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)
The physical act of circumcision was a sign of the covenant between of God and Israel in which he had chosen them and promised to be their God for all generations (Gen 17:10-11; Acts 7:8). In this act, the foreskin of a male child’s penis was removed (Lev 12:3). More rarely, circumcision was performed on adults. When God made his covenant promises to Abraham, he insisted that they be sealed with the physical reminder that the Israelites were a people set apart. Those who failed to comply with this condition were excluded from covenant community (Gen 17:14; Exod 12:48). Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (CIRCUMSCISION)
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)
In addition to rebuilding Jerusalem in a physical sense, Nehemiah was also concerned for the spiritual rebuilding of his people. He was so angry toward the Jewish men who had married pagan woman-a-flagrant disobedience of God’s command (Joshua 23:12-13)-that he beat some of them and pulled out their hair. This violent and serious punishment showed the severity of their sin. Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (A SEVERE PUNISHMENT)
All forms of idolatry were forbidden in Israel (Exo 20:2-6; Lev 19:4), but Baal worship was especially popular among the people. Baal was one of the primary deities of the Canaanites. He was regarded as the god with the power to bestow or withhold fertility to Continue reading WHY WAS BAAL WORSHIP CONSIDERED SO OFFENSIVE?
God’s initiative in encountering people. Biblical words for the presence of God usually relate to the “face” of God. Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (PRESENCE OF GOD)
This verse refers to the ancient custom of casting lots to settle disputes or make important decisions (read Josh 1:7). We might compare the practice to flipping a coin or drawing straws in modern times. Continue reading MAKING DECISIONS BY LOT
The “vinegar” that Boaz offered Ruth was probably a drink similar to wine that had been fermented longer than usual until it developed a sour taste. This is the same type of drink that was offered to Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:34, 48). Continue reading SOUR WINE AND ROASTED GRAIN
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)