19 November 2010

Nov 19

Reference links:
Old Testament

Reading and writing about the Bible is hard after watching some Cosmos. When I hear about the richness of the vision of universal origins proposed by science (the rich, factually plausible visions of universal origins), the view of the world and the universe presented in the Bible seems so flat, petty, uninspired, and without basis. But in any case, less than a month and a half of the Bible left, so I will persevere.

And with that I bring you... more prophecy against Gog. Goody gumdrops. Once God has destroyed Gog, the Israelites will gather all of the weapons for 7 years worth of firewood. Then they will spend months burying the dead. Birds will be called to eat the dead flesh. And this, of course, is all so God can prove how powerful he is. (If God were really godlike, you would think he would realize he has nothing to prove.)

And then Israel will be restored. This is sounding almost painfully familiar. Although today's reading does have the interesting variation that Ezekiel's God claims that none of his people will be left behind when Israel is restored. This seems at contrast with the many declarations that only a remnant will be restored.

We end today's reading with a list of detailed measurements of the restored temple.

New Testament

The author of James continues to emphasize the importance of good deeds as a demonstration of faith. Unfortunately, he rather weakens his case by bringing up Abraham's willingness to murder his son when so ordered as an example of a "good" deed. The author's point was that faith and actions complete each other, but still, bad example in my opinion.

The author of Hebrews then discourages most people against becoming religious leaders because they will be held to higher standards (by other people? by God? it is not specified). This leads in to a discussion about the importance of controlling what you say, summed up with:
For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
Not a bad piece of advice generally although the author starts to wander into the woods a bit when he starts talking about how the tongue is evil and full of poison. That seems to be a bit of rhetorical exaggeration. Like people, the tongue is not all good or all evil.

Today's reading ends by contrasting wisdom from God (peace loving, gentle, willing to yield, merciful, full of good deeds, etc.) with bad wisdom (jealous, selfish, earthly, unspiritual, demonic). Not surprisingly, I think this is, once again, something of a false dichotomy. The very same traits that can be good in some situations (e.g., being willing to yield) can be terrible in others, and sometimes bad traits (e.g., selfishness) can be beneficial.

Psalms and Proverbs

Rotten governments are easily toppled; wise governments are stable.