Friday, October 22, 2010

October 22

OT: Jeremiah 39:1-41:18

First of all, a quick question: Why didn't everyone who chose to remain in the city die by the sword? Wasn't that a prophecy? I'm not going to look it up, b/c I'm not sure how to do so quickly, but I seem to remember several times where Jeremiah told the people to surrender to Babylon, and warned that anyone who remained in the city would die. Did I misunderstand that?

Okay, on to today's story. I am still digging the narrative, especially b/c we are in a section of the Bible of which I have no memory. It's like when I first took U.S. History and every presidential election after about 1820 was such a nail-biter. I was like, "I wonder who will win!" Yes, that's sad (for so many reasons), and yes, it is also probably sad that I don't remember this history...but it does make for interesting reading. For instance, regarding my earlier question, I was reading fully expecting a blood bath when the Babylonians came crashing into Jerusalem after an 18 month long siege (approx). I did remember what happened to Zedekiah from when we read about it in...Chronicles? But as for the rest, I was all ears.

There was not a bloodbath, though. In fact, other than their horrible treatment of Zed, the Babylonians seemed pretty reasonable for conquering marauders. They took a bunch of people off to live in Babylon, left some others under a new leader (Gedaliah), and were super nice to Jeremiah (which probably didn't help him shake his un-Judean rep). On a sidenote, it is kind of crazy to me how interested these world leaders were in Jeremiah. I mean, he's just a guy saying things that he heard from his God. Why does Nebuchadnezzar care? I'm still not sure why Zedekiah would care--I mean, it didn't seem like he was a particularly faithful man. Anyway, I was impressed to see how famous Jeremiah apparently was. Nebuchadnezzar was a fan of his!

In fact, the meanest guy of today's reading was not a Babylonian at all, but a fellow Judean (at least, I think he was). Ol' Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, was a really bad guy! First, he acted on the behest of the Ammonites (argh), and then he killed Gedaliah and co., and I really like Gedaliah! He seemed reasonable (40:9-10), and things were going so well under him! And then this clown has to come along and ruin everything. Boo, Ishmael!

Thankfully, Johanan (who kind of reminded me of Joab, with his Macchiavellian tendencies), came to the rescue, even though he wasn't able to kill Ishmael. And that's where our story today ends. Johanan is leading the captives he rescued from Ishmael, and they are now scared of the Babylonians, since the Babylonian appointee to power has been murdered. I can't wait to hear what happens tomorrow, as I have no inkling of what is coming next!

NT: 2 Timothy 1:1-18

Still no research on Timothy (it's been busy here lately), but I have to say that this passage just sounds like Paul to me. Clearly, I am not an expert in textual analysis, but this is all "typical Paul" type stuff. Besides, it is so personal that it makes me wonder why someone would make it up. I mean, I think Ephesians and Colossians are Paul, too, but they are so general that I do see a point to them, even if they weren't Pauline. But this is all so personal. Anyway, I'm rambling now.

I like how Paul gives a shout out to Timothy's mom and grandmother in verse 5. It was yet another reminder to me of the importance of raising godly kids. I also liked Paul's instruction to "fan into flame" his spiritual gift (6). I thought that the active tense of that verb was interesting. So often, that type of instruction is passive, b/c the work to be done is the work of the Spirit inside you. Yet, here is an example of the active role that the Christian takes in their own spiritual growth. By nature, flames of passion are transitory. In my own life, I sometimes get the picture that God starts the fire in me, and it is then at least partly my job to keep it going. Verse 6 supports this idea. And it leads up to one of my favorite verses in the Bible is verse 7: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." Love it.

Paul then exhorts Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel, nor to be afraid of suffering, and he reminds Timothy of the grace and power of God, which has been lavished on Paul himself (8-12). He admonishes Timothy to hold the course, both in regards to Paul's teachings and in regards to Timothy's own spiritual gift from God (13-14). In the remainder of the passage, Paul states matter-of-factly that everyone has deserted him, though he is thankful for the house of Onesiphorus (15-18).

Psalm 90: 1-91:16

Wow, I really didn't notice that these were two psalms while I was reading them! Anyway, the one from Moses has one of my favorite verses:

"Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Prov. 26:1-2

On honor for fools and undeserved curses.

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