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

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.

It’s Never Cool to be Emo

What You’ve Missed…
* Jacob moves to Egypt.  He gives his final blessing for all twelve of his sons before he dies.  (It’s actually pretty dramatic and theatrical.  Richard Roeper would probably consider it a bit over the top, but then again, he didn’t think Snakes on a Plane was that great either, so what does he know?)
* Joseph mourns his father, then he dies.  (Very UNdramatically I might add.  Booooo.)
* Genesis ends.  (One down, sixty-five to go.)

Day 19
Daily Reading: Job 1-4

Yup, you read that right.  We jumped from Genesis to Job.  (Keep in mind this is a chronological Bible…and apparently scholars believe the story of Job takes place around the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Basically it’s a, “Meanwhile, over at Job’s Ranch…”  type of situation.)

So, the first couple of chapters of Job are pretty nuts.  For starters God is bragging to Satan about how awesome Job is.  How he’s a man of integrity who stays away from evil. Did you catch that?  God is bragging about Job!  Think He still does this?  I like to think God brags about me from time to time.  (I mean, if you saw how incredibly humble I am, you’d be pretty impressed too.)  Anyway, Satan says he wants to test Job, and God ALLOWS it (under the condition Job is not harmed physically.)  You’d think God would tell Satan to get lost, that Job (who God claims to be the finest man on the Earth) is off limits.  But that doesn’t happen, and Satan goes off to do his thing.

Satan has a bunch of crazy desert raiders steal and kill all of Job’s livestock and servants.  Then a powerful wind comes in, knocking down the house where ALL of Job’s children were partying, killing everyone inside.  (Thinking ahead to parenthood, I’m tempted to use this story to scare my possible future teenage daughters away from parties.  “Remember what happened to Job’s children honey?  They partied.  And they died.”)  After all the dust has settled, and Job realizes he’s lost nearly everything in his life, he worships God, reminding us that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh awayeth.  (Job’s attitude is hard for me to accept, seeing as I get pretty upset at little things.  Like when I lose a game of Words With Friends…which is all the time.  I’m making grumbling sounds I don’t know how to adequately write out right now.)

Cut back to heaven and God is still bragging about Job and Satan is still really annoyed by it, so he gets God to agree to another test for Job.  This time God says Satan can do anything he wants, except kill him.  So Satan covers him in boils from head to toe.  (Now, I don’t mean to cause division, but I’d imagine Job would have a hard time reading Your Best Life Now in this condition, especially if he’d heard God say all this suffering was cool by Him.)

Seriously…God is simply allowing Job’s life to turn to complete crap overnight.  He doesn’t console him, or promise him it will get better.  He doesn’t reach in to save him or heal him or anything.  He just let’s Job suffer.  And this is a man He loves.  A man He brags about!  What the heck God?  I mean, the whole “God gives and God takes away” thing is great in theory…but if this is what it looks like in the practical sense, well, I don’t know how I’m supposed to really handle that.  (I like the first part waaaay more than that second part.)  And I really like the idea that, “His ways are not our ways” but I like it when it helps me to keep on keepin’ on when I can’t explain things for myself.  But here…God’s way is to let someone He loves simply suffer.  I mean, I guess it’s a test for Job, but still…I like the “His ways aren’t our ways” deal when it’s convenient, not…inconvenient.  I like it when it makes things easier, not harder.

Anyway…so Job finally shows that while he may be God’s favorite, he’s still totally human.  After sitting around in silence with his friends for seven days, wallowing in his misery, he finally explodes into the most depressing speech ever, cursing the day he was born.  He actually says he wishes he’d been born dead.  How much more depressing, morbid, and emo can you get?  Eat your heart out George Bailey, this guy can outwhine you any day of the week.  (I mean the character from It’s a Wonderful Life, not my friend George Bailey, who shares the same name, and who in fact, is pretty optimistic about most things.)

As the suffering continues, Job’s buddy Eliphaz tries to encourage his friend, reminding him to be confident in God.  He reminds Job that God is just and powerful.  He encourages him to take heart and endure.  But I doubt Job really listens to him because with a name like Eliphaz, well, let’s just say I bet Job thinks he’s more like Elispaz than anything else.  (To be honest, I don’t know Job’s response.  I haven’t read that far yet.)

Eliphaz…that poor guy. I bet middle school was tough for a guy with a name like that.

Old School Willy Wonka

What You’ve Missed…
A lot.
* Jacob’s sons graduate from brotherly rivalry 101  [giving Indian burns, punching each other in the shoulder (two for flinching!) and just causing your basic, run-of-the-mill emotional scarring inherent in all brotherly relationships] and move onto graduate level stuff like LEAVING THEIR BROTHER JOSEPH TO DIE IN THE WILDERNESS, and later, SELLING HIM INTO SLAVERY.  (To be fair, he did constantly mention how he had dreams that they would all bow down to him in the future.)
* After becoming a slave in Egypt, Joseph is falsely accused of rape and is thrown in prison.  (Let’s see…being hated by his brothers, becoming a slave, and then thrown into prison under false pretenses?  Can you imagine the prescription drug problem this guy would have today?)
* God uses Joseph to interpret the dreams of two fellow inmates. (One goes on to prosperity, and the other is impaled on a pole.)
* Joseph becomes the original Charlie Sheen in Wallstreet (is this too dated a reference?) rising straight to the top of the power/wealth chain when he gives Pharaoh some pretty sweet insider information, and Pharaoh appoints him to be in charge of the entire kingdom.
* Because of famine, and because Joseph is the man with the plan (and food) his brothers come to him (not recognizing him), bowing at his feet (ring a bell?) begging to buy food for their families back home in Canaan.
* In retrospect, maybe you should just watch Act I of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  It’s filled with lavish musical numbers, elaborate stage sets, and fantastically flamboyant costumes.  Other than that, it’s exactly the same as what you just read.

Day 16
Daily Reading: Genesis 42-45:15

Alright, so Joseph’s brothers took brotherly harassment to a new level.  But it’s turning out the Bible knows how to spin one heck of a great story, and Joseph is about to take the idea of “getting even” to new heights.  Joseph wants revenge, but he’s not out for blood, and it should be mentioned he seems slightly bi-polar.  So what’s his approach?  Mind games.

Phase one kicks off with some serious interrogation.  After grilling his brothers he accuses them of being liars and spies.  For phase two, Joseph throws them all in jail for three days.  Then he demands they go back home, and return to Egypt with their youngest brother Benjamin.  He ties up his brother Simeon, and holds him as ransom.  But just to keep them on their toes, he fills up their grain sacks, and secretly returns the money they used to purchase the grain, which they find later, and which really stresses them out.

Their father Jacob starts freaking out, refuses to let Benjamin go to Egypt, and plays the famous dad card telling his idiot children that they will be the death of him.  As the famine continues their grain runs out again.  (Let’s pause quickly and remember their brother Simeon has been tied up in prison, completely disregarded by his family this whole time.)  So Jacob relents and sends his sons with Benjamin back to Egypt.

Phase three of Joseph’s mind games includes him inviting his brothers to eat in the palace.  (They’re pretty much convinced they’re in serious trouble.  You know that crazy intense scene in Inglorious Basterds where the movie theater lady is dining with that General, and she has to pretend to be enjoying herself, even though she’s pretty much convinced he’s just toying with her and planning on destroying her life completely any minute?  It’s like that.)

After eating, Joseph initiates phase four, where he gives his brothers more grain and sends them on their way, but not before stashing his silver cup in their luggage, and instructing his servant to stop them, and accuse them of stealing from him.  Everything goes according to plan and upon returning to the palace under the charge of theft, Joseph declares the one who stoles the cup will now be his slave.  After hearing his brother Judah cry out for mercy, Joseph breaks down and reveals himself to his brothers.  Then he weeps loud enough that everyone in the palace hears him.  (This is my favorite part because this Bible “hero” is clearly a regular dude, with some emotional instability, who is looking for a little personal justice, thinking it will bring him peace.  Now this is a guy I can relate to).  Finally he invites his whole family to come to Egypt to live with him.

You know, as I think about this, Joseph is like a real life Willy Wonka.  He’s in charge of a crazy place.  He’s (probably) wearing some weirdo outfit (just think about how the pharaohs looked).  His favorite gift to give to his guests is a few rounds of mental torture.  He’s an emotional wreck (I’m reading in between the lines for Mr. Wonka here, but I think it’s still pretty obvious) and he eventually invites a family to move in and live with him in his fantastical palace.  The only difference is they replaced grain with chocolate and a silver cup with golden tickets.  Oh, and they added orange midgets.

Yup.  This is indeed some crazy stuff.