Monday, August 9, 2010

For my first study I wish to make a couple of things clear. These are thoughts I have while reading the Bible. If you are reading this and disagree with my interpretation, please say so in the comments! I love other viewpoints, and I carefully consider all of them. They may wind up in the next post.

As I am picking up in the middle of Jeremiah, I am going to find some background on the book.
For my background I visited this site.
**Interesting to me from this information-
*The book's author is not much disputed.
*Judah is currently a vassal under other nations' reign. It's the thirteenth year of the current king's reign.
*Prophetic Writings should be viewed through the lens of the time and circumstances in which they are written.
**Northern Kingdom has been a vassal for almost 100 years.
**Preceding the current king were two evil kings. The current king is reforming, but not on a broad scale, and not very much.
**In five years the book of Law will be found in the temple.
**There's much struggle for power amongst the nations.
** 2 Kings 21-25 and 2 Chronicles 33-36 describe the current situation during this book.
As I do not wish to go so deeply as to require the reading of these chapters, I will frame my understandings based upon this limited knowledge and continue on to the reading.

Jeremiah 3

((Judah, Yahweh's unfaithful wife))

1 "If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him and marries another man,
should he return to her again?
Would not the land be completely defiled?
But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers—
would you now return to me?"
declares the LORD.

2 "Look up to the barren heights and see.
Is there any place where you have not been ravished?
By the roadside you sat waiting for lovers,
sat like a nomad
in the desert.
You have defiled the land
with your prostitution and wickedness.

3 Therefore the showers have been withheld,
and no spring rains have fallen.
Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute;
you refuse to blush with shame.

4 Have you not just called to me:
'My Father, my friend from my youth,

5 will you always be angry?
Will your wrath continue forever?'
This is how you talk,
but you do all the evil you can."

Unfaithful Israel
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, "Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel's immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense," declares the LORD.

When I read this passage I consider how much it would hurt me if my husband cheated on me. It's the stuff of nightmares for me. Thankfully my Lord has given me a deeply faithful husband and such thoughts only worry me in my darkest dreams in dark night. I cannot imagine the depth of pain God must have felt as his beloved Israel abandons him, and his beloved Judah does as well. Twice broken hearted, yet he still believes in us.

11 The LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:
" 'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the LORD,
'I will frown on you no longer,
I am merciful,' declares the LORD,
I will not be angry forever.

13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the LORD your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,' "
declares the LORD.

14 "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance.

I do not know if I would have the strength and forgiveness that God has were I do be so deeply hurt. Yet God shows his extreme greatness in this call to return to him, despite all that has been done against him. For not only does he offer reconciliation, he offers them everything again. This is love, the deepest, truest love.

19 "I myself said,

" 'How gladly would I treat you like sons
and give you a desirable land,
the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.'
I thought you would call me 'Father'
and not turn away from following me.

20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband,
so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel,"
declares the LORD.

21 A cry is heard on the barren heights,
the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel,
because they have perverted their ways
and have forgotten the LORD their God.

22 "Return, faithless people;
I will cure you of backsliding."
"Yes, we will come to you,
for you are the LORD our God.

23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills
and mountains is a deception;
surely in the LORD our God
is the salvation of Israel.

24 From our youth shameful gods have consumed
the fruits of our fathers' labor—
their flocks and herds,
their sons and daughters.

25 Let us lie down in our shame,
and let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the LORD our God,
both we and our fathers;
from our youth till this day
we have not obeyed the LORD our God."

  1. Jeremiah 3:2 Or an Arab

Jeremiah 4

1 "If you will return, O Israel,
return to me,"
declares the LORD.
"If you put your detestable idols out of my sight
and no longer go astray,

2 and if in a truthful, just and righteous way
you swear, 'As surely as the LORD lives,'
then the nations will be blessed by him
and in him they will glory."

3 This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem:
"Break up your unplowed ground
and do not sow among thorns.

4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
circumcise your hearts,
you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will break out and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done—
burn with no one to quench it.

Disaster From the North
5 "Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say:
'Sound the trumpet throughout the land!'
Cry aloud and say:
'Gather together!
Let us flee to the fortified cities!'

6 Raise the signal to go to Zion!
Flee for safety without delay!
For I am bringing disaster from the north,
even terrible destruction."

I have always had a hard time with the parts where God declares that he is bringing some sort of disaster. It seems so contrary to the heart of God, but I shall delve in. I look up the lexicon for the word "I am bringing" or bow' and it is the tense which signifies that it is being brought by the speaker. One thing which I do notice when these things occur in scripture is that God seems to give warning, he doesn't want that which he is bringing to befall those he loves, and he offers a way out. It seems that not following his decrees have a natural result of tragedy. When we obey him we are loving him back, and so when we disobey him it is our lack of love for him which gets us into trouble. These are things when I consider scripture that bother me more than other things which bother most people. For these situations I find I must consult a theologian and proceed with faith. I know that my understanding is very small compared to the greatness and complexity of God, so such small things are outweighed by his deep expressions of love, and his justice.

7 A lion has come out of his lair;
a destroyer of nations has set out.
He has left his place
to lay waste your land.
Your towns will lie in ruins
without inhabitant.

8 So put on sackcloth,
lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the LORD
has not turned away from us.

9 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"the king and the officials will lose heart,
the priests will be horrified,
and the prophets will be appalled."

10 Then I said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, how completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, 'You will have peace,' when the sword is at our throats." Is Jeremiah having the same conflict? ((Looking up 'deceived')) and it is another where the definition is quite clear. Or is Jeremiah praising him? I cannot tell.

11 At that time this people and Jerusalem will be told, "A scorching wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse; 12 a wind too strong for that comes from me. Now I pronounce my judgments against them." Now God declares that what he is sending is purely justice. Though he loves Israel and Judah and wants them back, he must still punish the sin. This helps me, as I understand that under Christ such judgments make no sense, as he has already taken all the punishments on the cross. Furthermore, even in the past it seems clear that God absolutely hates having to enforce the Law:

13 Look! He advances like the clouds,
his chariots come like a whirlwind,
his horses are swifter than eagles.
Woe to us! We are ruined!

14 O Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved.
How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?

15 A voice is announcing from Dan,
proclaiming disaster from the hills of Ephraim.

16 "Tell this to the nations,
proclaim it to Jerusalem:
'A besieging army is coming from a distant land,
raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.

17 They surround her like men guarding a field,
because she has rebelled against me,' "
declares the LORD.

18 "Your own conduct and actions
have brought this upon you.
This is your punishment.
How bitter it is!
How it pierces to the heart!"
He says it pierces his heart. No wonder he would do such a thing as send Jesus- it is such a pain to him that he must punish us, as part of the just nature of God that he settles justice once and for all, by taking it all on himself. I cannot imagine the sort of wrath that would be expressed in the world today without Jesus.

19 Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me,
I cannot keep silent.
For I have heard the sound of the trumpet;
I have heard the battle cry.

20 Disaster follows disaster;
the whole land lies in ruins.
In an instant my tents are destroyed,
my shelter in a moment.

21 How long must I see the battle standard
and hear the sound of the trumpet?

22 "My people are fools;
they do not know me.
They are senseless children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil;
they know not how to do good."

23 I looked at the earth,
and it was formless and empty;
and at the heavens,
and their light was gone.

24 I looked at the mountains,
and they were quaking;
all the hills were swaying.

25 I looked, and there were no people;
every bird in the sky had flown away.

26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;
all its towns lay in ruins
before the LORD, before his fierce anger.

27 This is what the LORD says:
"The whole land will be ruined,
though I will not destroy it completely.

28 Therefore the earth will mourn
and the heavens above grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not relent,
I have decided and will not turn back."

29 At the sound of horsemen and archers
every town takes to flight.
Some go into the thickets;
some climb up among the rocks.
All the towns are deserted;
no one lives in them.

30 What are you doing, O devastated one?
Why dress yourself in scarlet
and put on jewels of gold?
Why shade your eyes with paint?
You adorn yourself in vain.
Your lovers despise you;
they seek your life.
Even when we sin, and choose to pursue things which make us feel good, the good feelings turn around and bite us. I have experienced this in my own life, and in those I know and love. We seek after things which are not of God and we wind up burned, all for momentary pleasure.

31 I hear a cry as of a woman in labor,
a groan as of one bearing her first child—
the cry of the Daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands and saying,
"Alas! I am fainting;
my life is given over to murderers."

  1. Jeremiah 4:12 Or comes at my command
On to the next part of the LifeJournal study: New Testament
John background:
Going to the same source, since the site seemed pretty useful for Jeremiah.
The authorship is confirmed through a person who knew a companion of John the author.
The authorship is also confirmed through elimination stated on that page.
The book is estimated to have been written sometime between 45 and 110 AD, though most figure between 85-90 AD.
It is suggested that the book was written in Ephesus.
Things to understand about the authenticity of the gospel is that
a) the books tend to agree. any differences are minor, and not enough to alter the message even remotely.
b) the authors of the books lived in a society without computers, easy access to writing, and had been hardwired to remember large chunks of information. Students in Jewish theology at the time would memorize the ENTIRE THING, all the information from God and be able to recall it, in minute detail. Think about that when you read genealogies. I find it unsurprising that the writers of the gospels can remember every detail of Jesus' life in relation to their own eyewitness accounts- they'd been remembering details like that their whole lives. The only computer they had was between their ears.
c) some of these folks had access to people like Mary, mom to Jesus- but they do not write a whole lot about that time in his life, probably because they were not there. How can you verify totally information which you were not present for? They do include some information, but some of this may be simply relating stories they have been told by the family of Jesus, Jesus himself and confirming with prayer and meditation. They obviously took great pride in giving a correct and useful account for future generations.
** this particular book bears the most dissimilarity amongst the gospels.
** the orders of events and the scope are different
** the author writes in Greek though he is Hebrew. as such he has characteristics in his writing that are Semitic and it explains a bit of the difference between this writing and the others. For this author theme is more important than chronology. The link describes more about this.
John 11 falls within the theme of Jesus' public ministry.

John 11

The Death of Lazarus
1Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.2This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."

4When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

7Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea."

8"But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?"

9Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." Will have to think about that. This sounds like a riddle wrapped in a conundrum. Clearly it makes sense to them, but I'm missing the point myself.

11After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up."

12His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. Maybe they really were as clueless as me- hehehe.

14So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Hm. Once more a riddle. I sort of get an inkling with this though, as I know the story- Jesus seems to understand that the average person is a "see it to believe it" sort, which is why it's so important to faith if you can believe WITHOUT seeing. They will go there and he is dead, they will know that this was a natural death.

16Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." This guy seems to be a bit of a smart aleck. Yeah? Either that or resigned. I can just see the "Guess we die today" look on his face.

Jesus Comforts the Sisters
17On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." This is a woman of faith. I am so amazed that so many of the women Jesus encounters are more willing to have faith than the men. I love Martha.

23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Here she falters, as if she dare not hope for such a boon as to have Lazarus back. Yet she has already stated she knows Jesus is powerful enough to do it.

25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

27"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.Another woman of faith. 30Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." I think Mary figured it is too late, not quite grasping the scope of Jesus' power. She's sad and miserable- missing her brother and seeing the person who could save his life come four days too late.

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked. Jesus clearly despises when his believers, when his beloveds are troubled, and to this degree.
"Come and see, Lord," they replied.

35Jesus wept. He takes a moment for his own grief. This passage is so important. Even JESUS who had the power to save this man, and still could, wept. Still grieved for the loss of a friend. We do not need to be stoic and prevent ourselves from crying from loss. Even Jesus did it. There is nothing spiritual or superior about holding it in. He lived as an example to us, and clearly letting himself weep and grieve is an example to us because he was perfect and would not have done such a thing needlessly. This was a lesson in the very nature of humanity, we are given these emotions and depth of emotions by GOD. There is no good reason to keep from expressing them.

36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" His own example of grief was a clear example of his love for the dead man.

37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" And others accuse- HE COULD HAVE SAVED HIM. Why is he here crying, when he could have saved the man?? But we know that God has a plan. These folks understand Jesus' power, but do not understand God's TIMING. A very normal human reaction.

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.39"Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

40Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" I can only imagine her utter shock, and even the fluttering in her heart "Can it be...? Can this really be happening??" Mixed with a bit of horror, not wanting to see her brother in his decayed state.

41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." He shows them by example that this is something God is doing because he asked. He could have had this dialogue totally internally I'm sure, but this is about the people around him. This is about bringing people to God by showing a tiny bit of his power.

43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
Here John just abandons the story. The tale has been told, the theme expressed. God is powerful. God is merciful. God's timing needs to be trusted.

The Plot to Kill Jesus
45Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. Ok. What kind of jerk does that? Was it purposefully to get him in trouble, or was it some self-righteous moron trying to rub it in their faces?? We can see lots of people who would be the ones to do that in our own world.

"What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place[c] and our nation." Mind, these folks still think that the Christ would be a warrior-king. And obviously they figure the Romans do to. The best way to prevent such an uprising would be to nip it in the bud, so they would come take it all away. Little do they know that Jesus has no aspirations to mortal power.

49Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all!50You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."

51He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53So from that day on they plotted to take his life. The voice of truth in the meeting comes from God through the appointed High Priest.

54Therefore Gah! "Therefore" like it is saying it's the obvious natural result. I don't understand, so it's no "Therefore" to me. Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. Clearly Jesus knows that a storm is coming, and it's not time yet.

55When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, "What do you think? Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?" 57But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him. Now that is a cliffhanger. When I am studying- this is what brings me back the next day. I look forward to study tomorrow, because reading the Word should always be fresh and new.

  1. John 11:18 Greek fifteen stadia (about 3 kilometers)
  2. John 11:27 Or Messiah
  3. John 11:48 Or temple

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