In an age without television or other leisure-time pursuits, the people of Bible times often used riddles as a form of entertainment. Like Samson, they would pose a puzzling or mystifying question or problem and see who could figure it out.Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (SAMSON’S RIDDLE)
From an early age we are taught to respect the belongings of others even if our size and strength make it possible to take them by force. In order to understand the actions of the people of the ancient Near East, we need to make a major adjustment in this thinking. Within the cultural construct of this world, the expectation was that those who were victorious in battle had the right to seize the personal property of those defeated and even enslave the owners of that property. This practice of plundering is mentioned repeatedly in the literature of the ancient world peatedly in the literature of the ancient world and illustrated in the art of the empires that rose to power during the Old Testament era.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (PLUNDER)
This verse appears in the famous “roll call of the faithful” chapter in Hebrews. The writer pays tribute to the people of past generations who remained faithful to God, in spite of great persecution.Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS & CURIOSITIES (EXECUTION BY SAWING)
The term divination, as used in this passage, refers to attempts to control evil spirits, to penetrate the mysteries of the universe, or to foretell the future by using magical acts, pronouncing superstitious incantations, or interpreting natural signs. Today we refer to such practices as “the occult.” “Black magic” was a prominent feature of pagan religious systems in Bible times. But God prohibited the Israelites from participating in these practices. Seven different types of divination are mentioned in this passage.Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS & CURIOSITIES (NO BLACK MAGIC)
Devastating epidemic that OT writers understand to be sent by God (Exod 9:15; Jer 15:2; Hab 3:5; Amos 4:10), sometimes by means of a destroying angel (2 Sam 24:16; 1 Chron 21:15). God sent pestilence as punishment for persistent unbelief (Num 14:21) and failure to fulfill covenant obligations (Deut 28:21) as well as to encourage repentance (Amos 4:10). God withheldContinue reading DEFINITON OF THE DAY (PESTILENCE)
Hairy, demonic figure with the appearance of a goat, translating a Hebrew term otherwise translated “hairy” or “male goat.” Bible students differ in interpreting passages as to whether a demonic figure or a normal animals is meant. Israelites apparently sacrificed to such desert-dwelling demons, since they had to have a law forbidding such sacrifice (Lev 17:7). Some have even interpreted the scapegoat rites (Lev 16:20-22) as sending Israel’s sin back to their author, a desert demon with a different name from that Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (SADITE)
Elevate site, usually found on the top of a mountain or hill; most high places were Canaanite places of pagan worship.
HEATHEN WORSHIP AT THE HIGH PLACE: The average high place would have an altar (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Chron 14:3), a carved wooden pole that depicted the female goddess of fertility (Asherah), a stone pillar symbolizing the male deity (2 Kings 3:2), other idols (2 Kings 12:31; 13:32; 16:32-33). At these places of worship the people sacrificed animals (at some high places children were sacrificed according to Jer 7:31), burned incense to their gods, prayed, ate sacrificial meals, and were involved with male or female cultic Continue reading DEFINITON OF THE DAY (HIGH PLACE)
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)
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)
Everything the portrait of God’s character in the Bible is that of integrity, trustworthiness, and honesty God hates lying (Proverbs 12:22). Lying is a human trait, not a divine one (Romans 3:4). Liars deserve condemnation (Revelation 21:8). God is totally opposed to lying and stands completely against it as a means of achieving His will. How then does God approve of lying in this instance? Continue reading DOES GOD ENDORSE DECEPTION?