This is, by far, the deepest dive I’ve ever taken into the Bible. I’ve read the whole thing before (somewhere around 2010 or 2011), I’ve immersed myself into the red letters of Jesus for a couple straight years, and I’ve tried to apply those words to my life. However, this particular journey into the Word has been the most enlightening and impactful thing I’ve experienced as it relates to the Bible. I’m watching hours-long lectures from Tim Mackie (the voice behind The Bible Project videos) and seeing how God brings to mind connections to the game of baseball. I’m learning more about God and it’s deepening my experience on the field. I hope people, both today and in the future, will experience the same through what I’m pulling together through these writings. I know this experience isn’t just meant for me.
In spite of Ezra and Nehemiah being up next in our modern Bible, it is more appropriate to write about Jeremiah next (more on that later). The book of Jeremiah was written as God instructed him to make a collection of all of Jeremiah’s 25 years of teachings on a scroll. At one point, all of those teachings were torn up and thrown in a fire by the king and they had to be rewritten. As you prepare to read about some of the big ideas from Jeremiah, take some time to read Jeremiah and watch the Bible Project’s video outlining the framework of Jeremiah (https://thebibleproject.com/explore/jeremiah/) as we dive into this week’s “Baseball Guy’s Bible Guide.” Also, if you’d like to dive even deeper as I have, take a look at the lecture Tim Mackie gives about the Making of the Bible as well (Making of the Bible by Tim Mackie (The Bible Project))
Due up in the Bottom of the Ninth:
- Batting Out of Order
- Renewing a Contract
Batting Out of Order
On May 9, 2018, the New York Mets batted out of order against the Cincinnati Reds. To make matters worse, the mistake ended up in the team’s 15th loss in 21 games as the Mets lost 2-1 in 10 innings that day.
Though many would call this a “Little League” blunder, this mistake is more common than I would have imagined. It happened just two years previous as the Milwaukee Brewers committed the same mistake against the Washington Nationals in 2016.
As I was researching the next books in the modern Biblical order, naturally I started exploring ideas from Ezra and Nehemiah. In the midst of that study, I discovered that the beginning of Ezra contains completed prophecy from the book of Jeremiah - a book that occurred before Ezra chronologically (Jeremiah in around 626 B.C. and Ezra in around 458 B.C.). Our Bible is out of order!
Well, to be fair, the Bible is just presented in a different order. The Old Testament is in a different order than the Bible that Jesus would have read in the Temple. Wait, even that’s a problematic statement as Jesus would have read scrolls and not a bound book. Understanding how other people through history would have interacted with these ancient writings can become a valuable piece of our study.
The idea that our books of the Bible are in a different order should not cause the same level of concern as a baseball team batting out of order. One is breaking the rules and the other is accounting for how people experience a series of writings inspired by God. We should study how other people have ordered those writings to deepen our understanding of Jesus and God’s revelation to all people.
Having been a fan of Major League Baseball since the early 1980s, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of guys labeled as “top prospects” provide a new sense of hope for their franchise. I remember as a high school and college player how an incoming freshman or a kid working his way up through the system (J.V. in high school, JUCO in college) was often greeted with great hope.
At the big league level, there is much written about the farm systems and top prospects around the league. Right now we’re watching as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was just called up by the Blue Jays and we wait in anticipation for Fernando Tatis Jr.’s long-term impact on the San Diego Padres. Guys my age will vividly remember the promise their dads represented for their teams and now their kids have that same potential for impact.
The most quoted verse from Jeremiah is one of the most familiar verses in all of modern Christendom - Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Unfortunately we often tend to miss the level of judgment levied upon the Israelites in the full context of the verse as well! But there’s an important lesson to latch on to in Jeremiah. Though there is articulation of harsh judgment for both Israel and all nations in the book, there is also hope. There is hope for Israel and all nations included. Jeremiah points to a time when God will write His instructions on the hearts of His people and never again remember their sins (Jeremiah 31:33-34). Now this is a hope far greater than that of Vlad Jr.’s effect on the Blue Jays! God provides us all with a hope that is eternal through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Renewing a Contract
This past winter, Los Angeles Dodger manager Dave Roberts was hoping for a contract extension. And for good reason. In his first three years as manager, Dave Roberts led the team to three National League West titles and consecutive World Series appearances. In November, the Dodgers exercised their team option for the 2019 season.
The idea of a “team option” or a “player option” is an interesting one. It’s an interesting play in who holds the cards in the negotiation. Either the team says, “Yes, I want you to stay” or “No, you can move on” in the scenario of a team option, or the player has the rights with a player option. Thankfully for Roberts, he signed a contract extension making him the manager through 2022 (or until the team decides they want to go a different direction, under which scenario the team can always fire him as manager).
The business part of baseball and contracts is certainly interesting, and it makes me thankful that we live with a God who deals in covenants. In spite of all of man’s unfaithfulness to Him, God will not abandon His people. Instead, God’s consistent faithfulness is manifested in His continual renewal of the covenant He has with His people. We don’t deal with a finicky owner who isn’t sure about his commitment to you. We have an eternal God who is always looking to renew His covenant with us (think the father in the Prodigal Son story). He’s always running to us - no matter if we lead our team to wins or losses!