OT: 2 Chron. 4:1-6:11
Today, we read about all the furnishings that were made for the temple (I realized that it is not capitalized in the Bible, so I'm going to stop. I wasn't being incredibly consistent anyway.) When the temple was finished, all the Israelites gathered together, and the ark was brought in. Everyone praised God, and Solomon gave a dedication speech. I have nothing intelligent to say, so instead, I will record the conversation that ran through my head as I was reading (in detail) about all the things that were made for the temple. For the sake of clarity, I will even label the perspectives in my head as 1 and 2. Please, nobody call a mental institution:
1: Why is he telling us all of this? It is so boring. And does it even matter?
2: Well, it's something that was done for the Lord, and it was important to the Israelites.
1: But it is so...external. Do gold lampstands and sprinkling bowls really bring you closer to God?
2: But that's how they related to God back then. That is how God interacted with them.
1: But why? If what matters is love and what goes on in the heart, then why bother with these externals?
2: Well, maybe they weren't just externals. Maybe the existence of those physical things brought people closer to God. After all, you do things for God that seem "external." You draw up lesson plans and make games for VBS and shop for craft supplies for Sunday school. Those all seem like external, surface things, but aren't they ultimately for spiritual purposes?
1: I guess so...but they would still be boring to read about.
2: Fair enough. Just thank the Lord we are at the NT....
NT: Romans 7: 1-13
Reading Romans in these bite-sized bits, and with fresh eyes, has been good for me. It has made me delve more deeply into the meaning.
The question my "fresh eyes" had today is, "Why did God introduce the law only to tell people about sin?" Introducing the law made people guilty, so why do it? Paul claims that "I would not have known what sin was except through the law...for apart from the law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died" (7-9ish). Umm...so again, why?
I guess the answer is that the law brought the knowledge that brings us to God. We have got to know what sin is before we can enter a true relationship with God. The law doesn't cause sin; it just identifies it. And by making a person aware of the fact that they are a sinner, the law brings guilt. Sin comes even without the law. Death comes even without the law. What the law brings is knowledge and awareness, which leads to guilt.
Okay, I still have a conundrum though. Why, then, did God judge other nations who did not have the law?
Well, again, just because they did not have the law, it did not mean that they were not sinners. It did not free them from the penalty of death.
And yet, perhaps it freed them from the guilt of their sin. In other words, just because God killed those people doesn't mean that they went to hell. Hmmm...
Yet, it does seem like "pagans" can be considered guilty (sorry, I am full-out talking to myself again). Like Paul said earlier, their conscience can be a law to them. And so, I guess that law=awareness. Whether it is by the written rule or by your own moral compass, when you are aware that you are doing bad, then you are guilty. Without awareness, there is no guilt.
That little theory actually could go a long way to pardon young children and the mentally handicapped, among others. I've always thought that God would not hold such a person's sin against him. Now, I might have some scriptural evidence. I definitely don't think that I have solved this puzzle, but my multiple personalities have definitely helped me make some sense out of it:). (Actually, I am seeing more and more that the way I learn things is through a discussion format, particularly question and answer. That's why I always did so well in classroom settings that were discussion-based, or where you were free to ask questions. However, I don't always have another person to talk to, and so I apparently have learned to have conversations in my head. Excellent.)
David calls on God, asking Him for protection. He also wants to see God, to remain in God's love, and for God to punish his enemies.
Wow, depending on whether the footnote is right or not, the first proverb could be amazing. And at the same time, very disjointed.
My translation says,
"What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar."
The footnote then says that that first phrase might also read, "A man's greed is to his shame." Which, of course, sounds nothing like what we have, but definitely makes more sense. But I like the first one better, so I am going to go with it. "What a man desires is unfailing love." That is sooooo true. That is what we all want. And of course, as a Christian, I believe that true unfailing love can only come from God, and that our desire for unfailing love is actually a desire for God. In a practical way, it also tells me what people need. It is so important to love people the way Christ loves them. We can never live up to that standard, but that's why we are supposed to be willing to lay down our lives for others. We are to show agape love to this world by serving and sacrificing for them.