Listening through the Bible [EXPERIMENT] – Day 31

Of course, I’ll probably come up with more once I publish this. For now, though, these are the lessons that stood out to me in my time listening through the Bible. Some are specific. Others, more general. Each probably have more of a backstory than I’m willing to publish right now.

  • God killed people. He killed people supernaturally (the angel of death came and killed the firstborn of the Egyptians; the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up Korah alive to Sheol, he and all his family; fire also came up and consumed a bunch of the men who were sinning). God killed people by telling the Hebrews to do it in battle, by execution, and what seems sort of randomly (running up and down among the camp with swords in Exodus).
  • Don’t “desire” your neighbor’s things. I’m used to hearing the tenth commandment worded as “coveting your neighbor’s” things. The version I’m listening to, though (the NASB), translates it as desire. That hit me harder than covet. I probably covet things other people have a lot too, but I definitely desire more.
  • God gave the Hebrews the land in Canaan not because of what they did or who they were but because God loved them. I noticed this thanks to plowing through so many chapters in each sitting. It’s a repeating refrain that’s not so easy to note if you’re reading chapter by chapter. But it just goes to show that grace was alive and well from the very beginning of history for God’s people.
  • Write God’s law on the tablets of your heart, talk about it on the road, write it on the doorposts (Deuteronomy 11). Christian T-shirts anyone? Bumper stickers? Posters? I kind of haven’t been a fan of those lately. Maybe I’m wrong.
  • Do these things “that it may be well with you.” God’s guidance is for our benefit. He’s not selfish. In helping us, he gets to show off. That’s how he likes to show off.
  • Be careful that you do not add to or take away from the law of God. I don’t know if I have more trouble adding or taking away. I’m bad on both sides. I ignore the parts I don’t want to follow (see the verse at the bottom of this post) but add more explanation to other parts instead of just repeating, exactly – as in, word for word – what the Bible actually says. And I’m not careful about it because I think I know what I’m doing.
  • People often made sacrifices of suckling lambs. Poor lambs! Their lives were cut short so they could be sacrificed. Am I one of those lambs, a life cut short so I can be sacrificed?
  • God has such a rich, diverse personality that it’s easy for us to make him into our own image. It’s easy to think God thinks like me, embracing the parts that fit my concept of God but ignoring or outright discarding the parts that don’t.
  • The David and Bathsheba story still gets me. David, you’re insane. What you did was completely selfish and brutal.
  • Psalms is all about people, most notably David, suffering – because of sin, because of doubt, because of evil around them – and pleading with God for help. I always thought of it more as a book of prayers or hymns. I like it better as a book of suffering and pleading. Is that okay?
  • “If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.” (Psalm 62:10) It’s easy to be the rich young ruler. It’s hard to follow Jesus’s example.
  • Ezekiel is written in first-person. I don’t think this stands out to me as much when I’m reading it. Listening, though, highlights this for me. I like it. Ezekiel felt more personal to me this time.
  • The Gospels are surprisingly short compared to the rest of the Bible. So is the book of Ruth. If we’re going to be congruent in our belief that it’s all inspired, shouldn’t we do a better job keeping the emphasis even? Why don’t I know anything about Zephaniah?
  • The best sermon ever preached is in Acts 2. Okay, maybe it’s not the best one, just my favorite, I think. It’s an outstanding model for what the Bible is about. The famed “Sermon on the Mount” gets more at what Jesus was about.

Last but not least, the verse that stood out the most to me out of all of them this time around (and somehow it came up at a Sunday service during the month too):

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” -Matthew 13:44