Cattle were primarily a measure or symbol of wealth in biblical times. They were both familiar and significant, good characteristics for symbolic use. Among his livestock, the wealthy Job had a thousand oxen (Job 1:3). Cattle not only provided meat, milk, leather, and other by-products, they were the main animal workforce in ancient agricultural societies. Oxen (castrated bulls) pulled plows as well as wagons. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (BULL/CALF)
Ishmael was a Jewish zealot who rebelled against the rule of Babylonia in the chaotic period after Judah fell to the Babylonian army. These ten men agreed to give Ishmael some food supplies that they had hidden in their fields if he would spare their lives. Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (BURIED FOOD)
Objects of unknown shape and material used to determine the divine will. Often in the ancient Near East people, especially priests, made difficult and significant decisions by casting lots on the ground or drawing them from a receptacle. Several times Scripture mentions the practice. We do not know exactly what the lots look like. Nor do we know how they were interpreted. We do know that people of the OT and NT believe God (or gods in the case of non-Israelites or non-Christians) influenced the fall or outcome of the lots (Prov 16:33). Thus, casting lots was a way of determining God’s will. Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (LOTS)
Throughout Scripture we find the wonder and mystery of the human body, designed by God (Psa 139:13-15). Jesus created a body for himself, and Adam was the prototype. Paul described Jesus as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15). Jesus chose the human body as the from or image he would live in while on his earth mission. Our bodies become symbolic reminders that we were designed with a purpose, shaped to bye the aware and obedient servants of God, the Maker of heaven and earth. Furthermore, the fact that Jesus took on human flesh shows that through the body is dust and is wasting away (Gen 3:19; 2 Cor 4:16), it is good and useful, part of what makes us human beings in the image of God. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (BODY)
John assassinated King Ahab and assumed the kingship of Israel. Then he had all of Ahab’s sons killed to eliminate all claimants to the throne. These sons were beheaded, and their heads were piled in a heap outside the entrance to the city of Jezreel. King Ahab’s palace was located at Jezreel. This was probably Jehu’s way of sending a message that anyone who remained loyal to Ahab and opposed Jehu’s accession to the throne would suffer the same fate. Continue reading EXECUTION BY DECAPITATION
Elizabeth, mentioned only in Luke’s Gospel, was married to a priest named Zechariah. “Both were righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commands and requirements of the Lord” (Luke 1:6).
Yet in a culture where children were viewed as a primary evidence of God’s blessing, they were also childless. Elizabeth was unable to conceive. This barrenness was a source of deep disgrace to her (Luke 1:25). Only those who’ve suffered through fertility issues can fully appreciate the sting of all those unanswered prayers, the piercing pain of an empty nursery. Since Elizabeth and Zechariah “were well along in year” (Luke 1:7), it’s not unreasonable to assume that they had given up the hope of ever becoming parents. Continue reading WOMAN OF THE DAY (ELIXABETH: THE MOTHER OF JOHN THE BAPTIST)
Israel’s greatest problem throughout its history was syncretism-the mixing of pagan religion with worship of the true God. God judged Israel severely for failing to keep worship clean and pure. And one of the easiest inroads to Israel’s heart was through intermarriage with pagan people’s Ezra knew this well, thus his vehement and emotional opposition to taking foreign spouses. Continue reading WHY WAS EZRA SO UPSET ABOUT MIXED MARRIAGES?
10 But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
11 Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?
12 And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.
13 Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews. Continue reading SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY (JOHN 7:10-24: JESUS TEACHES IN THE TEMPLE)
Literally “building up,” it approximates encouragement and consolation (1 Cor 14:3; 1 Thess 5:11); though with edification focus falls on the goal, defined as being established in faith (Col 2:7) or attaining unity of faith and knowledge, maturity, and the full measure of Christ (Eph 4:13). Edification is the special responsibility of the various church leaders (Eph 4:11-12) and is the legitimate context for the exercise of their authority (2 Cor 10:8; 13:10). The work of building up is, however, the work of all Christians (1 Thess 5:11), Spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the church. Of these gifts, those that involve speaking are especially important (1 Cor 14; Eph 4:29). All elements of Christian worship should contribute to edification (1 Cor 14:26). Prophecy and instruction are especially important (1 Cor 14:3, 18-19). Edification is not all talk, however, but involves demonstrating love (1 Cor 8:1) and consideration for those weak in faith (Rom 15:1-2).
Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (EDIFICATION)
Surely this was one of the most brutal massacres of the Bible, if not in raw numbers, in terms of its victims. Only the most corrupted form of evil could lead a state to summarily execute innocent children. Why did the people not resist? Continue reading WHY DID THE PEOPLE OF BETHLEHEM NOT PROTECT THEIR BOYS FROM HEROD’S SOILDERS?