud was taken up from the temple. What really struck me was that sometimes the cloud would stay on the temple for only a day at a time. That would mean a move each day. As much as I want to believe that I would have been more like Moshe in humility and obedience, I'm afraid I would have grumbled selfishly just from the moving aspect.
  • ADONAI had a structured plan for everything that involved his people. Even the camp sites were defined and the order of the tribes for traveling. When there's chaos in my life, I can look to God for structure that will put me in his will.
  • Moshe invited his brother-in-law, Hovav, to join them. After hesitation, Hovav agreed. I don't know if Hovav agreed just because Moshe told him that he would share in all the good things ADONAI was going to provide to his people or if there was a less selfish reason. But what a concept... make a decision to return to your family where you live a normal life with a variety of foods and not being uprooted on a continual basis, or accept the invitation to live among the people where God is present continually and is personally leading their leader! That sure is a contrast between the carnal and the spiritual.
  • I got a perception of the people as being quite negative in all things, from today's reading. For example, when the promised land was reconnoitered by the twelve men, only Joshua and Caleb had good reports about it. And this was after they even had proof of the fine food to be found there. Compare that with many of our experiences. We tend to be overly optimistic about things we'd like to have. Sometimes, we need to be reminded to stay grounded and realistic.  I don't know if they were more pessimistic by nature or culture or based on experience but I tried to find any light of optimism and hope in today's reading and it just wasn't there. It's hard to imagine a people being personally led by God who can't find the bright side of anything.
There are a lot of other things I'll be pondering and praying about as a result of today's reading, too. These thirteen chapters include many more reiterations from ADONAI regarding his requirements of his people. The sacrificial laws are repeated. It's stressed that foreigners are to be treated the same as God's chosen and they are to be held to the same rules. There is another lengthy section about being unclean and the required remedies. I'd like to hear other thoughts on that. My thoughts are not resolved and I'm a bit confused by some of the things that God defines as making a person unclean. Some of these things are by no fault of the person who becomes unclean. And then after the person is again clean, they're required to offer a sin offering for having been unclean. What are your thoughts on this? I'm really at a loss to fully understand it and how it was of value in God's relationship with his people.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Kristine has passed the torch to me for today's blog for Bible in 90 Days. I'm caught up on my reading and, I have to admit, the reading for the past two days is enough to make my head swim. Like Valerie and Kristine, I'm using the Complete Jewish Bible for this round of B90. I used the ESV and NLT translations for B90 last year. I am noticing some things this time that I had missed before.

Today's reading was Leviticus 1 through 14. I read slowly and then I re-read many passages. I noted the differences between the types of sacrifices but could not tell them to you without referring back to my Bible. There was one thing that really stood out to me this time around in my reading. This is the first time that I realized that it's normally not the priest who kills the sacrificial animal and cuts it up. There are a couple occasions where ADONAI directs the cohanim to kill the animal (a sacrifice that is for all the people, for example.) But for sacrifices taken by a specific person to the temple, it is the person taking the sacrifice that is instructed to kill the animal and cut it up. Then the cohanim are to put the pieces of the offering on the altar. I had a wrong impression that it was the priests who killed the animals at all times. I would imagine that the impact of having to kill your own animal - one that is perfect and without defect - would add greater meaning to the sacrificial act.

The other thought that I pondered quite a bit today is one that will occupy my thoughts for awhile. ADONAI was very specific in his instructions to Moshe about how Aharon and his sons were to be consecrated and what sacrifices should be carried out at the end of their consecration on the eighth day. There are instructions that are emphasized by Moshe as things they MUST do so they will not die. During the sacrifices on the eighth day, Nadav and Avihu filled their censors with fire and incense. They did this as an offering before ADONAI. The problem is, ADONAI did not authorize that part of the sacrifice. Nadav and Avihu were consumed by fire for this act. It doesn't appear that Nadav and Avihu meant any disrespect with their incense offering, it was something they initiated on their own to honor ADONAI. What is the lesson? Are there some things where God instructs us and He wants no more, as well as no less? Our human nature seems to be such that we think if we do more than has been required, we will be showing deeper respect and gratitude. Maybe that works with fellow humans but is not what God wants. He wants us to show our love by being obedient to the letter. 

I love Jack Modesett's encouragement for B90 - that reading the Bible all the way through is a great way to get to know God. Sometimes it seems hard to know Him well when my human understanding falls so short of His ways!