Saturday, April 10, 2010

217: Angels Are Stealth Assassins

Isaiah 36-41
Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! - Isaiah 37:36

We actually have some story in today's section, rather than long winded prophecy. Unfortunately I'm fairly certain we've already seen this story in Kings.

The story starts with Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, threatening to destroy Jerusalem. Sennacherib claims that God himself has sent him to destroy the city. This would be consistent with the prophecies in the earlier parts of Isaiah. God pretty clearly says that he is going to send Assyria to destroy Israel.

As soon as Sennacherib says that God sent him, the Israeli leaders beg him to speak in Aramaic so that the common people of Jerusalem can't understand him. Way to try to cover that one up, Israel. Anyway, long story short, Sennacherib says no and proceeds to tell the people on the wall of Jerusalem to surrender to the Assyrians. The people on the wall remain silent because the king of Israel told them not to speak to the Assyrians.

When the current king of Israel (Hezekiah) hears about what the Assyrians said, he goes to God's temple and tells God that the Assyrians have blasphemed against him (which isn't really true if God did send them to destroy Jerusalem). This is where Isaiah comes into this story. Hezekiah's officials send people around to all of the prophets to see what they think. Isaiah says that the prophecies of the Assyrians are blasphemous, and that Isaiah is going to send a spirit into the king of Assyria so he will flee back to Assyria. Once the king is back in his homeland, Isaiah is somehow going to have him killed with swords. But wait, didn't Isaiah predict earlier in this chapter that God was going to use the Assyrians to destroy Israel?

Hezekiah then prays to God that they will be delivered from the Assyrians. He says God should do this so that all of the kingdoms on earth will know that God is the real God. Well, I think we all know how this one is going to turn out. All you have to tell God is that people of all the nations will think he's awesome and he's sure to do whatever you ask him to (in ancient times anyway).

As I predicted, the rest of the chapter is about how God is going to deliver the Israelites from Sennacherib. God says that he's heard Sennacherib's blaspheming and he is not going to allow him to step foot in Israel.

God, being a man of his word (for the most part), sends an angel down to kill the Assyrians. The final death toll from one angel was 185,000 men. When Sennacherib's men wake up the next morning, they find all these dead men and immediately retreat. Wait a minute. This angel killed 185,000 men, and nobody woke up? This guy has to be the most silent killer of all time. Another thing to note, we never get to hear how the angel killed all these men. Did they all just die in their sleep, or were they hacked to bits? This seems like a relevant thing to tell us.

The next part of the story is the part that sounds familiar. Some time later Hezekiah falls ill and God tells him he is about to die. Hezekiah then prays to God and tells him to remember how faithful he's been all the years of his life. God, apparently remembering that Hezekiah was faithful, says he can have 15 more years to live. God then makes the sun go backwards in the sky as a sign that he is going to keep his promise. If only that worked these days. The most faithful among us these days die just like the rest of us, no matter how much they pray.

Isaiah then passes down the prophecy that the Israelites will become servants of Babylon. This really sounds familiar, considering it's already happened. It's hard to put the prophecies of Isaiah in context when it's hard to tell what time frame Isaiah is writing in. However, I don't think I've said anything about his prophecies that are wildly incorrect. I'm fairly certain the world hasn't ended before, so those prophecies still seem silly.

The entirety of chapter 40 is God bragging about how wonderful he is, and how he created everything. We get it God, you really don't need to repeat how wonderful you are in almost the exact same words every chapter.

All of chapter 41 is God reminding the Israelites that they are the chosen people. God says that he has never rejected Israel (except for those couple of times where he let them be destroyed) so Israel should think that he's great, I guess. The best part of this chapter is Isaiah 41:14, " 'Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,' declares the LORD." I don't think it's possible for God to be any more condescending.

*News*
School officials in Roswell, New Mexico have banned students from passing out fetus dolls with bible verses and contact information for a local pregnancy resource center tied to them. The Christian Post is feeling oppressed.

The students are claiming their freedom of speech rights were violated, citing other situations where they passed out things on campus:
Relentless members, Corry said, have helped janitors with trash after lunch, given chicken salad lunches to teachers, provided hot cocoa to students and faculty, and passed out decorated rocks and candy canes to fellow students without needing to get approval from officials beforehand.
They really don't see any difference between chicken salad and a fetus baby with bible verses on it?

The school officials actually say it was not the bible verses, or even the fetus baby that caused them to stop the students. The students were soliciting the services of the pregnancy resource center. Also, even if the babies had not had pregnancy resource center information attached, passing out fetus babies is a huge distraction. The report said that people were ripping the heads off the fetus babies, and saying they "aborted" them. Damn heathens (who were probably other Christians).

(via The Christian Post)

Friday, April 9, 2010

216: Bible Says: Beat Your Breasts (?!)

Isaiah 31-35
"Tremble, you complacent women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your clothes, put sackcloth around your waists. Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vines." - Isaiah 32:11-12

[As you may have noticed, the commenting looks a little different. I've switched my commenting from the default blogger system to a shiny new system called Disqus. This is in response to our resident spammer(s).

One of my big concerns with switching was making sure you could still comment anonymously. And you can! Just type "Anonymous" for your name, and an email address (this can be anonymous@anonymous.com for all I care). There will be a pop-up that says "do you want to sign up" just click "comment as a guest" in the lower left-hand corner (I wish I could make that pop-up go away, but I can't). I find that people are afraid to honestly criticize if they aren't allowed to post anonymously.

The slight difficulty with anonymous commenting is probably the only complaint I have with Disqus. You can now directly respond to people by clicking "reply", and you can "like" individual comments. If you have a website/blog, you can also put that in the optional "website" field, and Disqus will automatically link to you. I'm also led to believe that you can post pictures and video by putting HTML in your comment. And best of all, no more lengthy spam in the comment section! Let me know what you think (this is also an excuse to test out the new system :D).

A few people have commented already, and everything seems to be remaining in sync and operational. Happy commenting!]

Isaiah starts, as he did yesterday, with condemning anyone that relies on Egypt for supplies instead of looking to God. I didn't even realize God was a supplier of goods and services. Apparently he's not only a supplier, but has a monopoly on the market.

Next, Isaiah tells the Israelites to come back to God. If they do this, God will destroy the Assyrians. Because making the Israelites and the Assyrians live together in peace would be way too hard. One of them has to be destroyed.

Chapter 32 is pretty interesting. It has a message just for the women of Jerusalem. Isaiah first calls the women complacent. Then he tells them that within a year the harvests will fail and there will be no fruit. The only solution to this problem is for the women to get naked, and beat their breasts to mourn the loss of the fields. Sure Isaiah, they have to get naked to mourn. I see how you play the game. This reminds me of a clip from "The Invention of Lying" (great movie by the way):

[Fast forward to 1:40]


Of course, in this case Isaiah isn't even claiming that getting naked and beating themselves is going to save them from losing their fields. Actually, I'm not sure what they're going to accomplish, other than giving Isaiah some eye candy.

Moving into chapter 33, the bible doesn't get any less strange in it's message:
Woe to you, O destroyer,
you who have not been destroyed!
Woe to you, O traitor,
you who have not been betrayed!
When you stop destroying,
you will be destroyed;
when you stop betraying,
you will be betrayed.
Moral of the story: keep destroying things and betraying people, otherwise you will be destroyed and betrayed. I have to be missing something here, I'm just not sure where or how. Or maybe the bible is just contradictory and makes no sense, but we know that can't be true.

The rest of the chapter is just about how God is going to destroy everything. For the sake of brevity, I'll spare you the details.

Isaiah, who seems to love describing God's wrath, continues on into chapter 34 talking about God killing us. Most of the chapter is God hacking people to bits with his sword. Isaiah says that the mountains will be drenched in blood and the bodies of all the nations will send up a stench. More beautiful words from the bible.

Like any good day, the bible tells us that all we have to do is accept God and he won't come chop us up into bits. Why can't God show himself before he's on earth killing people? Maybe next time God can just come down and threaten us with his giant sword. I don't know about any of you, but if confronted with God and his sword, I would be ok with following a few of his commandments.

*News*
Al Barette is the newest member of the Alaska Board of Game. He's showing his unbiased nature by skinning wolves and using the bible in arguments for hunting. To see the full video of him talking about the bible as he skins a wolf click here. The video is definitely graphic so I would suggest you not watch it if you're squeamish at all.

This man is in a position to increase the quota on hunting wolves and other animals. These quotas are supposed to be increased/decreased based on solid scientific data about population level and population growth. Instead, Barette is surely basing his decision on his "God given" right to hunt whatever the hell he wants, and on his own pocketbook. He owns a fur tanning company. How can this person, who has an obvious monetary investment in the business, make an unbiased decision about how much people can hunt?

Alaska, if you keep producing people like Al Barette and Sarah Palin, you are dead to me.

(via The Huffington Post)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

215: God Loving People to Death

Isaiah 28-30
"All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth." - Isaiah 28:8

*Sigh* Yet another day of God destroying the earth. I'm starting to get the feeling that Isaiah is only about God killing us all.

First on the chopping block today is Ephraim. God is going to trample Ephraim and throw them to the ground like a hailstorm. The writer says how all the people of Ephraim are drunkards that apparently go around puking everywhere. He says that there is not one spot on any of the tables in Ephraim that aren't covered in vomit. This is, I guess, crime enough for them to be wiped off the planet.

God's wrath continues on to Ariel, the city that David has settled in. The bible says that God is personally going to set up siege works against the city and bring the city to the ground. God says that the inhabitants of Ariel will all be brought low, and their voices will come out of the dust. But wait, he's not done yet! He is going to send hordes of enemies into Ariel to fight them. If anyone is left after this invasion, God is going to blind them.

Before I go on. I'm just curious. Where is God's love for humanity in this book? Where is God's grace if he's killed you? How can he forgive something that's dead? For being an infinite being, he seems to have a (small) finite amount of forgiveness for humanity.

The final chapter today is about the "obstinate nation" (presumably Israel). God says he's mad at his obstinate children for going down to Egypt without asking God first. How would God have sent an answer exactly? God says that Egypt's help will be useless to them. God is a jealous and patronizing God.

For the rest of the chapter God stops talking and Isaiah tells us all about how God would really like to forgive us if we would just ask him. Unfortunately, being blind and dead isn't terribly conducive to asking God for forgiveness. Isaiah goes on to say that God will go back to watering our crops if we go back to him. Again, if all of the farms have been destroyed, and all of the seed has been plundered by invaders, watering the fields isn't going to do a whole lot of good.

If God would really like us to live a certain way, he should tells us in person and often. If God only appears to humanity to destroy, I'm not sure how he expects the Israelites to consistently follow him. He scolds the Israelites for not being loyal followers, but God doesn't seem to ever be there to follow.

*News*
I've intentionally not said much about the current Catholic church scandal, because I can't say anything that everyone else on the planet hasn't said already. However, as usual, Jon Stewart can say things much better than I, and his piece on the catholic church was so great I had to share it.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Pope Opera
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

214: Bible Zombies and Sea Monsters!

Isaiah 23-27
"But your dead will live; their bodies will rise." - Isaiah 26:19

[As you may have noticed, the blog has a new look. Let me know what you think! If any of you web designers out there have suggestions, let me know that too. If the new layout is somehow abhorrent to your eye balls you can always read the blog on Google Reader (the old layout was apparently making people gouge their eyes out with spoons, hopefully it's not that bad now). If you're already on Google Reader and want to check out the new layout click here.]

The section starts with a prophecy "about" Tyre. As we learned yesterday, if the NIV says you have a prophecy about you, you're screwed (you want the prophecy to be against you). This chapter is no exception. God says that he is going to destroy Tyre. In fact, he's not only going to destroy the city, but he's going to make sure the land is so bad that nobody will live there for 70 years.

The next 4 chapters (aka the rest of today's section) is about God mercilessly destroying everything on earth. Now, as far as I know, this mass destruction hasn't happened yet. But of course, since the bible is all perfect, we know it just hasn't happened yet.

Chapter 24 starts with describing how God is going to destroy the earth. This includes (but is not limited to): plundering, drying up crops, burning people alive, starving people, causing people to die of thirst, ruining cities, drowning people, and causing earthquakes. And after all of this, the people are supposed to sing "Glory to the Righteous One", and if they run in terror, God is going to throw them in a pit. Lovely. It's good to see how much God loves us.

Chapter 25 is someone praising God for his wonderful destructive capabilities:
O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.

You have made the city a heap of rubble,
the fortified town a ruin
I guess if God was about to kill me, I'd praise him too. The praise of God continues on into chapter 26. The writer praises God for killing all of his enemies (he, of course, fails to mention that God is killing his friends too, unless he's enemies with everyone).

Near the end of this person's praise of God for killing everyone, he says something a little strange:
But your dead will live;
their bodies will rise.
You who dwell in the dust,
wake up and shout for joy.
Your dew is like the dew of the morning;
the earth will give birth to her dead.
Dead will live? The earth is going to give birth to dead people? It's zombies! God is apparently going to raise the dead and send them to terrorize the living. The writer tells his people to go hide until this wrath has passed (remember, shoot for the head). This would make a great movie. You could even put "based on the bible" in the opening credits, you'd make loads of money!

The beginning of chapter 27 is also strange (as if zombies weren't strange enough):
In that day,
the LORD will punish with his sword,
his fierce, great and powerful sword,
Leviathan the gliding serpent,
Leviathan the coiling serpent;
he will slay the monster of the sea.
Yes, God is going to slay a giant sea serpent. Am I reading the right book? Is this the book that everyone says is the infallible word of God? If someone can show me a giant sea serpent, do it now. Otherwise I'm calling bullshit.

Just in case you think I've completely misinterpreted this passage of the bible, I'm not the only one that's taken this literally:


"The Destruction of the Leviathan" by Gustave Dore (1865)

Again, this is God. Destroying a giant sea monster. With a sword. I quit (for today :D).

*News*
David Dill is convicted of binding his son with duct tape, pinching him, kicking him, and whipping him.

He clearly knew what he was doing, and because of the morality God gave us all, he knew it was wrong. Right? Right?! "Up until the jury's verdict, I thought I was innocent. I thought what I did was OK ... based on the Bible."

What an idiot, the bible only says that you can beat your children, not tie them up. I'm thankful that our American justice system recognizes that not every moral commandment in the bible ("given by God") is actually moral. When you take "don't spare the rod" to it's logical conclusion, you get people tying up their kids and beating them. This case completely encompasses my argument against getting morality from the bible.

(via UPI.com)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

213: The Worst Punishment of All: Nudity!

Isaiah 18-22
"So the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared" - Isaiah 20:4

We have yet another day of prophecies against the people of the ancient world.

First to the chopping block is Cush. God refers to Cush as the "land of whirring wings". This "prophecy against Cush" (the title of the section) turns out not to be much of a prophecy against them, all God says is "I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest." I guess God's taking it easy on the whole fire and brimstone thing.

Next is a prophecy about Egypt (says the title of the chapter again). This really turns out to be a prophecy against Egypt. Did the writers of the NIV bible not actually read the chapter? God says that he is going to send a cruel ruler to Egypt, their rivers will dry up, and there will be no farming. How is this a prophecy about Egypt instead of against them?

The next prophecy is a prophecy against Egypt and Cush. Again, the writers seem to have the meanings of "against" and "about" mixed up. God tells Isaiah to go barefoot for three years. This is going to be a sign that Assyria will strip the Egyptians, and Cushite exiles barefoot. The Assyrians will then bear the buttocks of the Egyptians and the Cushites. This is supposed to make all the people that see it scream in fear and say "How then can we escape?" Really? God generally kills people and/or starves them and nobody cares, but rip off someone's pants and everyone is going to scream in fear? The bible makes so much sense.

Finally, we have a prophecy against the Babylons that actually seems bad. An oracle says that an invader will come from the desert and destroy the Babylonians. Strangely, we don't get the normal gory descriptions of how the Babylonians will be destroyed.

Next is a prophecy against Edom and Arabia. Unfortunately, I can't make sense of either of them. If you can figure out what they mean (link here) then let me know.

Finally, we have a prophecy about Jerusalem (which, again, seems like a prophecy against Jerusalem). These prophecies are terribly cryptic, but I'm sure they could be made to say just about anything. All I'm getting out of this prophecy is that the people of Jerusalem have about one day to live.

*News*
People have been looking for proof of Jesus for thousands of years. We thought we'd never find it, but Charles Markowitz has finally, unequivocally proved the existence of Jesus.

He starts out strong:
It would be impossible, not improbable but impossible, for a holy and righteous God to reveal himself to one race of people (Jews), with one name (Jehovah), with one doctrine (love your enemies), and then reveal himself to another race of people (Arabs), by another name (Allah), with another doctrine (kill ‘em if you can’t convert ‘em), and create all the mayhem and confusion we see taking place today.
Right, because as we've learned in today's section, the God of the Christian bible never kills people, or has them killed. He unfortunately continues:
Here’s something else to chew on. The Christian Bible has a 100 percent accuracy rate. No other book on this third rock from the sun can compete with it. Not one prophecy (foretelling future events) missed. There’s some that are still yet to come (Revelations) but there’s none that was predicted that came out wrong. As a matter of fact, Jesus’ birthplace was predicted. No other leader of any other faith can claim the same. And there are many other prophecies that came to pass exactly as they were predicted. Not one missed.
Ok, here's the logic. All the prophecies that didn't happen, just haven't happened yet. All the prophecies that can be made to fit something (they've had 2000+ years to happen by chance) have happened perfectly! 100% accuracy! I think my brain cells are dying as I read this article. I know these quotes are long, but this is my favorite:
By the way, science also blows the “theory” of evolution out of the water in the fact that science “proves” that 23 chromosomes are needed from each host (male/female) in order for human life to continue replicating. All normal human cells contain 43 chromosomes (23 pairs). It is only the male cell (sperm) and the female cell (egg) that contain only 23, but when conception takes place and life starts, the cell divides and from there on out all the other cells will contain the 46 chromosomes (23 pairs). Only by special creation can the first two humans happen. Common sense also shows that evolution is impossible because the first mammal that appeared would have died before its mate of the opposite gender appeared. It would have to be the same animal and have to be the opposite gender and then of course happen a thousand times over for each species. So that right there answers the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Obviously it was special creation, the special creation taught about in the Christian Bible.
Right, because the theory of evolution says that mammals spontaneously form in one generation out of lower lifeforms. I would be more harsh with this guy, but this argument is straight from the lips of Ray Comfort. This man's only crime is hopping on the stupid bandwagon.

He concludes with the nail in the coffin of atheism (to coin a phrase):
There is just so much proof of the existence of Jesus the Christ it’s not funny
He didn't get around to actually giving any of that proof, but close enough. Case closed!

If you enjoy self torture, I encourage you to read the rest of the article, I had to leave out loads of fundie illogic.

(via The Times and Democrat)

Monday, April 5, 2010

212: God is a Baby Killer

Isaiah 13-17
"Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished." - Isaiah 13:16

All of today's section is various prophecies against many of the kingdoms of the ancient world.

The first is Babylon. The oracle says that God will make everyone writhe in pain like a woman in labor. He will blot out the sun, the moon, and the stars and "punish the world for its evil". If God catches any Babylonians as they flee back to their homeland, he's going to smash their babies on the rocks, and have their wives raped (I'm assuming he's not going to do that himself). What's God's obsession with making people kill and/or eat babies?

He mentions that Israel will be saved. As usual. God tells the Israelites that on the day the Babylonians are killed they should taunt them. In fact, God suggest a full page worth of taunting. I'll spare you the details, but it can essentially be boiled down to "We win, you're dead, haha".

The next is the Assyrians. They're really getting a raw deal, because God is going to use them to teach Israel a lesson, then destroy them even though they helped God. God also says that he is going to destroy the Philistines. I'm not sure what they did.

Boy, this is a depressing section. All of chapter 15 is about God completely destroying Moab. God says he is going to fill whole towns with the blood of the Moabites. When the people flee the cities he will send lions after them.

Moab flees from God and tries to find refuge for the entirety of chapter 16. God says that within three years, all of the Moabite survivors will be feeble and despised.

All the way up to the last chapter for today, we have prophecies of destruction. This time God says that the city of Damascus will be reduced to ruin, and Jacob will waste away to nothing.

I hope nobody flips their bible open to Isaiah for comfort.

*News*
Tennessee resident Kurt Zimmermann asked the Knox County Board of Education to remove a biology book that refers to creationism as "the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days."

Why does he want it removed? He feels that it shows a bias toward Christianity. Fine. But somehow I don't think he would be satisfied by the book defining creationism as "the myth that a God created the universe". This is not to mention that "creationism" is generally tied (especially in America) to Christians, and the bible.

Zimmerman was turned down by the Board of Education and has appealed the decision.

(via WBIR)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

211: God is Going to Make You Eat Babies, Again

Isaiah 9-12
"On the right they will devour, but still be hungry; on the left they will eat, but not be satisfied. Each will feed on the flesh of his own offspring" - Isaiah 9:20

Isaiah 9 holds another passage that is attributed as a prophecy of Jesus. Again, it doesn't quite fit:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this. [Isaiah 9:6-7]
The names seem to be accurate, but that's about it. Now, I have a disclaimer here. I've never read the New Testament (that's the point of this blog) so I don't profess to know everything there is to know about Jesus, but I think I have the general idea.

The "government" was certainly not on the shoulders of Jesus. And there is no "Jesus government" that I know of. Jesus wasn't a king, and therefore did not "reign on David's throne", much less "from that time on and forever". If anything, the similarity in name seems to be the gospel trying to fit the prophecy (or I daresay, the man trying to fit the prophecy).

The rest of chapter 9 talks about the anger of God against Israel. God says that he is going to cut of the head and tail of Israel, and he wont take pity on the fatherless or widows. God's wrath will be so terrible that parents will eat their children.

Chapter 10 is about God's anger against Assyria. God used Assyria to destroy Israel. Unfortunately for the Assyrians, they thought they did it all by themselves, so they bragged about how great they were for destroying Israel. God doesn't appreciate people that don't believe in him bragging about things he's used them to do, so he sends a wasting disease that kills them.

The entirety of chapter 11 are prophecies that have never come true. Among these, God says that "the wolf will live with the lamb," and, "the leopard will lie down with the goat." I guess this means to say that all predatory animals will stop eating prey? This has certainly not happened yet. Also, little kids will be able to play near cobra's nests, and put their hands in viper pits without being harmed. I'm fairly certain that's still a bad idea.

One of the last prophecies is that the Euphrates river will become seven streams that are so shallow that people can walk over them. As far as I know, the Euphrates is still one big river.

All of chapter 12 is a song of praise. I'll spare you, I think you've heard enough songs of praise in Psalms.

*News*
This is officially the strangest Easter story I've seen, so I thought I'd share it with you. Cosmo Cavallaro has made a life sized, nude, chocolate Jesus, so people can learn about the sweetness of the body of Christ (by tasting him presumably). That's strange enough as it is, but it turns out that he's the sane one (in comparison with Bill Donohue of the Catholic league).

Their clash on Anderson Cooper 360 is priceless (and involves Donohue implying that Cosmo's head would be removed if Donohue was a member of the Taliban):



I personally think the Eucharist would be much better dipped in chocolate. Just an idea.

(via Reddit)
 

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