Friday, January 29, 2010

90 Day Bible Update- weeks 3-4


I’m going through a bit of a dry patch now in the Chronicles. Name after name after name. Sometimes I find myself zoning out and have to re-read paragraphs multiple times. Once in a while I perk up when I read a name I recognized, but the rest of the time I try to get a feel for how large Israel had become in a relatively short period of time and how important their genealogy was to them. I wonder if this kind of record of lineage exists for any other people group in the world.

I have had some fun or challenging thoughts over the last week or so.

1. Pomegranates- I first noticed the use of this fruit in the building of the tabernacle and then as part of the priestly garments. I recently saw the use of pomegranates again in 1 Kings 7:18&20 as part of the decorations on the Temple. I wasn’t surprised, but pondered anew their significance. I have an idea, but don’t know if it’s right. I’m not too brave and have never bought a pomegranate before, but my mom buys them and puts them in our fruit salad. Every time she does, she vows never to do it again, because it’s not easy to get all the seeds out. Seeds. I think that’s the significance. Lots and lots of seeds. Kind of reminds me of God’s promise to Abraham to make him a great nation so that his descendants will be innumerable as the stars in the sky and the sand. Also, the sign of that covenant was circumcision, you can’t get any closer to seed there. So, I think the pomegranates were to be a continual reminder that God had multiplied them and that He was keeping His end of the covenant- any fruitfulness they experienced was a blessing from God and a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. Am I completely crazy and looking for connections where there aren’t any? It seems logical to me, anyway.

2. I’ve seen 40 popping up some more. There were a couple of times in Judges I didn’t mention before and now again in 1 Kings 19:8 when Elisha travels to Horeb and the journey takes 40 days and 40 nights. I talked to my husband about this and we agree the use of the number 40 is usually associated with some difficulty or challenge, and often with the desert. The flood. Wandering in the desert. Elisha fleeing from Ahab through the desert. The temptation of Jesus- also in the desert. Moses on Mt Sinai doesn’t exactly fit, but the Israelites being without him, lacking a leader in the desert does. I’m not sure how the Judges accounts would fit with this. It could be as simple as 40 years being the approximate length of time used to describe a generation. We use 30 years as a generation, but then we don’t live as long. Could be. What do you think?

3. I’ve been writing a series on the family-integrated church and as part of that I’ve been thinking about mentoring and how important cross-generational relationships are. I find it interesting that when Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, consulted the elders that served his father about how to rule (sympathetically or harshly), they gave him sound advice that would have kept the kingdom together. Rather than listening to them, though, Rehoboam “rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.” So, he turned to his peer group for advice. The result was rebellion and a split kingdom. This interesting story is found in 1 Kings 12. It should serve as a reminder to us not to allow ourselves to be overly influenced by people of our generation who may be blind to the same mistakes we are.

4. I admit it was hard to keep most of the kings straight or even to remember them from one chapter to the next. But I recently read a series of historical fiction books, Chronicles of the Kings by Lynn Austin, that helped some of them to come alive for me. Her books focused on the reigns of Kings Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manassah of Judah. Upon reading the Kings I realized she probably combined the Biblical description and feats of King Josiah into her character of King Hezekiah. I found it interesting that Hezekiah was described as there being “no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow Him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.” (2 Kings 18:5-6) And it was said of Josiah, “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did- with all his heart and with all his soul, and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” (2 Kings 23:25) I wonder why it says in both cases there wasn’t one before or after like him since they seemed very like one another in that they followed the Lord with their whole hearts. Interesting. Maybe it was an expression.

5. My favorite verse from my readings of the last couple of weeks is when Isaiah prophesies about the defeat of Sennacherib. “Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.” (2 Kings 19:25) What an awesome statement about the sovereignty of God. He knows the end from the beginning. Not only that, but He ordains the end from the beginning.

By the way, I’ve always loved the poem The Destruction of Sennacherib written by Lord Byron. It gives me chills every time I read it. I’ll reprint it below for you in case you’ve never read it. This is from Poems of George Gordon, Lord Byron published by Easton Press, special collector’s edition, 1995 pages 237-238.

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay wither’d and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass’d;
And the eyes of the sleepers wax’d deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through him there roll’d not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beaten surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
For other 90 day Bible updates check out Mom's Toolbox and Raising Olives.

3 comments:

  1. I love the pomegranites and the seeds insight, but you know they are also very beautiful in the various colors of deep red--unlike any other fruit.
    The poem is awesome--help me remember it next year when we study The Divided Kingdom.

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks for the book titles- will definitely be looking into those.
    And was reading about the kings this morning. Will be looking through that poem...
    have a super weekend- Laura

    ReplyDelete
  3. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Lucy

    http://businesseshome.net

    ReplyDelete

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.