The Gospel writer Luke precedes his account of Jesus’ birth with that of a lesser (though still prominent) figure in Jewish prophecy: the forerunner who would prepare the way for the Messiah and announce his arrival.
The circumstance of this forerunner’s birth were memorable. His mother, Elizabeth, was a relative of Jesus’ mother, Mary. His father, Zechariah, served as a priest in the temple. One day the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah to announce that he and his wife would have a son. When Zechariah asked how that could be possible, since he and Elizabeth were well past the age when most people become parents, Gabriel told him he would be mute until his son was born because of his unbelief (Luke 1:5-20).
In the Old Testament, the object erected time and time again to communicate the presence and power of God was an altar. The altar could be a single rock or a loosely organized arrangement of large stones, so people were never far from an altar or could build one in a few moments. Nothing was more prominent as a biblical image for worship and allegiance to God than the altar. It is no exaggeration to say that the most visible sign of one’s devotion to the true God in the worship of the old covenant was the building of altars or traveling to them for acts of sacrifice or offering. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (ALTAR)→
The Jordan River played an important role in a number of memorable events from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is known for being a fertile valley and an important landmark. The first mention of the Jordan occurs in the story of Abram and Lot, where Lot chose for himself “all the plan of Jordan” (Gen 13:11 KJV). The next time we come upon it, Jacob is wrestling with his adversary at the ford of the Jabbok, one of the major tributaries of the Jordan. Elsewhere the Jordan is crossed and is used as a place of baptism and provision. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (JORDAN RIVER)→
Jael is the Bible character who sparks one-liners about “splitting headaches.” She’s the woman who jokesters like to refer to as “as expert at helping men ‘get things through their thick skulls!” But we are getting ahead of ourselves. A bit of context in needed.
Following the Israelites’ crossing of the Jordan River, Israel’s campaign to conquer and settle the promised land got off to a spectacular start. But over time, for multiple reasons, the effort sputtered and lost stem. Taking over a country is trying, not to mention tiring.
There’s no nice way to say it. Rahab was a harlot-in modern parlance, a hooker. At her home atop the wall that surrounded the bustling, ancient city of Jericho, Rahab took in strange men and gave out sexual favors.
Because of her prominent role in the story of Israel, a few prim and proper types have tried to improve Rahab’s image by engaging in a bit of revisionist history. “Maybe,” they’ve suggested, “she wasn’t actually a ‘lady of the night.’ Perhaps she was only an ‘innkeeper.'” Continue reading WOMEN OF THE BIBLE (RAHAB: THE SHADY LADY)→