Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 162

The scriptures read are 2 Chronicles 32-34, Psalm 131 and 1 Corinthians 6.

2 Chronicles 32. The rest of Hezekiah's story. First we have the threat of Sennacherib. The interesting thing is that we have archaeological evidence of his preparations, namely changing the route of the water supply into Jerusalem. In 1838, this tunnel was found with an inscription of how the tunnel, dug by 2 crews working from each end, found each other and connected the 2 excavations into one tunnel. For more on this, click here.

2 Chronicles 33. Ever notice how good kings often have bad sons and bad kings often have good sons? Then as now, kids rebel against their parents. Manasseh undoes everything his dad accomplished and even resumes the practice of sacrificing his sons in fire--in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, known in Jesus' day as Gehenna, his term for hell. (Also by then it was the town dump where the fire never went out.) By the way, fertility religions commonly featured human sacrifice (Druids, Aztecs, the association of Dionysus with Demeter in Greek religious rites, etc). They were not nicer than "Sky god" religions. They certainly weren't feminist (the goddesses were literally sex objects) because a fertility religion is fine with the "keep em barefoot and pregnant" philosophy because, you know, fertility! Modern paganism goes back no farther than the early to mid-20th century and is a kinder, gentler, almost fairy tale version of the real thing. (But not like the real fairy tales which are bloody and scary. Read the original Grimm's fairy tales--not for kids!)

The Chronicler reports repentance on Manasseh's part, something not covered in 2 Kings. The Chronicler sees more good in these kings of Judea than the compiler of the books of Kings does.

2 Chronicles 34. Josiah is the last free and good king of Judah. The story of the finding of the Torah (or perhaps just Deuteronomy) during temple renovations is repeated.

Psalm 131. The humble psalmist waits for God and is contented. This is one of the psalms that casts God in the role of mother.

1 Corinthians 6. Christians should not take each other to court. Better to be wronged, says Paul.  Remember that "turn the other cheek" and "settle with your brother" stuff Jesus said? He meant it. Christians suing Christians isn't going to attract converts.

Love Peterson's paraphrase of v. 12: "Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate." A word to the lawyer in our souls that tries to split hairs and justify our hypocrisies.

Which leads Paul back to thinking about soulless sex. Corinth had a huge temple to Aphrodite on the top of the hill that dominated the town. Sacred prostitutes came down to troll for "worshippers." Supposedly they had the words "Follow me" embossed on the soles of their sandals so the message would be imprinted on soil and sand. Neat marketing. But it made it hard to remind Christians that, in Peterson's translation, "There's more to sex than skin on skin." For Christians sex is sacred, too, but it is tied up with marriage and faithfulness. Far from denigrating the body, the Christian view is that it is sanctified by the presence of God's Holy Spirit in us. Sadly, in a few centuries, the Gnostic idea that matter, the body and sex are evil will have crept into the church. Which is why it's important to listen to what Paul is and is not saying.

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