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!

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!