It’s Personal

What You’ve Missed…
* God seems to be an emotional wreck all throughout the book of Isaiah.  He seems more upset and angry with everything happening in life than most middle school students on their worst day of seventh grade.  (Yeah, it’s that intense.)
* King Hezekiah and King Manasseh are the only two out of like, a bunch of kings, to actually worship God.  Israel and Judah are mostly being governed by a string of total jerks, jugheads, and jack-wagons at this point.
* Jeremiah busts onto the prophetic scene and has a lot to say to Israel, most of which could be summed up by the song titles from New Kids on the Block’s 1988 album Hangin’ Tough, with sweet jams such as “Please Don’t Go Girl” and “I Remember When”. (No, seriously.  It’s pretty remarkable.  But mostly it’s embarrassing that I’m even aware of this.)

Day 212
Daily Reading: Jeremiah 5-6, 2 Kings 22, and 2 Chronicles 34

At this point in our story, life in Israel and Judah is pretty much like Jersey Shore.  Everyone just does what they want, when they want, leaving responsibility, consequences, and the bill for someone else who doesn’t have their incredibly well-styled head up their (probably) well styled butt.

But then we’re introduced to King Josiah, who is a fo’ real game changer.  And a fo’ real eight year old.  This kid goes against the grain and decides to follow God.  Eighteen years later (he’s twenty-six at this point for all you math nerds, I mean math people, out there) he makes an important discovery.  During a little spring cleaning, the local head priest discovers the Book of the Law (God’s laws given to Moses) and has it read to king Josiah, which brings about an epiphany.

“When the king heard what was written in the Book of the law, he tore his clothes in despair….The LORD’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words written in this scroll.  We have not been doing everything it says we must do.”  (2 Kings 22:11-13)

Annnnnnnnd now it makes sense why most the kings before him did whatever they wanted.   Apparently though they were God’s chosen people, they had no idea He’d given them some life guidelines.  It seems as though God’s law was more of an ancient way of life that most people didn’t put a lot of stock in.  Sort of like Han Solo thinking the Force was just a lot of mumbo jumbo, before shooting up the best bar in sci-fi history.

But unlike everyone’s favorite spice-smuggling space pirate, Josiah puts a lot of stock in the recently rediscovered Law and decides for himself to believe in and follow it.  I can relate to that.  A lot.

I think (and this is a gross generalization that I shouldn’t make, but will) many modern day Christians are in a similar boat to that of Israel and Judah (though they were in the desert, and probably didn’t have boats at all) in that many Christians sort of do the whole Christian “thing” without really investigating it for themselves.  That is, I think many American Christians simply live the way they are told to by their parents, pastors or youth group leaders.

Over time, that way of life has become mixed up in our culture in a way that I think has people missing the point of why anyone is even Christian at all.  Just like in Israel, where people believed they were God’s chosen ones not because they chose to be, but because someone simply declared to them they were, people today say they’re a Christian because they have some Christian traditions in their family, and have basically just been told they are a Christian by the generation before them.

That’s how it was for me for a long time.  I thought of myself as a Christian, mostly because of my upbringing in Sunday school and Wednesday night youth group.  But as an adult, I went my own way, doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  (Crap, that means I was pretty much a total Jersey Shore d-bag…just with video games vying for my attention rather than tons of hot girls.)

And that’s the whole reason this blog even exists.  Because last November, something in me wanted to start reading the Bible for myself.  To think about it for myself.  To take ownership of my relationship with God, and not to have it defined by what people told me it was supposed to be.  Much like Josiah, I have been amazed at what I’ve found.

So this story was a surprise to me, because it’s about a guy who thought he was following God from an early age, but it wasn’t until he was in his mid twenties that he even discovered what that even meant.  Discovering what God had actually said to His people changed everything for Josiah. (And it’s changing a lot for me too.)

It’s like Total Recall.  [Yes I’m only bringing it up because I just had my mind blown by the trailer for the new remake (and had my mind blown at the ridiculous hotness level of Jessica Biel.)]  In the movie, ol’ Arnie has a revelation when he discovers the true reality of what his life is really all about.  The only difference I can see between the movie and my and Josiah’s story is that neither Josiah or myself had a friend with an alien that looks like a heroin-wrecked Cabbage Patch Kid growing out of his stomach.  Nor were we super-spies who worked deep-cover espionage on Mars.

Other than that…it’s basically the same thing, really.

(In re-reading this post, I think it comes across a little confusing. Basically all I’m saying is that as a guy who decided to read God’s Word for himself, I liked the story about a Jewish king who did the same. I’m also trying to make the point that it’s important for Christians to actually do this as well. But Francis Chan says it way better. Way better? Much better? Either way, check out this great talk he gave recently.)

Where Da Gold At?

What You’ve Missed…
* Psalms NOT written by King David.
* Psalms NOT about melting people like wax, or butter, or my heart after watching Life is Beautiful.  (Why must you make me laugh and THEN cry Roberto Benigni?)
* David’s son Solomon becomes king.  A rich king.  A VERY rich king.

Day 145
Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 8-9, 1 Kings 10

This past week, each daily Bible reading has been about King Solomon establishing himself and ruling as the king of Israel.  There have been some interesting moments here and there, but as I’ve read, one singular and definitive theme has arisen from the pages of this sacred and holy book.  And that theme is this…

Solomon’s life was ridiculous.

Allow me to elaborate.  Solomon’s reign begins like this,

“So Solomon took the throne of the LORD in place of his father, David, and he succeeded in everything, and all Israel obeyed him.”  (1 Chronicles 29:23)

That’s a pretty solid start.  Succeeding at everything and having everyone obey you right out of the gate?  The guy’s clearly destined for a charmed life.  But stay with me dear reader, because we’re about to leave a charmed life in the dust.

Later Solomon marries the Pharaoh of Egypt’s daughter, a princess basically (who was probably crazy hot, especially with all that alluring, heavy Egyptian eyeliner they had goin’ on.)  Then he starts work on building a temple for God.  I’ll give you the short version.  The place is basically constructed out of gold and the finest materials in the world, which are offered to him in exchange for food.  Food!  That’s a ridiculous business transaction!

Then Solomon builds a palace for himself that is basically twice as big as the temple he built for God, and takes three times longer to construct.  Oh, and it’s also practically made out of gold.  The dude was rolling in so much gold, no one even cared about much else.

“All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the palace.  They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day.”  (1 Kings 10:21)

How rich are you when silver is considered worthless?  Crazy rich  Ridiculously rich.  Richie Rich rich.

But it gets better.  Solomon also had a fleet of ships that would return every three years loaded with gold and other valuable stuff.  And by “other valuable stuff” I mean monkeys.  Those ships returned with not just boatloads (literally) of cash, but with boatloads of monkeys too.  (He pretty much had his own little army of monkeys, which is kind of most guys’ dream really.  Especially if they’re dressed up in tiny hats.  The monkeys.  Not the guys.)

We’re not done yet.  As if being the most ridiculously rich man in the world wasn’t enough, God comes to Solomon and says He’ll give Solomon whatever he asks for.  Now I don’t know about you, but I’d probably blow that wish on like, a cool, robot-best-friend, or a talking dog or a girlfriend who loves video games or something.  But not Solomon.  The dude wants to be a good king, and so he asks God for wisdom.  And God is pleased with this answer, and so He gives Solomon wisdom, declaring him the wisest man to ever live.  Period.  For all time.  (Oh, and God’s so pleased with this answer, He throws in wealth and fame as freebies.)

So, now we have this incredibly rich guy, who’s also the smartest man to ever walk the face of the earth.  Rarely in life does anyone ever get to claim either one of these titles, and Solomon is simply GIVEN both of them.  He didn’t earn either one.  Are you kidding me!?

The years pass.  Solomon gets richer (and by richer, I mean he received 25 tons of gold a year.  25 tons!  Every year!  C’mon!  Does that much gold even exist?  I don’t even think Scrooge McDuck had that much gold.  Or the Mobile, Alabama Leprechaun.)  As time goes by Solomon becomes crazy famous and one day the Queen of Sheba comes to see if all the rumors and legends of his vast wealth and knowledge are true.  She discovers not only the rumors are true, but that they don’t even come close to describing how fantastic he actually is.

“She exclaimed to the king, ‘Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom are true! … In fact, I had not heard the half of it!  Your wisdom and prosperity are far beyond what I was told. … Praise the LORD your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne of Israel.’ … Then she gave the king a gift of 9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels.”  (1 Kings 10:6-10)

Did you catch that?  People are just giving this guy stuff for being so awesome.  They’re all like, “Oh, you’ve got tons of awesome stuff, and you’re totally awesome?  Well, here, I’d like to give you tons more awesome stuff.  For free.  No, no I don’t need it. You have tons.  You have more than everyone.  You should have this stuff too.”

It’s ridiculous.  Not even George Clooney lives this good.