Praise God. Stairway to heaven

Day 186 (July 5): Korah praises God, Glorious Jerusalem, Riches are nothing, Godly will rule, Awesome Kingdom, Others to join Jerusalem

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 47-49
Psalms 84-85
Psalm 87
(979-950 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 47-49, 84-85, 87): These Psalms were probably grouped together because they were all about or by the descendants of Korah.  Korah was a tribe of Esau, right?  They have joined the Israelites or at least acknowledged God’s supremacy?  Their words are very glorifying!

A. There is a Korah mentioned as being a son of Esau (Genesis 36:5), but it much more likely refers to the children of the Korah that instigated a rebellion against Moses back in Numbers.  Back on Day 136 — May 16 — when we read a Korah psalm, you asked me about that Korah, and here’s what I wrote:

Korah was the leader of the insurrection against Moses and Aaron way back in Numbers 16 and was swallowed up by the earth.  But there are elements of redemption in the story as well.  Numbers 26:11 tells us that the descendants of Korah survived the death of their father, and were part of the Levitical priesthood.  They played a role as door/gate keepers and some form of musicians (1 Chronicles 9) for David.  Several psalms are credited to them.  Part of the redemption for me is we see the element of grace at work.  Our past does not have to be our future because of God’s grace.  One of the clearest messages of Scripture is that God can redeem anyone, no matter what horrible things have been done in their past, or even their families’ past.

Q. (48:4-7): What incident is the Psalm speaking about here?

A. It’s a good question, and I don’t have a great answer.  There are a couple of times where foreign enemies allied themselves against Israel, including 2 Chronicles 20, where the forces of Moab and Ammon ally against Jehoshaphat and fail, but there are other possibilities.  We don’t know for sure.

Q. (49): What an awesome Psalm to bluntly say that riches get you nowhere!  We heard in Psalm 48 how beautiful and fortified Jerusalem was, how it was so magnificent that it scared away rival kings.  We are saying that this city was strong because it was God’s city, right?  Psalm 49 could be looked at as contradicting because it’s saying wealth is meaningless in the life-and-death spectrum.  We are talking of two different things —  the beauty of Jerusalem because it’s God’s city and the wasteful riches of people?

A. Yes, I think you have that right.

Q. (84:5-7): Would you say that we could apply these verses to our lives?  The more we bring God into our heart, the stronger we become?

A. As a general rule yes. Remember our rules for Proverbs: generally very helpful, but not ironclad.  I would say the same applies here.

O. (84:10): Love the song that comes from this verse.  The first time I stepped into our old church in Yorktown, VA they were playing that song.  Brought me to tears.   The next two verses, 11-12 are awesome too.  What a reward to follow him!

Song: Better is one Day in Your Courts, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4Fj9bbEmVk

Q. (85): Is this Psalm asking that if Israel or Judah become corrupt again, will God come to their rescue?

A. It seems more like the writer is demanding rescue.  Pretty gutsy expectation if you ask me, but God has surely proven Himself faithful to His people, so maybe this guy is on to something.

Q. (87): So, Jerusalem absorbs other nations because they have seen God’s magnificence and accepted Him as their God?

A. This Psalm casts a unique vision — for the Psalms anyway — but it reads very similarly to verses and concepts that we have read about in Isaiah and Micah: the idea that the Kingdom God will one day establish and will be gathered around Jerusalem and the concept of the Mountain of God — Zion.  Those other stories spoke of all nations gathering in Jerusalem/Zion to be a part of His holy Kingdom (see Micah 4 for instance).  For what it’s worth, the Book of Revelation contains a very similar image, albeit from a very different Jerusalem (Revelation 21 and 22:1-5), but no less the Kingdom of God.

For further study: Seven reasons to praise God, https://research.lifeway.com/2017/09/01/seven-reasons-praise-lord/

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 1-2
— Psalm 10
— Psalm 33
— Psalm 71
— Psalm 91

Cry out to the Lord As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Day 185 (July 4): Korah’s Psalms: discouraged still look to God, faithful question God, worship God in all His glory, God is the answer!

Jan van ‘t Hoff/Gospelimages.com

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 42-46
(950 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (42): This sounds like Job, just a roller coaster of emotion: Question, question, question, but then proclaim God.  God could be testing here?

A. We are certainly in the midst of great trials for God’s people — which we can see they’ve brought upon themselves — but it is possible they don’t see it that way.  Regardless, God feels distant — and remember who moved when He does! — and the writer longs to be close to Him again.

Q. (44): This Psalm says the authors are upright with God, are true believers, have lived up to the law, but they are being destroyed.  Can you explain this?

A. This reads to me like emotional writing of a person who does not understand what God is up to.  I am certain that among each of these generations of people suffering the losses and devastation, which will continue, there were those who remained faithful to God and did not bow to other gods.  But the problem is that “we” word, as in “we have been loyal to the covenant.”  That’s a whitewash at best.  Clearly many within the nation, including its rulers, have been completely unfaithful to God, and are suffering for it now.

My reaction to these verses is they sound like a child who is crying out in anger, knowing full well what they are being punished for by a parent, but saying, “I didn’t do anything!”

Q. (45:1): What king is being praised here?  I thought it was God, but then verse 2 says the king has been blessed by God.  I’m really not sure what’s going on in this whole Psalm.

A. The Psalm is written to the kings of the throne of David, i.e. Judah, it appears as a way of honoring them on a wedding day to a foreign wife.  It generates a powerful image of a king who is almost god-like in his abilities.  Of the actual kings who ruled Judah, only David came anywhere close to this description.  But, as we have seen with other types of writings, it establishes a “type” for a godly King, one that will be seen by Christians centuries later as having revealed an image of the Kings of Kings, Jesus Christ.

Video: Crying out to God in the Chosen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La_-wcHhEq0 

Spread the Word! Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalms 47-49
— Psalms 84-85, 87

God rescuer

Day 136 (May 16): “Mighty God” rescues those in need, Joyful are those follow God, Mercy and compassion, Rescue me from darkness, Sing God’s mercies

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 144-145
Psalms 88-89
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 144): I have talked about how David seems to tell God what to do in his psalms.  He, of course, praises Him. You said that David had such a strong relationship with God that we should pay close attention to how he praises and learn from him.  I was just thinking about how Moses and Abraham walked closely with God.  In this psalm, David praises God for his creation. Again, he asks why God should care so much for humans in the midst of the Earth and it’s contents, amazing as they are.  I think you are right, Rob, we should learn from David’s psalms.  How amazing it must be to be David to be able to talk with God so frankly, yet with reverence.

A.  I like it.  There is a great example in the Psalms on praying: it involves bearing our soul to God, and not being concerned with how it might sound (even to ourselves).  The Psalms seem to indicate that God honors such brutal honesty.  There is simply no reason to “fake” a prayer life with God: He knows us through and through anyway.

Q. (Psalm 88): This Psalm says that it is from a “son of Korah.”  Didn’t Korah do something bad?

A. Yes, he did.  Korah was the leader of the insurrection against Moses and Aaron way back in Numbers 16 and was swallowed up by the earth.  But there are elements of redemption in the story as well.  Numbers 26:11 tells us that the descendants of Korah survived the death of their father, and were part of the Levitical priesthood.  They played a role as door/gate keepers and some form of musicians (1 Chronicles 9) for David.  Seven Psalms are credited to them.  Part of the redemption to me is we see the element of grace at work.  Our past does not have to be our future solely because of God’s grace.  One of the clearest messages of Scripture is that God can redeem anyone, no matter what horrible things have been done in their past, or even their family’s past.

Q. (Psalm 88): Heman cries out in this psalm, basically saying he has been doomed since his youth and that God isn’t helping him.  Is he whining too much about his own problems instead of focusing on praising God?  When is it OK to whine to God like this?  I would think that you could ask God nicely and know that He will answer you one way or another.  Does being humble mean not asking God for things?  My husband doesn’t like to ask God for anything because we are so blessed.  I do agree with him that we don’t need anything.  God provides for us nicely.  On the other hand, if something is troubling us, I was always taught — mainly through hymns — to lay my burdens down to God.  And, I’ve always likened my relationship with God to my relationship with my parents — if something is wrong, they should know about it to see if they can give me some good advice.

A. Well, God is well ahead in the “parent” category: He already knows all that we do or think, so turning to Him is surely a good idea.  As we discussed in the previous question, I would say the balance to strike for is the one you described for David: brutally honest, yet reverent.  Do you have a legitimate need?  Ask God for it (Matthew 7:7-12), though be prepared for God to say “no” as well.  Also, I would recommend seeking God’s will for your heart when it comes to what is legitimate “asking” and what is “whining.”  It sounds like your husband is placing great value upon the things you have been blessed with, and so he does not want to feel “greedy” by asking for more.  And that is a legitimate position, so long as this contentment is not being a hindrance to serving the Kingdom somehow.  Remember that the blessings are never the end point of ministry in and of themselves: we are blessed to be a blessing to others.  So if asking for more allows you to be generous, then by all means, ask away (With the same understanding that God has the right to say no)!  Ultimately, you have to know your own heart.  I don’t know what kept God from healing Heman in a way that satisfied him, but his earnest desire to call God out for it is something that we should desire: we should (reverently) call on God’s name, and seek His will, and if His answer doesn’t satisfy us, seek some more.  In the end, it might not be God that changes, but us.  I hope that helps unravel the matter.

Q. (Psalm 89:15-16): I have to admit praising someone throughout the day never seemed like something I wanted to do, knew how to do or thought there could be rewards for doing it.  Then, it seems like when we get to heaven, I remember reading about how we would sing praises all day.  I’m thinking, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me, especially since my voice is far from angelic.  But, the deeper I get into the Bible, the more I sing hymns and find myself smiling as I sing them. And, I thought I would never listen to modern Christian music.  Now, it’s about all I can stand — gladly!  Rock and country — not all of it — just seems so lewd, loud, down, inappropriate, etc.

A. Much of the that type of description comes from the various “glimpses” that we are given into heaven over the course of Scripture, and some of it has been taken a hold of and exaggerated by artists and musicians (where these liberties take the visions outside of the clear teaching of Scripture).  So I wouldn’t put too much stock in being part of a heavenly choir for all eternity, but I suspect that that sounds like a pretty cool way for some people to “spend it.”

For further reading: There are many reasons for singing to the Lord, https://www.globaldisciples.ca/blog/reasons-the-bible-tells-us-sing-in-worship/

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalm 50
— Psalms 73-74

Rebellion. The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Moses said, ‘By this you shall know that God has sent me to do all these things that I have done… if the Lord does a miracle and the ground opens up and swallows them and everything that belongs to them… then you will know that these men have despised the Lord.’ He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them, and a great fissure swallowed them up, along with their tents and families and the friends who were standing with them, and everything they owned.

Day 63 (March 4): Korah challenges Moses, Moses tests challengers, Aaron’s staff shows he’s chosen, priests and Levites duties defined, tithing

Wong Chim Yuen

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Numbers 16-18
(1426 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Numbers 16:1,6): I guess Korah did not learn from God’s punishment to Miriam when she and Aaron also became envious of Moses being the one God talks to and has chosen to lead the Israelites (Numbers 12:1-16).  What is the significance of burning incense before the Lord?  Is it a way that the Lord can identify those who were challenging Moses (really God) and know which ones to punish?  The idea of burning incense in front of the Tabernacle just seemed to have popped out of Moses’ mouth without him thinking about it as a way to see whom God chooses.  Many times, as I recall, Moses confers with God before he doles out a punishment.  God is really talking through Moses.

A. This is a literal trial by fire for the 250 men who were among the group that challenged Moses and Aaron.  They were attempting to offer incense to the Lord, a duty of the priest, to test whether the Lord would except them as priests instead of Aaron’s family.  Obviously, God did not.

O. (Numbers 16:12): How easily the Israelites forget their enslavement in Egypt!  We are supposed to remember our past and learn from our ancestors’ accomplishments and mistakes.   Here their memory is so short they can’t even remember that Miriam had leprosy from questioning God’s choice of Moses.

Q. (16:22-35): Moses is always interceding for the Israelites and pleading for God to forgive them.  I like this plan that just destroys the ones at fault.  I would think it would be very effective, especially since God appeared before the whole community.  So all of these men who were swallowed and burned were Levites?

A.  Some where Levites of the house of Kohath, which chapter 4 told us was the group of Levites responsible for moving and caring for (but not touching!) the sacred objects of the altar.  But the text also says that there were members of Reuben’s clan as well, which would mean they were not Levites.  These men were not satisfied with Moses’ rule, and appear to have longed for the “paradise” of Egypt.

Q. (16:40): So, these men were not authorized to burn incense at the Tabernacle — not Levites?  Moses knew this and knew they would be destroyed?

A. Well, that was the test.  If these men desired to be the true priests, they had to carry out the priestly duties, and we can recall the careful instructions that God has given to Moses and Aaron about the priestly role.  So, basically, Moses probably knew that such a move was foolish for these men, but there was no other way for them to demonstrate that they had been chosen by God.

Q. (16:46-50): Does Moses actually have power here or is he using power God gave him to control God’s wrath?

A. As we have seen several times, and will see again soon, it appears that Moses and Aaron act on behalf of the people in order to spare them, or in this case spare MORE of them, God’s wrath.

Q. (17:8): We have seen the almond symbol before when God was instructing the Israelites on how to make the lampstand (Exodus 25:33).  What is the significance of almonds here?

A.  It is the same.  We looked at this question on Day 44 (Feb. 13).  Here’s what I noted there: There are two significances to the almond tree.  First, the almond tree was the first tree to bloom in the Middle East after the winter, making it a symbol of new life and renewal.

The other symbolism of the almond tree is a word play.  The word for almond (shâqêd) in Hebrew is very similar to the word for “lookout”, “watchful”, or “unresting”.  So in this case, the staff itself becomes a symbol of God’s provision and His watching over His people.

It is also possible, we are not told, that Aaron’s staff could have been from an almond tree, and so the miraculous growth seen was related to the “original” trunk of the tree it came from.

O.  (17:12): I think the Israelites are missing the point.  Destroying these unbelievers was a sign to learn from.  They think that they are cursed if they go near the Tabernacle instead of realizing that the actions of those who were destroyed caused their doom.

Q. (18:8-24): I would think that the Levites getting all of the offerings and tithes would cause some jealousy.  I understand that God righted this by not allowing the Levites to own land.  Any insight?

A. God was asking a great deal of Aaron and the Levites.  It only seems fair that they are compensated for this sacrifice.  And while the text says “these offerings are yours,” they don’t mean, “so that you can get rich at My expense.”  The Levites were expected to tithe upon the tithe (as we read), but also use the funds to care for the equipment and various parts of the Tabernacle, and later the Temple.  I honestly doubt if very many people got wealthy, God is simply making a provision for His carefully selected people.

Q. (18:30-32): So the people gave the Levites their tithing.  From this, the Levites fed their families and gave the best portion to the priests, which is how the priests ate.  When, God says to offer and tithe, the priests and Levites receive it and use it?  It goes to God through the Israelite leaders?

A. This passage is saying that even though the Levites were receiving the tithe of the other tribes, they themselves were not exempted from tithing.  In fact, this passage is telling them that they must give God back, if you will, the very best of the things they received (oil, wheat, etc.).  In this way, the Levites were held to the same standard as the rest of the tribes: God expected the best, and the first fruits, even if it was indirectly.

For Further reading:
— Dispelling doubts of Christianity. https://livinlight.org/blog/dispelling-doubts-of-christianity/

Tomorrow’s reading: Numbers 19-21