If we tear our clothing, it is generally by accident unless we are tearing up an old garment for rags. This was not true in the culture of Bible times where the tearing of one’s garment was an external sign of one’s internal pain. The average person of the era did not have multiple changes of clothing like we do in our closets and dressers; consequently, they took great care to prevent accident tearing of their clothing (Exod 28:32; Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21). But there was “a time to tear and a time to mend” (Eccles 3:7); the time to intentionally tear was a time of intense grief that might have included repentance.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (TEAR A GARMENT PT 1 OF 2)
We may expect that the idea of one person owning another would be strongly censured in the Bible. What we find instead is a general acknowledgment of the existence of slavery, the use of slavery as a metaphor, and a theological trajectory that moved society in the direction of abolition without formally demanding it.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (SLAVE “TO BECOME OR TO BE FREED” PT 1 OF 2)
The practice of using clothing to make a statement regarding one’s status or position in society was just as prevalent in the biblical world as it is today. However, clothing styles did not change as rapidly in antiquity and so the effort to remain stylish was less hectic.Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (FASTING)
Most of the writers of the NT grew up in the world of “second Temple Judaism,” the time between the temple’s reconstruction (516 B.C.) and its final destruction (A.D. 70). This period introduced changes into the political structure, culture, and religion of the OT world.Continue reading THE TIME BETWEEN THE TESTAMENTS
The Bible is a historical book as well as a spiritual one. As such, it contains many important historical leaders and describes their impact on the nation of Israel. These people are not often used as symbols in the Bibles, but their influence on the history of God’s people carries symbolic importance because of the particular interactions they had. The Jews look back on these leaders as people who operated under the sovereign will of God either to help them as an instrument of mercy or to test and punish them as an executor of his just wrath.Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (XERXES THE GREAT “and Other Significant Rulers”)
Garments are used as biblical symbols in almost as many ways as there are styles of clothing. Clothes are used as expression of socioeconomics status, spiritual well-being, and emotional state. They can protect, conceal, or display an inner reality of the wearer. They can last for a long time or wear out quickly (Neh 9:21; Matt 6:19). They can consist of leaves (Gen 3:7), animal skin (Gen 3:21; Matt 3:4), rags (Isa 64:6), pure white linen (Dan 7:9; Rev 19:14), or anything in between. They can be literal or figurative. Yet despite al this variety, the use of clothing as a symbol falls into a few set patterns that yield a wealth of insight. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (CLOTHING)
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)
Refraining from eating food. The Bible describes three main forms of fasting. The normal fast involves the total abstinence of foods. Luke 4:2 reveals that Jesus “ate nothing”; afterward “He was hungry.” Jesus abstained from food but not from water.
In Acts 9:9 we read of an absolute fast where for three days Paul “did not eat or drink” (HCSB). The abstinence form both food and water seems to have lasted no more than three days (Ezra 10:6; Esther 4:16). Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (FASTING)
The book of is curious. It’s the only book in the Bible that never overtly mentions God. It contains no references to the Mosaic law or to sacrifices. You don’t see priests making offerings here, or saints singing psalms, or prophets pointing the people back to God’s promise. Continue reading WOMEN OF THE BIBLE (ESTHER: THE QUEEN OF PERSIA)
True, Esther doesn’t mention the name of God, yet underlying the story are veiled references to God. Cousin Mordecai encourages Esther to go before King Xerxes saying. “Who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). He was implying that God might use Esther to deliver the Jews. Esther then asks Mordecai to gather the Jews and fast; she herself fasted for three days (Esther 4:3) showing her petition to God for assistance.