For Abundance Live In Dependence Not Independently

And Don't Wither Away With (Church) Busyness

Abundant Dependence

By Beth Demme

I think it was Kurt Vonnegut who first said, “I am a human being, not a human doing.” In a society where busyness is a sign of accomplishment and significance, it’s easy to blur the lines between being and doing. It seems like we do more to have more because we want to be more.

James 1:11 warns against this, saying “For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.”

Busyness can be costly.

In the midst of a busy life, the parts of us that matter most can wither away. I know from personal experience. I have tried to do more and have more because I wanted to feel like I could be more. Instead of becoming more, I became less. I replaced my true identity (a beloved child of God) with a cheap imitation identity (busy American mom).

The really tricky part of this for me as a Christian was realizing that church could produce busyness. If I had been trying to create an equation to calculate my busyness I wouldn’t have included church committees or Bible study classes in the calculation. They had a sort of permanent exemption because I put them under the heading “God’s Work.”

Good distractions are still distractions.

Attending Bible study classes and serving in the church are important to me. They are really valuable in my spiritual life, except when they become busyness that distracts me from real relationship with God.

This is the lesson of Mary and Martha, isn’t it? When Jesus visited the two sisters, Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks.” (Luke 10:39-40) Martha asked Jesus to make her sister help out, but instead, Jesus answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part.”

God Is Bigger Than My Theology

Am I Trying to Get Jesus Into My Boat?

boat theology

Boat Theology

By Beth Demme

You know the passage in Matthew where Jesus walks on the water? Jesus and the disciples feed over five thousand people with only five loaves and two fish. (Matthew 14:17-21) Jesus then herds the disciples into a boat and sends them across the Sea of Galilee. Later, Jesus was ready to join them and “he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear.” (Matthew 14:25-26)

Jesus reassures them, saying “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter responds, “Lord, if it is you command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says “Come” and sure enough Peter walks on the water. We don’t know how far Peter walked but “when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

I love Peter’s boldness (or idiocy?) in saying Lord, if it is you.” Maybe Peter’s use of the conditional even made Jesus smirk a bit. As someone who appreciates sarcasm, I kind of like the idea of Jesus pausing for a bit of internal monologue: “If it’s me? Who else would it be? Am I myself? Goodness, I hardly know! Who am I, really?”

What really strikes me about this passage, though, is that Peter doesn’t say, “come get in this boat with me Jesus.” It’s subtle, but important. If I were in Peter’s position, I’m afraid I would have told Jesus, “Lord, come over here and get in this boat!”

I would have completely missed out on the opportunity to receive an invitation from Jesus.

My tendency is to tell Jesus the plans I have and tell him to get on board. That’s different than Peter’s impulsive, but better, approach: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you.”

In my life, this plays out in two important ways—in trying to discern life choices and in trying to understand/explain God.

God’s Love Comes Before Your Mistakes

Gods love

What if God’s Love Comes Before Your Mistakes?

By Beth Demme

It surprised me. I didn’t expect to find new, and personal meaning, in a concept as old as shepherding.

I was studying John 10:1-10 for a recent sermon. In this passage, Jesus refers to himself as the shepherd and also the gate. My favorite part of this passage has always been the last verse, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

I especially connect with this part of the verse because I have experienced God’s abundant love, but it’s also true that I like the idea of an abundant life.

For most of my life, I have equated an abundant life with an abundance of things. I’ve let go of that kind of thinking, but I still don’t really like the idea of being a sheep. Maybe because thinking about Jesus as the shepherd conjures up images of church Christmas plays, with young shepherds dressed in their father’s bathrobes? But I digress…

Wait, There Are Unicorns in the Bible?

Fun With Bible Translations

Bible Unicorns

Unicorns and Girdles in the Bible

By Beth Demme

Did you know that Bible translators may have invented the unicorn? Learning tidbits like this has made the Bible, and Bible study, more manageable and meaningful to me; I hope it does the same for you.

The King James Version uses the word unicorn nine times, all in the Old Testament.

  • “God brought them out of Egypt; he [God] hath as it were the strength of a unicorn.” (Numbers 23:22)
  • “God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.” (Numbers 24:8)
  • “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 33:17)
  • “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said … ‘Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow or will he harrow the valleys after thee?’” (Job 38:1, 39:9-10)
  • “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” (Psalm 22:21)
  • “He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.” (Psalm 29:6)
  • “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.” (Psalm 92:10)
  • “And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.” (Isaiah 34:7)

There is an additional reference in Daniel 8:5 to a flying goat with “a notable horn between his eyes,” but the word unicorn isn’t specifically used there.

How did the King James Version come to include unicorns?

Do You See Yourself Clearly?

Is that YOU in the mirror?

I just celebrated the third anniversary of this blog! Woo hoo! Let’s eat cake! In honor of this “birthday” of sorts, here is a post from way, way back in the beginning (April 2014). As it happens, I needed to hear this today. Maybe you do too?

Do You See Yourself Clearly?

By Beth Demme

Do you ever look in the mirror and feel a little baffled by what you see? I mean, do you ever look at your reflection and think, “Woah crazy! Where’d you come from?”

No? Me neither.

But, I have this friend …

She said it happened to her once.

The truth is, we all get a little down on ourselves sometimes, don’t we? There are times when things at home or at work don’t go according to plan and we internalize the failure.

Sometimes we think we are failures because our decisions or plans failed. Other times, we may feel “less than” because we are comparing ourselves to someone else. Someone who is better at: _____________ (relationships, parenting, meal planning, fashion, managing finances, making money, volunteering, reciting scripture, memorizing sports trivia, etc.). Whatever the reason, there are days we look in the mirror and see failure.

Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 7

Pastoral Epistles to Revelation

Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 7

This Lent we went through the entire Bible, Bible 100 style. In other words, we’re developing an overview of the entire collection of 66 books. Here’s a summary of what we covered this week. If any of this sparks your curiosity, I hope you will watch the short videos I recorded through Facebook Live (each  takes you to a video). Of course, you can always turn to the Bible to learn even more!

Lessons 37-40

 Lesson 37: Paul’s Letters to People

Paul wrote 9 letters to churches and 4 letters to people. (Although the authorship of many of these letters is disputed, we set that aside for Bible 100 purposes because we want to start by knowing what the books say.)

1 Timothy 

  • 6 Chapters
  • We first meet Timothy in Acts 16:1-5, during Paul’s second missionary journey.
  • Paul wants Timothy to lead the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), where Paul had previously lived and ministered for two years (Acts 19:1-10).
  • 1 Timothy is the source of a lot of moralism and discussion about morality:
    • Women should dress modestly, not with their hair braided or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes (1 Timothy 2:9)
    • Women should learn in silence and aren’t permitted to teach men (1 Timothy 2:11-13)
    • Women are “saved through childbearing.” (1 Timothy 2:15)
    • Any man who wants to lead the church should “be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a recent convert…” (1 Timothy 3:2-6)
  • 1 Timothy includes some trouble references to slavery. For example, 6:1 says, “Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed.”
  • Paul encourages Timothy to drink wine. (1 Timothy 5:23)

2 Timothy

  • 4 Chapters
  • Can be read as Paul’s final letter to a man he loved like a son.
  • Paul tells Timothy to warn the Christians “to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening.” (2 Timothy 2:14)
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
    • There has been a lot of scholarship on the word “inspired” because it is unique to this Epistle.
    • The “scripture” in place at the time of Paul was the Old Testament.

Titus

  • 3 Chapters
  • Who is Titus?
    • Paul says in Galatians that when he and Barnabas went to Jerusalem after the first missionary journey, Titus was with them. (Galatians 2:1)
    • Titus was not Jewish and, therefore, unlike Timothy, he was not required to be circumcised and Paul uses that almost like evidence of the Jerusalem Council’s decision, “even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.” (Galatians 2:3)
  • The letter to Titus is similar to 1 Timothy:
    • Titus is encouraged to choose church leaders wisely. (Titus 1:5-9)
    • Slaves should be “submissive to their masters.” (Titus 2:9-10)
  • Unique to Titus is Paul’s condemnation of the Cretans: “Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons.” (Titus 1:12-13)

Philemon

  • 25 Verses (1 Chapter)
  • The letter to Philemon isn’t about pastoring a church or correcting doctrine, it’s about slavery. Actually, it’s about a specific slave, a man named Onesimus.
  • Paul wants Onesimus to be set free. (Philemon 17-19)
  • Onesimus is first mentioned in Colossians 4:9.
  • St. Ignatius who was Bishop of Antioch (in Syria) from AD 67-107 (very early Christian) wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus where he mentions Onesimus as a Bishop.

 Lesson 38: Hebrews

  • No one knows who wrote Hebrews, but it’s still worth reading.
  • We know from its location in the Bible that Paul didn’t write it. If Paul wrote it, it would be with Paul’s letters to the churches.
    • The position of the Epistle to the Hebrews is altogether unsettled.” –Dr. Bruce Metzger
    • Throughout history, Hebrews has hopped around in the Bible. In the Codex Sinaiticus, it is between 2 Thessalonians and 1st Timothy (after the letters to church communities and before the letters to people).
    • In the Codex Vaticanus (perhaps the first Bible to have chapter delineations), Hebrews is between Galatians and Ephesians.
    • In the Geneva Bible (the first Bible translated to English from the Hebrew and Greek texts), Hebrews sits where we have it today, between Philemon and James.
  • Hebrews teaches who Christ is and who we can be through him.
  • Hebrews navigates the difficult first-century conflict between Christianity and Judaism by stressing what both groups have in common, while emphasizing the supremacy of Christ. (See e.g., Hebrews 3:3)
  • Christ is simultaneously divine and human. (Hebrews 2:16-17, 4:15)
  • Heroes of the Faith: Hebrews 11
  • “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

 Lesson 39: The Catholic Epistles

“Catholic” meaning universal. These letters are written to the church in general, not to a specific group of believers.

James

  • 5 chapters, just over 100 verses
  • Mentions Jesus by name only twice, but is unmistakeably about how to live as a Christian
  • Perhaps written by the brother of Jesus, the same James who rendered the decision of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.
  • Endurance produces maturity. (James 1:2-4)
  • God gives wisdom if you ask for it. (James 1:5)
  • God doesn’t tempt people. People are tempted by their own desires. (James 1:13-15)
  • The “royal law” is to love your neighbor as yourself. (James 2:8)
  • Faith will display itself in the way you live. (James 2:14-20)
  • Don’t give the devil too much credit; he runs away when you resist him. (James 4:7)
  • “Let your ‘yes’ be yes, and your ‘no’ be no.” (James 5:12)

1&2 Peter

  • Combined 8 chapters and fewer than 200 verses.
  • In Peter’s letters, hope is placed in a future that is better than the present. As we see throughout the NT, things are hard for Christians. Remember, Peter himself is ultimately executed via crucifixion. Knowing the actions the Empire is taking against Christians, Peter calls Rome, “Babylon.” (1 Peter 5:13)
  • If you have trouble understanding Paul’s letters, don’t worry, Peter did too. He says in 2 Peter 3:15-16, “our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.”

Johannine Letters

  • 1, 2, & 3 John are called the Johannine Letters.
  • 1 John is 5 chapters long, about the same length as James or 1 Peter. 2 John and 3 John are 1 chapter each, with only 13 and 15 verses respectively.
  • There are five books in the New Testament traditionally ascribed to the Apostle John, the beloved disciple: The Gospel of John, the 3 Johannine letters, and Revelation.
  • In the Johannine letters, the main concept is God is love. God loves and is loving, but beyond that, love is one of God’s defining characteristics.
  • These three letters, like Paul’s letters, are organized by length, from longest to shortest and can be read in any order.
  • 1 John 1:8-9 might sound familiar from church, especially if you attend a church with a liturgical service: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • In 1 John 2, John calls his readers “my little children.” He is The Elder of the church. He’s not writing to his beloved brothers who experienced the earthly ministry of Jesus with him, but rather, to the next generation, a group he helped birth in a sense.
  • Just as in the Gospel of John, we see in 1 John that Jesus is “the word.” (1 John 1:1-4)

Jude

  • Jude is traditionally ascribed to the younger brother of Jesus.
  • It has no chapter delineations because it is only 24 verses, long.
  • These 24 verses are packed full of references to the Old Testament and other ancient writings.
  • Jude is extremely concerned for people who are being exploited and misled by religious leaders gone astray.
  • Jude and 2 Peter are very similar. Reading 2 Peter, especially chapter 2, together with Jude shows us how early Christians struggled to discern correct doctrine and fully express their faith. Here is a very limited sampling of their similarities:
    • Jude 4 refers to “intruders” who “have stolen in among you” and will “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 2:1 refers to “false teachers” who will rise “among you” and “will even deny the Master.”
    • Jude 6 says “the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling he has kept in eternal chains.” 2 Peter 2:4 says, “God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment.”
    • Both refer to Balaam. (Jude 11; 2 Peter 2:15)
    • False teachers are “waterless clouds carried along by the winds … for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved” in Jude. In 2 Peter they are “waterless springs and mists driven by a storm” and “the deepest darkness has been reserved” for them.

 Lesson 40: Revelation

  • The Revelation to John or the Apocalypse of John
  • Only place in the New Testament we read about a dragon, giant bugs, flying horses, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
  • In Revelation we learn of a future with a new heaven and a new earth.
  • Traditionally we have accepted the author of this book to be the Apostle John.
  • While John is on Patmos (possible exiled there by the Roman Emperor Domitian), the risen and glorified Christ appears to John and dictates seven letters to seven churches. (Revelation 1:9-11)
  • In chapter 4, John ascends to heaven and receives visions from God concerning Christ’s return (the Second Coming).
  • In Genesis, creation is very good, but sin and death immediately enter the world. The narrative has on overall downward spiral, but by Revelation 21 the dust settles. We have a new heaven and a new earth and we’re back to something like the Garden of Eden. There’s no longer any sin. There’s a new Jerusalem, a new Holy City and there’s a loud voice that says, “Now, the dwelling of God is with man.” That’s exactly what we had when we started Genesis because God was walking with Adam and Even in an ideal relationship.
  • We’re told in Revelation that there will be a perfect environment, no mourning, no crying, no pain or death. We will be God’s people. The old order has passed away. God says, “I am making everything new.” The curtain comes down in Revelation and everything is restored to what it was in the beginning.

Thank you for joining us for the Bible 100 Lenten Journey. If you would like information on having Beth come for a Bible 100 Live Event, please click here. To access the videos, click here. To contact Beth directly, click here.

Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 5

Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 5

This Lent we are learning the Bible, Bible 100 style. In other words, we’re developing an overview of the entire collection of 66 books. Here’s a summary of what we covered this week. If any of this sparks your curiosity, I hope you will watch the short videos I recorded through Facebook Live. Of course, you can always turn to the Bible to learn even more!

Lessons 25-30

 Lesson 25: Isaiah & Jeremiah

  • Biblical prophecy is not fortune telling or future forecasting as much as it is a call for present change.
  • The “major prophets” are the longer books. The “minor prophets” are the shorter books. For example, Isaiah has 66 chapters while Obadiah is only twenty-one verses.
  • Incidentally, there were no chapter OR verse numbers when the Bible was originally compiled. The chapter delineations were decided on in the 13th century CE (or AD, if you prefer). The verses were numbered for the first time in the mid-1500’s.
  • During Isaiah’s time, Assyria attacked the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Isaiah often refers to the Northern Kingdom of Israel as Ephraim, the strongest tribe of the 10 tribes. Ephraim was one of Jacob’s grandsons, a son of Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph in Genesis 48. Ephraim is where Bethel is located, one of the places where King Jeroboam set up a Golden Calf. (Lesson #18).
  • Isaiah’s prophecy has to come true in his own historical framework because Moses said that the words of a prophet must be tested. (Deuteronomy 18)
  • Isaiah prophesied that a “young woman” would bear a son named Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14) This prophecy was fulfilled in Isaiah’s time, but in the Gospel of Matthew it is understood to have foreshadowed an even later prophecy, the birth of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:20-23)
  • Scholars tell us that Isaiah is probably a composite, written over several hundred years, probably in 3 or 4 stages, but we are meant to read it together.
  • Isaiah is where we see monotheism established. In the books before Isaiah there is an understanding that our God is the supreme God. In Isaiah we begin to understand that our God is the only God.
  • In Isaiah 49:6 and 49:22, God says the Jews are instrumental in bringing salvation (restoration of the relationship between God and humanity) to the world.
  • Jeremiah lived in the North, after the time of the Assyrians. Jeremiah lived during the reign of King Josiah who was only a child when he became king, but nonetheless instituted a lot of religious reforms. We read about King Josiah’s 30+ year reign in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 33-35.
  • Jeremiah lived during the fall and destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar. (See e.g., Jeremiah 32:28)
  • Jeremiah is 52 chapters long, which qualifies it as a book of “Major Prophecy.” The next book is Lamentations. It’s only 5 chapters, but it is included with the Major Prophets because Jeremiah wrote it.
  • Lamentations is a collection of 5 poems that lament the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

 Lesson 26: Ezekiel & Daniel

  • Ezekiel lived in the southern kingdom of Judah. He was taken as one of the Babylonian captives during 597BCE(the first group the Babylonians deported). He was removed from Jerusalem before the destruction of the Temple in 586BCE. The book with his name recounts his prophecies from 593 to 573.
  • Ezekiel doesn’t just hear God, he receives visions from God. (Ezekiel 1:1)
  • Ezekiel doesn’t deliver his prophecies only with words, but he also draws pictures and acts things out. (Ezekiel 4:1-6,15)
  • Ezekiel 37 is where we get the valley of dry bones. In a supernatural, paranormal experience, God transports Ezekiel into “the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.” God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. He does, and God restores them to life. God tells Ezekiel that Israel is like the dry bones.
  • By the end, Ezekiel has a vision that Israel is restored. He spends about 8 chapters laying out a plan for a rebuilt/restored Temple. The book of Ezekiel ends saying the “name of the city [the restored Jerusalem] shall be The Lord is There.” (Ezekiel 48:35)
  • Daniel, like Ezekiel, was taken in that first wave of captives. Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams for him, winning favor.
  • Fiery Furnace: Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were also taken as captives from Israel when Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered the former Assyrian territories. You may know them by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Daniel 1:7) Nebuchadnezzar creates a huge statue of himself and tells everyone to worship at it. Daniel’s friends, faithful to the one true God, refuse. Nebuchadnezzar has them thrown into a fiery furnace, but they are joined by an angel and not harmed. Nebuchadnezzar praises God. (Daniel 3-4)
  • Lions Den: In chapter 6, Daniel is thrown into a den of lions for violating a law prohibiting prayer to anyone except King Darius. The king doesn’t want to punish Daniel, but politically he has no choice. He says to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” (Daniel 6:16) The next morning, Daniel is unharmed. Daniel says, “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless.” (Daniel 6:22) The king ordered that Daniel’s accusers be thrown into the den of lions. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.” (Daniel 6:23-24)
  • Handwriting on the Wall: Between the Fiery Furnace and the Lions’ Den we have a story about “reading the handwriting on the wall.” King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, used “the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem” as dishes at a party. (Daniel 5:3) “Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace, next to the lampstand.” The king “turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.” (Daniel 5:5-6) Daniel was called in to interpret the writing on the wall. It says “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end.” (Daniel 5:26)
  • King Darius takes over and he’s the one who is forced to throw Daniel into the Lions’ den.
  • Daniel ends with five chapters of apocalyptic visions. In chapter 12, the last chapter, Daniel offers us the Bible’s first clear reference to a resurrection, final judgment, and afterlife. Daniel ends with an angel of the Lord telling Daniel, “you shall rise for your reward at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13)

Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 4

Lessons 19-24

Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 4

This Lent we are learning the Bible, Bible 100 style. In other words, we’re developing an overview of the entire collection of 66 books. Here’s a summary of what we covered this week. If any of this sparks your curiosity, I hope you will watch the short videos I recorded through Facebook Live.  Of course, you can always turn to the Bible to learn even more!

Lessons 19-24

Lesson 19: ABC’s of Israel’s OT Conquerors (Kings, Chronicles)

  • The civil war between Israel and Judah weakens the nation. Outsiders attack.
  • A= Assyria. In 722 BC, the Assyrians, led by Sennacherib, invade.
  • Sennacherib conquers the 10 tribes in the North and scatters them throughout Assyria. These are sometimes called the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel.
  • On the verge of invading Jerusalem, 185,000 of Sennacherib’s troops go to sleep and never wake up. (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21)
  • B=Babylon. The Babylonians attack Jerusalem. Jerusalem ultimately surrenders and then there’s a rebellion and then Nebuchadnezzar attacks again and takes more tribute and more people. There’s a second rebellion, but by 586, the Temple is destroyed and Jerusalem falls for good. (2 Chronicles 36:6-7, 18-20)
  • The Babylonians deport people to Babylon; this is referred to as the Babylonian Captivity.
  • “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.” (Psalm 137:1) Zion (Israel) is only a memory. The plan of salvation is only a memory. There were 19 kings in the north and 20 kings in the south, but none were able to reunite and save Israel.
  • C=Cyrus of Persia. (2 Chronicles 36:20, 22-23)

Lesson 20: Rebuilding Jerusalem (Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah)

  • Chart Comparing the Old Testament and the TNK
  • Cyrus tells people they can return to their ancestral land and rebuild. As the Jewish Encyclopedia explains, “There was no reason to detain them longer in Babylon; and if they returned to their homes, they would be in a position to defend the border-land against Egypt and the desert.”
  • 1&2 Chronicles are a recapitulation of some of the events from 1&2 Kings, but from a different point of view. (“paraleipomenon” Pete Enns)
  • Ezra & Nehemiah tell the story of Cyrus financing the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. We enter what’s called the Second Temple Period because this is the Second Temple, Solomon’s Temple having been the first.
  • Nehemiah 9 is a great recap spoken by Ezra.

Lesson 21: Esther’s Story of Transformation (Esther 1-10)

  • Esther is the only woman to establish a Jewish Festival, the Festival of Purim. (Esther 9:18-29)
  • In an effort to rebuild the region, the Persian government has allowed people whose ancestors were exiled by the Assyrians and the Babylonians to return and rebuild. Many Jews went back, but some chose not to. Esther tells the story of one family that did not go back. Esther herself is several generations removed from the Babylonian exile.

Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 3

Judges-Chronicles

This Lent we are learning the Bible, Bible 100 style. In other words, we’re developing an overview of the entire collection of 66 books. Here’s a summary of what we covered this week. If any of this sparks your curiosity, I hope you will watch the short videos I recorded through Facebook Live.  Of course, you can always turn to the Bible to learn even more!

Lessons 13-18

Lesson 13: Israel’s Judges (Judges 1-21)

  • Judges 2:16-19 gives us a glimpse of the unsatisfying ending this period of Israel’s history will have.
  • In the book of Judges, there are 12 Tribes who work together when necessary; there is no “nation of Israel.”
  • In the book of Judges, there are 12 Judges (rulers) over the course of several hundred years.
  • There are interlude periods when the Israelites are ruled by non-Israelite leaders. For example, Judges 3:14 tells us they were ruled by a Moabite king for 18 years.
  • There is a left-handed judge named Ehud. (Judges 3:15-30)
  • Abimelech, a usurper, dies after a woman drops a stone on his head. (Judges 9:52-55)
  • The period of the Judges ends with everyone doing what is right in his/her own eyes (Judges 21:25), harkening back to Genesis 6:5 where every thought was evil all the time.

Lesson 14: Looking at One Judge, The Honorable Gideon? (Judges 6-8)

  • Gideon is the least of the least. (Judges 6:15)
  • He is chosen by God to lead the Israelites against the Midianites. (Judges 6:33-35)
  • Gideon tests God with two rounds of dew and fleece. (Judges 6:36-40)
  • God tells Gideon that 32,000 troops is too many because “Israel would only take the credit away from [God] saying, ‘My own hand has delivered me.’” (Judges 7:2)
  • God reduces Gideon’s army to only 300 troops. (Judges 7:3,8)
  • Gideon and his 300 troops successfully defeat Midian. (Judges 7:25)
  • The Israelites wanted Gideon to establish a dynastic monarchy, but he refused. (Judges 8:22-23)
  • Despite having spoken with God face to face (Judges 6:22), Gideon made an idol and worshiped it. (Judges 8:24-27) The idol “became a snare to Gideon and to his family” and “all Israel prostituted themselves to it.” (Judges 8:27)

Lesson 15: The Epic Love Story of Ruth (Ruth 1-4)

Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 2

Genesis 26-Joshua

This Lent we are learning the Bible, Bible 100 style. In other words, we’re developing an overview of the entire collection of 66 books. Here’s a summary of what we covered this week. If any of this sparks your curiosity, I hope you will watch the short videos I recorded through Facebook Live.  Of course, you can always turn to the Bible to learn even more!

Lessons 7-12

 Lesson 7: Jacob Becomes Israel (Genesis 26-33)

  • Jacob leaves in search of a wife and a life away from Esau.
  • He goes to his mother’s homeland, Paddan-aram, where he meets and falls in love with Rachel.
  • Rachel’s father (Jacob’s Uncle Laban), tricks Jacob into marrying Leah.
  • Jacob eventually has children with both Leah and Rachel, and their maidservants.
  • Jacob fathers twelve sons.
  • God changes Jacob’s name to Israel in both Genesis 32 and Genesis 35.

 Lesson 8: Joseph, Dreamcoat to Death (Genesis 37-50)

  • Joseph is #11 of the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel).
  • He has prophetic dreams and the gift of interpreting dreams.
  • His father showed him preferential treatment, once giving him a coat of many colors.
  • Joseph dreams his brothers will bow down to him. (Genesis 37:5-11)
  • Joseph’s brothers conspire against him. He is sold into slavery.
  • Joseph rises to prominence after interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. (Genesis 41:39-40, 43)
  • Joseph is unexpectedly reunited with his brothers during a widespread famine.
  • Joseph forgives his brothers and brings the entire family to live safely in Egypt.
  • Genesis ends with the death of Joseph. (Genesis 50:26)

 Lesson 9: Meet Moses (Exodus 1-2)