Simon's blog

1 Samuel 8:6-9: God as Jewish mother

What they said seemed wrong to Samuel; they’d said “Give us a king to call the shots for us.”
So the LORD said to Samuel, “Take in what the people are saying and give them what they want - it isn’t you that they’ve rejected, they have rejected me as king over them.
Just like every single thing that they have done, from the moment that I brought them out of Egypt until this very day, they have forsaken me and served other gods - just like they’re now doing to you.

Ruth 2:10-12: We've heard this story before

And Ruth prostrated herself on the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favour in your eyes, and why are you taking such notice of me, even though I am a foreigner?”

Boaz answered him, “I’ve heard time and time again about all that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and went to a people that you did not know.

May the LORD repay you for your work! And may you be rewarded with full payment from the LORD God of Israel, to whom you have come to take refuge under His wings!”

Joshua 6:17,21: Genocide

Well, my plan was to do Joshua 8:33-35, which is a nice happy passage, but that felt like cheating. There are gory bits in the Bible too, and a fair study has to at least have a crack at dealing with them. So here we go:

“The city has to be blotted out, it and all that is in it, and set aside for the LORD - apart from Rahab the prostitute, and everyone who lives in her house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.”

Deuteronomy 30:1-4: The naughty step

When all these words will have come true for you, the blessing and the curse that I have put before you, and you’ve brought them back to your mind in all the countries that the LORD your God has scattered you to,
Then if you and your families come back to the LORD your God, and listen to my voice and all that I command you today with your whole heart and soul,
Then the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and show love to you and bring you all back together from all the people that He scattered you amongst.

Job 16:2: With friends like these

Taken out of order, for hopefully obvious reasons.

I’ve heard it all before, you bunch of misery-makers.

When reading the stories from the Bible it’s important to know what it is that you’re actually reading. If something presents itself as history then you should read it differently to something that presents itself as poetry. Unfortunately it’s not always obvious what bits of the Bible are, so you have to guess from clues. There are plenty of clues, for instance, that the book of Job is a pantomime. It is cosmic Punch-and-Judy. Everything is big and bold and caricatured. Read more about Job 16:2: With friends like these

Leviticus 16:7-10: Two goats

Oops, forgot to hit “publish” on this yesterday…

He is then to take two male goats, and make the goats stand before the LORD at the entrance to the Meeting Tent,
and then he is to put two lots over the goats: one lot for the LORD, one lot for Azazel.
Then is then to offer up the goat which has the LORD’s lot over it, and make it a sin offering,
And the goat which has Azazel’s lot over it should stay alive, right before the LORD, and should be sent off to Azazel in the wilderness for forgiveness.

Yesterday I sat down to write my devotion and thought, “Why on earth did I choose that passage from Exodus?” But I soon remembered. Today I sat down and thought, “Why on earth did I choose that passage from Leviticus?” I am still not sure. I think it might be just because the Azalel stuff is intriguing.

Still, this is a good time to remind us all that when people talk about what the Bible says, they generally exercise editorial selection in choosing a passage or set of passages, and this series is no different. If you have a different idea for a walk through the Hebrew Bible, that’s great; make your selection and we can compare them and dialogue together. “The Bible says” is a great way to start a conversation, but an awful way to finish one. Read more about Leviticus 16:7-10: Two goats

Exodus 19:3-6: The net widens

Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying:

“This is what you will tell the clan of Jacob and declare to the descendants of Israel:
You saw what I did to Egypt, and that I lifted you up upon eagles’ wings, and I brought you to me.

And now, if you follow what I’m saying and keep my covenant, then you will be my treasured people out of them all. (Mind you, all the Earth is mine anyway.)

And you will be for me kingdom-priests and a holy nation.

That is what you will say to the descendants of Israel.”

A lot has happened since yesterday’s passage. Abram took the walk with God and became Abraham. God, for his part, kept his promises. God showed himself to be faithful and gracious to one person; He’s established a beachhead for His love invasion, and now it’s time to widen the scope - from one man to a whole nation. It’s an outward, invitational trajectory. Read more about Exodus 19:3-6: The net widens

Genesis 12:1-3 - Love stripped bare

And the LORD said to Abram: “Walk away.

Away from your country,
Away from your relatives,
Away from your father’s house,
To a land that I will make you see.

And I will make you into a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And I will make you famous.

And then, be a blessing.

I will bless your blessers,
But I will have to put a curse upon that man who will not take you seriously.

You are going to become an example of blessing for every family on earth.”

If the Bible is a love story between God and the whole of creation, then we’ve come in at Act 1 Scene 3. So far, it’s not been going so well for God. He has been reaching out to humanity again and again, but again and again He has been rebuffed. Rejected by Adam and Eve, rejected by the people of Noah and the citizens of Babel, the miracle of the Bible, the point of the whole story, is that God keeps trying. He doesn’t give up on us easily.

So here God decides to take a new approach - to start again at zero. Read more about Genesis 12:1-3 - Love stripped bare