The Story of Jonathan and the Cursed Honey
Saul Tries to Starve His Own Army

During a war with the Philistines, King Saul’s son Jonathan ate some honey that he found on the ground. But then someone informed him that his father had said anyone who ate anything that day would be cursed. Jonathan thought that was dumb. By depriving them of food, Saul was making his army too weak to fight the Philistines. So Jonathan sneaked away and started killing Philistines himself. Then God made the Philistines panic and attack each other so the Israelites wouldn’t have to.

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Saul Tries to Starve His Own Army
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Was Hezekiah successful in everything?

The Bible says Hezekiah king of Judah was successful in everything he undertook, because God was with him. The next thing it mentions is that he rebelled against the king of Assyria. How do you suppose that went for him? The kingdom of Israel had been completely conquered by Assyria at that time. But Hezekiah of Judah must have had nothing but success, right?

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God punishes the wrong people

Way too often, the God of the Bible punishes people not for what they’ve done, but for what other people have done.

God accuses Nazirites of “sinning” just because they happened to be nearby when someone else died. Unless all Nazirites are like Samson, that probably wasn’t the Nazirite’s fault.

God told Aaron that if other people got too close to God’s stuff, God would kill Aaron along with them. Likewise, Moses said repeatedly that God got angry at him because of what the people did.

One time, God thought the Israelites deserved to die… but since he was biased in their favor, he decided to punish a bunch of other nations instead. God makes people drink from the cup of his wrath whether they deserve it or not.

God said because the king of Judah had broken a promise, the troops of Judah would be killed.

The book of Obadiah is all about what God’s planning to do to Edom. He says he’s going to turn everyone against that country and completely devastate them, and there will be no survivors. Why? It’s because of violence against Israel, but apparently the Edomites aren’t the ones who actually committed that violence. They just stood aloof while other nations invaded Israel. But God thought Edom was “like one of them”, and that was enough to make him want to kill all the Edomites.

Jesus (who the Bible says is God) found a man possessed by a legion of demons, which were tormenting the man. When Jesus confronted the demons, they expected to be tortured, or at least banished from the area. But Jesus didn’t end up punishing the demons at all. Instead, he let them do just what they wanted, which was to possess someone’s herd of 2000 pigs and make them drown themselves. So the innocent pigs died, and the innocent owner of the pigs lost his livestock. The demons, meanwhile, remained on the loose, let off the hook and free to continue causing trouble.

God made an innocent man suffer and die for everyone else’s sins.

God had an angel kill Herod Agrippa because his subjects thought he was a god. Herod himself never said he was a god. God just killed him immediately after some other people said he sounded like a god. He didn’t even give Herod a chance to say what he thought about it.

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Should people be perfect?

Nobody’s perfect, but it would be good if they were… right?

Yes.

God seems to think so. He tells people they need to be blameless. Eliphaz claimed that it wouldn’t make any difference to God whether someone was blameless, but Eliphaz did not speak the truth about God.

God’s ways are perfect, so we should follow his example and be perfect ourselves. Jesus said so.

Paul told his followers how they could become blameless and pure, and he encouraged them to perfect their holiness. He prayed for them to be pure and blameless, because that’s how he wanted them to be when Jesus returned. Peter, too, told his followers to make every effort to be found spotless and blameless.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus says he’s unhappy with a certain church because those people are neither very good nor very bad. Jesus would prefer it if they were either one of those, but they’re just… in between. Jesus can’t stand that.

No.

Solomon, on the other hand, wisely advises you to be neither very good nor very bad. He says it’s best to avoid any extremes, and to stay in between the two, right where Jesus can’t stand you. And don’t bother trying to avoid doing things you know God won’t like. Solomon wisely says you should just follow your heart and your eyes wherever they take you, even though you know you’ll be bringing judgment on yourself.

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World population history according to the Bible

In the beginning, there were zero humans. Then 2 were created on the sixth day. After the fall, they had two sons, bringing the world population up to 4. Then one son killed the other, so it went back down to 3. This all happened at some time before the world’s 130th year (which is when the replacement son was born).

That’s what the Bible says, anyway. In reality, the world population around 4000 BC was probably at least 7 million.

After that, the Bible doesn’t tell exactly how many people there were. So I’m going to have to make some rough estimates to get an idea of how many people there would have been by the time of the flood. Here’s what we know (based on the numbers given in Genesis 5):

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When was Jehoiachin released from prison?

2 Kings tells about Jehoiachin, one of the last kings of Judah. It says Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon besieged Jerusalem until Jehoiachin surrendered. Then Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon as a prisoner, and made Jehoiachin’s uncle king of Judah instead.

37 years later, Nebuchadnezzar’s son Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, and he was nicer to Jehoiachin. He released Jehoiachin from prison on the 27th day of the 12th month.

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The Story of the Inauguration of Saul
Your Cattle or Your Eyes

When Samuel was getting old, his evil sons were next in line to take over the nation. The people of Israel suggested appointing a king to lead them instead. But Samuel didn’t think that was a good idea, so he asked God about it. God didn’t like the idea either, because he thought that meant his people wouldn’t consider him their king. But he told Samuel to do it anyway.

So Samuel warned Israel that their king would steal their property and enslave them. And he said God would never save them by putting an end to the king’s reign. The people said they wanted a king anyway, because all the other nations had kings. When God heard this, he said Samuel should go ahead and give them a king.

A tall, handsome young man named Saul came to Samuel to see if the prophet could tell him where his father’s lost donkeys were. Before he could ask him, Samuel told Saul that the donkeys had already been found while he was away looking for them.

Then Samuel took Saul home with him and kissed him and oiled him and told him God had made him the ruler of his people. Saul hid, but when the people of Israel found out that he was to be their king, they got God to find him for them. And they dragged him out and made him their king.

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Your Cattle or Your Eyes
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Who was Maakah’s father?

According to 1 Kings, King Abijah’s mother Maakah was the daughter of Abishalom. Then in 2 Chronicles, it says she was the daughter of Absalom. That’s probably supposed to be the same name, just written a little differently.

(From the context, it sounds like that likely means David’s son Absalom. That would mean Abijah’s father Rehoboam married his cousin, which might seem weird and unlikely to some people, but note that there are two more first cousin marriages mentioned right there in that same passage. Absalom’s mother was also named Maakah, so maybe he named his daughter after her.)

Two chapters later, though, it says Maakah was the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. That doesn’t sound like the same person at all. Absalom was born in Hebron, not Gibeah.

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The Story of the Calling of Samuel
Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed

A man named Elkanah had two wives, named Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah didn’t, because God wouldn’t let her. Peninnah kept tormenting Hannah about this for years, and she was miserable. Her husband told her she should stop crying, because she had him, which was better than having children. Hannah silently asked God to give her a son. When Eli, the priest and leader of Israel, saw her mouth moving but didn’t hear her saying anything, he told her she needed to stop getting drunk.

Then God let Hannah have a son, and she named him Samuel. She was so happy to finally have a son that she gave him away to Eli, whose sons were scoundrels. Eli tried to get his sons to change their ways, but God wouldn’t let them repent, because he wanted an excuse to kill them.

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Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed
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Can money save your life?

No.

No payment is ever enough to get God to let someone live forever, so your money will fail to save your life eventually. There’s nothing you can give in exchange for your soul. There is something you can get that will save your life permanently, but it’s not something you can buy with money. But what about when someone’s life gets cut shorter than normal? Can money help prevent that?

No, the wicked can’t save themselves with their treasure. God’s law does not allow murderers to bribe their way out of the death penalty. It doesn’t allow accidental killers to bribe their way out of being killed if they leave the city of refuge. And it doesn’t allow people to bribe their way out of being murdered if someone has decided to “give them over to the Lord” by “devoting them to destruction“.

Having money isn’t as good as having wisdom and knowledge, because money doesn’t preserve those who have it. Wealth is not what will save you from death. It’s worthless for that. So the rich shouldn’t put their hope in wealth. Those who trust in their riches will fall.

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