I'm on a journey to read through the Bible in chronological order. Taking it one day at a time, I will read based on a list I found on the internet and blog about what happened, thoughts provoked, emotions conjured, etc. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nehemiah

Nehemiah is serving as cup bearer to the king when he learns that Jerusalem has fallen. This upsets him immensely and he asks to go home a rebuild. He surveys the walls to see what a wreck they are in and gathers a team to start rebuilding. As always, they had haters that threatened to kill them while they worked. God helped Nehemiah station armed guards and the people worked with a spear in one hand at all times.

He then hears that the people are being oppressed by the officials and being charged outrageious taxes so he has all debts cancelled...wish he would come do this now! The wall is finished and he works with Ezra to get the Jews registered in a census and they have a season of prayer and penance.

Nehemiah leaves for a while and returns to hear that the people are backsliding. He prays for strength and again reminds the people of how they should be living. It is such a vivid reminder of our sinful nature and how stubborn we are!

Ezra 7-10

Ezra wraps up by being commissioned to look into Judah and Jerusalem in regards to the Law. He gathers a large number of "chosen" ones and they go to the Temple to make offerings. They learn that the people have been marrying foreigners and having children with them--not consistent with God's law. Ezra has the men make a covenant that they will no longer continue this practice. The wives and children are sent away.

It doesn't really say what happens to the wives and children. I understand that they broke God's law for them, but it's really sad that families had to break up as punishment...hmm..

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Esther

Its the book of my blog's namesake! oh man I'm excited! I'm telling you, you couldn't make a better story if you wrote it yourself!

King Xerxes and his wife Vashti throw elaborate parties. So elaborate that they last for days, weeks even, and they split up the men from the women. Xerxes thinks Vashti is pretty hot stuff and wante s to show her off at his party, but she refuses the summons. Scared that all women will take a page from her book and disrespect their husbands, Vashti is banned and the search for a new queen begins.

Xerxes begins a parade of women each night (only after each of them has gone through 12 months of beauty treatments to be somewhat presentable) but Esther catches the king's eye. She has to keep her race and history a secret as she was raised by her cousin, Mordecai and Jews are not very popular. Esther is beloved by the king and he gives he whatever she wants. Her and Mordecai save the king from a plot to assassinate him but Mordecai is never honored. When a decree goes out to have people bow to a high official (Haman), Mordecai refuses as he is a Jew. Instead of dealing with just him, the officials decide to kill all Jews and have the order approved. Esther is distraught, but Mordecai tells her that perhaps she was made queen "for such a time as this"... God's inside person, if you will :)

Haman (bad guy) is really hatin' on Mordecai and builds a gallows on which to hang him. Esther, thinking quick on her feet, reminds Xerxes that Mordecai was never honored for saving his life. Xerxes makes Haman parade Mordecai around the city in fine linens--ultimate suck punch. Over dinner later, Esther explains to Xerxes the evil that Haman has been doing to her and her people and Xerxes hangs Haman on the very gallows he built for Mordecai.

Mordecai is appointed to Haman's old position and Haman's sons and those who schemed against the Jews were killed.

Esther is the freakin woman! Thats all I have to say :)

Zechariah

Zechariah gets a series of visions that are a historical depiction of what Judah has gone through.

A few years later he lets the people know that they no longer need to mourn the fall of Jerusalem as they have been for the last 70 year. Then God says my new favorite thing "you're interested in religion, I'm interested in people"....LOVE IT. The people are given a message meant to rejuvenate them and refocus their purpose.

Chapter 9:9-10 tell of the coming of a king who will ride a donkey who will be the savior .

Later chapters tell that God will reconcile his people and rebuild them. Sins will be washed away, false prophets will be brutally exposed, day and night will be obliterated...perfect world. Those who stood against God's people will be killed by a flesh eating virus--sounds like a zombie apocalypse to me :)

Haggai

This book is only 2 chapters sooo...

God tells Haggai to get the people to rebuild the temple--it's not cool that they are living in nice places and throwing money away. He promises to shake the foundations of the old and rebuild anew. No work done for the Lord will be in vain.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ezra 1-6; Psalms 137

God inspires king Cyrus to have the Israelites go home and rebuild the temple. Over 42,000 make the journey. The leaders build the altar and lay the foundation...followed by much celebration. What an amazing time for them!

Some former enemies come and offer their services but are refused because it is for the wrong reasons. They decide to take on vengeance for being rebuffed. Work is halted when surrounding kings learn of the rebuilding. They fear that the people are evil and will not pay taxes. The people begin rebuilding anyways while the kings search for the official decree from Cyrus to rebuild. They think the people are lying and have no permit.

The decree is found and orders are given to not disturb the people while they work (WIN!). There is a feast and much celebrating after the temple is complete...

The Psalm is written while the people are in Babylon and missing the "motherland"...little do they know they are closer to home than they think!

Daniel

Nebuchadnezzar (from now on--Nebbie) takes siege of Judah and requests that 4 natives be brought in a indoctrinated into the Babylonian way of thought to make them leaders. Daniel and 3 others are taken and given Babylonian names. You may know the others as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. What I didn't know was that Daniel also receives a new name--Belteshazzar.

Daniel does not want to defile himself with the royal menu and convinces the guards to feed the 4 only veggies and water. The guards are afraid that they will become scrawny and the king will notice, but the realize that the 4 are actually healthier and in better shape that the rest! The king loves them and puts them as leaders in the kingdom.

Nebbie starts having disturbing dreams and is enraged that none of his enchanters can't figure them out. Daniel says he'll take a crack at it, and in an amazing stunt, tells the king that he is not interpreting the dream, but there is a God who is doing it through him (gutsy move). Daniel interprets the dream (a statue of Nebbie falling, symbolizing the collapse of his kingdom) and Nebbie is so amazed that he appoints him in high honor.

The rest is pretty well known--Nebbie builds a statue to be worshipped, the men refuse and are thrown into a fiery furnace. An angel comes and protects them.. Nebbie is impressed and the men are appointed again.

Daniel interprets another dream that Nebbie will be driven out--it come true a year later. He is forced into the wild for 7 years to learn that God is sovereign. Meanwhile his son takes over and does a knock-up job. He throws lavish parties and lives boldly against God. During a party, God has a ghostly hand write on the wall ::For a moment, please imagine you are at a party and all of a sudden a hand (think "Thing" from Adamms Family!) just appears and starts to write...ho-lee-crap:: The writing is : mene, teqel, and peres which means his days are numbered, he has been weighed and a Mede will take over his kingdom. He died later that night and Darius the Mede took over as king.

Darius loves Daniel, but his officials try to conspire against him. They make a law that everyone must only pray to Darius. When Daniel disobeys and continues to pray to God, Darius must follow the law and throw him to the lions. He is relieved when God saves him--having his angels close the mouths of the lions...I tell ya, Daniel has seen and been through some pretty amazing things!

Daniel continues to have visions. Some of which scare him, but God sends angels to comfort him.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Joel

I'm not going to lie, I had to go to google for some info on what Joel was all about. I learned a lot and it really put things into context for me :)

Joel is calling for a lament--locusts have destroyed the land and left farmers desolate. There is no produce for church offerings and the animals have nothing to eat.

Joel then likens the locust apocalypse to God's army coming on the End of Days. On that day, there will be nothing left and the earth will be desolate. He cries out for the people to repent and to change their lives.

Afterward there is a promise of lands to be restored and food to be back on the tables. God's people will be granted with spiritual gifts and be made safe from oppressors. Those who stand against His people will fall.

Ezekiel 22-48

There is more examples of how Israel has been whoring itself out to things other than God. They have fallen for sex, money, idols, etc. God is tired of being compassionate and His anger if raging.

I'm not going to lie, this is EXTREMELY repetitive and becoming hard to pay attention to. Seriously 48 chapters of the same hellfire and brimstone.

Tyre, Egypt, Assyria... all have it coming to them. Once great nations will be reduced to rubble and ash.

Chapter 33 starts getting a little dangerous for those who could take it out of context. It talks about a man who turns from his evil ways will have his sins erased from the books and be saved. Basically "good people" will live and "bad people" will die. The important thing to remember is that Jesus' coming changed everything... there is no bad or good in this context, belief in Jesus covers all--you cannot fix yourself! I'm scared that some will discard the OT for its "closed-minded decrees" but will accept this section as a valid argument for salvation. You can't pick and choose people!

God then has Ezekiel speak to a pile of dry bones and they become living humans again. God promises that the bones are like Israel and though they are dead and desolate, they will rise again (gotta love God's unfailing love...). God has plans to reconcile them from every exiled nation and have David be the sole king over them.

Ezekiel then is taken to a mna who walks around the measures the temple. I have to give him props because he goes on for 2 chapters, in detail, about all the temple measurements. I think ultimately, the temple he is shown is a metaphor for heaven. He is to tell the people about the temple as that is the place God will dwell with them forever. Ezekiel must then learn the rules for the temple (no idol worship, or other sins and all the rituals entailed). He is also shown the lush lands around the temple good for food and healing. Th land will be divided up between the people and they will live there with God for eternity...

And we FINALLY come to the end of Ezekiel. I know it is choc-full of prophesies and other goodness, but its so hard to read!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ezekiel 9-21

I had to switch my version from the NIV to The Message. This book is choc-full of flowery language and I was getting totally lost!

God has 6 men in linens (angels I'm assuming) kill those in the city who don't lament over their wickedness and then His spirit leaves the temple. Ezekiel then (again) tells the people of what is to come.

Ezekiel is then to gather his things and leave the city as if in exile. This is to be a sign for those in the city that they will soon be in exile themselves--prince and pauper alike.

Ezekiel 16 is a pretty fantastic rant from the Almighty... he likens the Israelites to a newborn baby, covered in blood and unable to help themselves. God took them and cleaned them up, helped them grow into a beautiful adult woman, gave her fine linens and jewels to wear... and what did she do? She became a whore and ran to everything but God...set up brothels on every street corner and then went to other nations. He even says they are WORSE than Sodom! It's pretty harsh, but oh-so-true.

God then makes is very clear that the old ways of punishing generations for what their ancestors did is OVER. Now, each man is punished according to how he lives, regardless of his parents. He longs to see people repent and live for Him again and wants to reward those that do so. This makes me so happy that Jesus later came and I am no longer eternally punished for my sins!!

Ezekiel is scared to prophesy. He feels the people just think he is crazy and are so set in their ways they think he’s making everything up. But God still has a plan for him and wants him to keep on the path—make a scene if he must, but he needs to get the people’s attention…their end is coming!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ezekiel 1-8

Ezekiel is visited by God who gives him the charge to become a prophet. He is going to be sent among the Israelites and is warned of their wickedness. A point that God makes, that I love, is that Ezekiel is not being sent to a strange place among strange people. He is being sent to his own people and speaks their language. Ezekiel is being called to witness in his own stomping grounds. I am all about international missions, but I love that God makes a point that we are called to be witnesses in our own neighborhoods as well!

God uses Ezekiel to set up the destruction of Judah. He has him do a bunch of rituals that symbolize their fall (a lot of it is hard to understand...). God then shows him how wicked the people have been.

The book reads like Revelation..there is a lot of symbolism and I'm struggling getting through it... oh well, 8 chapters down, 40 more to go!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lamentations

1: 6 All the splendor has departed
from Daughter Zion.

Lamentations is not as Debbie Downer as I thought it would be. It is a beautiful book about the sad state of Judah.

9 Her filthiness clung to her skirts;
she did not consider her future.
Her fall was astounding;

Judah acted for years like there was nothing before them. They worshiped false gods, partook in pagan practices and turned away from the God who delivered them time and time again. I live the phrase, "her fall was astounding"... the author of Lamentations is a genius.

The book describes vividly the city falling and the solemn response of the people... they hung their heads and cried in shame. God created His people to be a light, a princess, but they destroyed everything good that He made and forgot every promise they made to God... their fall was astounding.

The next portion I think is a great foreshadowing to Christ' coming:

3:31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.

God is a jealous and vengeful God. Yes. But He longs to be good to us and just wants us to be good back. I believe these verses are a great promise that God will raise His people up again...

Jeremiah 41-52

Ok, here we go I'm compressing 4 days worth of reading into one post so bear with me!

The remnant of Judah goes to Jeremiah and asks whats to become of them. They promise to be good and that God can deal with them according to their actions (oh, now they want justice...?). God promises to uphold them if they stay in Babylon. Going to Egypt would be an easier life for them, but God assures them that moving to Egypt means they will instantly die. The people instantly accuse him of lying and go to Egypt (well that didn't take long...). God is engaged and decides to completely wipe the remnant from the face of the earth. He gives a sign to look for to know when the wipe out is coming---the Pharaoh will be given to his enemies just as Zedekiah was when Judah fell the first time.

A list of places, along with Egypt, to be destroyed is given. Places including Damascus, Edom, and Elom...all places that God's people came from and lived when they were brought out of Egypt. Even Babylon is cursed... basically anything Judah touched will be destroyed.

Here is where Jeremiah ends... Chapter 52 tells of the first fall of Jerusalem all over again. I'm not sure what the exact purpose or meaning of this is, but it is a nice poetic ending :)

Habakkuk

Habakkuk is another prophet who is told of the fall of Jersalem (that makes 4 books now!). He prays to God and asks why the wicked are getting away with their evil acts... he cries out for justice. God assures him that the day is coming when they will be given retribution. Habakkuk worships and praises God for his sovereign love and provision.

2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36

Zedekiah's disobedience is discussed again (I just read about him in Jeremiah). When he is warned of the impending doom coming upon Judah, he ignores it. When the city is besieged, he is captured--his sons are slaughtered in front of him then his eyes are gouged out. OUCH!

The fall of Jerusalem has now been detailed in 3 different books. It was a BIG deal. God allowed his people to be put to the sword by their enemies. This is what they deserved for their wickedness. This is what we all deserve every single day. But thanks to the promise and sacrifice of the Savior, we get to live by grace... how amazing is that??

Jeremiah 38-40; Psalms 74 & 79

Hello! I've taken quite the hiatus over the holidays but am looking to get back on track! I've taken this "read a Bible in a year" and turned it into "read through the whole Bible when I have time"...not good. I need to work on that... now back to Jeremiah!

Jeremiah is thrown into a cistern and left for dead after he continues to preach of Jerusalem's impending doom from Babylon. He is rescued, but the king still refuses to listen and the city is ultimately destroyed---just like God said. God does leave a remnant of His people and they are instructed to work under the Babylonians.

The amount of crap that Jeremiah puts up with for his beliefs is crazy! I wish I could say I was that strong.

The Psalms correspond as outcries from the people during all of this. They are pleading with God to show mercy and "have regard for His covenant"... outrageous!!! They are asking Him to honor something they broke a million times over. How often do we do this? how often do we ask God to show mercy where mercy should not be shown... keeping in mind that this all happened before Jesus' amazing sacrifice makes me immensely happy for the mercy we now receive!