Father Steve’s Bible Study Notes for Days 253 – 265

Father Steve’s Bible Study Notes for Days 253 – 265

Notes for Day 253:

Jeremiah 31-33: In Jeremiah 31, we read about the joyful return of the Exiles. Jeremiah 31:8 points to this joyful return of the Exiles. But, I also see this verse as reminding us of our reunion with God, whether when we enter the larger life, or upon the 2nd coming of Christ. In Jeremiah 31:15, we read about “Rachel” weeping for her children. If you remember, Rachel, was the more favored wife of Jacob (Israel) that we read in Genesis 35:10. Rachel was the mother of Joseph & Benjamin. In Jeremiah 31:31-37, we again read why it is important as Christians to read the Old Testament. I draw your attention to Jeremiah 31:31-34. This should sound familiar. Look at Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:5-14; and Hebrews 8:8-12, 10:16-17. In Jeremiah 32, we read that Jeremiah buys a field during the siege from his cousin Hanamel. The field is bought for seventeen shekels of silver, about 7 ounces. In Jeremiah 32:16-25; we have Jeremiah praying to the LORD. In Jeremiah 32:26-44, we read about the response from God to Jeremiah’s prayer. God is going to come down on the people for their disobedience, but God also promises a restoration in which the covenant will be renewed. In Jeremiah 33, we read about how there will be healing in the land after God’s punishment. I see the grace of God in these verses, and his love for his created order in Jeremiah 33:10-11. It really says much about how God loves what he created in the beginning, and wants to keep loving. In verse 10-11; we read about how God wants to restore gladness to the land that is desolate. In Jeremiah 33:14-26, we read about the righteous branch and the covenant with the Davidic line. 

Hebrews 13:   In Hebrew 13:1-18, we read about that service that is well-pleasing to God. I call your attention to verse 1-2. These two verses plays into the sermon I gave on January 12, 2014, about helping those who show up at our Church with needs. We are not to judge them. You may have heard me as your priest recite Hebrews 13:15-16. This verse is one of the optional offertory passages that can be said in the Episcopal Church. Look at the Book of Common Prayer pages 344 (Rite I) or page 377 (Rite II). The benediction that we read in Hebrews 13:20-21, is also an optional Priestly Blessing that my be given to the congregation by the Priest after Communion.

Notes for Day 254:

Jeremiah 34-35: In Jeremiah 34 we read about the prediction of the death for Zedekiah while he is in captivity. We then read in Jeremiah 34:8-22 about the treacherous treatment of slaves and the broken covenant during the siege of Jerusalem (588 B.C.). King Zedekiah and the population entered into a covenant to release the Hebrew slaves in the hope of gaining God’s help. However, when Nebuchadrezzar. temporarily lifted the siege to oppose an advancing Egyptian army, the people broke their covenantal oath by re-enslaving the slaves they had set free. In Jeremiah 35, the Rechabites are commended for obeying the orders from their ancestor Jonadab, not to drink wine, build a house, or sow seed. They also obeyed the orders to live in a tent. The LORD is pleased that the Rechabites have followed orders.

James 1: Today we begin the Letter of James. The Letter of James was accepted as scripture by the Church in Alexandria in the 3rd century, by the Western Church in the 4th century, and by the Syrian Church in the 5th century. With this said; this letter has remained in the New Testament canons of all Churches. James contradicts Paul’s “Justification by Faith”. It is said that James is identified as the “brother of Jesus” (Galatians 1:19). James became the leader of the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; 21:18). James was martyred before the outbreak of the Jewish war 66-70 A.D.  The Salutation in James 1, begins with; “…To the twelve tribes in Dispersion…” This means it was sent to the Jews who were scattered outside Palestine. James focuses on “work”; the concrete acts of service that “completes” one’s faith commitments (2:22). James 1:2-8, addresses Faith & Wisdom. In James 1:9-11, James says that the rich will “wither away” like the flowers. In 1:12-18, James points to trials & temptations; “Blessed is anyone who endures temptation”. In James 1:19-27, we read about hearing and doing the word. James 1:22-23 talks about being “doers of the word”, and not only hearers.

Notes for Day 255:

Jeremiah 36-38: In Jeremiah 36; we read about the two scrolls that was written and read by Baruch in the temple. The clues to the composition of the book of Jeremiah are contained in chapter 36. The 2nd scroll (re-written 1st scroll) was read after the 1st scroll was burned (Jeremiah 36:27-32). Jeremiah was prevented from entering the temple (Jeremiah 36:5); possibly because of the temple sermon from Jeremiah chapters 7, and 26.  You may remember that Baruch, that we read about as writing and presenting the scrolls in Jeremiah 36; is from the Book of Baruch from the Apocrypha (Deuterocanonical Books) that we read in the Episcopal/Anglican Church. The Apocrypha is normally located between the Old & New Testaments. The number of books in the Apocrypha vary according to the various traditions. However, I am sure most of you have heard of one of the the Apocrypha Books – “Bel and the Dragon”. Bel & the Dragon is also known as “Chapter 14 of the Greek version of Daniel”. In Jeremiah 37:1-10, we read about Zedekiah’ vain of hope. In Jeremiah 37:11-21, Jeremiah is imprisoned and questioned by King Zedekiah. The king questioned Jeremiah secretly in his house as to what the LORD (God) was telling him (Jeremiah). Jeremiah then gives the bad news to Zedekiah. Zedekiah orders that Jeremiah be held and be given a Loaf of bread from the  “baker’s street” everyday; until all the bread from the city is gone. In Jeremiah 38, Jeremiah is thrown into the cistern of Malchiah. Jeremiah was lowered into the cistern by a rope. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, however, Jeremiah sank in the mud (Jeremiah 38:6). In Jeremiah 38;7-13; we read about how Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch; came to the rescue of Jeremiah. Where else do we read in scripture about an Ethiopian eunuch? Look at the Book of Acts 8:27-28.  In Jeremiah 38:14-28, we read about Jeremiah coming to Zedekiah again, after being rescued from the cistern. Zedekiah promises that he will not kill Jeremiah or have any harm come towards him this time for Jeremiah telling him the truth, even thou the news is not good. Jeremiah tells Zedekiah that he must surrender to the officials of the King of Babylon. That is the only way his life will be sparred, and the city not burned. Jeremiah then remained that day in Jerusalem until the day that it was taken. 

James 2: In James 2:1-13, we have a beautiful piece on the warning against partiality. I like what James has to say about those who treat the rich with better respect than the poor. I have no problem with people with money – However; I do have an issue with those who have money think they are better than those without, especially when it comes to the Church. Unfortunately; I have seen this type of behavior at many Episcopal Churches. In James 2:14-26, we turn to the issue of Faith without Works; much of the hallmark of The Letter of James.

Notes for Day 256:

Jeremiah 39-41: In Jeremiah 39, we read about the fall of Jerusalem. Remember; we read this in 2 Kings 25:1-12. Remember how Zedekiah’s sons were murdered by Nebuchadrezzar in front of him (Zedekiah); then Nebuchadrezzar plucked out Zedekiah’s eyes after he murdered his two sons. In Jeremiah 38:11-18, Jeremiah’s life is spared, and he is set free. In Jeremiah 40, we read that the only people left in Judah after the Babylonian exile, were the poor peasants (Jeremiah 40:7). In Jeremiah 41; we read about an insurrection against Gedaliah, under the direction of Ishmael.

James 3: In James 3, we read about “Taming the Tongue”. James points out from the beginning of chapter 3; that not all should become teachers. Basically, James is saying that not all should become ministers of the Gospel (Preachers/Pastors/Priest/Deacons). James says that those who teach, will be judged with greater strictness. What do you think about James 3:8-9?

Notes for Day 257:

Jeremiah 42-43: In Jeremiah 42-43; we read that Jeremiah tells the the survivors of Mizpah and the raid on the land by the king of Babylon (Nebuchadrezzar), that the LORD (God) has told them to stay put, not migrate to Egypt. God; even though he has allowed harm to come to the land of Judah; wants the survivors to rebuild the land. The LORD strictly warns Jeremiah to tell the people, not to go back to Egypt. The people do not listen (Jeremiah 43). 

James 4: In James 4; James examines the causes and effects of divisions in the community. James is clear about those who do not submit themselves to the will of God, and become consumed with Worldly desires, and the sins that they may bring (James 4:1-10). In James 4:11-12, James talks about those who judge others. One time in a Wednesday evening sermon, I mentioned that there are places in scripture that talks about us judging others. There is a definitive line between judging others, and speaking evil against another. The Christian way to judge others is to show, and if necessary, point out another way – to turn, or change behavior. We can pastorally judge others by pointing to the teaching that comes through the Love & Grace of God through Christ. However; we can also allow ourselves to begin speaking evil against another person, or our actions can be seen as “threatening” when we choose to judge the other person in a non-pastoral way. In Matthew 7:1; Jesus does not say that we are not to judge, but that in judging we will also be judged. Jesus also says in Matthew that the “measure with give others” will also be the “measure that we will receive.” So, we are to be careful how we judge others. Do we do it out of Love, expecting the same Love in return? Or, do we judge others with the expectation that we have “sent them packing by convicting them with a Scripture verse”? In James 4:12; we read that there is only one person who has the authority to judge others by “convicting them” with the law & scripture.

Notes for Day 258:

Jeremiah 44-45: In Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah to be passed onto all the Judeans who fled to Egypt against God’s command. Jeremiah says that the LORD (God) is not happy with the persistent idolatry that the Jewish refugees are doing in Egypt. We again see that the word “queen of heaven”.  If we return to Jeremiah 7:18; we remember that the woman were kneading dough in order to make cakes for the queen of heaven”.  The queen of heaven was the Assyro-Babylonian  goddess “Ishtar”; an astral deity associated with Venus. She was a goddess of both war and fertility. In Jeremiah 45:1-5, we read about the word of comfort that comes to Baruch; Jeremiah’s secretary, and companion.

James 5: Today; we close out the Letter of James. In the last chapter of James, we read about the warning to the rich oppressors (verses 1-6); having patience in suffering (verses 7-12), and a prayer of faith (verse 13-19). In James 5:14, we read about what the obligation is in case a member of the Church becomes sick. To relate this verse with our Episcopal/Anglican tradition; this verse says that when someone needs healing; you are to call upon the priest of the Church, who will pray over the person, and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. Take a look at the rubrics on page #453 of the Book of Common Prayer; Ministration to the Sick. What do the rubrics say about notifying the minister when someone is sick? For those who do not have a BCP; here is what is said: “In case of illness, the Minister of the Congregation is to be notified.” At no point does the rubric say “should”. Often in some cases, the priest of the congregation is never notified. I have discovered that I had parishioners in the hospital, 3 weeks after they were discharged. In one instance, I brought the issues up to a few previous leaders during a meeting at the Church about not being notified when someone is in the hospital. The response by a male person on the previous leadership team said; “I don’t see why you need to be notified; they are going to die anyway.” Oh well; so goes the life of parish ministry. We should also remember, that our Deacons are very active in the healing ministry.

Notes for Day 260:

Jeremiah 46-47: In Jeremiah 46, we read about the judgement that will come upon Egypt by the LORD.  In Jeremiah 46:15, we see the word “Apis”. Apis was an Egyptian god of fertility worshipped in Memphis as a sacred bull. In Jeremiah 46:27-28, we read that God will save Israel. In Jeremiah 47 we read about the judgement on the Philistines – the imminent attack on Gaza. Gaza was a major Philistine city. In Jeremiah 47:5; we read that Ashkelon is silenced. Ashkelon is destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar in 604 B.C.

1 Peter 1: Today we begin reading the First Letter of Peter. From the salutation in 1:1-2 and final greeting 5:12-14; 1 Peter gives the information concerning the letter’s origin and provides clues about its author and date. The verse say it was sent by the Apostle Peter from Rome to Christians in five areas of Asia Minor. The author calls Rome “Babylon” (5:13). This was a name frequently used for Rome in Jewish and Christian tradition after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. First Peter, by the salutation indicates that Christianity was widespread in Asia Minor, when the letter was written. This was probably the result of Paul’s preaching there in the 60’s. Biblical scholars say that the date and high quality of the Greek suggest that 1 Peter is pseudonymous (Written by someone else, but giving the credit to Peter.)  The purpose of this letter were directed towards the social tensions and the suffering reflected. The letter is placed in a social context whose core values were being rejected (1:18, 4:3-4). Christians faced the problem of slander and misunderstanding from their neighbors. First Peter was intended to be a circular letter addressed to Christian communities scattered over the northern half of Asia Minor.  In 1 Peter 1; we read about a “Living Hope” (3-12) that comes through faith in Jesus. What do you think of 1 Peter 1:8?; “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”   In 1 Peter 1:13-25; we read about a “Holy Living”. We are reminded about how our salvation was “purchased” in 1 Peter 1:19.

Notes for Day 261:

Jeremiah 48-49: In Jeremiah 48, we read about the judgement on Moab. Moab was an historic enemy of Israel and often receiving prophetic condemnation. In Jeremiah 48:7, we hear that “Chemosh” shall go out in exile. Chemosh; was the national deity of Moab (1 Kings 11:7). In Jeremiah 49, we read about the judgement on the Ammonites, Edom, Damascus, and Elam. Just a few things to point out in Jeremiah 49:7-22. Edom; was a bitter rival of Israel. Tradition traced Edom’s origins back to Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (Israel), who stole Esau’s birth right (Genesis 25:19-28). Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23-33) was,and still is the capital city of Syria (1 Kings 11:24; 15:18; 19:15; 20:34; 2 Kings 8:7,0; 16:10-12; Isaiah 7:8). Damascus was conquered by the Assyrians in 733-732 B.C.; and became the center of a  province ruled by successive empires. 

1 Peter 2: In 1 Peter 2, we read about “growing into” our salvation. We also hear about the “Living Stone”, that being Jesus. We as committed Christians are a chosen people to follow the “Living Stone”. In 1 Peter 2; we see that we are allowed to live free, but this freedom is not a pretext for doing evil. In 1 Peter 2:18-25, we read about how we are to also follow in Christ’s suffering. We show that we are living in the examples of Christ; when we also suffer. How does that make you feel?

Notes for Day 262:

Jeremiah 50-51: Jeremiah 50 & 51 deals with the judgement on Babylon. A thing to remember is that prior to the fall of Jerusalem,, the prophet Jeremiah spoke favorably of Babylon. King Nebuchadrezzar is the servant of God, and the Babylonians are the instrument of God’s will. The exiles are to pray for Babylon, and Judah should submit to Babylonian rule. After the fall of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah may have changed his views. Maybe what Jeremiah sees is the devastation of the nations because of the arrogance of the Babylonians. The Babylonian empire fell in 539 B.C. to the Persians. Shortly thereafter, Cyrus, the Persian king, allowed the Jews to return home (Ezra 1:1-4). Jeremiah 51 ends (verses 59-64) with Jeremiah’s command to Seraiah. Seraiah was a quartermaster (maintainer of supplies), and also the brother of Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary. We read in that Jeremiah ordered Seraiah to read a scroll to the Babylonians  warning them about the disaster that was to come to them. Sarraiah was to then tie a stone to the scroll and throw it in the Euphrates. We remember that the Euphrates river runs through the middle of current day Iraq. We also remember that the Jews went into exile in Babylon, which is the current day Iraq.

1 Peter 3: 1 Peter 3, begins with the typical patriarchal Greco-Roman culture. Wives are to be subordinate in the household. 1 Peter 3:7, also reminds the husbands that they are to show consideration to their wives, paying honor to them, because they are the “weaker sex”  In 1 Peter 3:8-22, we read that a Christian suffers for doing right; “But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed.”

Notes for Day 263:

Jeremiah 52: In Jeremiah 52,;we have the destruction of Jerusalem reviewed. We also read a brief summary of the reign of Zedekiah.  In Jeremiah 52:31-34; we read about how Jehoiachin was favored in captivity.

1 Peter 4:  In 1 Peter 4; we read about being “good stewards” of God’s grace. 1 Peter 4:1; may seem confusing when you first read it; “…arm yourselves with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin),” What this verse means is that either those who are baptized are freed from sin’s power (Romans 6:7) or that Christ by carrying sins to the cross has dealt with them once for all. Basically, the “last word” on the cross, were our sins that Christ took to his death. The pain & suffering that Christ went through finished with our sins. In 1 Peter 4, we are told that we as Christians are to live a moral life that is different from others. We read that we are to set ourselves apart from our former selves, and that those who blaspheme us, and our new way of life (Christianity), will stand before judgement (1 Peter 4:4-5).  Again, we are reminded that we will face suffering as Christians; but we are still required to be faithful (1 Peter 4:12-19).

Notes for Day 264:

Lamentations 1-2: Today we begin with the Book of Lamentations. Lamentations are 5 poems that are written in response to an historical disaster. The disaster(s) are the destruction of Jerusalem, the military occupation, and the deportation of Jerusalem’s leading citizens by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The historical background appears in 2 Kings 25:8-21. The book encompasses the sorrows of the world. The book’s name in Hebrew is ‘ekah (“How”),after the initial word in 1:1, and is repeated in 2:1, and 4:1. This book is about a “cry of shock”; similar to a death. This book implies a question: “How could this happen to God’s beloved city?” It is not clear who wrote Lamentations. However, a Greek version of Lamentations contains a sentence not present in the older Hebrew text: “These are the words of the prophet Jeremiah as he sat upon a hill weeping over Jerusalem”. The oldest Hebrew manuscripts of Lamentations do not make any reference to Jeremiah. Many Biblical scholars believe that Lamentations was the work of a survivor (or survivors) of the nation’s destruction. In Lamentations 1:11; do you see any symbolism of the Eucharist? Think about how we come to the Eucharist weekly (sometimes twice weekly), and are refurbished with the Sacrament. We are re-strengthened. In Lamentations 2:1-22; the narrator describes the enormity of Zion’s suffering but now shows sympathy for her pain and accuses God of being merciless and cruel in punishing Zion. Does Lamentations 2:15 sound familiar? Look at Psalm 22:7. 

1 Peter 5: In 1 Peter 5; we read about the responsibility of tending the “flock of God”; those that are put in your charge. This letter is directed more towards the leaders of a congregation. There is a “warning message” in 1 Peter 5:8, for those who will be shepherding a flock.. 1 Peter 5 ends with this letter being delivered by Silvanus.

Notes for Day 265:

Lamentations 3-4: Before we go any further in Lamentations; let us again remind ourselves what a Lamenting Psalm, or poem, is in the Biblical sense. As I pointed out when we studied the Psalms in the past; a Lamenting Psalm begins with a “complaint”, or cry for help. The writer normally transitions from complaining to the person (normally God), and giving thanks for that person (God). We see that also in today’s reading from Lamentations 3. Lamentations 3 involves a new speaker who begins by lamenting his own captivity and torture. However, the speaker transitions in verse 21. Does Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33, sound familiar? If so, it is because these verses from Lamentations are one of the optional readings from the Burial Office in the Book of Common Prayer (Rite I – page 470 & Rite II – page 494). In Lamentations 4:1-22; we read about the final siege of Jerusalem, and the focus on the suffering of the people. In Lamentations 4:3; we read about the people becoming cruel like the “ostriches in the wilderness.” If we remember from Job 39:13-18; ostriches had a reputation of neglecting their young. Lamentations 4 deals with the punishment of Zion.

2 Peter 1: The Second Letter of Peter is in the form of a “testament”; an accounting of Peter’s teaching as he wished it to be remembered after his death (1:12-15). If Peter actually wrote this letter, it would have had to be written before his martyrdom in 64/65 A.D. Most scholars believe it was written after Peter’s death. According to many Biblical scholars; 2 Peter is considered to be the latest book in the New Testament, possibly being written as late as 150 A.D.; but the basis for this though is weak. Maybe the best clue for the writing of 2 Peter comes from 3:3-4; possibly a closer accounting for the actual date would be around 80-90 A.D. 2 Peter faces the problems of Christianity’s twin transition from a Jewish to a pagan context and from the apostolic to the post apostolic age. 2 Peter is written in the form of a letter. Also, Biblical scholars say that parts of 2 Peter are closely related to the Letter of Jude; 2 Peter was dependent of Jude’s letter.  In 2 Peter 1:3-11; Peter stresses both God’s grace and the need for a persistent, and strong moral effort that is needed for Christians to obtain final salvation. In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter says that those who are called to serve Christ, must be eager to affirm that call, and never stumble. In 2 Peter 1:16-21; Peter counters those who said that the apostle’s prediction of Christ’s future coming was their own invention. The apostles were eyewitnesses to his majesty. Their prophetic message is fully confirmed (2 Peter 1:19). 

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