August 3, 2004

Micah's idols

Judges 17-18 is, in my opinion, among the most bizarre stories in the OT. It opens with Micah, saying to his mother, that the eleven hundred pieces of silver stolen from her about which she utters are curse, were actually stolen by him. When she hears this, she blesses him. He returns the silver and she in turns dedicates the silver to the Lord to make a graven image and a molten image. (What an image is exactly I'm not sure...) Micah sets up a shrine, makes an ephod, puts together some idols and appoints one of his sons to be the priest.

Some time later, a young Levite, an "official" priest by blood, leaves Bethlehem in Judah to basically find a place where he can hang out. He stumbles onto Micah who, realizing that he is a holy man by blood, invites me to be "a father and a priest" to him, pays him, gives him clothes and takes care of him. Micah then says, "Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest."

It gets even stranger...

Enter the Danites. The Danites, i.e., a tribe of Israel descended from Dan, send out five men to scout for land to possess, since an inheritance had not yet been alloted to them. These five guys end up lodging not far from Micah's home where they then recognize the young Levite's voice. Realizing that he is a holy man, and a priest, they ask him to ask God if they are going the right way. He says, "Your way in which you are going has the LORD'S approval."

So, the five men continue on and find some people living in quietly and securely far from everyone else. So, they come back to their brothers and say, we've seen the land, it's good, let's take them. On the way there, the entourage of six hundred men "armed with weapons of war" come to Micah's house. The priest meets them, and while he stands at the gate with the six hundred men, the five guys go into the shrine and heist the graven image, the ephod the household idols and the molten image. The priest says, "Hey, what are you doing!" They say, "Be silent, put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?" That seems pretty reasonable to the young priest, so he takes off with them.

Shortly there after, Micah and his neighbors catch up to the Danites. The Danites say to Micah, "What is the matter with you?" Micah says, "How can you say 'What's the matter with you?' You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away, and what do I have besides?" The Danites basically threaten him, and Micah seeing their numbers, goes home. They eventually get to the land and wipe out the population, taking over the city and setting up the graven image. This graven image becomes their idol for years, as the good book says, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.

Judges 19 is even more crazy... why does Judges have such bizarre stories? It is to show what happens when every man does what is right in his own eyes - Judges 17:6. Isn't that the theme of the day? Every one should decide what's right for themselves.

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June 22, 2004

Wise Guys from the East

One of today's reading was from Matthew 2 for which a large section is dedicated to the story of the magi from the east. The magi or magoi in Greek, were an Eastern religious order of astronomers trained in Babylon and Persia. It makes me wonder if they had left any notes - maybe a couple labbooks. Too bad it didn't happen today, we might even have a blog and some digital pictures.

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April 25, 2004


I'm always amazed how short the book of Philemon is. This morning I used BibleGateway's Listen to this (NASB) while making pancake mix. In what seemed like no time, the narrator was saying "end of the book of Philemon". The book of Philemon is a letter from Paul to a Philemon regarding Philemon's runaway slave, Onesimus, who was converted.

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June 4, 2003

Passages of the Day

Deuteronomy 8 Psalms 91 Isaiah 36 Revelation 6
Deuteronomy 8

God wants us to know that we do not live by bread alone, but by what proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. What does it mean to live by bread alone? It means working and living to satisfy the hunger of the flesh. In the past few weeks, I have been trying to do this job and that on scriptlance - on one hand it is to see if I can get some extra income learning about how to do things. On the other hand, it is to somehow get some sort of satisfaction from being able to finish something - anything. But this passage teaches me that this desperate feeling comes from God, and is there so that we can look to Him. Maybe it isn't that we are literally hunger, but we may be hungry for signifance, for love, for admiration.

When I look back I can see that God really has provided for us. In a few months, we will have two boys - but, at least for now, we have a home, plenty of food, and peace. We have a safe place to worship, and good friends. Is there really much more that we need. No. We have more than enough. This is like the good land (vs. 7-10). We have unlimited fresh water, whole wheat bread and beany rice, tomatoes on the vine, more bottles of wine than we know what to do with, Costco size jugs of olive oil and honey, we "eat food without scarcity" lacking nothing, and all around are opportunities - consulting things, programming, graduate stipend. So let us not forget the Lord, and keep his commandments or we will become proud. Let it never be said that it was our own work that gave us what we have (vs. 17). I guess in a way that is how I'm thinking when I try to bid on these projects - thinking, oh, I can make myself a solid future. Today I remember You.

Psalm 91

Nice, a fitting and beautiful follow-up Psalm. The Lord is our refuge and strength. The word for Almighty God is El Shaddai.

Isaiah 36

Wow, this is very discouraging for Hezekiah. As I remember, Hezekiah is the good king too. Hw was the one who tore down the high places that the Lord detested. Now under seige, Sannacherib claims that God sent him to destory Israel. One error that Hezekiah had, pointed out by Sannacherib, was that he went to Egypt for help, rather than fully relying on the Lord. I wonder what will happen in tomorrow's passage.

Revelation 6

The day will come when everyman, kings, rich, strong, slave, free will hide in the caves. Who can stand the day of his coming.

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May 28, 2003

Passages of the Day

Deuteronomy 1 Psalms 81,82 Isaiah 29 3 John 1
Deuteronomy 1

I liked verse 31, how the LORD carries the Isarelites just as a man carries his son.

Psalm 81,82

What does it mean, I said, You are Gods, all of you are sons of the Most High?

Isaiah 29

Woe to those who deeply hide plans from the LORD. I suppose when we sin this is what we are doing. We think to ourselves, who sees. Forgive us.

3 John 1

How is it that John got to have 3 books? I guess Paul had even more.

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May 27, 2003

Passages of the Day

It's no good if I post these and don't read them is it?

Numbers 36 Psalms 80 Isaiah 28 2 John 1
Numbers 36

The passage from yesterday, Numbers 35, talked about the penalties for intentionally and accidentally murdering people, and how killing "defiled" the land. Note that this is one-on-one killing, not war. So there is a distinguishment.

Today's passage talks about how the promised land is to be passed down.
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May 26, 2003

Passages of the Day

Numbers 35 Psalms 79 Isaiah 27 1 John 5
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May 25, 2003

Passages of the Day

Numbers 34 Psalms 78:38-72 Isaiah 26 1 John 4
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May 24, 2003

Passages of the Day

Numbers 33 Psalms 78:1-37 Isaiah 25 1 John 3
Numbers 33

This chapter talks about all the places then went to when they left Egypt. It must have seemed like so much distance, especially having stayed in Egypt for so many years. The last part, where God speaks to the importance of driving out the inhabitants or face the consequence that they will be "thorns" and "trouble". I had two thoughts about this. One is about the current pressure on Israel to recognize a Palestine and their willingness to do so if the Palestinians waive their right to return ever to Israel. The second is perhaps more spiritual, the necessity to drive out the "old ways" or face trouble from them, even in your new life.

Psalms 78:1-37

This is a long Psalm! The Psalmist says that we should tell our children to put their confidence in God, not forgetting His works, and keeping his commandments, and not to be like us, who are stubborn, who have unfaithful spirits. The last part of this passage is interesting - after being (some of them) killed, they then sought God, returned and "searched diligently". They remembered that God was their rock, and their Redeemer - but it says, "they deceived Him with their mouth, and lied to Him with their tongue." "For their heart was not steadfast toward Him. Nor were they faithful in His covenant." How am I? Do I deceive with mouth and tongue? Is my heart steadfast? May the Lord have mercy.

Isaiah 25

Ahh, this is a very interesting passage. Starting from verse 6, Isaiah talks about how the Lord will prepare a lavish feast on a mountain for all peoples - with aged wine and choice pieces of marrow. Did I say aged wine? It's refined, aged wine. On this mountain, death will be swallowed up for all time. He will wipe up the tears from all faces (verse 8). "This is the Lord for whom we have waited. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."

1 John 3

Hope, that's the secret. That'll keep us out of trouble. If we hope on the day we will become like God, it will purify us (verse 3). John says that "no one who abides in Him sins." What does this means? It means that when we are in right relations with God, we will not sin. Not that we will not ever sin (1:8), but if we abide in Him, we will not sin so let us not "practice" sin, for this is of the devil. What does it really mean to abide. Am I abiding now? Is it constant prayer?

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May 23, 2003

Automating the passages of the day

OK, I digitized the file, added index numbers, and wrote a little php script to process the current date and choose the appropriate passage. But how can I call it from MoveableType. Can I use PHP here? I'm not sure at all.

You can look at the current version here.

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Passages of the Day

Numbers 32 Psalm 77 Isaiah 24 1 Peter 2

Numbers 32

The sons of Reuben and Gad say, "hey, we like it here, can we just stay here?" Moses then accuses them of discouraging the rest of the community from going into the promised land. The interesting thing is that they are satisfied already. Surprisingly, Moses does not tell them that they need to take Canaan.

Psalm 77

In this Psalm, David, being troubled in spirit, finds as a solution to reflect on the great deeds of God. He talks about feelings of rejection, and asks if God's "lovingkindness" has ceased forever. I like verse 10: "Then I said, 'It is my grief, that the right hand of the Most High has changed." Does that mean that he then feels better, resolving to remember the deeds of the Lord?

Isaiah 24

"The exalted of the people of the earth fade away." How often do I want to be the exaclted of the earth. I want to be successful, to be highly esteemed, but these things so quickly will pass away. This is not what the Lord desires of us.

What's wrong with the wine? It mourns, the vine decays, no one drinks wine with song, and strong drink is bitter. I think it means that in the day of judgement, nothing can make people happy, not even wine.

Versus 21 and 22 are interesting. The LORD will punish both the kings on earth and the host of heaven on high. Why is the host of heaven being punished. These all will be gathered together to be confined and then punished.

1 John 2

We come to know the Father when we keep His commandments. To keep means to follow. This appears to be the old commandment. But what is the new commandment? The new commandment comes because the darkness is passing away. It is that we must love one another - or is it that we should not love the world?

Everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him...

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May 22, 2003

Passages of the Day

Numbers 31 Psalm 75-76 Isaiah 23 1 Peter 1

Numbers 31
In this sort of passage your heart really sinks because it is so extreme. The reason that Moses was upset at the people for sparing the women was that these were the ones that originally led Israel to sin in Numbers 25. Of course, they could have showed more fortitude.

Psalm 75-76
Psalm 75 is about the judgement of the Lord, and how He is righteous and will execute judgement with all power. I liked the verse about how the cup is in the hand of the Lord and how the wicked will "drink down its dregs". One should not be prideful.

How do I view God? Do I see Him resplendent, more majestic than the mountains? Do I fear, knowing that no man can stand in His presence in His anger? God saves the humble, not the proud - and the wrath of man will praise Him. I must humble myself.

Isaiah 23
Who planned against Tyre and Sidon - "the Lord of hosts has planned it, to defile the pride of all beauty, to despise all the onored of the earth." The last part is interesting, it basically says that after 70 years, Tyre will go back to "her harlot's wages" and "play the harlot with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth." But that the "gain" and "wages" will not be hoarded but become "sufficient food and choice attire for those who dwell in the presence of the LORD." What does this mean? Why would it go back to its old ways? And how is it that those who dwell in the presence of the LORD will benefit.

1 John 1
We have heard, we have seen, we have looked, we have toched, we have seen, we testify, we proclaim... Can I say that? Have I seen, looked touched, should I not testify and proclaim? If not... what is the message? The message is that in God there is no darkness. If we are to have fellowship with God then we should also not have any darkness. What is darkness, is it sin? I don't think so - it is the hiding of sins, for we can walk in the Light, confessing our sins - for which no man can say they have without.

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