Reading the Bible Day 356

Hi friends! Today is an exciting day for us as we finally face and conquer that great evil known as "Babylon." Babylon has been the face and manifestation of sin as far back as Genesis and has claimed to be the source of all evil, injustice, betrayal, and pain that people cause one another. Unfortunately, you and I know Babylon all too well. We've felt its infliction from hurtful words said to us and we've also spat Babylon at others in our own ways. But, today we read the words of how Babylon falls. As you do, I invite you to pray that God can wreck the remnants of Babylon that exist in you. In other words, ask God to liberate you from insecurity, selfish ambition, shame, hurt, etc to make room for the "renewed" life that Revelation promises.


However, a word on the image of Babylon. Babylon is portrayed as a female prostitute, a continuing theme throughout scripture criticizing women for playing a more active role in sex and pleasure. I've never really been keen on this image and I also don't think Jesus would be either as he dined with and cared for sex workers in his ministry, not to mention this disproportionate number of sex workers who are poor and we all know how Jesus felt about the poor. ANYWAYS, as we've seen in Revelation this is ultimately symbolism and thus we give meaning and power to the symbols. If you desire to view the prostitute as a male, do that. If you desire to substitute the image entirely you can do that.


Just a reminder that on Monday we're going to meet live at Holbrook Hallows at 6pm to read together live one final time. Jene has offered to bring pizza but is curious about how many people are planning to come. If you can let me know either in the comments below or by shooting me a private email that would be lovely. Thank you!! (ngliha@chagrinfallsumc.org)

 

Scripture to Read


Revelation 17 - 18

Psalm 45


 

Audio Bible



 

Questions to Consider

  1. When Babylon is falling the poem has God voice to the people "come away my people." Once more - even in the final moments - God is giving us free will and leaving the decision up to us. What feelings, thoughts, or questions arise around the topic of "Free will?"

  2. Revelation 18 seems to imply that all things luxury are associated with Babylon. Marketing companies spend billions of dollars a year convicing us what is luxury and what is not...what do you define as "luxury" in the Christian experience? Is it okay for Christians to partake in what culture considers "luxury"? (Says the dude with an army of Apple products built by workers earning 2 dollars a day.)

  3. The psalm opens by saying that beautiful words move the psalmists heart. What is the most beautiful way you've heard God or faith or spirituality described?

- Commentary -


"There is no view in Revelation of economic and political activity as autonomous enterprises devoid of any theological meaning. Trade and commerce are shown to be shot thorugh with human interest. Many Christians feel out of their depths when they seek to explore contemporary politics and economics in the light of the gospel. But Christians are obligated to learn about and to understand through the lens of the story of Christ the nature of what confronts them. The story casts its shadow over every human transaction. No activity can be regarded as morally neutral and beyond critique and the need for redemption of the lamb who was slain. That is one of the reasons why Revelation is such a difficult book to read. it's panorama is too big for most of us to grasp. However hard we try, we cannot tame its message and the scope of its concern. It compels us to recognize the vastness of God's concern and scope of God's justice. We would prefer a spirituality and religion that is concentrated on the individual but the book of revelation refuses to allow us to narrow our vision or e anesthetized in our moral sense. We would prefer to believe that the dark side did not exist. It does, and we must face up to it, individually, socially, and economically, if we are truly to reflect the scope of God's concern."


~ The New Interpreters Bible pages 696-697.


I love this book and I never thought I would. haha!


 

Praying the Hymns


Our prayer for today is from hymn 356 in our hymnal - When We are Living. Ahh, it's so good to come across this hymn. This is all time favorite hymn. It's so underrated. The words, the melody, all of it. Not to mention it is perfect for today's reading. When are living in Babylon now but even in Babylon we belong to God.


1. When we are living, it is in Christ Jesus,

and when we're dying, it is in the Lord.

Both in our living and in our dying,

we belong to God; we belong to God.


2. Through all our living, we our fruits must give.

Good works of service are for offering.

When we are giving, or when receiving,

we belong to God; we belong to God.


3. 'Mid times of sorrow and in times of pain,

when sensing beauty or in love's embrace,

whether we suffer, or sing rejoicing,

we belong to God; we belong to God.


4. Across this wide world, we shall always find

those who are crying with no peace of mind,

but when we help them, or when we feed them,

we belong to God; we belong to God.

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