This chapter is a little bit like opening 32 fortune cookies, and discovering that each one contains an equal measure of good and bad, so they all cancel each other out.
For today, be inspired by the Laws found in this random chapter: If a man is to be flogged, he should not be flogged more than 40 times, or he will be humiliated. Do not muzzle an ox when threshing grain. If a man dies without a son, his brother must marry his widowed sister-in-law and if she bears a son, it will belong to the dead brother. If the brother does not wish to marry his dead brother’s wife, she will go to him, remove his sandal and spit in his face. He will forever be known as The Unsandaled. Finally, if two men are fighting and the wife of one of the men reaches out and grabs the other man’s balls, her hand is to be chopped off.
God, speaking through his prophet Ezekiel, really lets Israel have it. I’m paraphrasing, but He basically says, “You dirty filthy whore! I found you as a bloody dumpster baby. I raised you to be a beautiful woman and I gave you clothes and jewels and food and I married you. How do you repay me? By sleeping with every guy you see. You are even worse than a whore because you give yourself away for free. Now I’m going to destroy you! I will bring all your enemies together and they will stone you to death, and then chop your body up into little pieces. You are just like your mother. You are worse than your sisters, who are also whores, but you are worse. I will forgive you, but you will be ashamed forever.”
In this, the first chapter of the second book of Kings, we hear the story of how the King of Israel, Ahaziah, is not happy about the prophet Elijah’s prediction that he will die. The King sends a hundred men out to meet Elijah on a mountain, but Elijah summons the fire of God and all 100 men are killed. Finally, Elijah comes off the mountain and delivers God’s message directly to Ahaziah. Then Ahaziah dies. Prophecy fulfilled!
Here it is at last. A chapter of hope and praise and thanksgiving. This is the prayer of one who was near death, and was saved by God. It contains many promises of sacrifice and praise. So here it is at last, the 21st random chapter finally is something not terrifying.
The prophet Zechariah brings a message from God, that He is unhappy with the way the people fasted during the 5th and 7th months of the year, for the previous 70 years. God reminds the people that long ago He exiled the people of Israel because they did not obey His commands. The implication here is that He could do it again!
Merry Christmas, everyone! For today we have the story of how King Balak wanted the prophet Balaam to curse his enemies, the Israelis. Instead, Balaam’s prophecy was a blessing for the people of Israel. This made the King angry, but Balaam explained that he can’t say anything but what God tells him to say. Then Balaam went on to describe how all the various nations were going to be destroyed.