The Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego runs parallel to that Daniel. Like the prophet of lions’ den fame, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were Jewish captives living in Babylon. Like Daniel, they earned positions as wise and trustworthy advisers of the king of Babylon. And like him, they inspired envy and enmity among their Babylonian counterparts in the king’s government. Continue reading MEN OF THE BIBLE (SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO: INTO THE FIRE)
CONGREGATION- Assembled people of God. “Congregation” translates the Hebrew words ‘edah and qahal primarily. These terms may apply to any individual or class collectively such as “the wicked” or “or hypocrites.” While ‘edah is once used to refer to a herd of bulls (Ps 68:30) and once to a swarm of bees (Judg 14:8), both words primarily describe the Israelite people as a holy people bound together by religious devotion to Yahweh rather than by political bonds. There is no apparent distinction in meaning between the two. Every circumcised Israelite was a member for the congregation, as were the women, though the congregation is offten called “the sons of Israel” (Exod 16:1-9 NASB). The congregation was subdivided into the tribe and then the most basic unit, the family. The congregation of Israel functioned in military, legal, and punishment matters.
Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (CONGREGATION)
Skipping the next 30 years in Jesus’ life, Matthew jumps to the start of his ministry, marked by two events: baptism and temptation. Continue reading JESUS GOES PUBLIC
To kill an innocent animal seems quite cruel. Our modern sensibilities are often by this requirement. But the lesson is this: Sin is serious! It offends a holy God. Human behavior bears consequences for all of creation. Continue reading ANIMAL SACRIFICE SEEMS BARBARIC AND PRIMITIVIE. WHY WOULD GOD REQUIRE SUCH AN UNPLEASANT RELIGIOUS EXERICSE?
On its own, the ark was little more than an interesting piece of furniture. But the ark held the Ten Commandments and symbolized God’s presence. Any attempt to see power in the ark itself (as in the popular Indiana Jones films) is tantamount to idolatry. The people of Israel made this mistake frequently. They assumed that possession of such a powerful instrument as the ark gave them some control over God Himself, since God was obligated to guarantee the success of anyone (or any group of people) possessing it. Continue reading IF THE ARK OF THE COVENANT WAS SO SPECIAL, WHY WERE THE PHILISTINES ALLOWED TO HAVE IT?
Judea Capta-“Judea is captured”-read the the coins minted by the Romans in commemoration of their victory 70. Thousands of Jews died in battle; thousands more were taken into slavery; many others chose to leave the country center of worship, the temple, was burned to the ground and the and the capital of Judaism had fallen. Continue reading MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE BIBLE (WHEN SACRIFICE STOPPED)
Molech was the chief god of the Ammonites (1 Kings 11:33), whom worshipers honored by sacrificing their own children (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6; Jeremiah 32:35). Jewish law (Leviticus 18:21; 20:1-5) and the prophets strictly forbade these kinds of heinous rituals. Zephaniah apparently regarded Molech worship as one of the most detestable form of Semitic idolatry (see Jeremiah 7:29-34; Ezekiel 16:20-22; 23:37-39; Amos 5:26). Continue reading WHO WAS MOLECH?
The Sabbath was once-weekly rest from normal business to worship and honor God. Those who sought to gain commercial advantage during this respite were not only upsetting the community’s economy, they were also offending God. Everyone knew the Sabbath requirements, so no one in the nation could plead ignorance of this all important rule. Continue reading WHY WAS GATHERING WOOD ON THE SABBATH A CAPITAL CRIME?
This verse continues Isaiah’s condemnation of the people of Judah, whom he compared to dancing girls (see note on Isaiah 3:16). He declared that God would take away all evidence of Judah’s pride, symbolized by the fine clothes and jewelry worn by these dancing girls. Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (PAGAN JEWELRY)
The most notable candlesticks in the Bible are those created for use in God’s house. The lamp stand or menorah that stood in the tabernalce was made of a single sheet of pure gold and had seven branches, each topped with a lamp in the shape of an almond blossom (Exod 25:31-40). Solomon’s temple had ten of these candles (1 Kings 7:49). Each lamp burned olive oil and was kept burning through the night as a symbol that God was with his chosen people at all times (Exod 27:21; 1 Sam 3:3). Extrabiblical sources suggest that in later times the middle lamp, which represented God himself, was kept burning around the clock. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (CANDLESTICK/LAMP STAND)