We made it to the end!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” –2 Timothy 4:7

For those who have now read through the whole Bible
This is a big accomplishment. Whether this is your first time reading the whole Bible or not, I hope this experience has given you a new perspective on the Holy Scriptures. I hope you will always continue to read the Bible on your own—I can assure you that the deeper you dive, the longer you keep at it, the more rewarding the experience will become. Each time through you will recognize favorite passages like old friends, you will see other passages in a totally fresh light, you will find new meanings and be reminded of eternal truths.

For those who have been along for part of the swim, splashing around
However much you have been part of this experience—jumping in and out, dipping a toe in occasionally, or just splashing around from time to time—it’s been great to have you along! There will be more opportunities in the future for jumping into Bible Swim; maybe next time via Twitter! And you can always go back to the web site to review or catch up on anything you missed.

And now, how about that party?!
You may recall that in the introductory video on the web site, by the wonderful Brian Ide and Colleen Dodson-Baker—well worth watching again—at the end Colleen suggests a pool party at the rectory at the conclusion of Bible Swim. So let’s do it! Watch these emails and the web site for details to come.


WEEK 60, DAY 2

Malachi 3-4 Read Text; Esther 10 Read Text

“See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?”

Malachi 3-4
God will draw near in judgment. “Return to me, and I will return to you” (3:7).

Then a challenge: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse . . . and thus put me to the test . . . see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing” (3:10).

The day is coming, “burning like an oven,” “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings” (4:2).

And finally, the promise that Elijah will come before “the great and terrible day of the LORD” (4:5).

Esther 10
A brief coda to Esther’s story, about Mordecai’s rank, honor, power, and kindness. Mordecai “was powerful among the Jews and popular with his many kindred, for he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his descendants” (v. 3). All this, of course, was made possible by Queen Esther—her bravery and her faith. And so this wonderful story, and our reading through the Bible, concludes.

WEEK 60, DAY 1

Malachi 1-2 Read Text; Esther 9 Read Text

“So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.”

Malachi 1-2
Malachi—the last book in the Bible! Only four chapters: we’re almost done.

When the Israelites question God’s love, God points to Esau’s descendants, the nation Edom, as a contrast. God then points out bad behavior on the part of priests, in particular the practice of giving to God not what is best and unblemished, but cast-offs.

God is serious about the importance of priests. “My covenant with [Levi] was a covenant of life and well-being, which I gave him; this called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name” (2:4-5). But the people have “wearied the LORD” (2:17) with hypocrisy.

Esther 9
The tables are turned just before the edict to execute all Jews is carried out. While their revenge might seem a bit, well, vengeful, the Jews actually kill only those “who hated them.”

At Esther’s request the king allows a second day of revenge, but the Jews elect not to plunder their enemies.

The day after all this is one of rest, as well as “feasting and gladness” (v. 18), which becomes the holiday Purim. Queen Esther and Mordecai write official letters “wishing peace and security to all the Jews” and “giving orders that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons” (v. 30-31).

WEEK 59, DAY 6

Zechariah 13-14 Read Text; Esther 8 Read Text

“On that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.”

Zechariah 13-14
The messianic references continue (13:1). Idols will be removed; false prophets demoted; people refined; and God will say “They are my people” (13:9).

Zechariah concludes with a prediction of war against Jerusalem. When an earthquake hits, “Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him” (14:5).

Familiar prophecies: “living waters shall flow out of Jerusalem;” “the LORD will become king over all the earth;” “Jerusalem shall abide in security” (14:8-11).

Gruesome things in store for those who wage war against Jerusalem; those who survive “shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts” (14:16).

Esther 8
Esther is given the house of Haman by the king, Mordecai gets Haman’s old job. But the edict for annihilation of the Jews still stands.

Esther falls at the king’s feet; the king again holds out the golden scepter, and gives her and Mordecai permission to “write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king” (v. 8).

The new instructions turn the tables on those who would destroy the Jews, giving the Jews permission not only to defend themselves but to plunder their enemies.

Mordecai is justly revered; “the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced” (v. 15).

WEEK 59, DAY 5

Zechariah 11-12 Read Text; Esther 7 Read Text

“If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request.”

Zechariah 11-12
A couple of pretty inscrutable chapters interspersed with arguably messianic bits. In the midst of talking about sheep and shepherds we find “So they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver . . . this lordly price at which I was valued by them” (11:12-13), bringing to mind Judas’ compensation for betraying Jesus (Matthew 26:15).

Then an oracle about Judah and Jerusalem that features “so that, when they look on the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (12:10), quoted by John (John 19:37).

Esther 7
During the second banquet Esther hosts for the king and Haman, she reveals her request: to be spared, along with her people, from annihilation. The king wants to know “who has presumed to do this?” (v. 5) and Esther points across the table at Haman. The king is so upset that he leaves the room to cool off, only to come back as Haman has thrown himself at Esther to beg for mercy, making the king even angrier.

The towering gallows Haman had intended to use to hang Mordecai come in handy now: the king orders “Hang him on that” (v. 9).

Earlier posts...

WEEK 59, DAY 4

Zechariah 9-10 Read Text; Esther 6 Read Text

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Zechariah 9-10
An oracle mainly condemning nations bordering Israel transitions to a renowned messianic passage (9:9) that must have been on Jesus’ mind when he entered Jerusalem prior to his arrest on Passover.

The resonant term “prisoners of hope” (9:12), and the stirring images of 9:16-17 are abruptly cut short by more indictments—this time against “the shepherds” (10:3), “for the LORD of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah.” Another messianic reference at 10:4, “Out of them shall come the cornerstone.”

God has good things in store; God will “gather them in, for I have redeemed them” (10:8).

Esther 6
A bout of insomnia leads the king to discover that Mordecai was never acknowledged for his part in thwarting an assassination plot. In a lovely comedic twist, the king asks Haman how best to honor someone. Haman assumes the king wishes to honor him, and answers accordingly. What he learns too late is that it is Mordecai the king wishes to honor, leaving Haman to bear the humiliation of having to lavish honor on the one he was planning to hang.

Before Haman can fully process what has taken place, servants arrive bidding him to join the second banquet.

WEEK 59, DAY 3

Zechariah 7-8 Read Text; Esther 5 Read Text

“Haman added, ‘Even Queen Esther let no one but myself come with the king to the banquet that she prepared. Tomorrow also I am invited by her, together with the king. Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.’”

Zechariah 7-8
Zechariah responds to a query about fasting: your motivations render the fasting moot. Instead, “Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another” (7:8-10). Refusal to listen to such admonitions has been the source of Israel’s troubles.

But God is “jealous for Zion with great jealousy” (8:2), and “will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem” (8:3). Also, “there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, the ground shall give its produce” (8:12).

Esther 5
Everyone’s fasting works: Esther presents herself to the king, and he holds out the golden scepter. He promises to give her whatever she requests “even to the half of my kingdom” (v. 3). Esther requests only that the king and Haman attend a banquet she will prepare for them that evening.

At the banquet, Esther asks that they both return the next day for a second banquet; she promises then to reveal her request.

Haman, gloating over attending the banquet, is nevertheless infuriated when he sees Mordecai, who won’t grovel. Haman’s wife suggests hanging Mordecai from a huge gallows, so Haman orders the gallows made.

WEEK 59, DAY 2

Zechariah 5-6 Read Text; Esther 4 Read Text

“Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

Zechariah 5-6
More visions: a really big flying scroll containing a curse; a personification of Wickedness sitting in a basket with a lead cover; four chariots; instructions for making a crown.

The four chariots, with horses of four colors (think Revelation), are “the four winds of heaven going out” to patrol the earth.

The instructions about the crown lead to reassurance about the temple: “Those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the LORD; and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God” (6:15).

Esther 4
The Jews kingdom-wide are understandably distraught about Haman’s edict. Esther sends her eunuch Hathach to Mordecai; Mordecai tells Hathach to charge Esther to make supplication to the king on her people’s behalf.

There’s a catch. “If any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live” (v. 11). Esther hasn’t been called for thirty days.

Nevertheless, Mordecai persuades Esther, who requests a three-day fast in preparation for her unbidden appearance before the king.

WEEK 59, DAY 1

Zechariah 3-4 Read Text; Esther 3 Read Text

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.”

Zechariah 3-4
More visions that would not be out of place in Revelation: A standoff between Joshua (dressed in rags, which are eventually replaced with festal garments) and Satan, with an angel standing by; an omen—the Branch; a single stone with seven facets to be engraved; guilt to be removed.

Then, Zechariah is awakened “as one is wakened from sleep” (4:1). He is shown a lampstand of gold with seven lamps, and two olive trees. He is given “the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel” (4:6); explanations that don’t clear up much ensue, along with the promise that Zerubbabel will rebuild the temple.

Esther 3
The plot thickens. Haman is promoted “above all the officials” (v. 1). Mordecai, as an observant Jew, refuses to bow down to Haman, which infuriates Haman. He hatches a plot “to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus” (v. 6).

Haman talks the king into approving the destruction of “a certain people scattered and separated . . . their laws are different . . . they do not keep the king’s laws” (v. 8). An edict goes out to all the provinces, sealed with the king’s ring, “to annihilate all Jews” (v. 13). Susa is “thrown into confusion” (v. 15).

WEEK 58, DAY 6

Zechariah 1-2 Read Text; Esther 2 Read Text

“Now Esther was admired by all who saw her.”

Zechariah 1-2
Zechariah writes within months of Haggai. Like Haggai he issues calls to repentance (“Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you”—1:3), but he also has visions like Daniel and Ezekiel. Red and white horses patrolling the earth; the LORD—70 years on—feeling bad about Jerusalem: “The LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem” (1:17). Then horns and blacksmiths; then “a man with a measuring line” (2:1) to measure Jerusalem.

Zion is the apple of God’s eye. Good things are in store. “For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the LORD” (2:10).

Esther 2
Mordecai, whose great-grandfather was exiled from Jerusalem, has raised his orphaned cousin, Esther, in Susa. Esther is one of the “beautiful young virgins” chosen to undergo twelve months (!) preparation to be presented to the king as a possible replacement for Queen Vashti. She wins! “The king loved Esther more than all the other women” (2:17), and makes her queen.

But Esther has a secret: she’s a Jew. Mordecai tells her not to reveal this; meantime he hears of a plot against the king, tells Esther, the perpetrators are hanged, and “it was recorded in the book . . . in the presence of the king” (2:23).

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes