BSF Lesson 9 Readings for the Study of Revelation

To aid in completing the questions, click on the link to get the readings for the whole week in one spot.

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The Problem with the “Salvation Prayer”

Love it!

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Problem with the salvation prayer

As someone who onlyreally became a Christian in my early-mid 20s (after many failed attempts, which I’ll get to later), I can tell you that witnessing the (at best) unchanged lives of believers, and (at worst) the outright hypocrisy of believers was a major deterrent in my own journey towards truth. To this day, when talking with non-believers, I sometimes hesitate to refer to myself as a Christian because—from the perspective of a non-believer—I’m all too familiar with the image that conjures: a person who lives just like the rest of the world, but claims eternal salvation on the back of someone whose life, death and resurrection was marked by utter purity from the sin of the world.

And I know I’m not the only one with this perspective. In his book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience” (subtitle: “Why are Christians living like the rest of the world?”)…

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BSF Lesson 26 Sixth day: Review Genesis 37-38

Judah-and-Tamar

Today’s passage is Genesis 37-38 and we will focus on Judah and Tamar which is mainly in Genesis 38.

But let’s go through Genesis 37 see what we can reasonably infer about Judah.

37:2 Joseph brought a bad report about his brothers to his father.

This might have included Judah. Note this does not mean that the report was true, though given the way the brothers described in later verses suggests that this is true.

Why isn’t Judah, the eldest child the one keeping an eye on his brothers? Is it because he is as bad as the rest of them?

37:4 Joseph’s brothers hated him.

Again, this would appear to include Judah. As the eldest, he should have given a good example to his younger brothers or told them off for it.

37:12-17 Joseph’s brothers were supposed to be at Shechem but were at Dothan instead.

Now I don’t want to read into this that they were bad or disobedient. It is not clear from these two chapters whether they had the authority to move their flock in search of pasture. It would appear likely, to me, that they should have the authority.

37:20-21 The brothers consider killing Joseph

Again Judah fails his responsibility as the eldest. Not standing up for justice when the brothers suggest killing Joseph. Instead it falls to Reuben to plead for Joseph’s life.

37:26 Judah suggests selling Joseph as a slave.

Even worse now, Judah not only failed to restrain his brothers, he is instigating the sale of Joseph to the slave traders!

As an aside, how often do we do something thinking it’s the better choice when in reality it is the lesser evil – lesser but still evil?

38:1 Judah goes to Adullam.

The Bible states that Judah left his brothers but we are not told the reason why.

Like Esau, Judah did not marry right. He had three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah.

It does not say whether Judah brought up his sons right but he has to take at least some responsibility for the way his kids turned out. Er was wicked in the Lord’s sight and Onan did what was wicked in the Lord’s sight.

38:11 Judah sent his daughter-in-law, Tamar, back to her father

38:16, 20 Judah sleeps with Tamar thinking that she was a shrine prostitute.

He sins in three ways.

1)      Sex outside marriage

2)      Sex with a shrine prostitute is a form of idol worship, yes Tamar was not a shrine prostitute but the fact is that Judah was fully willing to sleep with a shrine prostitute

3)      Sex with his daughter-in-law

38:24 Judah sentences Tamar to death

Despite having abandoned his obligation to Tamar by withholding Shelah as a husband, and sending her back to her father, Judah now wishes to judge Tamar.

38:25-26 Judah recognises his sin.

Whether he repents of it or not, it is not made clear in the Bible.

But seeing as Jesus was part of the nation of Israel it would be safe to infer that Perez and Zerah were with Judah and not with Tamar’s father, and by extension so was Tamar (though Judah did not sleep with her again).

Thoughts

At first when I read the story of Judah and Tamar I am struck by the ordinariness of it.

By moving to Adullam, Judah could represent the backsliding that often happens to Christians. We absorb the culture that we live in, so it is not surprising that Er and Onan were wicked / did wicked things.

<sarcasm> Sleeping with shrine prostitutes appears socially acceptable in those days, so why should Judah not avail himself of them? Afterall his wife had died and as a man he has needs! </sarcasm>

Superstitious thinking existed back in Judah’s time (38:11) just as it does now. It is shown to have real world implications when instead of fulfilling his obligations to Tamar he sends her to live with her father.

Face-saving too existed in Judah’s time (38:23).

So what do we have here? Ordinary people living ordinary lives. People being people, some wicked, thinking superstitious thoughts and living according to the morality of the society they find themselves in. Yet through it all, God is working, not slowly but patiently, behind the scenes. God works through the pain (Can you imagine how painful it must have been for Tamar to wait all those years? Only to be accused of prostitution?) through all the wrongs and double wrongs (ie using wrong methods to correct an initial wrong) to bring about His ultimate plan of salvation. For Jesus came through the line of Judah and Perez.

Continual stimulation

comfortably_numb_by_mauserart-d530gbfUnfortunately, unlike the song would like to suggest, we are not growing comfortably numb.

We are growing numb from over stimulation but instead of cutting back on our electronic inputs we are doubling down.

From being available only in government and educational establishments to the workplace, then the home, finally (through the mobile broadband) everywhere.

From waiting rooms to bedrooms, from trains to aeroplanes, people’s faces everywhere are being lit by the blue-ish glow of their mobile devices.

i forgot my iphone

Instead of being in the moment we are tempted to record it instead, for review at some indefinite time in the future when we have more time. Except that we probably have stored up enough materials (educational, entertaining or otherwise) to last several lifetimes.

Our leisure pursuits, instead of serving to relax us, become a source of stress instead. We feel compelled and obligated to rush through all twenty-four episodes of 24 ’cause we have tons of other movies and shows yet unwatched, sitting on our shelves. And, crazily, we continue to add to the pile at each sale at the mall.

Our human desire for more, that dissatisfaction with the status quo, which can drive us to improve ourselves, fight injustice or invent something is instead subverted into gluttony. A global malaise whereby we waste millions and millions of man-hours into relaxing, which is our god-given right, damn it! ‘Cause life is so stressful!

Which is just b/s. Look at the previous generation where people worked harder for longer and didn’t whinge about it as much.

We need to slow down and reconnect. Give our bodies much needed sleep and lay off the over-eating, over-indulgence at least for a couple of days.

But don’t talk to me now. Big Brother is on…