Moses preaches and reminds Israel of God's faith and the need to obey Him.

Day 73 (March 14): Moses calls Israel to fully commit to God, God’s blessings, God to drive out the wicked, Golden calf reviewed again

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
Deuteronomy 6-9
(1406 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Deuteronomy 6:2): What is God referring to here when he says “you will enjoy a long life?”  Is he referring to eternal life or just that they will live a long, healthy life on earth?

A. There is not much discussion of eternal life in the first five books of the Bible.  It is a concept that is introduced later, notably in the New Testament.  Moses is speaking only of a prosperous, healthy temporal life on earth.

O. (6:4): What a simple, great verse, but so hard to wholeheartedly get my mind and heart around.  I find it extremely hard to forget about “myself” and replace it with God — God’s will.  I often wonder when I will get to this point in my life and how I can let myself go and let God take over.  I have definitely taken baby steps in this endeavor and it feels great when I do, but then I need to take even bigger steps to get that same feeling.  I am looking forward to a complete turnover.  That’s the major reason I am reading the Bible in a Year.  Not to do it fast like a race, but to commit myself to studying all of it so I can know God better and what he wants me to do with my life that will help others and help Him.  And, I hope to find the time when I can fully give up my own wishes for God’s.  It’s just so hard to fathom!

O. (6:6-9): This sounds like what our schools want us to do.  We put posters up and try hard to teach our kids everything the standardized tests want them to learn, but how many people post God’s rules all over their house and recite them regularly to their children? Where do our world’s priorities lay?

Q.  (7:7): It is pretty amazing that God chose Abraham, who had no children, to be the father of all nations.  Then, he finally gave him one child Isaac.  These were both good men who followed God, thus God’s love for them and promises to them.  But, there is nothing special about this nation, other than the fathers of it were loyal to God.  So, it is interesting that God chose the Israelites.  Rob, can we talk about this a little?  Like, why God chose anyone?  What is the purpose of God having his own people?  I assume it’s for God to have a model nation to show his power through them, that he is the one, true God.  Are there any other reasons for choosing them?

A. I think that the relationship between God and Abraham is special, as Genesis indicates, and the Bible writers go out of their way to point out that when God makes a promise, He is faithful to it — unlike us.  So, part of the reason that God is so faithful to this particular nation, that there is nothing else especially interesting about, is that He is keeping His word to Abraham.

In the Old Testament, God is painting an image of a nation that will be a shining light to the rest of the world: a symbol of what right relationship between God and man looks like.  At this stage, it looks like this: God sets the terms of the relationship in exchange for the great provisions that He will pour out on His people, as long as they are faithful to the covenant.  We will see Israel’s unfaithfulness explored a lot more in the coming texts, but we will also see the way that the Prophets of God (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, among others) will powerfully describe the way that God has remained faithful not only to His promises, but also His vision for the nation of Israel — as unfaithful as she is — to be a light to the Gentile world.

O. (7:9-11): “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. 10 But he does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject him. 11 Therefore, you must obey all these commands, decrees, and regulations I am giving you today.”

These verses are a wonderful summary of the awards and consequences of following God’s rules.  Loving God is for the Israelite’s benefit.  These are verses that you can take either with a “half-empty” or “half-full” approach.  Half empty, you can either read it that if the Israelites don’t obey God, they will be punished.  Or, half full, read it if they love God, they will give them his unfailing love.

Q. (7:12-14): These verses suggest that if the Israelites obey God they will be fruitful — I would think that would translate into “rich” — but the Bible also says that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Is this contradicting?

A. I don’t see a contradiction, and I think that part of the passage we just read helps us understand the distinction.  The camel/needle idea comes from Matthew 19:24, in which Jesus is warning against the way that wealth tends to blind us to our own need for God.  A rich person is not necessarily dependent upon God in order to prosper or succeed.  But that is the danger: it is not the money in and of itself, but what the money does to our spiritual priorities.  In this passage (6:12), we see Moses give a careful warning: you are about to enter a realm, he says, where you and your families will prosper.  Be careful, therefore, that when you have all this stuff, that you DON’T FORGET GOD!  That, I think, is the real danger of wealth and riches in that it insulates us to our own need for God.  Such insulation can truly make it easier for the camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to properly understand their own need for God who has greatly blessed them.  I hope that makes it clear.

Q. (7:15): To me this also has a contradiction in it to the NT.  Here God says He will protect His followers from sickness, but doesn’t the NT say that sickness can come to Christians?  We have seen it come to Job in the OT.  That was a different circumstance.  And, it doesn’t seem that this necessarily applies to today, right.  This “sickness-free” decree was meant for the Israelites?

A. I’m not even sure if I would say that Moses is doing anything but making a rhetorical argument about how good the Israelites will have it in the Promised Land if they are faithful to God.  I would say that much of what he is promising here is hyperbole: you will NEVER get sick, your animals will ALWAYS have offspring, etc.  I would not take such promises completely literally: Moses is saying that you will have it good in this country.  And honestly, part of the problem with the entire scenario is that we never get to find out how much of it was what God truly promised: the people will be unfaithful to the covenant, so they lose out on the promises anyway.

In general, it is a good idea to consider that any promise, rhetorical or not, made in Scripture is only applicable for the people that it is written to, unless the promise specifically says it can be applied to different circumstances.  It’s a good rule of thumb for such sections of Scripture.  We will see more examples of this, and I will try to highlight instances where either scenario is appropriate.

O. (7:16-20): The Israelites are reminded again and again about God bringing them out of Egypt.  After they failed God, I can understand the constant reminders.  I, too, need constant reminders of everything God has done for me and that nothing is impossible and everything is possible.

O. (8:5): I never thought of this analogy before, that we are to God what our children are to us.  That puts some perspective on our relationship to God: that we are devoid of power and not comparable to Him.

Q. (9:1-6): I am struggling with the question of why God tries so hard to make the Israelites realize that He is all powerful?  Why does He care so much?  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are long gone.  If He were human, he would have likely given up on them, after all of their failings, a long time ago.

A. I would actually answer this the same way I answered our question from 7:7: God has made a covenant with Abraham, and He is faithful to keep it, even in light of the failings of each generation.  One other thing to remember: the nation of Israel will give birth to the Messiah, Jesus.  Jesus is the one who will set not just Israel, but the entire world to rights with God.  So certainly part of God’s plan is to use this nation, in spite of its failings, to bring about a restored relationship for all humanity — past, present, and future.  Why God chose these people is beyond our full comprehension, but as Christians, we can see the way that God is laying the foundations so that one day, God Himself will walk the earth as one of us to save us from our sins and teach us the right way to be in relationship with Himself and one another.

One other reaction I had to the way you phrased your question: be careful about assuming that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are “long gone” as you put it.  When Jesus was confronted about the afterlife, He clearly pointed to the idea that these men were still alive with God.  He quotes God’s conversation with Moses in Exodus 3 when God says, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”.  God, Jesus tells us, is not a God of the dead, but a God of the living!  (Matthew 22:32)  What an amazing verse!  So, perhaps we would be careful about assuming that God is any less faithful in the afterlife to these men, and those who faithfully follow Him, as He was when they were living.

For further study: What does it mean to fall from grace? https://escapetoreality.org/2014/03/27/fallen-from-grace/

Shop: God loves us so much that He sent His Son to save us! Tell that to everyone you meet. https://livinlight.org/product/deepest-love-t-shirt/

Tomorrow’s reading: Deuteronomy 10-12

Job on wisdom. Job believes he is right with God

Day 26 (Jan. 26): Job vows to stay true to God, Job tells of the wicked’s fate, Job talks about wisdom, Job boasts of his past blessed life

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
Job 26-29
(Before 2100 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (26:1-14): Job is saying how immensely powerful God is.  Bildad speaks of God’s power, but Job says that Bildad cannot possibly begin to understand God’s power and how he uses it because it is limitless.

O. (27:4-5): By saying “my lips will speak no evil,” Job is confident that he has not disrespected God with his complaining.  He says he will not always agree with God, but he will be faithful.  To me, he is admitting he’s human and his mind will tell him that God is not being fair, yet he will not let that line of thinking waver his trust in God.

Q. (27:16-23): Job includes the rich with the wicked.  Can you tell us what the Bible says about being rich?  Can’t wealth be a sign of righteous — if you follow God’s path he will reward you?  To me, if we put the talents God has given us to use for his glory and we happen to prosper, then he is rewarding us.  But, how can you take a reward when there are so many who could use the money and need your help?  Seems like a fine line.  Just know your heart?

A. While I am sure there are individual exceptions, many who are rich get to be so either through dishonest gain or through the exploitation of those that work under them.  William Jennings Bryan famously said, “no one can make a million dollars honestly.”  Shoot, in Genesis we see Jacob become wealthy through dishonest means!

While you can certainly argue that acquired wealth is a blessing from God (and hope that it really was just that — blessing rather than exploitation, something the Bible NEVER approves of), I think that the record of scripture points to riches as a burden, something that must be handled very carefully.  The reason is that those who are rich tend to not see the need for God.  Among many scriptural examples, we might consider Deuteronomy 6:10-12, in which Moses warns the people that they will reach a point of inheriting great wealth from the Promised Land and their ancestors, and that they must fight the urge to forget to whom it is ultimately from: God.  I think the problem of wealth revolves around self-reliance, which is so much easier when a person is wealthy.  Those who are poor are forced to depend on God; those who are rich must choose to.  I think self-reliance is part of what Jesus talks about when he says that it is harder for a camel to enter the eye of a needle then for a rich person to inherit the Kingdom of God (forget what you’ve heard about alternative explanations of this verse, Matthew 19:24 [among others], that verse SHOULD be taken at face value — since Jesus adds that it is not impossible and all things are possible with God).  One other example is from 1 Timothy 6:17-19, in which Paul commands Timothy to teach the wealthy in his congregation that they should put their faith in God and not their own wealth and power, and to be generous with God’s blessings.  That certainly seems like a good summary of the Biblical position on wealth.

Q. (27:19-23): Here, Job is talking about how the unrighteous will be mocked and jeered when they fall into despair.  Who here is doing the mocking and the jeering?  Shouldn’t righteous people always try to help those in despair, even if they brought their plight on themselves?

A. Yes, those who have a relationship with God and walk in His ways should be very careful about gloating or mocking those who lose their wealth (those ‘I told you so’ moments are hard to resist).  I think what Job is talking about here is the reversal of fortune that will ultimately be the endpoint for the unrighteous: they that mocked and jeered others unjustly will themselves be mocked and jeered by others (including other unrighteous people) when they fall.

O. (28:12-19): Beautiful!  My daughter’s Classical Christian School grasped onto a kids’ album — actually I like it just as much as they do — called “Walking with the Wise.”  I really recommend it!  It is awesome!  Some of the titles are: “Nuggets of Gold,” “Make Me Wise,” “W-I-S-D-O-M,” and my favorite, “Lazy Bones.”  This album works off of Solomon’s story — of all the wishes God could grant him, he asks for wisdom.  It is available at www.SovereignGraceMusic.org.

Q.  (28:22):  Is Job referring to Satan as Destruction and Death?  Do God’s chosen people know about Satan?

A. I don’t think Job is speaking of Satan specifically, but rather he is personifying some of the most powerful forces on earth: that of destruction and death (powerful indeed in our world) and having them speak as though they were people.  Even these powerful forces of nature (the reality of life is death and destruction) do not understand the wisdom of God.

Regarding the knowledge of Satan about the chosen, I think that the Bible lays out clearly enough about the reality of Satan and devils (though I admit some of the passages are ambiguous) so that if we believe the record of what the Bible teaches us, we will be aware of the work of Satan in our world as an enemy of God.

Q. (28:25-26): Just a present-day question.  We know that God sacrificed His Son so our sins could be forgiven and we could still enter into Heaven.  However, does this mean that God’s wrath is no longer.  Here it says that He decides how hard the winds should blow and how much rain should fall.  So, what about tsunamis, hurricanes, the Great Depression — is that wrath or do we not know?

A. We must be very careful about applying the reality of God’s wrath to general situations (it got Pat Robertson in trouble all the time).  And while Robertson may not always be wrong (though we can’t know for sure), what we can say for sure is that our proclaiming God’s wrath in the aftermath of natural disasters makes the unbelieving world tune us out: we become static and noise when we proclaim a wrathful God has acted in natural disaster.  It is much better for us to proclaim healing, love, and mercy (and actually DO what we can to help).

Now, having said all of that, the reality the Bible teaches is that, apart from relationship with God, we are all subject to God’s wrath for our sins (Ephesians 2:3).  But what is at the heart of the Gospel message is that God has every right to punish us for our wrongdoing, but that He chooses not to out of love for us (2 Peter 3:9).  Why?  Because He wants us to come to repentance and be restored to right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.  To me, this is as far as we can take a human understanding of God’s wrath, and anything further than that is speculation that does great harm to our message.

Q. (29:1-25): I respected Job in 1-6, but then he seemed conceited in 7-25, like he was receiving glory, glory that belonged to God.  He needs to work on humility?

A. You certainly could make that argument.  I think part of what he’s saying is that he used what God had given him (wealth, the ability to council others, to cheer people up) the right way, not to exploit, but rather to bless.  So, sure, Job could use some humility lessons, but as it comes to earthly wealth, many of us would do well to follow his example.

For further study: Where does wisdom come from and how do you get it? https://www.wisdomhunters.com/three-ways-to-get-wisdom/

Shop: Wisdom comes from above!

Tomorrow’s reading: Job 30-31

Noah's ark dove

Day 3 (Jan. 3): Flood, Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, murder

Image by 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
Genesis 7-10:5
1 Chronicles 1:5-7
Genesis 10:6-20 
1 Chronicles 1:8-16
Genesis 10:21-30 
1 Chronicles 1:17-23
Genesis 10:31-32 
(Before 2500 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (7:4): I saw a skit in church that told of how many years it took to build the ark, but here it’s saying 7 days?  Also, I’m starting to see a lot of 7’s.  What is significant about the number 7?

A. (7:4) doesn’t say the Noah build the ark in seven days; it says God told Noah to be ready, because the flood was coming in seven days.  7:1 tells us that the boat was already ready when God spoke to Noah and told him the flood was approaching.

Regarding you noticing the significance of seven, you have definitely hit upon something.  Seven is one of the most significant numbers in the Bible.  It signifies completeness and fulfillment, and traces its roots back the seven days of creation.

A few other numbers to watch for (some of which are shown in this reading): 3) Either representing the Trinity (which we established is strictly a NT concept), or also a form of emphasis. Things that the Bible repeats three times (Holy, Holy, Holy from Isaiah 6 is just one example of many), it is to draw attention to something important.  So if you see a portion of narration repeated, its not because the author screwed up and forgot what he wrote, it is to show that the thing repeated is really important.  4) Four is also a number you see frequently, and it tends to identify a completed set of something important (the four living creatures of Ezekiel and Revelation 4-6, the four horsemen of Zechariah 6 and Revelation 6).  6) Six represents humanity, incompleteness (as in not seven), and inferiority to God.  40) Forty represents a trial period or time of cleansing.  You have the flood which lasts forty days and nights, the Israelites in the wilderness forty years, and Jesus in the desert for forty days.

O. (8:3-14): The childhood accounts of Noah and the flood usually say it lasted 40 days and 40 nights.  I always thought that after that time Noah and the boat’s inhabitants walked off after 40 days.  But as the Bible describes, the total time from when the flood started to when they walked on dry ground was more like a year.

Q. (9:5-7): God says if someone kills, they should be killed.  This changes after Jesus dies on the cross where all sins are forgiven?

A. This is the subject of some debate.  Here we see clearly God’s command to avenge murder (along the lines of eye for an eye, Leviticus 24:20), but this command is honestly not consistent throughout the Old and New Testaments.  While the (capital L) Law (which we get from the next few books of the Old Testament) prescribed retribution killing — a death for a death, it is unclear if the Jews actually practiced this as their standard of law.  Certainly by Jesus’ time (First Century AD), it is quite clear that the people did not have the stomach to kill people for the sins prescribed in the Law.  Thus we see the seeds of mercy that Jesus preached (Matthew 5-7) already taking shape in the world into which He was born.

O. (9:24): To me, passing a punishment to someone else almost makes it worse for the offender, especially if it is passed on to your own sons or daughters.  Also, this seems to foreshadow Jesus taking on all of our sins.

For further reading: We can see that God can get pretty angry. This article deciphers God’s wrath. https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/what-is-gods-wrath.html

Check out this video! The Ark Experience videos explain how the this venture actually happened.  And if you go there, you will see an amazing, detailed life-size display of the humongous project that God gave Noah: https://arkencounter.com/noahs-ark/

Shop: God tells us to spread the Gospel — Good News.  Livin’ Light helps make you a walking billboard for the Lord.  Shop at livinlight.org.

Tomorrow’s reading: Genesis 11:1-26; 1 Chronicles 1:24-27; Genesis 11:27-14:24