A Catholic reads the Bible, Week 38: Between the Old and New
(CNN)This week's passage comes to you from Vietnam. I am seriously dealing with a massive time zone change. But, my Bible is with me and a true comfort. It's traveled to Europe and to Cleveland, Ohio and now Vietnam. It's been the constant in my life.
Some weeks, though (and some trips) have been more challenging than others.
The last few books of the Old Testament for this week's reading: Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi. They each recount variations of the end of Jewish Temple, telling them people and what went wrong (infidelity to God) and what was next (the restoration of Jerusalem).
Maybe my jet lag is getting to me because I had to read a few things three or four times because they were so, for lack of a better word, colorful.
For example, Zechariah tells the story of a bush with a woman contained inside. The bush flies. What? The footnote explains that the woman symbolizes the "wickedness" of Judah and it is being transported away from the Holy Land.
Um, OK. Be gone, wicked bush-woman.
Then there was Nahum who was a totally angry prophet. (Are there any other kind?) He hates Nineveh and is pleased when it is destroyed, but whoa on the insults. I mentioned this in Week 23, but didn't feel his anger as much then.
"There is no healing for your hurt, your mortal wound. All who hear this news of you clap their hands over you; For who has not been overwhelmed, steadily, by your malice?"
I hope I am never overwhelmed by this kind of malice.
And 900 pages removed from Genesis, we have the Lord saying in the second verse of Zephaniah, "I will completely sweep away all things from the face of the earth, says the Lord." It seems like just yesterday, in the Noah story, God was promising never to do that again.
Oh well. All these angry prophecies are the "what not to do" guide of your reading.
Although I learned countless meaningful lessons about the Jewish faith, it feels to me that the more than 1,000 pages in the Old Testament were preparing me for the New.
It also leads me to wonder how my perception will change when I go through the next books. These are the stories that I know from Catholic school. Now that I understand the religious community Jesus was born into, how will that inform my reading?