Category Archives: Bible Study

Destroy All the Wicked

I’m reading through the Psalms for Lent, and there are passages here that call for the utter destruction of one’s enemies. Some people have had a hard time reconciling this kind of destruction with an all-good God. Theories have been suggested that he was responding in this way due to the culture of the times.

But perhaps there’s another way to look at it…

Break the arms of the wicked and depraved; make them account for their crimes; let none of them survive. –Ps 10:15

Suppose God changes their hearts such that they aren’t wicked and depraved any longer. Wouldn’t that also be “destroying the wicked”? The “wicked and depraved” would no longer survive (although the reformed and repentant person/people would).

The Prodigal Son

I was reading a children’s book on the Prodigal Son and one sentence stopped me in my tracks. “So the man divided all he had between his sons.”

Wait. What?

I had always thought that when the Prodigal asked for his portion, the father just gave his portion to the younger son. And the older son didn’t get anything at that time (the father retained the rest of his wealth). So, I could kind of see why the older brother got upset when the father threw a party for the return of the younger brother. Not only did he get his inheritance before he should have, but he got a party, too.

But if they both got their inheritance before they should have… This could change things.

So, I looked up Luke 15:11+ in various version of the Bible. Sure enough, *both* brothers got their inheritance.

Now, I don’t really get why the older brother is so upset. The father’s just not commenting on what each son did with his inheritance. He’s only celebrating because the younger son is back. All this time, the older brother *had* his inheritance and could have thrown parties left and right if he wanted to.

Thanks be to God for children’s books. They teach me stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

Continuing App Testing

Here it is! Day 2 of my Scripture app testing! The one I’ve been trying out is Verse-a-Day. So far, it seems okay. It displays a new verse, daily (so I guess the advertising was correct, LOL!) on a widget on my phone. I don’t have to open an app (which I wouldn’t remember to do), but I do have to slide my phone screen to that page (as I just couldn’t bring myself to delete the apps I use all the time from my home screen). While it works, I may try a few more apps out there to see if there is one that works better for me. Plus, I think most of the people in my small group have iPhone and I need to step up and do more research for ‘Droid. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s today’s Scripture (well, not the “Readings of the Day,” but what the app gave me to chew on):

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net. — Psalm 25:14

I think this is like a goal: to be as aware as the psalmist is of his proper place in his relationship with God, and his confidence that God will protect him. It is a solid faith. I think I go between, “Oh, yes, this is me!” and “Man, I wish I were there!” depending on the day.

I like taking the time in the morning to thing about these Scriptures, but I found out yesterday that as soon as I log off the blog and quit looking at the phone, I don’t recall what the Scripture was and don’t think about it again for the rest of the day. So, now the challenge is to find a way to remind myself of that Scripture throughout the day.

Any suggestions?

What a Start!

Last night at Alpha, we were discussing different ways to help us to read Scripture on a daily basis. I said that I needed something that would text me a verse or so daily — something in-your-face that I couldn’t easily ignore. E-mails can be quickly deleted, and if it’s a program that I have to access… well, I probably wouldn’t be accessing it.

So, we decided that each of us would take a look at the various apps out there and try one out this week and report back to the group our recommendations. I haven’t yet found one that will text you the daily Bible verse, but I did find one that has a widget for your phone, so that the verse appears on the screen, without you having to open the app every day — a little better. ๐Ÿ™‚ This particular app has a few Bible translations which you can select (it’s a Protestant app), and I chose for it to give me the ESV, as Dr. Williamson has used that one in our Scripture classes at seminary before, and I think it is similar to the RSV translation.

Today’s Bible verse is rather appropriate to the task of Scripture meditation, I think:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. — Psalm 19:14

Also, a needed call for me to refocus on God’s path and not be distracted by the things in life which either don’t really matter, or which are harmful to me.

I also suggested that we e-mail each other throughout the week to keep each other encouraged. I guess I’m high-maintenance or something, but I think that accountability is key, especially if you are trying to form new habits. Perhaps what our group is doing at Alpha is a little more like discipling than evangelization, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Whatever brings you closer to the Lord, right?

Riddle Me This

Okay, so I’m reading through the Old Testament and am in the middle of 1 Kings.

Here’s the issue:

15:1-2 — Here we meet Abijam, he rules Judah for 3 years and his mother’s name is Maacah daughter of Abishalom.

15:9-10 — Here we meet Abijam’s son (according to verse 8), Asa. His mother’s name is Maacah daughter of Abishalom.

Wait. What? The same woman?

Is there something Oedipal going on here?

Sammy Qs

I’m reading from 1 Samuel today and I’ve come up with a few questions.

1. In 1 Sam 3:3 it says, “The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the Ark of God was.”

First, what did they mean by “the lamp of God”? And was it something that was allowed to go out at night and be re-lit in the morning?

Second, if he was sleeping where the Ark of God was… Does this mean he was sleeping in the Holy of Holies? Or is it just saying that he was somewhere in the tent? Not that I personally have anything against sleeping snuggled up next to the tabernacle myself… ๐Ÿ™‚ In fact, I often wish that Adoration chapels have little cots and that sleeping in the presence of God was not some frowned-upon event.

2. 1 Sam 3:14, “…the iniquity of the house of Eli will never be expiated by sacrifice or offering.”

This seems quite harsh. What does this mean for the hope of salvation for the sons of Eli? Is it possible to still hope that they had a last-minute conversion of heart at the point of death?

Also, this both makes me think seriously about the sins that I commit — I would never want God to say that of me — and be ever grateful that we have recourse to the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Later in the text, Samuel relays to Eli what God had said, and he replies, “He is the Lord; He will do what He deems right.”

What an amazing response! To give your fate over to God like that without whining or pleading? I think this is overlooked by so many people. I know I have read it many times without really understanding what it must have taken for Eli to respond in this way. For me, my priest has instructed me to pray for holy indifference, so that I can pray as Mary did, “Let it be done to me according to Your will.” In this, I can only hope and pray that I will one day be able to put my fate in the Lord’s hands so completely, with holy indifference and complete trust that His plan is the best for me. I know this intellectually, but emotionally, I still have my preferences.

As Catholics, Can We Pray for God’s Forgiveness for the Sins of Others?

Here’s the question: The acknowledgement of the sins of his ancestors and asking for forgiveness for those sins constitute a large portion of Nehemiah’s prayer in Neh 1:4-11. During the 2000 Jubilee Year celebrations, Pope John Paul II asked God’s forgiveness for sins committed by Catholics over the last two millennia. In your opinion, is it ever possible for a later generation to ask forgiveness for the sins committed by earlier generations? In what ways can that be redemptive and healing?

My answer: I would imagine that if Pope John Paul II saw that asking God’s mercy and forgiveness for sins of the past was a worthwhile endeavor, I wouldn’t have any reason to think that this might not be efficacious. For individuals who have passed, we can merit indulgences and perhaps ease their way through Purgatory. I think we are probably more connected than we think — as the body of Christ — and if the sin of one can affect all, perhaps the repentance of one can also be universally applicable. Even in my own body, if it is my hand which sins, it is still my tongue which confesses. This can be redemptive in ways we do not fully understand. But if Jesus took upon Himself all of our sins, and if we are to conform ourselves to Him, perhaps there is not only something known as redemptive suffering, but also redemptive repentance. I think it can be healing precisely in the fact that it underlines our unity in Christ and encourages us in our love of neighbor. Our neighbors are not just those who are temporally proximal to us, but all people in all times.

Reflections and Questions on Revelation

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Since I have a flaw in me that makes me like to finish things, especially tasks on a list, I have been working on finishing up some things from last semester, including some Bible study questions from Revelation.

What made me write this post was a question from one of the “Application” sections:

In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was carried by the people of God into their greatest battles. What are the ways we can carry Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant, with us in the spiritual battles we face today? — Jeff Cavins and Thomas Smith, 34.

Early last week, I had this freaky dream. The dream itself wasn’t particularly scary yet rather intense and bewildering, but believe me when I say that I woke up immediately and could not shake this sense of fear and even a sense of the presence of something evil. So I spoke to my bedroom saying something like, “If there’s anything in here which is not of God, leave now! Because He is more powerful than you and will not let anything bad happen to me!” I felt a little better, but was still uneasy. I started praying a string of Hail Marys, over and over. I peeked into every room in my house, just to make sure things “looked normal.” This is not normal behavior for me.

By the time I came home from work, things were fine. Later in the week, I had a meeting with my spiritual director. She asked if I had had my house blessed (not yet), and suggested that I do so, and also that I speak with one of my pastors because he believes that dreams mean something. I got to talk with him yesterday, and he said that while he didn’t want to place too much emphasis on this, evil was real. Then, he prayed a blessing over me.

Reading the question, I realized that I had been doing that: bringing the new Ark into my spiritual battle. Sadly, I do not yet have the devotion to our Blessed Mother that I would like, but I know that when I am frightened or very sick, I still turn and run to my Mother for comfort. She’s a good one to run to. ๐Ÿ™‚


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. — Rev. 21:1

I don’t think this means that there will not be a beach or an ocean in Heaven. At least I hope not, since I love to swim! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think this was more meant as an idiom, since the sea represented the feared unknown, “Here there be monsters,” and all that. So, with the coming of the new heaven and new earth, there will no longer be any fear or anything which is not known.


Throughout Revelation we have seen many temple furnishings (like the ark and the altar) and the heavenly Temple itself. In God’s new heaven, a temple cannot be found (21:22). What new reality has replaced the image and symbol of a temple? — Jeff Cavins and Thomas Smith, 49.

The Lord Jesus and God the Father are our new temple. We will worship in them and upon their foundation, within their light and place ourselves upon their altar, as a complete gift of ourselves to them.


Here’s another question that I have: the juxtaposition of

they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads; — Rev 9:4

with

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot either see or hear or walk; nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their immorality or their thefts. — Rev 9:20-21.

v. 4 seems to be saying that those who are not marked as belonging to God would be the ones who would experience the plagues. However, v. 20-21 make it seem like the ones who SURVIVED the plagues were those who did NOT follow God. Now, I am confused.


Update, based on the comment below:
Rev 9:4 vs. Rev 9:20-21

Why Christ crucified?

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Jesus crucified. God crucified. I think the emphasis here is because of the assumption of Christianity on the part of Paul’s audience. To emphasize the resurrection would be to try to make a point of His divinity, or at least His favor with God. To emphasize His crucifixion, I think, is to highlight the very first days of the covenant made with Abraham.

And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chalde’ans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in two, and laid each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. — Genesis 15:7-10, 17

In these days, a covenant was formed in this manner between two peoples, and whoever would violate the covenant would bring about the same fate upon himself as that of the animals cut in two.

And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant which they made before me, I will make like the calf which they cut in two and passed between its parts — Jeremiah 34:18

So man, as the party who violated the covenant, needed to die because the covenant was broken. In order to fulfill the covenant so that a new covenant could be created, one of the parties needed to die — to fulfill the covenant curse. While we were the ones who deserved death, God died in our stead.
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It also points to how we are to live in Christ now. We hope to God’s mercy when we die, so that we may live with Him in His glory forever. But for now, we look to His Son. In particular, we look to His Son on the cross, which is the best example of self-giving love that the world has ever seen. Think not to your own comfort, but give everything for the good of others. Be ridiculed and mocked, so that they can come to know Truth. Allow yourself to be beaten and scourged, so that they can have access to a Love which heals all hurts. Wear their crown of thorns, so that they can have their own minds be filled with Wisdom. Carry for them the dead weight of their troubles and sins. Have your hands and feet be bound to a tree with spikes, so that they can experience freedom. Experience a moment of feeling abandoned by the Father, so that they may know they are never alone. Give up your Spirit, so that they may receive it.

He did not just allow blood to flow from His wounds so as to heal ours, but squeezed out every drop.

This is the kind of life we are called to lead. If God sees to the birds of the air and the lilies in the field, certainly He can take care of our needs; so we have no reason to dwell on our needs, but can look solely to our neighbor in love and ask ourselves, “How can I squeeze out some of my blood on his behalf, to make his lot in life a little easier?” Not a passive bleeding, as in handing over the spare five you happen to have in your wallet, or giving away clothes you don’t wear any more — although these are not bad things to do. But what can you do that will really be a sacrifice? What’s going to make you stop and think about it, and then deliberately decide that the person is far greater and far more worthy than any object, amount of wealth, amount of time, amount of effort that you could possibly relinquish?

And when you have done something really worthy of being called Love, seek out another situation, another person to Love, another instance where you can pour out the blood of your life for someone else.

For your blood is not your own; it is His. Your life is His life in you.

And He wants it to fall upon all His people.

A Density of Questions on 2 Corinthians

Why does Paul use the same word so densely? In the greeting, endurance 10 times? By the end, I have lost all sense of what the word means. And why would boasting be a persuasive argument? It is like advertising? The “superapostles” were going around preaching “Ivory soap — 99.75% pure!”? Paul: “Bah! Mine is 100% pure and more effective to boot!”? Maybe a silly question, but is “boasting in the Lord” similar to “giving witness/testimony” to the way God has worked in your life? With the “no, no,” “yes, yes,” and “yes, no” section (2 Cor 18-19), is this like accusing a politician of “waffling” and thus being untrustworthy?

If people question that 2 Cor could not be one coherent letter because of breaks in theme, tone, etc., they have not read one of my e-mails. LOL! And now to talk about…vegetables…. It’s all related, just maybe not that clear to others, but perfectly okay in my head. I get that. ๐Ÿ™‚