Friday, June 4, 2010

272: A Menagerie of Crazy

Zechariah 1-7
"Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! He said, 'This is wickedness,' and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth. Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth." - Zechariah 5:7-9

This whole chapter is just a random assortment of weirdness. We still haven't beaten four headed angels covered in eyes, but Zechariah gets bonus crazy points for the sheer number of weird things.

The book starts out rather mild. Zechariah asks an angel what his dream about four horses means. The angel says that the four horses are the four horses he's sent throughout the earth to check on it. The horses come back (as they are speaking) and report that the entire earth is at peace. God says that he is very angry with Israel, but they will eventually be prosperous again. I really don't know what God is talking about. When was the whole earth at peace?

The chapter ends with Zechariah seeing horns floating in front of him. I'm not sure what kind of "horns" the bible is talking about (and I'm too lazy to look up the Hebrew at the moment). The angel says that these horns have prevented anyone from lifting their head in Israel. The first chapter looks a lot like someone just threw words on a page and hoped it meant something.

Chapter 2 is about a man that's going to measure Jerusalem. Zechariah stops talking to the angel he was talking to, and starts talking to another one. I'm not sure quite why that's relevant (but the bible mentions it, so it must be of divine importance). This new angel tells Zechariah to tell the measuring guy that Jerusalem is a city with no walls. God then says that he, himself, is going to be a wall of fire around the city. Is there no wall, or is God the wall? Again, I'm having a hard time grasping the point to any of this.

In chapter 3, Satan makes an appearance. He doesn't seem to actually do anything, but the bible mentions that he's there with Joshua, the priest. Joshua is wearing dirty clothes, so an angel gives him clean clothes. We are three for three on absolutely random chapters in Zechariah.

In chapter 4, Zechariah has a vision of a lampstand with seven lights on it, and two olive trees to it's left and right. Zechariah asks an angel what this is. The angel responds by saying, "Don't you know?" Well obviously he doesn't know if he's asking you. The angel finally explains. By "explains" I mean he rattles off a bunch of cryptic nonsense. I'll quote the "explanation":
'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

"What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!' "
I'm not even going to attempt an interpretation on that one. The angel finally says that the seven lights on the lampstand are the seven eyes of God that wander throughout the earth. What? God has seven eyes that roam the earth? I guess I'm not sure how many eyes I expected. Seven would not have been my first choice.

But wait, it gets worse. Chapter 5 starts with Zechariah seeing a flying scroll that's thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide. This scroll banishes all those who swear falsely or steal. Then a basket comes out of the sky. Inside this basket is a woman. As soon as the angel reveals the woman in the basket, he slams it shut and puts lead over the cover. He exclaims, "This is wickedness". Then two winged women fly the basket back into the sky. The angel says they are taking the basket to Babylon to build a house for it. What the hell is going on? I feel like I'm on an acid trip just reading this book.

In the next chapter Zechariah sees four chariots fly out of the heavens. He asks the angel what these are and the angel says they are the four spirits of heaven. Four spirits of heaven? I'm so lost today. This all seems terribly nutty.

In the final chapter for today, God tells the people of Israel to stop fasting and start treating each other better. God says that they haven't been fasting for God but for themselves. What are they getting out of fasting?

This is yet another book I'm going to point to if someone tries to tell me the bible is valid, or sane for that matter. I think I got a little more crazy just reading it.

When is the right age to give your child a real (non picture book) bible? I vote 18, others go a little younger:
I was a little unsure whether she was old enough. After all, I had a small New Testament until my parents bought me my first big girl Bible at age 10. Mama wrote my name and the date in calligraphy in the front of my white Thomas Nelson King James Version.
My reading today perfectly illustrates that the NIV bible is barely comprehensible, and that's written in much clearer language than the KJV. I can't imagine a ten year old trying to figure out what the bible says. Not to mention that most of the bible is wildly inappropriate for children (see Noah passing out drunk, or Lot getting raped by his daughters).
But in the past month, she’s been reading the Bible with her Sunday School teacher and really excelling. Her teacher said my daughter didn’t need any of the new-fangled picture bibles for children. She could read the KJV and visualize David and Goliath and Noah herding the world’s animals into his boat just fine.
Right, she doesn't need those books to visualize it, but she had those books before. There's no way she could have remembered what those pictures looked like, or what she was supposed to believe about Noah and David and Goliath. They must not have read to the end of the story of Noah where he's passed out drunk in the nude, or to the end of the David and Goliath story where David carries around Goliath's severed head for the majority of the chapter.
I marvel at her hunger to learn more about God and her interest in keeping the 10 Commandments. When we took a walk the other night, she was so loud talking about how we needed to be good Christians and honor God’s creation by planting trees, I told her if she didn’t quiet down I would have to start calling her the Pit Preacher. (Any of you Carolina graduates out there will know who I’m talking about.)
I marvel at the ability of children to learn and imitate their parent's values. As a side note, imitating your parents (which were successful enough to reproduce) has a clear evolutionary advantage. I believe this girl yearns for God as much as I believe those toddlers in beauty pageants yearn to be there.

1 comment:

  1. What God means in Zech 2 about the walls of Jerusalem is that it will not have a physical wall of stone. Instead he will protect the city (whether the wall of fire is literal is not clear) so that a stone wall is unnecessary. Of course, the Israelites did end up rebuilding the wall that had been torn down (by the Babylonians, I think) anyway.

    In Zech 2:7-13, who is speaking?

    7 "Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!" 8 For this is what the LORD Almighty says: "After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye- 9 I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me.

    10 "Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD. 11 "Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."

    It says that God is speaking, but then he says that God has sent him. Did God send himself? Is he speaking about himself in the 3rd person like Bob Dole?

    Zech 3:5: Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.

    Israelites wore turbans?

    God isn't the only thing that has 7 eyes - in Zech 3 a stone does, too.

    In Zech 4, the giant flying scroll actually flies into the homes of thieves and those who swear falsely and destroys the houses.



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