017 | Dogs Surround Me

Close up of painting by Oswaldo Guayasamín

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. In reflecting on this passage Kuniholm writes "It's not difficult to see how this psalm relates to Jesus; it's a vivid description of what Jesus would experience at his crucifixion."

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? (Psalm 22:1)
According to Matthew in the account he wrote of Jesus on the cross this psalm was on his mind just before his death. In this Psalm written hundreds of years before Jesus walked on this earth we get a glimpse of how he would die. A preview of the horrific physical torture the Son of God would endure.

When I read the accounts of his mock trial, torture, and execution I am overwhelmed by the brutality and incredible physical pain Jesus endured. He was spat on, slapped, beaten, wiped, then nailed to the cross, hanging there bloody and naked for all to see. Dr. C. Truman Davis wrote about the pain, suffering, and ultimate death of Jesus on the cross from a medical point of view in an article published in "Arizona Medicine" back in 1965.

As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerve trunks, which traverse the mid-wrist and hand. As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of this feet. At this point, another phenomenon occurred. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arm, the pectoral muscles, the large muscles of the chest, were paralyzed and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were unable to act. Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, the carbon dioxide level increased in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided."

Spasmodically, He was able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences that are recorded. The first - looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” The second - to the penitent thief: “Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” The third - looking down at Mary His mother, He said: “Woman, behold your son.” Then turning to the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John, the beloved apostle, He said: “Behold your mother.” The fourth cry is from the beginning of Psalm 22: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”"

In reading the scripture that Jesus was thinking about as he was on the cross enduring this unbelievable physical torture and pain we also get a glimpse of what was going on in his mind, the mental pain he was also enduring. We get a psychological picture of what it would be like to have all of the rebellion and evil, all the sin, in the world from the beginning of time to the end, dumped on one individual. We read in this psalm of the agony Jesus felt as God the Father became more distant as all the evil of the world surrounded Jesus while he was dying on the cross.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. (Psalm 22:11-13)

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. (Psalm 22:16)
The only sinless man that will ever live was experiencing all the sin that had ever been committed and all the sin still to be committed. As a result of the presence of evil there was at this and only this moment in time an immense canyon between God the Father and God the Son. As we read in Matthew's account "darkness came over all the land." (Matthew 27:45) Evil was all around Jesus. My own sin, my own rebellion was on his back pushing him down.

We also learn in Psalm 22 that Jesus never turned away from his Father. Under the weight of this evil, the sin of the world, Jesus acknowledges the Father "Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One (Psalm 22:3) ... Yet you brought me out of the womb (Psalm 22:9) ... You are my strength (Pslam 22:19) ... I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you." (Psalm 22:22)

Psalm 22 helps me to understand how Jesus thinks. It gives me the ultimate example of acknowledging God first even in the worst of times, even when I can't sense his presence, even when I think it is over. At the moment of His death on the cross it was over, but not for Jesus. Dr. Davis ends his famous article with these words.

In these events, we have seen a glimpse of the epitome of evil that man can exhibit toward his fellowman and toward God. This is an ugly sight and is likely to leave us despondent and depressed. But the crucifixion was not the end of the story. How grateful we can be that we have a sequel: a glimpse of the infinite mercy of God toward man—the gift of atonement, the miracle of the resurrection, and the expectation of Easter morning."

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016 | Presumptuous? Who Me?

Another feature that makes the psalms so rich in meaning is that they continue the developing story line about Jesus Christ that we've been following throughout the Bible."

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. The above quote is from Kuniholm's introduction to this next group of five passage readings from the Psalms.

on top of the world

In reflecting on Psalm 2 Whitney Kuniholm wrote "...the name given to Jesus, Messiah, means "Anointed One," the very phrase used in this psalm (v.2)".

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, "Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles." (Psalm 2:1-3)

"I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain." I will proclaim the LORD's decree: He said to me, "You are my son; today I have become your father. (Psalm 2:6-7)

Kiss his son, or he will be angry and you and your ways will be destroyed, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:12)
Many times there are different levels on which a passage can be read. These levels are the result of the eternal nature of the words. The words have meaning and purpose in every generation. Here I find at least three levels in Psalm 2. This was a royal psalm written for the coronation of kings in Israel. Specifically for King David and his royal line running through Israel's history. On another level, when this psalm was written it was looking forward in time to the coming royal Son of David, the Anointed One, the Messiah. We learn in this Psalm that the coming Messiah will be the very Son of God. At the same time the Israelites are focusing on the coronation of a king they are getting a preview of God's ultimate plan.

This is a psalm that starts with questions. Questions about authority. Why do kings and rulers of this world put so much stock in their authority, in their power, in their abilities, and ignore the authority of God the creator of this world? Why do they oppose the authority of God's anointed King? Why do they want to be free from the power and authority of God? Why are they so presumptuous?

We get a glimpse of what the kings and rulers of this world and their power and authority really look like to God from his vantage point. A vantage point beyond the physical world outside of space and time by the One who created everything. It looks a little silly. A little presumptuous. It must look like a big waste of time and energy.

The third level I see here in this Psalm has to do with me right now - today. Do I presume to have authority over my life? How do I view my abilities, my power, my authority? How do I view God's ability, power, and authority? Do I oppose God's authority? Under who's authority do I live my life? In who do I take refuge? Do I accept His anointed King?

Who is on top of the world? Who is on top of my world? Who is King?

I can answer these questions right now intellectually in thoughts and words, but do I answer these questions with my actions? Do I submit to God in my actions? In his letter to the Romans Paul urges them to worship God with their bodies.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
Do I offer my body as a living sacrifice? I want to answer yes. This is my goal for today, tomorrow, and the next day. I pray this is my goal for the rest of my life.

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015 | More than 120,000 Spared

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. In reflecting on the Book of Jonah Kuniholm writes "When the skeptical religious leaders of his day asked for miraculous proof of his authenticity, Jesus referred to this Old Testament book."

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." (Jonah 1:1-2)

... Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you." (Jonah 3:1-2)

... The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. (Jonah 3:5)

... When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:10)
In their written accounts of the life of Jesus both Matthew (Matthew 12:38-45) and Luke (Luke 11:29-32) describe an encounter between Jesus and a crowd where he points to the story of Jonah as a sign. A story that the Jewish crowds he was speaking to were quite familiar. In response to repeated requests from the religious leaders of his day for an immediate and spectacular miracle or sign direct from heaven to end all doubt whether he was the Messiah, Jesus points to an old account known very well by his audience. The religious leaders and teachers of the law who were demanding this sign would have read and taught the story of Jonah many times before, which at this point in history was already more than 700 years old. Jesus points to the City of Nineveh and the justice of God.

The Reconstructed Mashki Gate of Nineveh. One of the fifteen gateways of ancient Nineveh. The lower portions of the stone retaining wall are original. The gateway structure itself was originally of mudbrick. A few orthostats can be seen at the right of the passageway. Height of the vault is about 16 feet. Photo from April 1990.

Here we have a city of more than 120,000 people who are pursing violence and evil. A people dedicated to sin. A city who was coming face to face with the justice of God and was doomed to destruction, but something happens, something changes, there is something else they encounter. These 120,000 or more people also came face to face with the incredible love of God. This is a story, among other things, about the justice and love of God.

The verdict of God was clear and the city of Nineveh was doomed. Justice required destruction of the city, but love provided a second chance. This is where a man named Jonah comes into the story. God calls Jonah to deliver a message to the city, but Jonah runs from God. Ultimately after nearly dying in the sea Jonah accepts God's will and goes to Nineveh to deliver the message that they are doomed to destruction. The message and the people's response to it changed everything. Hearing the message the people believed it and turned away from violence and sin. I find it interesting that this response started with the people and ended with the government of the city. It was a bottom up change not a top down change. It was a heart change not a law change. They believed the message from God, expressed sincere sorrow, and turned from evil. In other words they believed, repented, and turned away from their sin. God spared the city from destruction a this time, but it would not extend for eternity. Nineveh would be destroyed and conquered by the Babylonians 200 years later. Eternal salvation was not available yet but it was coming. A greater prophet and messenger was coming. Much greater!

One of my favorite quotes sums up what happen in this account perfectly.

"The wisdom of God has devised a way for the love of God to satisfy the wrath of God without compromising the justice of God."
John Piper didn't say this referring to the account of Nineveh as recorded in this ancient book titled Jonah. He wrote this about the Cross, about Jesus. Jesus is the WAY. Jesus provides us the way to satisfy the wrath of God without compromising His justice.

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014 | Intersection

The building was impressive in its architecture (1 Kings 6:1-38) and filled with extravagant furnishings (1 Kings 7:13-51). But its true significance is what would happen there: God's glory would be present (1 Kings 8:10-13). How mind-boggling that the Creator of the universe would be willing to take such a step! But that reveals something important about God: he wants to meet with his people."

Whiney Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on the passage from 1 Kings chapter 8 in the Old Testament of the Bible. I am journaling through his book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story. This is the 14th passage of 100 that are outlined in this book.

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. (1Kings 8:10-11)
One of the grand threads that run through the entire Bible, both testaments, is the periodic and incredible intersections between heaven and earth. We read about these intersections all throughout the Scriptures. This theme is established right from the beginning in the first few chapters of the Bible in the garden where God lived with Adam & Eve. God even walked with them in the garden during the cool of the day. (Genesis 3:8)

Much later after God won their freedom from slavery in Eqypt we read about the tabernacle. This was the portable tent of meeting that God gave them instructions to build and take with them as they traveled around the desert for forty years. It was a place where God dwelt among His people. (Exodus 25:8) It was a place where heaven and earth came together, the intersection between God and humans.

In this chapter of first Kings we read about the transition from the portable tabernacle tent to the more permanent stone temple just built under King Solomon. The priests transferred the ark of the Lord from the tent of meeting, or Tabernacle, to the inner sanctuary known as the Most Holy Place in this brand new temple. Here we read an account of what happened after the ark of the Lord had been moved into the inner sanctuary. A cloud filled the temple and the priests couldn't continue their work. The Glory of the Lord filled the temple causing all other actions to cease. Wow! Another point at which heaven and earth intersected.

Before Christ came to this earth the tabernacle and later the temple were the place, the location, where God was present. It was the place on earth where God dwelt, where heaven and earth overlapped, where heaven and earth intersected. It was also a picture of a new intersection. A preview of what was coming - who was coming.

In Christ Jesus God and the human race intersected literally. God became human. Jesus was both God and man and lived on this earth with us humans during a very specific time in our human history interacting face to face, flesh to flesh, with those He created. God here living and walking among His people.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only [Son], who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

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013 | The Door

Just as the bronze snake became the vehicle of the Israelites' salvation, so Jesus' death on the cross would be the vehicle for the salvation of all people who believe in him."

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on the passage I am reading today from Numbers Chapter 21 in the Old Testament. I am currently journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. This is passage number 13 of the one hundred he has outlined in his book.

The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." (Numbers 21:8)
Here in this short account we see sin, judgment, and death. A sequence or pattern that pops up in the Bible quite a few times. It is a reminder that sin ultimately leads to death. Here it is relatively immediate. The people sin against God and judgment comes through the poisonous snakes in death.

The beautiful thing is that God provides a way off the train that leads directly from sin to death. God the Father provides a door through His Son Jesus for us to jump through. A door that leads straight to the cross of Christ where we enter into a new Kingdom. A Kingdom where sin and death have no control. A Kingdom that is both today and to come. A Kingdom with no end.

In this account we get a glimpse of that door off the speeding train. This train speeding towards death. A glimpse of that door of salvation. A hint of the healing found in the Cross. A preview of a different way. A way that centers on looking towards one sacrifice lifted up, one King above all, one Lord, one Savior - Jesus.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him." (John 3:14-15)

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012 | Satisfied

... just as God provided manna to meet the physical need of people, so he, Jesus, was the "true bread" who satisfied the ultimate need of all people - the need for a restored and eternal relationship with God (John 6:48-51).

Whitney Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on the passage I am looking at from Exodus in the Old Testament. I am currently journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. This is number 12 of the one hundred passages he has outlined in his book.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. ... (Exodus 16:4a)

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. ...(Exodus 16:13-15)

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. (Exodus 16:21)

The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan. (Exodus 16:35)
In chapter 16 of Exodus we see God providing for the physical needs of His people. The bread that came down from heaven to sustain the Israelites in the desert was a preview of Jesus.

In the Gospel of John we read about Jesus drawing a parallel between God providing for his people's physical needs in the desert and God providing for our spiritual needs.
Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." (John 6:32-33)
In this account John also records that Jesus told his disciples "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)

Our physical needs are quite obvious to us. When we are hungry we seek out food. When we are thirsty we seek out something to drink. Our physical hunger and thirst are quenched and we are satisfied until the hunger and thirst come back. Jesus draws a parallel to hunger and thirst because all humans can relate to those needs. It is a universal need.

Jesus is telling us here that God has met our most important need. This need is not physical but eternal.

Humans were created to have a relationship with their creator. We were created with a soul, a spirit, that inner thing that makes us who we are, unique among all other people. That soul, our soul was designed for a direct and meaningful relationship with the Creator, our God. Our soul, our spirit needs God to be whole. Simply put we need God.

Jesus fills the void that is in our soul. This void that is carved out by our own rebellion from God. Sin deconstructs what God has designed to be beautiful unique and complete. Sin puts an ugly hole in our soul. Jesus reconnects our spirit with God restoring our relationship with God. Jesus reconstructs our soul filling the hole.

Jesus is the Bread of Life and will satisfy our soul's hunger and thirst to be whole.

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011 | Passed Over Celebration

In our next five readings we'll take a look at some fascinating previews of coming attractions found in the Bible. These are often referred to as "types."

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. The above quote is from Kuniholm's introduction to the next group of five passage readings from the Old Testament. In reflecting on the first passage reading of this group Kuniholm writes

The Passover lamb was one of the first great previews of God's plan of salvation."

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt ... The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. ... Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. "Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. (Exodus 12:1,13,21-25)
Christ was killed on Passover day. Passover was a celebration established by God for his people as he freed them from slavery in Egypt. The Passover celebration during Jesus's time began with a meal eaten the night before. We read about the Passover meal Jesus ate with his disciples before his death in the accounts written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Passover in Old Testament times was an event turned celebration that reminded God's people how he saved them from slavery in Egypt. It was also a preview look into the future. The Passover pointed into the future when the Messiah would come as the perfect lamb and give up his own life to save others. Jesus was the Passover lamb that was killed so that we may be saved by His blood.

Just as the Passover in Old Testament times was a reminder of the saving act of God and a preview of a future act in Christ, today it is both a reminder and preview. The Passover is a reminder of God's saving act in Exodus, Jesus the Lamb of God, the Last Supper on earth with His disciples, and His sacrificial death. Today it is also a preview of another supper, another celebration, the great wedding supper of the Lamb. John describes what he sees in his vision recorded in the last book of the Bible Revelation.
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's people.) Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God." (Revelation 19:6-9)
The bride is us, believers in Christ, the body of Christ, the church. We are ready for the Groom. We have been passed over, spared, saved, for a reason, for the ultimate wedding celebration dinner. A dinner celebrating our close and intimate relationship with God in Christ.

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010 | Leave the Show Behind

As we've discovered in this passage, God has some pretty strong things to say to folks who go through the motions of worship without acknowledging their sin."

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on the passage I am looking at from the book of Amos in the Old Testament. I am currently journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. This is number 10 of the one hundred passages he has outlined in his book.

This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: "Seek me and live; ... There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground. ... There are those who hate the one who reproves in court and detest the one who tells the truth. You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. ... "I hate, I despise your religious festivals; I cannot stand your assemblies. ... Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. (Amos 5:4,7,10-12,21,23)
God hates hypocrisy. Religious show and pretense angers God. We see that here in the book of Amos. The leaders, the powerful, the privileged were walking all over the poor and oppressed in their society while gaining more and more and living in luxury. They perverted the judicial system and ignored truth and justice at the expense of the under privileged. Yet, they worshiped in a big way, singing songs and making music to God as if nothing was wrong, never acknowledging there was something seriously wrong. They made a big deal about all the religious festivals and their offerings while ignoring their own sin. There was no repentance only a focus on rules and judgment of others. It was all a show.

Unfortunately I can relate. I have been a hypocrite. More focused on others and their mistakes than my own. I have gone to church only to fulfill a requirement of what I thought I was suppose to do in our society. I wasn't following Christ, I was following man and society. I've prayed and sung songs only as part of a ceremony without it being real and from my heart. I have been part of the show.

This is stupid! If I believe in an all powerful, all knowing God this kind of show is just plain stupid. Even if the people around me can be fooled God certainly isn't. He sees right through it. God sees the heart. I want to be honest with God, with myself, with others around me. I want to stop performing for man. I want to follow Christ leaving the religious show behind.

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009 | Separation

This reading from Isaiah reminds us once again that God is against sin. That means we should be too, for several important reasons. First, sin separates us from God (v. 2). ... Second, sin leads to a breakdown of fundamental values. ... Finally, sin causes a rejection of truth."

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on Isaiah 59 in his book The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story. This is my ninth post as I journal through this book.

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
This is at the very heart of the Christian Faith. You will find this theme running like a thread through the entire Bible. The separation between humans and our Creator effects everything. All of us, deep inside, have a desire to close this gap. God created us without the gap, without a separation. God created us to live near him in complete unity and peace. We were designed for a close, intimate and direct relationship with God. But we humans, specifically Adam and Eve, rebelled under the leadership of Satan (Genesis 3:1-24). We rejected God's authority and have gone our own way. Philip Yancey describes this rebellion in his book Disappointment with God.

By their choice they put distance between themselves and God. Before, they had walked and talked with God. Now when they heard his approach, they hid in the shrubbery. An awkward separation had crept in to spoil the intimacy. And every quiver of disappointment in our own relationship with God is an aftershock from their initial act of rebellion."

We deal with this rebellion, its consequences, and separation from God every day, probably almost every moment of the day. Both the problem and the solution are spoken about in Chapter 59 of Isaiah. Yes, the thread of our separation from God runs through the entire Bible, but there is another thread that runs throughout God's Word. If the first thread is black, perhaps this second thread is red. As we see in these verses God provides the solution. This gap can be closed! God has the power to close this gap, or perhaps more accurately bridge the separation. "The Redeemer will come ..." The price will be paid. Jesus will bridge this separation.
He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. (Isaiah 59:16) ... "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 59:20) ..."
The Redeemer has come! He has paid the price! Jesus has bridged the separation!

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Essential 100 (E100)

There are many great Bible reading plans out there. Some read straight through in manageable bites while others mix a passage of the Old Testament with a passage from the New Testament. Still more divide scriptures into various themes or topics.

Enjoy a walk through the Bible with Scripture Union's Essential 100 plan. The E100 Challenge is a great way to go through the bible picking up the big picture of God's plan.

"The E100 is a carefully selected list of short Bible passages--50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament. The passages are usually one to two chapters in length and can easily be read in 10 minutes or less."

The Bible Reading Plan People Love to Complete!

Below is a walk through the Bible using the E100 passages.

Just start with number "001" and work through at your own pace. One per day, a couple per week, whatever works for you.

Feel free to comment or journal as you desire. These passages are also listed in the right had column of this blog.


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008 | No One

... it's important not to let our understanding of sin cause us to misunderstand God. It's true, he hates sin. But it's not true that he enjoys catching people in their sins, as so many seem to think. In fact, his desire for us is just the opposite. He's actively looking for those who are seeking a deeper relationship with him (v. 2)"

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in his reflection on Psalm 14 in the book I am journaling through titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story.

The LORD looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)
I have struggled with Psalm 14 for awhile. Surely when God looks down from heaven he sees at least one person who does something good. Everyone hasn't turned completely away? When I look around I see many good people, heck I view myself as a good person. So what is going on here?

This time when I read this passage I found myself more easily seeing it in the context of God's whole story, his entire plan, the Bible. After reading through the bible in a compressed way using the Essential 100 program (E100) I seem to be reading more passages in the context of the whole story. This has really helped my comprehension of certain passages.

Anyway, we need to look at this from God's perspective as much as we can, there are no good people. God's standard for a 'good' person is very high: a person without one sin. I have to remind myself that God can see every detail about every person, every thought, every motive, and every action. We humans can NOT see every action of another person. We certainly can't see every thought and the motives of other people. We can guess and we seem to do plenty of guessing. Because of these human limitations we can't fairly judge people like God can, not that we don't try.

Given these limitations including the inability to live up to God's standard of a 'good' person, we have lowered the standard. We have lowered the bar so we can meet the standard. We have made 'good' achievable. Actually, in our society the bar seems to get lower every year. We have established our own standards. With our lowered human standards we look around and divide the world into good and bad people, sometimes, I would add, not even that accurately. Simply put by God's standard there are only bad people. But God, our Creator, is not satisfied with that, and wants to see all people as good people. So God devised a plan to redeem the bad through his son.

God standard is too high and unattainable in ourselves, but God has not left us without a solution. A solution to the sin problem. He has provided a way through Christ to be good in the eyes of God - to be right with God - to be called righteous! (Romans 4:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

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007 a | Painting God Mad

As I wrote in my recent entry 007 | Sin Angers God on my Essential Jesus journey we must view the account recorded in Exodus (Exodus 32:1-33:6) at Mount Sinai in the context of all God has done for his people. We must NOT view God's anger arbitrarily and out of context. One of the blogs I like to read is Stuff Christians Like. In his post from May 26, 2008, "#253 Painting God Mad", Jon describes how he once viewed God and how many today view God.

My vision of God was of an angry, old man with powers beyond my understanding and punishment beyond my creativity. His favorite activities, beside Frisbee, were smiting people and striking people down where they stood for their transgressions. The only reason He wanted me near was so that I was close enough to hit with a big, holy hammer. He was forceful and ominous.

Unfortunately, I'm not the only one that has thought this. The photo in this post is from a newspaper in France. The headline is "Think for yourself" and we can clearly see that a night-colored person representing God or religion is forcing the young woman to pray. There is condemnation and slavery and punishment captured in the faceless, dark shape that is controlling the scene. Looking at it, I can't help but wonder, "How did we get here?" ... read more

Yes God hates sin and it angers him, but that doesn't mean he hates us. If you are a loving parent you can understand this. Even when our children make choices that disappoint or anger us it does not change our love for them. It is impossible to conclude God is an angry God with our focus on Jesus. I like the way Jon put in his post.

When we want to paint a picture of God as a brutal no holds barred cage fighter, we often have to downplay or ... completely edit out Jesus."

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