On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus comes to the oasis town of Jericho, a thriving city known for its year-round fruits and vegetables. He has about another 20 miles to go, a full day’s walk. Zacchaeus lives in this crossroads town near what is now Israel’s eastern border, a few miles from the Jordan River. He’s in charge of collecting taxes throughout the region, including trolls for produce and other goods shuttled in or out of the city.Continue reading THE TAX MAN UP A TREE
We also find Jesus using the perceptions linked with tax collectors to jolt the Jewish leaders from their complacency. While he was teaching in the temple courts during the final week of his life on earth, Jesus frequently clashed with the Jewish leaders, who questioned his authority and resisted his invitations to know him as their Savior from sin.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (TAX COLLECTOR PT2)
The formal mention of prostitutes in the Bible is often used to shape our impression of people with whom they were associated. Because the law of God was clear on this matter, the linking of a man with a prostitute, whether sexually or by birth, cast a dark cloud over his character. This included notables like Judah, Jephthah, and Samson (Gen 38:15; Judg 11:1; 16:1). When Joshua sent spies to Jericho, the population was so immoral that the one person of redeeming value found in the city was a prostitute (Josh 2:1). And the image of Ahab was clearly tarnished by the fact that his bloody chariot was washed out at the place where the prostitutes bathed (1 Kings 22:38). By contrast, Israel’s leaders who aggressively expelled shrine prostitutesContinue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (PROSTITUTE P2)
Within the larger ancient Near Eastern world, prostitution was legal and generally accepted by members of society, and there is evidence that some prostitutes in Mesopotamia gathered into professional associations linked to the goddess Ishtar. The Hebrew of the Old Testament uses two different words when referring to those who functioned as prostitutes (zona, translated “prostitute” in Gen 38:15; and qedesa, translated “shrine prostitute” in Gen 38:21-22), which suggests that the prostitutes in Canaan were of two types: secular sex workers and prostitutes linked to pagan worship. Nevertheless, given the extent of the evidence we possess from the ancient world, we need to use caution in identifying the latter too closely with pagan worship rites that sought to increase the fertility of flocks, herds, and fields.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (PROSTITUTE P1)
Jesus was fully God when he came to earth. He was also fully human. He can empathize with our weaknesses and our limitations.
By the same token, he is also acutely aware of our potential as humans because he maximized his. He knows not just who we are and what we’re like but also what we can become. Continue reading MEN OF THE BIBLE (JESUS: THE PERFECT EXAMPLE)
The Pharisees were criticizing Jesus because He welcomed tax collectors and other sinners to hear His teachings. To the Pharisees, these were “unclean” people who passed on their sin and corruption to everyone who associated with them. In response to this criticism, Jesus told three parables about several lost items that were eventually recovered-a sheep, a coin, and a son (Luke 15:1-32). Continue reading RECOVERY OF THE LOST (THE PRODIGAL SON)