2023 Beginning of the year: Clearing up confusion
Hey there! It seems like we are off to a good start this year in the Daily Bible Reading Podcast. In this extra podcast, I am trying to give answers to frequent questions. First I want to ask you to share the DBRP NOW with your friends. If you started listening to the podcasts just a few days ago, then perhaps it has occurred to you, “Hey, this podcast would be perfect for …” this or that friend. If so, please share with them right away. This first week of the yearly plan is a great time to start listening, and if your friend wants to, he/she can easily catch up with you. Then you can discuss the readings together. I invite you to contact me if you hear mistakes in my podcasts or if you would like to send a comment. My favorite way for you to contact me is via the Contact button at dailybiblereading.info. It’s in the upper right hand corner of the screen. If you write about a problem in accessing a certain podcast, please tell me what device you are using and what podcast player. But hey, before writing to me, please check out the Read This First pages linked in the banner bar at dailybiblereading.info. That’s the place to go for information about Bible apps, podcast apps, Bible sites useful for digging deeper. and also information about me (Phil) and Gale.[a] After a break in listening to my own podcasts, in 2022 I came back to listen to them again in a concentrated way, looking for things to improve. I ended up making improvements to 154 out of the 365 episodes among the NLT podcasts, and I will continue making improvements to the GNT series in 2023. But now I am afraid that I may have introduced new errors in the NLT series. So for you listening to the NLT series in 2023, please let me know if you hear mistakes or if a certain episode has inferior recording quality compared to the others. YouVersion now has an audio play button at the bottom of every page in the Digging Deeper Daily reading plan. Because that reading plan is sponsored by the Daily Bible Reading Podcast, some people will think that the play button is giving them the recordings for the podcasts. It does NOT. If you hit the play button, you get a Siri/Alexa-like voice that reads the devotional content page, and after that page, the app will play whatever voice is bundled with the translation you have selected. If any of the people who have recently subscribed to the Digging Deeper Daily reading plan in the YouVersion app are confused like that, then they won’t get the message about their mistake, since they will never see the extra podcast that I release like this one. However, when the voice pronounces the name of Job as job, I hope that they will figure out that they are not listening to a podcast. Actually following the 3D reading plan that way is not too bad. I’m just sorry that those who do this will miss out on the extra information that I sometimes give in the podcasts, and also they will miss the prayers at the end of each podcast. For more information about my two full-Bible reading plans in the YouVersion app, please visit the Read This First pages linked at dailybiblereading.info, and look for the page that is about Listening to podcasts. Now let me give you a selection of quick tips. If you have any questions about why I have recorded the NLT and the GNT for the DBRP, please see the Read This First pages. Those two are the most understandable English translations for those consuming Scripture in audio form. If you started listening to episode 1 podcast on January 1st, if you don’t want to install a podcast app, you can simply go to dailybiblereading.info or dailygntbiblereading.info. Your daily episode will be near the top. Using that website is also a great way to listen if you are using a computer instead of a smaller device. If you are somewhere in the middle of the year or are irregular in your listening, a good podcast app will make it easy to select the next episode without having to remember the day number or search for it. If my reading is too slow for you, a good podcast app will let you choose to speed up the audio. My favorite speed is 1.20. I don’t recommend listening to Scripture at 1.5 speed if your aim is to understand it and think about it. Two years ago, when I was reading the 3D plan and not listening to the audio[b], I enjoyed using the MyBible app, which works on both Apple and Android devices. It has MANY options for customization. A simpler app that allows you to follow the 3D plan is called Quick Bibles. The Indonesian version of that program is the most popular Bible app in Indonesia. You can download and follow the Digging Deeper Reading plan in both of these two apps instead of using the more popular YouVersion/Bible.com app. Please, if you are listening to the DBRP on your commute to work, have things set up with your podcast app so you do not need to touch your phone. If you commute to work with an Android device, I recommend that you check out using the Podbean app. If you sort the DBRP podcasts in ascending order (low to higher numbers), then the app will automatically move from one episode to the next without a touch. One of the easiest ways to listen to the 3D plan using smart speakers. Please see the Read This First pages at dailybiblereading.info for instructions about using smart speakers, and also for more information about podcast apps. At the first of each year, I frequently have received email questions asking me to explain what I said about the Orya people in the introductions to Genesis 1 and 2. I said this: I have seen first-hand in my work in Indonesia that when a people group misunderstands and twists the story in Genesis 1-3, it will have far-reaching consequences for their lives. In the case of the Orya people, twisting the story of the fall caused much suffering and misery among families. ============== It was about 1986 when Isaak Sasbe made a special trip to see me. At that time I and several Orya men were about to finish translating the Gospel of Mark. While I knew how to say lots of things in the Orya language, I usually couldn’t follow everything in an extended narrative in that language. So, on the day Isaak visited me, I am so thankful that I thought to turn on my little tape recorder. In the following months, I would carefully transcribe everything that Isaak told me. Isaak was the governmental head (or the mayor) of the village of Santosa. This is the story that he told, and that which the people there learned from his uncle, Daud. In the beginning, Adam and Eve and other Orya people lived on Jadam mountain. They lived by the power of God. They even had glass in their windows. And they could just think about it, and food would appear on their tables. And they could just think about it, and all the dishes would be washed and put away. (They lived by the magical power of God and didn’t have to work.) But it all was ruined when Adam had sex with Eve. Until that time people lived without sex. So God got angry and told Noah to build a big boat. When the boat was finished and the flood waters started coming up, everyone who helped build the boat could get on. Those that got on included Jesus. As the flood got deeper, other people tried to climb up, but Noah hit them over the head with a hammer and they fell back into the water. Jadam mountain was the only mountain peak left above water, and the remaining Orya people stayed there until the water receded. But Noah and Jesus took the power of God with them in the boat, and they sailed away with it and landed in America. That’s why you Americans live with the power of God. Then Isaak said something most significant: “I came here to ask you: How can we get the power of God back?” (The anthropology article that I wrote on this is published with the title Of Paradise Lost.) Of course I tried to explain to Isaak that all this was twisted and wrong! I remember his disappointed look upon hearing my explanations. Years later I gained insight as to why he would have been disappointed. According to his belief, if I really had the secret of the power of God, I wouldn’t share it with anyone, because that would let others in on the secret. If I told other people how to share the power, the result would be less power and wealth for me. Eventually this story and another told by Isaak’s uncle resulted in what anthropologists call a ‘cargo cult’. Such movements are common in the Papua province of Indonesia (formerly called Irian Jaya), and the other side of the island in Papua New Guinea, and in the Solomon Islands. A cargo cult starts when a charismatic leader arises (like Isaak’s uncle Daud), and tells people, “Hey, we’re doing things wrong. If you do what I tell you, we’ll be blessed with cargo (health, wealth, and prosperity) from our departed ancestors.” Daud’s twist on this was that the thing the Orya people needed to do to unlock garden-of-Eden-like prosperity was to trade wives. That idea actually had almost nothing to do with Adam and Eve falling into sin in the garden, but with Moses and Joshua and the raising of the walking stick at the crossing of the Red Sea. A little note about Isaak’s uncle’s background: Daud was one of the few men of his age that went into town and learned the Malay language. So when the first Malay-speaking evangelists came into the Orya area, he was one who was often called upon to translate what the preacher said. That’s where he learned Bible stories. How I wish I had recordings of those Maylay sermons and Daud’s translations! Another point worth mentioning: Spontaneous sermon translations are not a good way to present the Gospel. There is a little interesting thing here also from a Bible translation perspective: The false teaching of Isaak’s uncle involved taking literal happenings in Bible stories and taking them figuratively. Orya people still struggle with this: “Adam and Eve surely didn’t sin by just eating a fruit. How silly! It’s no big deal if I take a papaya from someone else’s garden. They had sex.” Now, a figure of speech in Orya is ‘to pick a flower with someone’, and it means to commit adultery with that person. So it was very logical for them to think that picking a fruit was a euphemism for forbidden sex. And Daud’s false teaching was that Moses didn’t literally raise a walking stick over the Red Sea. Orya men always go to war in pairs. The junior goes first and strikes the first blow, and the junior warrior follows and dispatches the victims. The less senior warrior is called (using figurative language) the other man’s ‘walking stick’. So Daud said, “Instead of Moses raising his literal walking stick, he and Joshua (who were war partners) exchanged wives. God was so pleased with that that He opened the Red Sea for them to escape.” When Daud first started promoting this teaching about wife-swapping, the Orya people didn’t just start having free sex. No, Daud and the other leaders regulated which pairs of men would trade wives. I said before that this led to misery. Imagine this: Among two couples, there might be 2-3 of them who were happy with making the trade, but 1-2 were not thrilled with having sex with their new partner. When I first heard of all this, I imagined that it might be all the guys who would be happy, and all the women who would not be. But, in fact, I heard stories of misery from both sexes. One could not run away from this. Where could you run to? And would you leave the children behind? Women were beaten. People of both sexes were trapped. And sexual sin is sticky, in the sense that it inescapably brings more sin and shame with it. Plus it all has to be kept hush-hush, and you can’t tell anyone about your problems. Trying to regain a Lost Paradise using human ideas results in misery. I’ll probably tell you in another podcast how, years later, the Lord used his Word to defeat the cargo cult. One terrible effect of the cult was to distrust anyone teaching differently from the cult teaching. That is one thing the Lord defeated. Before the occasion that brought the defeat of the cult, people would hint to me about their cult activities saying, “We’re doing our traditional cultural practices to bless this land (meaning to bring prosperity).” Note that after only 30-40 years after the start of the cult, they called the wife swapping their ‘traditional cultural practice’. That was not their true tradition! I, the newcomer and foreigner, had to remind them! In the olden days before Daud Sasbe, adultery was severely punished. The punishment was to have your thigh shot at close range with an arrow. The thigh would be pierced with a big spear-like arrow— the kind used in killing pigs. Not many committed adultery back then. God, our creator, has every right to tell us humans how to live. People who live as God instructs us in the Scripture are actually the happiest people in the world. God knows what is best for us. And He has been kind enough to not hide this knowledge from us. He made us male and female to harmonize together in a beautiful way. A couple is so harmonized that two become one, one body. Any time we humans say, “Oh God didn’t really mean what he said about __x__ in the Bible!” (you fill in the blank) — we are headed for trouble and misery. My stories about how the Orya people were led into degrading sexual sin probably sound so strange to you that you can hardly believe it. Well, when I tell the Orya what is happening now in the sexual revolution in America and other first-world nations, they can hardly believe it! The sexual revolution will not lead our society to Paradise, happiness, or prosperity, but to shame and misery. ============= I want to repeat my appeal from the top of this episode: Please share with your friends about the 3D reading plan and the Daily Bible Reading Podcasts. Any day of the year is a good day to start listening to the Bible. The Holy Spirit will never tell you not to read the Bible. That message comes from someone else. Expect the Holy Spirit to speak to you each time you read or listen to the Bible. Please forget about me and listen to Him. Gale and I send you our New Year’s greetings, and as always, I say, May the Lord bless you ‘real good’.