OT: 2 Chron. 29:1-36
Today's was another cheery reading. The kings of Judah are really on as much of a roll as I've seen them. In today's passage, Hezekiah, the priests, and the Levites get the country back on track by cleansing, repairing, and rededicating the temple. I liked reading about their dedication to the task and how "they were careful to follow all the Lord's instructions in their work (15).
All in all, it seems that everything went smoothly, except for the minor hiccup that their weren't enough purified priests to burn all of the people's offerings. Thankfully, the Levites stepped in and picked up the slack.
Of course, I did not compare any of this passage to Kings. That's because I am trying to respect the literary integrity of the individual books and to read them solely on their own terms.
Oh, okay. It's really b/c I'm lazy.
NT: Romans 14: 1-23
Oh. my. heavens. Romans 14 is AMAZING! I have always loved it. In fact, I have a very specific memory of "discovering" it as a teenager while reading through Romans. Even then, it blew me away, and I could not believe that I had never heard of it before. To me, Romans 14 is soooo useful, and it answers so many questions about how we are to view right and wrong, and how we are to treat each other when we disagree.
And I also have to say that this passage just single-handedly brought me around to the NLT. You know how old people sometimes are with the KJV? Well, that's how I am with the NIV. I am quite stubborn about my love for the NIV, and to me, it is the only translation that will do. It's silly, I know. But I like to know the Bible in one translation. However, the NLT did such a good job with this passage in terms of making it simple and clear. I love so much of its wording.
Perhaps my favorite part of this chapter is the way in which Paul espouses a kind of Christian postmodernism. In certain matters, he says, "right" and "wrong" is relative to the individual. Now, I like how he doesn't negate absolute truth here; using the "authority of the Lord Jesus," he firmly asserts that, for example, "no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat" (14). However, he continues, if someone believes that it is wrong, then it is wrong for them. Thus, sin and righteousness in these cases are relative to the individual (14, 22-23).
Even though Paul's example of eating meat sacrificed to idols is not especially pertinent to me, the example of the view of holy days actually is. Paul says, "some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike" (5). This is probably crazy to someone outside of my faith tradition, but we kind of have a history of shunning religious holidays that are not in the Bible (and of course, none of them are in the Bible, so you see where that leaves us). So while most of us do celebrate Christmas or Easter in our homes, we mysteriously ignore them at church. It's a little strange. Anyway, this passage reminds me that I can celebrate Christ's resurrection at Easter to God's glory, while my more conservative friends can completely ignore the holiday to God's glory. The only problem is when we start judging each other for our individual decisions.
This is such a great concept. I looooove Romans 14. So many applications, and not just to eating meat and observing holy days. I am continually amazed by the myriad of things that Bible-respecting Christians can disagree about. Truly, the key to unity is found in this passage. We don't have to perfectly agree on everything, but we do have to love and respect each other.
Okay, some favorite verses:
"For we don't live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it's to honor the Lord. If we die, it's to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord" (7-8). Of course I would love that one.
"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up" (17-19). Ahhhh...so wonderful and refreshing. I love talk about the kingdom of God, and I love how Paul paints such a great picture here.
Riding the high of our OT and NT readings, I was able to soak up and enjoy the psalm today. I especially loved the opening verses:
"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
For he laid the earth's foundation on the seas
and built it on the ocean depths" (1-2).
Okay, I still love the first verse, but actually typing out verse 2 made me realize that it makes no sense to me. God laid the earth's foundations on the ocean? Ummm...
Poetic license, people. Poetic license:).
"Ears to hear and eyes to see--
both are gifts from the Lord."
As we have learned from both Jesus and Paul, these words are true not only on a literal level, but also on a metaphorical level. It is a gift not only to be able to see and hear, but also to perceive and understand.