Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 166

The scriptures read are Ezra 7-9, Psalm 135 and 1 Corinthians 10.

Ezra 7-9. Ezra, the lead character, makes his entrance. King Artaxerxes sends him to Jerusalem. I like that after telling the king that God protects his people, Ezra is too embarrassed to ask for an armed escort for the 4 month journey.

Ezra has a very bad reaction to being told that the people, including priests and Levites, have intermarried with the pagans. He's afraid that they will be led away from God by their non-Jewish spouses. After all, that's what happened with the kings from Solomon on. So Ezra asked God for forgiveness.

Psalm 135. Praise to God for all he's done, The psalmist points out that idols, though they have the requisite parts of the body, cannot use them, Then he says that their worshipers would become like them--spiritually blind, deaf and dumb. People not only come to resemble their dogs but also their gods.

1 Corinthians 10. Paul gives some cautionary tales from the past. Don't think God can't snatch the rug from under you if you are bad. The good news is that God gives us help when we are tempted.

But food should not be treated as a matter of damnation. Paul here shows himself to be on the side of those who thinks we needn't abstain from meat offered to idols--so strongly that Paul says eat whatever is offered to you. But not if your host is going on and on about how they were sacrificed to Dagon or such. Or, based on the discussion earlier, if you are being watched by a picky fellow-Christian, whose faith might be shaken by what he considers a casual attitude towards the issues. Exceptions and nuances in Paul? You betcha! People listen to Paul and hear what they want to. But that's the price of being a smart and subtle thinker.

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