Exodus 9 – One for the Skeptics

God doesn’t pull any punches in Exodus 9. If anything, between the livestock-slaying pestilence, the flesh sores, and the hailstorm, he ups the ante. And as I read about God wrecking shop on the Egyptians’ animals, skin, and crops, I couldn’t help thinking, “This is not going to go over well with some people.” The Shortpacked comic in which David Willis, by way of The Prince of Egypt, goes for the throat of the God of the Exodus narrative springs readily to mind. I can’t hope to resolve every difficulty with Exodus in a single post, but perhaps I can shed light on a few issues and offer answers to some questions. You know what? This one’s for the skeptics. This one’s for the skeptic in you and the skeptic in me. Let’s do it.

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Jonah 4 – Garbage Prophet

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t until I was in junior high that I discovered there was more Jonah after Nineveh’s repentance. You may have had a different experience, but it seemed children’s Bible stories always stopped short of the scene where Jonah gets bent out of shape over Nineveh’s non-destruction. Then again, I may be misremembering, or perhaps I somehow never realized that the guy in the picture books grousing about his dead plant was still Jonah. Either way, I’ve got my intro paragraph, so let’s look at the actual text.

Jonah 1 – Jonah, the Very Worst Prophet

If there’s one minor prophet you’re already familiar with, it’s probably Jonah. While the bulk of the minor prophets comprises divine messages of judgment, mercy, and calls to repentance, Jonah is largely historical narrative. When you add that it requires very little background knowledge to understand, you’ve got a prime candidate for a children’s Bible story lesson. Plus, it’s got a big ol’ miracle fish.

Amos 1 – Moral Thermodynamics

It’s time for some new prophecy. Today we start the book of Amos, who was a shepherd by trade when God called him to be a prophet. At the time, Israel and Judah had divided into two separate kingdoms; during Amos’ ministry in the mid-eighth century BC, Uzziah ruled Judah to the south, and Jeroboam ruled Israel to the north. Amos was an older contemporary of two prophets whose messages we’ve already seen: Isaiah and Hosea. When you consider that multiple prophets were on the scene at the same time, you have to conclude their audience was in dire need of their message. That audience, of course, is primarily Israel.

Joel 2 – Rescinderella Story

The second chapter of Joel begins with a trumpet warning of war–if you can call it a war. Joel sees a vision of an advancing foreign nation, and he devotes nearly half the chapter to describing their power. Even at a distance, it’ll be clear to the people of Israel that they’re terrifyingly outclassed by the horde; Joel prophesies, “Before them the people are in anguish; all faces turn pale” (6). The advancing crowd are disciplined soldiers, besieging cities with ease, and their power even shakes heaven and earth with apocalyptic might. And on top of that, they’re sanctioned by God.

Hosea 6 – Mercy, Justice, and Evil Robots

Today’s Chocolate: Theo Orange 70% Dark Chocolate Today’s Passage: Hosea 6 Yesterday I posed some questions. Today God answers them. The previous chapter featured a simile in which God, as a lion, tore Israel to pieces as a consequence of their sin. I asked: does God intend to punish the people of Israel, to discipline them, or […]