Amos to Malachi

I have decided to post on the final ten books of the Old Testament, namely Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, as one.  I have found very little to distinguish between them and some other of the books of prophets already posted on.  I have also found it confusing in that they are not in chronological order and jump around back and forth in time which makes it difficult relating these to the correct periods of time and earlier books.  There do also seem to be gaps in time if you are looking at it from a historical point of view.  Were there no prophets in between times?  Or who has decided which ones to record and include, and which have been omitted?

It is unique to my version of the Bible or are the verse numbers out of sequence in chapter 4 of Zechariah in all versions?  Why number out of sequence even if for some reason the original author/scribe did?  I also am still struck by the false prophet.  Who is to say who was and who was not?  It strikes me that Zephaniah possibly was with saying that the Lord will put an end to everyone who lives on Earth.  It hasn’t happened yet and I don’t believe it will be down to the Lord if it does – it will ultimately be humans who destroy human life on Earth whether through their treatment of other people, the Earth its self, or a combination of the two.

I think it is fair to say that the Old Testament has clearly not been for me and I have taken very little from it.  If anything, it has diminished any shred of faith I may have had at the start.  From it alone I struggle to see how so many people in the world are of faith based on this and are fine with that and think it is right.  However, we are all different and it is not over yet.  The New Testament is to come.

 

Hosea and Joel

Is it the Lord or Israel that is being worshipped?  It seems to me that Israel is being held up as an idol but yet idolatry of anything other than the Lord is wrong and criticized.  For someone who does not think they idolise anything or anyone, it is a strange concept to understand how other people do.  Yes, I do admire some people and what they have achieved but I do not worship them; at least I do not think I do.  I gain inspiration from them and their achievements give me hope that there is good in the world but I do not venerate them although they do have my respect.

And the expectation that the offering of food should be made, that food is something other than to satisfy people’s hunger is so wasteful and just wrong.  In the world today, where many people do not have access to enough food to eat when there should be plenty to go round how can the wanton waste of food be condoned?

Daniel

‘Daniel was a man of prayer’ or so the song goes.  Daniel was also, like Joseph, an interpreter of dreams.  He also quite frankly sounds like he was on something and hallucinating, his mind disturbed.  And then we get to the end of the world, a subject which has enthralled a variety of people not just those of faith over time.  I feel I have failed to see what anyone is meant to take from the book of Daniel.

Possibly one day the world, i.e. the planet Earth, will no longer exist but that will not be down to any God.  The world as we know it will certainly end much sooner through what we are doing to the planet and each other whether in the name of any God or not.  It seems we have always been on the course of self-destruction and not preservation, but then that is partly in our genes – survival of the fittest and all that: each out for themselves and preserving their way of life I guess regardless of the effects on others.  However, we do have a capacity for love, empathy, and generosity.  It is just a pity that it takes an atrocity for this to be the headline rather than just being part of the mundane everyday background.

Ezekiel

I did not mean to read and post on Ezekiel in one sitting but there seemed no point in doing otherwise once I started reading.  Is Ezekiel a false prophet?  He certainly seems to hallucinate, and the book does not follow chronologically although does refer back to events previously read a lot earlier in the Old Testament (in particular Exodus ad Leviticus).  A fair amount of superstition also seems to permeate the Lord’s words as spoken to Ezekiel here which makes me even more disbelieving.  What is there for me to respect?  Where is the impetus for me to follow?

No wonder in today’s world people are still following ideology they do not fully understand and have never thought to question and analyse for themselves.  These more unpalatable parts of the Bible are not so widely publicised.  There are also too many places in my Bible in which there are notes at the bottom of the page to say that the Hebrew is unclear.  If the translators were unsure of the translation, how can we know it is right?  And therefore that the meaning has not been taken wrongly?  ‘We will soon be building houses again’ is very different from ‘We won’t be building houses for a while’.  And would we ever truly understand what others have written in the way they intended anyway?

Lamentations

Lamentations does indeed read like a lament – is this where the word originates from?

It was interesting that a conversation evolved in my workplace today with a colleague voicing their query that they did not understand why the country in which we live is described as a Christian country when the majority of people living in it do not practice a Christian faith of any kind.  I did voice my opinion that it is because many of our values and indeed laws are based on the Christian teachings.  Through my reading of the Bible this has become apparent enough but, as my opening sentence, so much of our lives and language seems to be ingrained from such a long time ago and I am not sure that I necessarily agree with all this.  Should we not have evolved more by now for the better?  Technology may have developed at a rapid pace but our capacity for thought has not necessarily done so and certainly not at anywhere near the same pace.  This may well be a personal lament.

Jeremiah 26-52

False prophets.  How does anyone tell the true from the false?  As with everything we come across as our lives unfold, in the end we just either have to make our own judgement or accept that of someone else.  Either way we make a decision, whether consciously or subconsciously, and have to take our own responsibility for that.  And in that respect we all must have some sort of faith even we are not necessarily of ‘faith’, from the simple faith that when we go to sleep at night we will wake the next morning and a new morning will have dawned, to believing that despite all the evil that is perpetuated by individuals in our world that there is more good than evil and that evil will never become the dominant force.

Jeremiah 12-25

I often despair of the world we live in today but if the Bible is to be believed then perhaps it could be much worse.  And yet for many it is a lot worse than it is for me in today’s world and I do not think this is because any God thinks the people concerned have sinned or are evil.  It is others who are perpetrating sin and evil again them, and what gives these people this right?  That they are more numerous or can shout louder?

I am also still intrigued by how anyone comes to believe in and follow any God at all.  For all anyone can be nurtured by a parent or parental figure and so influenced by them, or come to think that the environment around them is the ‘normal’ and the way things should be, how does the belief that there is a God which should be followed develop to the point where it is unquestionably truth in an individual’s mind?  I am trying and failing at the moment to think of anything else that is accepted as truth or being there without physical evidence: Even electricity which cannot be seen is so obviously there as it allows machines to work (if it did not they would just be metallic and plastic sculptures or ornaments with no purpose), and gravity must be there as you can keep travelling on this planet in the same direction and finally find yourself back where you started without falling off or floating away into space.

Jeremiah 1-11

Hypocrisy.  I know I have touched on this before and thought I would not face it again until I reached the new testament but that is not to be the way of things.  Who is the hypocrite: Anyone who celebrates Christmas with all its supposed traditions but never steps foot in a place of worship, or me who would say I have no faith but will attend a church at Christmas although that will probably be the only time in the year?  And the more I read the more I am finding no basis for any faith I may have which is based on the Bible.  How do I reconcile myself at Christmas when I am with family members who do have a Christian faith, and so will worship as part of their celebration?

It is not that I worship any other gods, or have any idols, and I do not feel that my life is lacking anything because of that.  I acknowledge that I do need to take time to remove from the stresses of everyday life now and again but I do not feel the need to do this within a religious setting.  I am intrigued and in some ways in awe of those who do have this need and are able to fulfil it seemingly unquestioningly.  We are all different but how is it I have come to this conclusion and am still trying to come to conclusions while someone else with an almost identical life experience to me could have come to completely different conclusions?

Isaiah 36-66

Doesn’t nearly everyone at some point or another dare to say to their parents, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ or similar, usually during our teenage angst.  After all without our parents (biological that is), none of us would be here.  But equally, how much of what we are comes not from biology but the way we are brought or, in some cases, dragged up?  We all have different influences, not just from people who have carried out the parenting role in our lives, but ultimately what dictates what we take on and what we discard from these influences?

In certain ways, I believe you can probably tell I am my parents’ child, and yet in others I have gone in completely my own way.  People sometimes ask where certain traits have come from which they cannot see in either of my parents, and I cannot give an answer – it’s just something I am or feel compelled to do.  We are all individuals after all.  Who is to say whether my moral compass is down to them or something I would have had anyway?  One thing I know they have been unable to influence, not that I ever felt under any force, is my faith or lack thereof.  In fact, if I had felt forced I am sure I would have forsaken it completely rather than trying to investigate, find out more for myself, and think things through, including undertaking this current journey.

Isaiah 13-35

We are all doomed.  The planet is alive and dynamic as is its relationship with the sun.  Whether we believe in the Lord or not, we are unable to control this however we can do small things to stop its destruction.  It distresses me to see rubbish, particularly plastic in all its manmade forms, discarded by the sides of roads and on beaches causing harm to our environment and wildlife – God’s creatures.  Why do some people care so little for the environment in which they live?  Do they think that miraculously someone or something will put everything right for them?  And if they don’t care for themselves, how have they come to a place in life where they care so little for others?

Whether we have a partner, children of our own, close friends, or not, I would like to think that there are very few unfortunate souls in the world who have absolutely no-one whom they love and care about.  Even if only just one person, it surely doesn’t take much to just think how would my action affect this person if aimed at them?  Do we not want what is best for those we love?  Our definitions of what is best might be different but should surely all mean a lack of harm.  And therein lies a problem, that too many people seem to be all too willing to harm others in whatever way that may be.