OT: Neh. 11:1-12:26
Lists, lists, lists. So many lists today. I'm a recorder myself, so I understand the compulsion, and I somewhat understand the usefulness, but it was still hard today. We read lists of all the people who stayed in Jerusalem, and of the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel and Jeshua.
I thought it was weird that they had to cast lots to see who would stay in Jerusalem. You'd think that after all that building, they would want to stay in a fortified city, so close to the new temple. But apparently, the great majority of the people wanted to return to their towns.
NT: 1 Cor. 10:14-11:2
When I read the first part of this chapter, I was really confused b/c Paul seemed to be directly contradicting his earlier instructions regarding food sacrificed to idols. He quickly affirms, of course, "that a sacrifice offered to an idol is" nothing (19). But then he says that they are offered to demons, and he did not want Christians to take any part in that. Yet, then he says to "eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for 'The earth is the Lord's and everything in it'" (25-26).
Okay, so I'm struggling a little to find the distinction. Either Paul is distinguishing b/t food sacrificed to idols and food sacrificed to demons, or he is distinguishing between buying the meat in the marketplace and participating in the ceremony. In either case, Paul says that the first is okay, but the second is not.
In verses 27-30, Paul reaffirms his instructions in Romans 14 and 1 Cor. 8, while also grappling with the some of the implications of those instructions. He tells his audience in verses 28 and 29 to abstain from meat that violates another's conscience. Yet, in 29-b and 30, he asks, "For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?" Umm...exactly? I'm not sure what Paul is saying here, but I definitely understand the questions, and have asked them myself.
I do love our highlighted verses for today: "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God--even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved" (31-33).
Lots of good stuff here. My favorites are verse 14 and verse 19.
Verse 14 says, "Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."
Verse 19 says, "A righteous man may have many troubles, but eh Lord delivers him from them all."
On bribes, justice, and straying from understanding.