When Bible Characters Attack!

What You’ve Missed…
* Seeing as I haven’t written in forever, you’ve missed tons. But it’s 11:15 at night, and I’m trying to be out the door in the next 45 minutes, so I’ll just keep it simple.
* You missed the story of Esther, which would make a totally epic, totally over the top, totally drawn out drama film like Ben-Hur. I probably wouldn’t watch it.
* You missed that totally weird and over-sexed king from 300, who apparently was a real dude. (No word on whether he was actually a third black, a third extraterrestrial and a third bizarro freak, or if that was just Hollywood’s creative liberty.)
* You missed the Jews who started rebuilding their temple and the walls of Jerusalem. Oh, and all the Jews in captivity in Babylon were released and came home. It’s kind of a, “if you (re)build it, they will come” Field of Dreams moment. Just with way less Kevin Costner and his “acting.” Christian or not, I think we can all throw an “amen” out there for that.

Day 265
Daily Reading: Nehemiah 12-13

Quick background story on Nehemiah. He was the governor of Judah for twelve years. As order is being restored to the land and Jewish people, Nehemiah is overseeing everything, and really taking point on making sure the Hebrews return to life based on God’s law. And by taking point, I mean the guy got his hands dirty putting in some serious man hours with hands on construction work. (Who knew politicians could actually do the work they talk so much about doing? I wouldn’t have believed it if it wasn’t in the Bible.)

So as the temple is coming together, and the walls of Jerusalem are cobbled back together, and life is really starting to look up, Nehemiah busts in like the Kool-Aid man (ironically enough though, he actually builds walls, rather than breaks through them) and shuts down the Jews recent party vibe.

“About the same time I realized some of the men of Judah had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab…So I confronted them and called down curses on them. I beat some of them and pulled out their hair. I made them swear in the name of God that they would not let their children intermarry with the pagan people of the land.” Nehemiah 13:23-25

He beat them and pulled their hair? That’s pretty extreme. And remember this guy held political office. Talk about the Governator…this guy wasn’t just playing a tough guy in the movies, he was a tough guy in real life. (Author’s note: It is important to mention some people would say real tough guys don’t pull hair. I say you decide. I also say, real tough guys do whatever it takes to give themselves more time to run away.)

Seriously though, Nehemiah just kind of loses it here and goes ballistic. I get that he was upset that his people had married outside of their culture, which God instructed them not to do, but, geez, to go straight into beating and torture? I mean, how is this infraction even related to hair pulling? What does it have anything to do with anything, other than Nehemiah being totally pissed?  You can’t just going around as a holy man of God, beating people and ripping out handfuls of their hair.  Can you?

It’s all pretty crazy when you think about it. Clearly he wasn’t afraid to REALLY get his hands dirty if you know what I mean.

So while many people may think of Nehemiah as just another nice Bible character who loved God and served him with gentle joy, I’d like to suggest he was a pretty intense dude who could seriously fly off the handle. He was also possibly the world’s most awesome combination of Sylvester Stallone (from Rocky), Arnold Schwarzenegger (from politics), and Chuck Norris (because he probably had a killer beard.)

(And as everyone knows when it comes to Chuck Norris, the term killer beard is NOT an exaggeration.)

Dirty Hippies

What You’ve Missed…
* God tells Israel things are going to get better.
* God tells Egypt things are going to get worse.
* God tells the country of Gog they’re basically dead already.
* Oh, and pages and pages listing Jewish ancestors for hundreds of years.  Apparently the Israelites were science fiction nerds because they gave their kids weird alien names like Uzzi, Zadok and Bukki.

Day 246
Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 8-9, Daniel 4, Ezekiel 40

We’re going to keep it pretty short and sweet today.  So, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a crazy dream and then has Daniel interpret it for him.  Here’s what Daniel tells him:

“This is what the dream means…You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals.  You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven.  Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses….but you will receive your kingdom back again when you learn that heaven rules.” (Daniel 4:24-26)

Bummer.  The worst part though is it came true.

“Twelve months later he was taking a walk…as he looked across the city he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon!  By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’ … That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society.  He ate grass like a cow and was drenched with the dew of heaven.  He lived this way until his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:29-33)

Later he admits God is the ultimate ruler, his sanity returns and he is restored as the head of his kingdom, with even greater honor than before.

Okay….just, hold up a minute here Bible. You’re telling me that the most powerful king in the land spends what could be months or years living like a Bonnaroo hippie, getting all cuddly and weird with nature, acting like a wild animal, and that he’s probably gone completely insane…and then he just goes back to being an awesome king who everyone loves even more than before?  I mean, I know people love a leader that can party (who wouldn’t want to cruise for chicks with President Clinton?) but this seems a bit much.

I can’t picture Obama being chased out of the Oval Office, and going on to spend the next few years following some jam band around the country, living out of a tent, growing some dreads and chewing some “grass”, only to return to the White House as President, with the full confidence of the nation behind him.  That’s ridiculous.  Fox News would never shut up about it, probably saying a real American would never even think of acting like that.

(Sure this sounds a lot like Bob Marley now that I think about it.  But Marley was always that way.  And he was cool.  And he’s ruining my analogy so I’m moving on.)

Would you want to follow a guy who completely lost his mind, lived like the dirtiest, homeless redneck ever, and then became president?  Would you believe that’s the guy God would put in charge of an incredibly powerfully nation?  Is it just me, or does that seem incredibly ridiculous to anyone else?  Because that’s what happened.

*Author’s note: My apologies to Bonnaroo fans.  I don’t think you’re all dirty hippies.  Just most of you.

Here We Go Again…

What You’ve Missed…
* God calls Jerusalem a useless vine.
* God calls Jerusalem an adulterous wife.
* God calls Jerusalem his beautiful daughter.  But then calls her a prostitute.  (In fact, God goes into great detail mentioning that this prostitute daughter actually lusts after men who, “have genitals like that of a donkey” completely one-upping Sir Mix-a-Lot’s I Like Big Butts.
* God says He is going to pour out his fury on Israel for her sins.
* Oh yeah, and God says He’s going to pour out judgment on all the false prophets.
* Apparently God is a tad angry these days.
(Credit for the above image goes to memegenerator.net)

Day 236
Daily Reading: Jeremiah 32-33, Ezekiel 26

To give you an idea of the kinds of things God is saying to His people at this point, allow me to let the Bible speak for itself.

“Son of man, turn and face Jerusalem and prophesy against Israel and her sanctuaries.  Tell her, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am your enemy, O Israel, and I am about to unsheath my sword to destroy your people – the righteous and the wicked alike.  Yes, I will cut off both the righteous and the wicked!  I will draw my sword against everyone in the land from south to north.  Everyone in the world will know I am the LORD.  My sword is in my hand, and it will not return to its sheath until its works is finished.’”  (Ezekiel 21:1-5)

First of all…that is one of the most bad ass, pre-battle speeches ever.  We’re passed Braveheart at this point.  This up there with the stuff Samuel L. Jackson is quoting in Pulp Fiction.  Clearly God knows how to put the fear of God in people.

Second of all…here we go again.  God is calling for the destruction of His own people.  A few posts ago we saw God say He would have mercy on His people.  So, what about now?

Well…it’s kind of the same deal.  But not.  In Jeremiah, God says He will allow Jerusalem to indeed fall completely into Babylon’s evil clutches (though, honestly, I thought this had already happened…so I’m kind of confused), and they will suffer as a result of their sinful behavior.  But then He says this,

“The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah.  He said, ‘Have you heard what people are saying – ‘The LORD chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them!’…But this is what the LORD says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky.  I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.”  (Jeremiah 33:23-26)

It seems that God is in fact going to allow the majority of His people to be destroyed through war and famine as He’s promised, but also, that he promises to restore them after it’s all over.  In fact, God also says,

“Now I want to say something more about [Jerusalem].  You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine and disease.’  But this is what the LORD, the God of Israel says: I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury.  I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety.”  (Jeremiah 32:36-37)

And this,

“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: This land – though it is now desolate and has no people and animals – will once more have pastures where shepherds can lead their flocks…The day will come, says the LORD, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.”  (Jeremiah 33:12-14)

So, I guess God isn’t really going back on His word here.  He’s just saying, “Look, I’m unhappy and things are going to seriously suck for awhile.  I promise.  But then, I’m going to make it awesome again.  Really awesome.  I promise.  Stick with me.”

Weird, but okay.  I can rally around that kind of upfront honesty, seasoned with hope for the future.  (Maybe our presidential candidates should get God on their speech writing teams.  Or maybe they should just start telling the truth.  I’m actually not sure which is more likely.)
Honestly though, I’m still a little confused about whether Jerusalem has actually been captured yet or not.  And that whole “men hung like donkeys” thing is still kind of messing me up.