Isaiah's prophecies

Day 204 (July 23): Isaiah’s prophecies, God is coming, Enemies shudder, Worthless idols, God’s Servant, God with Israel, Babylon, Blessed descendants

Glory Story / FreeBibleimages.org

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: Isaiah 40:1-44:5
(711 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (Isaiah 40:1-31): The message I get from this whole chapter is how amazing God is.  We cannot imagine His abilities and His reasons.  There is no other like Him.  He is immeasurable.

Q. (40:3-4): Are these verses just saying to get ready and roll out the red carpet for God?

A. Yes.  Watch the way John the Baptist will apply them to Jesus in the NT.

Q. (40:12-15): God seems so inconceivable and if you think about it, He seems impossible.  He’s so beyond our imaginations.  It makes me question if there is a God and I know I’m not alone.  But, then I think about how I felt on my walk a couple weeks ago.  I felt like I was gushing with glory.  Like my whole body was filled with happy tears.  It was like nothing I had ever felt before.  When I question the existence of God, I think about how the whole world is tied together, and then, how the Bible refers to Itself over spans of hundreds of years.  But, there are so many questions left unanswered.   Like a former Bible study leader said, “at least we have the Bible to guide us.”  I would add, we have the Spirit too!

A. One of the fundamental things I learned in reading about Apologetics — the defense of Christianity — was the central concept to what the Bible claims to be: It is a collection of writings that record encounters with the Eternal.  As you rightly point out, since God is so beyond who we are as people, then while it may be in our nature to conjecture about what this being called God is like, it will only be endless speculation unless God Himself chooses to reveal His nature to us.  That nature is most clearly seen in the God/man — the person of Jesus Christ — what Colossians 2:9 calls the fullness of the Divine in human form.  Like many Christians, I believe that the entire Bible can be best seen through the lens of this understanding of Christ: when we see “through” it properly, everything else about the Scriptures falls into line.

O. (40:31): Just noting a great verse!

O. (41:11-12): God’s says that He will fight your battles for you.  I was talking to my best friend the other day.  The last time we had talked she was struggling to confront someone she really loved with a heavy question.  I asked her what became of that.  She said, “God is taking care of that for me.”  Wow.  I hadn’t realized how powerful God’s care can be.  And, what a burden to be free from!

Q. (41:13): The verse says that God will “hold you by your right hand.”  We talked about the right hand being their sword hands for fighting.  So, this says that God is their weapon?

A. Not in this case, though I confess I’m pleased that you recalled that remark.  In this case, God is describing holding the “right hand” of the nation to keep them from falling and provide support.  It is the same thing I do when I hold my 2-year-old-daughter’s hand: With that support, I can keep her from falling over easily, while she is still learning to walk.  That’s what God is describing.

Q. (41:17): This is another repeating, perplexing, hard-for-me-to-shake question about God: If God is God, then why do people have to go thirsty?  Why doesn’t everyone always have food and water that they don’t have to scrounge for?   My guess is that it keeps us looking up.  It keeps us — and back then, the Israelites — dependent upon God.  Why do we need to be dependent upon God?  Because He is the truth?  If we follow Him, we will live a good life because the rules that He has made make life work.

A. There’s an old anecdote that comes to mind in discussions like this one.  Two people are having a conversation, and one of them asks, “I’d like to ask God why He allows hunger, thirst, and bloodshed when He can do something about it.”  The other person replies, “I’m afraid God might ask me the same question.”

I don’t mean for that to be snarky.  I’m not saying, “well, if people are thirsty, what are you doing about it?”  What I want to do is point to a broader truth and get us thinking about our role in providing for the needs of those who can’t take care of themselves, for whatever reason.  Part of what God desires for us to do with the central truth of His message is that we are to love those around us sacrificially.  It is our requirement, but also our right and privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that is hurting.  That means that we participate in food pantries and well-water programs, we care for the elderly and the malnourished — don’t forget there are many like that right here in America — we work to rehabilitate drug addicts, prison inmates, and others that society is ready to write off.  If we are willing to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can often find ways that God desires for us to serve the needs of our neighbors — be it neighbors around the corner or across the globe.  Following Him, as you put it, is more then just about benefitting us, but also benefitting those who God desires to minister to.

O. (41:21-29): Essentially, this Scripture just states that idols are empty, nothing, nada!

Q. (42:6): I’m not sure who “you” is here.  It thought it was Israel, but then it says “I will give you to my people, Israel.”

A. This section of chapter 42 is describing a servant of the Lord.  Many — Christians and Jews alike — believe that it is describing the Messiah.  Watch for the ways that this Servant is spoken of in future chapters, as it will appear again.

Q. (42:9): The purpose of God’s prophecies are to show that God knows what will happen in the future — how could anyone know that? — thus proving that He is Lord.  Is it also truly a warning to the people too, giving them a chance to correct themselves before the impending doom?

A. Yes, I would say that it is.  But radical changes like that are rare for us: very often the path we have chosen to walk in life is very difficult to “bail out” of, even when it becomes clear that we are in danger.

O. (43:2): So no matter how hard life gets or how desperate we become, those things will not consume us.

Q. (43:14-44:5): OK, here’s another perplexing question I have.  God is a loving God, but He can have a very mean tone of voice.  But, I would think that if I had told someone something repeatedly — like one has to with children — and they choose not to listen, my voice would — and does — get very impatient and elevated.  In a way, it’s like being a child and someone’s scolding you.  You feel terrible, but you know you did it, so who is to blame?

A. God is seeking to gain the attention of a people that have ignored Him for generations, despite all that He has done for them.  I’d say that calls for a little change in tone, don’t you?  If your child is in danger — and believe me, Judah is in danger, we’ve read about what happened to Israel — you raise your voice if your child isn’t listening.  Sometimes that it is the only way.

For further study
— A table of Isaiah’s Messianic prophecies and their fulfillment, https://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts/Isaiah’s%20Messianic%20Prophecies.htm 
— Isaiah is meant to be read as a whole.  This is a great overview of Isaiah and His revelation in just who God is, https://www.modernreformation.org/resources/articles/the-mod-messianic-prophecies-in-the-book-of-isaiah

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Tomorrow’s reading: Isaiah 44:6-48:11

God fights for His people. God saves Israel from Assyria by killing soldiers in the middle of the night.

Day 201 (July 20): Case against Israel, Misery turned to hope, God’s sympathy, Assyria invades Judah, King threatens Jerusalem

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

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
Micah 6-7
2 Chronicles 32:1-8
2 Kings 18:13-18
Isaiah 36:1-3
2 Kings 18:19-37
Isaiah 36:4-22
(735-701 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Micah 6:8): I have a good understanding of the requirements of doing what is right and practicing the mercy that Micah is telling the Israelites they need to have.  But, I’m a little foggy on what walking humbly with God should look like.  Can you describe that or better yet, how we should walk with God?  And, I take it that “walk” means have Him in our hearts.  Just another observance is that Micah clearly states here that all the offerings are no longer desired by God.  He wants a personal relationship with His people, right?

A. To me, the key word in that sentence is “humbly.”  Israel, like all of us, had an issue with pride that needed to be resolved if any sort of good relationship with God was going to be established.  We’ve actually been talking about a lot of different ways we can walk humbly with God: we’ve discussed having genuine faith that God has our best interest at heart, and praying accordingly, we’ve discussed the importance of worship, loving God by loving others, and so forth.  To me, when we see God for who He truly is — as the Bible describes it in both the OT and NT — we simply have no choice to be humble before all that God has done for us.  That, I think, is the starting point of a humble walk with God.

O. (6:10b-11): Talk about unfair pricing.  Sometimes I see this unjust pricing today.  If you have ever bought one of those craft kits for kids that are $6-$15 with all the cool photos of what you can make on the outside.  Then, you open it up and there are a few things in it that are worth about $1.  Then, there are the products you see on TV — I am an occasional sucker, not often though — like the slush-maker.  We try it and it kind of works, but I think that I could probably just make these with some ice cubes and a cup with a lid.  But, no, I paid $19.99 for it.  It makes me feel like a fool.  But then, I think that what person could sell this stuff and feel good about it!  Remember the show Mystery Diner?  They caught people red-handed stealing or throwing away profits from the restaurant owner.  It was hundreds of dollars a day.  I know that’s a drop in the bucket to all of the “fraud” out there.

Q. (7:16-17): Here Micah is — and we have seen this a lot of other places too — describing the Israelites pretty much enjoying the astonishment that their enemies are experiencing.  I think we all do this or have done this — imagining the shock of others when they realize how great we are — but here the greatness comes from God!  But, I always thought the feeling of enjoying the fruits of revenge was not proper or godly.

A. I see a couple of problems with your reading.  First of all, I didn’t see any sense of revenge on Israel’s part in the passage.  It is God’s free choice to avenge His people in whatever timeframe He deems appropriate.  Another issue I see is that God is talking about a day in the future.  Once again, God is most likely speaking through Micah about His Day of Judgment that we’ve been talking about recently.  The nations will truly be in awe, but NOT in awe of Israel.  They will be in awe of God.  When we are living a life that truly pleases and brings glory to God, He will get the credit for it — as He deserves — not us.

Q. (7:18-20): And here, the Israelites seem to be taking God’s mercy for granted.

A. Now that I can say they clearly did.  It will be their downfall, but God has a bigger plan at work that we will have to watch unfold.

Q. (2 Chronicles 32:5-8): I think there is an argument with some folks that God will take care of you, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride and let God build your business or fight your battles.  Is this what God intended?  Or, do we still have to work hard, but know that if we follow God, He will make our lives good, especially the everlasting one.

A. God guarantees us nothing this side of His Kingdom.  Anything that He provides us is a blessing that is to be used for His glory, not our pocketbooks.  So I would say there is great incentive to be hard working — don’t forget that in Genesis, work predates the Fall (work is good!) — and to be proactive about the decisions that we are making.  But as Micah 6:8 reminds us, we must do so humbly, and remember the source of it all.  If we do that, then I believe that God will provide the guidance we need, even if we are not aware of the ways that He is bringing about His glory through us.

Q. (2 Kings 18:25): Is this true?  God set them up to attack?

A. I think the commander is lying to try and intimidate the people.  But, let’s see what happens, shall we?  If what the commander says is true, then nothing will be able to stop Jerusalem’s destruction.

O. (2 Kings 18:37, Isaiah 36:22): Can’t wait to hear the rest of this story!

For further reading
— Seven notable battles in the Bible, https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/battles-in-the-bible-7-you-need-to-know-about/
— A table of every battle in the Old Tesetament, https://constantlyreforming.wordpress.com/every-battle-in-the-bible/

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Tomorrow’s reading
— 2 Kings 19:1-19
— Isaiah 37:1-20
— 2 Chronicles 32:9-19
— 2 Kings 19:20-37
— Isaiah 37:21-38
— 2 Chronicles 32:20-23

Isaiah's prophecies

Day 199 (July 18): Judah’s treaty with Egypt, Warning to Judah, God-fearing will be blessed, Sorrow to Egypt’s friends, Israel’s deliverance, Assyria’s fall

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: Isaiah 30-33
(725 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 30:1-7): Now this is really happening, right?  It’s not a prophecy?  Why would Judah ally with Egypt when they are so far away and across a desert?

A. Judah was seeking an ally against Assyria and the nations that would follow her, such as Babylon, the nation that will bring about Judah’s destruction.  In desperation, Judah reaches out to Egypt for protection (Egypt had great influence in this area for most of Israel’s history and used the area as a trade route).  But Isaiah is still prophesying: those who ally with Egypt will be humiliated for doing so.

O. (30:15b): I like these words “resting in me!”  Among our stresses, or Judah’s, we can rest, having faith in Him and knowing He will take care of us.

Q. (30:19b): I know that this charge is directed at Judah, but I think we can apply to our lives.  My husband always says he feels bad asking God for help.  If someone asks him if they can pray for him, he has a hard time coming up with something.  He says he feels blessed and doesn’t feel like he needs to ask for anything.  I think he gets this to, or at least I do, from the fact that we are to humble ourselves toward God.  And, asking for help would mean that God isn’t providing enough, when, in fact, He provides plenty.  I, on the other hand, differ.  I think of God as a parent.  He wants to help us.  If we don’t ask for help, then we are taking on our problems by ourselves and that’s not what He wants.  He wants us to seek Him, right?  And, acknowledging that we need help shows that we know God is in charge?

A. God does indeed desire for us to seek Him (Jeremiah 29:12-14), but there is no need to ask for help if there is no help needed.  We are not required to ask simply for the sake of asking.  But it sure is nice to know that there is help out there, just a “prayer away” as it were, when the help is needed.

Q. (30:21-22): Are these verses talking about the Holy Spirit here?  To me, it’s saying that if you ask for God’s help, He will surround you and you will know that God’s hand is in your life.

A. The Spirit of God is clearly at work in these verses, and I would say you have judged them correctly.

O. (30:26): Here is the number 7 again which signifies completeness.  See Day 3’s reading for more on the significance of several numbers used repeatedly in the Bible.

Q. (31:8): Judah and Israel are constantly at odds with the Assyrians.  What is it about Assyria?  Why are they so strong?  Why are they enemies?

A. Assyria is a powerful nation that is, frankly, much more interested in Egypt then Judah.  That’s because Egypt represents the other major power in this area.  So, basically, Judah is stuck in the middle between these two rivaling superpowers.  It’s not so much that Judah is the “enemy.”  Judah is a meaningless spec of dirt to Assyria, but it is a spec of dirt that is right in the path they desire to go in order to move against Egypt.

Q. (32:1-3): Is this a prophecy?  Who is coming?  Before I started this blog, I didn’t know much Old Testament past the Exodus except for a few stories here and there.  And then, I know more of the NT … well about Jesus’ birth and resurrection.  So, anytime I read Scripture about a king coming, I think the author is referring to Jesus.

A. One of the “signs” of the restored kingdom is a righteous king from David’s line who will rule.  And Judah/Israel — once restored — will see this King in the incarnation of Jesus, but He will be a king like they have never seen before.  As Jesus Himself said, His Kingdom is not of this world at all!  John 18:36: Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

For further study: Are there prophets today?  https://www.gotquestions.org/prophets-today.html

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Tomorrow’s reading
Isaiah 34-35
Micah 2-5:15

Worship God

Day 196 (July 15): Give thanks to God, His love endures, God lifts up the weak, He rebuilds Jerusalem, His power is absolute

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
Psalm 136
Psalm 146-150
(979-959 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 136): This Psalm just says to me that God has always been, He always will be — and is above no other — and His hand is in everything.

A. Definitely a recurring theme.

O. (146): When I read this I think, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  Our eyes play tricks on our mind all the time.  The powerful look in control, ahead of the “game,” but on God’s scale, the tables are turned: the oppressed, the lonely, the burdened are the winners.

O. (146:9): This verse is two-fold for me.  It says that I don’t need to worry about leveling the playing field, God will.  So don’t get bogged down about the fact that life isn’t fair and getting revenge.  On the side of “he frustrates the plans of the wicked” lets me know that I have wickedness inside me — much, much less than I used to — because I do get frustrated.  But, now I am learning to slow down, analyze a situation and think of what the best thing is to do.  When I do that and include God, my frustration goes away.

Q. (147:11): I remember when my daughter had swimmer’s ear.  When my husband told me that the doctor said she had an outer ear infection, I thought that would be better than an inner ear or middle ear, but it wasn’t!!!  I was up with her three nights in a row, giving her more pain medicine when she needed it every few hours (don’t worry, I didn’t overdose her).  When she was sobbing and saying, “my ear hurts” over and over again, I was crying out to God to take care of her pain.  It was a real forceful prayer like I was yelling at God.  She would quiet down and I thought, “wow, that worked.  Thank you.”  Then, she started up again.  I wasn’t happy with God.  Then, she finally went back to sleep.  I wondered if it was God or the medicine.  My vote was for ibuprofen.  And, I felt bad for thinking that.  I was talking to my bff about it and she said that I can’t forget to ask for anything, but remember to factor in God’s will.  Then, what is the point of prayer?  My hubby said that was Satan entering into my thoughts. The whole thing does confuse me.  But, what I did realize when talking to my best friend is that my daughter felt a ton better today.  I only gave her ibuprofen twice today and didn’t have to back it up with acetaminophen.  So, I bring this up because this verse says, “those who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

A. Prayer can be frustrating! One of my professors wrote a book on it called Talking in the Dark, about praying when life doesn’t make sense — in big and small things.  One of the main prayers that I worry about us being too caught up in is asking God to take away all of our pain, as you did here, and I do for my children as well, so you’re hardly alone there.  But, I wonder how often God desires us to see that pain is often His way of getting our attention — so says C.S. Lewis, who called it God’s megaphone — and that if we have a right knowledge of God, then pain can be endured.  There are several reasons for this.  The first is that if we see pain as only being temporary — especially the pain of death in every sense of the word — that makes it a lot more endurable.  In light of eternity, we can gain a lot of perspective on pain that lasts mere moments or hours, even if it seems like an eternity when we are going through it or being with someone who is.

Whenever I’m discussing pain with someone, I think of two biblical examples of how we should turn to God in the midst of trial.  Two of the holiest men who ever lived, Jesus and Paul, both went through periods of trial.  In Matthew 26, and the other gospels as well, Jesus pleads with God the Father for the “cup” — of suffering and sin — to pass from Him.  He knows what it will mean to endure the path of suffering, and it appears that the human part of Him was afraid.  But He resolved to do the will of His Father, and submitted Himself to the humiliation and torture of the cross.  In doing so, He freed all humanity from our own sin if we believe in Him.  The passion story unfolds over the course of about 18 brutal hours, and Jesus hung from the cross for 6 before He died.  Surely it was endless agony, but those six hours were used by God to change the course of human history.  And He did so using pain inflicted upon His own Son.  God truly can bring light out of our greatest darkness.

The other story comes from 2 Corinthians 12, in which Paul tells us about what he calls his “thorn,” some sort of what was most likely a physical ailment or other health problem that he had to endure.  The text tells us that he asked God three times to take it away, but God said no.  God told him — and this is the important thing — that His grace was sufficient for Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  Paul is therefore able to endure the physical pain with the knowledge that God’s grace is bigger than our suffering.  It didn’t make Paul’s pain go away, but it completely changed his perspective on it.  Perspective remains key when it comes to our pain.  We will never know a pain-free existence in this life — that is the nature of our world.  But if we gain a proper perspective on it, then we can see it as one of the many ways that God brings good into our world.

Q. (148): I don’t think ocean animals, trees, scurrying animals and most of the things mentioned here will praise God.

A. Not in song perhaps — though some animals do sing in their own way.  I think the writer is carrying the theme of worship to what we might call its next logical step: to have nature itself honor its Creator.  What would that look like?  I suspect what the writer is envisioning is that when the different parts of nature do what God desired them to do — birds sing, predators hunt, fire burns, etc. — then these things honor the God who made them.  But perhaps we might just want to say we don’t have to read every Psalm so literally.  By the way, the writer of the classic hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King, composed by St. Francis of Assisi around 1225 AD, is based upon the words of Psalm 148, and if you read the lyrics, you might get some of the idea of what the psalmist was thinking about.  Read them here: https://anglicancompass.com/the-story-of-our-hymns-all-creatures-of-our-god-and-king/

Q. (150): OK, I’m just going to ask.  Where did the idea of praise and worship come from anyway?  Sorry if this seems pessimistic, but, I really am curious about it.

A. In the OT, worship and praise for God has its origins in people’s interactions with Him or being a witness to His actions.  Abraham praises God through his various trials and revealed different names of God in the midst of them — God is my provider for example, (Genesis 22:14).  He also built altars to God in the midst of journeys; places where he could focus on God and remember His presence, even if Abraham couldn’t see Him.  Moses and Miriam sing the first recorded worship of God in song  — I think — in Exodus 15.  God has just brought them through the Red Sea, and crushed the army that is chasing them.  In that moment, they break into song, and sing the praises of the God who delivered them.  These names for God and writings and songs about His actions — probably in oral form at first, remember that — are probably among the first ways that people worshipped God.  But as time went by, and God continued to be faithful — in the lives of David and Solomon for example — the actions of God increased, so there was more to write about and focus on.  But notice that many of these Psalms, including some in today’s reading, all point back to the Exodus — the highest point in their history.  No matter how “old” the generations got, they looked back on those moments as being the origins of their people, and offered praise and sacrifices to God accordingly.  Worship, I believe, is simply the correct response when one becomes fully aware of whom God really is.  That would be where it originates with you and me.

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Tomorrow’s reading: Isaiah 18-23

God is our Shepherd Praise God for His creation! Man is made in His image.

Day 189 (July 8): Let the world shout the Lord’s name, Jerusalem is exalted, God is our Shepherd, Lean on God, Praise God for His creation!

Carolyn Dyk / Wycliffe Bible Translators

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 98-100
Psalm 102
Psalm 104
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 98): I notice the harp is mentioned often as a preferred instrument to accompany praises.  Any idea why?

A. I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer for that, other than to say it was a commonly owned instrument of this era, kind of like a guitar today.  When we think of the NLT’s use of “harp,” what they really mean is what we call a “lyre,” a handheld small stringed instrument, like a mini-harp.  According to my notes, there is a reference to the creator of the lyre — as Jews knew it anyway — in Genesis 4:21, and it was also noted to be the official instrument of the nation, probably made so by King David.  Check out some other readings on it here: http://topicalbible.org/h/harp.htm and here (lots of photos): https://www.windowintothebible.com/string-instruments

Q. (100:3): I bet we will see more references to God and Jesus as the shepherd of us — His sheep.  We have seen it several times already.  Why sheep?  They are meek, quiet, community oriented … ?

A. That last adjective made me laugh: it makes sheep sound like they form little “sheep clubs” with membership dues or something.  The primary reason, as I think we’ve discussed, though for the life of me I forget where, is that one of the main occupations of Israel was sheep herding and ranching.  Sheep would have been an animal that all Israelites would have been familiar with.  Now having visited a few farms, I would have to disagree with your assessment of sheep as being “quiet” or anything like it — they are noisy animals that only get quiet when things turn bad.  But there are lots of other reasons that I can think of why God would call us His sheep.  Since the list I’m coming up with is fairly extensive, I’m going to defer to two resources on the matter.  The first is a book, called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. https://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Looks-Psalm-23/dp/0310274419

The other is a person’s blog whom I feel does a good job of summarizing many of the reasons I’m thinking of.  Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments.
http://inhonoroftheking.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-does-god-call-us-sheep.html

O. (102:28): How fortunate are those children who are being taught the ways of the Lord.  I feel for those children who are brought into a house of anger, violence or neglect.

Q. (104): This psalm makes me think of how much we take God’s creation for granted.  I am amazed at all the details that God included, how things were made to coexist, how it all works together.  Then, of all of God’s creation, it’s the human race that He loves the most and works with the most to try to turn toward Him.  I guess this is because we are created in His image and He desires for us to be with Him to share the beauty of His creation?

A. I would say your guess is correct.

For further reading: Are humans just a bunch of worthless sinners or are they God’s creation made in His image? https://tabletalkmagazine.com/posts/the-value-of-human-life/

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

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalms 105-106

Joyful followers. Following the Lord gives you peace no matter what surrounds you.

Day 187 (July 6): Joyful followers, Charge to kings, God created us, He knows us, Cry for God’s care, God’s shelter provides rest

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 1-2
Psalm 10
Psalm 33
Psalm 71
Psalm 91
(979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalms 1:1-3): If you think about things that irritate you, bring you down and you just can’t shake them, where do those thoughts stem from?  I hadn’t thought about this until just now.  Whatever those thoughts are, they do not include God.  But, when I am focused on God, I am always happy.  When I listen to our local Christian music, I am swelling with happiness.  So, set your eyes on God and you will find happiness!

O. (1:4-6): What a comfort to know that God is always watching over us, as long as we are on His path.

Q. (2:7): We talked before about the anointed kings being like God’s sons.  The people are encouraged to follow the king’s orders and the kings are charged with being wise and making good decisions.  Why does God link the kings directly to Him?

A. Ok, first things first.  Generally, one of the ways that these ancient cultures thought about royalty is that their leaders were anointed by God (or whatever other gods there were in their society), and were therefore given the title of “son” of God/god.  This is only a cultural title, and does not generally apply to actual genealogy.  Now, having said that, this Psalm is something else entirely.  Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm, one that describes actions or characteristics of the Messiah, God’s anointed or chosen ruler — and here we see the ruler described as an earthly king.  So in this case, the writer really is referring to a father/son type relationship between God and this Messianic ruler, which the Jews of this era would have been expecting.

One of the “offices” or “titles” that the Messiah will hold — that is, an office anointed by God — is that of “king.”  The others are priest and prophet, so watch for Messianic descriptions of these offices as well.  He is God’s chosen ruler, the one whom the government will be on His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).  He, the whole of God and the best of our humanity, will be the true ruler in the Kingdom of God.

Q. (2:16-17): This psalm and many others speaks so confidently about God’s power, yet they also speak of their reservations about God not being sovereign and failing to help ones who are suffering.

A. I think they are being true to their thoughts: they know God to be all-powerful, and trust in Him, but see that their reality is a lot more “gray” then they would like.  It, to me, is the writer’s attempt to reconcile the truth of God with what they see.

Q. This is a random thought: it seems like in Bible times, people who were following God, or any false god, made lots of time in their day to worship.  I would say a good majority of Sunday Christians just worship on Sunday and maybe say prayers before they eat dinner.  In contrast, some religions in other countries worship at set times during the day and may seem more devoted than the when-we-make-time-for-it religion. But, I’m wondering if God might be more pleased of someone’s faith in Him when they worship on their own time and don’t feel forced to attend.

A. As we have discussed with the issues that got the Jews into trouble in this era, God is after our hearts first and foremost.  So we’ve got to get rid of this idea that we are being “forced” to do anything with our relationship with God.  If you feel like you have to force yourself to be part of religious ritual, then frankly, I would say that’s a problem with you!  It should be our desire to make God the priority in our lives.  From the 10 Commandments on, however, we see that God only requires one day a week from us — the Sabbath (however we choose to interpret it).  What we give from there is, strictly speaking, up to us.  And I would say the same applies to tithing — 10% required, more than that optional and at our discretion.  Our relationship with God should never feel forced: We would be very concerned about a person if they were asking, “how much time do I have to spend with my kids or my spouse?”  That would tell me there’s a major problem with the relationship, and it would be the same concern I would have if that’s the way they treated their relationship with God.

Now having said that, there’s a flip side to this that does need to be addressed.  I think that the record of Scripture teaches clearly that giving God more of our time, talent, or treasure does NOT make Him love us more, but it may change us in the process.  Note the difference between the two!  Being devoted to God more hours in a given day will not cause God to bless us more, but it might bring us into closer relationship with Him.

Q. (Psalm 71): It seems that a lot of Psalm writers are worried about God forsaking them.  The writers almost threaten God to not leave them.  Why?

A. Very likely some of these Psalms are written in the midst of terrible things happening to the people of Judah, like watching a foreign power march through and destroy Israel.  The truly insightful Jew is willing to acknowledge that God is all they are really holding onto in the end, so if He “leaves,” they know they are out of luck.

Q. (Psalm 71:20): Would you say that some “hardship” is sometimes just part of the plan?  I know that the big picture is just to keep trusting in God and He’ll take care of you.

A. Sure.  God does not guarantee us a smooth ride in life, but we believe that He is faithful.  If we ignore His warnings though, we are in danger of being forced to deal with the consequences of our actions.  The choice to sin always bears poisonous fruit, but often we cannot tell whom it will affect.

O. (Psalm 91:4): What a picture of protection!  What a great image of God watching His sheep.  I was thinking about how Jesus, God and the Spirit work for us.  I have always thought of Jesus working for us by saving us from our sins as he was nailed to the cross.  But, His influence didn’t stop there.  Jesus was always trying to reach more people to share the Word of God and give them salvation.  We are supposed to be like Jesus, reaching out to and protecting those who don’t know Him.

For further peace and rest: 12 Psalms to calm your mind, https://psalm91.com/12-best-psalms-to-calm-your-mind-and-relax-your-spirit/

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

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalms 92-97

Isaiah predicts destruction of many cities. Isaiah foretells destruction of many cities.

Day 181 (June 30): Isaiah predicts destruction of many cities: Babylon, Assyria, Philistine, Moab, Ahaz dies, Israel raiders to be servants

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

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
2 Kings 16:19-20
2 Chronicles 28:26-27
Isaiah 13-16
(725 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 13:4): Who are these armies?  Those who still believe in God?

A. Though the title of the section refers to the Babylonian army, it is actually referring to what we have been calling the Assyrians.  Babylon was their most important city, and so this section (13:1-14:27) all pertains to the Assyrian people, army, and king.  But there will be another Babylon that will come onto the scene and be a very important player in future events for Judah.

Q. (13:16,18): OK, it doesn’t look like these people are followers of God if they are raping women and killing children.  I guess God just mobilized these wicked soldiers so Babylon could look evil in the eye?

A. Isaiah is talking about the same armies we have already been seeing in the story.  The Assyrian army routed the nation of Israel and pretty much everything in their path, and did so with bloodthirsty gusto.

Q. (14:1-23): We haven’t heard much about Babylon, right?  We have mostly heard of Samaria and Jerusalem.  Why Babylon now?  What was the city known for … not counting the evil?

A. For the moment, it is known for being the capital of Assyria.  Hold onto this question, and let’s revisit it later.

Q. (15:1-16:14): And why is destroying Moab important?  What is its relationship to Israel?  It seems like I remember battles between the two ever since the Israelites arrived in Canaan.

A. This section of Isaiah contains prophecy against many other nations — i.e., he’s going to talk about Damascus and Egypt next, for example.  So in that sense, there’s nothing special about Moab, other than it was a nation that God told Isaiah to prophesy to.  This section of Isaiah is all about God calling the nations in this part of the world to account for their sins — like Jonah was called to — while keeping the long-term focus unto the people of God.

For further study
— All about Isaiah? https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/prophets/prophets-of-the-bible/isaiah-the-prophet/
— Have Bible prophecies been realized? https://www.kcmifm.com/blog/2019/10/14/does-the-bible-have-prophecies-which-have-actually-come-true

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

Tomorrow’s reading: 2 Chronicles 29:3-31:21

Hope for Jerusalem ruins

Day 180 (June 29): Jerusalem will return, God will reign, Israel will be humbled, Jerusalem will fall, Jerusalem’s warning, Judah’s judgment

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
Isaiah 1:21-5:30
(739 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 1:23): Dare I say that this sounds like our country.  I can’t stand seeing so much government waste, so much corruption and our tax money being tangled up and not going to the places that truly need help.  Is this a fair comparison to back in the OT?

A. What caught my eye was the portion that talked about not seeking justice for the poor and widowers.  I think there are certain comparisons, but don’t forget we live in a very different world than they did, and not everyone in our society can be expected to be held to Judeo-Christian values.  Part of the reason the light of the gospel is so important to share is that until people see this light, they are often unaware of how dark their world really is.

Q. (1:27): What does Zion mean?  We’ll see more of it?

A. Zion is a term that God and others use to describe Jerusalem, and also the hill/mountain within the city itself, which in turn came to be seen as the Mountain of God — or one of them, along with Sinai/Horeb.  It is a shorthand way to refer to both the city and the Kingdom of God.  And yes, it will be seen over and over again.

Q. (2:1-5): God foretells stories, whether it’s destruction or rebuilding.  And the way He talks is that the next phase, whether good or bad, will be the last and final.  He talks of how the people will act here, how they will worship.  But, He can’t force them too, right?  He’s just giving them a picture of what their lives could be if they followed Him?

A. I think that’s correct.  I do not believe that God overrides human will, so if we chose not to follow Him and go our own way, we reap the consequences.

Q. (3:1-1-5): God is making a situation where the leadership is already wicked to one that would be pure chaos.  How does this help them to get better?  Or, is it just punishment?

A. He’s warning them right now to stop it and repent.  If they don’t repent, then it becomes a just punishment.  But as we have seen — and these verses talk about — even the punishment serves His purposes: it forces the people to see the error of their ways that they saw no other way.  When the people are ready to repent, God will restore them.

O. (3:16-4:1): I must say that Isaiah is a very good writer!  What pictures he paints with God’s words.  I guess we could say that it was God who is the great writer.  I was looking at our landscape today in Florida, admiring the trees and the blue skies.  But, it was marred with utility lines.  I’m not saying we should do without them, just that humans do a good job of messing up God’s artistry.  But, here, Isaiah did Him justice!

Q. (4:5): With the cloud and smoke covering, we see a reminder of God guiding the Israelites in the desert for 40 years.

A. It is certainly shades of the Exodus, but the point of this verse is the shelter that God provides His children.  It’s a cool image to me.

Song: Cory Asbury’s song praises God for His Reckless Love! https://www.google.com/search?q=wreckless+love+song&oq=wreckless+love+song&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUyBggAEEUYOTIJCAEQLhgKGIAEMgkIAhAAGAoYgAQyCQgDEAAYChiABDIJCAQQABgKGIAEMgkIBRAAGAoYgAQyCQgGEAAYChiABDIJCAcQABgKGIAEMgkICBAAGAoYgATSAQgzNTAzajBqNKgCALACAA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:df3752e3,vid:6xx0d3R2LoU,st:0

For further study: What does it mean that God’s love never fails?  https://bloggersforthekingdom.com/bible-verses-about-gods-love-never-fails/

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

Tomorrow’s reading
— 2 Kings 16:19-20
— 2 Chronicles 28:26-27
— Isaiah 13-16

Hosea warned against idols people to stop being unfaithful to God by worshipping false gods. He knew that God would need to punish them but there was hope. Israel would one day turn back to the God who loved her. Instead of ‘Not pitied,’ she would be called ‘Pitied’ and instead of ‘Not my people,’ she would be named ‘My people’ again.

Day 178 (June 27): Hosea warns of idols, Israel’s sins, punishment, broken covenant, consequences, God’s wrath, healing for repentant

Arabs for Christ / FreeBibleimages.org

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
Hosea 9-14
(753 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hosea 9:10): When God first named Israel His people, they were few.  It seems that as they grew in number, like God promised the ancestors, that they fell to evil.  With greater numbers comes a greater chance for evil.  And, as we saw with Adam and Eve who were by themselves, that it doesn’t take much to tempt someone.  With more people, the evil just multiplies.

A. That is certainly true.  But Israel in particular has compounded the problem by putting corrupt and evil men on the throne — like Ahab and Jezebel — and continuously worshipping of other Canaanite gods.  They have abandoned God, just as Moses foresaw and warned the people against way back in Deuteronomy.  He warned them that choosing the path without God had only one end: death.  So Israel has reaped what it has sowed.

Q. (9:15, 10:8, 10:9): The Lord mentions three places where evil started.  Can you refresh our memory of the sins of Gilgal, Aven (Beth-aven) and Gibeah?

A. Gilgal was the place where Israel camped after crossing the Jordan back in Joshua 4 and 5.  It was the place of ceremony where Joshua and the people re-established the covenant with God and remembered His faithfulness.  Apparently this was a place of pagan worship of some sort, but we are not given the details.  Surely it was a great insult to God that a place that had been so significant between God and Israel be used for the spiritual “prostitution” as Hosea has put it.

Beth-Aven is actually making a mockery of the name Bethel.  It is the place where Jacob wrestled with God way back in Genesis 32.  Bethel means “house of God,” Beth Aven means “house of idols” or perhaps “house of nothing,” so you see the mockery of Hosea here.  Beth-Aven is the location of one of the golden calves that Jeroboam established to keep people from returning to Judah back in 1 Kings 12 — it’s the thing that God keeps on referring to as the “original sin” of Israel.  All the problems Israel has come back to that moment.

Lastly, Gibeah, one of your favorite stories as I recall (note: Rob is being sarcastic!), was the place back in Judges 19-21 where the tribe of Benjamin went to war with the rest of the tribes over the killing of a concubine by the priest.  The tribe was nearly wiped out, and the other tribes had to resort to basically letting them kidnap virgin women in order to survive.  It was one of the most corrupt moments in Israel’s history, and one that God is recalling now to basically say that nothing has changed.

Q. (10:1): I think this is true today.  The richer we get, the more arrogant we get and think we are self-sufficient, self-motivated and successful.  We worship things like work, TV, luxury, status, etc.  But, why would the Israelites turn to other gods?  Oh, right, because you said when creating a god, you can try to control it.  Whereas with God, He is in control: We lean on him for solely for guidance through the Holy Spirit and His Word.

A. I think you’ve got your answer.  Don’t forget also, that Israel’s problem started with the king trying to control the people — don’t miss the irony of that statement as it relates to God — via idols.  Jeroboam wanted the people to worship gods he could control, not the true God that he couldn’t.

Q. (11:8): I think we have found an answer here to the question of “Why did God not give up on the Israelites?”  He has given them so many chances because He remembers the companionship and trust that He had from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.  Maybe He longs for that hoping Israel will turn around.  And, I’m sure that He wants to share His kingdom with them.

A. One of the central concepts of covenant is the idea that if one side of the parties involved does not keep its end of the bargain, the other party does not walk away.  God is demonstrating His faithfulness to His people, by giving them every chance to repent of their sin and return to Him.  But since they will not, they have repentance forced upon them, as we will see.

Q. (14:4): Why is God no longer angry?

A. Once the people have paid their penalty — and they will — then God’s wrath is complete. He can restore them to a right relationship with Him.  When there is right relationship between God and man — as Jesus will establish for each of us — there is no need for God to be wrathful.

Videos: The Bible Project does a great job of explaining the covenants God made with humans throughout the Bible, https://bibleproject.com/articles/covenants-the-backbone-bible/

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

Tomorrow’s reading:
— Isaiah 28
— 2 Kings 17:5
— 2 Kings 18:9-12
— 2 Kings 17:6-41
— Isaiah 1:1-20

 

Asa's downfall. Earlier in his reign Asa had given silver and gold to the temple treasury. He now gave orders for the Temple treasury to be raided, and gold and silver to be gathered and sent to King Ben-Haddad of Aram as a bribe.

Day 161 (June 10): Baasha v. Asa, Nadab killed, Baasha’s sin, Israel kings, Ahab, Asa over Judah for 41 years, Jehoshaphat, Ravens feed Elijah

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

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
1 Kings 15:16-22
2 Chronicles 16:1-10
1 Kings 16:1-7
1 Kings 15:23-24
2 Chronicles 16:11-14
2 Chronicles 17:1-19
1 Kings 17:1-7

(913-863 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Chronicles 16:7-10): So, Asa lost site of who could really help his kingdom?  He just got nervous about King Baasha’s influence on Judah and asked an outsider for help?  Then, Hanani called him on it and he didn’t want to admit Hanani was right — his pride took over — so he punished Hanani for accusing him of ignoring God?

A. Yes, you’ve got it right.  Asa was doing a good job for most of his life, but he ignored God at a crucial moment and then basically “shot the messenger” God sent.

Q. (1 Kings 16:1-7): So, God still considers both Judah and Israel His people?  Why was Elah made king when God was infuriated with his father, Baasha?

A. I don’t exactly have an answer.  But he certainly didn’t stay king for long, and after that his family was wiped out by a traitor.  God can do as He pleases, and in this case, as we’ve seen a few times before, the wrath for the father’s sins is poured out on the children.

Q. (1 Kings 16:8-14): So, you could say that God made this happen … or that Baasha had it coming to him and it was revenge.

A. You could argue both.  But do note that Baasha got his throne in a very similar manner (by killing Nadab in 15:28).  You could conclude that what goes around comes around.

Q.  It seems that aspiring to be king was a very dangerous desire.  So many of them were killed.  Was wanting the throne viewed differently than it is today?

A. No, I would say that most of us still have the roughly the same value of life, but the men who participated in these actions valued power and control more.  I think trying to separate ourselves from such a world — i.e. we value life so much more than they did — is dangerous thinking.  There are places in the world today where the desire for power causes people to kill: some of which are a lot closer to home than we might like to think.  As our wise king Solomon noted, there is nothing new under the sun, even the value of human life.

Q. (1 Kings 16:34): This seemed to come out of nowhere.  Can you tell us more about Hiel and Jericho and what Joshua predicted long ago about this happening?

A. Sure.  In Joshua 6:26, God proclaims that anyone who rebuilt the city with new foundations and a new gate — the mark of a true city in the ancient world — would pay with the life of his oldest and youngest sons.  Jericho, which was unlikely to have been uninhabited all those years, but simply not as a walled city, was to stand as a permanent reminder to Israel of what God did to provide the Promised Land to them.  He did not take lightly the effort of someone to defy that order.  In addition, this is just one more example of the deterioration of the Northern Kingdom, Israel, that will bring about its downfall.

Q. (1 Kings 17:1-7): Elijah is a prophet, right?  We’ll see more of him?  Should we talk about Elijah now a bit or just wait?

A. Yes and yes.  He will become the centerpiece of the next few chapters.  In regards to his background, there is literally NOTHING to tell: He comes from nowhere and might as well have appeared out of thin air.  So let’s watch what God will do with him in the next few sections.  He is certainly memorable!

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

Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Kings 17:8-20:22