Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 171

The scriptures read are Nehemiah 7-9, Psalm 139 and 1 Corinthians 14.

Nehemiah 7. The gates are finished and we get a rundown of those who returned from Babylon.

Nehemiah 8. Ezra reads the Torah and the people cry. Ezra reminds them "The joy of the Lord is your strength." We need to be reminded of that as well.

The people celebrate Sukkoth or the Feast of Booths.

Nehemiah 9. The people come in sackcloth and ashes and confess their sins. The Levites say a rather lengthy prayer recapping Hebrew history from Abraham to the present. They draw up a pledge...

Psalm 139. God is omniscient and omnipresent. He knows everything, even about ourselves, and has done so since before we were born. That's comforting or not depending on how much you trust God.

1 Corinthians 14. How does Paul follow up his eloquent chapter on Christian love? He writes of the controversy about speaking in tongues, another divisive issue. Paul speaks in tongues but realizes that if it doesn't edify the church, it should be saved for personal and not public spiritual refreshment. Clear preaching is more useful to those meeting together.

Worship being his focus, Paul gives practical tips to keep the services from being either chaos or the same old, same old. And, as Peterson translates it: "Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could be more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home." Which fits with what Paul says in chapter 11, namely, that women could prophesy (preach) and pray in church, provided they covered their heads. As for the disruptions, perhaps they arose because women weren't really allowed to participate in Jewish worship and now that they were free to do so, they were interrupting the service with questions and comments. All Paul is saying here is, "handle those things elsewhere; when worshiping, focus on God and not other details." One thing he is not doing is telling women to never speak in church. That's poor hermeneutics.  

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