Tag Archives: Confusing

Days 18-19, 90 Days Through the Bible – The Book of Judges, Ruth, and 1 Samuel

Judging YouProbably a weird thing to say, but Judges is my favorite book in the OT. It feels like the Wild West. There is a sense of law vs. lawlessness in the claiming of this new land. And much like the European visitors who tried to take the land from the Native Americans, the would-be settlers were not always behaving as though they were righteous or just. Judges gives us a picture of people vacillating between right and wrong. It feels real, gritty, and more relatable than the wanderings in the desert we’ve been dealing with the last couple of weeks. Still, this book also contains some HORRIFIC passages, and none are worse than the Jephthah’s daughter debacle. What a disaster of a promise Jephthah makes and what an awful result.

On to the notes!

  • Judges 1 – Here’s the first reference to Jerusalem (I think?). Amazing to see this important city enter through violence. It is still such a divided place today and it began as a divided place in Judges. Just a preview of what’s to come…
  • Funny how just a generation after Joshua dies, the people forget the Lord. Do we have the same problem? Do we take for granted the exploits and sacrifices of our parents? Grandparents and beyond?
  • “Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…” We run into this phrase an awful lot over the next 20+ chapters, don’t we?
  • Othniel doesn’t get very much of a story, just a short paragraph in chapter 3. I wish there was more to his backstory.
  • Judges 3:12-30 – WOW that’s a lot of violence all of the sudden. Killing a guy in the bathroom? Again, best book in the OT. Wild stories.
  • I love the introduction of Deborah.resized_creepy-willy-wonka-meme-generator-can-i-call-you-deborah-debbie-c7dd8e Here we have a very strong female leader who takes up the mantle when the male general is unwilling to do so alone. If this isn’t great rationale for female leadership and ordination, then I don’t know what is. Deborah is called by God to lead the people with her gifts, talents, and faith. I want my daughter to know this story. I want my son to know this story. I want all people to read the scripture with an eye toward the whole – what is God’s ultimate message about our relationships with one another, strangers, friends, and even our enemies.
  • Judges 6 – The Sign of the Fleece – Gideon may be blessed, anointed, and touched by God, but he doesn’t have a ton of trust in God, does he? It’s funny how he test God once and when God passes, he decides to retest God. What does he think, the first time was a fluke? God got lucky?
  • And the very next chapter we get an army chosen because they drink like dogs? This stuff is hilarious, awesome, fantastic, and hopeful. I really, really enjoy this book.
  • Judges 11 – Jephthah’s vow feels like the beginning of the end for the book. Why do we make deals with God that God does not ask us to make? Why would you bargain with God when there is no need to bargain? This poor girl. What an awful story…
  • And onto the scene burst Samson! Here is yet another child of promise, born to a previously barren mother. There will be many more of these individuals in the scriptures that follow. My favorite Grateful Dead song? “Samson and Delilah” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQXv4JL0Fzg
  • The Samson chronicles are great to teach kids…until everybody starts dying…and we have to deal with the weird sexual stuff…and the genocide…and animal abuse…and blindings…and, well, I’ll take back my previous statement.
  • And after Samson comes another passage I didn’t really learn in Sunday School. Judges 19 describes the horrible rape of two women and the civil war that follows between the various tribes involved in the incident. You’ll notice that God is absent from this section. The people were without any clear leadership, faith, or hope.

Ruth

  • c3f00e52b4e59b8ff7c01a97a1f2aba9Ruth was one of the first books I preached on when I became thepastor at The Peoples church. I love the way this book provides a hope that was missing in Judges. It’s kind of a palate cleanser for the end of the last book. Now THIS is a story you can teach to all ages. After the NC-17 Judges, we have the more digestible PG Ruth…with a few scenes of adult situations (threashing room floor comes to mind).
  • Who are the people picking up the sheaves in our culture? Do we leave the sheaves out for them?
  • Names are important.
  • Everyone has the responsibility for another person. We are all called to take care of others, aren’t we?
  • Boaz and Ruth are part of the lineage of David, and a little farther down the line, the genealogy of Jesus. Makes you start to wonder about all the questionable characters in Jesus’ background.

1 Samuel

  • We’re just starting this book today.
  • We encounter yet another child of promise. Hannah prays for a child and is eventually rewarded. So what does she do with her new baby? Gives him away to the temple.
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I’m An Absolute Failure At This – February 7 – Days 7-9 – Exodus 29-40, Leviticus 1-14, Leviticus 15-28

missed expectationsI’m An Absolute Failure At This –

February 7-9 – Days 7-9 – Exodus 29-40, Leviticus 1-14, Leviticus 15-28

It looks like I’m playing catch up for days 7-9. I’m a bit behind right now. Isn’t that the problem with doing this overly ambitious journey through the Bible? And then what do you do with that guilt? I’m pretty sure God doesn’t tell us to “read the whole Bible in this set amount of days.” In fact, there’s nothing even close to that in scripture, tradition, or divine revelation.

So why do I feel so terrible about not finishing when I’m told myself I would finish? What is it about these self-imposed deadlines that give me ulcers?

My colleague, friend, and brother in arms, Drew Filkins, told me to stop worrying about these opening paragraphs. He said, “People want to read the bulletin points. That’s what they scan down to find.”

I’ll admit, I do the same thing.

Still, I feel like I need to rationalize and explain my thoughts before I just list my quick hit, rapid fire reactions to the scripture. This is especially true for the end of Exodus and the book of Leviticus. Because, quite frankly, these books are ridiculously boring at times.

disappointmentMaybe boring is a bit sacrilegious.

How about, boring in the theologically exciting kind of a way?

I’m just not into the laws, genealogies, and building plans for tabernacles, arks, temples, and the like. I want to be. Really, I do! I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm necessary to get there.

What do we do with the passages encountered in this series of readings? How do you actualize, realize, and internalize dietary, sexual, and priestly laws?

G—and K— ? Any thoughts on this?

For those who scrolled down to the good stuff, here are my bullet points!

  • Exodus 29 – The ordination of priests here is VERY different from my own ordination. First, we had no ram, no bull (well, maybe a little bit) and no fat to offer from said ram. What did we have? Crying, Raymond Bonwell, Band of Brothers references, and a lot of people who “knew me when.”
  • Exodus 30 – Give half a shekel (or 10 gerahs) as an offering at the sanctuary. How does that compute today?
  • Exodus 30 – I love the smell of incense. I enjoy it in the house and in the sanctuary. However, we rarely burn incense in the congregation I serve. There is something to be said about worshiping with all our senses, even the sense of smell. We have hearing (music and spoken words), sight (visuals all over the place), touch (passing the peace, hand on a shoulder), and taste (communion) but not much with smell. Incense seems to meet that need. Just a thought…
  • Exodus 31 – Keep that Sabbath. Why is this so ridiculously hard for most of us to do? A day of not doing ANY work? That just sounds like a day after when I’ll be playing catch up. How could this resemble something else?
  • Exodus 32 – Aaron gives up the faith pretty easily. He starts on the golden path AS MOSES IS ON THE MOUNTAIN. What caused him to do so after all of these weeks of faith? After all the miraculous signs he saw? After serving as the spokesperson for God? Why would he bail out so easily?
  • Exodus 32 – At least Moses negotiates for the people. That’s something, right?
  • Exodus 32 – Aaron lets the people run wild? Worst babysitter ever.
  • Exodus 33:11 – GREAT, powerful line – Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
  • Exodus 34 – Start tearing down the “others’ “ idols, temples, and towers. Interesting…
  • Exodus 34 – Moses’ face is shining. When do we shine?
  • Exodus 35- 38 – Makin’ the ark. This is the rough stuff I have a trouble getting through.
  • The ending of Exodus? That’s kind of a letdown. I guess I had hoped for some more resolution.
  • Leviticus! We’re into another book! Wait, this book is about what now? Yea, I guess?!?!Leviticus Lego
  • Leviticus 1 – Kind of a short chapter. Unblemished offerings…what offerings do we make that are with flaws, conditions, and blemishes?
  • Leviticus 2-4- How do make an appropriate sacrificial offering is a very strange thing, indeed. I have absolutely no point of reference for these examples. What’s a good goat vs. a bad one? A What kind of wood to use for the fire? I just don’t sacrifice this way.
  • Sin offerings – you can’t help but think of atonement theories when you read this…if you’re a theology nerd who really likes studying atonement theories.
  • To be holy is to be set apart. Who, what, and when do we set things apart?
  • Leviticus 8 – More ordination stuff. Again, this is not what I remember from my ordination. As my friend Corey LeCureux used to say, “Ordination is just empty hands on empty heads.” I’m not that cynical but I’m closer to that than to appropriate turbans, bulls, breastplates, etc.
  • Leviticus 10 – I’d LOVE to hear some thoughts about this one. His sons burned up? What?!
  • Leviticus 11 – Insects are unclean. I can get behind this law.
  • Leviticus 12 – Let me get this straight…if I woman bears a son, she is unclean for seven days. If she has a daughter, she is unclean for two weeks and must spend sixty-six days of purification? I’m not sure how to comment appropriately.
  • Just read Leviticus 13:40-44…I want to preach on that just once before I retire. Just once, drop the mic, and walk out into the sunset with my bald head held high.
  • Leviticus 15 – And now we’re dealing with bodily discharges? Leave no stone unturned, I guess.
  • Leviticus 17 – I’m a big fan of black pudding when I’m in Scotland. I know, I know, it’s kinda gross when you really think about what it is, but it tastes delicious. I’m going to have to rethink it if I want to stick with this chapter.
  • Leviticus 18 – And now we’re into the sexual laws…more specifically, the laws about sexuality. This is one of the passages used by my sisters and brothers in Christ when discussing the merits of same-sex relationships. In context, I am comfortable recognizing how these types of relationships are different from the ones we are debating in our modern context. Still, this is a great place to start the discussion. Let’s talk about sex with an openness that the Bible does not shy away from. What is a relationship? A marriage? Physical love?Leviticus Haircuts
  • Leviticus 19:32 – Respect the elderly. Nicely put.
  • No Harry Potters in scripture? Leviticus 20:27
  • Leviticus is full of Levitical laws (laws for the priests). If you aren’t a priest, what do you think of these passages?
  • Leviticus 24:13-23 – Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth
  • The end of Leviticus? No better than the end of Exodus. I’m expecting big things, Numbers. Don’t let me down…