Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21

OT: Isaiah 37:1-38:22

From what I can tell, this section is almost a word-for-word repeat of 2 Kings 19-20. There are very minor variations in the story of Hezekiah's healing, but there is only one addition that could be considered a major variation. That addition is Hezekiah's writing "after his illness and recovery" (38:9).

In this writing, Hezekiah recounts his sorrow at the news of his impending death (38:10-12), and his eventual breakdown under the burden of it (13-14). He then tells of God's delivery and surmises, "Surely it was for my benefit/that I suffered such anguish" (17). Perhaps he views his anguish as beneficial because it helped him to fully rely on God?

Regardless, I continue to be interested in the evolving view of heaven that we see in the Bible. As I've said before, it seems to me that the OT'ers had, at best, a very foggy view of the afterlife, and at worst, no view of the afterlife. Take Hezekiah's assessment in verses 18-19:

"For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
the living, the living--they praise you,
as I am doing today;
fathers tell their children
about your faithfulness."

Is it just me, or do these words seem to indicate a lack of belief of an afterlife?

And yet, these people had the example of Enoch, who was taken up to God, even before death. Where do they think he went???

NT: Galatians 6:1-18

Paul wraps up his letter to the Galatians in today's reading. There are several quotable verses in this passage, and as a way to organize my thoughts, I will now rank them in order from least quotable (but still really good) to most quotable. I am open to alternative lists, but here is mine:

5. "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation" (15). This sentence structure is very effective, and Paul used it extremely well in 5:6. I love how it first discounts the superfluous, and then highlights the essential. What bumps it down on the list of quotables, though, is the circumcision reference. It is very specific to that time period, and not as applicable today.

4. "If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself" (3). Boom! Again, it is concise, it is simple, it is powerful. In no uncertain terms, Paul conveys the importance of humility. Unlike the next three quotable verses, however, this verse asserts a negative principle, and not a positive one. Thus, it is something I repeat to myself, but it is not a popular one for the pulpits or Christian books.

3. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (2). It doesn't have as much punch, but it is simple, and it is positive. Also, it is one of those "summing up" verses, which condenses our job as Christians into a convenient nutshell. I have always thought it interesting, though, that three verses later, Paul exhorts each of his readers to "carry his own load" (5). That's one of the drawbacks of figurative language, I guess. Even though the imagery contrasts, the principles do not, in my opinion. Verse 2 describes our need to help each other, specifically in times of temptation and sin (from verse 1). Verse 5 relates to the way we need to measure our actions against Scripture and not against other people. The ideas can both easily be true at the same time, even though the imagery contrasts.

2. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (9-10). That seems a bit too lengthy to be deemed quotable, but the fact is, I have heard these verses quoted far more than any of the previous ones. If nothing else, I have heard the first phrase, "Let us not become weary in doing good," but more often than not, it's the whole verse, plus the next one. And I can see why. These verses are a great reminder to us as we start to get burnt out or discouraged as we serve others.

1. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." I mean, c'mon. How many times have we heard this? The last sentence, especially, has a firm place in the cultural lexicon. As a Christian, though, I think it is especially powerful in light of the first two sentences.

Well, those are my top 5 for this section. If anyone has any others that they think should make the list, or any different orders, feel free to share!

Psalm 65: 1-13

A praise psalm that focuses primarily on the power and goodness of God as seen through His creation.

Proverbs 23:24

On the joy brought by a righteous son.


  1. And yet, these people had the example of Enoch, who was taken up to God, even before death. Where do they think he went???

    I think that the OT is consistent in its view that there existed "the heavens", where God and his heavenly court is located. What varied was whether or not, in general, the dead could go there. It seems to me that there is no inconsistency in the OT writers assuming that God could choose to give special exemptions to some people.