What can the future hold?

This week we have the option to discuss where we will go from here, what future projects we plan to create or be involved in and how we might engage course material. I want to give an example of how this class has influenced my life most recently and an example of what I would like to do in the future.

My most recent plans to engage course material and in the very near future is to add substance to a final in another class. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Pastoral Care and Counseling with Clinical track. *If any fellow classmates have an elective ever I would strongly recommend some of these classes to benefit your future congregation or place of work!* In my Social and Cultural Foundations class we often discuss ways that religion shapes our lives.. you guessed it- how does religion shape our social and cultural foundations? For our final prompt we have been asked to write a paper on how religion has played a role during therapy sessions with our clients and below I will explain a little how that has happened thus far!

This course has challenged me in so many ways but recently some of our course material was contradicting what my client was saying in session. One of the basic rules of therapy is to follow the client or meet them where they are. Obviously the goal of therapy is to work through something or improve your life but you didn’t get to the difficult part of your life overnight, so you aren’t going to be in a better place over night and as a therapist it is important to keep this in mind. My client has conflicting views of God that just recently “entered the room” as we say, and I have been trying to just stick with them where they are until recently. He began asking big complicated questions and connecting his loneliness of how God was alone before man was created and how he has been alone since childhood. I decided to tell him I was in a course of study that was currently educating me on the Divine Council and asked if he would like me to bring in course material for us to look at together. I did this to bring him some comfort about God and it has seemed to help somewhat. This is just one example of what some of my clients and I talk about in relation to religion. I believe religion plays a big role in all of our lives and sometimes we may not have a space to bring in these big questions and have someone respond to us empathically and educationally!

One of the difficulties I had as a youth director was trying to find course material that would expand on what the students already knew. They were tired of the same old lessons we used from same site since I was a youth. I only knew how to just talk and listen to people, and that was before school to be a counselor so I tried doing that as well. It worked well but I wanted to be engaged in conversation about Biblical text as well as what our spiritual lives were looking like at the time. I think for our class it worked well to go through categories of the Bible at one time but for middle school or high school students I imagine it would be best to go through a Bible study in small chunks. I would like to start with Genesis and focus on the creation story. I did not write a make on the creation story so going back and engaging in that material would also be beneficial to my knowledge as well. I would plan each 6 weeks of Bible study out ahead of time and work it as a 6 week session together. I have found that intense group studies/conversations can hold to purpose of the group for about 6 weeks before people begin to lose track. I would prepare each week by going back through Bandstra’s information and using the Bible Oddessey. Bandstra had so much information packed into each chapter that I think I could get 2 or even 3 weeks depending on the chapter from each one. For the interactive aspect outside of the Bible study I would start an instagram hashtag and have each of the youth participate in the hashtag challenge each week for a free ice cream cone, points off of their mission trip (my youth used to get points for volunteering or participating in events with the church and each point was worth $5 they could use off their mission trip. It was really an incentive to the parents to make them come but the older you are the more exciting the mission trips became to older youth did this still). I would do instagram because they are already on it and youth engage better with visual that they can attach their learning to.

This is an example of a tentative plan I have once I am out of school and able to work with a church. I have been so thankful to be apart of this class in the past because it has challenged and educated me about the Old Testament, something I thought I already knew everything about. Obviously there is always room for growth but I have always been taking the verses of the Bible at face value, we all try to put them into our own lives but I had never tried to go deeper with them. I haven’t studied the cultural context of ancient Israel, I haven’t read the social context of the family systems and I haven’t read into the relationship God with people . This course has challenged my understanding of God and has allowed me to grow for my future congregants/clients.

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The Saga of Sarah’s Laughter

This weeks make we were challenged to either respond to Bandstra’s discussion questions or write a saga. I have chosen to write a saga after reading what exactly a saga is and am working to connect the Ancestral Story of Abraham which includes a saga of his wife, Sarah, to my own spiritual life’s experience.

In ancient Israel a woman named Sarah lived with her husband Abraham. We are all well aware of the story of Abraham and Sarah. We focus, as most stories of ancient Old Testament do, on Abraham’s story, and rightfully so I would say! Throughout this ancestral story we read of his faithfulness to the Lord  and the pleading for those who might be innocent, Abraham is brave and pushes the limits with God’s patience. We read so much into this rather than Sarah’s experience and I believe Sarah’s experience has spoken to me. Sarah’s story was written as a saga, which are simples tales that recount the success of a leader, tell a narrative or explore a human experience (Bandstra 78)- this is what I will be doing! We know that Sarah was granted a son in her old age and we know about her laughter to this prophecy but what about her faith? Below you will find a continuation of what I perceive that Sarah would have thought based on what we know from the Biblical text. I believe that where I am in my life I am most connected to Sarah as my “tradition”. So while the story of Abraham is classified as an Ancestral Story which is the prehistory to Israel, the makeups of the nation, I would classify the part of the story I am referring to as a saga.

Genesis 18: 10 One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man.

11-12 Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?”

This cannot be true, those outside of this tent misunderstood the message they are supposed to deliver. 

God said long ago he would grant us a big family. My maid Hagar has already given us what we need and we are already dealing with our family as it is. 

I am old and I am most likely unable to bare a child or even survive the birth. My heart is not what it used to be. 

Why would they say this? I have been waiting for the Lord to bless me for so long, I am in my 90 years of life, do they not see how old my husband is as well? What if he will not be able to lie with me or anyone else in order to bare another child? I am old, I have been faithful, I have sacrificed and yet here I am still childless. I am still serving the Lord despite His unfulfilled promise to me. We will see it when it happens, I guess. But for now, I don’t believe it. 

My story:

In 2013 I felt a strong pull to switch my major to Counseling from Public Relations and become a pastoral counselor. But with no previous work and fear in my heart I laughed at this and chose not do anything about it. By the end of 2014 I was graduating and applying to Garrett-Evangelic Theological Seminary to be a clinical and pastoral counselor because I was finally listening to God. I felt that God was on my side, but still I laughed, just as Sarah did. I applied thinking I still wouldn’t get in and that I still would not be heading in the right direction with my life. Once I received my admissions letter I was still not convinced of this plan. I began studies online in 2015 and moved to Chicago, IL in 2016 with my fiancé. Still to this day with only 1 year left before graduation I doubt myself, I doubt the Lord. It is simply the way my faith is right now. I pray to be more faithful, I pray that I will be able to walk with God and I pray that I will have full trust in the plans God has for me and my family. Yet still I have my doubts, yet still I laughed, yet still I have not yet rejoiced for where I am.

In Genesis 16 and 17 we read the saga of Abram (Abraham) and his struggle to be blessed with a family. We later read in 17 and in 18 that Sarah will be blessed with a child from Abraham even in her old age of 90 who will be named Isaac, meaning laughter. In Bandstra we read that saga’s are meant to “explore human experiences and may have been intended to support the reader through life’s problems.” I believe that the story of Sarah was intended for me and I wanted to explore what her human experience might have been. I believe she would have been troubled by the thought that God was going to do something big in her life so late in life. She went along with, obviously, and was blessed with a whole nation as a result! I find myself inspired by Sarah for laughing at what God has said and doubting those plans in life because so often I laugh at God’s plans. I am not laughing at God, but instead thinking there is no way this is going to work for the better and here I am still being blessed with faith, laughter, and the aftermath of trust.

 

http://barrybandstra.com/rtot4/rtot4-05-ch2.html

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+17&version=MSG

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+18&version=MSG

Gen 1-11

This week we will be looking into the Divine Council for our weekly make.

Below you will find each of the times that God refers to an us in the creation story (insinuating that God is not alone) and uncovering what theologians have to say about that! then we will discuss the Divine Council, attempt to describe their purpose and uncover what this means for us (me) theologically.

Speculation: Gen 1:1&2  might be the first time we see an “us” because “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”vs.1 and then “…And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the water.” vs.2 So in my opinion that is the first moment in which we see an us or there is a reference to the Holy Trinity.

References to us in Genesis:

Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Gen 3:22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

So who is us? According to Bandstra there are 3 possibilities:

  1. Royal Plural- God was thinking out loud and referring to himself in the plural (in human terms- a “me, myself, and I” situation.
  2. Christian Trinity- My speculation (which was before I read this- how cool!) Bandstra however states that is unlikely because the writer of the passage was not aware of the Holy Trinity yet.
  3. Divine Council- was thought to be the governing assembly of angelic beings that managed the world with God. The Divine Council is believed to also be in the image of God because God “Let us make humanity in our image.” God saw so much goodness in God and the Divine Council that they set out to create more. We learned about this in Job when ha’satan (the accuser) was sent to evaluate the sincerity of job’s piety. (This is found in Bandstra and is also just a reminder to all you Ootler’s out there that we have covered a portion of the Divine Council already!) Bandstra Chapter 1, pg.43

 

The Divine Council

1 Kings 22:19-22; The council is shown as a group of advisors here, they are the group of advisors that the prophets communicate as, the job description is the spirit that will be a lying spirit and will persuade him (Ahab). I would like to think of the Divine Council as a group that part of court, maybe like the jury but more interactive. makes me wonder also if we could compare this to the president’s advisors?     

Deut 32:8-9; When reading these two verses in the Bible, the only way I could understand it was by reading in the Message version. “When the High God gave the nations their stake, gave them their place on Earth, He put each of the peoples within boundaries under the care of divine guardians (what we can gather as the Divine Council) But God himself took charge of his people, took Jacob on as his personal concern.” We read that the Divine Council was in charge of the rest of the people and God chose to take over his people.

Psalm 82- The Judges that were in charge of trying of keeping the people from becoming corrupt. This passage also emphasizes the social justice aspect of God. 
Isaiah 6:8- “And I said, “Here am I; send me!”” This is the author Isaiah saying send him to deliver God’s message through his vision. The first I and us represent God and the Divine Council. 
Job 1:6- The Designated Accuser in the Divine Council. The one was in charge or making sure that the Lord could see any possibility of a persons disobedience towards God. In charge of tempting and testing Job. Read below reference to Bandstra 43.
Job 2:1- The designated Accuser is presented here to us. The angels were also referred to as “sons of God” and were the administrative council of heaven (Bandstra 43).
Psalm 29:1-2 God’s audience, encouraging him and others in the efforts to keep the people civil. The audience makes up all of the heavenly beings praising and glorifying God.
Job 38:7- The angels shouting praise in reference to creation while they were present. They were celebrating what God was doing, my mind imagines them to be angelic rather than a council of advisors that are depicted in other passages of the Divine Council.
Psalm 89:6-7- The one who is in charge of the angel armies. This information is being spoken through the author of the passage Psalm 89. God is depicted as the ultimate one in charge and the only one who should be feared and respected above all.

As I read more about the Divine Council and speculate on what their jobs were I am reminded of a childhood sadness I held for God. I remember always being crippled by the thought that God has always been there- it was not until my later teen years I was able to be okay with that- but I was always sad to think that God was alone until Man can along and then man betrayed him. But learning more about the Divine Council makes me think God wasn’t so lonely and I feel better about that. It also allows me to better understand how God was always so present in the stories of ancient Israel, because the Divine Council was watching over the other people of God (if i understand that correctly). It makes sense in Genesis that God has others around Him to reflect on His actions and what He was creating.

Sources:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+89&version=MSG

http://barrybandstra.com/rtot4/rtot4-04-ch1.html#DivineCouncil

Childhood memories!

The voices in Tamar’s {silent} story

This weeks challenge is to take as much information and knowledge that we know about the Davidic kingship in jerusalem and write about what wasn’t written in the Bible. I will be using information found in Bandstra how Amnon was in line for the throne after David. We read in Deborah Rooke’s story that adultery was really one-sided and not what it is today in that a marriage is made up by two equal parts (or maybe even that is still too liberal). We learn that a man sleeping with other women that he was married to or that were unmarried was not seen as adultery, especially since the motive behind all this sleeping around was to ensure that the man had many sons to carry on the family name. One son was not enough, children died young so it was often not just survival of the fittest but also survival of the immune system back then. From this article we read that if a woman was raped that she was the adulteress (this is still a common understanding of rape) but that line of thinking was the common thread- it was the woman’s fault not the man’s obsession. I have studied and work with survivors of sexual assault so my opinions in this matter are very strong but I am challenging myself to look at this story through the ancient Israel sense and focus on the voices of the character as well as shed a spotlight on Tamar. My thoughts will be in italics.

2 Samuel 13:1-33Common English Bible (CEB)

Amnon rapes Tamar
13 Some time later, David’s son Amnon fell in love with Tamar the beautiful sister of Absalom, who was also David’s son. 2 Amnon was so upset over his half sister that he made himself sick. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible in Amnon’s view to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, Shimeah’s son, David’s brother, who was a very clever man.

4 “Prince,” Jonadab said to him, “why are you so down, morning after morning? Tell me about it.”

So Amnon told him, “I’m in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.” “Why must she tempt me with her looks. She fills me with sinful thoughts. I long for her, it is wrong but I cannot deny myself of her.”

5 “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick,” Jonadab said to him. “When your father comes to see you, tell him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I can watch and eat from her own hand.’” “When she comes you may have your way with her. Your father will understand for he has survived the ways of sin.”

6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. The king came to see him, and Amnon told the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of heart-shaped cakes in front of me so I can eat from her hand.”

7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Please go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare some food for him.”

8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made heart-shaped cakes in front of him, and then cooked them. 9 She took the pan and served Amnon, but he refused to eat.

“Everyone leave me,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom so I can eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the heart-shaped cakes she had made and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom. 11 When she served him the food, he grabbed her and said, “Come have sex with me, my sister.”

12 But she said to him, “No, my brother! Don’t rape me. Such a thing shouldn’t be done in Israel. Don’t do this horrible thing. 13 Think about me—where could I hide my shame? And you—you would become like some fool in Israel! Please, just talk to the king! He won’t keep me from marrying you.” “I am not able to survive this. I will have no place and no man will have me. This is unfair.” she thought.

14 But Amnon refused to listen to her. He was stronger than she was, and so he raped her.

15 But then Amnon felt intense hatred for her. In fact, his hatred for her was greater than the love he had felt for her. So Amnon told her, “Get out of here!”

16 “No, my brother!”[a] she said. “Sending me away would be worse than the wrong you’ve already done.”

But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. 17 He summoned his young servant and said, “Get this woman out of my presence and lock the door after her.” (18 She was wearing a long-sleeved robe because that was what the virgin princesses wore as garments.)[b] So Amnon’s servant put her out and locked the door after her.

19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long-sleeved robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and walked away, crying as she went.

Brother how dare you! You know my father has no use in me now. The kingdom could have used me to expand but now because I am no longer a virgin I am no use to the kingdom. You will not marry me and therefore have sentenced me to a lifetime of struggle.”

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon been with you? Keep quiet about it for now, sister; he’s your brother. Don’t let it bother you.” So Tamar, a broken woman, lived in her brother Absalom’s house.

21 When King David heard about all this he got very angry, but he refused to punish his son Amnon because he loved him as his oldest child.[c] “How could my child do this? What am I to do with Tamar now? How will the kingdom survive this. No one can find out. What do i do?” David was distraught in his thoughts for many days. After some time nothing more came of this but he was never able to leave this matter completely in his thoughts.

22 Absalom never spoke to Amnon, good word or bad, because he hated him for raping his sister Tamar.

Absalom kills Amnon
23 Two years later, Absalom was shearing sheep at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, and he invited all the king’s sons. 24 Absalom approached the king and said, “Your servant is shearing sheep. Would the king and his advisors please join me?”

25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son. We shouldn’t all go, or we would be a burden on you.” Although Absalom urged him, the king wasn’t willing to go, although he gave Absalom a blessing.

26 Then Absalom said, “If you won’t come, then let my brother Amnon go with us.”

“Why should he go with you?” they asked him. 27 But Absalom urged him until he sent Amnon and all the other princes. Then Absalom made a banquet fit for a king.[d]

28 Absalom commanded his servants, “Be on the lookout! When Amnon is happy with wine and I tell you to strike Amnon down, then kill him! Don’t be afraid, because I myself am giving you the order. Be brave and strong men.” 29 So Absalom’s servants did to Amnon just what he had commanded. Then all the princes got up, jumped onto their mules, and fled. Absalom was pleased with the death of his half-brother. Having been the caretaker for his sister, he knew that she was still distraught over what happened to her.

When Tamar heard the news, she wept, for she was worried what would come of her without the help of her brother Absalom.

30 While they were on the way, the report came to David: “Absalom has killed all of the princes! Not one remains.” 31 The king got up, tore his garments, and lay on the ground. All his servants stood near him, their garments torn as well. 32 But Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “My master shouldn’t think that all the young princes have been killed—only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s plan ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 So don’t let this bother you, my master; don’t think that all the princes are dead, because only Amnon is dead,

David wept for the sins and the loss of his first born son, wept for the sin of his other son and over the trouble his daughter was in. Being a man in that time he only spoke of the sons and never of the sins of his daughter. He took her in and allowed her to stay in his house but never spoke of what had been done to her. Only in silence did he weep for her and his sons.

Judges 19:21-25

Reading the narrative of judges 19:1-21;25 was very difficult. This was my first time reading this passage and I found myself in a painful place after reading the beginning of the passage. Our make for this week is to analyze the different plot elements of this passages, looking at the historical context and determining whether or not the story was strange or offensive to listeners today.

We know from Stanley (pg. 265) that judges is one of the Deuteronomistic History books meaning that is was edited to take place in the (full) historic narrative of Israel. According to Dr. Lester’s lectures we know these stories were edited many years after they took place and historians and archaeologists worked to match up the stories and create a timeline. So our focus today is to answer a few questions and try to give ourselves some answers from historical context and theories that have been created over time.

What would you say is the central message or theme of the story? What purposes would the story have served for the people who preserved it and told it in ancient Israel? I found two themes of this story is that with no king of Israel the people are showing no moral values and are uncivilized, and that if a man is wronged, Israel sticks together and fights for vengeance. I believe these are important to note but even after writing this I feel that the theme of an uncivilized community is because the Israelites are without God and have no king. This narrative theme can be explicitly understood when we read “In those days when there was no king in Israel…” Judges 19:1, and “In those days there was no king in Israel; each person did what they thought to be right.” Judges 21:25. Stanley (pg. 264) explains that because this is written we can see that even judges sent by God were unable to keep control over the people and that only a King would be able to restore peace and justice to the chaos that the people were creating.

What purposes would the story have served for the people who preserved it and told it in ancient Israel? As stated earlier I believe the the purpose of this story is to see how the Israelites have turned their back on God and are committing crimes against God. The people of Israel wondered too far from God and even trying to bring justice to such a despicable act they slaughtered in the name of God, which is committing a crime against God. I believe my opinion on this is too modern and if we are to think as if we are in the ancient times then I could see how the purpose of this story was to warn enemies of Israel that they people of Israel will fight for the justice of one of their brothers. The story of rape and murder is only a background story for us to have, the emphasis is on the timeline and strategies used by the Israelites to defeat the Benjamites. We hear God during this time of civil war as well in judges 20: 23 “So the Israelites went back up and wept before the Lord until evening. They asked the Lord, “Should we move in again to fight our relatives the Benjamites?” And the Lord replied, “March out against them.” With this information we can gather that the Israelites have turned back to God and are begging for assistance from God.

List, in detail, the plot elements that would seem strange or even offensive to many modern readers in your social context. How, in detail, might these narrative elements have been perceived by an ancient audience? How might these narrative elements have functioned for that audience and its society? Below we will find a summary of each section of our reading and my take on it from a modern and ancient social context.

The Fleeing Secondary Wife

In Judges 19:1-15, we read of a Levite man who has a secondary wife from Bethlehem in judah. The secondary wife leaves him in an act of defiance and returns to her father’s home. After four months without her the Levite travels to Bethlehem to bring her home. The Levite spends four nights with his father-in-law being fed and drinking with him all day. In the late evening one night the Levite finally leaves the house after being convinced to stay for too many nights and travels to Gibeah in Benjamin. No one in the city will take him until finally an old man in Gibeah takes him in.

We can gather from this information that the levite man was wealthy enough to be able to go after his secondary wife but not wealthy enough to just be able to let her go since that was “his property” he needed to get it back.

Rape and Murder at Gibeah

Judges 19:16-30 we find the travelers are taken in by an old man in Gibeah who provides hospitality for their needs even though the Levite man insisted he had supplies for their needs. The uncivilized men of Gibeah come to the old man’s house demanding that he send out the Levite so they can have sex with him. The old man offers his daughter and the man’s concubine to protect the Levite but then men of Gibeah refuse. The Levite grabs his secondary wife and sends her out where she is raped and abused all night, until dawn when they finally let her go. She returns to the doorstep and the levite wakes up to find her there, dead. He takes her back to his home, carves her body into 12 pieces and sends them off to the tribes of Israel. He urges them to hear him out and decide on a plan of revenge.

Wow. As a modern day reader, this story was horrific and i couldn’t believe these crimes happened and that someone offered up their wife as a sacrifice to those men. I was very upset to read this, especially since I work with people who have experienced sexual trauma. I found myself empathizing with the girl only to find out that she would not live through this. I had to stop myself from thinking as if this were modern day and instead remember that the wife was a secondary wife and that she was seen as property. The people of Israel in the tribe of Benjamin are the ultimate ones to blame here. The body parts were sent out to each tribe as warning of what could come if they do not come together and rely on God once again.

Civil War and the Preservation of the Tribes and the wives of Benjamites

judges 20-21 the Israelites unite to form an alliance against the Benjamites for the sins that they have committed. The Israelites lose battles in the beginning because the benjamites are trained in combat. The Israelites rely on God to help them win this battle and eventually do. They leave the men of Benjamin with only 600 men and many without wives. Wives must be provided to these men in order to preserve their tribe. So the tribe of Jabesh-gilead is destroyed except for 400 virgin women because they did not join in the war against the Benjamites. Other women are retrieved by raiding a festival in order to supply wives. This passage ends with “In those days there was no king in Israel; each person did what they thought to be right.” Judges 21:25

Once again I find it very difficult to separate myself as a modern reader and place my thinking in that of ancient Israel. I can only see how despicable it is that these things are happening to the fellow man and to the women. But with this thinking I can also see this is happening in modern day and wonder at what point will we turn back to God? I believe the end verse is there for a reason, to remind the reader that without a King these people were unable to make the right decisions and unable to sort out their differences. These sins would only continue until the people find a king and turn back to God.

How does the story depict the leadership of Israel during this pre monarchical period? The leadership from a communal sense is that the people are leading in a way that if they have been wronged then vengeance will be taken upon those who wronged them. From a stand point of the “judges” it seems that there is a pattern to the Israelites here; Israel gradually turns from Yhwh, an enemy presents themselves, Israel cries out to God and and God sends a judge to deliver Israel Bandstra, 228. And we understand that a “judge” is sent because this person is meant to fulfill the judgement of God to Israel’s enemies which takes place in this story and many others in the past with Israel.

The Hebrew Bible and what it has to say.

For this week’s blog post we (I mean myself and the #ootle17 class) will be looking at Deuteronomy 28:1-68, Joshua 23:1-16, 1 Samuel 12:1-25, 2 Kings 17:5-18,  and              2 Chronicles 36:11-21. These passages are collectively known as the Deutornomistic History, historians used this to find out more on Israel’s national destiny. We were given a few questions to answer to as we summarize what we have read; is this passage intelligible, coherent, moral?  Let’s find out!

Deuteronomy 28: 1-68-

“Blessings of obedience” is the title among many versions of this chapter. This is something we have all heard in church at some point, it’s nice to hear how you will be rewarded but we leave out the scary stuff at the end. if you follow the law according to what this book reads, then all is well, all is actually even better than well, it’s amazing! But if the people chose not to obey their Lord then they will suffer the exact opposite what could have been a blessing. They will experience pain, loss, defeat, crippling failure and meet their demise.

This passage is absolutely coherent. We see this throughout the Bible, New Testament eve, obey God and all is good, don’t and “hey good luck cause you’ll need”! This passage for my personal belief is difficult to believe in because God to me has never been a tyrant but this makes me feel otherwise. Is the passage moral? I believe in the standard term of moral as in truth, yes it is. It saying you reap what you sew but I can’t help but fall back on Wesley studies and think we all need grace!

Joshua 23:1-16

Joshua pleads with the people to remember the covenant, and be aware of God’s faithfulness.

This passage is coherent and intelligible in that Joshua reminds the people that the covenant was made before they entered into the promise land. Joshua reminds them that God kept up God’s end of the deal and now it is their turn. And with that being said we can also determine that the passage is moral. God kept His truth.

1st Samuel 12: 1-25

In this chapter, Samuel is telling the people the truth straight, with little to no empathy. He reminds the people that demanding a king for them to follow is a sin and warns them that their actions will be judged by the Lord.

This passage is coherent and intelligible, unfortunate for all of the people, but coherent in the sense that this happened often, a nation being judged because of the actions of one of their leaders is not uncommon. We can see this playing out in our nation right now, and in our history as a nation where the country as a whole has been and will be judged on the actions of our leaders. While it happens all the time, I do not believe it is alright that we hold entire nations accountable for the actions of few! This line of thinking has resulted in many wars throughout time and it will continue to happen until we change the way we think about the influence of people.

2 Kings 17: 5-18-

In this passage we find that Israel has fallen to the king of Assyria, followed by the sins against God that have caused this. All are to blame in this situation, the people for still following the gods of the nation they drove out of there and then for the kings who introduced them to more gods! The Lord warned them of this behavior and they had to pay the price.

This passage is coherent, intelligible and moral. All was spoken for people to clearly understand and was truthful. It was not that the whole nation had to suffer because of one person, rather they all committed these sins against God and must pay the price for it.

2 Chronicle 36: 11-21

This last passage speaks the truth of the destruction of Jerusalem. We read in verse 21, “This is exactly the message of God that Jeremiah had preached: the desolate land put to an extended sabbath rest, a seventy-year Sabbath rest making up for all the unkept Sabbaths.” Wow. That is powerful to think about, the people likely thought they were getting away with it, but nope!

This passage is coherent, Stanley speaks about their covenant as a spiritual one and we cannot misinterpret this. This passage is intelligibly truthful in that they knew they were breaking the covenant and there would be consequences. It is unfair (not moral) and un intelligible to believe that everyone was breaking the covenant so all must suffer.

Each of these passages i believe were easy to interpret and I imagine that during the time in which they were spoken people believed at first they could keep the covenant but then sin entered and it’s hard to leave sin. I believe is unfair that all were punished for the wrong doings of a few or the masses, I believe you are not guilty by association and therefore many of this was unmoral. Our hope here and in our studies is to understand the destruction of the kingdoms of the Old Testament and see if they were warranted or not. I believe it is important to understand though, things could have gotten lost in translation, we don’t know if there were some who were excluded from the punishments, we are only trying to gain a deeper and simplified explanation for this all.

A letter to younger me.

I grew up in a church with, what I believed, was an excellent youth program. We did a lot of mission work, I created many meaningful relationships with the people there but I learned the same stories of the Bible over and over again each year. I understand, it is so difficult to get youth interested- it’s just not “cool” for many of them, i know this because I worked as a youth Director just out of college and worked as an interim director for years during college. If I could have, I would have told them about everything I’m learning now. I truly believe that when people are presented with something they have always thought was an absolute truth and find out there’re much more to it, they will listen.

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible has turned out to be a lot more interesting than I expected it to be (no offense Dr. Lester), I took it because I needed this course and needed it to be online. I especially didn’t want to because electronics and social media is an addiction I am working to control, but alas, here are so few hours in the day to sit in a class! This class has brought me so much new information about the Hebrew Bible, things I never saw when I was in youth, and things I now wish I could have known! In short, this letter is to me maybe, and possibly other youth, this is what I learned about the Messiahs of the Hebrew Bible!

In the Hebrew Bible the term Messiah was used to refer to the anointed one, this meant there could, and were, multiples! The characteristics of who a messiah is has changed over time (as we see when Jesus is born) He is the Messiah from then on out.

Cyrus the Messiah, article by Lisbeth Fried, begins with saying there were many people in the hebrew Bible that were anointed ones and they are referred to as Messiah(s). The term was first used for priests until Israel and Judah became a monarchy and the term transitioned to be inclusive of the king(s). Cyrus becomes anointed by Yahweh around the time that Israel was under Assyrian rule, Judah and Jerusalem were taken over the Babylonians, all the kings son and the king were killed, leaving them with no anointed one. In Isaiah 45:1, Second Isaiah (a different thing entirely) is where we learn about Cyrus!

Another debunked concept is the restoration of the “house of David” in Dr. Lester’s lecture from this week. Now quite honestly, I had assumed it wasn’t specifically for the House of David, but it’s always nice to gain a deeper understanding of the suspicions we have. If the promise was to restore literally restore the house of David then the newly anointed one could not be from a different country. We read this in Bandstra on page 352 “The loving covenantal arrangement that Yhwh earlier has establish with David would now be transferred to his people as a whole. The dynastic covenant would become a national covenant. The people would complete the mission begun by David. In this way, Second Isaiah is claiming that the Davidic covenant had not been annulled. Rather, it has been democratized.” That was rather an interesting move with the chess pieces there Lord!  You see, right there would have been something interesting that younger me didn’t know about. To be truthful, it feels like all of these cities are taken over so many times that it’s hard to keep track of and then you stop caring because you feel like you can’t keep up enough to care. It is interesting that for the longest time the anointed one stayed within the limits of the House of David but once the king and the sons were killed maybe a different opportunity was seized in order to include everyone else?

A lot happens after Cyrus, promises of hope a restoration is where we end with Second Isaiah and Judah is trying to rebuild. Judah became known as Yehudi and the Judea’s as Yehudim, which is where the label “Jews” comes from!! That is truly fascinating. Banstra 353. So during the third Isaiah, Isaiah Restoration, people were struggling to worship and struggling with their faith “in the absence of a temple and its sacrifices”. This is when the third prophet of Isaiah said to them that Yhwh was present even if no building was available which further solidifies Second Isaiah’s word that Yhwh does not have a domain. Yahweh claims the entire world, in and out of the buildings, and wishes to reveal His salvation to all people, not just Israel. (Bandtrsa 354).

The people of Judah return from Babylon where they find two anointed ones, Zerrubbabel and Joshua who “stand by the Lord of the whole earth” Stanley writes to further affirm that Yhwh has no domain (p. 471). The people of Judah are now realizing there will a significant change in history from now on. The God they serve does not only serve their nation and their king, as it has in the past, but with an anointed one outside of their rules they realized they serve a God of the whole world. *I can only imagine how difficult this might have been to cope with in the beginning. I believe so many times we have a difficult time with this as well because we often think “If you are not with me, you are against me” which is true- but even if you are against God, God still sees you as part of his creation.*

Now that the people are realizing they can be under foreign rule, anointed ones, and serve a God that serves everyone, prophets begin to speak out about a one Messiah far in the future. I think we can all see where this one is going, Bandstra writes about it on pg 357. To finish this off in “letter” form I think it important to say, keep an open mind, or try your hardest to open your mind at all to something other than how to apply foundation or use eye liner without it looking like a ‘marks a lot’. The Old Testament is the building blocks to what the New Testament preaches. I have heard before that God got it wrong in the OT and decided to just do it all differently in the the NT. Maybe we got it wrong in the OT, time and time again, and God continued to save us, beg for us to come back, and provide for us. That’s what we have learned up to this point, which have we taken a God that which has no domain and said “God did it wrong so He sent Jesus later”. Open your mind to human error, the real possibility here, and look at how we got to a “One Messiah”.

Good luck!

Becca

Sources:

Barry Bandstra

Cyrus the Messiah

Stanley, Christopher D. The Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amos: Oooh, you in trouble now!

This week we are going to go a little deeper with Amos and work through the trouble that the Israelites were getting themselves into! We are going to answer what Amos says is wrong with Israelite society, what will happen to the people of Israel if they don’t change their ways, and answer if there is anything they can do to avoid this fate.

We open with Amos 2:6-16 and end with Amos 9 here.

Amos provides us with a message directly from God that is straight forward with the anger God feels toward the Israelites! God is upset with the Israelites for what they are doing to others, how they are destroying the humanity of others and how they are stealing and giving the material objects to their new gods. Amos 2:9-11. Amos 5:9-16 reminds Israel of what God has done for the Israelites and warns them that no one can save them from the impending punishment. In Amos 5:14-16 there is only a little Amos says about the Israelites being saved from this impending doom. Seek good and hate evil, and live. I wonder how difficult it must have been to even say that though God is experiencing anger and abandonment from the Israelites. It would be easy to say God is going to kill you all because you have sinned, you have been treating other inhumanely, you have been using your economic power to squish the poor even further into the ground because it feels like the Israelites deserved that. But Amos knew that God would save them if they repented and turned away from the evil they were doing and turned away from the evil they were headed towards. In Amos 6: 1-8 we see a comparison of Israel to the other nations. Amos is saying to look at these other nations, look at them and realize you are not the biggest or the best, look at them and then look at Israel and recognize the train wreck that is just beyond the horizon for you. “Are you better than these kingdoms?” vs. 2. These verses are a lament to the people of Israel and telling them that the Lord is going to force them into Exile for the Lord does not sit well with those who are filled with arrogance. (vs.8). Destruction and devastation consumes Amos chapter  8. I can only imagine the pain God must be experiencing since His people are being so destructive and causing Him to prepare for destruction on these people! “That’s a hint of Judgement Day- that and much worse.” Amos 8:10 reads just after the warnings of what Judgement Day will look like for all the people who have been sinning. Amos 9: 1-4 opens with the Lord destroying Israel saying “I’ve made up my mind, to hurt them, not help them.” 9:4.

So what is wrong with Israelite society? Just about everything is wrong, the wealthy have taken over all of the power and are continuously taking from others; selling people, taking everything they can from those who are already poor and not worshiping God. They have become too prideful for their own good in God’s words. They have distanced themselves from worship and rituals with God which means they no longer hold a relationship with God.

What will happen to the people of Israel if they don’t change, and can they save themselves from this impending destruction? God clearly gives answers to this and says that He will destroy them if they do not turn their lives away from the evil that they are participating in and away from the evil that they are headed towards. Amos is an ongoing Lament of God to the Israelites.(lectures)  Showing them they have done wrong, in what ways they can turn back and begging them to do so- or else. Eventually the decision of “or else” comes in Amos 9 along with a promise to restore David’s house (SPOILERS) just before the book ends.

*My opinion* I believe God is experiencing this anger because God stood up for the Israelites and after the high of winning, the humility of being rescued and being taken care of wore off, they got comfortable. They decided to give into their sinful nature and abused their power over other people lives. They tore apart the relationship they had with God while doing this and they did not wish to set aside their pride and worship with God again. I believe they became too comfortable and forgot how power God is and forgot how God provided.

Understanding who is Amos was might give us some clarity on what was happening at that time. Amos was a prophet- this did not mean that Amos predicted the future- prophets were seen as intermediaries, interpreters or someone just passing along the message. (Stanley 429) (Bandstra 196)(Lectures Part A). According to the lectures Amos was more of a messenger prophet, delivering the message for the Lord, as well as Amos’s own lament along with a vision statement of what will happen in the end. Amos felt compelled by God when a certain division of the wealthy were rising up and felt the Israelites needed to be warned that these words were coming from God (Bandstra 289). (lectures) (. Through the sharing of visions, the elements of lament in his messaged we can see that Amos was using the ways the ancient prophets did to make his point (lectures prophecy A).

It is important for us to read and understand Amos right now as we experience a rise of corruption in power. I am not trying to put down one seat of government, although I am strongly against a person, but I am also against corruption and deception. Currently we feel that it is better to deceive whole nations than to be honest and ask for help, it is better to kill whole nations and hold them as prisoners than to allow them to leave and disagree. Right now, across the world in macro and micro ways, corruption is winning. I can only imagine how God feels, but I hope God continues to make good on the promise of unending love.

 

Lester, Dr. G. Brooke. “Prophecy A: Prophetic Activities & Genres”. Podcast. Introducing the Tanak. Last modified 2014. Accessed March 2, 2017.

Lester, Dr. G. Brooke. “Prophecy B: Eighth Century Changing Context”. Podcast. Introducing the Tanak. Last modified 2014. Accessed March 2, 2017.

Stanley, Christopher D. The Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010.

Elements of despair? or encouragement?

The word “apocalypse” as described by Bandstra as a revelation of future events through the mediation of God whereas “apocalyptic” means to revel or disclose (information, events, etc). Bandstra’s definition fits perfectly with the way we describe the content of Daniel 7-12 as well as the book of Revelation. *Personal input* I have actually never had a friend or colleague discuss Daniel with me as apocalyptic literature- but we all fear Revelation for that very reason! how interesting.

In Dr. Lester’s lecture the people in the stories of apocalyptic literature are in crisis and its function is to provide a blanket of comfort to it’s people. I found this a much better way to think about apocalyptic literature that went well with the way Bandstra defends it.While there is destruction and chaos on apocalyptic literature, there is still resiliency in the stories of others and a future that is prosperous to those who are faithful.

Through apocalyptic literature we are presented with fantastic characteristics, imagery and new ways of imagining the past and the future. The visionary experiences include visions from heaven, narrative that we call legends, cosmic dualism that puts the forces of good against evil, eschatology, an image of the ending of this world and the beginning of a new one- a new heaven and a new earth, and moral strictness (ethical dualism).

We can see each of these throughout Daniel, beginning in Chapter 7 with a legend (Daniel) having a dream of beasts that represent foreign kings lording over Judah. Verse 9-14, dualism is found in the introduction of an alright figure to their story, the figure is pure, good and very powerful. This is the good overcoming the evil (the beasts) and reigning over earth.In verse 16 Daniel is working to understand the meaning of this dream and finds a new one where they are experiencing the end times when the cosmic dualism of good and evil will occur.

In Chapter 10 we find eschatological dualism being played out. Daniel receives another vision from a heavenly being in verse 4 and it only comes to him because he is trustworthy, wise, and good. Verse 13 we have more battles of good and evil in the Heavens. Daniel is also deemed worthy because of his righteous behavior in consistent prayers, verse 12.

Chapter 11 develops more into the cosmic tension building between the forces of good and evil as the forces of evil are winning. In verses 30-39 the king emerges victorious. and in Chapter 12 we arrive to Daniel’s revelation and tie up the tale of perseverance and encouragement.

Daniel reads as a tale of encouragement to me, there is despair and frustration throughout it but from the beginning it feels like a tale where you know good will overcome evil. I find this easy to sit with during this time in my life because I am very worried about the state of our nation and the divide that is happening. I believe in my heart without a doubt that good always prevails, but I have also worked with victims and read tales of war to know that many people only experience the despair throughout most of their life. In the story of Daniel Yahweh restore life and rewarded those who suffered that were faithful. I am thankful for such tales in the Bible because I know these tales are needed for us. We learned about laments and then the story of Job thus far. We can see that there is despair and there we are allowed to feel despair, but we see in Daniel that we are not allowed to give up. We are to be faithful and persevere and God will emerge victorious with us.

“What’d ya do?”

The podcast I listened to was a decent, sarcastic podcast, with a little incorrect context, and a few things right, but in the end, left me with some thoughts I didn’t have before.

What did they get right?

1.) They are exactly correct when they briefly mention God telling Job “He is doing this to him because he can do whatever He wants because He created Job” because God does respond to Job in Job 38. In the beginning Job is working through the grief he is experiencing and lamenting in the beginning dialogues of his suffering. Job 7 is when Job decides maybe he can’t take it anymore and begins to cause God for being an unjust God to him despite all the ways Job proved loyal in the past.

2.) Blasphemous questions- During this section of the podcast Blue Gal is quoting Stephen Fry saying,” How dare you let children suffer? … How dare you allowing suffering?” They are technically questions but seem more like a challenge towards God from Fry. This is seen as blasphemous as it it defined, “the act or offense of speaking  sacrilegiously about God or sacred things..” according to the dictionary. They are correct in saying these questions are blasphemous and in saying that Job is merely looking for some wisdom, some understanding of why he is having to suffer. Bandrsta comments on this in chapter 14, Proverbs and Job: The Wisdom of Israel: 1.1.1. We are saying that when someone is questioning God about the circumstances/ good in the life that God created it is actually the search of wisdom instead of a person looking to slander or curse God.

3.) The fact that Job was with a new family (children) in the end was something I would agree is not okay with the story- but who am I to judge? Personally I would have a problem if ha’satan took away my children, God “allowed it” and then I had a new family later. Maybe I like my new family and I am happy- but it just felt like one set of children gone-okay when are the next ones due?

What did they get wrong?

1.)/2.) 3.) According to the lecture, Stanley and Bandstra Satan in this story is not the devil that we see as satan but instead being seen as someone who accuses people of incapable of true loyalty. So Driftglass gets this information wrong but also the fact that “this was a bet with the devil… because a good man was being tested for fun because is bored”. First of all- laugh out loud – to imagine God being bored, we constantly put God on the same level as us or imagine him being a puppet master who gets bored pulling strings. But honestly Driftglass gets this wrong too because God wasn’t bored, ha’satan is seen as someone underneath God questioning Job’s loyalty saying “he’s only good because you rewarded him each time- he should be tested.” Then Driftglass completely misses the fact that Job is a loyal servant of God and not afraid to be upset in order to understand what is happening to him but in the end understands that the ways of the Lord are too big for humanity to understand, even something as small as being tested, and ceases to question God.

4.) Earlier I made a comment on how I agreed with Blue Gal and Driftglass had a problem with God killing Job’s family and just giving him a new one. This is very wrong. In Job we read that Job’s children were killed and not his wife as Blue Gal said “oh well, she’s just a woman who cares” as if to say back then no one cared about women but really she didn’t know the facts.

For me the podcast and our lecture brought in some critical points that essentially boil down to sometimes life really sucks, but our main flaw is that we look too closely at the current struggle and often don’t celebrate the joy as much as we should. We spend our days lamenting rather than working to understand that our struggles along with our victories are a progress of wisdom occurring in our lives. I believe that was the real point of the story of Job, and while his story really does suck- it’s not about God testing Him so much as it is about God showing Job there is wisdom in the suffering.

What would you say to God if you got to heaven?

When I was younger I had more frustration to work through, I do still to this day because my work brings me to many deeply disturbed and traumatized persons. I have a problem with the trauma, but too often I find myself asking “why God?” and am working on replacing that with “why humanity?” Why do we allow human trafficking, why do we allow for pornography to be one of the largest markets, why do we allow for other to dictate what we can and cannot do? Because of money? No. I would not ask God anything, when I make it to heaven I will thank Him for greeting me, thank Him for taking care of my family and apologize for not doing more.

What did they leave out?

A piece of the conversation that was very important to me was what I write below, sitting with pain and struggle is just as important as being proactive in a situation. We are often proactive right away because we want to protect people from that pain. We have experienced pain and we don’t wish that pain on anyone, but maybe that pain is essential to our lives in some way and having people around who will sit with you until you are ready is important. The hosts focus on the petty nature of God and make God into a teenage girl. They make God into a Drama Queen. If we take what Stanley writes on p 511 “humans are incapable of understanding why things happen as they do…” we attempt to humble ourselves, set aside our pride and say honestly- yes! You are right, we do hate when we don’t know what the plans are. God was allowing His sounding board to test Job because He believed in Job without a doubt. Job stood strong, even when he was tired and upset, Job still stood strong and proved God right. I believe these two things are big pieces of the conversation that the podcast missed.

One more thing I would like to add- this has nothing to do with the podcast:

An important part of Job I think doesn’t get the spot light at all is when Job’s friends came to sit with him for seven days and seven nights and did not speak a word with him for they saw that his grief was too great for words. This reminded me of the reading “Do the opposite of what you think you should do for a depressed friend”.  While this article was written 3 years ago, the information is still valid to this day. I naturally was drawn to this article given that I am working to be licensed in Psychopathology and receive a certificate in Self Psychology. Therapy and “mindfulness” is changing from working with people to change their cognitive behaviors so they can get back to work but rather recognizing the difficulties of humanity and being present with those emotions. Too often we dehumanize people, we act like our feelings don’t matter (THEY ARE WHAT MAKE YOU-YOU!) and we are entirely too quick to tell people to cheer up. Think about it for a moment- how many times did someone tell you to cheer up after you got fired, got broken up with, lost a pet, lost a family member or friend- and that actually worked. Sure we may want privacy in some cases but honestly we likely want someone there while we grieve, to be there, to hold a hand or to sit quietly and make sure we know there is a presence. Job’s friends did that, he was going through a horrible time and they sat with him in his grief.

Lastly, a quick explanation for my title- a mission trip I chaperoned two years ago placed me in charge of a group and their story was Job for a skit one night. They perceived Job being surrounded by people who were constantly wondering “what’d you do?” because his life was so fragmented for so long. They assumed people must have been very concerned with what Job was doing.