Author: Pastor Bob

September 1, 2022: Day 188 – Zechariah 1-5 and Psalm 81

So what just happened there?  You have horses, and olive trees, and flying scrolls, like huge flying scrolls, a woman in a basket who is called wickedness.  Okay, things have gone a little strange, so what is exactly happening?  Well, in Zechariah you have God promising restoration to Israel, which is so much better than a promise of exile with future restoration.  

All of the metaphors that are used in Scripture are not so easily understood by us these some 2500 years later.  I love the verses that states: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty”.  It reminds me of this song.

In the Psalm we find these comforting words: “with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”  It reminds me of a group of musicians that were fairly popular, Sweet Honey in the Rock.

August 31, 2022: Day 187 – II Thessalonians 1-3 and Psalm 79-80

This second letter of Paul to the church in Thessalonica is similar to the first.  Timothy remains mentioned in the greeting as someone who is writing the letter along with Paul.  Once again Paul speaks to the congregation to encourage them even while they are experiencing a persecution that was real and was felt tangibly.  Family members were dying and they felt as if their lives were in danger every time that they left their home.  But they had not lost their faith and so Paul wanted to encourage them and let them know that they are not going through this alone.  I see you, I see the lives that you live and how you are keeping the faith.  But continue to keep the faith.

In Psalms 79 and 80 we do have a lament followed by a lament.  In 79 we read its sense in vs.9 where we read: “Hel us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name.”  The point is that if God’s people suffer then how in the world will those who follow idols evern come to believe in a God who allows His people to suffer.  That simply doesn’t work.  But we just heard Paul say that there is redemption and value in suffering and in fact, if you do suffer then it is proof that you are one of God’s children.  I’m guessing the converse can be true which ought to catch our attention.

August 30, 2022: Day 186 – I Thessalonians 1-5 and Philemon

We finally find ourselves back to the New Testament.  Paul is writing to the church in Thesallonica.  He loves this church with all of his heart and mind.  He wanted to go and visit it but was not able to so he sent Timothy instead.  In this letter to the church we find the verses that people have used over time to speak about what we would call in modern day the “rapture”.  Look at I Thessalonians 4:13-5:5 where we read that with the sound of God’s trumpet the dead in Christ will rise first and then those who are alive will be caught up in the clouds with him.  

I do believe that the rapture is more of a theological contrivance that for some reason has become in the mind of many people the Gospel truth.  If you continue in chapter 5 we read that not only do we not know when this is going to happen, like a thief in the night, we don’t even know how it is going to happen.  We do know that Jesus is coming back, but he did not give us a blueprint on what it is going to look like when he comes back.  He just tells us to be ready.  I know, this may not be a super popular approach, but I don’t see anything else in Scripture that comes even close to describing what some would call a rapture and these verses are very suspect in regards to a rapture.

Philemon is Paul writing to the owner of a slave to consider his slave as his own flesh and blood.  There is a lot of problems in Paul not condemning slavery, I wish he would have.  But Jesus’ words and the basic moral fabric of humanity  speaks not only against slavery but against any form of thinking that would elevate one race over another.  That is clear from Scripture.  

August 29, 2022: Day 185 – Daniel 11-12 and Psalms 76-78

We come to an end with the book of Daniel and it remains its apocryphal writing with the archangel Michael making an appearance.  There is found descriptions of many different nations from the north, south, east and west who try to have influence over other nations, succeed for a season, and then fall into desolation.  It seems to be an unpredictable cycle which can be predicted in that every single nation will find its demise over time.  That’s a good reminder to us as well.  

The Psalms take us to remember the time that Israel served in captivity in Egypt and then was led out by God as an attempt to remember the faithfulness and the consistent deliverance of the Lord over history.  We serve a God who will deliver, that seems to be the theme and the reminder to each of us.  

August 27, 2022: Day 184 – Daniel 6-10 and Psalm 75

There are a lot of horns mentioned here in Daniel and then again also in Psalm 75.  We begin with the famous story of Daniel in the lion’ den.  Daniel, much like Joseph, is given a lot of power in the land of Babylon even though he was an exile from Judah.  So, keep in mind that Daniel is foreigner and yet the king gives him this extraordinary power.  The king is about to give him not only regional power, but is about to transition him to national power.  The other regional leaders were not crazy about this at all so they conspire against him.

It does work and the king is forced to throw Daniel into the lion’s den.  It didn’t hurt Daniel, but it sure did hurt those who set him up, as well as their children and wives.  Pretty brutal imagining what the lions did to them.  From that folksy tale we move to images and apocryphal writings that describe glorified men, beasts with metal teeth, and horns that have eyes and think for themselves.  All very surreal, but each of these images depicts a person and a country over which it will rule.  The horns always describe enemy or neighboring countries and their attempt to make an impact on history.


August 26, 2022: Day 183 – Daniel 1-5 and Psalm 74

We begin a book of the Bible where the people of Judah find themselves as exiles in the land of Babylon.  We begin with the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, who has chosen Daniel to train in culture and language.  We assume that with culture and language comes also the necessity to learn the religious cultures of the people which really comes into play in this book of the Bible.

Daniel ends up interpreting ala Joseph style a dream that the king had, not a great dream, and so is made overseer of much of the territory of Babylon.  At the same time he has some friends whom he brings along as those who are helping him interpret.  But, these friends get into hot water with the king becasue they do not bow down to him and are thrown into a fiery furnace which really doesn’t hurt them at all.  In fact, God uses it as a witness example to bring the king to a knowledge of him.

Psalm 74 the author beseeches God for protection against those who are seeking violence against him.  The psalm is written in a way that reflects upon the history of the Lord which allows the author to state: “But you, O God, are my king from of old.”  There does seem to be a lot of demanding in this Psalm from the author to God, but he does seem a bit desperate.

August 25, 2022: Day 182 – Malachi 1-4 and Psalm 71 and 73

Malachi is an interesting book of the Bible because it really addresses one specific issue within the life of the Israelites and that was the tithe that the people of God were bringing to the Lord.  He accuses them, and I have to assume rightly so, of bringing in lame and blind animals when they were supposed to be bringing in the best of their flocks.  He lets the community know that if they want to be made right before God then their tithe has to be complete and it has to be the best that they have to offer.  That is the only way to be restored to the Lord.

Psalms 71 and 73 as Psalms where the author reaches back and remembers the faithfulness of God from the time that he was born to this present time in his life.  He mentions that God has brought him out of the womb and even now it is good for him to be near the Lord.  

August 23, 2022: Day 181 – Ezekiel 46-48 and Psalms 67-70

We come to the end of Ezekiel and it continues to describe the measurements of the temple and the city of God.  Notice that every single tribe of Israel is involved either in the naming of the gates or in understanding their portion.  The last line of this book of the Bible simply states that the city will be called “The Lord is there”.  That’s a great way to end a book of the Bible is to affirm the presence of the Lord in that city which was built by the hands of the people of God.

We then have to cover some of the psalms that were considered optional and yet were not yet covered.  Thank you Lois Mellinger for going over every single Psalm that we have read and picking out those that were listed as optional, or not listed at all, and identifying those that we will not be reading during our 9 month Bible reading challenge.  I want to make sure that we read every single word of the Bible and this ensures that we will.

Psalm 67 and 68 gives us Psalms of praise and they both extol the majesty and the power of God.  Psalm 69 is a bit of a psalm of lament where the author asks God to save him and to come and redeem him because: “the waters have come up to my neck.”  I’m guessing we have all felt that way at some time in our lives.  Psalm 70 states very clearly that it is a Psalm of petition where the author is asking God for something which is to be saved.  He also asks for God to be speedy when he comes to save him.

August 22, 2022: Day 180 – Ezekiel 41-45 and Psalm 66

The measuring of the temple continues, and to be honest, it is done without much enthusiasm.  That is until we get to chapter 43 where we see the glory of the Lord, the actual presence of the Lord appear from the East.  It is interesting because God himself states that the soles of his feet will tread upon the ground that was measured.  Look at 43:7 where he states: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet.  This is where I will live with the Israelites forever.”  Once again it should be clear as to why the wailing wall is so powerful.  The promise is that  God will live forever in the temple.  But today the temple is no more.  How long is forever for?

We then find commands on what to do with those who will be serving the Lord.  Those for whom their portion is God and God alone.  They do not have a section of the promised land carved out for them like every other tribe of Israel.  The Levites have as their portion the Lord and the Lord alone.  

When we read Psalm 66 it is a clear psalm of praise.  There are shouts of celebration and reminders of who God is and what God has done for us in the past (led us through dry ground as we escaped from the Egyptians), to what God will do in the future (never rejecting our prayer or witholding his love for us).  


August 20, 2022: Day 179 – Ezekiel 36-40 and Psalm 65

There are some chapters in this section that we would do well to remember.  The first is chapter 36 which speaks of a new covenant that God has made with us in Jesus Christ.  Now, let’s be clear, Jesus is never mentioned, but the new covenant is mentioned.  We know that the new covenant came with Christ.  Listen to some of the characteristics of this covenant starting at vs.26: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…

That is followed up with the vision of the valley of dry bones that show that one day God will renew the people of Israel and will take them out of captivity and slavery into a full life.  Both of these chapters are probably the most memorable ones in all of Ezekiel, so we would do well to know them, even if that means reading them again.  

Psalm 65 depicts a God who loves us so much that he not only nourishes us but also nourishes the land and the animals where we live.  That sounds  lot like Lancaster county.  We are definitely blessed here in so many ways.