As the Israelites met and engaged the people who occupied the Promise Land before them, they might have been tempted to adopt the sacred-stone concept. To be sure, the Lord did allow a certain amount of parity between pagan worship and Israelite worship, such as the use of sacrifice, temple, and priesthood; but the line was drawn at employing sacred stone. “Do not make idols or set us an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God” (Lev 26:1; see Deut 16:22). But what about the sacred stones that had already been built by the previous occupants of the Promised Land?Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (SACRED STONE “TO SET UP OR TO DESTORY” PT3)
These verses occur in the context of presenting a sacrificial animal as an offering to the Lord. The Israelites believed the blood of such an animal was sacred, since it carried the very essence of life itself. In a sense, the blood was the ransom price that atoned for their sins. It was to be drained from the animal and poured on the ground at the base of the altar.Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (EATING BLOOD FORBIDDEN)
The mechanics are unclear, as always, but the result was a special sense of divine help and presence that enabled the leader to do God’s will. In very few places in the Bible is the coming of the Holy Spirit described in any detail (Acts 2), but the spirit descends, fills, and empowers according to God’s will and purpose.Continue reading HOW DID THE SPIRIT OF GOD “COME UPON” ANCIENT LEADERS?
Chapter 15 and 16 of Isaiah contain the prophet’s declaration of God’s judgment against the Moabites, enemies of the Israelites. The Lord would humiliate these people. Isaiah declared, by making them bald and cutting off their beards.Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (HAIRLESS MOABITES)
The prophet Zephaniah declared that God would eventually punish the Assyrians for their cruelty and pagan worship (Judges 1:6 and Nahum 2:3). Their capital city, Nineveh, would become a laughingstock among the nations.Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (MOCKERY AND RIDICULE)
In a vision the prophet Ezekiel saw the temple of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. He was shocked to see on its walls paintings or sculptures of unclean animals that God’s people were not supposed to eat (Leviticus 11:1-19).Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS & CURIOSITIES (IDOLS IN THE TEMPLS)
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)
Worship of the sun and other heavenly bodies was common among the pagan nations of the ancient world. For example, the city of Ur in Mesopotamia from which Abraham migrated was a center of moon worship. The Egyptians worshiped the sun god known as Ra (Gen 12:15). The Lord, speaking through Moses, specifically prohibited this form of idolatry.Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS & CURIOSITIES (WORSHIP OF THE SUN, MOON, AND STARS)
Temples built for polytheistic worship; many pagan temples predated Solomon’s temple and some had similar designs. The earliest excavated temples from the Chalcolithic Period (4600-3300 B.C.), such as those uncovered at Eln Gedi in 1961 and Eshtaol in 2013, illustrate the ubiquitous nature of pagan worship in Canaan prior to the arrival of Abram (Gen 12:5). The culticsite at Eshtaol contained a standing stone, 1.3 meters in height, smoothed on all sides and erected facing east. The standing stone could be used as a monument but often representedContinue reading DEFINITON OF THE DAY (PAGAN TEMPLES)
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)