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)
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
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?
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)
Contaminated water was a problem in Bible times, just as it still is in many parts of the world. Paul’s practical advice to Timothy was to drink a little wine along with the water that he had been drinking, which had caused a stomach ailment. Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (MEDICINAL USE OF WINE)
There are a number of cautionary tales in the Bible, but few are as seamy and sad as this one.
Looking down on the city of Jerusalem form the atop his royal palace one fine spring evening, Israel’s King David spotted a fine young woman. She wasn’t merely attractive; she was “very beautiful.” And, of all the things she might have been doing, she was bathing. Continue reading WOMAN OF THE DAY (BATHSHEBA: THE VERY BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WITH THE VERY TRAGIC LIFE)
9. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. Continue reading SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY (1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-11: AVOIDING SEXUAL SIN)
This verse apparently refers to the practice among the pagan Babylonians of worshiping and offering sacrifices to their weapons of war. The Babylonians were on a mission of world conquest in Habakkuk’s time. Bowing down to these weapons was the Babylonians’ way of strengthening and dedicating themselves for this purpose. Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (WORSHIP OF WEAPONS)