A podcast dedicated to sharing the audio files of Douglas Jacoby's International Teaching Ministry. Our goal is to help people "think about faith." Douglas Jacoby is an international Bible teacher. After serving as a minister on church staff for 20 years, he continues to work as a freelance teacher and consultant. With degrees from Drew, Harvard, and Duke, Douglas has written 35 books, recorded over 700 podcasts, and spoken in over 100 universities, and in over 500 cities, in 126 nations. He has engaged in a number of debates with well-known atheists, imams, and rabbis, and also serves as an adjunct professor of theology at Lincoln Christian University. Since the late '90s, Douglas has led annual tours to the biblical world. Audio recordings, videos, and articles from Douglas Jacoby's International Teaching Ministry are available online at an extensive website (10,000 pages), https://www.douglasjacoby.com.
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For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website. Hebrew words:Qayin (Cain)Hevel (Abel) = vapor, mistNod = wanderingFurther study:Cain -- Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11Abel -- Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51; Hebrews 11:4; 12:24Other passages referred to: Job 7:16; Psalm 39:5; Genesis 3:16; Matthew 18:22Key verses:4:7 -- Determining to master sin4:9 -- Genuine care for our brother4:24 -- RevengeSome things we learn about God:Sacrifice is part of our relationship with God.God does not accept our excuses for sin.He holds us accountable for sin.God is gracious -- he does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:12).For children (simplified lesson):Question 1: How did Cain accept correction?Question 2: How should he have accepted correction?Suggested Bible versions for O.T. Study:Holman Christian Standard VersionNew English TranslationFox Translation (Schocken Bible series)Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society)English Standard VersionInternational Standard VersionThe Septuagint (2007 translation)The Next lesson: Noah (Seth, Enoch....)
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Noach (Noah) -- restSheth (Seth) -- sounds like Hebrew for set, grantedFurther study:Biblical:Jude 14; Ezekiel 14:14,20; Matthew 24; Luke 17; Hebrews 11:1-7; 1 Peter 3:19ff; 2 Peter 2:5.Verses mentioned in passing: 1 Peter 4:4; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Hebrews 13:15; Proverbs 22:6.About the extreme longevities of Genesis 5, click here.Extrabiblical:On parenting, see Principle Centered Parenting. The four "impossible" things in Hebrews are found in chapters 6, 10, and 11. Can you find them?For more on Genesis, see my book Origins.Take a look at the apocryphal and pseudepigrahal book of 1 Enoch.In the Sibylline Oracles 175-233 Noah makes an impassioned speech condemning the people and announcing the imminent flood -- such a tradition may be reflected in 2 Peter 2:5. Yet, as Longman and Walton observe in The Lost World of the Flood, p.74, "... textual evidence argues against Noah engaging in evangelistic activity. Noah was instructed precisely who would be brought on the ark, and space was made for eight passengers. No others are anticipated or given opportunity."Some things we learn about God:God hates violence (Malachi 2:16 etc). Violence was the trigger for the great flood. In our worldly society, we have been desensitized to violence, but this is something the Lord takes most seriously.God is patient. He gives the people 120 years before sending the Flood -- more time to repent. (Unless this means the average lifespan is being shortened to 120 years. Or that 120 years is an idealized [not actual] age.)God judges sin. The Flood is like chemotherapy; there is grace even in judgment.Even a God-fearing man may have a child who is not God-fearing. Each is held accountable for his own decisions. (See Ezekiel 18:1-32.)For kids:God keeps his promises.By obeying God, we are saved, and we can save others, too.Key verses:6:9 -- Noah was a "blameless" man, and yet9:21 -- he sinned (like all of us).8:1 -- This verse is the exact center of the flood account, which is written in a chiastic pattern.Next lesson: Abraham
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Avram (Abram) -- great (exalted) fatherAvraham (Abraham) -- sounds like "father of many" (Ab[ram]-hamon)Avram and Avraham are mentioned 345 times in the Bible:He appears not only in Genesis 11-25, but also in Exodus-Joshua, 1 Kings-2 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Malachi.He also appears in Acts, Romans, 2 Corinthians, Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter.Sarah -- princess. (Note: in Genesis 11:29-17:15, she is Sarai, or "my princess.")Yishma'el (Ishmael) -- "God hears" -- a natural response when at age 86 Abraham finally became a father.Abraham, the man of faith:Faith keeps moving (Genesis 12)!Though the main application is to moving spiritually, still the question remains: Have I ever moved for spiritual reasons? How willing am I to step out of my comfort zone -- even literally stepping out?We go forward, or we go backward! Am I stepping out in faith?Where am I, spiritually?Ur? Spending time with worldly people, in worldly activities? Holding back?Haran? Gone only part-way to the faithful life God has called me to? In a compromise position?Canaan? Gone all the way? Delighting in radical decisions, willing to push myself, open to taking risks?Faith embraces God's promises.The Triple Promise (Genesis 12:1ff):Land -- fulfilled in Joshua 21:43.Nation -- fulfilled in the Exodus. See Exodus 14; 19:6.Spiritual -- fulfilled in Jesus Christ. See Psalm 117, Zechariah 8, Isaiah 49:6, etc.This is a key passage for biblical study.The theme of the whole Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy) is thepartial fulfillment of these promises.Some N.T. promises:1 Corinthians 10:13; John 15:16; Mark 11:24; Matthew 28:20.And many more!Faith acknowledges a higher order (Genesis 14).Melchizedek was a priest and king entirely outside the visible people of God. He was "above" Abraham in that he received the tithe from him and he himself (the greater) blessed Abraham (the lesser).In this respect Melchizedek was like the Messiah. See Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7.He is also someone "outside the system" who is clearly in a right relationship with God.Faith believes the unbelievable (Genesis 15).His faith is credited as righteousness even before he has been circumcised.Paul bases his argument on justification by faith (Romans 4) on this point.Note: This in no way means that circumcision (old covenant) or baptism (new covenant) was optional.This does not mean a perfect faith.Abraham tried to take short-cuts on more than one occasion (Genesis 15:2; 17:18).Furthermore, on two occasions Abraham told a lie -- or, technically, a half-truth (12:13; 20:2).Do we believe the unbelievable? For example, that we can change (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), or that this world will some day come to an end (2 Peter 3)?Faith is quick to obey (Genesis 17).Psalm 119:60.Don't procrastinate (procrastinare = Latin: pro [for] + cras [tomorrow)!Faith is authentic (18:25).As Sodom and Gomorrah are about to be judged, Abraham cannot conceive of an unfair God. (Also, his relative Lot is there.)For more on models of authentic prayer, study the Psalms.Faith trusts God with what is precious (Genesis 22).Although God never accepted human sacrifice, Abraham was being tested. And he passed the test.There are 10 parallels between the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Jesus! (See more at the primary website.)His faith and deeds were working together. See James 2:20-24.In conclusion, to walk in Abraham's footsteps means:To be on the move, and quite possibly lacking financial security.To believe, even when the facts don't paint a pretty picture.To obey, even with only partial understanding.To walk by faith, not fear.To live with a large and low horizon, with expansive hopes for the future.Further study:Biblical:Romans 4:1-22Hebrews 11:8-19James 2:20-24Sons of Abraham / daughters of Sarah: Matthew 3:9; Luke 1:55, 3:8; 19:9; Galatians 3:7; Hebrews 2:16. Notice that Christians are not necessary sons of Jacob (as the Jews were); perhaps "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16) refers only to Jewish Christians, and not to all Christians. For more on this, consult Jim McGuiggan's commentary on Romans.Abraham as the "friend of God": 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23.Extrabiblical:The Qur'an mentions Abraham in 21 chapters. The Muslim scriptures assume the reader knows who Abraham is; in fact, they assume the validity of the O.T. scriptures.By the way, the Qur'an never says Abraham sacrificed Ishmael. Or Isaac. The son is not specified! The tradition that Ishmael was offered came later (after the origins of Islam in the 7th century).Some things we learn about God:The Lord will fulfill his promises, but he is in no rush. We get impatient after minutes. With God, decades fly past in the blink of an eye. (See Psalm 90.)The Lord is a Just Judge, who wishes that all choose the right way. See also 1 Timothy 2:4 and Ezekiel 18.Friendship with God is based on our personal willingness to obey.For kids:Lesson from Genesis 15:5-6 (and, time allowing, 22:1ff). Abraham:Looked up. We get faith when we look up, turning to God, not getting sad about things happening to us down here.Believed God's word. Even though he had no children and was very old, he trusted that God would not let him down.Pleased God. God was very pleased with Abraham when he trusted, and did not give up. Especially since he never saw all the descendants God promised. (Adults: see Hebrews 11:39-40. Children will be addicted to instant gratification unless we train them to wait.)He really believed. He was willing to give back to God what was never really his in the first place (22:1ff).Faith means doing something.Other chapters illustrating this point in Abraham's life: chapter 12 (leaving Haran), 17 (circumcision), 22 (offering Isaac).If your family ever has to make a physical move, use Genesis 12 and compare Abraham's journey of faith with your own relocation. (We have had more than one family devotional sitting on the floor of a vacant house, striving to set our family move in spiritual context!)Click for another children's online Bible study, God Tested Abraham.For parents of step-children or half-siblings:Study the lives of Abraham and his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac (Genesis 16+).What are some of the painful experiences in Ishmael's family background?How do you think Abraham's favoring Ishmael over Isaac affected his family?How does it make you feel to know that many families in Old Testament times were complicated?What perspective does this study yield to make you a better parent?How does it empower you to overcome family dysfunction?Key verses:12:3-- All the earth to be blessed through Abraham's seed.15:6-- Faith is credited as righteousness.18:25-- Men and women of faith have an implicit trust in God's fairness. Accordingly, prayer is genuine!
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew names:Sarai (my princess)Sarah (princess)By these two forms of her name, she is mentioned 79x in the BibleHagar -- mentioned 15x, in Genesis 16, 21, 25; Galatians 4Yishma'el (Ishmael) -- God hearsYitskhaq (Isaac) (variant form: Yiskhaq) -- He laughsFurther study:Passages mentioned in this study:1 Peter 3:1-6, 13-151 Samuel 15Galatians 3:7Genesis 30:1-2; 1 Samuel 1:5; Genesis 21:6-7Genesis 13:2Exodus 15:22Genesis 18:9; 3:9; 4:9Psalms 113:9; 126:2Hebrews 11:11Other:Podcast 4 (Abraham) -- contains much background information and related materialGenesis 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 49Isaiah 51:2Romans 4:19, 9:9Key verses:Hebrews 11:111 Peter 3:6Some things we learn about God:Sometimes his plans just happen to coincide with our selfish preferences.He showers his grace even on those fickle in their faith, who occasionally take matters into their own hands.A basic lesson (suitable for a discussion with children or a family devotional):Sarah was willing to move (Genesis 12). See also notes on Abraham (Podcast 4). Are we willing to do what God says, even if we don't fully understand?Sarah was willing to wait. She waited all the way from Genesis 12, when God made his promise, to Genesis 21, when it came true, about 25 years later! Do we wait patiently for things, or do we insist on having what we want right now?The next study: Lot.
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.For further study:Passages highlighted or mentioned in this podcast:Genesis 11:31; 12:4; 13:1-2,6,10-13; 14:12,14-16; 19:1-37.Hebrews 13:2; Judges 19; Ezekiel 16:48-49; Matthew 16:25 (Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24); Genesis 9:20ff; Leviticus 18:21; 1 Kings 11:4-8; Numbers 25.Luke 17:28-29, 32-33; 2 Peter 2:7.Miscellaneous:Lot is considered a prophet in Islam (Qur'an suras 7 and 11). Here his name is Lut.For more on the short verse Luke 17:32, click here.Key verses:Genesis 13:12 -- Lot makes an unspiritual, suboptimal choice.Genesis 19:26 -- His wife looks back (physically); he had been looking back too (emotionally, mentally).Luke 17:32 -- Jesus underscores this last warning.Some things we learn about God:We may start out with genuine faith, yet gradual compromise gradually erodes conviction. When our lives are "disintegrating," it may be a sign that the Lord wants our attention -- and our hearts!He will bless us as we act out of faith (not fear).He wants us to invest ourselves in his promises, not in the allure of the world.Final judgment and judgment of motives belong to him. Don't be too hasty to analyze Bible characters (1 Corinthians 4:3-5) -- or other people we know.For children (simplified lesson):Be careful about bad people (the men of Sodom).They do not listen to God's word.They make fun of your faith.One day they will answer to God."Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33).Be one of the good guys (like Abraham).They make good choices.They care about others and pray for them.They don't look back.Be brave. Don't be afraid to stand up.The Next lesson: Isaac.
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Yitskhaq (Isaac) -- He laughs.Rivqah (Rebekah)'Esaw (Esau)Ya'aqov (Jacob) -- Sounds like "he deceives," or "he grasps the heel."Main thoughts:Isaac tends to value comfort and cuisine over principle. He is willing to compromise in order to avoid conflict.He is led more by his senses than by his mind; by impulses more than the Spirit.Although his father Abraham had conviction about marrying within the people of God, Isaac's conviction in this area (like his son Esau's) is weak.He is surrounded by relational conflict.In the end, he finally acknowledges God's sovereign choice, relinquishing hisright to determine who received the blessing. Hence the favorable verdict in Hebrews 11:20.Further study:Passages used or referred to:Genesis 17, 21, 22; 2 Chronicles 3:1 and 2 Samuel 24:16.Genesis 24; 25:6; 25:20-21, 23, 26; 26:12-13; 27:1ff; 27:46; 28:1ff, 6-9Hebrews 11:20Old Testament:Genesis 17, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31, 32, 35, 46, 48, 49, 50Exodus 2, 3, 4, 6, 32, 33; Leviticus 26; Numbers 32; Deuteronomy 1, 6, 9, 29, 30, 34; Joshua 24; 1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 13; 1 Chronicles 1, 16, 29; 2 Chronicles 30; Psalm 105; Jeremiah 33; Amos 7.New Testament:Matthew 1, 8, 22; Mark 12; Luke 3, 13, 20; Acts 3, 7; Romans 9; Galatians 4; Hebrews 11; James 2.Some things we learn about God:God's marriage plan is based on spirituality, not Hollywood-style fantasy or romance.God expects us to wait patiently for his blessings -- even if it takes 20 years!God may improve us husbands' judgment through our wives. Sometimes a man will act more spiritually because of his wife!His purposes will prevail! It is not necessary to resort to short-cuts or compromises in order to receive God's promises. Let him work things out; we need not take matters into our own hands.Children's devotional idea:Read the story of Genesis 27.Blindfold "Isaac" (the parent might play this role).One child pretends to be another's sibling, using his/her clothes or other belongings in order to fool "Isaac."Take turns with the role-play.Talk about deception (trying to trick parents, brothers, or sisters). Emphasize that God will take care of us, and we don't need any tricks to receive his blessings.Key verses:24:67 -- A sound marriage is based on inward spiritual principles, not outward appearance.27:4 -- In effect, Isaac attempts to bypass God's plan.27:20 -- He (finally) accepts God's plan.Next lesson: Ishmael
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Yishma'el (Ishmael) -- God hears.The point: God hears, and cares for, and works in the lives of all human beings -- not just the covenant people.Note: the translations used in this podcast are the CSB and NASB.Further study:Biblical:Genesis 16:9-16: Ishmael is born as a result of human attempts to receive (accelerate) God's promises, after Sarah and Abraham had waited 11 years. In contrast, Isaac, born 14 years later -- 25 years after the promise was given -- was clearly the work of God. His birth was possible only because of the Lord.Genesis 17:20, 23-26; 21:8-21; 25:7-17 (35:29).Galatians 4:21-5:1; Revelation 3:12; 21:2, 10.Ishmael and the Ishmaelites are mentioned in Genesis 16, 17, 25, 28, 36, 37; Judges 8:24; Psalm 83.Study Paul's use of flesh and spirit and law in Galatians and Romans. Flesh is the human tendency to take matters into our own hands, rather than trusting God to work in our lives. In connection with this, read the interesting articles on Human Nature and Driven Men.Extrabiblical:Read about the Qur'anic view of Ishmael, 'Isma'il in Arabic. Seeking legitimacy, the Muslims eventually chose Ishmael as an "ancestor," although in fact many of the Arab peoples have no Ishmaelite blood in their veins at all.If you want to learn more about Islam, Jesus and Islam (2009) has lots of material.Some things we learn about God:God often reverses the natural order of things. In the Bible, and especially in Genesis, the younger supplants the older, receiving the blessing that would otherwise be his.God hears the prayers of sinners (with the exceptions of Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:1ff, John 9:31). Otherwise, Matthew 7:7 would not make sense.God cares for those who are outside his covenant people.Genesis 14 -- Melchizedek.Amos 9:7, Jonah 4:11, etc.If God kept his promises to Ishmael, who was not a son of promise or child of the covenant, how much more will he keep his promises to those of his chosen line?For kids:Read portions of Genesis 21. Tell the basic story: Abraham had two sons. One was 13 years older than the other! Abraham loved Ishmael very much.Explain that Sarah, Ishmael's stepmother, was not very nice to him. Even though it was hard for Ishmael and his mother, they did okay.God's plan for Ishmael was not the same as his plan for Isaac. Through Isaac all the world would be blessed -- he would be the ancestor of Jesus. Ishmael went on to become the father of twelve triibes (just like Jacob later on).Like Abraham, God loves all his children. He will accomplish different things through different people. We should not be jealous, or doubt God's love or us, even if we can't understand his plans.Key verses:17:20 and 21:18 -- God cares for Ishmael; he did not write off him and his descendants.25:9 -- Ishmael comes together with his younger brother Isaac to bury their father, Abraham.Galatians 4:29 -- This passage is not referring to the Muslims, but to the religious establishment. In the first century, this was Second Temple Judaism. While many Jews embraced Christ and the gospel, others dismissed Christ; they were no longer the covenant people of God.Next lesson: Rebekah
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Rivqah (Rebekah). In the OT Greek Bible (the Septuagint [LXX]), her name is rendered Rebekka.Berekhah (blessing) -- a near anagram of Rebekah's name.Further study:Genesis:22:23; 24 (all)25:21-23; 25:20,26; 26:7 (see Genesis 12 and 20)26:3527:1-28:3; cp. 27:44 and 29:2035:8; 49:31Study the character of Laban, Rebekah's older brother (Genesis 24-25, 27-32).Extrabiblical: Archaeologists have discovered documents from the period (2nd millennium BC) directing that if a girl's father is deceased and another male relative is doing the negotiating, she must give her own consent before being married off. (Yet Bethuel is still alive -- 24:50 -- even though Rebekah's brother Laban seems to be doing the negotiating.)The New Testament:Romans 9:10ff -- God's choice is not made on merit, but by grace.Note: She is not mentioned in Hebrews 11, the "Hall of Fame of Faith."Some things we learn about God:While we ought not to grow lazy (giving up industriousness and responsibility), we do need to leave the outcomes to God. When we hold on to things too tightly, or scramble to reach what the Lord has promised us anyway, we are likely to lose them.As we age, we tend to revert to patterns of thinking and interaction that characterized our families of origin. Rebekah started out vibrant, giving, and faithful; as she got older, though not relinquishing her faith, she did succumb to temptations to take matters into her own hands. To stay close to the Lord, we need to resist the temptation to give in to fear; we must be more like Sarah in this regard (1 Peter 3).He will often bless us even though we are not acting in full faith -- even when we give in to fear.For kids:Read excerpts from the story in Genesis 24 and comment on the character of the girl Rebekah.Was she quiet and selfish, or lively and giving?How could she have "done the minimum" when she met Abraham's servant?How much does a camel drink? (There were 10 camels [v.10], each able to drink up to 100 liters [over 26 US gallons or 21 imperial gallons!)How strong do you think her arms (and back) were in order to water all the animals?Grown-ups do wrong things, too.Later in life, Rebekah deliberately deceived her husband (and one of her sons).Even people of faith do wrong things.The point is to stay close to God, and not to do things because we are afraid we will not be happy.Key verses:24:20 -- Rebekah waters the camels, too. She goes way beyond the call of duty!27:45 -- Fear prompts her to try to control others (children, husband).Next lesson: Esau
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:'Esaw (Esau) -- 98x in the OT (vs. 3x in the N.T.)Se'ar -- hair'Edhom -- Edom, similar to the word for "red" ('adhmoni), "to be red" ('adham), and "to be died red" ('adhammu). The words "Edom" and "Edomites" appear 120 in the O.T.Se'ir -- Seir, a mountain range in EdomFurther study:Old Testament:Genesis 25:24-34. (Scriptures in this podcast are from the [Holman] Christian Standard Bible.)Re: 24:34 -- Proverbs 30:20, Isaiah 22:13, 1 Corinthians 15:32b, Ecclesiastes 8:15. See also 1 John 2:15-17, 1 Peter 1:18, and Hebrews 11:25.Genesis 27:1-4, 29-41.Esau is potential to be a "second Cain" (cp. Genesis 4).Obadiah (about the vengeance of Edom -- the descendants of Esau -- on Judah in 587/586 BC, when God punished Judah through the Babylonians). See also Jeremiah 49.Genesis 33:1-17Genesis 35:29 -- see 25:9.Genesis 36:1-9, 43Esau is also mentioned in Deuteronomy 2, Joshua 24, 1 Chronicles 1, and Malachi 1.The New Testament:Romans 9:13 and Hebrews 11:20 (no commendation)Hebrews 12:16-17Some things we learn about God:When we choose pleasure over principle, the people of the world over the people of God, impulse over rationalist, we forfeit God's blessings.Godlessness separates us from God and his goodness.Sometimes God's people are not as nice as those who are not his people. (Esau seems the more fun, relatable, happy-go-lucky of the two brothers; Jacob was more uptight, driven by fear, and calculating.) This shows us that God's grace isn't based on works, personality, character, or merit.For kids:Read part of Genesis 25. Talk about the differences between the twins. How were Jacob and Esau similar? How were they different -- physically and spiritually?Read the story of Genesis 27. How did Esau react when his brother tricked him out of his father's blessing? How would you have reacted? (Have you ever been bitterly disappointed?)Was what Jacob did fair? Was Esau right to plan revenge? Have you ever wanted to hurt your brother / sister?What is the difference between making decisions based on pleasure and based on principle?Key verses:25:33 -- sells birthright27:34 -- forfeits blessing27:41 -- contemplates fratricide33:4 -- brothers reunited35:6 -- lives away from the land of promiseHebrews 12:16 -- godlessness / worldliness separates us from God and his goodnessNext lesson: JacobAre you enjoying the podcasts? Please tell your friends about them so they too can listen and learn.
For more check out Douglas's website.Hebrew words:Ya'aqov (Jacob) -- sounds like "he deceives/supplants."Jacob appears 380x in the O.T.Compare this to Isaac (133x) and Abraham (309x).Beth-el (Bethel) -- house of GodYe'abeq (Jabbok) -- he wrestlesYisr'ael (Israel) -- God strivesPeni'el (Peniel) -- face of GodFurther study:His life falls into four periods: Canaan, Aram, Canaan (again), and Egypt. Find the exact chapter numbers for each period.There are also four monuments/pillars/markers: 28:18, 31:45, 35:14, 35:20. What would be the "markers" in your own spiritual pilgrimage?Our study in Genesis: 25:26 (birth); 25 (deception of Esau); 27 (deception of Isaac); 28:10-15 (Bethel -- see John 1:51); 31:42, 53 ("Fear of Isaac"); 29:14-28 (marriage[s] in Aram); 32:22-32 (wrestling match at the Jabbok); but had Jacob profoundly changed? (33--fear of Esau, 33:14--deceit?, 34:1ff--lack of concern for Dinah, 35--lack of concern for Bilhah (cp. 49:2-3); 37 ("death" of Joseph); 46:2, 29-30 (reaffirmation of divine promise and reunion with Joseph); 48-49 (blessing Joseph's sons and his own sons); death (49:33) and burial (50:14).Sexual purity: compare and contrast Genesis 29 (Jacob and Rachel) with Genesis 34 (Shechem and Dinah).In summary, Jacob led a hard life:Not so impressive as his father's and grandfather's lives (47:9).Endured the loss of his beloved (favorite) wife and his special (favorite) son.Ran away from his parents.Still, he kept his eye on the promises, insisting that he be buried in Canaan (49:29-33).Other Old Testament books: Joshua 24:3, 4, 32; Psalm 105:10-23; Hosea 12:2-4, 12; Malachi 1:2ff.New Testament: John 4:5-6, 12; Acts 7:12, 14-16; Romans 9:10-13; Hebrews 11:9, 20ff.Some things we learn about God:Even if God appears to us or works in our life in an intense way, our basic personality type will probably remain unaffected. He will not force us to change. We are all "under construction."God does not spare his chosen ones from tragedy.We can wrestle the Lord for his blessing, but if he has already given his word, this is wholly unnecessary -- exhausting, unproductive, and ultimately faithless.For kids (devotional discussion):Read the story of Jacob at the Jabbok. For younger children, role-play: the angel, Jacob.If you were wrestling your daddy (mommy), who would win?Why do we fight (wrestle) God?Why does Jacob try to make God bless him, when God has already promised to be good to him?Why is Jacob so afraid?Key verses:28:12 -- sees the "stairway to heaven"29:20 -- Jacob's profound (and pure) love for Rachel.32:36 -- He demands God's blessing at the Jabbok.49:26 -- tearful reunion with Joseph, whom he believed to be dead.Next lesson: Rachel and Leah
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Rakhel (Rachel)Sounds like "ewe."Appears 47x in the Bible (all but once in the O.T.).She bore Jacob two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.Le'ah (Leah)Sounds like "weary." It is less likely it means "dull" or "wild cow."Interpreters often suggest her eyes lacked luster.Appears 34x in the O.T.She bore Jacob six sons and one daughter (Dinah).Yosef (Joseph, pronounced "yo-SAFE") -- may he add / increaseFurther study:Genesis:Excerpts used in the podcast: 29:23-24, 31; 30:1-3, 22-24; 31:14-20; 33:1-2; 35:16-19; 48:7.Broader sections: Genesis 28-31, 33, 35, 4828 and 24 -- going back to the people of God when seeking a spouse.Other passages cited:The Shulammite: Song of Songs 1:8, 6:13.Leviticus 18:18: Mosaic law forbade (simultaneously) marrying sisters.Some things we learn about God:God blesses those who marry within the faith.God's plan is monogamous marriage. Polygamy does not work, and only leads to great dysfunction.Superstitions are vain. God is the one in control. He cannot be controlled by magic.Those the Lord has chosen to bless do not always have the smoothest relationships -- even (especially?) within their own families.The objects of our prayers often have a high price tag. Be careful what you pray for!With the Lord, it isn't just quantity, but quality. Though Leah had seven children, and Rachel only two, these two gave rise to:The first king of Israel and his N.T. namesake, Saul of Tarsus.A man, Joseph, whose sons' descendants would not only constitute a plurality within Israel, but who himself would save his brothers, father, and in fact millions. Moreover, there are numerous parallels between Joseph and Christ.For kids (devotional discussion):Share some selective readings, e.g. from chapters 28, 29, and 30.Talk about the two sisters. What were they like? How were they different? How was their relationship?Explain that they both wanted children, and jealously competed with each other. What do you want? Is there a toy, privilege, or anything else you very much want? How do your siblings compete with you (and vice-versa)?What makes us happier: sharing, or wanting it all for ourselves?Explain that mothers sometimes die in giving birth. Read 35:16-19. Ask how Jacob felt, and then read 48:7.In what ways should we want to be like Rachel? (This is a good question for girls, and even for boys.) Focus on her character.Key verses:29:20 -- Her husband loved her deeply. See also 48:7.30:1 -- "Give me children, or I die!"Next lesson: Joseph, our final character in Genesis.
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Yosef (Joseph, pronounced "yo-SAFE") -- may He add / increaseKetoneth passim -- special tunic (outer garment), in Genesis 37:3Ha'arets (pronounced hah-AR-ets) -- the earth / land, as in Genesis 41:57.Further study:Passages the podcast covered or referred to:Genesis 11:27ff (Abraham cycle), 25:19ff (Isaac cycle), 37:2ff (Jacob cycle -- which focuses on Joseph)Numbers 12, Acts 2 -- dreams/visions. This has nothing to do with self-fulfillment, as in the "American dream." Hebrews 11 in fact emphasizes the opposite. Faithfulness is the focus, not fulfillment.2 Samuel 13:18 illuminates Genesis 37:3 -- the special robe was probably a long-sleeved garment, suitable for those privileged not to be involved in manual labor.Genesis 48:12 -- Joseph is the one who will bow before his father, not his father before him (as in 37:10). Moreover, his mother, by the time the family came to Egypt, had died. So his dreams are partially accurate. For a NT parallel, see the vision of Agabus concerning Paul's arrest. The vision of Acts 21:11 is only partially accurate. He was bound, but not with his own belt; and he was handed over, but to the Gentiles, not the Jews.Genesis 37:3, 41:57, 42:21-22, 39:6 (see parallel in 29:17), 45:1-15, 50:14-26.The theme of deception and non-recognition is also very common throughout Genesis (ch. 12, 18, 19, 20, 27, 38, etc).Messianic parallels:Both Joseph and Jesus were shepherds -- Joseph literally, and Jesus the "Good Shepherd."Both were rescued from death and taken into Egypt.Both lived the lives of servants.Both began their public ministries at about the age of 30. (And both spend about 20 years in relative obscurity before this time.)Both resisted temptation.Both were filled with the Spirit of God, and were given knowledge of the future.Both quickly gained the confidence of others.Each tested others in order to find out their true character.Each was sold for the price of a slave (30 pieces of silver).Each was falsely accused, and accepted his fate (silent before his accusers) without protest.Each was condemned along with two other prisoners.Each was "dead" to his father.Joseph was held for two years, and freed in the third; Jesus was "held" for two days, and freed (risen) on the third.They both gave bread to those who came to them.Both "arose" to new life.At first, neither was recognized by his brothers.Each saved his people, and in fact the world.Each was returned to his father.Each became "lord."Each was concerned for unity among his brothers.This does not exhaust the parallels. See the excerpt from the excellent piece by Andrew Wilson (scroll all the way down).Advanced: the age of Joseph.110 was the ideal age for a virtuous Egyptian. (Ancient societies often had actual ages and idealized ages.)Abraham lived to 175 = 7 x 52; Isaac lived to 180 = 5 x 62; Jacob lived to 147 = 3 x 72. Joseph lived to 52 + 62 + 72 -- in a sense, "summing up" his predecessors' lives.For more on the symbolism of biblical ages in Genesis, consult the articles linked to the notes provided with OT Podcast 3 (Noah).For more on Genesis as the introduction to the entire word of God, and for special analysis of chapters 1-11, please see my book, Origins, to be published in 2018.Some things we learn about God:Providence often operates through unfair circumstances. We must strive to be open to there being a "bigger picture" and, like Joseph, not give in to bitterness.Often God lets us wait. With the Lord, we may be "inconvenienced" not just for minutes, hours, or days, but for years and even decades! In the meantime, he is working out his will.In the lives of the earlier patriarchs, God intervenes more directly, speaking to them, sending angels, etc. With Joseph we see a more subtle -- yet comprehensive -- view of God's working and providence. God controls but does not force events, permitting things to happen more than causing them to happen. This resonates much more with the experience of the majority in biblical history -- and with you and me!The Word of God -- the Hebrew scriptures -- testify of the Christ to come.For kids (devotional -- best for three or more children):Dramatize the life of Joseph.Read parts of chapter 37. Choose one child to be "Joseph." Be sure to dress him up in a special robe.Act out the capture and sale of Joseph to the Midianites. One child plays Joseph; the others, his jealous brothers. Father and mother can play the parts of the slave traders. Make sure you have a good "pit" in which to hold Joseph as his fate is discussed.Read parts of chapter 39 (age appropriate). Then act out his imprisonment at the hands of Potiphar.Finally, read excerpts from the chapters 42 onward. Have all the brothers bow down to Joseph. Make sure Joseph has forgiven his siblings. Enjoy the drama!For less drama and more discussion, read about the lives of Joseph (Genesis 37+) and Daniel (Daniel 1 and 6). Compare and contrast. Ask which one's life you would rather have, and why.Key verses:37:3 -- Jacob's favoritism towards his son Joseph, compounding the resentment his brothers felt towards him.37:18, 39:17 and 40:23 -- Life is often unfair; however, this does not mean that God is unfair.39:10 -- Joseph's refusal to give in to sexual temptation.50:20 -- God's providence operating even in our hardships (and others' evil plans).Next lesson: Moses
For more notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Mosheh (mo-SHEH) -- Moses. Although this is an Egyptian name (as in Tutmoses or Tuthmosis), it sounds like the Hebrew mashah, meaning "draw out."Moses appears over 850x in the Bible, 80x in the N.T.Tevah (tay-VAH) -- the word for box or chest, found in Genesis 6:14 (Noah's "ark") and Exodus 2:3 (Moses' basket)Further study:The passages in this podcast:Read aloud:Numbers 12:3Deuteronomy 31:13-19, 34:1-12Hebrews 11:23-29Referred to:Exodus 2:3 and Genesis 6:14Acts 7:22 and Exodus 4:101 Samuel 22:3-4 and Exodus 4:20Exodus 32:21 and Galatians 2:11Exodus 32:32 and Romans 9:3Deuteronomy 9:20Advanced: .If we take 1 Kings 6:1 literally, then the Exodus must have been in 1446 BC. Yet the archaeological evidence is stronger for a 13th century Exodus. The 480 years may well be a symbolic number (12 [as in the tribes of Israel] x 40 [representing a generation]), in which case Moses would have been born not in 1526 BC, but 150-200 years later.Whereas 110 was the ideal age for a virtuous Egyptian, 120 was the ideal age for the virtuous Israelite. For more on the symbolism of biblical ages, consult the articles linked to the notes provided with OT Podcast 3 (Noah).Read the well-known Jewish document called The Assumption of Moses.A not improbable tradition on Moses and Pharaoh is found in Josephus, Antiquities, II, ix, 7.Deuteronomy 18:15-18 -- Moses is a type of Christ. See Acts 3.Muslims apply this prophecy to Muhammad (!). See my refutation in Jesus and Islam.For more on Egypt and Moses' background -- as well as for a bracing challenge to immerse yourself in the Old Testament, click here.For commentaries, check out:The Word Biblical Commentary, Exodus (Durham). Based on the original Hebrew. Excellent, though advanced. A true commentary, considering all angles and copiously supported bibliographically.The Daily Study Bible Series, Exodus (Ellison). Popular level, and more thorough than Barclay's original N.T. series. Shows considerable literary sensitivity.Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Exodus (Cole). Easy to read, though does not include the full text of Exodus, Well done, and only half the length of the DSB series. Highly recommended.Some things we learn about God:Though most of us accomplish our life's work in our 40s and 50s, the Lord may be actually preparing us for far greater service in our old age.Even when we disobey, God may still give the blessing. Therefore we must be particularly wary of pragmatism.Even for "big leaders," sin always has consequences. No one is above God's moral law.If you are a leader, don't be a one-man show, or a one-woman show! Trust others to exercise their gifts, too.God wants us to see him. Yet we can no more see God directly, without being destroyed, than we can gaze at the sun without losing our eyesight! Because of our moral limitations (Habakkuk 1:13), we see God only indirectly -- his effects. We behold his glory not only through the Word, but especially through his Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:18, Colossians 2:9).The Word of God -- the Hebrew scriptures -- testify of the Christ to come.We need to learn to do things God's way, not take matters into our own hands (the flesh). Man's anger does not, after all, bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:20).Rather than allowing pragmatism to prevail, we need to follow in the footsteps of Moses, who preferred the maltreatment of persecution over the pleasures of privilege. Such are the people the Lord will reward.For kids (devotional -- best for three or more children):Role-play. Dress up. Dramatize three or more of the plagues.Let father (or the oldest male) play Pharaoh.Emphasize:It is useless opposing God.The Lord hears the cries of his people.He is a God who rescues us.He works through people willing to speak up.Have some fun!Key verses:Exodus 3:2 -- the burning bushExodus 32:32 -- Moses' self-sacrificial SpiritNumbers 12:3 -- humilityNumbers 20:11 -- angerHebrews 11:25 -- correct spiritual prioritiesNext lesson: Aaron
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:'Aharon (pronounced "a-ha-RONE") -- Aaron. Mentioned 353 times in the Bible, only 4x in the NT.'Egel (pronounced "aygul") -- the calf/bull worshipped in Egypt and Canaan. Either translation works.Further study:Passages the podcast covered or referred to:Exodus 7:7 (also Numbers 33:39 and Deuteronomy 34:7) -- three-year age difference between Moses and AaronExodus 32 -- focus of this podcastExodus 4:16, 7:1 -- Aaron as Moses' "prophet"Numbers 12:1ff -- challenge to Moses' authorityDeuteronomy 9:20, Numbers 20:12, Numbers 20:28Advanced:Genesis 34:25, Exodus 32:26, Numbers 25:8 -- zeal (even to the point of violence) among Levi and his descendantsFor more on the golden calf (bull), click here and also here.Some things we learn about God:Sometime a leader can be weak and ineffective, and yet remain in his position for many years. God does not force leaders to change, nor does he forcibly remove them even when they are failing.Our character and sins do affect our children. Two of Aaron's sons took great liberties in their approach to the priesthood. (Was this the partly caused by Aaron's tendency to back away from a challenge?) The other two were more spiritually solid.Although an influential figure, Aaron was more a spokesman (assisting Moses) than the leader of a nation. In accomplishing his will, sometimes the Lord has us rely on others with complementary gifts. He is not looking for a "one-man show."For kids -- a devotional on ExcusesRead parts of Exodus 32 and describe the scene.Highlight Aaron's lame excuse for the bull idol he had made.Talk about other lame excuses.Are they sometimes funny?What does God think?What are some of my own lame excuses for not doing his will?Who am I fooling: others? myself? the Lord?For more material on excuses (time allowing), visit Luke 14 (the Parable of the Great Banquet).Key verses:Exodus 32:24 -- weak leadershipNumbers 12:1ff -- resents Moses' leadershipNumbers 20:28 -- death, excluded from the land of promiseNext lesson: Miriam
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Miryam (Mir-yam), Miriam, appears 13x in the Bible.The name was very popular, and several women in the NT are named after the Miriam of the OT. The form of the name usually appears as Maria, though also occasionally as Mariam. In particular, Luke calls the mother of Jesus Mariam.Further study:Passages the podcast covered or referred to:Exodus 15:1-21Numbers 12:1-16Numbers 20:1, Deuteronomy 24:8f, Micah 6:4Further study: Compare the three lepers of Numbers 12, 2 Kings 5, and 2 Chronicles 26.AdvancedAs various Bibles mention in foot notes, "leprosy" may not necessarily be leprosy (Hansen's Disease). "Snow" may refer to the color of the skin, or perhaps to the texture -- the scaliness of various dermatological conditions. For more on this, click here.The Qur'an is hopelessly confused about Miriam. In surah (chapter) 19 of the Muslim scriptures, Maryam is confused with Mary (the mother of Jesus). And yet they lived at least 1300 years apart!Listen to the podcast The Leprosy of Miriam in the CLEAN series.Some things we learn about God:God encourages us to rejoice in spiritual victories. Miriam led the women of Israel in song. Such expressiveness is not only natural, but healthy. That's because we relate to God not only intellectually, but on the emotional level.Back in the days of inspiration, the Lord spoke through men and women alike. (Miriam isn't the only prophetess in the OT or NT.) Anyone can speak for God (even if we are not inspired, or miraculous guided).God does not exempt leaders from the rules. There's one standard for everybody! In fact, in the Bible the standard for leaders is higher, if anything. Even under the old system (clergy/laity), all were expected to be holy, to be righteous.When a leader sins publicly, and repents publicly, all the people of God know about it. Before this process has been completed, the people of God cannot "move on."For kids (devotional -- best for three or more children):Talk about the talents/gifts the three children of Amram had. Moses was a great leader; Aaron was a great speaker, as well as a priest; Miriam was talented musically, in addition to being a prophetess. Also, she is probably the one who helped Pharaoh's daughter to locate Moses' mother.Talk about the various personal gifts in your own family (among your children, perhaps including mother and father, and even your own families of origin if this seems appropriate or interesting).Aaron and Miriam were jealous of Moses (Numbers 12).Have a talk about family jealousy.Does jealousy ever bring us closer to one another?Have you ever been jealous? When? Why?(For older children) explain the difference between jealousy (which is fiercely possessive and unwilling to share) and envy (which wants what the other guy has).God punished Miriam. If we are jealous, God will oppose us -- just as he opposes the proud (James 4:6 etc).Key verses:Exodus 15:21 -- Miriam's musical celebration after the ExodusNumbers 12:1ff -- her criticism of MosesNumbers 20:1 -- Miriam's deathNext lesson: Balaam
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Bil'am (Balaam in the Greek version) appears 63x in the Bible. The Hebrew Bil'am means "devourer."'Athon (female donkey, as in this account). Chamor is a male donkey, while pere'means wild donkey.Further study:Passages the podcast covered or referred to:Numbers 22-24 (many verses); 31:1-8, 16Other O.T. books: Deuteronomy 23:4-5; Joshua 13:22, 24:9-10; Nehemiah 13:2; Micah 6:5Divination: Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10,14; 1 Samuel 15:23; Galatians 5:20Parallel passages: Joshua 5 (opposed by the angel of the Lord), 1 Kings 18 (the altars and sacrifices)In the N.T.: 2 Peter 2:15, Jude 11, Revelation 2:14AdvancedBalaam is the prototype of Judas Iscariot. Explore this notion!Two eminent and ancient Jewish writers also comment on Balaam: Josephus and Philo.Archaeological inscription discovered (1967): At Deir Alla, Jordan, an Aramaic prophecy by Balaam was found, dated to c.800 BC. For more, click here.Helpful commentaries on Numbers:Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (for the average reader): volume by Gordon Wenham.Word Biblical Commentary (advanced): volume by Philip J. BuddSome things we learn about God:God knows the hearts of all men!God sometimes will oppose our path when it is reckless.If our hearts are wrong, he may or may not expose us before the end of our lives (or even the end of time).For kids:Read selections from the Balaam cycle (Numbers 22-24) and introduce and assign the main characters:Balaam: "I must say only the right thing... you can trust me." (Repeat this, like a mantra.)Balak: "Curse your church..." (He bad-mouths the local church, just as Balaam was asked to curse the Israelites.)The donkey: Bray like a donkey.The angel of the Lord: "Stop, prophet! These are bad people!" -- or something to this effect.Act out the story, in a manner age-appropriate for your own family.Paraphrase the N.T. verdict (2 Peter 2).Do you have any family pets? Ask, "How is ____ better than we are? Does he/she ever show better sense than we do? How?" (E.g. doesn't complain, quickly forgives, learns from his/her mistakes.)
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Phinechas – "mouth of brass" or possibly "negro" (in old Egyptian). Appears first in Exodus 6:25, and also in 17 other OT location. Not to be confused with a later Phinehas (son of Eli, 1 Samuel 1:3) and yet another Phinehas in Ezra 8:33. Although his name was imitable, apparently his character was less imitable!Tsamad – join, yoke (Numbers 25:3); tsemed = couple, pairQubbah – large vaulted tent. There exists a similar word in Arabic meaning "camp sanctuary." Appears only here in Bible.Qin’ah – ardor, zeal, jealousy (Hebrew). From qana’ = be jealous.Zelos – jealousy, zeal (Greek NT and LXX). Whereas in English the Greek root evolved into two adjectives (zealous and jealous), it did not evolve to two nouns (zeal and "jeal"). But it could have!Further study:Passages the podcast covered or referred to:Number 25Exodus 32; Leviticus 10; 2 Samuel 6James 4:7-10Romans 12:11 (see also Revelation 3:16); Colossians 1:28-2:1; 3:1ff; 3:16; 4:2-6.Matthew 5:30; 1 Corinthians 5:5,7,13; 6:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 21:8.In the NT: 2 Peter 2:15, Jude 11, Revelation 2:14Psalm 106:28-31(2 Cor 11:2 -- here Paul is jealous [zēlô] with a zeal [zēlō].)AdvancedPhinehas was chief of the Korahite Levites (1 Chronicles 9:20). Learn more about him in Joshua 22:13ff, 30-32 and Judges 20:28ff.He is lauded in the Apocrypha in 1 Maccabees 2:26, 54 and Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 45:23-24.He's even mentioned three times in the Dead Sea Scrolls.Some things we learn about God:God's jealousy, which is sinless, is white-hot, holy, and cannot be compromised.He punishes sin.God detests illicit yoking (with unbelievers).He commends those who stand up for his righteousness.For kids:Due to the mature subject matter and shocking nature of the principal text, Numbers 25, this lesson is more appropriate for children who are exposed to significant sexual temptation. (In the United States, this is normally from age of 12.) Be sensitive.For more mature kids, read Numbers 25 and have a discussion. Begin by asking, What character strengths Phinehas has:Strong conviction.Does not follow the flow; understands that there are absolutes.Is unapologetic.Takes the initiative.Demonstrates leadership in a time of moral crisis.His anger is not for his own sake, but because he understands and believes deeply in God's law.True zeal...Ask, in what sorts of situations should a godly person take a stand (e.g. in school, in sports, at church)?In regard to leaving home /going to university, ask, What are you going to do/say when you see people engaged in gross sin?Ask, How does the world oppose and even ridicule such a man?Conclude by reading Joshua 24:15 (begin in v.14 and read as far as you need in order to paint the picture).Key verses:Numbers 25:11Psalm 106:31
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Yehoshua -- "God has saved", Joshua's new name after:Hoshea -- "He has saved" (Numbers 13:16). Moses was the one who changed his name.Joshua appears 223x in the Bible, 27x before the book of Joshua.Iesous (pronounced yay-SOOSS) -- The word in biblical Greek for both Joshua and Jesus.Further study:Mentioned in this podcastPeriod of preparationBorn in Egypt (during Israelite slavery)Exodus 17 -- appears in the Battle of RephidimExodus 24:13, 32:17, 33:11 -- serves as Moses' assistantNumbers 11:28 -- uncomfortable with God's making an exception to his normal way of working.Numbers 14:6-10 -- He exhibits a great faith as he rejects the negative counsel of the spies.Numbers 14:30 -- God will allow him to enter the Promised Land (even though neither Moses nor Aaron is permitted -- Numbers 20).Numbers 27:18ff, Deuteronomy 34:9 -- Moses commissions him, and is told to encourage Joshua (Deuteronomy 1:38).Platform for spiritual success laid out (Joshua 1). Key concept: Success and confidence flow from obedience to God's word.Lifetime accomplishmentsAssumes leadership of the nation (Joshua 1Takes the landSouthern campaign (Joshua 2-10). Some miraclesNorthern campaign (Joshua 11). No miracles.Divides the land, allocating it to the 12 tribes (Joshua 13+)Calls the people to commitment (Joshua 23-24)N.T. passages: Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8AdvancedSee the book by Francis Schaeffer, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History. Click here.For more on the background of Joshua, see the excellent piece by James Greig. Click here.About innkeepers and espionage, the Law of Hammurabi §109: “If scoundrels plot together in an innkeeper’s house, and she does not seize them and bring them to the palace, that innkeeper shall be put to death.”Did Joshua marry Rahab? Click here.Some things we learn about God:He gives us victory when we follow his word. God works through others to train us. Therefore we need to have a heart that is willing to "follow the leader," not acting in arrogance or a false "spontaneity."We must follow his instructions.Then we can call others also to follow.We learn more about God by carefully comparing both testaments. There are amazing parallels between Joshua and Jesus.Joshua + Jesus (in Greek). Jesus is our salvation; God (in the flesh) is acting to save us.Both are commanders, leading the people of God.Both lead the people into the Promised Land.Both rescue God's people from their enemies.Both bring the people "rest."Both call us to decision!We must discern what God is doing. Four events in Joshua's life are key to grasping this principle, and show how the great leader of God's people did not always see how the Lord was moving.Numbers 11:28 (jealousy or possessiveness vis-a-vis how and in whom God words)Joshua 5:13-15 (commander of army of the Lord). Different to the Jabbok (Genesis 32:22-32) and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17).Joshua 7:1-26 (Ai) -- Leaders must have a godly concern for the purity of the camp (the people of God).Joshua 9:3-27 (the Gibeonites) -- They failed to consult the Lord, thus misinterpreting his will.For kids:Explain who Joshua is. Read portions of Joshua 1, and perhaps also the account of the fall of Jericho. (For an action devotional!)Ask questions:"Be strong": Is God talking about our muscles, or something else?"Obey": Whom do we need to obey? (Teachers, parents, policemen, God...) Who's the most important one to obey?"Be brave": How can we be braver when we don't feel brave?"Meditate on the Law": How can this make us stronger and braver?Key verses:Deuteronomy 34:9 -- Moses lays hands on JoshuaJoshua 1:8 -- Focus on God's WordJoshua 5:13-15 -- Encounter with commander of army of the LordJoshua 24:15 -- Don't follow the crowd (even among the people of God)! Have your own convictions; lead your family.Next lesson: Caleb
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Khelev (Caleb) -- dogAppears 35x in the OT (compared to 223x for Joshua), in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, and 1 ChroniclesFurther study:Passages covered in this podcastNumbers 13-14Joshua 14-151 Corinthians 6:19-20; Proverbs 13:12; Hebrews 11:13,39.Quotable quotes“I am long on ideas, but short on time. I expect to live to be only about a hundred.” – Edison"To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and take rank, not as a prophet, but as an unteachable brat, well birched and none the wiser." – a famous educator"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." – LincolnSome passages on old ageLeviticus 19:32Psalm 71:8; 91:12-15Isaiah 46:3-4Luke 2 (Simeon and [H]anna), Philemon 9 (Paul), etc.Some things we learn about God:As he did for Caleb, God will give us too a different spirit -- the Holy Spirit!God will work in our lives till the very end, if we keep our faith.Even when we are old, God still has work for us to accomplish! (Ephesians 2:10 always applies.)For kids:Read the Caleb story.Ask the kids to act out how a very old person walks / talks / moves around.Then ask them to move and speak the way they imagine Caleb did.Ask, What is the difference? Is it only that his body was different than theirs? (No -- his spirit was different!)Read some of the extra verses on old age (above).Pray together:That we and our friends will respect the aged.That we will learn from their wisdom.That the older members of the church will be active in the work of the Lord.That the older members of the church will be and feel valued.That the children in the church will respect parents, grandparents, and all their elders, as the word of God instructs.That we will keep our spiritual fervor as we age.Key verses:Numbers 13:30 -- Caleb a dissenting voice among the tribal spies.Numbers 14:24 -- Caleb has "a different spirit."Joshua 14:10 -- Still vigorous in old age.Joshua 14:12 -- "Give me this hill country!"Next lesson: Deborah
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Devorah ("deVOrah") -- Deborah, Hebrew for beeAppears 9x in the Bible, and only in Judges 4-5 (if we don't include the other Deborah, Rebekah's nurse [Genesis 35].)Further study:Passages touched on in this podcastJudges 4-5Hebrews 11:32-34Galatians 3:28Judges 2:11-19a2 Timothy 2:21AdvancedNotice that Judges 4 is the prose account of the battle, while Judges 5 is the poetic version. How are they similar? Where do they diverge? What does this show us about the literary vehicles the Lord has chosen through which to convey his revelation?See the interesting book on women, Two Views on Women in Ministry. This is a careful exploration of the two major views, the egalitarian and the complementarian.Some things we learn about God:God raises up leaders in times of distress and repentance. Sidenote: This leadership will not be perfect, but it is leadership all the same. (Deborah emerges as one of the best leaders in Judges, perhaps if only because her weaknesses do not seem to have been recorded.)God cares about our pain, even when it is self-inflicted.If it suits his purposes, he can use women as well as men.We see this twice in our account: with Deborah and with Jael.Probably it is overstating to conclude that when men don’t, or won’t lead, God will use women. Though this may well be true, we aren’t given enough information in the passage to prove it. We do know, for example from 2 Timothy 2:21, that though we serve in different ways, the purity of the vessel is even more important than the type of vessel. God looks at the heart. This is not to say anyone can be anything he or she wants to be, rather that how far we go has much to do with the moral condition of our heart.For kidsSee the lesson suggestions (Deborah and Jael) at the Bible.org. link.For more ideas, click here.Key verses:Judges 4:4 -- Deborah a prophetess and a leader.Judges 5:1 -- Deborah writes a song (with Barak).Judges 5:7 -- Deborah a "mother" in Israel.Hebrews 11:32 -- Counter to expectation, though Deborah is better remembered, Barak is the one who receives the mention in the “Hall of Fame of Faith”Next lesson: Gideon
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Gidh'on (Gideon) -- 41x in Judges 6-8 and Hebrews 11Yerubba'al (Jerubbaal) -- sounds like Yerubh bo ha-ba'al (Let Baal contend) -- 14x in Judges 9, 1 Samuel 12, and 2 Samuel 11Further study:Passages covered in the poscast:Judges 6-8Hebrews 11:32-33.Referred to: Luke 9, Exodus 32, Numbers 21, Genesis 2Learn about Gideon's son, Abimelech -- Judges 9Study further passages where the Lord commissions a man or woman, who hesitates (either to obey or out of a sense of unworthiness), then follows God's word and wins the victory: Saul (1 Samuel 9), Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1), Esther (Esther 4), Amos (7), Peter (Luke 5… Can you find any more?Advanced:See James Greig's intriguing Gideon Reconsidered.For more on how we discern God's will (fleecing, how the Spirit works, etc), see: The Spirit (Jacoby) and Decision Making and the Will of God(Friesen).Some things we learn about God:Stature among one's friends and family, community or colleagues does not impress God. He is looking for faith.At times the Lord may accede to our requests for faith-confirming signs (not that we have any guarantees what transpires might not be coincidence). As in the case of Thomas (John 20), He understands our debility and doubt.When we are dormant spiritually, God may activate us!For kids:Take a look at Gideon the Unlikely Warrior.Also see Children’s Bible Lessons (on the Judges) – includes a word search.Key verses:Judges 6:12 -- Gideon is commissioned.Judges 6:27 -- He tears down the altar to Baal.Judges 6:37 -- He puts out a "fleece" (not recommended).Judges 7:22 -- The Midianite army defeats itself!Judges 8:21 -- Gideon slays the Midianite rulers.Judges 8:27 -- Gideon, like Aaron before him, fashions what will become an object of (idolatrous) worship.Next lesson: Samson
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Shimshon (Samson). May be related to the Hebrew word for sun, shemesh; if so, here is a polytheistic overtone.Appears 39x in the BibleFurther study:Passages covered in this podcastJudges 13-16Scripture referred to in passing: Numbers 6:1-21; Romans 8:28; Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1; 21:25.More advancedHebrews 11:32 -- compare the lives of the various persons of faith listed here along with Samson.Study the effects of sexual temptation and sin in the lives of Samson, David, Absalom, Amnon...Read the material on the Nazirites and parenting in Principle-Centered Parenting (formerly The Quiver), esp. focusing on Manoah's parenting of Samson. (Note: this book is also available in Spanish. The title is La Aljaba. Visit www.ipibooks.com.)ExtrabiblicalSee 4QSama, from the Dead Sea Scrolls: "A Nazirite forever all the days of his life."Search the web for (superficial) parallels with Hercules and Gilgamesh. What would you say to critics claiming the Samson cycle has merely been copied from earlier pagan accounts?Take a peek at a Philistine temple, similar to the one Samson brought down. Here is a link. Archaeologists have in fact uncovered two Philistine temples, at Tel Qasile (northern Tel Aviv) and at Tel Miqne (ancient Ekron, 21 miles S of Tel Aviv). Both temples share a unique design: two central pillars supported the roof. The pillars were made of wood and rested on stone support bases. With the pillars being about six feet apart, a strong man – especially a large one – could dislodge them from their stone bases and bring the entire structure down. (For reference, my "wingspan" is 6’7” [2m], so I could pretty easily reach both pillars with my hands if I were standing between them.)Some things we learn about God:God works even through our mistakes to accomplish his purposes (Judges 14:4).In times of spiritual chaos, God may just work through a "radical," even someone who is emotionally immature!There are serious consequences when we renege on our spiritual commitments.For kids:Introduce Samson, reading selections to illustrate a few of the following points:A man who did not listen to his parents.A man who liked to move things and break things.A man who could not say no to a pretty girl.A man who got even when people treated him wrongly.Mentioning – or, for older children, reading selections from – Numbers 6, explain that there were three rules for Samson’s life (not to cut his hair, not to drink alcohol, and not to touch a dead body.Read excerpts from Judges where we see him violating all three rules.Talk about the consequences.Were there any consequences?What were they?What do you think we are supposed to learn from the story?For young children:God gave Samson great strength to use for his purposes. Talk about the things Samson did with his strength.What different “strengths” has God has given you – things you are good at doing? How God might like you to use your strengths?The Bible (James 1 and 1 Corinthians 4) says that all our strengths are a gift from God, so we don’t have room to brag.Have a time of prayer thanking God for strengths and praying for opportunities to use them.For older children and teens):Samson’s life is an example of the trouble we can bring on ourselves when we aren’t wise in the friends (and dating relationships) we choose, when we stay in relationships or situations where we are under constant peer pressure to cave in and compromise.Read the section about Samson and Delilah. Questions:When we are selecting friends, what are the qualities of a good friend? One quality discussed might be that a good friend brings out the best in you, or wants the best for youWhat did Delilah want? How did she go about getting it? Have you ever encountered pressure like that? In what areas? How did you respond? Why do you think Samson played a game with her and wasn’t direct in telling her that he wasn’t going to tell her his secret?Have you ever had to be direct with a friend? Are you ever afraid of losing a friend? In what situations do you think we need to let a friendship end?Why did Samson give in? What did he lose by giving into the pressure? What do you lose when you compromise your values in a relationship?Think about your best (good) friends and the qualities they have and the good influences they have on your life. Take some time to thank God for them. Are there some friends that you need to be direct with? Is their negative influence on you stronger than your influence on them for good? Pray and get advice on how to handle friends who aren’t a good influence.Key verses:Judges 13:3 -- God appears to Manoah and wife, promising birth of their child, who is to be a Nazirite.Judges 14:1 – Samson wants to marry outside the people of God. All the same, the Lord uses this violation of the covenant to promote his will.Judges 15:11 – Childish retaliation.Judges 15:20 – Despite his immaturity and underdeveloped spiritual character, God used him to lead/judge.Judges 16:21 – His lack of spirituality catches up with him. (The Philistines seize him.)Judges 16:30 – Even in dying, Samson has an impact, making something of a come-back.Next lesson: Ruth.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Ruth -- 12x in Ruth and once in Matthew 1:5No'omi (Naomi) -- 21x in RuthMara' -- bitterBo'az -- "In him is strength," or "quickness"'Elimelekh (eh-LEE-meh-lekh) -- Elimelech, or "My God is king"Further study:Passages covered in this podcastRuth 1-4Leviticus 19:9-10; Genesis 2:24; Genesis 29:20/34:1-3; Hebrews 13:4For more on Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, check out the women's audio series.Some things we learn about God:God works in the lives of all people, foreigners included.God expects patience in the face of adversity.We are to honor God's plan for marriage.When we do the right thing, God will work through us.Key verses:Ruth 1:16 -- Ruth affirms her faith in the God of IsraelRuth 3:9 -- Ruth "proposes" to BoazRuth 4:13 -- She becomes the great-grandmother of David, and an ancestress of Jesus Christ.Next lesson: Hannah
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Channah (Hannah) -- 13x in 1 Samuel 1-2. From chen (HAYN, with a very hard 'h'), which means grace.N.T. Anna in the Greek is actually Hannah.Shmuel (Samuel) -- her sonFurther study:Passages covered in this podcast1 Samuel 1:1-2:18Referred to: Genesis 29-30, Numbers 6, Deuteronomy 16:16, Psalm 113:7, Luke 1:46-55Parenting study: See the analysis of Elkanah and Hannah in the chapter on the Nazirites in The Quiver.Some things we learn about God:God hears prayer, though sometimes he leaves us waiting a painfully long time.Being spiritual is no guarantee of God's blessings, or even that life will be fair.God will take care of our children, even when church leadership is not as spiritual is it should be. We mustn't put our hope in the arm of flesh, but in the arm of the Lord.For kids:Read selections from 1 Samuel 1-2, depending on the age and maturity of the children in the devotional / discussion. Introduce the major characters. Elkanah is the husband. How many wives does he have? How many children does Peninnah have? (At least four.) How about Hannah? (None.) How do you think that made her feel?Talk about teasing. Role-play: One child plays sad Hannah, the other taunting Peninnah. Why was it unkind of Peninnah to tease her sister? Does Hannah tease her back when God gives her children?Talk about prayer. In the ancient world, most people prayed aloud. And read aloud (see the Ethiopian in Acts 8). That’s why it looked funny to Eli; he saw her lips moving, but without any sound. What did he suspect she had been up to? How do you best pray – aloud or silently?Talk about Samuel. How would you have felt if your mother had delivered you to church when you were three years old, and then only visited you once a year? Deep question: What if Hannah had never prayer her prayer, promising Samuel as an assistant to the priest at Shiloh? Then he might never have been born. Which was better: to be born, though separated from his family after a few years, or for him never to be born? Can God work through difficult situations and hard times, and can we still end up happy people with good lives? (Of course!)Pray about the lessons we can learn from the family of Elkanah.Key verses:1 Samuel 1:7 – Hannah’s rival continues to provoke her for her inability to conceive.1 Samuel 1:11ff – Hannah offers her (prospective) son as a Nazirite. Eli misinterprets her prayer.1 Samuel 1:20 – Samuel is born.1 Samuel 1:28 – Hannah relinquishes her son to the care of Eli.1 Samuel 2:21 – Hannah has five additional children.Next lesson: Eli
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:'Eli (ay-LEE)-- Note, despite the similarity, this is not the Hebrew word "my God," as the initial consonant is different (an ayin, not an aleph). Appears 36x in 1 Samuel 1-4.'I-kavod (ee-ka-VODE) -- "There is no glory," or (traditionally) "The glory has departed."Further study:Passages covered in this podcast1 Samuel 1-4Leviticus 3:17, Isaiah 56:9-12Some things we learn about God:God honors those who honor him (1 Samuel 2:30).When parents fail to inculcate discipline and character in their children, the Lord make take over the task.God may leave a leader in place for many years, despite glaring weaknesses.God's promises may in some cases be nullified by human disobedience. (No one is above the law, or may act with impunity.)For kids:The story of Eli and his sons is a great example of what can happen when Ephesians 6:1-4 is not followed. Read Ephesians 6:1-4. The concepts of obedience and giving honor can be discussed (for slightly older children). Also the role of parents can be explained.Read selections (parent/s) from the story of Eli, appropriate for the age of the children present.Then discuss or act out the story of Eli and his sons.If role-playing: “Hophni” and “Phinehas” are behaving badly; “Eli” is sitting on his “chair” (ideally a cushion); mother or father plays the voice of the Lord; you will also need a little “Samuel.” And (if the brood is large enough), an unnamed "prophet," who can double as the messenger returning from battle. (Probably you will want to skip the final scene involving the birth of Ichabod!)The children can point out where the sons were disobedient and not giving honor. Parents can share how Eli fell short in his role as a parent (2:29).A point of discussion can also be that their disobedience affected more than just themselves. How do they think those who brought sacrifices felt about Eli’s sons. What was their reputation with the people? Talk about how unhappy their disobedience and lack of honor made their relationships with God, Eli and the people.What were the other consequences of their disobedience? Discuss how God’s heart is to want to bless his people (Ephesians 6:3; 1 Samuel 2:27,28), and that suffering consequences of sin is part of learning and is meant to turn us around. When we don’t respond to correction, as Eli’s sons, all that is left is punishment.Key verses:1 Samuel 2:25 -- Ineffectual rebuke of his sons.1 Samuel 2:29 -- Honored his sons more than God.1 Samuel 3:2 -- Eli is becoming blind spiritually. (Also 4:15.)1 Samuel 3:18 -- Accepts the Lord's sentence.1 Samuel 4:18 -- Eli is now fat, old, and blind. His leadership is literally overturned.1 Samuel 4:22 -- The glory has departed!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Shmu'el (Samuel) -- "Name of God," or "hear by God." Appears 144x in the Bible. (Numbers 34:20 refers to a different person.)'Even-ha'ezer (Ebenezer) -- Stone of help (1 Samuel 4:1, 5:1, 7:12).Further study:Passages covered in this podcast: 1 Samuel 2:26 (Luke 2:52); 3:7,21; 4:1; 7:3-4,15-16; 8-15; 16:1-7; 19; 2 Chronicles 35:18; 1 Samuel 25; 28; Jeremiah 15:1.Even more: Psalm 99:6; Acts 13:20; Hebrews 11:32.Samuel prophesied the Christ (Acts 3:24). How? Some commentators say this is because Samuel was the last judge and the first prophet. With him the prophetic age began. Moreover, as we saw, he established a prophetic academy (1 Sam 19). This is not to deny that the Spirit of God was moving prophetically through Abraham (Genesis 20:7 etc) and others.For more in connection with 1 Samuel 28, where Saul calls on Samuel in the grave, listen to What Happens After We Die?Some things we learn about God:We do not necessarily have to grow up in two-parent nuclear families in order to do well in life. God can still grant us a normal and productive life.There are times when the Lord expects us to accept a decision we know is not best must (as in 1 Samuel 8). We do not always get our way, even when we are rightEven spiritual men and women can fall into sentimentality towards others, failing to think realistically about where they are spiritually. God challenges such sentimentality. We need to stay soft, kind, and hopeful -- yet realistic and firm on the word of God.For kids:Talk about being chosen – to play on a team, getting a part in a play, to receive a special reward. How does it feel to be chosen? How does it feel to be passer over?What qualities are people looking for when they choose someone to play ball, or act in a play, or be nominated for an honor?Do the people doing the choosing always make the right choice?Read the story of Samuel anointing David in 1 Samuel 16.Explain that Samuel had already anointed the first king, who was very tall – yet lacked spiritual quality.Saul did not do well, and Samuel was sad, but his sadness did not lead him to do anything. He was just down.When it comes time to choose the second king of Israel, does Samuel seem to have learned his lesson?How do we (as readers) feel when the little guy, the youngest kid, is the one chosen? Do you understand that it isn’t about how tall you are, or how impressive, but what’s in your heart? God will do great things with anyone whose heart is his.Just as Samuel was a young boy serving at the Tabernacle, and God did great things through his life, so it was with David. God can work with people of any age!Key verses:1 Samuel 2:26 – Spiritual growth in early life.1 Samuel 3:7,21 – Samuel comes to know the Lord through his word.1 Samuel 4:1 – And through Samuel, Israel learns the word of God.1 Samuel 7:16-- He didn’t expect everyone to come to him; he was willing to travel.Next lesson: Saul, the man Samuel appointed (anointed) to be king.
For more additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Sha’ul – Saul, 422x in the Bible.Note: Saul of Tarsus = 23x; King Saul, 399x. In 1 Sam 9-11, 13-29, 31; 2 Sam 1 etc.Shaul -- mentioned 10x (e.g. Gen 36:37). It is a shame that our English Bibles do not make it clearer when names are repeated.Further study:Passages covered in this podcast:1 Samuel 9:2; 10:6,9ff,22; 13:10-14; 15:10-13,16-20,22-31,34-35; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 21; 24, 26; 28; 312 Samuel 1At first, Saul is to be anointed as a "prince" (1 Sam 9:16) -- God is the true king. Further, Saul hardly acts like a king. His qualities appear only it be his family's money and his good looks. He hides among the baggage when it's time to be presented. People don't do what he says (e.g. his soldiers refuse to execute his son, Jonathan; he has forbidden witchcraft, supposedly driving the mediums from the land, but he consults one of these mediums!).Further: compare/contrast Saul of Tarsus || Benjamin, persecuted God’s people, but like Peter & Judas, their similarities are outweighed by their differences. One started out well and ended up terrible… the other started out terribly, and ended up a spiritual giant.Some things we learn about God:God’s spirit can change even an unworthy leader into a godly man.However, his spirit will never force anyone against his will. We always have a choice.God will often leave an unworthy leader in office far past the time we would have thought he must go.We are never to attempt to cross the boundary between the living and the dead (séances, necromancy, witchcraft, sorcery).For kids:A lesson on Hiding1 Samuel 10 (Leadership)How was Saul hiding?What was he supposed to do, and what was he doing instead?Considering he was such a tall man, and called by God to be a leader, how do you think he felt? Why was he not more confident?1 Samuel 17 (Goliath)How was Saul hiding?What was he supposed to do, and what was he doing instead?Considering he was the king, and God had promised victory, why do you suppose he was acting so strange?Can you remember anyone else in the Bible who hid from God or from what was right?Adam (hid with Eve in the Garden), Cain (hid the truth from the Lord), Moses (behind his brother)…. and many more.Do we ever hide from God? How?Share how you (as an adult) have hidden from God.Is this silly? Does God know where we are?What should we do to be more open and brave?Close with a prayer.A lesson on Jealousy (based on his feelings about David, e.g. 18:6-12)Use 1 Samuel 15 and discuss the issue of complete obedience.Game:Parents can have prewritten various small chores and put them in a bowl.Children draw out one for the parents to do.Parents deliberately don’t do all of the chores, and children identify what the parents didn’t do.Parents then make excuses. Then discuss that this is what Saul did (his disobedience and excuses).Children can then take turns doing the chores (simple, quick ones like "put the pillow on the sofa," or "bring me a glass of water." etc.)Discuss what keeps us from fully obeying.For Saul it was pressure from other people and fear of what they would think.For us it can be peer pressure, as well as laziness etc.Talk about the importance of obedience for adults as well as children – so that children understand that parents have to obey too (bosses, law, government).Discuss why complete obedience is important.Replay the game and everyone completely obey this time round.Key verses:1 Samuel -- 10:6 Changed by Spirit of God.1 Samuel -- 10:22 But still reluctant to lead.1 Samuel 13, 15, 28 -- Severe disrespect for God’s word.1 Samuel 18 -- Governed by jealousy.1 Samuel 31 - Death on Mt Gilboa.Next lesson: Jonathan
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Yehonathan (Jonathan) -- "The Lord has given"Appears about 90x in the OT. Note: there are many Jonathans in the Bible (about 15). But this character is one of the most likeable figures in the O.T.Further study:Passages covered in this podcast1 Samuel 13:2; 14:1-13; 18:1-4; 19:1; 20:1ff; 23:15-18; 31:22 Samuel 2:12,19-27Read also about his son Mephibosheth in 2 Sam 4, 9, and his disloyal servant Ziba, in 2 Samuel 9, 16, 19.Some things we learn about God:Jonathan was a man more worthy than his father to be king. Men of integrity and loyalty do not always end up in leadership, and in fact sometimes they do not survive at all. Contrary to what we would think, God permits this to happen.God extends encouragement to us in times of trial, through spiritual and like-minded brothers / sisters.For kids:Ask, Who is your best friend? Which other boys (girls) bring out the best in you? Explain that today we are going to read about two best friends in scripture. Let your kids guess which two characters your study will be about. (Cain and Abel? No. Jesus and Peter? No…)Read about Jonathan and David’s friendship in 1 Samuel 23 (and any other passages that would be encouraging and interesting to you children).Why were they such good friends? Focus on:OpennessHonestyTime togetherDefending one anotherCommitted to be friends forever.Key verses:1 Samuel 13:3, 14:1 – Bravery in battle.1 Samuel 23:16 – Helps David find strength in God.1 Samuel 23:17 – Valued his relationship with David over his position as future king.1 Samuel 31:2 – Slain on Mt Gilboa.Next lesson: David
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Dawid or Daweed—David—has a meaning similar to "loveable." He was evidently a very likable person,He was loved by Saul.He was greatly loved by Jonathan.Michal, Saul's daughter, falls in love with him.Appears 1137x in the Bible, compared to Abraham (309x) and even Jesus (918x), who is often called the "Son of David"Further study / review:Passages mentioned or read this podcastRuth 4; 1 Samuel 16:11-131 Samuel 16; 17; 18; 23:16; 24; 26; 25; 27; 30:6; 2 Samuel 1; 5:5; 6; 7; 1 Chronicles 28; 2 Samuel 9; 10; 11-12; 13+; 2-; 23; 24; 1 Kings 1; 2:20; Acts 2:34Isaiah 66:2Apocryphal Psalm 151Shorter version: My hands made a harp, my fingers fashioned a lyre / And who will declare it to my Lord? The Lord himself; it is he who hears / It was he who sent his messenger and took me from my father's sheep, and anointed me with his anointing oil / My brothers were handsome and tall, but the Lord was not pleased with them / I went out to meet the Philistine, and he cursed me by his idols / But I drew his own sword; I beheaded him, and removed reproach from the people of Israel.Longer version: see 11QPsa (also called 11Q5)Acts 13:22 captures the heart of this great man of God.The Davidic Messianic hopeAlways viewed the as ideal king.Messiah to be a son of David.David to return (Ezekiel 34), good shepherd (Zechariah 12:7 -- other vv. in Zechariah 12-13)In Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:6).Jesus is called “Son of David” – Matthew, Mark, Luke.Mentioned in NT Matthew-Luke; Acts; Romans 1:3, 4:16, 11:9; 2 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 4:7, 11:32; Revelation 3:7, 5:5, 22:16.There are 3 separate introductions to David:(1) Anointing by Samuel, the man of God.(2) Before Goliath, the blasphemous Philistine warrior.(3) Before Saul, the manic depressive.He loses his family.This begins with the consequences of his adultery.Note that David had already been an "absentee father" to his children, much like his own father, Jesse.In the final scene, he is an old man, cold and alone (for a while) in bed.In 1 Kings 1:1, he is old—but still referred to as "king."In 1 Kings 2:1, he is only a man dying before God.Some things we learn about God:God seeks in us a responsive heart. He knows we will lapse; our willingness to come back to him is what he seeks. See Jeremiah 8:4.We respond to God through his word, and to input for our lives based on his word, channeled through others.The Lord sometimes combines gifts of leadership and music in his servantsGod forgives us, but there are still consequences to our sin. He does not “forget.”God will use a man or woman of deep conviction. God makes us strong, bold, and capable when we are close to him.For kids:Rework the script of 1 Samuel 17, making it child-friendly. Assign the parts:Saul, who is the king and should be leading the charge but it having young David do the work.Goliath, who is rude and very tall.David, who is offended for God’s sake and is taking a stand for truth.Extra characters: Goliath’s armor-bearer and cowering Israelite soldiers.Then act out the parts. Have fun!Talk about what you learned.How would you have felt if you had been on the battlefield? Would you have been brave enough to challenge the Philistine giant?What kind of person was David? Saul? Goliath?David took a stand. How do we sometimes need to take a stand? (Do the right think even when others aren’t doing it, and it’s hard. At school (play-group)? In the neighborhood? Even at church?Tell the kids that David is mentioned more than 1000x in the Bible. And that he is called “a man after God’s own heart.” And that Jesus is also known as the “Son of David.” He is not just his great great… grandson, but also another individual who was very brave, and cherished his relationship with God.Pray as a family.Key verses:1 Samuel 16:13 -- anointed king for his godly heart.1 Samuel 17:51-- slays Goliath.2 Samuel 11:1ff -- affair with Bathsheba.2 Samuel 12:13 -- accepts Nathan’s correction.2 Samuel 24:1ff -- census, punishment, humble response, and sacrifice.Psalm 51 (most famous Psalm)
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Yo'av (Joab) -- Yahweh is father, 140x in the O.T.Avi-Shalom (Absalom) -- My father is peace, 109x in O.T.Adhoni-Yahu (Adonijah) -- Yahweh is my lord, 24x in O.T. (There are also 2 other Adonijahs)Further study:Passages covered in this podcast2 Samuel 12:10-11Joab: 2 Samuel 3:21,27-29, 8:15-16; 1 Chronicles 11:6; 2 Samuel 11:14ff; 19:5-7, 20:8-10; 24:3-4 (Exodus 30:12-15); 1 Kings 1:7, 2:32.Absalom: 2 Samuel 13:28-29, 14:24-27, 15:1-7, 18:33 (19:1 in the Hebrew O.T.)Adonijah: 1 Kings 1:5-10,39-41,49-53, 2:13-17,22-23ISBE articles, e.g. the one on Joab, may be found here. This Encyclopedia has a lot more information, and it's all free.Some things we learn about God:Since God has placed us in a moral world, our sin has ripple effects through large numbers of those with whom we are connected.God’s choice of leader is often the one we would least expect. David (youngest of his brothers); Solomon (not Adonijah); and many other examples. Consider how often God gives his blessing not to the firstborn, but to a younger brother.For kids:Explain who’s who in the family of David, especially his sons Absalom, Solomon, and Adonijah.Explain that although the Lord had chosen Solomon to become king, not everyone liked this. Then read 2 Samuel 15:10-13, where Absalom positions himself for the throne. Last, read 1 Kings 1:5ff, where Adonijah proclaims himself king.Ask which plan was God’s will. How do you think David felt each time? How were his other sons (the brothers) feeling?What happened in the end? What happens when we ignore the will of God in our lives?Key verses:Joab: 2 Samuel 2- 1 Kings 2Absalom: 2 Samuel 13-18Adonijah: 1 Kings 1-22 Samuel 12:10 – sword not to depart from David’s householdNext lesson: Solomon
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Shlomoh (Solomon) -- means peace, wholeness, soundness, welfareAppears 302x in the BibleFurther study:Covered in the podcast:2 Samuel 12:24, 7:12ff1 Kings 1:34, 11:43, 4:29-34Solomonic biblical material: Many Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Ps 72, 1271 Kings 10:1ff, 11:1ff, Deuteronomy 17:16-20Even deeper:See further material in 1-2 Chronicles.Solomon turns up 11x in the N.T. – e.g. Matthew 1:6, where we learn he is the direct ancestor of Jesus.Learn more about the Wisdom Literature at this link.Consider the economics of this king. High import level, low export level, high taxes, forced labor: no wonder that the people revolt under his son, Rehoboam.Some things we learn about God:God looks at the heart; he is not impressed by worldly qualities. God seeks those who seek him.He holds those in leadership positions accountable for a vibrant spiritual life.God wants a close relationship with us, so we must consciously and conscientiously exert ourselves to know him.For kids:Read the story of Solomon and his wish in 1 Kings 3 (or the parallel passages in 2 Chronicles 1).Remind your kid(s) about the story of Aladdin and the lamp. If you had “one wish” (from God), what would you ask for?Ask (again), What you would ask for if God gave you “one wish”? Parents explain the concept of being given something, but not knowing how to use it. For example, what if the kids were given a car right now, or an oven. Would they know how to use it wisely, how to take care of it? Talk about the difference between gaining the knowledge to use something and then using it in a wise way. (Drunk drivers know how to drive, etc.) Solomon was given the kingdom of God, yet only with wisdom from God could he know how to rule its people.Write down a number of wishes and put them in a bowl, have the children pick one, then talk about the knowledge and wisdom needed for each wish. What could he have asked for? What did he ask for?What is wisdom? Explain that knowledge means information, whereas wisdom means knowing how to use that knowledge in the right way—in a way that pleases God.Key verses:2 Samuel 12:24 – Solomon is born.Deuteronomy 17:15-20 – Regulations for the kingship1 Kings 4:29-32 – Solomon’s diverse wisdom1 Kings 11:1-2 – In his old age, he drifts spiritually
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Rekhav'am (Rehoboam) -- "The people are enlarged." 51x in the O.T.Yarav'am (Jeroboam) -- "The people contend." About 100x. (Note: Jeroboam II is another king. Usually in Scripture Jeroboam refers to Jeroaboam son of Nebat, the earlier Jeroboam.)Further study:Passages covered in this podcast:1 Kings 11:26-40, 12:1-332 Chronicles 13:6-7Also: 1 Kings 14:1ff; Matthew 11:28-30.In addition:1 Kings 11-152 Chronicles 9-13To learn about the monument at Karnak, click here.Trivia: To learn about Jeroboams and Rehoboams (sizes of wine bottles), click here.Some things we learn about God:God knows what will happen – he knows all things. J’s rebellion, R’s immaturity and harshness, even the civil war that would follow. This foreknowledge in no way takes away our responsibility.As with Isaac & Ishmael, Jacob & Esau, so with R and J—Judah and Israel—God was still sovereign and worked his mysterious will. That God is working through events never vindicates evil nor even condones compromise.There are extremes to be avoided in leadership. God’s word often shows us the fruits of ungodly leadership philosophies.For kids: For a children's lesson with some great ideas, please click here. As this lesson is from the Mormons, please skip the “scriptures” from Moroni 7.Key verses:1 Kings 11:31 – The Lord intends to work through the division of Israel & Judah.1 Kings 12:13 – Rehoboam takes bad advice, embracing a heavy-handed leadership style.1 Kings 12:28 – Jeroboam makes golden calves.2 Chronicles 13:6-7 – Jeroboam rebels, taking advantage of Rehoboam's lack of leadership experience.Next lesson: Ahab & Jezebel
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:'Akh'av (Ahab)-- father's brother or "The Father is my brother" (a claim to be close to God?), 84x in the OT.'Izevel (Jezebel) -- may mean "chaste" (ironic, if so), or (more likely?) refers to the pagan (Canaanite and Phoenician) god Baal (Babylonian Bel). This may even be a wordplay on the word for dung, zebul (see 1 Kings 14:10), which sounds like the word for prince. 23x in the OT.Further study:Ahab: 1 Kings 16-22; 2 Kings 9.Jezebel: 1 Kings 16, 18, 19, 21; 2 Kings 9; Revelation 2:20.Some things we learn about God:God’s world is moral. Immoral choices lead to harmful consequences.Punishes those who disrespect his word.Responds favorably to repentance even on the part of the most hardened sinner.For kids:Why not act out the colorful story of Ahab, Jezebel, and Naboth’s vineyard? You might also want to dramatize the end of Ahab and Jezebel.Characters required: Naboth, Ahab, Jezebel, falsewitnesses.Scenes: Naboth's refusal, Ahab's pouting, Jezebel's scheme, Naboth's wrongly execution, Ahab's death (shot with an arrow), Jezebel's death (thrown out a window).The lesson: If we disobey God's word, sooner or later we will be called to judgment.Key verses:1 Kings 16:31 – Ahab marries the pagan Jezebel, leading Israel into even greater depravity.1 Kings 18:17 – Ahab doesn’t like the prophet Elijah.1 Kings 21:13 – Ahab and Jezebel murder Naboth (and his sons) to seize his property.1 Kings 21:27 – Ahab responds humbly to Elijah’s words.1 Kings 22:35 – Ahab dies as a result of ignoring the prophet Micaiah’s warning.2 Kings 9:33 – Jezebel is defenestrated.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:‘Eliyyah (Elijah) – My God is Yah (Yahweh)100x in the Bible (71x in the OT, 29x in the NT)Passages covered in this podcast:1 Kings 19James 5:17 -- Elijah was effective in prayer!Malachi 4:4-6 -- plus the N.T. passages where John the Baptist is compared to Elijah.1 Kings 17-21, 2 Kings 1Even more:Did Elijah go to heaven? Click here.What he reincarnated in John the Baptist? Click here. For more on John the Baptist, click here. Regarding his appearance during the Transfiguration of Christ, click here.Elijah pours 4 jars of water 3 times: 4 x 3 = 12 -- as in the 12 Tribes of Israel = Unity!Some things we learn about God:God listens to man's voice.God speaks to us in a voice, in his word – not only through impressive natural phenomena.Though our moods and feelings may change, God’s word does not change.The future will take care of itself when we are trusting the Lord.For kids: You will find lots of ideas for teaching children about Elijah if you click here.Key verses:1 Kings 18:21 -- Elijah calls Israel to decision1 Kings 19:3 -- After a triumph, the prophet becomes fearful and depressed.1 Kings 19:19 -- He chooses a successor, and begins to mentor him.James 5:17 -- We should aim to pray like Elijah!Next lesson: Elisha & Gehazi
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:'Elisha' (Elisha) -- "God is salvation," 59x in the Bible'Gekhazi (Gehazi) -- 12x in the BibleFurther study:Elisha: 1 Kings 19; 2 Kings 2-9, 13; Luke 4:27.Gehazi: 2 Kings 4, 5, 8.Did Elisha make a mistake? Click here.Some things we learn about God:His miracles are not arbitrary. Prophetic miracles legitimize the prophets as spokesmen for God, directing the people to the word of God.To some he imparts wisdom and empathy to understand and relate to others.He may combine qualities of gentleness and firmness, hard and soft, in the same person.The Lord works through mentors--though a mentoring relationship does not guarantee virtue or character.For kids: Check out the nine studies on Elisha from Bible Study Planet. Click here.Key verses:1 Kings 29:21 – Elisha becomes Elijah’s assistant.2 Kings 2:13 – Elisha takes Elijah’s mantle.2 Kings 5:16 – He is not in it for the money.2 Kings 5:27 – Gehazi and Naaman exchange conditions, dermatologically.2 Kings 6 – Elisha sees the chariots of fire.2 Kings 13:20-21 – Elisha dies and even then is used to work a powerful miracle.Next lesson: Jehu
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Yehu' (Jehu) -- Yah(weh) is He, or He is Yah(weh)54x in the O.T., by my count. (There are three other Jehus as well.)Further study:Passages covered in this podcast:1 Kings 19:162 Kings 9-102 Chronicles 22 (parallel passage)Romans 12:11; Proverbs 19:2; John 2:13ff.The kings of Israel and Judah (parallel tracks)Kings of Israel:Saul – Ishbosheth – David – SolomonNadab – Baasha – Elah – Zimri – Omri – Ahab – Ahaziah – Jehoram – Jehu – Jehoahaz – Jehoash – Jeroboam II – Zechariah – Shallum – Menahem – Pekahiah – Pekah – HosheaKings of Judah:Saul – David – SolomonRehoboam – Abijah –Asa – Jehoshaphat – Jehoram – Ahaziah – Athaliah – Joash – Amaziah – Uzziah – Jotham – Ahaz – Hezekiah – Manasseh – Amon – Josiah – Jehoahaz – Jehoiakim – Jehoiachin – ZedekiahJudah more righteous than Israel. God gives her extra time. Northern Israel collapses, captured by the Assyrians, in 722 BC. More than a century later, in 586 BC, the southern kingdom of Judah falls to the Babylonians.In 2 Cor 11:2, Paul is jealous [zēlô] with a zeal [zēlō]; the two words, even in English, are closely related.Even more material:Is there a contradiction in Hosea 1:4?This is one solution (mine, at the main website).But there are other ways to look at the problem. Click hereReview the Phinehas podcast, in the present series, for more on zeal.See my 2003 paper on Forceful Men, and also my 2005 paper on Driven Men.Let us strive to combine fiery zeal with gentle humility."Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, are things Christ unsparingly condemned. Destitute of fire, they are nothing more than a godless philosophy, an ethical system, and a superstition." -- Samuel Chadwick"Certainly zeal for your house consumes me" (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17).Some things we learn about God:,God may use us for his purposes but that hardly means he approves of everything we do.In O.T. times, God allowed a degree of violence among his people. In Jesus, however, the perfect will of God is revealed: love for enemies.Christ alone embodied the perfect balance…For kids: See how well Mary Batchelor has rewritten the stories about Jehu for children. Click here and then scroll down to lessons 183-185.Key verses:1 Kings 19:16 -- Elijah is told to appoint Jehu as king of Israel. Yet...2 Kings 9:6 -- Elisha has a junior prophet anoint Jehu.2 Kings 9:20 -- Jehu drives like a madman! Is this man zealous to the point of recklessness?2 Kings 9:24-33 -- Jehu kills J(eh)oram, king of (northern) Israel, Ahaziah, king of (southern) Judah, Jezebel, (former) "queen" of Israel.2 Kings 10:11 -- Jehu kills Ahab's remaining descendants.2 Kings 10:16 -- "See my zeal for the Lord."2 Kings 10:18-31 -- Jehu eliminates Baal worship in Israel. He is not careful, however, to reverse the sins of Jeroboam.Next lesson: Hezekiah.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Chizqiyyah, Chizqiyyahu, Yechizqiyya, or Yechizqiyyahu (Hezekiah) -- “Yah has strengthened”About 125x in the BibleFurther study:Passages covered in this podcast:2 Kings 18-20Referred to in passing: 2 Kings 16:20; Numbers 21:4-9; 2 Chronicles 16:12; Judges 6, Isaiah 7, Matthew 4;Further:Parallel accounts: 2 Chronicles 29-32 and Isaiah 36-39Hezekiah is also mentioned in the Assyrian records. Read the account from the Sennacherib Prism (701 BC).See also the Assyrian reliefs from the siege of Lachish, after whose conquest Jerusalem became the next target. Click here.Read the Passover passage in 2 Chronicles 30:1-20. What do we learn about God in this passage? about his grace? his willingness to make exceptions?Some things we learn about God:When we trust and obey, God prepares us for significant service.God is concerned for his honor. To him (alone) is the glory.Sometimes God heals through physicians. Such recoveries are no less answered prayers simply because medicine is involved!The Lord gives those who trust him comfort and direction, through spiritual men and women of God.God responds to heartfelt prayer.For kids: You will find an interesting Bible lesson on Hezekiah here.Key verses:2 Kings 18:2 -- Becomes king at age 25.2 Kings 19:1 -- Responds penitently when Jerusalem is threatened by the Assyrians.2 Kings 19:14ff, 20:2ff -- He prayers sincerely and expressively.2 Kings 20:6 -- The Lord adds 15 years to his life. He dies (v.21) at age 54.2 Kings 20:19 -- Despite his strong walk with the Lord, Hezekiah shows a certain complacency.P.S. This lesson was prerecorded. (I didn't record during our wedding anniversary celebration!)Next lesson: Manasseh.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words:‘Uzziyyahu (contraction of Azariah, ‘Azaryah) = “Yah(weh) is my strength.”The king is mentioned several dozen times in the Bible.Further study:Our chapter: 2 Chronicles 26.Exodus 28:36-39Leviticus 22:4; Numbers 5:2We also read Deuteronomy 17:18-20.A parallel chapter: 1 Kings 15Deuteronomy 8. In a microcosm, Uzziah’s life is the experience of Israel: Blessed by God, prosperous, ungrateful, and ultimately suffering enormous loss.Compare the lives of two other lepers: Miriam (Numbers 12) and Naaman (2 Kings 5).Some things we learn about God:God and God alone is sovereign. No one is above the rules.Leaders form or mentor other leaders, and sometimes when their influence is withdrawn, the depth of conviction in the younger leader is revealed.God will work to challenge leaders who need to be reined in through those courageous enough to speak out.For kids: Click to view the lesson from The One Year Bible for Children.Key verses:2 Chronicles 26:1 – Uzziah becomes king at age 16.2 Chronicles 26:5,15 – God causes him to prosper, and become powerful.2 Chronicles 26:16 – Pride and arrogance undo him.2 Chronicles 26:19 – Rejecting critique, he suffers the penalty of a lifelong social stigma.Next lesson: Manasseh
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Menashsheh – Manasseh (“Who makes me forget”)About 25x in the OT.Further study:Passages covered in this podcast2 Chronicles 33:1-222 Kings 21:16Mentioned in passing: Ezekiel 34, Daniel 4, Romans 5,Further:Parallel account in 2 Kings 21Apocryphal: The Prayer of Manasseh 1-15. The complete text follows.O Lord Almighty, God of our ancestors, of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and of their righteous offspring; 2 you who made heaven and earth with all their order; 3 who shackled the sea by your word of command, who confined the deep and sealed it with your terrible and glorious name; 4 at whom all things shudder, and tremble before your power, 5 for your glorious splendour cannot be borne, and the wrath of your threat to sinners is unendurable; 6 yet immeasurable and unsearchable is your promised mercy, 7 for you are the Lord Most High, of great compassion, long-suffering, and very merciful, and you relent at human suffering.O Lord, according to your great goodness you have promised repentance and forgiveness to those who have sinned against you, and in the multitude of your mercies you have appointed repentance for sinners, so that they may be saved. 8Therefore you, O Lord, God of the righteous, have not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who did not sin against you, but you have appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner. 9 For the sins I have committed are more in number than the sand of the sea; my transgressions are multiplied, O Lord, they are multiplied! I am not worthy to look up and see the height of heaven because of the multitude of my iniquities. 10 I am weighted down with many an iron fetter, so that I am rejected because of my sins, and I have no relief; for I have provoked your wrath and have done what is evil in your sight, setting up abominations and multiplying offences.11 And now I bend the knee of my heart, imploring you for your kindness. 12 I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge my transgressions. 13 I earnestly implore you, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me! Do not destroy me with my transgressions! Do not be angry with me for ever or store up evil for me; do not condemn me to the depths of the earth. For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent, 14 and in me you will manifest your goodness; for, unworthy as I am, you will save me according to your great mercy, 15 and I will praise you continually all the days of my life. For all the host of heaven sings your praise, and yours is the glory for ever. AmenSome things we learn about God:He is angered by sin.He gives us opportunities to repent.He will pardon even the most hardened sinner, provided there is repentance.Even so, a change of heart does not erase the consequences of wrongs done. God may bless us, but he does not rewrite history.The Lord is willing to give us a fresh start.For kids:Read the story. Good Kings, Bad Kings.Color in the figures (younger children).Questions:Even though we may have been honest and admitted what our wrong, there may still be consequences. For example, if you steal something and turn yourself in, you should still give back what you stole, and apologize for your wrongdoing. Also, you may not be trusted for a while.If God will forgive so freely, how should we feel and behave when we are hurt by our brother or sister? a mother or father? someone at school?Key verses:2 Chronicles 33:1 – Manasseh begins to reign at age 12.2 Chronicles 33:9-10 – He abused his power, leading the people of God astray, and refusing to heed spiritual correction.2 Chronicles 33:11 – God chastens Manasseh severely.2 Chronicles 12-13 – Manasseh turns to God, and God responds.2 Chronicles 33:18 – His prayer was recorded. (Does it survive today in the apocryphal Prayer of Manasseh ?)Next lesson: Josiah
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words:Yoshi’yahhu (Josiah) -- “healed by Yah[weh]”Appears 55x in the Old Testament.Further study:Mentioned in passing: Deuteronomy 2:27, 5:32, 17:20, 28:14; Joshua 1:7; 1 Kings 22:34; Psalm 119:72.See the parallel account in 2 Kings 21-23.Contrast Josiah's reaction with the dismissive attitude of his grandson Jehoiakim, in Jeremiah 36.See also 1 Kings 13:2, where an unnamed prophet prophesies the iconoclast king by name. This is very unusual, though for a parallel see Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1, where the reign of the Persian king Cyrus is foretold.Is Jeremiah the uncle of Josiah? Click here.Some things we learn about God:God brings us his word through others, who were in turn taught by others, and so on...He expects a response to his message: not a dismissive but a determined effort to follow his Word.The right reaction is not: “Well, I obeyed the gospel when it was explained to me. I have arrived."It is, rather, “I continue to search and investigate and make whatever changes in my life that are required by the word of God or in step with the leading of the Spirit of God.Though the Lord honors those who fear him, and is a God who answers prayer, he does not pardon everyone on account of the vision of a single person. Repentance is an expectation not only of leaders, but of all the people of God.For kids:Write out a number of passages on brightly colored (or otherwise obvious) slips of paper, rolled up in the shape of a miniature scroll, and place them in different rooms (or areas) of your home.Using whatever pretext is necessary to bring about the discovery of the scrolls, ask the children to go into these various areas (one per child). When they return (having discovered the passages), talk about the implications, and how God is looking for change – for a responsive heart.Then send the kids out a second time (to other locations); this time they are actively looking for anything they may have missed in the word of God. When they return, let them unroll and read and talk about what they are reading.Ask, How should we respond when we discover something in the Bible we did not realize was there? (We ought to take it seriously, and if there is something we should change, we ought to make this change quickly and without delay.) And how can we actively search for God’s word? (Read it, pay attention in church, think about the ideas and stories in the Bible, etc.)See the lesson on Josiah in Good Kings, Bad Kings – these sheets may be colored.Key verses:2 Chronicles 34:2 – Sought the Lord at a young age (8)2 Chronicles 34:14 – Hilkiah the priest finds the book of the law of the Lord (material from Deuteronomy)2 Chronicles 34:19 – Josiah responds humbly, and the Lord hears him (v.25)2 Chronicles 34:30ff – He reads the Torah aloud, and he and the people make a covenant.2 Chronicles 35 – He celebrates the Passover, in a way not done since the time of Samuel (v.18).2 Chronicles 35:24 – Dies of battle wounds, and the prophet Jeremiah chants a lament (v.25).Next lesson: Ezra & Nehemiah
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words:‘Ezra’ (Ezra) – "help. 25x in the O.T.Nekhemyah (Nehemiah) – “Yah[weh] comforts," 8x in the O.T.Further study:Ezra & NehemiahEzra: Ezra 7-10, Nehemiah 8Nehemiah: Nehemiah 1-13The occasion of Nehemiah 8: was it the renewal ceremony required by Deuteronomy 31:10-13?Nehemiah 8:3 (NAS and Hebrew, not NIV) says that Ezra read from the Book of the Law. The implication is that he did not read the entire Torah, but only selections.Ezra and Nehemiah seem originally to have been parts of the same book. The division into separate books appears to have taken place a century or more after ChristEven more:Has the Wall of Nehemiah been discovered? Click here.Click this link on the chronology of the two books.Read Hand Me Another Brick, by Swindoll: click here.Check out Max Lucado’s Life Lessons, based on the lives of Ezra and Nehemiah.Click here for my series on team leadership.Advanced: O.T. Apocrypha: 1-2 Esdras. These two books cover the same events and time period, but they have been put together differently. What does this suggest about how the Bible came together? about how important chronology is? about how the Word of God became inscripturated?Most scholars believe that the author of Ezra-Nehemiah transposed a chapter from Ezra to Nehemiah. Nehemiah 8 fits very well between Ezra 8 and Ezra 9, and may well be its original location.Some things we learn about God:God doesn’t give all his gifts to one man; rather, by distributing them among various individuals, cooperation and teamwork are required.He provides leaders to rally the people of God in the work of God.He provides teachers to root the people of God in the word of God.He desires that, in hearing his Word, we discern and rejoice in his grace.Key verses:Ezra 9:3, 10:1; Nehemiah 1:4, 5:6 – Both Ezra and Nehemiah are deeply concerned about the spiritual state of Israel. They connect with the problems and with the people on the emotional level. Neither falls into romanticism or pragmatism.Ezra 7:10 – Before he attempted to teach others the law of God, Ezra had immersed himself in its statutes. He knew what he was talking about.Nehemiah 8:8,12 – Working with Nehemiah, Ezra is able to bring about a revival among the people of God.Next lesson: Four characters from the book of Esther.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words/names:‘Ester (eh-STAIR), “star,” 55x in the Bible.After the Babylonian goddess IshtarPersian SitârHadassah – myrtle. This was Esther’s original name.Mordecai, 59x. It seems that his name is influenced by Marduk (the Babylonian national god).Haman, 54x. He was an Agagite, a descendant of the Amalekites, bitter foes of the Israelites.‘Achashverosh – Ahasuerus (Xerxes), 31x.Further study:For the text of the apocryphal prayers of Mordecai and Esther, click here.For similar stories (national heroes/heroines), see Tobit and Judith (both part of the O.T. Apocrypha).Scholars say Esther is not among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Yet it might be, if another cave is discovered, or if one of the unidentified fragments -- and there are many! -- is from the book of Esther.About the fact that the book of Esther does not mention name of God, click here.Note: Song of Songs does not contain the name of God, either, apart 8:6 (as a suffix).The Greek version of Esther contains many references to God. This is a later edition, apparently.Perhaps for the lack of mention of God in the Hebrew text, Martin Luther abhorred this book.Esther 5:3 is the same construction as in John 2:4, "What to you?" While it may sound rude, it was not.Did Esther commit fornication by being in the harem of the king of Persia? Click here.About Xerxes: "He invaded Greece with an army, it is said, of more than 2,000,000 soldiers, only 5,000 of whom returned with him. Leonidas, with his famous 300, arrested his progress at the Pass of Thermopylae, and then he was defeated disastrously by Themistocles at Salamis. It was after his return from this invasion that Esther was chosen as his queen." -- Easton's Bible DictionaryCompare the parallels between the near "holocaust" of Haman (the aversion of which is commemorated in Purim) with the European Holocaust under Hitler. I think the parallel, though interesting, is fortuitous: no necessary theological connection. A more solid biblical parallel is between Mordecai and Saul. Both are from the tribe of Benjamin (through Kish), and both confront Amalekite(s). Haman is an Agagite, descendant (presumably) of the man spared by Saul but slain by Samuel (1 Samuel 15).Some things we learn about God:God will often move powerfully through a single man or woman – or, in this case, through the collaboration by Mordecai, Esther, Esther’s maids…God is the helper of the fatherless (Psalm 10:14,18, 68:5, 82:3, 146:9), usually helping them through others (Proverbs 31:8).God is the ultimate power on earth, not human leaders.God is always working behind the scenes.He is at work even outside Israel (as in Daniel, Ruth, Jonah, and the Joseph cycle).For kids: See the DLTK's website. Click here.Key verses:Esther 2:7 – Mordecai adopts Esther.Esther 4:14 – Mordecai challenges Esther to speak up!Esther 5:1 – Esther risks her life for her people.Next lesson: Job.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words: ‘Iyyov (Job) – perhaps “persecuted." 60x in the O.T.Further study:In this podcast:Job 1:1-22, 2:7-13, 3:1,24-26, 19:25-27, 31:1-40, 32:1, 40:1-8, 42:1-17Job’s physical condition: 2:7,8,12; 7:4,5,14; 16:16; 17:1; 19:17,20; 30:17,28,30Ezekiel 14:14,20James 5:11Even more:Job is part of the Old Testament Wisdom Literature.To read The Problem of Human Suffering, by John Clayton, which explores the central issue of Job. Click here.For more on the interpretation of Job, click here.See also the comment on Job 19:26.Why does a good God allow evil? Click here (and then scroll down) for the online audio lesson.For a much fuller treatment of this book, please hear my entire audio series on Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.For an insightful commentary, try Francis I Andersen's Job: An Introduction and Commentary, in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series.Some things we learn about God:God does allow bad things to happen to good people – and vice versa. See also Matthew 5:45.His presence and nature are overpowering, utterly humbling.If we are awed and humbled by his work in the natural world, then we should also trust that he rules the moral world. God is just.The Lord is not pleased when he or his ways are misrepresented.God doesn’t always answer our questions in ways we expect.God uses suffering to mature us spiritually. He does not view suffering in the same way that we do!In the story of Job God foreshadows the death of another righteous and innocent man, whose suffering redeems the world: Jesus Christ.For kids:Truth be told, the message of Job generally speaks much more to adults than to most kids. That is, few children have had to wrestle with the issues of theodicy (how God can be just, in light of the suffering and evil which he permit to take place in this life). Still, some kids have experienced tremendous suffering and loss, and insight into "Why bad things happen to good people" may in fact be highly meaningful to them. This is especially important considered younger children's tendency to internalize -- to blame themselvesfor bad things that happen. Just as for adults, the truth will set children free, too.Key verses:Job 1:10 – Satan charges that God has put a "hedge" around Job. He severely doubts the purity of his motives.Job 1:21 – The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.Job 31:1ff – Job has led a righteous life.Job 40:8 – God is righteous, nor should we charge him with wrong.Job 42:10 – Job prays for his friends.James 5:11 – He is the paragon of perseverance.Next lesson: The Proverbs 31 Woman and Man
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words:Chokhmah -- wisdom. (Ch as in loch, not as in chihuahua.)Iiwweleth -- folly. (There are other words for foolishness in Hebrew, but this is very common.)Peninim-- corals. The good wife is more precious than corals (Proverbs 31:10). Many versions say "rubies" or "jewels." The Greek (LXX) has "costly stones."Further study:Our text: Proverbs 31:10-31Referred to:"Lady Wisdom" in Proverbs 9:1-6,Contrast her with "Lady Folly" in Proverbs 9:13-18.For an article on "working women," click here.Interestingly, there is no direct passage about the elder's wife in the New Testament, neither in the list of qualities in 1 Timothy 3 or Titus 1. Yet here is a description -- albeit idealized -- of the wife of the elder.For our book on parenting, which Vicki and I wrote in 2005 (second edition, 2007), click on Principle-Centered Parenting (formerly,The Quiver). If you would like the Spanish version, click on La Aljaba.Some things we learn about God:God desires spiritual families. This is possible when parents choose to live by his wisdom.God builds happy families. This happens where there is respect for his will and his word.For kids:Read the poem (all 22 verses).Focus on a few qualities of the woman. Ask the children what they saw or heard in this poem. Here are a some possibilities:She has true character. What is the difference between character and personality? She is beautiful inside.She is good with money. Children, are you responsible? Do you earn, spend, save, and give away money?She is creative; she can make things.She is kind. Do we give of ourselves without being asked? Are our words kind?She is a hard worker. She doesn’t oversleep, but gives her time to God and others.She is supportive of her husband.She fears God.She teaches others the wisdom of God.Her beauty comes from within. For girls, talk about cosmetics commercials, movie stars, 1 Peter 3:4-5. Can they name one "star" who has a sad, mixed-up life? How can we become women of character, service, responsibility, joy, and so on?She receives praise, though she was not looking for it. What she did, she did out of a deep respect for God and her family. We get messed up when we are looking for praise, fame, or approval; God is the one we should please. Ask, Why do we do what we do?Next, discuss what the man must be like.He is a leader in the community. Explain what “the gate” meant in the ancient world.He is an elder.He trusts his wife, and respects her.He allows her to accomplish many things, and is happy for her to have her own activities.He is positive about her, and says nice things about her.His support for his wife makes it easier for the children to be respectful.He chose her for her inward qualities, not just for her good looks. Boys, are we attracted to girls because they are pretty or cute, or because of their heart?What do we learn about her children?They love and respect their mother.They are well taken care of.They have good parents.They seem to have a happy home.End by talking about the family atmosphere in the Proverbs 31 home, and pray together.Key verses:Proverbs 31:10 -- She is the ideal woman, the ideal wife.Proverbs 31:23 -- Her husband is a virtuous person, too, and both respected and involved in his community.Proverbs 31:26 -- She speaks with wisdom -- embodies it. (Proverbs 9:1-6.)Proverbs 31:28 -- The husband/ children respect their wife / mother.Proverbs 31:30 -- Her beauty is internal, deep, spiritual. (See 1 Peter 3:1-5.)Next lesson: Isaiah
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words:Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) Salvation of Yah(weh). 32x in the O.T., 22x in the N.T.Qadosh -- holy. Over 60x in Isaiah alone.Shear-Yashuv – "A remnant will return" (one of Isaiah's sons)Maher-shalal-chash-baz – "Quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil" (literally, "swift booty, speedy prey")'Immanu'El (Immanuel) -- "With us God"Further study:This lesson covered Isaiah 6:1-8, 20:1-6; and referred to in passing: 7, 37-39; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Samuel 6:22.Can you find the 57 citations of Isaiah in the New Testament?Some of the Isaianic passages suggesting God's goodness and grace:25:6 -- rich banquet27:6 – fruitfulness44:3 – outpoured Spirit44:22 – removal of sin like vanishing cloud49:15 – comparison to a mother49:16 – engraving our names on the palms of his hands30:18 – He longs to be gracious.Sources for the martyrdom of Isaiah, during the reign of Manasseh: the Mishnah, Justin Martyr, Ascension of Isaiah, Epiphanius; see also Hebrews 11:37.Isaiah certainly does not appear to be sole author. Isaiah 8:16 suggests that his disciples were also involved in the writing down of these divine messages. A parallel is found in Jeremiah 36:4 and 32. For more about the authorship of Isaiah, click here.Get a copy of Abraham J. Heschel's stimulating book, The Prophets (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1962).Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, there are 19 manuscripts of Isaiah. The most complete and best preserved is 1QIsa.Some things we learn about God:God is glorious, awesome, holy.His presence is overwhelming, even terrifying.Those he touches and cleanses He sends to carry his message.He longs to be gracious to us.For kids:Begin with Hebrews 11:37. Explain that the Jews believe that this is referring to death of Isaiah. Isaiah was very courageous, and obeyed God even when many others were disobeying him. What did the prophet Isaiah say that made people want to kill him?The book of Isaiah is very long; it has 66 chapters. Let's look at part of chapter 1. Read Isaiah 1:2-3, 11-19, about God's rebellious children, and ask some age-appropriate questions.Explain that Isaiah preached to the people that they needed to obey!Read v.2 -- Adults can be rebellious too, not just children. How do people rebel and disobey God? What have you seen?Examples: being selfish, cheating at school, stealing, getting hooked on drugs, ruining the environment, trashing other people, being rude...Talk about your pets, or about animals familiar from cartoons or movies. Which one is the smartest?Read v.3. -- Sometimes animals are smarter than humans!When are grown-ups not so smart?Take turns pretending to pray sing a church song (have fun!), pretendingto pray (a fake prayer), pretending to preach.Vv. 11-15 -- Does God need our "sacrifices"? What can we do, or what do we have, that he needs?Does he care if we are only pretending to believe, if we aren't living any different than people who don't believe? Does the Lord only want us to go to church? How does he feel about people who only talk about faith, but don't put it into practice?What's the dirtiest you've ever been? How did it feel? How long did it take to get clean? How do we feel when someone else near us is very dirty?V.16,18 -- We all need to be washed.Why do you think the Lord wants us to be clean?What makes us dirty, spiritually? (What we do, say, think...)Read v.17 -- What does the Lord expect us to do? (To care about others...)How can we be different? What kind of people is God looking for to be with him in heaven -- and even on earth?V.18 -- God wants us to be reasonable. To use our heads. We may not get all 'A's in school, but all of us can become wise if we study God's word.V.19 -- The goal is to be willing and obedient... Not just pretend. Am I obedient? Do I do it just because I have to, or because I want to? What am I like when my parents aren't looking, or the teacher is out of the room?Turn on a flashlight, and shine it straight into each person's eyes.A lot of people didn't want Isaiah preaching to them like this. He was sort of shining a light on their lives.How do you feel when the light is in your eyes? Can you imagine it ever making anyone angry? Isaiah made people angry, even though he was a humble man.End with prayer, everyone taking part. Ask God for wisdom, the right heart, and lives that please him.Key verses:Isaiah 6:8 -- "Here am I. Send me!"Isaiah 20:3 -- For three years, Isaiah dresses like a slave, in order to dramatize captivity by the oppressor -- the futility of trusting in man.Hebrews 11:37 -- Tradition of Isaiah's martyrdom.Next lesson: Jeremiah.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words:Yirmeyah or Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah)145x in the O.T. Note: 5 additional Jeremiahs in the O.T.Barukh (Baruch) -- Blessed. Jeremiah’s assistant. 23x in the O.T.Further study:Jeremiah 1:1-3,6-9,17-19; 6:10-16; 7:1-5; 23:25-26.Passages on Baruch in Jeremiah 32, 36, 43, 45.Opposition to Jeremiah 36, 37, 38, 39.His questioning of God’s justice (Jeremiah 12:1ff)—yet delivering the message all the same (Jeremiah 20:7-9).Weeping in Jeremiah: 9:1,10,18, 13:17, 14:17 (also 22:10, 25:34, 31:9,15-16, 41:6, 48:5,31-32, 50:4, Lamentations 1:2,16, 2:18, 3:48); cp. Psalm 119:136.See the fascinating and well-done teach series by Andrew Kitchen. Click here.Advanced:For an interesting follow-on study, check out Lamentations: Who Will Weep With Me?Do you know the meaning of the word jeremiad? If not, click here.Some things we learn about God:He is with us when we take a stand and speak out -- for his cause and righteousness.Intellectual and emotional honesty, even when they entail negative thoughts, never stopped people from being used by God. In fact, the Lord will use us all the more when we are truthful.His prophets will be opposed by the world’s prophets. The fact that worldly prophets are in the majority in no way alters the truths of God’s word.He wants us to stand for the truth no matter what.Jeremiah did so for 40 years.The people ultimately rejected his message, and disaster fell on Jerusalem and Judah.If we read this high-impact book of prophecy, and breathe deeply its eternal principles, we too can be used by God.For kids: See the lessons on Jeremiah at Bible Study Planet.Key verses:Jeremiah 1:5 – Called by God to take his word to the nations.Jeremiah 12:1ff – Questions God’s justice (also 20:7-9).Jeremiah 15:16 – Jeremiah accepted and rejoiced in the words of God.Jeremiah 36 – Jeremiah sends the word to king Jehoiakim, even though the hard-hearted monarch is unwilling to listen.Jeremiah 38 – Thrown into a cistern.Next lesson: Ezekiel
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words:Yehezqe’l (Ezekiel) -- "God will strengthen"Only 2x in the O.T. (in the book of Ezekiel)Further study:Passages referred to in this podcast: Ezekiel 2, 3, 4, 24, 33 (18)Further material:Ezekiel 34: Messianic prophecyEzekiel 26: TyreEzekiel 16: AllegoryEzekiel 47: John 7Ezekiel 36: Free WillEzekiel 38: Gog & MagogFor more on one of the literary types used in Ezekiel, apocalyptic, see my article on Armageddon.Some things we learn about God:The Lord works through us powerfully when we imbibe, ingest, and incorporate the word of God into our own lives.He goes to great lengths to get our attention – sometimes in dramatic, colorful, even drastic ways.For kids: Please see the useful lesson at Bible Study Planet.PassagesEzekiel 2 – Overwhelmed by the prophetic burden.Ezekiel 3 – Has to keep on preaching, no matter what.Ezekiel 4 – dramatization of siege of Jerusalem.Ezekiel 16 -- Allegory of unfaithful Israel (see also chapter 23).Ezekiel 24 – Subordinated emotions to the will of God.Ezekiel 33 – Not to be drawn into his own personality cult.Next lesson: Daniel
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words:Daniel:Daniyy’el (Daniel) -- "God is my judge." 79x in the Bible.Dan'el (Danel) -- "God is judge." Alternate spelling.Daniel's companions:Chananya or Chanyahu (Hananiah) – God has been gracious.Misha’el (Mishael) – Who is what God is?‘Azaryah or ‘Azaryahu (Azariah) – God has helpedFurther study:Passages covered in this podcast: Daniel 1:1-8, 2:27-28,37-38, 4:19-22, 4:25-27, 5:22-30, 6:1-5, 10:16-17.About Daniel's reverence and humility in the presence of the divine: Daniel 7:15,28; 8:17-25,27; 10:8-11,16-19.Even more:Were Daniel and his three friends eunuchs? Click here for the answer.Notice the parallels between Daniel 5 and the apocryphal see 3 Maccabees 4.See the references to Daniel in Ezekiel 14:14,20 and 28:3. (Presumably they refer to the canonical individual, though Ezekiel and Daniel were contemporaries.)Advanced: The Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 30: Daniel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1989).Some things we learn about God:God will be with us, even though we live and move amidst a culture hostile to the way of truth.God alone is the worthy object of our worship.He moves in the life of the one who prays.God honors the person who honors him. See 1 Samuel 2:30.For kids: Take a look at the lessons in Gardens of Praise. Here you will find two lessons that relate to our character. Included are notes, tests, and songs.Three Brave BoysBrave DanielKey verses:Daniel 1:8 – Determined to resist pagan cultureDaniel 4:27 – Speaks truth to powerDaniel 6:4 – Neither corrupt nor negligentNext lesson: Hosea & Gomer
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Hoshea’ (Hosea) – salvation. 3x in Hosea, 1x in Romans.Gomer (Gomer) – possibly "complete" (possibly completion of ripeness) or "vanishing." 1x in the Bible.Yizre’el (Jezreel) – “God scatters”Lo’-ruchamah (Lo-Ruhamah)– “Not pitied”Lo’-‘ammi – (Lo-Ammi) “Not my people”Further study:Cited in this podcast:James 4:4; Hosea 5:4, 14-15; 6:1-6; 7:13bHosea 1:2-10Hosea 2:13 (Jeremiah 2:32); 3:1-5; 4:6 and 8:12Scriptures equating spiritual unfaithfulness with adultery: Deuteronomy 32:15, Isaiah 1:21, Jeremiah 3:1, 5:7, 13, etc; Ezekiel 6, 16, 23; Matthew 16:4; Mark 10:11; James 4:4.Passages on a divorced woman not returning to her husband Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jeremiah 3:1, Hosea 3:1.God seeks reconciliation 5x in the flow of Hosea: 1:10-2:1, 2:14-23, 3:1-5, 11:8-11, 14:1-7.For a couple of questions arising from the book, click on Hosea 1:4 and Hosea 6:2.Study the New Testament citations: 1:10 in Romans 9:26; 2:23 in Romans 9:25; 6:6 in Matthew 9:13, 12:7; 10:8 in Luke 23:30; 10:12 in 2 Corinthians 9:10, Hebrews 12:11; 11:1 in Matthew 2:15; 13:4 in 1 Corinthians 15:55; 12:7 in Revelation 3:17; 14:2 in Hebrews 13:5.Some things we learn about God:God’s love for us is unfathomable.Our relationship with God is jeopardized by our forgetfulness and ingratitude.When we are spiritually unfaithful, God feels the pain of a husband hurt by an adulterous wife.God leaves the door open; there is always a chance for repentance, provided we are willing.For kids (two ideas):1. Explore the concept of faithfulness for children: What is faithfulness? Discuss how faithfulness builds and protects relationships.What would be faithful acts in their friendships, (sibling relationships, etc)? Unfaithful acts? Discuss how unfaithfulness hurts friendships. Have they ever been hurt by a friend, brother or sister? How did they react?Share about Hosea and how he was hurt by unfaithfulness. How did he react? What did God tell him to do? God uses Hosea to help us get a picture of how unfaithfulness hurts our friendship with God, and how great God's love and grace are to forgive us.How can we show faithfulness to God? How can we show forgiveness like God?2. Check out the lesson from www.eBibleTeacher.com.Key verses:Hosea 1:2 – The prophet is to marry a woman who will be unfaithful to him.Hosea 3:1 – The people of God can start over again.Hosea 4:4 – The people of God are destroyed for lack of knowledge.Hosea 6:6 – The Lord looks for mercy, not sacrifice.Next lesson: Amos, the penultimate podcast in the series.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew: 'Amos (Amos) – “borne, burden." 7x in AmosFurther study:Passages read or referred to in this podcast:Amos 1:1, 7:10-17, 7:1-9; Jeremiah 37; Galatians 1; Amos 3:8; 1 Corinthians 9; Jeremiah 20:9; Amos 7:1-9.Amos 2:6-7a, 3:2-8, 4:1-2, 5:14, 4:12, 5:18-24, Micah 6:8, 6:1-6, 8:4-6, 8:9-12, 9:7-8, 9:13-14a.Advanced:Consider Amos 9:11, which is cited during the Jerusalem Council (49 AD). The passage prophesied that once the fallen tent of David (the Tabernacle) was restored, the Gentile mission will flourish. James (Acts 15:16) explains the success of the Gentile mission in light of this passage. In other words -- and on this point I come into disagreement with many scholars -- by the time of Acts 15, the "restoration" of Israel had already taken place (through the ministry of the first century leaders). As a result, the Gentiles mission was underway.PowerPoint presentation from Sunday School at Angelfire. Click here.If you want to be challenged by some great historical fiction, checkout Francine Rivers’ The Prophet.Be sure to check out the Amos series (premium subscribers) at this website. 13 lessons in all, going in detail through all 9 chapters of Amos.Some things we learn about God:When we ignore God’s warnings, he punishes us. Yet the judgment is followed by blessing.God works among the nations, and cares for all of them (1:3-2:6, 6:2, 9:7, etc).For kids: Here is a lesson based on Amos 8:11-12 (hunger for the word).Read the passage.Ask the kids:Are you hungry?If yes, for what? If not, what would you really want if you were hungry?What's “famine”? (Define.) How do people behave when they’re veryhungry? (Desperate, will eat anything. Share about some of the famines – esp. sieges – of the Old Testament.)But what do people really need to “eat”? The word of God. Eating it means they digest it; it becomes part of them. “You are what you eat.”Explain that, in Amos’ day, people needed the word of God, but they weren’t getting it. There was lots of religion, but not much “meat.”Take a minute or two to bring this principle to life. Ask:How do you feel after eating a light meal? (Give some examples.) You’d be hungry again in a half-hour!In contract, what sorts of things are in a filling, nutritious dinner?How do we “eat” the word of God? What can I do every day to make sure I am eating right?Take time to read the Bible.Don’t just wolf it down – eating without thinking. (Does your dog give a lot of thought to the food it is eating? We shouldn’t be like that when we study God’s word.) Think about what you are taking in.Even though the prophet Amos spoke 2800 years ago, the message is still for today.There is a famine for the word.People aren’t finding the word of God.They are wandering around looking for the truth.Yet a lot people who are wandering around prefer not to find the truth.But there is a great banquet prepared for us and everybody else. This is good news.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrew words: Yonah (Jonah) – may mean “dove." 28x in the Bible.Further study:Passages referred to in this podcast2 Kings 14:25Jonah 1-4Jeremiah 18:1-10Luke 9:52-55Exodus 34:6Romans 12:21, 2 Corinthians 10:4, 1 Peter 2:21Even more:Did God resurrect Jonah? Click here.Listen to an entire seminar on Prejudice and Separation, including the Atlanta story. Order here.Of special interest to those in the Restoration Movement, watch the 3-lesson DVD series Friend or Foe.Check out Joel 2:14. The King of Nineveh (3:9) seems to have a better handle on theology than the prophet Jonah!Some things we learn about God:The people of God tend to be insular, whereas God is expansive. They tend to be exclusive, while the Lord surprises us by being so inclusive. This was a scandal for the religious establishment in Jesus’ time, and it is no different today. This is another way of saying that God is love.God is not partial. With him there is no prejudice or favoritism. But we don’t always get it! So…God will sometimes go to extremes to get our attentionFor kids:Check out this link (for younger kids).For older children, read sections of the story (esp. ch. 1:1-17, 3:1-5, and 4:1-11) pausing to ask the following questions:Why do you think Jonah ran away?Did God's command to him change between chapter 1 and chapter 3? What does this tell us about the word of God?Does the prophet seem happy when the Ninevites repent?How angry is Jonah about these outsiders being spared? (Several times he shows that he prefers death to God saving the Assyrians!)How should we view those outside the church?Key verses:Jonah 1:3 – Jonah evades his orders to preach to the Gentiles.Jonah 1:12 – He would rather die than take the message to the Assyrians.Jonah 2:8 – Jonah (hypocritically) looks down his nose at the pagans. He is happy to receive God’s grace, but is unwilling for God to extend his grace to others.Jonah 4:1 – Jonah is very upset that God has forgiven the Ninevites. He would rather die (4:3, 4:8, 4:9)!Jonah 4:11 – But God cares about all people, even the Gentiles.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Rahab Study OutlineHebrew NamesRahab: means “large,” “extended.” New Testament scriptures has it spelled the same in Hebrews and James (Ra’ab). However, the Gospel of Matthew used a slightly different spelling (Rahab as in Rachab) in the Koine (common) Greek.Jericho: means “a place of fragrance” and called the “City of Palm Trees” by the Israelites.Asherah: This was the name of a sensual Canaanite goddess Astarte (Uh-Start-ee), also related to the moon. Image often carved into wooden poles.Harlot/prostitute: “kedeshah” was a woman consecrated to prostitution in connection to Asherah worship.Further StudyHistorical studies on the Canaanites and the Bronze Age and geographical studies help us better understand the situation.The name Rahab is mentioned in Job 9:13 and 26:12, Psalms 87:4 and 89:10, and Isaiah 30:7 and 51:9 in regard to a nation (Egypt) that is proud and quarrelsome.Study out Tamar: someone who became involved in prostitution (Genesis 38:1-30), yet shows up in the genealogical line of Jesus. Study the book of Ruth, where a Moabite persuades the Israelite Boaz to marry her; she too is in the genealogy of Matthew.Some Things We Learn About GodGod is merciful and gracious to those outside of Israel who had genuine faith and were willing to put it into action.Even though we see the here and now, we can forget that God always has bigger plans in the long run. Rahab had a bigger-picture role in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.For kidsGod loves us and has plans for us. Not one of us has an excuse because of where we come from or what mistakes we have made.If we love God we must trust and obey him, not only with words but also in what decisions we make and how we live.We should love, care for and look out for our family always, and not only look out for our own interests.Key VersesJoshua 2:1-21, 6:17, 22-25Matthew 1:5Hebrews 11:31James 2:25
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Eunuchs in the O.T.Eunuchs were excluded from the assembly of the Lord and from the priesthood.“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord" (Deut 23:1).And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles... 22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar..."Lev 22:24 — animals, too — unfit for offering as sacrifices.2 Kings 9:30-33 -- Eunuchs defenestrate Jezebel.Isa 39:7 = 2 Kings 20:28 -- Hezekiah's sons will be made into eunuchs in Babylon.Also Jer 29:2; 34:19; 41:16.Key passage: Jeremiah 38:1-13Esther 1:10 and throughout; Daniel 1:3-18 -- Daniel may have been a eunuch.Important note about eunuchs and officials:The O.T. Hebrew word for official (saris) also means eunuch.This is probably because many officials, especially those with access to the royal palace (and royal lives), were often castrated.Eunuchs in the N.T.NT times: Matt 19:12 — Jesus is probably referring to eunuchs metaphorically -- those who forego marriage.The better known Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40).A Gnostic work from 180 AD names him "Simeon Bacchus." Perhaps that was his name (?).Parallels between the two men:Both are Ethiopians eunuchs.Both had attached themselves to God's people, one serving the king of Judah, the other living as a God fearer (a Gentile attracted to Judaism and observing Torah partially -- embracing the moral aspect of the old covenant without taking the demanding requirements of keeping kosher, observing Sabbath, and submitting to circumcision (which would have been impossible). There was a strong Jewish presence in Ethiopia.Both came into contact with a man of God -- a man with a message.Both were responsive to the message of God. Ebed-Melekh realized that Jeremiah was both innocent and one who spoke the truth from God. His more famous New Testament counterpart welcomed the assistance and guidance of Philip.Both acted with urgency. Ebed-Melekh took 30 men plus the necessary accessories to bring Jeremiah out of the cistern (where the water level had gone down). Candace's treasurer gave the order for his chariot to stop so that he could be baptized.In a sense, the O.T. Ethiopian Eunuch foreshadows his better known N.T. counterpart.Outsiders: God's love and justiceKey passage: Isaiah 56:1-8Judgment on unfaithful Israel, and esp. its leaders.Welcome to foreigners, eunuchs, and others excluded from the covenant blessings.1 Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my righteousness be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. 3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, 'The Lord will surely separate me from his people'; and let not the eunuch say, 'Behold, I am a dry tree.'" 4 For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, 5 I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. 6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 8 The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”What we learn about GodHe sees the end from the beginning.His exclusion of the eunuchs was not because he lacked love.The Lord is just.Outsiders become insiders.God won't miss anyone. Let's trust him!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Introduction19 lepers are healed in the Bible, several in the OT and even more in the NT (though there's no healing of lepers in John and Acts).Leprosy (Hansen's Disease) can be cured, with multi-drug therapy -- and cheaply!The first leper in the Bible was Moses’s sister, though you could also argue it was Moses himself (Exod 4:6).In the case of 3 of our lepers, the person begins healthy, and then contracts leprosy suddenly, as a punishment for sin. That is not the normal order: when we meet the leper, he or she is already leprous, and then is healed.Scriptural study: Numbers 12:1-15It seems Moses had taken a second wife, unless Zipporah wasn’t a full Midianite. Aaron and Miriam are miffed!Notice the jealousy. “And the Lord heard it.” Nothing we say, or even think, escapes God’s notice.V.3 is a hyperbolic statement. The point isn’t about how humble Moses was. It’s about the contrast between him and his older sister.The Lord sets up a four-way meeting.God’s anger was justified. Miriam should have been afraid to speak up.Yes, God had spoken through her. Technically, Miriam and Aaron were prophets, too.But it's not such a great comparison since God spoke face to face with Moses.Besides, Moses was humble -- in this instance he wasn't the problem.What was the real issue? Something else (Cushite wife -- they didn't like her)Punishment of leprosy (v9). How horrible!Notice that Aaron feels the punishment – When one part suffers, they all suffer. A close-knit family.Notice also the reversal of the normal chain of communication:Usually God speaks to Moses, and then Aaron relays that message to the people (Exod 7:1)But now it is Aaron speaking to Moses, who in turn beseeches God. Sin can cause all sorts of inversions.Though Miriam is punished , Aaron is the one who seems to have a more humble attitude.Moses cares for her (“O God, please heal her—please.”) The text implies that Miriam was healed, though we do not read of this explicitly.Yet Miriam still has to go outside the camp. Uncleanness brings about a separation.There's no exception because she’s a big-time leader. One standard for all!The punishment is temporary, but it slows down the people of God.Our sin affects the body of Christ. It affects our relationships, and never more so than when there is ongoing sin in a leader’s life. His or her sin can affect the entire body.ApplicationWhat can we learn? How does this relate to our lives—and our desire to be clean in the presence of God?Jealousy, rivalry, envy, resentment: let them never control our lives as God’s people!Guilty conscience: affects sleep and thus health.Bitterness and a critical can lead to changes in our physical appearance, our behavior (esp. in relationships) and how others perceive us.Usually sickness doesn’t indicate sin (John 9:1-2), but it may in some cases (psychosomatic connection). In Miriam’s case, it was a punishment.But the leprosy of Miriam also reflected the onset of spiritual decay and dysfunction that come from tolerating sin, including sinful attitudes.Inward focus: We don’t go out so much, get exercise. Nor do we want to be with people.Sin blunts our effectiveness as ambassadors of Christ.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Scriptural study: 2 Kings 5:1-19Note: Naaman is also mentioned in the NT (Luke 4:27).Syria = Aram = Syria, not AssyriaHis qualities:LeadershipCourageAnd the flaw of leprosy (both visible and humiliating).Physical and spiritual health are found in the land of Israel (not Syria, where false gods are worshipped).See how God works through circumstances, through people, through conversations!Naaman is willing to pay! He knows that cleansing is worth it! (Do we?)He proceeds to the king of Israel, to whom this looks like a trap.Elisha finds out what has happened, and invites Naaman to come to him (v.8).Elisha's instructions are humbling. In the presence of Naaman's entourage, to follow the prophet's instructions would have been humiliating.Instead of responding in humility, Naaman has a strong and negative emotional reaction. Furthermore, his reasoning is defective.He received some sound counsel – again, from a servant (v.13). Notice the role servants play, as opposed to the roles of the powerful!The miracle leads to his conversion.It is also a nice prefiguring of baptism, as the early Christians did not fail to notice (Irenaeus of Lyon, fragment 34).He was probably already circumcised so didn’t need to be circumcised again!SeeCircumcision in ancient Syria.Naaman requests a double load of Israelite dirt – so that he may worship "in" the land of Israel.The problem of his accidental bowing when his master enters the temple of the god Rimmon could be a problem, but Elisha tells him to go in peace.ApplicationCleansing comes when we obey God’s message.God’s messengers are often humble persons. Don’t be too proud to listen.When we are cleansed, the proper response is a life of devotion towards God.All of us who are true Christians have been cleansed from spiritual leprosy.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.IntroductionGehazi is the third leper in the Bible.He appears in 2 Kings 4, 5, 8.Chapter 4 gives us insight into the kind of person Gehazi was: not as spiritually aware as Naaman.Scriptural study: 2 Kings 5:15-27Elisha will not be enriched by a Gentile (although now Naaman is within the covenant). Similar to Abraham’s stance in Gen 14.Notice how he is critical of Elisha, his master.In running after Naaman, Gehazi isn't seeking something for Elisha, but for himself alone.A total lie (v.22)! Knowing Naaman’s new-found respect for Yahweh and his prophets, this particular lie was intended to manipulate.He asks for just a small fraction of what Naaman has (only 10% of the silver). This is probably intended to trigger a more generous counteroffer. And it does (v.23).Gehazi secretes his loot on the back side of a hill, out of the line of sight of Elisha.His actions should make us all think: What behaviors do we conceal?What things do we do only when there is no one around to see us? (Forbidden fruit? Sneaking food… or something else that we would be ashamed of reaching for were there witnesses?)Or, on the other side, do we act like Christians only when there are witnesses to our behavior (like praying only when someone is watching)?And he tells another lie (v.25).But Elisha is God’s man, a prophet, and has supernatural insight (v.26).He knows the things Gehazi plans to purchase with his ill-gotten gain (v.27). His materialism is redolent of Ecc 2.And so Gehazi becomes a leper, a divine punishment.This will affect his descendants. (“Forever” normally means without cessation within a particular frame of reference. No lepers today are descended from Gehazi, as far as we know.)ChallengesAm I behaving furtively or sneakily? Is there something I'm hiding?Similar to Miriam and Aaron vis-a-vis Moses, Gehazi has a critical spirit towards his master. Am I harboring a critical spirit?Are there traces of materialism or envy in my heart? (Ecclesiastes 4:4)Is there any deceit in my life? Am I living a double-life in any sense at all?Consider the long-term, lifelong consequences of my actions!Fortunately, it wasn’t the end for Gehazi.We encounter him one last time in the OT in 2 Kings 8.So perhaps, like Naaman’s leprosy, his affliction was lighter than full-blown leprosy; he could still go about his daily work.But that’s not a rationalization for his sin, only recognition that the Lord tempered his punishment of Gehazi, the Bible’s third leper.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Scriptural study: 2 Chron 26:15b-21aThe highly successful king lets success go to his head (vs.15-16).Pride goes before a fall. Prov 16:18. Deut 8:11-20 (please read Deut 8 if this is unfamiliar to you). The king becomes overconfident.His specific sin:He disobeyed the law of priesthood (he is not a priest, as a king of Judah).He arrogated to himself the priestly prerogative—thus his sin was arrogance.See the courage of Azariah (vs.17-18).His concern is for God’s honor—a strong contrast with Uzziah’s agenda.If the priests had deferred to Uzziah, giving in to fear, how could the people have been expected to challenge their leader--to hold him accountable to the Torah?Though totally outnumbered (80:1), the king will not listen. See Prov 26:16.His response is emotional (v.19). He is defensive. We could say he was "incensed." Yet his anger is misdirected anger.Leprosy breaks out on his forehead (where strict Jews actually tied small boxes containing scripture).This isn’t just a pimple… It’s leprosy!The priests hurriedly escort the king out of the Temple (v.20).Uzziah himself is eager to make his exit—but not so much because he is a humble man. Now the priests’ agenda and his own coincide—that’s all!Excluded from the Temple – not just from serving as a priest, which was never his right, but excluded from going up to the Temple, as any Jew was expected to do at least three times a year.His arrogant behavior affected him from that day till the day of his death!CHALLENGEObey what is written! You are not an exception. The Torah did not allow Uzziah to serve as a priest, to march into the inner Temple—and there are places we are not permitted to go, either.For leaders, especially: Accept input humbly, and seek feedback from those you know will speak candidly.Don’t assume, just because God seems to be smiling on you now (things are going well), that you no longer need to work diligently to be spiritual. The situation could change. Just as we must work out our salvation (Phil 2:12), so we must work to stay humble and open—teachable.Further study: Old Testament Character Podcast 39, on Uzziah.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.IntroductionPrevious studies in Section II (Leprosy) have studied four individual lepers. Today we will consider the lives of four lepers all together.Although these men are not healed of their leprosy, they end up in a positive, victorious place nonetheless.Scriptural study: 2 Kings 6:24-31; 7:3-5, 8-10.Siege conditions in Samaria: famine!Cannibalism was forewarned in Deut 28—and mentioned several times in scripture.This is a desperate situation!The king’s anger is misdirected—towards Elisha—who soon predicts and end to the famine (7:1)We’re skipping the story of the faithless captain, as well as other important parts of the story, as these lie outside the text we are examining.Meet our lepers—four in all (7:3).Notice the role of reason. They have nothing to lose!Instead of encountering the Syrians, the camp has been abandoned -- full of food, supplies, money...A sumptuous feast was just a short walk away! (The Great Banquet is potentially as close to your neighbors as the distance to your home!)Their initial reaction is to horde. Yet, as with the message of Christ, the good news is to be shared!Since others are starving, not sharing would be a culpable, criminal behavior (v.9).They make a reasonable decision: to share.The matter is time sensitive. People are starving. People are dying.They came… and told… (v.10). Like the words of John: “Come… and see…” (1:39,46; 4:29; 11:34)Although these men were not cured of their leprosy, they are still winners:Their lives are saved.They purposed to save the lives of many others, and they saved a city.ApplicationWe are but poor lepers. We have nothing to lose!We are in sin if we are keeping the message to ourselves.People are starving for the truth, for an a authentic relationship with God.Let’s share the good news: “Come and see!”It’s time sensitive!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.IntroductionOur O.T. character today is a minor character. And yet doesn't mean he isn't important.The relationship between David and Jonathan (Saul's son, next in line for the throne) was intimate.Jonathan's son becomes disabled -- but this is not what matters most. Rather, what we are about to study is an excellent illustration of grace.2 Sam 4:4 — Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.Distressing news led to his nurse dropping him. (Reminds us of death of Eli on hearing another battle report.)Escaping potential assassins, nurse runsSource of medical condition = human error.Born blind v. blinded in acid attackBorn with heart problem (Kurka) v. asbestos / careless companyQuite possibly that in time he couldn’t even remember ever being able to walk without assistance or crutches.Image of grace, not just for medical situationsMental health issuesTrauma (e.g. PTSD or abuse)Sin cripples us9:1 And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?” 2 Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” 3 And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” 4 The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”Lo-debar means nothing.This underscores the humble situation of Mephibosheth.9:5 Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 6 And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 7 And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” 8 And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”Mephibosheth need not fear; David is not assassinating potential political rivals -- quite the opposite!"Dead dog" => humility9:9 Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. 10 And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall always eat at my table.”There is no merit in the case of Mephibosheth. Disability brings no entitlements.Provision in perpetuityThe "king's table" (provision, not necessarily presence)Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 11 Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David's table, like one of the king's sons. 12 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba's house became Mephibosheth's servants. 13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king's table. Now he was lame in both his feet.Grace brings us to the King’s presence.Sons (and daughters) of the King!Mephibosheth is no longer a boy -- he is a grown man and a father.16:1 When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. 2 And the king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink.” 3 And the king said, “And where is your master's son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.’” 4 Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” And Ziba said, “I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”Ziba shows grace to the king and his men -- or is this disingenuous?Mephibosheth has political aspirations -- really? (Is Ziba speaking the truth?)Compare Mephibosheth's disposition to that of Adonijah in 1 Kings 2:15.16:24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. He had neither taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety. 25 And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” 26 He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me, for your servant said to him, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go with the king.’ For your servant is lame. 27 He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. 28 For all my father's house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?” 29 And the king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.” 30 And Mephibosheth said to the king, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.”Mephibosheth's lack of grooming indicates his grief over the coup, not giddy expectancy that his own situation now stands to gain.BetrayalDeceptionSlanderHow do we react when this happens to us?Is Ziba speaking the truth?Division of property is redolent of 1 Kings 3:26 (“Let him take it all” — like the prostitute who spoke honestly)GraceMephibosheth shows grace.Doesn’t try to fight his steward, who betrayed himCould also have been bitter towards his nurse. But he models a better way.Received grace, and therefore shows grace?David -> MephiboshethMephibosheth -> ZibaThe story of Mephibosheth is there to answer a question: What sort of man should be the ruler of God's people? What kind of a man deserves to be king? The one who realizes he too is crippled in both feet. The world has a tendency to exalt bullies. See 1 Sam 8.As "Son of David," Jesus treats the lame outcast poor marginalized in the same way.Luke 14:14; 18:14.The human tendency is to turn a story of humility into one of personal triumph. (How a David reaches out to a Mephibosheth!What should the church look like? It should picture restored humanity. A church of elevators. Not going up if someone is left behind. Walk alongside those who are lame. Yet to find healing.Examples of disabled persons who respond graciously.Richard Turner, card mechanic, blind yet grateful for his condition (Watch Dealt).My friend Tom, who thanks God for his Multiple Sclerosis every day.A middle-aged Christian leader recently stricken with diabetes -- and yet does not evince even a trace of bitterness.A one-legged Christian sister, wounded in drive-by shooting, who models joy and love (not self pity).Our own suffering may lead to our developing empathy -- to a ministry (see 2 Cor 1).ConclusionLife isn't always fair. (In fact, it usually isn't fair.)The point is not to receive justice or equality. In Mephibosheth's case, the point was not to receive healing, but to draw near to God -- to receive and model grace.We are all needy.Disabled by damage inflicted by others -- or by myselfHandicapped by ignoranceCrippled by sinShow grace; let things slide.Mephibosheth does not demand equality (50/50 split with Ziba), nor in fact anything at all (he is happy for Ziba to have it all). His life is not defined by material possessions.Example: Christians and lawsuits.To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? - 1 Cor 6:7The early Christians did not take people to court (see NT chapter notes on 1 Cor 6) -- especially one another!Care for the needy, the infirm, and the disabled.FurtherMeriba’al seems to have been Mephibosheth's original name (1 Chr 8:34; 9:40). Mephibosheth = "from the mouth of shame" (Hebrew).Yet there is no shame in being needy, nor in receiving help from others.For, as Jesus said, "Freely you have received; freely give" (Matt 10:8). Listen also to the podcast on Jonathan, father of Mephibosheth, and David, his benefactor.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew words:Mikhál = brook'Avigail = my father is joyBath-sheva' = daughter of the oathDavid's wives:Ahinoam, Maachah, Haggith, Abital, EglahMichal, Abigail, Bathsheba—and possibly moreNote: this does not include concubines (secondary wives)Michal: 1 Sam 14:50; 18:20, 28; 19:11-17; 25:44; 2 Sam 3:13; 6:14-15; 16-23; 1 Chr 15:29What we learn about Michal:She is Saul's daughter; there was a political dimension to the marriage.She loves David, but is tempted to control him.Michal she has a sharp tongue, and can be sarcastic.She is scandalized by his expressive worship, despising her husband. Yet her critical attitude is based on her opinion. David did not dishonor anyone.David seems to respond by withdrawing conjugal love from her—unless the Lord was disciplining her by denying her children. (I lean towards to former possibility.)Are we sometimes like Michal, embarrassed by others' expressions of religious fervor, or evangelistic bluntness, or strong biblical convictions? Do we care too much about our own reputation?Abigail: 1 Sam 25:14-42; 30:5, 18What we learn about Abigail:She is beautiful and intelligent.Whereas her husband lacked character and integrity, she was abounding in these qualities.Like Michal, she can think on her feet—and she is discreet.Like Michal, Abigail was connected to a controlling, ungodly, manipulative man.She is diplomatic—a "defuser," not a "detonator." (Most men greatly need such voices of reason in their lives.)She is "rescued" twice by David. Interestingly, Michal too is removed from David, then restored.How about us? Are we wise, able to defuse sensitive situations? And if for the moment we are locked into a negative or abusive relationship, are we patiently waiting for the Lord to bring about a change?Bathsheba: 2 Sam 11-12; 1 Ki 1-2She's the most famous (and beautiful) of his wives.For more about David and Bathsheba, please listen to the amazing keynote message on Bathsheba given by Sara Barton at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures, 2 May 2019.What the three wives have in common:All were married to other men, not only to David.Abigail and Bathsheba marry David after their husbands die. Michal doesn't marry as a widow, but she too is separated from her husband and remarried.These remarkable women learn the political game. Bathsheba apparently learned quickly. Michal was less successful. Abigail is already exhibits maturity and wisdom when we first meet her.What we learn about God:God works for the good, altering our life circumstances. This is obvious in Abigail's life, and could have been in Michal's, too. Abigail is the wiser of the two. To some degree, God works things out for us in proportion to the wisdom and spirituality of our decisions. Although Bathsheba must have experienced a good deal of pain, God works through her life, too.God isn't necessarily on the side of the rich and powerful. Nabal dies for his wickedness. So does Saul. David is condemned for his adultery and murder. God's righteousness is always more important than the things we tend to value: power, comfort, pleasure...Women are important characters on the world stage, valued and loved in the grand scheme of God's wise and providential will. Let's determine to pay attention to all the men and women of the Bible. We just might learn something.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Hebrew & Greek words:chuldah = mole. See the Huldah Gates (entrance into Temple precinct).nevi'ah = prophetess (Greek prophêtis)navi' = prophet (Greek prophétēs)Prophetesses of the Bible:Old TestamentMiriam (Exod 15:20)Deborah (Judg 4:4)Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20)Isaiah's wife (Isa 8:3)Traditional extras (in Judaism): Sarah, Abigail, EstherNew TestamentAnna (Luke 2:36)Philip's daughters (Acts 21:9)See also Acts 2:17-18; 1 Cor 11:4-5.False prophetessesNoadiah (Neh 6:14)"Jezebel" (Rev 2:20)Text: 2 Chron 34:8-28 (selections)What we learn about Huldah:She is one of three named prophetesses in the O.T.She was married, from a prominent family, and "high up" in the hierarchy.She realizes the spiritual seriousness of the situation, and responds accordingly.She's willing to convey challenging words to the king himself.The king listens to her (2 Chron 34:29-35:19). He respects her.What we learn about God:God can speak authoritatively through a woman just as easily as through a man. (Huldah's message back to the king read and feel every bit as serious and authoritative as the words of Jeremiah!)He holds us responsible for our knowledge of his Word. When we learn the truth, Yahweh expects us to act.We are to do what is right, whether or not we are "successful." Josiah's revival movement was a case of "too little, too late." Still the Lord was pleased that he listened to Huldah and strove for righteousness and obedience to God's Law.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.IntroductionReanimation = back from the dead.Why this is important will be explained more fully in the 10th reanimation podcast.How does this tie in with the theme of purity? Keep in mind that in Jewish thought, death is associated with uncleanness.Some positive feedback: "I'm enjoying CLEAN in '17. Very needed lessons. I've often wondered if impurity is like a story I once heard about a dirty river. The teller of the story said that once pollutants stopped being poured in the river, the river over time 'got pure' again, which is such a hope of mine, as I've struggled to live purely during my whole Christian life. Thank you again. Life giving-rebukes these are!"Scripture: 1 Kings 17:8-24; 2 Kings 4:34-35; Luke 16:29-31; Luke 4:25-26 This miracle and the next are very similar: children of older parents being brought back to life. There are multiple parallels between the lives and miracles of Elijah and his protégé and successor, Elisha.Sidon (v.9) is in modern Lebanon, well north of the land of Israel.Elijah asks for water, then bread. It seems she fears he may soon ask her for something she doesn’t have.Notice the defeatist attitude of the widow (v.12).Elijah requests food (v.13). Often the Lord asks us to take action – to do something specific – before he grants our wish.The supply of flour and oil -- essentially, the basic stuff of mealtime – will not run out, as long as it is needed (v.14). God is not a stingy giver.Some time later there is another problem: The woman’s son is dying (v.17). The brain and heart may still be working, but every outward indication is that he has given up the ghost.Or not. He may already be dead.This is a triple tragedy:As an outsider to Israel, she would normally have little access to the blessings of being a member of God’s people, worshipping at this temple, sharing in the heritage and tradition of the Jews, and so on.She has lost her husband. It would have been hoped the son would grow up to be her protector and provider.And now she has lost her son, too. Quite possibly the widow is now childless. Maybe her relations died in a war, or through famine or disease. (I say that because it seems she has no support group—such as would have been provided by a network of children and grandchildren.)Yet God specializes in impossible situations!The seems to be a sort of resuscitation ritual (vs.19-22).See 2 Kings 4:34-35.This procedure is accompanied by prayer.The miracles confirms the prophet’s status (v.24).At various times in the Bible miracles confirm the spoken word of God – or perhaps we could say they confirm the speaker. (See Acts 14:4; Heb 2:4; Exod 4:5; and esp. Luke 16:29-31.) Note: Miracles never confirm the written word of God.Not only does the child have a new lease on life, but his mother also does. She transitions from hopelessness to hope.Jesus points to this account in his opening sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4:25-26).There were many widows in need in Elijah’s time, but he did not work wonders for them. Jesus, too, healed or exorcized or reanimated only a small percentage, or fraction of a percent, of those in desperate straits in his day. His purpose was far more to preach than to work miracles.God loves Gentiles, too.For usGod meets our needs.Or, if we have suffered for some time, he sends a friend to bring relief.Obviously there are exceptions, but the real point isn’t about miracles or even getting our prayers answered. It’s about learning what kind of a God we serve. It’s about coming to grips with his character.He reanimates dead hopes and restores shattered dreams!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.IntroductionCLEAN 21, The Wealthy Shunammites’ Son = also OT character study 64.Yesterday we saw how the prophet Elijah saved the life of the son of the Widow of Zarephath. Today we will look at a similar account—and it’s easy to confuse the two!—involving Elijah’s successor, Elisha.This woman is probably younger than the widow of Zarephath. Her husband is still living, and out in the fields working, probably as a supervisor. That makes more sense, since they were wealthy. But even wealthy persons have problems, suffer tragedies, and need God.Perhaps the woman is the main character because the money came from her family. At any rate, she eclipses her husband.Scripture: 2 Kings 4:8-37; 8:1-6The couple are friends and supporters of the prophet Elisha -- and his ministry.The couple ups their game: hospitality will now include a room (v.10). It makes us think of the guest room Paul anticipates Philemon will provide.They were a very giving couple. Elisha wishes to reciprocate, to give them a precious gift for all their kindness (v.14).Quite naturally, the woman cannot believe her ears (v.16)! Her dream of being a mother (again?) has died, or lain dormant. Now the Lord is revivifying it.Barrenness is a common theme in the Bible. Just think of all the older women who were enabled to conceive (think Sarah and Elizabeth).This child wasn’t conceived of the Holy Ghost! Since the baby came a year later, she and her husband obviously took action sometime in the three months after Elisha made the promise.Now the scene is several years later (the child can talk (v.19) – perhaps he is two or three years old).Notice how the father delegates the care of his son to a servant, and then his wife. Was he overcome with worry, or too busy to help, or overconfident that the child’s medical complaint was minor?Just imagine what it must have been like to watch your child’s life slip away, while you were holding it in your lap (v.20)!Those who have lost a child (miscarriage, car accident, cancer, suicide...) face overwhelming and heavy sadness.Sometimes we lose our "spiritual" children. We helped them to become Christians, and we invested in their lives. When they turn back from following Christ, the disappointment and grief can really set us back.Then something really surprising happens.The surprise is not that she turned to the prophet for help, but that she has completely bypassed her husband (v.22-23)!Gehazi seems clueless as to what’s happening, as well as to her deeper emotional state (v.27), which is not all that surprising, since at first Elisha himself hasn’t fathomed the situation.It is for the woman to alert them to the horror of the situation.The woman will not leave Elisha. He is her connection with God, her source of hope!Gehazi simply doesn’t have the spiritual power to bring back the child (v.31).The child is resuscitated – or reanimated (vs.32-25)!Gehazi is still useful, even if he is slower on the uptake than his master.She has her life back (v.37)! Her shattered dreams have been repaired.It seems the story is over – but then four chapters later she reappears (8:1-3).Elisha stays in touch. Or maybe it’s simply that she knew who to turn to if she really needed help again…This is after 2 Kings 5, where Gehazi received the leprosy of Naaman.Her family, her household, has already been restored; now it’s her house (2 Kings 8:1-3). People first, then things.What a remarkable story! But what makes it remarkable isn’t the plot, the persons, or even the reanimation. It’s God.ApplicationBeing healthy and whole isn’t just the absence of impurity. It involves your key relationships, and, to a much lesser extent, your possessions. Nothing is more important than relationships. What relationships need restoring in your life?Like the woman, we need to know what’s out of place, where it hurts, what needs to be restored, before we can feel wonderful and clean and in God’s presence.Do you relate more to the woman, to her husband, to Gehazi, or to Elisha?What will you be willing to do today to have a full, godly, wholesome life?
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Pharaoh’s daughter / Pharaoh (daughter / father, and princess / king)14th BCExodus 1:15-17, 22; 2:1-10The hero is a pagan, a worshipper of the Egyptian gods—the daughter of Pharaoh!We’re not told whether she ever told her father she had adopted a Hebrew baby. Nor are we given any details about her interactions with her father, the Pharaoh. Besides, pharaohs tended to have many wives and children. (Ramesses II lived to age 90, reigning close to 70 years, and had perhaps 100 children!)Even though Pharaoh himself was considered divine, he is mocked—not by verbal scorn, but by God moving in the simple heart of a young woman—one who moved at cross-purposes to her father to safeguard the future welfare of God's people.Perhaps adopting Moses was the result more of natural affection than virtue, and it’s possible she was unaware of Pharaoh’s decree—as was Jonathan in 1 Sam14.Jonathan / Saul (son / father, and prince / king)11th BC1 Samuel 14:24-30; 18:1-4; 19:1-6; 23:16-18Jonathan is not taken in by his father’s authoritarian outburst, or by his foolish (and counterproductive) decrees.He evinces loyalty, but not stupidity.Another great quality of Jonathan—a stark contrast to his father—is his capacity for friendship, esp. with David, who Saul now regards as his mortal enemy!David and Jonathan have a deeply spiritual relationship.Jonathan is also humble, happy to serve as David’s number two guy.Jonathan was at cross-purposes with Saul. Jonathan never did become king, or even live long to enjoy his relationship with David. He, like his father and brothers, dies in battle against the Philistines. Our next character became king, but only after a period of hiding (many years)…Joash / Athaliah (son / grandmother)8th BC2 Chronicles 22:11-12; 23:1-21; 24:1-22Athaliah was the grandmother of Joash. She was a wicked woman but a strong leader, seizing control of the southern kingdom of Judah and ruled it for six years. Jehoiada the elderly guardian of Joash knew that the ungodly Athaliah was ruining the nation and he had the nerve to depose her once the time was right. There follows the account of one of the manycoups d'état of the Bible.Joash, guided by the elderly priest Jehoida, deposes his grandmother Athaliah.The boy-king begins his forty-year reign well. After some time, he restores the lapsed Temple, and even challenges his guardian Jehoiada to expect more of the priests and Levites!Yet when Jehoiada dies and his spiritual influence no longer shapes Joash, the boy-king quickly declines.In short, Joash lacks character. He even has Jehoiada's son Zechariah (not the minor prophet but a different person) executed for challenging his sin. As a result, the Lord does call him to account in accordance with the words of the dying Zechariah.Finally, Joash is defeated in battle, even though his forces far outnumbered the enemy.We see that Joash was at cross-purposes with his grandmother, and also (sadly) with God. Like many of us, his life was a blend of the wonderful and tragic, faith and lack of faith. Yet his story is finished; ours is still being written.Whereas Joash goes from good to bad, our next king goes in the opposite direction. Josiah!Josiah / Amon (son / father)7th BC2 Ki 21:19-24; 22:1-2, 11, 13; 23:1-3Josiah is one Judaean king through whom Yahweh offered his people one final chance to be right with him—to be saved—from Babylon.Yet his father (Amon) was a wicked, ungodly man. Josiah is the opposite of Amon, and certainly did not live up to his father’s expectations, just as Amon was the opposite of the later Manasseh, grandfather of Josiah.And then the long-lost book of the Law is discovered….Josiah fears the Lord and honors the word of God, sending to the prophetess Huldah to learn what the Lord would have him do.Josiah renews the covenant, and things seem to be going well for Israel, yet his reformation did not last long.Josiah was certainly rowing against the tide, for most of the leaders and people of Judah were at cross-purposes with Yahweh.Next, we will examine two monarchs who aren't in the land of Israel at all. Not in Egypt (our first pair), but in Persia. Worshipers of Ahura Mazda—over 1000 years before Islam would make the land become the Islamic Republic of Iran.Vashti / Xerxes (queen / king, wife / husband)5th BCEsther 1:1-5, 9-10, 12; 1:15-2:1; 2:4, 17486-465 bc Xerxes: his dominion is a big territory—and the banquet is a big deal.The king cares about his reputation, glory, power… but the Lord is not impressed—as with Babel in Gen 11.Inebriated, Xerxes summons his wife so that her beauty may be displayed. Yet Vashti refuses to be gawked at.The King of Persia is made to look foolish—here and throughout the book of Esther. (Connection with Pharaoh—his silly laws are flouted right under his nose.Like the other Gentile king, Pharaoh, his projection of hubris and perfection is revealed to be vain. The other 3 monarchs, Saul, Athaliah, and Amon, are also shown to be not only ungodly but sham leaders..ConclusionWe may often find ourselves at cross-purposes with those who are not following the Lord. This may esp. be the case with family members, as with Pharaoh’s daughter, Jonathan, Joash, Josiah, and Vashti.So, how should we interact with those close to us—people involved in our lives, whether family or not—when there are conflicting agendas?Respect them – always.Please them / obey them – usually.Ignore them – if they are pushing you to go against God’s will.Don’t live for the approval of the world, or of worldly people.Take our stand with the people of God, knowing that ultimately his will will be done. And may the Lord strengthen our resolve to live this way!* * * * * *If you have enjoyed the OT Character Podcast series, there is also a NT Character series, with about 70 talks, covering some 90 characters. But please don’t stop with the 175 persons given attention in these two series. After all, there are 100s of biblical characters!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.A growing movement—with perhaps 250,000 members in the U.S., and 10% that number in Israel—is proclaiming that the path to Christian spirituality is through embracing Torah and the Jewishness of the early church. They aim to keep the Sabbath, observe the Old Testament festivals, use Hebrew and Aramaic words, call their leaders rabbi, support the State of Israel, and much more. They lament that so few believers have studied the Old Testament.We applaud the Messianics for their emphasis on the Old Testament. They're right: We need to study Torah if we are to grasp the message of the whole Bible (both covenants), view the world through Jesus’s eyes, appreciate prophecy and fulfillment, and much more. They rightly reject common Protestant claims that the O.T. Law was the root of legalism, or was opposed to grace, or only superficially reflects God’s character.The Messianics seem to see themselves as a bridge between evangelical Christianity and the Jews, whom they expect to come to Christ in large numbers at the end of the age. And yet, although they claim to be 100% Christian and 100% Jewish, few Christians—and hardly any Jews—accept them as representing their historic faiths. (Why is that?) Invest a few minutes each week so that you can assess this important movement. You will also boost your grasp of the Old Testament.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideas:1st century: apostles agree Gentiles are not obligated to follow Torah (Acts 15:1-35; Titus 1:10-11).19th century: rooted in evangelism of Jews, Zionism, and Dispensationalism.20th century: birthed in groups like "Jews for Jesus" (1960s-1970s).In short, there is no "Messianic Judaism" until a few generations ago. The movement is marked not by its antiquity, but by its novelty.Terminology: many Semitic words are embraced, like Yeshua. Words historically offensive to Jews are avoided (e.g. crusade, cross, baptism, BC & AD). The term "Messianic" means that they accept Jesus as the Messiah.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideas:Matthew 5:17-20 is an important passage for Messianics. Yet the commands Jesus refers to are not the typically "Jewish" mitzvoth, but dealing with anger and lust, being persons of integrity, loving enemies, etc. (We referred to 1 Corinthians 1:17, and also compared John 9:39 to John 12:47, since they illustrate how a verse out of context can easily be misinterpreted.)A change in priesthood requires a change in law (Heb 7:11-12; 8:13).Jesus set aside the Law in order to create a new humanity, comprising Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14-15).Key features of Torah do not map over to Christianity (kosher law, circumcision, animal sacrifices, priesthood, tithing, warfare). Neither do 100s of other (less weighty) commands!The Torah—like the Prophets (Nevi'im)—is God's word for us. But it is not God's law for us.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideas:The Law and Prophets are the foundation on which Jesus begins his transformative ministry. Analogy: algebra builds on arithmetic—not invalidating it, but fulfilling it.This fulfillment is illustrated in Matt 5:21-7:27. Matthew's 14 fulfillment formulae, interestingly, all cite the Prophets, (1:22; 2:15; 2:17; 2:23; 3:15; 4:14; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:54; 26:56; 27:9).Jesus is triple Messiah (anointed prophet, priest, and king).We also understand fulfillment through typology (offices, persons, institutions, things, events).And through the feasts and holy times of the Jewish year.Jesus is God's obedient Son, in contrast to Israel, his disobedient Son. See Exodus 4:22.Jesus perfectly loves God and neighbor. See Matt 7:12."Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Rom 10:4).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideas:Law and covenant are integrally connected. Nearly the entire book of Deuteronomy is cast in the form of a covenant, the conditions of which are the commandments of the Law of Moses.Although key components of the old covenant (Gen 17:13; Exod 12:24; 29:9; 31:16; 40:15; 1 Ki 8:13) seem to be "forever," the original word ( Heb: 'olam, Gk: áiōn) normally means a period of time, with an emphasis on quality of time over quantity of time. This is amply illustrated in the OT (Gen 6:4; Ex 21:6; Deut 15:17; Lev 25:34; 1 Chr 16:15; Ps 105:8; 1 Sam 1:22; Ezra 4:15,19; Ps 24:7; Prov 22:28; Jon 2:6; 1 Sam 2:30).The first covenant predicted its own replacement (Jer 31:31-34; Isa 59:20-21; Heb 8:7-13).Will = testament (Gk: diathēkē, Lat: testamentum). Like the first covenant, the new covenant, which replaced it, did so only after the death of Jesus (Heb 9:15-18).Today God has no separate arrangement, or covenant, for the Jews. For in Christ there is no Greek (Gentile) or Jew (Gal 3:28).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideas:The new covenant is for all believers, not just the Jews. In fact, the Jews have no special status before the Lord, and more than male Christians are in a different category from female Christians (Gal 3:26-29). To be Abraham's descendant is not an ethnic matter, but a matter of faith.Jesus speaks of the rejection of the Jews as God's people (Matt 8:8-12; 21:33-43).Paul clarifies that not all descended from Israel are Israel (Rom 9:6), but only those who have faith. It is to them that God's gifts and call (Rom 9:29) are transferred.Peter's teaching agrees with Paul's (Acts 3:22-23; also 1 Pet 2:9-10 [re: Exod 19:4-6]).The phrase "the house of Israel and the house of Judah" (Heb 8:8) is fulfilled in the church. The house of Israel are not the "lost tribes," let alone the Gentiles. Paul himself is an Israelite (his term), even though he hails from the tribe of Benjamin (historically part of Judah). The doctrine of the two houses is roundly rejected by the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, as well as by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. Eph 2:12-22, an other key passage in our examination of Messianic Judaism, prohibits a "two house" interpretation.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideas:Jesus and the apostles clearly taught that Israel had lost its covenant and nationhood in the sight of God (Matt 22:2-9; 23:31-39; John 8:22-24, 39-47; Rom 8:30-10:4; 10:20-21; 1 Thess 2:14-16).[These strong words are not "antisemitic," as they were articulated by Semites (Jews). Not only Jesus, but all the apostles too were Jews. Their words are no more unfair or biased than the criticisms of the O.T. prophets. Sadly, after the declension of the church in the 4th century, it was only a matter of time before real antisemitism reared its ugly head.]This viewpoint was universal in the early church. It did not originate from one congregation or typify one part of the Roman Empire. All over the empire, this was the position of the Christians.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideas:In Rom 11:25, plērōma means fullness, not "full number." (The identical term appears in 13:10 and 15:29. Also John 1:16; 1 Cor 10:26; Gal 4:4; etc.)Rom 9:6: Ancestry doesn't count; "Israel" = children of faith, not Abraham's physical descendants."All Israel" refers to true Israel—those who by faith are the sons and daughters of Abraham."Remnant" (11:5) implies a minority, just as during O.T. times.Rom 9-11 answers the question of why most Jews failed to embrace Jesus as the Messiah. Predicting events two millennia later would not have addressed this question at all!The "resurrection" of Ezek 37 pertains to the return from exile (6th C. BC), with overtones of Rev 21-22. It does not refer to the founding of the modern State of Israel (1948).Large-scale "end-times" acceptance of fleshly Israel would be manifestly unfair to generations past.Thus there is no true scriptural basis for an end-times mass conversion of modern-day Jews.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideas:Sabbatarians are right about the day: Sabbath is the 7th day, sundown Friday-sundown Saturday. The 4th-C church created a "Sunday Sabbath". (Although Christians had long been meeting on Sundays, it was not legally day of rest/worship.) This happened under Constantine (early 300s).Yet in the 1st C, there was a change to the 1st day of week: John 20:19, 26; Acts 2:1, 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10. Jesus, after all, rose from the dead, appeared, ascended, and gave the Spirit on Sundays.John was in the Spirit on "the Lord's day" (Gk. kyriakē, the Greek word for Sunday).True, Paul enters synagogue on Sabbath, but this was for purposes of evangelizing the Jews (Acts 17:2).Some claim that the Sabbath preceded Moses—that it was for Adam. Yet there is no evidence of Sabbath before time of Moses (New 9:14).The patristic writers agree that Sabbaths are no longer kept. Rather, Christ's followers assemble on Sunday (Ignatius, Magnesians 9:1; Epistle of Barnabas, 15:8-9; Justin Martyr, First Apology, 67. It seems highly unlikely the generation after the apostles forgot the truth about the Sabbath. Ignatius, after all—writing around 107 AD—was a disciple of the apostle John!Sabbath receives near zero emphasis in the N.T. documents. If it is so important, isn’t it odd Paul that explicitly mentions it only once (saying it should not be an issue, Col 2:17-17; also Gal 4:8-11). It is certainly not a matter of salvation / superiority.What about the feeling that all 10 commandments must still apply, for aesthetic purposes or symmetry? Asymmetries are a feature of biblical revelation as well as of the natural world. Arguments from symmetry have aesthetic appeal, but not logical power.Christianity is a continuation and fulfillment of Judaism, but there’s also a radical disjunction from Judaism. Getting our heads around this was not easy for early (predominantly Jewish-background) Christians, and we too need to give this special consideration.Although Sabbath law no longer applies, but there are still vital spiritual principles: We are not machines. "The Sabbaths were given to Israel in order that they might study Torah" (Jer. Talmud, Shabbat 15:3). Shabbat is rest, yet not laziness. It is devotion to God, but not work. It is for study and prayer, but not a burden. And for those with families, a time to share.We have seen abundant evidence that the early church did not observe Sabbath as a Christian ordinance. Not everyone will agree with the assessment, so let’s show grace to those who value one day over another (Rom 14:5-6)—even though we must not allow them to judge us over the issue (Col 2:16).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.We have already discussed several major features of Judaism that do not carry over directly into Christianity. For example, consider: Animal sacrifices (Heb 9:22; 10:1-4; 10:18)Warfare: We are no longer permitted to kill our enemies. The church is no longer a political entity.Priesthood. All Christians function as priests, and only Jesus has a special (high) priesthood.Tithing. Tithing is "found" in the NT only in passages referring to OT law (Matt 23 and Heb 7). We are no longer an agrarian church-state, and are thus released from the law of the tithe.Other significant Messianic teachings include:Circumcision. Acts 15; 1 Cor 7:18-19The Third Temple. Acts 15:16-18 (citing Amos 9:11 on rebuilding of “David’s fallen tent”).Jesus and the church interpreted the “tent” (tabernacle / temple) figuratively. “Destroy this temple” (John 2:19) = Jesus’ body.Acts 15:16: The "restoration" of Israel was already well underway, through the ministry of the first century leaders like Peter. As a result, the Gentiles mission was really taking off, e.g. through Paul.Another example of a figurative understanding of a passage is Mic 4:1-2 (par in Isa 2), which speaks of the house of the Lord in the last (or latter) days. Peter indicates that the Last Days have already come by 30 AD (Acts 2:16-17). The Gentile mission: not all nations literally streaming to Jerusalem, but the Word going out from Jerusalem to all nations (Acts 1:8 etc)!Further, the true tabernacle is in heaven (Heb 8:2; 9:11).And besides, there is no further need for sacrifice, since Jesus died for our sins.Click here to see the "Holy Temple Museum."Kashrut: Perhaps there is nutritional wisdom in some of the food laws. There is also great wisdom in vegetarianism, and some argue that this must be God’s will for us, based on the description of Eden.But Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19).See also 1 Tim 4:3-5; Heb 9:10; 13:9-10.MiscellaneousSeparating from the Gentile church (but Gal 3:28!)Hebrew N.T.: it is often believed that the original N.T. was written in Hebrew.No communion in the Sunday service.Not celebrating Easter or Christmas (but celebrating Passover, Tabernacles, etc). Interestingly, while Messianics celebrate 7 Jewish feasts, historic Christian observances are also 7: Easter Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints' Day (1 Nov), Christmas (25 Dec), and Epiphany (6 Jan)Reliance on Talmud (competed 400-700 AD) as key to understanding how Jesus trained the TwelveYet how accurately can we read the practices described in these medieval documents into the 1st century AD? There can be a wide gulf between theory and practice, the ideal and the real.Talmud describes rabbis making disciples of boys, requiring them to memorize the Bible, etc. Messianic teachers often claim the Twelve were youths (the oldest, Peter, around 18, and the youngest, John, perhaps only 9)!Yet after 70 AD, only one sect of Judaism survived, the liberal Pharisees of the school of Hillel. (The stricter Shamma’ite Pharisees, as well as the Essenes, Herodians, and Sadducees all disappear after 70 AD.) Surely this colored the understanding of the rabbis.Messianics do not seem to be reading these ancient Jewish sources critically.Bogus argument that we still have to keep Torah, because if God changed the Law, then he would be changing himself (based on Mal 3:6). Yet this confuses God's nature with how he relates to his creatures. Changes in law or covenant do not require a change within the Deity!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Main ideasThe Jew-Gentile ControversyJust how “Jewish” do Christians need to be?The answer: Not at all, although it is okay for actual Jews to hold on to cultural markers—provided they do not force these on others.This was the broadest dispute in the first century church, from 30-70 AD. Later centuries had their own hot topics.RomansPaul writes this letter not only to secure mission funding (chapter 15), but also to "inoculate" the Roman believers against the Galatian controversy.Chapters 1-3: No ethnic group enjoys a privileged status in the eyes of God.Chapters 4-8: God displays covenant faithfulness to all Abraham’s descendants on the basis of faith, not Torah. (4:11-13).Chapter 5: The new distinction is between “in Adam” and “in Christ,” not Gentiles v. Jews.Chapters 12-15: 13:10 – We fulfill the law by loving our neighbor (13:10). These chapters show how we are to fulfill the Law. Note that there is no mention of a need for circumcision, Sabbath, etc…GalatiansLaw = Law of MosesPaul is a prime example of someone who knows Torah, and is zealous for Torah—and yet does not rely on Torah for justification in God's sight.What was dismantled (system of Torah) must not be rebuilt (2:21).Passages read: 1:6, 13-14; 2:11-14, 16, 21; 3:2-3, 23-28; 4:1, 3-11; 16-17, 21-26, 31; 5:1-4, 6-8, 11; 6:15-16."The Israel of God"We have already seen that Jewish-sounding passages, like Micah 4:1-2 and Amos 9:11, were interpreted as fulfilled in Christ and his church. Now let’s look at passages supporting the interpretation that "the Israel of God" simply means the church.Review: Matt 3:9; Rom 2:28-29; 9:6-7; Gal 3:28-29.Further: Gal 4:24-31; Rev 3:9; 1 Pet 1:1; 2:4-10.Patristic documents: Epistle of Barnabas (Alexandria, Syria, or Asia Minor), 2 Clement (unsure), Justin Martyr (Rome), Irenaeus (Lyon), Origen (Alexandria), Cyprian (Carthage), Lactantius (Rome)Gal 6:15-16 refers to the new covenant people of God—not to Israel, Jewish Christians, or followers of Messianic Judaism. All true Christians are the Israel of God.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.Review:Galatians:Deals with a set of teachings remarkably similar to modern Messianic Judaism.As in Romans, the phrase “the Law” refers to Torah, not works-righteousness. The issue isn’t whether we can scratch and work our way to Yahweh, but whether the regulations of Torah are essential.The Law, for the ancient Israelites, was a sort of pedagogue or nursemaid or tutor. Maturity is found in Christ, not in circumcision, phylacteries, tassels, and Sabbaths.The true Jerusalem is above—not in the Middle East! And true Jews, the Israel of God, are all who by faith were baptized into Christ—regardless of their religious or ethnic background.Romans:Paul is taking preventative action, lest the chaos of Galatia infect the capital Christians.Abraham was justified by faith before and without the TorahNo one group today enjoys special status before God. True Israel is not an ethnic group, since, as Paul puts it, “not all descended from Israel are Israel…” Only those who put their trust in Christ will be saved.We fulfill the law by loving our neighbor—not by eating kosher!New materialGenesis 49:10: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”Jesus as anointed priest—ministry in heaven, no need for sacrifices and priests down here on earth.Jesus as anointed prophet—the ultimate prophet—he’s where we need to look (Heb 1:1).Jesus as anointed king—“scepter”—just as he warned that the kingdom would be taken away from the Jews (Matt 21:43).Adam Clarke (1762-1832), writing a century and a half before the emergence of Messianic Judaism: “Judah shall continue a distinct tribe till the Messiah shall come; and it did so; and after his coming it was confounded [blended together] with the others, so that all distinction has been ever since lost.” Why would Clarke say that? Because Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom 10:4).Hebrews 8:3-7, 13; 10:1; 12:22The Law is a shadow of what was to come in Christ.It is neither necessary nor wise to uncritically combine the two covenants. Similarly, when we read the Bible, we need to pay great attention to which testament we are reading in.This is not to say OT is unimportant, or that we shouldn't read it in its entirety, with reverence and awe!Colossians 2:11-17Let’s appreciate the hints and types and shadows of the O.T.! But that’s not where we're called to live. The substance—the reality—is in Jesus Christ.Dwelling in the light of Christ and the new covenant in his blood is much more substantial than any half-baked combination of the testaments!1 Timothy 1:3-7Despite some positive points, as a system Messianic Judaism is misguided. It has the potential to sidetrack, or even derail, the faith of many.Yes, at first blush, the Messianics seem to make a good case. They have Bible verses, doctrines, and confidence that they are right. (If we aren’t deeply rooted in God’s Word, we may be easily persuaded.) Yet, in the words of Paul, “they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.”Further resources:Questions about Modern Israel (15-min podcast, with notes)A Mass Conversion of Israel? (41 min, with notes)Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis and In His Dust)Ron Moseley (The Real Jesus)Ran vander Laan (Follow the Rabbi)Romans A-Z (subscription required for the later lessons)iFaith messages on Romans and Galatians and Hebrews. (Scroll down if necessary.)The name of Jesus. How “Jewish” should we try to sound? Is there power in how a word is pronounced?A separate covenant for the Gentiles? (Gentiles don’t need to obey Acts 2:38?)Sabbath—why we don’t need to follow this OT ordinanceHoliness—a good supplement to the Sabbath study
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Semitic words:Yeshua -- Hebrew name for Joshua (Jesus), meaning "God saves," or "salvation. Yesous -- the Greek word for Jesus and Joshua.Immanuel -- Hebrew for "with-us God"Based on grave inscriptions and other literary sources, the most common names in 1st C. Palestine were, in order: Salome, Simon, Mary, Joseph, Judas, Lazarus, Joezer, John, Martha, and Jesus. (All names Anglicized.)Outline of the classBirth, family, vocation, celibacyAppearance & characterMinistry & messageTrek & death (from Caesarea to Jerusalem, and what this means for us)ReferencesNo other figure in the Bible has 90 continuous chapters devoted to him (Matthew 1-Acts 1). And no one else appears as frequently in scripture (over 1200 times).Immanuel: Matthew 1:23; see Isaiah 7:1,14, 8:8.The death of Herod the Great in 4 BC was recorded by Josephus in Jewish Antiquities 17.6.4.The NT repeatedly refers to Jesus’ brothers, and even his sisters (e.g. Matthew 13:55-56).The last time Joseph, Jesus’ father, is mentioned is during a family visit to Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-48).Jesus knew from scripture that a forerunner would come, as prophesied in Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3. This was John the Baptist.Jesus was righteous. The Bible urges us to defend the cause of the widow (Deuteronomy 10:18); if Mary was widowed, Jesus had a special obligation, and especially if Joseph died when Jesus was still in his teens.Though his mission was urgent, he did not rush to begin his ministry. Always he proceeded with a keen sense of divine timing (John 2:4, 7:6,8,30, 8:20, 12:23,27, 13:1, 17:1, 19:30).Both Jesus and Paul advocated remaining single as an effective path of service to God, if one has the gift of celibacy (Matthew 19:10-12; 1 Corinthians 7:1-9).Average height for a man of his time was under five and a half feet tall. In Mark 14:44, Judas guides the arrest party to the Garden of Gethsemane. It is nighttime (and there is a full moon), yet it doesn’t seem to be obvious to the high priest and his detachment of guards which one they are to arrest.The 14th-century forgery The Publius Lentulus Letter described Jesus as having hair the color of a ripe hazelnut, parted in the middle, flowing down to his ears, and then becoming wavy and even curly. His skin was smooth and white—no wrinkles or blemishes—slightly ruddy. Perfect nose and mouth—though he was a man off few words. His beard, of course, was well manicured! "He was never known to laugh, but often to weep."While we know little about what Jesus looked like, we know a lot about what he was like. The Bible freely records the sins and weaknesses of all its major characters—Abraham’s lies, Sarah’s meanness, Rebekah’s deceit, David’s adultery, the initial lack of faith on the part of Jesus’ own family members, and so on (Genesis 20:2, 16:6, 27:2-13; 2 Samuel 11, Mark 3:21; John 7:5). Yet at no point is sin attributed to Jesus (Matthew 5:17; 26:59-60; Luke 4:13). Even his enemies were unable to convict him of sin (John 8:46)—not to say they all accepted him. Some charged him with being a fraud (Matthew 12:2,24,38, 13:53-57), or being demon-possessed (Luke 11:15), or as making political threats against the Romans (Luke 23:2,13-15), yet none of these charges was substantiated.Jesus was highly intelligent—not just as a scholar of the scriptures (Luke 2:41-47), but as a student of human nature (John 2:25). As you read the gospels, try to see how his mind works when he is in a tight spot (Matthew 21:23-27, 22:16-21).His logical mind is truly brilliant—and yet he never bullies others with his intellect, but rather remains humble in every interaction. Many miss his intelligence.As for his intensity, the gospels stun us by how much one man can pack into a day, how one can keep giving even though emotionally spent (Mark 3:20-21, 6:30-56). His drive was phenomenal, and the NT invites those who follow him to lead zealous and passionate lives (Luke 13:32-33, 24:19; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 2:3-6).After his baptism and temptation, Jesus embarked on a three-year teaching ministry. In John’s gospel we learn that he returned to Jerusalem for three Passovers [2:23, 6:4, 12:1,]. Thus if he began work in 27 or 28 AD [per the chronology of Luke 3:1-2,21, 4:14ff], he would have been executed in 30 AD.)Jesus began in Galilee, working among the towns of present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel. Once the disciples began to understand his identity as the Messiah, he proceeded to Jerusalem, where he came into direct conflict with the religious establishment and was duly dispatched by them (Luke 9:21-22,51-53, 22:52-23:2).His ministry included several components: proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, teaching, healing, exorcizing, training the Twelve and, most important, giving his life for the sins of the world (Mark 10:45).Jesus’ central message was the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:15; Matthew 4:17; Luke 4:43). The day of the Lord was dawning even in the present, the future messianic age of righteousness breaking into our world. This means that forgiveness, freedom, and participation in the abundant life brought by the Messiah are available now—not only in the hereafter. Jesus also called his followers to a radical standard of holiness, higher than that of the old law (Matthew 5:21-48).Jesus said that we are his disciples if we hold to his teaching, love one another as he loved us, and bear fruit that lasts (John 8:31-32, 13:34-35, 15:16). In another sense the man is the message. Jesus did not only point people to the way (Matthew 7:13-14); he is the way (John 14:6).The theme of the trek to Judea (from Caesarea to Jerusalem) is especially brought out by Luke. Passages read are Luke 9:28-31, 51-57, 10:1, 12:49-50, 13:22, 31-35, 17:11, 18:31-34, 35, 19:1, 11, 28-29, 37, 41-44, 45, 47.Luke 9:23-24 -- we too are called to make the trek from Caesarea to Calvary.To surrender our will, comfort, pride, sins.To persevere through difficult situations (work, family, health, relationships).Perhaps even to die. Of course the comparison by our death and his must not be pressed to far. Other prophets died for their messages, but their deaths did not accomplish deliverance for the people of God. Other men and women of faith take courageous stands, suffering and dying… for their message – not dying for us.ConclusionWe don't know what he looked like – yet we recognize his image in all who are born of God. He left us nothing in writing—and yet he is the Word of God, and through his Spirit the NT was inspired and given to us as a precious gift.What should we do? If we are following Jesus, we mustGrow spiritually (Luke 2:52), and learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:7-10).Emulate the Lord, who was tough physically and emotionally.Strive for schedules that center around people.Recharge by spending time with the Father (the mountain and the market).Follow him to Jerusalem—to Calvary.He told us he is coming back, yet we don’t know when—which means we must strive to live in a state of expectation and preparation. For, as the Lord asked, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b)Further study:A Quick Overview of the Bible: How All of the Pieces Fit Together (Harvest House, 2012)Your Bible Questions Answered (Harvest House, 2011)Compelling Evidence: Finding Truth in an Age of Doubt (Harvest House, 2010)Jesus & Islam (IPI, 2009)"Why God Sent a Son (and not a Daughter)" (Podcast, 2011)Bible trivia: The year zero. The Old Testament prophecies never specified the exact year of Jesus' birth, yet he was most likely born in Bethlehem around 7-5 BC. (Herod the Great, who tried to kill him, died in 4 BC.) This fulfilled the prophecy of Micah 5, many centuries earlier. Our calendar, which was created in the Middle Ages and is based on several chronological errors, has Jesus being born after his true birthday! Keep in mind also that there is no "year zero." B.C. conventionally means "before Christ," but A.D. means "Anno Domini" -- Latin for in the year of our Lord. Jesus began his public ministry when he was "about 30," probably in 27 AD, based on the chronology of Luke 2 and 3. He ministered in an area about 10,000 sq mi, similar in size to the very smallest state of the United States. (In other words, he ministered to a region far smaller than 1% of 1% of the planet -- but what an impact!) As for his death, Jesus was likely crucified in May 30 AD, in his mid-30s."Jesus' Siblings" (Podcast, to be released 3 June 2012)Some things we learn about God:God connects with us in the incarnation: God becomes man.We learn about God's character--and what it means to lead a godly life--when we see Jesus (Matthew 1:23; John 14:9; Colossians 2:9).God wants us to live a life of love, following in the footsteps of his son (1 John 2:6). In following the Lord Jesus Christ, we become like God in living a life of love (Ephesians 5:1-2).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IdentityA common name in the Arab kingdoms of Nabatea and Palmyra. Possibly an Arab slave of Caiaphas?As assistant to the most powerful (Jewish) man in Israel, Malchus occupied a position of respect.Walked at the front of the guards, given his close connection to the high priest.Speculation: M. may have been Caiaphas' "ear" in Jerusalem. (C. would have had many enemies.)May have been the one with whom Judas had made the betrayal arrangements.His relative identified Peter as his attacker (John 18:26).About the attack Attacker and victim are unnamed except for in John's account.Peter have been put in danger if he'd been named as Malchus' assailant. Once Peter had been executed (64-68 AD), naming him would have been a non-issue.If John is the latest of the four gospels (as commonly presumed), then Malchus may have come to faith in Christ later in life.Peter may have been attacking a surrogate.Consider 2 Samuel 10:4 and Matthew 21:35.Malchus would have been more accessible (less heavily guarded) than Caiaphas.What is the significance of the right ear (detail in Luke's and John's accounts)?Insult? Maiming disqualified one for priesthood.Aiming for the head and missed? (Did M. move?)A left-handed attacker? Or was P. attacking from behind?Was M. zealous to see Jesus arrested?He may have mirrored the values of his master, or have been selected for his zealous qualities.See the references in Josephus and the Tosefta below.Jesus' actions demonstrate love for his enemies.ReferencesMark 14:42Matthew 26:51Luke 22:50John 18:10, 26Tosefta Menahath xiii.21 and Josephus Antiquities xx.88, 92: The high priest's servant was noted for his violence.ConclusionThe last person Jesus saved was the thief on the cross; the last person he healed was Malchus.Did M. become a Christian?If he was never converted (and there is no record in church history), then that shows that even a miracle won't cause someone to come to faith and be saved.If he did become a disciple, this would explain the mentioning of his name, then this would have been quite an addition to the gospel story, and esp. to the Passion Narrative.Lessons to learn:Pay attention to the details of the Bible. Even seemingly minor characters may have something to teach us."Put your sword away." Violence achieves nothing.Love your enemy.Accept God's will, drink the cup. Don't rely on human thinking or the arm of flesh to save yourself from the cross.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Birth & marriageWe have information on her over a period of some 36 years.BirthWe know nothing of her family, though there is a tradition that her parents were Joachim and Anne.She was named after Miriam (prophetess, leader, singer, sister of Moses).Birth year around 20 BC.MarriageBetrothed (Luke 2:5) -- nearly as binding as a marriage, though the relationship was not consummated until after the wedding.Probably married between age 12 and 14.ConceptionVirgin birth (Isaiah 7:14).'almah (Hebrew) / parthenos (Greek)But did not remain a virgin (Matthew 1:25), despite later traditions.Poor family"No room in the inn" (Luke 2:7). (The word for inn may also mean upper room.)Firstborn cradled in a food trough.Sacrifice of birds at her purification (Luke 2:24; see Leviticus 12:8).Large and religiously observant family.Had at least 8 children (Matthew 13:55-56).In Jerusalem for the feasts (Luke 2:41).Circumcises Jesus on the 8th day (Luke 2:21).Offers the required sacrifice for birth of firstborn (Luke 2:24).A speculative reconstruction of Mary's life20 BC - born in Bethlehem7 BC - engaged to Joseph7 BC - miraculous conception of Jesus6 BC - birth of Yeshua (Jesus), family moves to Egypt4 BC - Death of Herod the Great; return from Egypt; family relocates to Nazareth3 BC - Birth of Ya‘aqov (James)1 BC - First daughter born2 AD - Yosef (Joseph) born3 AD - second daughter born5 AD - daughter born (lives only a few days)7 AD - Luke 2 visit, when Jesus is 129 AD - third (surviving) daughter born12 AD - Yehudah (Judah) born14 AD - Shimeon (Simon) born20 AD - Joseph dies, Jesus now the male family head and Mary a widow.22 AD - James' first child is born; Mary becomes a grandmother. Many more grandchildren follow.30 AD - Jesus executed 7 April. Mary (now age 49) & the siblings join the apostles in prayer.40 AD - Mary moves away from Palestine, possibly to Ephesus.53 AD - Mary dies, age 72CharacterFaithful: "How will this be?" (Luke 1:34 [cp. 1:18, Zechariah], 1:38ff).Slow to realize identity of her son (Mark 3:20-21). This doesn't mean she was faithless; even faithful people need time to mature, and to reach conclusions esp. where the implications are significant.Controlling (John 2:3-4)? Or too eager? Difficult to tell, given the cultural and chronological gap.Mobile -- travels for census in Judea; to see Elizabeth; to flee Herod to Egypt; to Nazareth; perhaps to Ephesus.How Jesus' death may have affected MaryMary is in her late 40s. She has already suffered great loss (husband, children), though not to a degree unusual for women in Palestine."The scandal (stumbling block) of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:23) has nothing to do with the degree of pain, but the shame of the event. For this execution was normally reserved for slaves, never for Roman citizens (except perhaps those guilty of treason). The shame of crucifixion—if we are seeking a modern stigma as degrading and shameful—might be on a par with registration as a pedophile. Even if the accused were innocent, all would naturally assume they must have done something to deserve the label, nor would they easily lose the stigma. (How would you feel about attending a church where the preacher had been tried for pedophilia?) No wonder the cross was foolishness to Greeks and a stumbling block—scandalous nonsense—to the Jews." -- excerpt from A Quick Overview of the Bible (2012)She continues to build relationships with Jesus' followers (Acts 1:14); she does not pull back.Lessons for us:FaithWhen young and life is (relatively) simple, but alsoWhen things are disappointing, complicated, painful.FlexibilityMobility -- new placesOpen to relationship -- new friends (Joanna, Susanna, Maria Magadalena, the apostles...)Perseverance through hardship (Luke 2:34-35)Suspicion, false accusation / innuendoLoss of husbandProbable loss of infant childrenLoss of firstborn“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” -- Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)MariologyTermsMariolatryMariologyMarianHistorical developments2nd-3rd centuries AD -- increasing premium placed on virginity431 -- declared Mother of God at Council of EphesusAnd again in 449 (Ephesus) and 451 (Chalcedon)She's mentioned 16x in the NT, 32x in the Qur'an (600 years later), but then 1000s of times! -- through images of her (icons, frescoes, reliquaries, etc) and in songs and prayers.533 -- declared a perpetual virgin1050 -- Ave Maria1854 -- Immaculate Conception1950 -- assumption of Mary into heaven (Catholic; Orthodox believe her "dormition" preceded her assumption)Queen of HeavenRevelation 12Jeremiah 7:18, 44:17-19,25.There is thus no biblical basis for later, fanciful understandings of Mary as the Perpetual Virgin, or the Queen of Heaven.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Name, marriage, meansJoanna = "God is gracious"Wife of ChuzaChuza was steward (financial controller) of Herod Antipas, son of the Herod (the Great) who'd tried to dispatch Jesus c.6-4 BC.Herod Antipas reigned 4 BC - 39 AD. He had John the Baptist decapitated, and also was part of the process that condemned Jesus.She may be the Junia of Rom 16:7, if New Testament scholars Ben Witherington and Richard Bauckham are on the right track.Wealthier -- upper class. Many such women were attracted to Christianity, as we read about in Luke-Acts.Scriptures Luke 8:3Luke 24:10Romans 16:7Titus 3:3-5, 2:11-14Impact of Jesus on her life She was set free, either healed of a medical situation or freed from an evil spirit. Either way, her life was transformed by the Lord.She traveled with the apostolic band.Older?"Empty nest"?Became a supporter of the ministry, providinghomes?food?funding?The women of Luke 8:3 were probably flexible because they didn't have to stay home with their children.Joanna chose to put her allowance to good use.She formed friendships with fellow believers. (Recall the comments from the podcast on Mary, the mother of Jesus, who continued to build friendships even later in life.)Thought questionsJoanna was loyal emotionally and even financially, because Jesus had touched her life, and she was grateful. Do I ever forget that I too have been touched by the Lord? That I have been redeemed from a life of uncertainty, darkness, secrecy, sin, anxiety, and alienation? See Titus 2-3.If I am a person of means, how am I using my fortune to advance God's work?The fact that such a person as Joanna was drawn into the ministry tells us something about the Christian faith -- what it is and what it is not. How does the story of Joanna address charges of Christianity being "chauvinistic"?If I am a parent, do I look forward to time when I will be freer to travel for the sake of the ministry?Do I tend to rush past the "minor" characters of the Bible?
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Introduction Jesus and Paul are beyond question the two persons in the NT about whom we know most. Paul wrote 13 of the 27 NT documents (87 chapters, nearly as many as the 89 of the four gospels). But there is a major difference between him and Jesus. Jesus left nothing directly to us in writing. In Paul’s case, we are able to coordinate his missionary activities (in Acts) with his writing and follow-up ministry (the letters). This affords a kind of triangulation; with such perspective the man comes to life.In this podcast we will not be examining the letters of Paul. For that, please see the NT chapter studies…BackgroundPaul was a Jew, though not from Palestine. He was a citizen of Tarsus, capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, modern southern Turkey (Acts 9:11, 21:39, 22:3).Would have grown up speaking Greek, though fluent too in Hebrew, Aramaic, and possibly Latin.He was trained as a rabbi under the distinguished Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).His secular profession was tent-making (Acts 18:3; see also 9:43, 20:34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:1).Paul was also born of the purest Jewish blood, a descendant of the patriarch Benjamin (Philippians 3:5)—at a time when few Jews would have been able to trace their descent, given the confusion of the exiles. He was named after Israel’s first king, Saul.Paul was born a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37, 22:25-28)—when only a minority of those residing within the Roman Empire were given this privilege.He was an intensely focused Pharisee (Acts 22:3, 23:6, 26:5; Galatians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:5. A driven man, Paul claims to have advanced beyond many of his contemporaries (Galatians 1:13-14). Certain that the Christians were dangerous heretics, he hounded them, imprisoned them, tortured and killed them (1 Timothy 1:13; 1 Corinthians 15:9).Sometimes it is asserted that Saul was troubled during his pre-Christian days by his active persecution of the Christians (Acts 7:58, 8:1,3; 9:1; 22:4,20), but he himself insists that he always had a clear conscience (Acts 23:1, 24:16).His training as a Pharisee would have equipped Paul to think long and hard about the relationship of Torah to believers in Christ—appropriate for the one who was divinely appointed to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Galatians 2:8).Chronology Paul was baptized within a few years of the resurrection, between 32 and 34 AD (Acts 9:18, 22;16). This is a deduction from Galatians 2:1. Paul wrote Galatians, his first epistle, in 48 AD, and so 34 AD would be the latest possible date for his second Jerusalem visit.If Paul can call himself an “old man” by the time of Philemon 9 (c.60 AD)—presumably 60 years of age—then he was born by 1 AD. Note: Saul could easily be called a “young man” at the time of Stephen’s martyrdom [Acts 7:58; cp. John 8:57], as he was not yet 40.Phases of his lifePhase I – Pharisaic roots1 BC-AD 1 - Birth in Tarsus13-16 - Trained by Gamaliel in Jerusalem31- Presides over martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8)Phase II – Church planting32 - Baptism in Damascus33-36 - Ministers in Damascus and Arabia; receives further revelation from Jesus Christ in Arabia (Acts 9:19-22, 26:20; Galatians 1:16-18)36 - First Jerusalem visit (Galatians 1:18; Acts 9:26-30)36-45 - Ministers in Syria and Cilicia (Acts 9:30; Galatians 1:21)46 - Second Jerusalem visit (Acts 11:27-30; Galatians 2:1-10), the return to Tarsus47 - Return to Antioch (required by Acts 11:25)48 - First Missionary Journey (Acts 13:1-14:28)49 - Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-35)50 - Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36-18:22)57- Third Missionary Journey (Acts 18:23-21:16)Phase III – Imprisonment56-58- In custody in Caesarea58-60 - Roman imprisonment60 - Released, resumes mission64 - Fire of Rome, many Christians seized and killed. Paul rearrested.67/68 - ExecutionSome things we learn from the life of PaulSincerity does not equate with truth (Romans 9:1-5).Grace has an impact (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).Suffering is the mark of true leadership (2 Corinthians; Galatians 6:17)When we become Christians, we should harness all our energy and momentum and put it in the service of Christ (Galatians 1:13-15; Philippians 3:3-14)Main scriptures in this podcast Pre-Christian past: Galatians 1:13-15 (Acts 22:3, 23:6, 26:5)Philippians 3:3-7Progression in humility: 1 Corinthians 15:9; 2 Corinthians 12:5,10; Ephesians 3:8; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Timothy 1:15-16—passages written about 55, 56, 58, 60, and 63 AD, respectively.Romans 10:21 Corinthians 9:19-222 Corinthians 1:8-9Romans 9:1-51 Corinthians 15:10Galatians 6:17For further thought: A legacy of the Protestant Reformation is the conclusion “Paul is the key to understanding Jesus.” But surely this is backwards; Jesus’ life and teaching form the filter through which we understand Paul, not the other way around. Paul himself would be outraged with this teaching (1 Corinthians 1:13-17). After all he had a brilliant mind—but not in comparison to Jesus. And as passionately as he strove to live a holy life, he admits to frequent failure. Jesus is the key to understanding Paul, which means that the gospels, not Paul, are the entrance point to grasping the message of the NT.Paul was executed under Nero, who himself committed suicide in 68 AD, which is therefore the latest date for Paul’s death. One tradition says he was beheaded—decapitation was the standard form of execution for Roman citizens—at Aquae Salviae, along the Appian Way just outside Rome. Death is imminent when he writes 2 Timothy 4, likely his last letter.Further: A Quick Overview of the Bible: How All the Pieces Fit Together (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 2012), chapter 21.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.The manAntonius Felix reigned 52-60 ADHe was a freedman of the emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) or his mother.His brother was friend of Claudius.Three wivesDrusilla of Mauretania (half-Greek, no issue)Felix divorced her to marry a teenage Judean princess of the same name (53 AD)She died in 79 AD -- more about that in the next podcast. He then remarried again.The politicianWeakness for bribes.Cruelty: murder of a high priest, sent many to Rome for trial, crucified thousands.A compromiser with apparently little conscience or conviction. In several ways he resembled both Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate: the adulation of the crowd and the importance of political connection meant more to him than the truth.Roman historian Tacitus notes not only that Felix was an anti-semite, but also that he "practices every kind of cruelty and lust, wielding the power of a king with all the instincts of a slave" (Annals,12.54).References in the New TestamentActs 23:23-35 -- Paul is sent to FelixActs 24:1-27 -- Paul speaks (repeatedly) before Felix.Also referred to in Acts 25:14.Be sure also to listen to the NT Character Podcast on Drusilla.Lessons for us Positive lesson (?): We can learn from Felix's shrewdness (see Matthew 10:16). Yet this is hardly to his credit.1. Power corrupts (cruelty, bribery, willingness to compromise the truth).2. Leaders mustn't be self-serving -- which is the exact opposite of Christ (always looking for how he could benefit, not caring about others).3. Don't marry for beauty, but for character. Heart is what counts, not looks.4. It's never convenient to give our lives to God, so busy schedules are no excuse for not putting God first. For all, both great and small alike, will one day stand before the Judge and give an account of his life.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.ReferencesActs 24:24Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, xx.7.2.NT Character Podcast on FelixBirthBorn in Rome (?) 38 ADThe youngest of three daughters of Herod Agrippa I (grandson of Herod the Great), who had killed the apostle James (Acts 12).She was apparently quite beautiful.MarriageMarried as a teenager.Accepted an invitation to leave her lawful husband to marry Felix. Felix engaged the services of a Jewish Cypriot magician (similar to the sorcerer of Acts 13?) to persuade her to leave her husband.Thus she ignored the clear teaching of Judaism on marriage.Felix and Drusilla had a son, Marcus Antonius Agrippa, as well as a daughter, Antonia Clementiana.DeathDied 24 August 79 in Pompeii, with the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius.Two famous people died in the eruption: Drusilla and Pliny the elder. (He was a personal friend of the emperor Vespasian)--who died trying to rescue a friend.LessonsCultivate character, not only the outward self.Remain faithful to your spouse.Judgment will eventually overtake us all.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundThe name Andreas (English Andrew) comes from the Greek word for man (aner / andros), and hence appears to mean "manly."He seems to have been more cosmopolitan (broad-minded and Greek) than the other apostles, and thus figures prominently in John's gospel, which has a more universal focus than the three Synoptic Gospels.Apocryphal writings indicate he was from the tribe of Reuben, and that his mother was Joanna, but it is not possible to assign a high degree of credibility to these late sources.From Bethsaida, also the home of Philip (John 1:44). This town has been excavated from 1987, soon afterward identified as the biblical Bethsaida.He was a simple fisherman (Matthew 4:18, Mark 1:16).Andrew was the brother of Peter.MinistryFirst call of the apostles. His appointment as apostle is noted in Matthew 10:2, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14.Mark 13:3 -- wanted to know about the destruction of Jerusalem (private talk). He seems to have had a curious and yet commonsensical mind.John 1:40-42 -- transfers from John the Baptist to Jesus.John 1:41 -- "We have found the Messiah" -- he recruits his brother Peter.John 6:8-9 -- alert, connects the boy with the fish with Jesus.John 12:20-22 -- connects Greeks who met Philip with the Lord.Acts 1:13-14 -- no surprise he is praying with the apostolic band before the day of Pentecost. Yet he is never again mentioned in Acts; the limelight is reserved for his brother Peter, and also for Paul.Preached among the Kurds (according to later tradition).Martyrdom Stoned and crucified in Scythia (according to the Martyrdom of Andrew).The Scythians, mentioned in Colossians 3:11, were to the Greeks and Romans an uncivilized and barbarian people.Andrew's "relics' were discovered a few centuries later. His arm is purported to be in Scotland, of which he is the patron saint. (Viz. the St. Andrew's Cross, representing the type of cross on which he was reported to have been crucified.)For more on his execution, click here. Lessons for usThe Lord can always use an "Andrew" -- someone who introduces others to Jesus Christ.We should be vigilant, aware of our surroundings, and the potentialities in those around us.Faith is intended to be relational, not just an individual. Andrew understood this and allowed God to use him to augment the network of relationships connected with the followers of Christ.Few of us will be in the limelight like Peter and Paul, yet still, we are to be active in our Christian ministry.Let us all serve the Lord to the very end, no matter how painful that end may be.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionIn these NT character podcasts, we have already heard a lesson on the apostles Paul and Andrew. We continue our study with the balance of the better known apostles; the lesser known ones we will cover all together in the final podcast on the apostles.For Catholics he is the majestic prince of the apostles, as a visit to the Vatican will quickly remind one. The Orthodox view is nearer that of the Protestants: although he is a major apostle, he is no pope. Yet Protestants further downgrade Peter, perhaps in overreaction to papal claims. What is the truth about this man?Peter is mentioned nearly 180x in the NT (compared to nearly 300 mentions of Paul/Saul). Yet, though there isn't as much biblical material on him as there is in Paul's case, still Peter is a monumental character, and it would be impossible to sum up his life in a single podcast.He is often mentioned in the Gospels and in Acts 1-12. Then he appears in Acts 15. Paul refers to him in Galatians 2. Peter identifies himself in the salutations of 1 and 2 Peter. Further (speculative) information about Peter, lacking in the Bible, was more than made up for in later tradition!His letters reflect many of Jesus' teachings in the gospels. In addition, one historic event is alluded to -- the Transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-18).Personal The name Petros (English Peter) comes from the Greek word for rock. In Aramaic he was Cephas, pronounced kay-pah (John 1:42; 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:22, 9:5, 15:5; Galatians 1:18, 2:9,11,14). We might call him "Rocky." Since he's the son of Jonah (bar Jonah), a modernized equivalent for his full name would be "Rocky Johnson."Peter hailed from Bethsaida, which was also the home of Philip (John 1:44). This town has been excavated from 1987 on, and was soon afterwards identified as the biblical Bethsaida. What then about his "house" in Capernaum?Peter was a simple fisherman (Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16; Acts 4:13).He was married; in Mark 1:29 his mother-in-law was healed, and in 1 Corinthians 9:5.As for 1-2 Peter, like most ancient writers, Peter employed the services of a scribe. The man who helped him write 1 Peter was Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12), also called Silas. Who assisted Peter with his second letter, we do not know. MinistryIntroduction to Jesus"We have found the Messiah" -- recruited by his brother Andrew (John 1:41).He was first called of the apostles, and this appointment is recorded in Matthew 10:2, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14.Phase I: Training with the Twelve (Matthew 4-Acts 1), 27-30 ADPhase II: Twelve Years of Church Ministry (Acts 2-12), 30-42 ADPhase III: Later ministry (Acts 15, 1-2 Peter, later traditions), 49-64 ADConnection with Mark. 1 Peter 5:13 -- He is now in Rome (represented by the code-word "Babylon"), and close to Mark, who Papias says recorded Peter's words: "Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took special care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements. -- Eusebius, Church HistoryPreeminence?"For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Savior, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just as overseer of Jerusalem." -- Clement of Alexandria, c.190 AD.Papacy -- Orthodox do not recognize Peter as having been over the church at Jerusalem.Evidence of Acts 15.Spheres of influence -- see 2 Corinthians 10:16, Galatians 2:8.Snapshots Matthew 16:21-24 -- misunderstanding the call to follow Christ.Matthew 26:51-54 (see John 18:10, and hear the podcast on Malchus) -- Peter is rebuked for using force to prevent harm coming to Jesus.John 21:15-22 -- challenged to love Jesus above all, and without comparing his situation to those of other disciples.Acts 10:1-11:18 -- challenged to rethink the old law, in full acceptance of Gentiles as fellow believers.Galatians 2:11-14 -- challenged by Paul not to vacillate on this important principle. (2 Peter 3:15-16 -- continued respect for Paul.)1 Peter 5:1 -- a fellow elder and witness of Christ's sufferings. Peter had walked with the Lord a long time, received many corrections, and learned a lot about leadership by the time he was in his 60s.Martyrdom "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18-19). Crucified upside-down in Rome (Acts of Peter). Josephus comments that Roman soldiers used to amuse themselves by crucifying persons in various positions.Passages and sources mentionedMatthew-John; Acts 1:14, 10:1-11:18; Galatians 2:8, 1 Peter 1:1, 5:1,13; 2 Peter 1:1, 3:15-16.Apocryphal works: Acts of Peter, Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, Judgment of PeterEusebius, Church History, Book 3, Chapter 39.15-16.You might also want to read the 9 lessons on 1-2 Peter in the NT Studies series (this website).Lessons for usMoral lesson 1: Think before you speak.Moral lesson 2: Be humble. God isn't limited to doing great things in your life only when you are "top dog."Life observation 1: People change, especially when they follow Jesus long enough.Life observation 2: The Christian journey is full of corrections. We need get good at accepting criticism from others (in humility).Life observation 3: Better step out in faith and be corrected than hold back in timidity. Growth comes through daring to act.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionJames, in its various forms (Jacob, Jacques, Diego, Jaime, Jack), is a common name.He was the brother of John. Jesus thus called at least two sets of brothers. With only one exception in the NT, he is always named before his brother John. This suggests he was older, or else preeminent. Perhaps his preeminence and outspokenness (Mark 10) led to his being martyred first?He was a fisherman, along with his brother and their father, Zebedee. The family of Zebedee was in partnership with the family of Andrew and Peter.His mother may be Salome (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40). If so, this makes James and John maternal cousins of Jesus.Jesus called James and John Boanerges, Aramaic for "Son of thunder." Why this nickname? Personality? Booming voices? Fiery personality (Luke 9:54)?Mentioned in Matthew 4:21, 10:2, 17:21, 20:20, 26:37; Mark 1:19,29, 3:17, 5:37, 9:2, 10:35,41, 13:3, 14:33; Luke 5:10, 6:14, 8:51, 9:28,54; John 21:2. Never explicitly named in John.He was not the first Christian martyr. His death falls between those of Stephen (30s) and Peter and Paul (60s).Scripture studyJames was in "the inner circle" (Mark 5:37, 9:2, 13:3, 14:33).At that time he sought position (Mark 10:32-45 ).If he wanted to "drink the cup," he certainly got his wish. Acts 1:13, 12:1-3 are the fulfillment of Mark 10.Bible trivia: 7 decapitations Goliath (1 Samuel 17:46,51)Saul (1 Samuel 31:9)Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:7)Sheba (2 Samuel 20:22)John the Baptist (Matthew 14:10; Mark 6:16,27; Luke 9:9)The martyrs of Revelation 20:4The statue of the Philistine god Dagon (1 Samuel 5:4).Lessons:It's not about being in the inner circle, but about service.High profile leaders are more subject to attack.Sometimes the Lord takes us away early.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.FamilyBrothers of James and son of Zebedee.For further details, see notes accompanying the James podcast.MinistryTraining with Jesus. Focus: Luke 9:46-55 (John's lack of humility and love towards outsiders).Preaching with Peter Acts 3-5). Focus: Acts 4:13,19-20 (powerful preaching, significant knowledge of God and his word). Uneducated, yet courageous.Later he is described as a pillar in the Jerusalem church (Galatians 2:9).Later life (traditional, uncertain)Ephesus (Asia Minor): home, ministry, Mary.Taught Polycarp of Smyrna, who in turn taught Irenaeus (late 100s).DeathTraditionally he died a peaceful death. In contrast, at least 7 of the apostles died a martyr's death.John 19:26ff -- assuming he is "the disciple whom Jesus loved" -- suggests he was one of the last to die.If so, he and his brother James bracket the apostles: James being the first to die, John being the last.MiscellaneousThe Isle of Patmos, a few hours by boat off the west coast of Turkey, belongs to Greece. It is a beautiful place, and much larger than I'd ever imagined. Still, the loneliness of exile must have been bittersweet for John the Revelator.As for Da Vinci's Last Supper mural painting, the beardless figure beside Jesus is not a woman (Mary Magdalene, according to Dan Brown of Da Vinci Code fame). It was conventional in the Renaissance to depict young men without beards, thus accentuating their boyishness.WritingsAnonymity of authorship, except for Revelation 1:4.Strength of position for traditional authorship of the 5 Johannine writings.Lesson for you and me:The apostle of love reminds us of an urgent need: love for insiders (zealous fraternal loyalty) and for outsiders (the mission of Christ).People change. The "son of thunder" in time became known as "the apostle of love."Stay faithful to the very end, whenever that comes.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroJudas is hardly the first traitor in the Bible. (For example, consider Joseph's brothers, Doeg, Absalom, and Ziba.)One of the closest parallels is Joab's betrayal (with a kiss) of Amasa (2 Samuel 20:1-13).Yet Judas is the most significant traitor in scripture.Name Named after Judah, patriarch of the tribe of Jesus.Or he may have been named in honor of Judas Maccabee (the political revolutionary of the 2nd century BC).There were two Judases (Judahs) in the apostolic band: Judas Iscariot and Judas son of James (Thaddaeus).On the meaning of "Iscariot"Man of Kerioth ('ish-Kerioth)?Corruption of sicarius (dagger-man)?No other apostle is given an epithet based on his place of origin, unless Simon the Zealot is Simon the Canaanite (or man of Cana) is right (as in a minority of manuscripts). If the latter option is correct, then along with Simon the Zealot, Judas was one of the two most political members of the apostolic band.Judas is mentioned about 50x in the NT.Since his defection, Christians seldom name their children Judas (or Adolf, Genghis, or Jezebel).Short ministry careerMatthew 10:4 -- appointed apostleServed as apostolic treasurer, a position not usually given to those who are greedy or irresponsible.John 6:70-71 -- Jesus knew Judah would become a traitor, though this in no way forced him to go down that path.John 12:4 -- critical of the woman for anointing Jesus.John 12:6 -- not sincere, but was helping himself to the money bag. Little sins take a cumulative toll on our character, and our outlook on life.Luke 22:3 -- Satan "entered" him (suggests free will, and then end of a process by which Judas became corrupt).Matthew 26:14 -- makes a deal with the priests for the capture of Jesus.John 13 -- His treachery went unnoticed at the Supper / foot-washing (no favoritism). And yet Jesus does not exaggerate his friendship with Judas (John 15 -- Judas absent when the Lord called his apostles friends; Jesus wasn't insincerely pretending everything was okay).Gethsemane -- Even in the arrest (Jesus indicated by Judas' kiss), the Lord loved him to the end. Jesus was not vindictive.Matthew 27:3 -- regret (yet woe to him [26:24]: better if he'd never been born).Acts 1:16-26 -- His defection fulfilled the prophetic scheme of things.Exaggerated description (Papias, 2nd C).Judas walked about as a great example of ungodliness in this world. His flesh was so swollen, that when a wagon was passing through the street he was unable to pass through; there was only enough room for his head. The eyelids over his eyes, it is said, protruded so much, that he did not see light, and that a doctor could not make his eyes visible with optical instruments. To such an extent was the light shut out from outside. His genitals of indecency were more disgusting and yet too small to be seen. There oozed out from his whole bursting body both fluids and worms. After much suffering and agony, it is said that he died in his own place. And this place is out of the way and the piece of land is uninhabited until now. No one even to this day passes by the place without stopping up his nose with his hands. Such was the opinion spread about the country concerning his body.Further demonized by Dante (1265-1321), placed in the innermost circle of the 9th circle of hell ("treachery"): His head is perpetually gnawed by Satan's mouth, and his back forever skinned by Satan's claws. Also tortured in a mouth of Satan (who is pictured as having three heads and three mouths) are Brutus and Cassius.Judas in Psalms 41:9: "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me."55:12-14 -- It's hard to take it from a friend!109:4ff -- Another would take his place of leadership.These scriptures show that not only the early church, but also Jesus, saw in Judas the fulfillment of some of the darkest scriptures in all the Psalms.Three possible motivesMoney? (Unlikely--the sum is too small.)To force Jesus' hand? The betrayal takes place only after it has become crystal clear that Jesus did not intend to lead a political revolution. Judas may have truly loved his country but failed to distinguish the nature of the kingdom, that it is spiritual, not earthly.Or possibly he lost faith--no longer believed Jesus was the messiah and therefore deserved to be executed.The Petrine parallelBoth Peter and Judas betrayed (denied) their lord.Both felt bad.But admitted wrongdoing.Yet only one repented.ConclusionWe are all tempted from time to time to sell out our Lord, perhaps to protect our own skin, perhaps in a moment of deep disappointment or confusion. Temptation can get the better of all of us. In such times, remember this vital lesson: be a Peter, not a Judas.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.NameJudas ThomasTransliteration of Aramaic te'oma' (Hebrew te'om), Greek didymosThese words mean "twin"The twin of Matthew (they are often mentioned together)?The twin of Jesus (Gnostic idea)? Highly doubtful.ApostleshipMatthew 10:3; Mark 3:38; Luke 6:15; John 11:16, 14:5, 20:24-29, 21:2 ; Acts 1:13.Known for doubt, yet courage is a more predominant characteristic: willingness to die (11:6).His wanting to know the way (John 14:5) triggers Jesus' famous response one verse later (John 14:6).John 20 -- insistence on evidenceA look at Thomas from John's gospelJohn 11:16 (see v.8; 12:14-26)20:24-29; 14:521:2Later traditionAccording to Indian Christian tradition (esp. in the apocryphal Acts of Thomas), lots were cast. At first Thomas refused India, but later changed his mind.Trade routes (overland and maritime were open), and there were Jewish communities all over India, so there is no reason to reject the tradition.Thomas worked his way from North India to South India, beginning in 52 AD.He appointed overseers in these newly established churches.Several generations later, the Church of the East joins with the Thomite Christians (Mar Thomite). Marco Polo (late 1200s) came across the Thomite sect.He was ultimately executed in Chennai (Madras), according to third and fourth century sources. The traditional site is St. Thomas Mount, where the apostle is alleged to have been speared in 72 AD. Rubens "Martyrdom of Thomas"Writings falsely attributed to ThomasThe Gospel of Thomas. (Click for my take on this late 2nd-century document.) "Let none read the gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work, not of one of the twelve apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples." -- Cyril of Jerusalem, Cathechesis V (4th C.)Infancy Gospel of Thomas -- miraculous events in Jesus' childhood.Acts of ThomasConclusion: 3 attributes of Thomas worth emulating Display of courageInsistence on evidence (natural curiosity?)Evangelistic conviction
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Home, name, ministryLived in Bethsaida (also the home town of Peter and Andrew).Likely a former disciple of John the Baptist.Listed fifth among the apostles.Named after father of Alexander the Great, Philip II of Macedon. His name means "horse-lover." Another piece of trivia: a philippic is any speech or discourse of bitter denunciation. Origin of the term: Athenian orator Demosthenes delivered orations against Philip of Macedon (4th century BC).Not the same individual as Philip the Evangelist (Acts 6:5, 8:5ff, 21:8). There is another Philip in the N.T., Philip the Tetrarch (Luke 3:1; Mark 6:17), one of the sons of Herod the Great.Greek-speaking.Matthew 10:3, 14:3; Mark 3:18, 6:17; Luke 6:14; John 1:43-44, 6:5-7, 12:21-23, 14:8-9; Acts 1:13.Glimpses of PhilipObeys Jesus' call to follow, and then introduces Nathanael to Jesus (John 1:43-46). When questioned, his reply was "Come and see."Sensible assessment of the hungry crowd (John 6:5-7). Yet he sees the problem before he sees (by faith) the solution. Introduces some Greeks to Jesus (John 12:21-23) -- natural, given his own Hellenic background.Wants to see the Father, not quite realizing that whoever has seen the Son has seen the Father (John 14:5-9).What kind of person was he?Level-headedA people-person, possibly a networkerSpiritually thirsty yet sometimes missing the obvious (I think I'm not being unfair with this comment)Tomb discoveryPhilip's tomb identified in Hierapolis, 2011. Read the Fox news article.He died somewhere between 80 and 90 AD.Note, however, the Roman Catholic claim that his body was acquired from Hierapolis by Pope John III (560-572 AD) and interred in a church in Rome. Further traditionsTradition and legend place him in Greece, Syria, Phrygia, and Hierapolis.He was sometimes confused with Philip the Evangelist.The Gospel of Philip (a Gnostic next from Nag Hammadi, discovered 1945)The Acts of Philip (4th C?)Two execution traditions: beheading and crucifixion upside down.What we learn from PhilipHe is willing to follow Jesus.Though he may not initially understand, he sticks around and gets the answer.He realizes the answer lies not in himself, but in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5).Accordingly, he is happy to introduce others to Jesus.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.This lesson covers the final 5 apostles -- previous podcasts covered the first 7 plus Paul. Note: While we covered Judas Iscariot, we did not discuss Matthias (Acts 1:13,26), who was Judas' replacement. Click here for more on this somewhat obscure addition to the apostolic band. 1. Matthew (Levi)Matthew is mentioned in Matthew 9:9 and 10:3, and comes from Capernaum. His other name is Levi, son of Alpheus (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27). Matthew collected taxes for Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. He may have been despised as a collaborator, but his willingness to follow Christ shows his heart was good. As a tax collector he would have been literate in both Aramaic and Greek, in addition to being good with numbers. We actually know more about Zacchaeus (Luke 19), another tax collector in the first century.2. Bartholomew (Nathanael)In the synoptic gospels, Philip and Bartholomew are mentioned together; in John, it's Philip and Nathanael. Thus we can equate Bartholomew with Nathanael. We encounter this direct and honest man in John 1:43-51, 21:2. Despite his initial skepticism, he quickly came to faith once he began to interact with Jesus.3. Simon the ZealotSome ancient church fathers thought he was Simon the Canaanite (Hebrew qana' = be zealous). We find him in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13, though little is known about him. If "zealot" was not a description of his personality or Christian commitment, then perhaps he was part of the first-century extreme political faction, the Zealots.4. James the Younger (James son of Alphaeus)This apostle was son of the other Mary, wife of Clopas (Cleopas). There is little information on this man5. Thaddaeus (the other Judas)Thaddaeus was Lebbaeus, in some manuscripts of Matthew 10:3. He was also called Judas son of James (John 14:22), known as St. Jude by the Catholics. He preached in Syria, launching the Christian movement east of Palestine, which led to the Church of the East. This Christian movement evangelized Syria, Persia, China, Mongolia, and other lands. It was a persecuted people, for the Church of the East never became political, or a state church. Eusebius (church historian at the court of Constantine, early 4th century AD), wrote "Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, under divine impulse sent Thaddeus, who was also numbered among the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa, as a preacher and evangelist of the teaching of Christ" (Church History I, xiii), Thaddaeus was martyred about 65 AD. Some things we learn from these 5 apostles Be willing to take the gospel into all the world; either "go and grow," or "stay and pay."There is a high price to be paid for leadership.Be careful not to judge people for their former political associations.Authenticity -- from Nathanael (Bartholomew) -- doesn't mean one has to remain a skeptic, or take forever to make a decision of faith.Apostles and MartyrdomHippolytus, a disciple of Irenaeus (2nd/3rd century AD), provides information about the deaths of the apostles, and may contain some true history. These stories should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. The 8 apostles Hippolytus says were martyred are marked with the sign +.+Peter -- preached in Asia Minor and Italy, crucified upside down in Rome+Andrew -- preached to Scythians and Thracians, then crucified on an olive tree in AchaiaJohn -- banished to Patmos, dying in the time of Trajan (emperor 98-117)+James -- beheaded by Herod the Tetrarch in Judea (Acts 12)+Philip -- preached in Phrygia, crucified upside-down in Hierapolis+Bartholomew -- preached to Indians, and crucified upside-down, and buried in ArmeniaMatthew -- died in Parthia+Thomas -- preached to Medes, Parthians, Persians, and others, speared to death with a spear of pine wood in India+James son of Alphaeus -- stoned to death while preaching in JerusalemJude (also called Lebbaeus) -- preached in Syria and MesopotamiaSimon the Zealot (also called Jude) -- died in JerusalemMatthias -- died in Jerusalem+Paul -- beheaded in Rome
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Introduction: Women and JesusHe never belittles them.He interacts with them in all purity and respect.He notices them -- viewing them as subjects (persons) and not objects. They are neither sex objects nor servants nor "extras" on the set. They are precious to the Lord, and so should they be to us.He was willing to drink from the (ritually unclean) vessel of a Samaritan.He treats them as equals in the area of discipleship. This rabbi "talks theology" with her!Text: John 4:4-42Other scriptures referred to:John 8:48Genesis 29:10Jeremiah 2:13Zechariah 14:8Revelation 22:1Joshua 8:33Deuteronomy 16:16John 1:41, 12:21The woman's dawning realization of who Jesus isA Jew (4:9) -- a stranger, a man"Sir" (4:11)"Prophet" (4:19)"Messiah" (4:25-26)What we learn from this womanDon't write certain people off.Many social distinctions divide; in Christ God brings together.A broken, "damaged" person can still be transformed through the presence of Christ.Sometimes the outsider is the hero of the story.When you truly believe you have good news, you share it.God truly loves all people.FurtherThe origin of the Samaritans dates to the 8th century BC (2 Kings 17), to the time of the the Assyrian invasion and captivity."Samaritan women were judged to bear the ritual uncleanness of the menstruant from their day of birth (mNidd. 4.1; tNidd. 5.1)." Cited in Tai Ilan, Jewish Women in Greco-Roman Palestine (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 1995), 103."Talk not much with womankind," said Yose b. Yohanan of Jerusalem (mAbot 1.5).In Eastern Orthodox tradition, this woman is known as Photine (Greek for "luminous [woman]" from phos, light).Despite the openness of Jesus towards women as seen in this story, some readers still criticize Christ and Christianity for being misogynist. After all, it is protested, there were no women among apostles. And yet the 12 apostles are clearly modeled on the 12 patriarchs (all male). To remain above suspicion, the inner circle of the traveling band, who even slept together, had to be male. It appears there were no Judeans or Samaritans among the apostles, yet we know the Lord's heart on the matter.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundNicodemus is a Greek name, and means "people's victory."He was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin.Generally speaking, Israel's 6000 Pharisees were highly respected.Nicodemus should have been familiar with the concept of new birth and its connection with water (from the Torah, from the passages about the Messianic age in the major and minor prophets, and from the message of John the Baptist).Scriptural studyJohn 3:1ff (It isn't clear where the conversation actually ends.)John 7:45-52John 19:38-42The trajectory is positive, but the outcome is unclear.In legend, Nicodemus goes on to become a "saint." Yet the truth of the matter is far from clear.As in our own lives, the story is still being written.FurtherThe Jewish Encyclopedia has theorized that Nicodemus is identical to Nicodemus ben Gurion, mentioned in the Talmud as a wealthy holy man reputed to have had miraculous powers.Catholic / Orthodox tradition holds that Nicodemus was martyred sometime in the first century. Accordingly, Nicodemus is venerated as a saint.The apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus was produced the mid-fourth century. It is only a retooling of the earlier Acts of Pilate. Neither, of course, is authentic.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.The mystery of Barabbas' nameOriginal pronunciation: Barabbás (accent on last syllable)Bar is Aramaic for son, and is found in names like Bartholomew, Bar-Jonah, Bartimaeus, Barsabbas, BarnabasMeaning of BarabbasTraditional view: this was the son of AbbasAnother possibility: Bar-rabban (son of the rabbi)Either way, he must have had a first name; he was more than merely "son of Abbas" or "son of the rabbi."Another Jesus?Some late manuscripts (see Matthew 27:16-17) supply a first name: Jesus. Pilate then would have been asking which Jesus he should release.Jesuses in the Bible: Joshua, son of Nun; Jesus son of Sirach (Apocrypha); one of Jesus' ancestors (Luke 3:29); Jesus called Justus (Colossians 4:11); Jesus of Nazareth... the early church may have known as many as 12 men named Jesus.Note: Jesus was a common name in the first century AD.The political situationHigh tension. The Roman occupation had begun in 63 BC. Discontent will boil over in the revolution of 66-73 AD. By 70 AD, however, both Jerusalem and her stunning temple would lie in ruins.Zealots dissatisfied with the Roman occupation longed for autonomy, and were willing to result to violence to achieve their ends.Might persons like Barabbas have been heroic figures for some of the Jews?Yet would the Romans really release such a (presumably dangerous) man? This is exactly what another Roman governor did in 85 AD, so the Barabbas account appears historical.Barabbas: crime & punishment Matthew 27 - notorious prisonerMark 15 - murdererLuke 23 - murdererJohn 18 - robberActs 3:14 - murdererThe Romans would have crucified Barabbas. This was a common punishment for rebels and political criminals.Scriptural studyMatthew 27:16-17Mark 15:6-15ApplicationWe relate. We know guilt.We know the shame of saying "Never again," only to backslide. We know the destructive power of anger, what it is to be impulsive, how far we sometimes go to get our own way.Barabbas was robber, rioter, murderer.Yet haven't we too robbed the Lord of his time, his money, his honor? We have treated as our own what truly belongs to him.We have rioted in our hearts, our innards a seething sea of attitudinal, chaotic, self-focused feeling.As for murder, collectively we share the guilt for the crucifixion of our Lord.A substitution has taken place!"He paid a debt he did not owe / I owed a debt I could not pay / I needed someone to take my sins away…”Human substitutions are rejected (Moses, Exodus 32:32; Paul, Romans 9:3). But a divine substitution? See Psalm 49! (And be sure to follow up this lesson with the Ransom podcast.)Conclusion: Who goes free?"Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:17)Shall the guilty be released and the innocent suffer? Yes. The innocent is willed by God to suffer, and the guilty walk free. "Go in peace," they said in former times.We are all Barabbas!With all of this in mind, let’s live a life worthy of our Lord: grateful, making the most of our new lease on life!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundMartha (Aramaic) means something like "the lady." It comes from the masculine form for master, mar.Miriam, named after the sister of Moses, usually Mary in English, comes from the Hebrew for "bitter."Catholic tradition equates Mary with Mary of Magdala (Mary Magdalene), while in Orthodox and Protestant traditions these are two separate persons. In John 12:1-7 and Luke 7:36-50, the anointing is of the feet, not the head, as in the older source Mark 14:3-9 (appearing also in Matthew 26:6-13 and Luke 7:36-51); one Bethany home belongs to Simon the Pharisee (and leper), the other to the home of Martha; and so scholars cannot easily confirm that the anointings represent separate events. This is not easy to decide.The sisters may have been born into wealth. Notice the spare room for guests, the family vault, and the expensive perfume.Martha is usually mentioned first, suggesting that she was the older of the sisters. Though it doesn't seem possible to prove this, her being the firstborn is more consistent with her display of personality in the gospel accounts.They lived with their brother, Lazarus. (Is it more than coincidence that the figure in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus [Luke 16:19-31] is also named Lazarus?) No mention is made of children or aged parents, though of course the silence does not rule out their presence.Martha & Martha Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-12:8Mary sat at Jesus' feet, even as Saul of Tarsus sat at Gamaliel's feet (Acts 22:3). The purpose was presumably not only to learn, but also (in turn) to teach. This is revolutionary. See note ** below.Contrasting charactershigher-strung / lower-strungmore task-oriented / more relationalmore controlling /more acceptingstanding and serving / seated and learning and waitingleader / followerApplicationPeople are wired differently, whether due to nature or nurture, genetics or family of origin, social conditioning, or other factors. Personality differences are not condemned in the Bible. There's always room to improve, and to the extent that we fall short of the character of Christ, we should never become complacent about "who we are." Still, contentment (when accompanied by godliness) is a positive thing, and highly desirable (1 Timothy 6:6).Even in a single family, personalities differ significantly. Everyone interacts with Jesus Christ in his or her own way. We shouldn't try to force everyone to respond the same way. Genuine commitment may manifest differently in different people.Jesus Christ, as busy as he was, made time for relationships. It is clear that this family held a special place in his heart. Notice also that among his friends he counted not only men, but also women. Of course he comported himself with propriety at all times, but the requirements of holiness and dignity did not dictate that he hold aloof from those with whom he had no immediate "ministry business."Life can be burdensome and distracting, and it's all too easy to focus too much on all the duties and chores. Every day let us take time to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn. May we all strive to have a "Mary heart" in a "Martha world." (There's a book about that!)Further study: See this Q&A.Next podcast: Lazarus. ** "[Mary] is ‘sitting at his feet’; a phrase which doesn’t mean what it would mean today, the adoring student gazing up in admiration and love at the wonderful teacher. As is clear from the use of the phrase elsewhere in the NT (for instance, Paul with Gamaliel), to sit at the teacher’s feet is a way of saying you are being a student, picking up the teacher’s wisdom and learning; and in that very practical world you wouldn’t do this just for the sake of informing your own mind and heart, but in order to be a teacher, a rabbi, yourself. Like much in the gospels, this story is left cryptic as far as we at least are concerned, but I doubt if any first-century reader would have missed the point.“ -- N.T. Wright, "Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis," St John’s College, Durham, England (September 4, 2004).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundIf you haven't listened to the podcast on Mary & Martha, it might be good to listen to that one before this lesson on Lazarus, as they're integrally related.He lives in Bethany (2 miles from Jerusalem), with his sisters; apparently there are no parents or children living in the home, but this surmise can never be proven.His name, Greek, comes from the Hebrew Eleazar, which means something like "God is my help." (The help the rich man in Luke 16 would not give to Lazarus was lavished on him by the Lord, while the rich man's fortunes were completely reversed. Parable inspiration?)As for Lazarus' character, nothing is known for sure. Yet we can rightly expect that, in terms of personality, there would have been a family resemblance. His sisters were faithful, devoted, giving, and "real." It isn't hard to imagine that Lazarus was a winsome individual; and as a fellow male, Jesus would easily have connected with him.Scriptures read in this podcast:John 11:1,3-4,5-6,11-15,17,33-37,38-41,43-44,45-46John 12:1-2, 9-11, 17-19John 13:23Ephesians 2:1-6Five facts about Lazarus' life The dead man walks out of the tomb (John 11:44).Many come to faith as a result (11:45).The notoriety this miracle accelerates the collision-course Jesus and the religious establishment are on.Why was Jesus so deeply moved at this time? His emotion suggests his humanity (an emphasis in John), though (surely) also his divinity.Was Jesus angry? Find out.Did Jesus wait the extra days to prove beyond all doubt that Lazarus was dead? Is it true that the Jews believed the soul hovered around the body for three days after death? According to later Jewish belief, yes; check out this link or that one. And yet it is uncertain that this view was current in the first century.At dinner, he reclines with Jesus (John 12:2).This is a special dinner, hosted at the Bethany home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.At ancient meals, people lay around the table on couches (on their left elbow) and ate with their right hand.After his resuscitation, Lazarus becomes, like Jesus, a target (John 12:9-11,17-19).The impact of the miracle is mixed.Some are moved to faith, others are moved to resistance. So it is with our lives!Then Lazarus disappears (or does he? -- see below).He was deeply loved by Jesus (John 11:3,5,11,36). While the Lord loves everyone, not all relationships are the same. This is not a general love, but a very specific one: love for a person as a genuine friend.An intriguing possibilityAbout the disciple Jesus loved, see John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7,20.Note: The Twelve are referred to in chapters 6 and 20, though the apostle John is never designated by name. The closest we come is "son of Zebedee" (21:2)."The disciple whom Jesus loved" makes his appearance at the very point that Lazarus "disappears." Consider the suggestion of N.T. scholar Ben Witherington III. Click here.ApplicationJohn 11:6 -- God loves us, yet still he allows tough things to happen to us. We should never doubt his love, or the relief that will eventually come.When God does great things through us, there will be some who are acutely uncomfortable. (Those among whom the Lord is not doing great things? Those whose influence or reputations is diminished.)We were dead in our sins before we knew Christ (Ephesians 2:1-6). We could no more have raised ourselves up than Lazarus could have brought himself back to life. We are wholly dependent on Christ.God's love for us isn't just platonic, or abstract. The Bible gives every appearance that God feels--that he cares.We should pay attention even to the minor characters in the Bible. Although there may be no character development, still there may be things to learn about God (theology).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundThe name derives from the name of the sun-god of the ancient Greeks (and Romans), Apollo.He was an Egyptian, and more specifically an Alexandrian.Alexandria was the intellectual capital of Egypt, Africa, and perhaps the entire Mediterranean world at the time. Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, it became the capital of Egypt for a millennium, until the Muslims took over in the 7th century.Like the majority of leaders in the first generation of Christianity, Apollos was a Jew.After he linked up with Priscilla and Aquila, he became a ministry associate of the apostle Paul.Scriptural studyActs 18:24-19:11 Corinthians 1:12, 3:4-6,22, 4:6, 16:12Titus 3:13QuestionsQ1: Who had taught Apollos?Q2: As he was "fervent in spirit/Spirit," did he possess the Holy Spirit when Priscilla and Aquila first reached out to him?Q3: Who taught him the second time, and what (if anything) does this say about women teaching?Q4: Was Apollos baptized again?Q5: What is the connection between Apollos and other followers of John the Baptist (Acts 19)? It appears he had been taught correctly, yet they had not.Q6: What scriptures did he use to prove Jesus was the Christ?Q7: Are we willing to be corrected where our doctrine is incomplete?Q8: Do we appreciate the value of evidences, not only for those who lack faith, but also for those who already believe? With respect to why young people overwhelmingly reject the faith they grew up with, read the results of the important Barna poll.Q9: In expressing my preferences for leaders / leadership styles, am I more a unifying force in the local church, or a dividing influence?Q10: Do I lead in such a way that others rally behind me and withdraw support from others to whom they owe allegiance and respect? Or am I a team player?Q11: Do I feel at liberty to make my own decisions?Q12: If I am a leader, do I allow others the liberty of making their own decisions? Or am I so forceful that they feel they cannot say no?ConclusionWe need more Apolloses!Apollos should be an upward call. Yet if we only say, "He was an exception," we let ourselves off the hook for our own responsibility to (1) know the scriptures, (2) engage with others, and ultimately (3) allow the Lord to use us as he sees fit. FurtherTradition: Lutherans and others consider him to be a saint.Jerome (Hieronymus) of Bethlehem, c.400 AD, said that Apollos was so dissatisfied with the division at Corinth that he retired to Crete with Zenas, a doctor of the law; and once the schism was eliminated by the influence of 1 Corinthians, Apollos returned there and became its bishop. But such a perspective reflects the church polity of the subapostolic age (2nd century onward), not the apostolic age, when "bishops" did not exist in the singular; a body of overseers [episkopoi, bishops] led the local churches.Martin Luther and various modern scholars propose that Apollos is the (anonymous) author of the epistle to the Hebrews.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundThere are at least 8 Simons in the Bible, not to mention several men named Simeon (a related name).Simon received the epithet Magus, which means magician / sorcerer. Technically speaking, a magus (pl. magi) was a Zoroastrian astrologer. Whether or not this was Simon's religious background, he did make certain claims to esoteric knowledge / power, and thus could be considered a magician or sorcerer. For more on the Magi, refer to the upcoming podcast.He is presumably a Samaritan, although it is possible he was a Jew operating in Samaria.The fact that Samaritans were heterodox in their doctrine, and perhaps thought to be gullible, enhances the power of their conversion. And so, barrier by barrier, the walls come tumblin' down...The gospel is in its second phase of expansion, penetrating Judea and Samaria (Acts 1:8)Scriptural study (I was reading from the NASB.) Acts 8:4-24 is the only text where Simon the Sorcerer makes an appearance.This man is fascinated with the dramatic and the impressive.One is reminded of both Pharaoh's magicians (Exodus 7:11) and Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:21-23)Simon seems to have been genuinely converted.When he realizes the apostles' hands in some way imparted something miraculous to his former fans, he covets such power. (Note: something supernatural had taken place. At each of four major moments in salvation history [Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19] the Holy Spirit makes a point as the gospel moves into new territories/situations. For more, please read The Spirit.)We may quickly lean towards doubting Simon's conversion, yet there is evidence it was genuine. (It's probably a moot point.)The incident reminds us of Jeremiah 34:12-16.There (as God admits) the people had repented, but later changed their minds.We should be wary of defining repentance so strictly that no wavering is possible, or that people are tempted to hide their failings or doubts for fear of being deemed inauthentic. (See 1 Kings 21:29.)Although before his baptism, as soon afterward, Simon preferred impressing people over fearing God, he responds humbly (it must be admitted) when rebuked by the apostle Peter.The solution in such cases is not severe discipline (though the apostolic rebuke was severe), norrebaptism (there is no thought of that in this passage), butrepentance. Revelation 3:19 is instructive: when Christians lose their way, lose their fire, lose their purity of motive, the answer is always repentance--and thus resumption of fellowship with their Lord.MiscellaneousLearn about the sin of simony, the sale of clerical office. This perverse practice was current in the Middle Ages.You might also want to explore the parallels between Simon the Sorcerer and Jannes and Jambres, the magicians of Pharaoh (and to whom a pseudepigraphal work was attributed). All three had reached impressive levels in their ability to wow the crowds. Or make a list of figures in the Bible who failed to give glory to God.Later traditions about a show-down between Peter and Simon Magus appear in polemical texts among various patristic writers (Epiphanius, Hippolytus, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr), and also in apocryphal documents like The Acts of Peter (late 2nd century).LessonsStay away from sorcery, which we are warned about in both testaments (2 Kings 9:22; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 47:9,12; Micah 5:12; Galatians 5:20; Revelation 9:21, 18:23). On the other hand, there is a difference between black magic and innocent fantasy. For more, please weigh my comments in my podcast on Harry Potter.Not so quick to judge people's repentance. (Rebaptism isn't all it's cracked up to be.)Beware the sensational. Sensational doesn't equate to spiritual. Am I moved by hype and glitz, or by heart and truth? Do I consciously or even unconsciously hope to impress others by my story (Colossians 2:18-19)?Simon's problem wasn't that he was too deep (profound or esoteric), but that he was shallow. He was concerned with the appearances of things. Yet deep spirituality is rooted in a Christ-like character, purified by suffering, evidenced in perseverance through loving ministry.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundFamily of 10 or more:Parents: Yosef, Maria[m]Sons: Yeshua, Ya'akov, Yosef, Yehudah, Shim'onDaughters: 3 or more, all unnamed (see Genesis 5)Not a wealthy family (Luke 2:24; see Leviticus 5:7).Imagine what this family must have been like!The older sibling who always did what was right (!).The loss of the father early on, making the same sibling the de facto family head.Family "secret" -- rumors surrounding the birth of Mary's firstborn (Luke 2:7; Matthew 1:25)?By far, the sibling about whom we know most is James (Ya'akov). Apart from these facts, nearly everything else is speculation.Please listen to the podcast on Jesus if you haven't yet heard it.Scriptural study Matthew 12:46, 13:53-58v.55 -- four brothers namedv.56 -- sisters mentionedUnbelief Mark 3:20-21,30-31 (also Luke 8:19-21) -- Jesus' family does not understand his mission. See also Luke 2:41-50. Mark 6:1-5 -- His hometown were offended by him, and his own family does not seem to have made things any better.John 2:12 -- Jesus spends time with his family. John 7:3-10 -- There is tension and misunderstanding between his brothers and him.Matthew 28:10: "Tell my brothers." See also John 20:17.1 Corinthians 15:7 -- James was an eyewitness of the resurrected Jesus. A skeptic is won over.Acts 1:14 -- Jesus' family is united in prayer.Galatians 1:19 -- James is referred to as apostle ("missionary"?). See also 1 Corinthians 9:5.Galatians 2:9,12 -- James is a major leader in the Jerusalem church. See also James 1:1 and Jude 1:1; both these letters are traditionally attributed to Ya'akov and Yehudah (James and Jude), Jesus' siblings.Acts 15:13-21, 21:17ff -- James is serving as some sort of president in the Jerusalem church.Hegesippus and Josephs reported James' execution by the Sanhedrin in 62 AD.While traditions are strong that Jesus' family became believers in Christ, not every family member is discussed. We will have to be satisfied knowing that for the most part things turned out well.TechnicalJosephus (37-100 AD), the Jewish historian and statesman (and adopted son of the emperor Vespasian, 69-79 AD), mentions the execution of James, as does Hegesippus (110-180 AD), whose work is known to us through the church historian Eusebius (263-339), who served at the court of Constantine.Many churchmen contest the terms "brothers" and "sisters," claiming these words are open to different interpretations. These simple Greek words have been argued to refer to children of Joseph by a previous marriage, Mary's sister's children, or Joseph's sister's children. All these efforts seem designed to uphold the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity, which is refuted by Matthew 1:25 and the other verses referencing her children.In the earlier centuries, three views on Jesus' "brothers" emerged:Tertullian (160-220) held that they were Jesus' full, physical brothers.The Protoevangelium of James (c.150 AD) portrays them as sons of Jacob by an earlier marriage.Jerome (347-420) held that they were first cousins to Jesus, sons of Alphaeus and Mary of Clopas.Desposyni is the technical term referring to alleged blood relatives of Jesus Christ. It was coined by Sextus Julius Africanus in the early 3rd century. Some argue that Jesus' relatives held positions of honor in the early church (Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholics, plus some Anglicans and Lutherans.Lessons for us Stay connected to your family.While modern families tend to be small, ancient (and traditional) families strove to be large. We should view any reference to families in the scriptures through such a prism.Families did not consist of father and mother, son and daughter; they were far larger. Moreover, extended families (grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins...) tended to live in the same village.Families were thus more interactive. A lot of learning would have taken place among the siblings.There were clearly defined expectations for sons and daughters.An abundance of children (especially sons) provided security for parents, esp. in their old age (Psalm 127:3-5, 128:5-6).It may take a while to win them over, so pray and wait patiently.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.The manA Roman, quite possibly Italian.Governor / prefect of Judea 26-36 AD.We can build a composite picture from the N.T., several extrabiblical references, and even archaeology:Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 3,13, 23; Acts 3, 4. 13; John 18, 19; [1 Tim 6].The writings of Philo (Embassy to Gaius), Josephus (Jewish War and History of the Jews), and Tacitus (Annals).Pilate stone, found in Caesarea Maritima in 1961. Dedication stone to the emperor Tiberius (r. 14-37 AD) had been recycled as part of the Roman theater. Judea was governed by a prefect; this was changed to procurator starting 44 AD. The Bible uses the correct terms-- a testament to its authenticity.Matthew 27:11-14,18,19,23-24,26; John 18:28-38; John 19:18-22.Political historyProtege of Sejanus, head of the Praetorian Guard.Member of the Equestrian class.Tasked with keeping the peace; collecting taxes; governing the distant Syria (including Judea).Insensitive actionsSoldiers carried Roman standards (idolatrous images) into Jerusalem -- protests.Temple money spent on aqueduct: soldiers in crowd at Pilate's signal turned on them beating killing.Shields brought into Jerusalem (near Temple), with inscriptions claiming divinity for the emperor Tiberius.Samaritans planning to go up Mt. Gerizim to see alleged Mosaic items -- massacred en route.Recalled to Rome, but by the time he'd arrived the emperor had died (37 AD).Luke 13:1 fits well with what is known about Pilate from the extrabiblical sources.Late legend that the emperor Caligula (37-41 AD) ordered him to commit suicide.CharacterA politician (but not in the sense of wooing voters -- the emperor could remove him).Roman: practical man, doing what was expedient.Still, seems to have been in two minds about how to deal with Jesus. A picture emerges of a man who was unsure how to conduct himself, inconsistently overbearing or, at other times detached.Insensitive to those among whom he served.Brutal (e.g, bribery and executions without trial).Multiple chances to respond in faithInterview with Jesus (e.g. John 18).The dream of Claudia.The baseless charges of the Jewish leadership.6 years of Christianity before his recall to Rome!Some late legends that Pilate became a Christian, but this is highly unlikely. It is unthinkable that the gospels would not have recorded such extraordinary news! It is also implausible given his vacillating and cruel character.Lessons for usTake responsibility for our actions. Some decisions are impossible to distance ourselves from.Politics is messy, and often requires moral compromises for the good of the state.Don't ignore your wife's counsel!Don't jump to the conclusion that God hasn't been giving people chances to respond to the truth, or that he is unfair. He is at work in every life (Acts 17); he has forgotten no one.Further study Review all the Pilate passages.Listen to the Barabbas podcast.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.The wife of PilateNote: If you haven't yet listened to the podcast on Pontius Pilate, please do so now, as this will provide helpful background information so that you may better understand Claudia.What was it like to relocate because of your husband's career?What was it like to move to a distant land?What was it like to move where people didn't speak your language?The text & Claudia's dreamMatthew 27:19: Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream."The dream was Thursday night / Friday morning of the Passion Week.Some early Christians said that her dream was sent by God to help her become a Christian.Others suggested that this was a scheme of Satan to thwart the crucifixion.In fact, God spoke through dreams to several other people in the course of biblical history. In particular, non-believers to whom he spoke include:Pharaoh (Genesis 40-41)Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2)Xerxes (Esther 6:1)The list is not exhaustive; the Lord spoke to many believers and non-believers alike, though it is not easy to discern whether or to what extent he still speaks to us by this means in our time.In later legend:Orthodox saint!4th C. Acts of Pilate -- more elaborate. She appears in the earlier 2nd C. literature also.These documents tended to paint Christianity and Rome as relating positively. That is, they may have propaganda.Could she have become a Christian? In Acts we see several upper-class women responding to the gospel, so it cannot be ruled out. Yet there is no direct evidence for this speculation.Lessons for us Learn from all the character of the Bible: major, minor; believer, non-believer; male, female...Be sensitive to subtle cues God may be giving us.[Repeated from Pilate lesson:] Don't ignore your wife's counsel. After all, women are often more spiritually attuned than men.If your husband is a knucklehead, do share spiritual input. Yet make it count; be strategic:The right subject.The right time.The right tone.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Leaders leave[[Campus minister secret sin atheist died alone Many leaders in my life it serving in other circles in which I moved involved in egregious sin or else gave up their faith altogether]]In scripture, we see that quite a few prominent leaders away from the path:OT: Korah, Saul, Ahab... (Numbers 16;1 Samuel 13; 1 Kings 16; etc). NT: Judas, Hymenaeus & Philetus, Diotrephes... (John 13; 2 Timothy 2; 3 John; etc). Many would-be disciples turned away from Jesus (John 6:60,66), including one of his own apostles (John 13:27).Demas was a ministry associate of the apostle Paul, and sadly not the only "high level" leader who abandoned the apostle. If it can happen to "the strong," it can happen to any of us.Demas in Scripture Colossians 4:14 (c.60 AD)Philemon 24 (c.60 AD)2 Timothy 4:10 (64-68 AD)In John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), Demas is a deceiver who tries to persuade pilgrims to leave the narrow road for the sake of financial enrichment.We don't know exactly what it was that lured Demas away. Did Demas long to be popular (as his name suggests)? Had he become enamored of prestige? Was he entangled in commercial "civilian affairs"? Was there a woman, or had he been influenced by Paul's enemies? Or was he disillusioned ("fed up") with the ministry? Did he ever return, or had he crossed the point of return (what the Bible calls "falling away" [Hebrews 6, 10; 2 Peter 2]?) We may never know.It is even possible that his heart turned over a period of years. Leaving the Lord can happen quickly (Mark 4:17), or take place or over a period of many years.Other passages referenced1 John 2:15-17, 3:13, 4:5Galatians 6:14James 1:27, 4:42 Peter 1:4, 2:20; Matthew 7:6John 17:13-17; Ecclesiastes 4:4 Lessons drawnThe world is attractive, corrupting, and seductive.Regardless of our level of spirituality or leadership, we are never beyond the reach of the tentacles of the world.That's why we are called to make a clean break with the world.For if it can happen to "the strong," it can happen to any of us.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionThe word stephanos (crown) appears first in Homer--it's a good Greek name going back 8 centuries before Stephen's time.There seems to be no relation to the Stephanas of 1 Corinthians 1:16, 16:15,17.Stephen was the first martyr for Christ (after Jesus). Every week, a number of men and women are martyred for their faith in Christ.Scripture: Acts 6:1-8:3Character: Stephen the man of God Wisdom. Specifically, he was someone who understood those who felt misunderstood and underrepresented (fellow Greek [Hellenistic] believers).Service. As one of the 7 deacons, Stephen administered relief to the needy.Faith. This disciple believed to the point of death.Grace. Even in death, he was gracious towards his enemies.Power. Stephen was a conduit for God's power through his speaking, miracles, and strength of character.Witness: Stephen as bold proclaimer of Christ Like all convinced Christ-followers, Stephen bore witness to his Lord.He had the "big picture":O.T. history (the history of God's often-stubborn people)An understanding of a Christianity larger than Judaism (universal salvation).Stephen, like those who evangelized the Gentiles during the great persecution (Acts 11:19), may have been ahead of his time.The Antioch church strategically planted churches (Acts 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18), and the missionaries they sent took the word to Gentiles (non-Jews).On the island of Cyprus, Paul would later begin a more Gentile evangelistic strategy (Acts 13).Death: Stephen dying a death worthy of his Lord Parallels to the death of Christ.Both challenged the ruling high priestly family of Caiaphas. Seeing Jesus as mediator implied that Caiaphas was not the legitimate mediator between God and man. No wonder he and his cronies were so angry!Trumped-up charges.Executed outside the city of Jerusalem."Son of Man" saying (see Luke 22:69). This is a unique reference outside the gospels.Forgiveness of enemies (see Luke 23:43).Committing his spirit to God at death (Luke 23:46).Blasphemers were stoned under Jewish law. Read about the execution of the blasphemer (Leviticus 24:11,16). Even the apostle Paul would later be hauled outside the city of Lystra and stoned (Acts 14:19).Stephen's faith illustrates Revelation 12:11 beautifully.He was the first martyr of the Christian churc.The original meaning of martyr (martus) = witness.Many would fellow in his wake, especially by the time Christianity was illegal -- in the 2nd to early 4th centuries.Conclusion & Application Stephen bore witness to Christ in 32 AD, yet by faith he continues to speak today.It is with good reason that people have been naming their children after Stephen ever since (Stephanie, Steve, Etienne, Stefan, Esteban...) Further, 26/27 December is celebrated as the Feast of Stephen in the Western Catholic / Eastern Orthodox churches.How do you think the apostle Paul felt once he realized that Jesus was Lord -- and that he had presided over the execution of an innocent man? Interestingly, Paul stayed in the home of Stephen's fellow evangelist Philip (Acts 21:8). What do you imagine they talked about?Let's walk in the steps of Stephen:We too should be able to tell the the old, old story.Like Stephen, we have the "big picture"--not just of biblical history, but of God's desire to see all peoples reached.Be prepared to take a stand. Let's keep our eyes on the Lord of glory.Further:Read Alexander Strauch's excellent book on the biblical role of deacon. It is The New Testament Deacon.Sign up for weekly emails from Voice of the Martyrs.Learn something about martyrology. Not all martyrs were killed in the pre-Constantinian Roman Empire. For example. during a recent visit to Uganda, I learned about "Martyrs Day" (3 June) which honors 150 persons who chose to be burnt at the stake rather than renounce Christianity. This took place only a century ago!Pray for the persecuted and those being martyred in our world today!If you don't have a broad grasp of the story of the Old Testament, pray to be like Stephen, who was able to recite and interpret the scriptures with passion and accuracy -- and without notes.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionJesus chose twelve men from among his disciples to become apostles. The number twelve is symbolic and important; it signifies being chosen. God chose the twelve tribes of Israel to be His chosen people. So after Judas betrayed Jesus and committed suicide, they needed to replace him in order for the number to be complete.Acts 1:12-26Here we see two men who were proposed to take Judas’ spot as an apostle: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.There is no other mention of these men in the New Testament. Church historian Eusebius numbers Matthias among the 70 whom Jesus sent out in Luke 10. Matthias is believed to have been stoned and then beheaded in Jerusalem (according Fox's Book of Martyrs). What we do know about these two men is that they were faithful disciples of Jesus from the very beginning, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, until the time Jesus ascended. Were there others among the 120 who also qualified to replace Judas? We do not know. We do know that among the 120, Joseph and Matthias were the ones proposed by consensus. That speaks of their reputation among those who remained faithful. What we can learn about them is through deduction.Scriptural StudyMark 2:1-2It is easy to be a Christian when it is popular.John 9:18-23It is a test of one's faithfulness when there is persecution or opposition - when being a Christian is not popular.(One of the threats from the Jewish leaders was to ban anyone who acknowledged Jesus as Messiah from the synagogues. The synagogue was the heart of the Jewish communities throughout the various nations and cities of the Roman Empire. They were established after Israel and Judah were unfaithful to God and taken captive by the Assyrians and Babylonians--and dispersed throughout those empires. You can look up Jewish diaspora for more background information. As the Jews settled in the cities where they were taken captive, the synagogues became their places of assembly/worship/study - especially once the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians (586 BC). Banishment from the synagogue was equivalent to excommunication or disfellowship from the church.John 6:60-66We must stay faithful even when it is personally challenging and when most people no longer follow.ApplicationWe need to ask ourselves the question: Why am I a Christian? If we are honest with the answer and work to have the right heart, it will help us to have the motivation to continue in our faith. Which commands of God are hard for me personally? What sins do I struggle with? Am I faithful even when it is hard?ConclusionGod values faithfulness, and we see this in Joseph and Matthias. They may not have been named or recognized in the gospels, but they were part of the backbone of Jesus' ministry. Their faithfulness from the beginning to the end shows us that they were "in it" not for personal glory or gain, not for recognition or prestige, not because it was easy, not because that is what everyone else did. They were faithful disciples of Jesus because they understood God's love for them. They are inspirations for us to remain faithful until the end.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Introduction The word magiLatin for Greek magos (plural magoi)From it we get the word magicianPersian, members of the priestly Zoroastrian religion, and almost certainly practitioners of astrology.Most scholars equate them with the sorcerers (Chaldeans) who served at the Babylonian court, as in Daniel 2. They are their spiritual descendants.Wise? Yes.Kings? No, despite the popular song: "We Three Kings" (here are the lyrics....)Conflation of Matthew 2 (Jesus an infant [born in Matthew 1], the family now living in a house) and Luke 2 (Jesus' birth).Tradition: 3 in the West, 12 in the East.Best known trio:Melchior - Persian scholarCaspar - Indian scholarBalthazar - Arabian scholarVarious legendsAbout the gift:Judas helped himself to the gold, which had been entrusted to him.Gold stolen by the thieves who were crucified with Jesus.Joseph used it to move his family to Egypt (when Herod tried to kill the newborn Messiah).Further legends involving the the frankincense and the myrrh.Commemorating the magiMartyred.Marco Polo saw their tombs in Tehran (1270s).Their bones lie in Cologne Cathedral.Commemorated at the Feast of Epiphany (6 January).Visit all the children of the world -- on camels, not reindeer.But most of these legends are from 6th- 9th centuries. Too late to be of historical value.Theology of the giftsGold shows Christ's regal status, myrrh his mortality, incense his divinity, corresponding to his virtue, prayer, and suffering (so Origen, c.200 AD).243 BC: A Syrian king (in Miletus) offers gold to the sun-god Apollo. Christ the true King -- Psalm 68:28, 72:11, Isaiah 60:3-6. Recall also the gold annual tribute to Solomon (1 Kings 10:14).In the light of such verses, the magi in time were elevated to kings. Biblical textOur story is featured in only one passage.Matthew 2:1-12.Again, the Luke 2 birth account is earlier.Note: "When it rose" (NIV) may be "in the east."ProphecyMicah 5:2 - fairly easy to understand. Though note that Matthew is quoting from a different version of Micah than the one that has come to be part of our Old Testament (translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text).Hosea 11:1 -- more difficult. Matthew is showing that in Jesus are recapitulated events surrounding his people Israel.Jeremiah 31:15 -- the prophet views the discouragement and hopelessness of the exile as grief / loss of Rachel (Jacob/Israel's wife) for her children. Matthew finds a deeper significance in the Massacre of the Innocents. Note that Rachel's tomb is just outside Bethlehem. Historical concernsAstronomy?Conjunction of planets?Comet?Caution about explaining such biblical events.Star appears at birth of ruler -- deeply meaningful in ancient culture.Herod the Great (74-4 BC)Illegitimacy as king of the Jews.Half Jewish, half Idumean (Edomite).Not a true son of David.Secures his kingship by traveling to Rome and making a deal with Augustus Caesar (nephew of Julius Caesar).Murderous natureKilled family members.Ordered the deaths of others he perceived as threats to his reign.Date of deathBased on the testimony of the Jewish historian Josephus.Jesus was apparently born around 2 years before Herod died.Zoroastrian religion (the faith of the magoi).Whereas the sorcerers of Babylon (in the book of Daniel) were polytheists, the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire had undergone a conversion to Zoroastrianism (6th century BC), a quasi-monotheistic (though dualistic) religion. Note: modern Iran (Persia) is predominantly Muslim (since the 7th century AD).Listen to the podcast on Zoroastrianism if you want to learn more about this religion.More on the prophecy of Micah 58th century BC.Rachel died near, and king David and Jesus were both born in, (southern) Bethlehem Ephrata (Ruth 4:13-22; 1 Samuel 16:1). This is to be distinguished between another (northern) Bethlehem (Judges 12:8).Anticipated a divine Davidic king."The Slaughter of the Innocents"No historical proof, but realistic all the same; fits perfectly with what we know of Herod the Great.Number of dead baby boys: perhaps 20?Several famous paintings, e.g. one by Giacomo Paracca)Death and burial of Rachel (Genesis 35:19), just outside Bethlehem.Application"Wise men seek him still." Of course this is true. But is it the point?Look inward: The magi help us to contemplate the biblical significance of Jesus' royal divine birth.Look outward: The magi (as Gentiles) point to Jesus' universal, cosmic significance.This ties in much better with Matthew's Gentile theme (e.g. Matthew 1 [women in genealogy], 28 [make disciples of all peoples]).A common biblical theme: the outsiders "get it" before the insiders. This is (and should be) humbling.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Background information This NT podcast but could just as easily be put into the OT category, since our character appears in both testaments. He lived under the tail end of the old covenant, as the kingdom of God was dawning.Family: married? father? how distant a cousin of Jesus?Levite (Exodus-Deuteronomy) - priestly class, charged with bringing God to the people and the people to GodNazirite (Numbers 6) -- special calling and devotionThe long-awaited resumption of prophecy (Malachi 3). Explains his adoption of the dress and demeanor of Elijah.Perhaps so credible and effective because he did not stand on his position as a Levite. He certainly didn't tape into the great wealth of the priestly establishment.John is often compared unfairly to Jesus, who seems to be a cousin. Perhaps, frightened by his rough, untamed preaching, we comfort ourselves by dismissing his words as extremist.Transitional figure (Malachi 3:1-3, 4:4-6)Last O.T. prophet and Elijah figure.Herald of the Messiah (Though a man of the old covenant, Jesus exalts him (Matthew 11:2-15).Knew that to prepare people for the coming of the Lord they must first get right with their fellow men: a ministry of reconciliation.Moses received the Law for the Jewish people at Horeb (Sinai). The prophets called all back to the letter and Spirit of the Law, which entailed righteous relationships with others. See 1 John 4:19-21.What made him so great? I would like to offer four reasons.I. Profound sense of divine callingLuke 1:13-17 -- divine plan. God's plan was revealed even before John's birth.Luke 3:2 - start of ministry. John begins only once the word of God came to him.Resumption of prophecy - (see the intertestamental books of 1 & 2 Maccabees).II. Radical message delivered with radical courage Repentance, in view of God's kingdom (Matthew 3:1-12).Repentance must yield fruit (Matthew 3:8).A baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4).Not all were willing to accept his challenge (Luke 7:29-30).Yet John did not claim to have the last word.He was only preparing the way for the Messiah.John's baptism did not confer the Spirit, which was a special mark of the new covenant (John 7:38-39).John had the courage of Elijah (1 Kings 17-2 Kings 2).III. A true man of characterHe was toughFasting (Matthew 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33)Asceticism (Luke 7:33)He was a flawed human, imperfect like the rest of us.John he had his period of doubt/struggle (Luke 7:18-23).Yet he was a truly virtuous follower of God. (Virtue < vir, virtus [man, strength])He took a strong stand on personal righteousness.True virtue stands opposed to vice.Publicly challenged the illicit marriage of Herod Antipas.John did not show favoritism, nor was he impressed by religiosity.CourageSpoke truth to power, like Elijah, Jesus, Paul, and may other figures.Unwilling to back down.He was humble. Self came second.Yet strong!In this he resembled Moses (Numbers 12:3), although he especially resembled Elijah.John 3:27-30. Memory verse: "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).None of Self, and All of Thee, orOh, the Bitter Pain and SorrowOh, the bitter pain and sorrow that a time could ever be, / When I proudly said to Jesus, “All of self, and none of Thee.”All of self, and none of Thee, All of self, and none of Thee, / When I proudly said to Jesus, “All of self, and none of Thee.”Yet He found me; I beheld Him bleeding on th’ accursed tree, / And my wistful heart said faintly, “Some of self, and some of Thee.”Some of self, and some of Thee, Some of self, and some of Thee, / And my wistful heart said faintly, “Some of self, and some of Thee.”Day by day His tender mercy, healing, helping, full and free, / Brought me lower while I whispered, “Less of self, and more of Thee.”Less of self, and more of Thee, less of self, and more or Thee, / Brought me lower while I whispered, “Less of self, and more of Thee.”Higher than the highest heaven, deeper than the deepest sea, / Lord, Thy love at last has conquered: “None of self, and all of Thee.”None of self, and all of Thee, None of self, and all of Thee, / Lord, Thy love at last has conquered: “None of self, and all of Thee.”IV. Faithful to deathJezebel threatened to remove Elijah 's head but this did not happen.The spite of a woman did, however, lead to John's decapitation (Matthew 14)."Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and was a very just punishment for what he did against John called the baptist [the dipper]. For Herod had him killed, although he was a good man and had urged the Jews to exert themselves to virtue, both as to justice toward one another and reverence towards God, and having done so join together in washing. For immersion in water, it was clear to him, could not be used for the forgiveness of sins, but as a sanctification of the body, and only if the soul was already thoroughly purified by right actions. And when others massed about him, for they were very greatly moved by his words, Herod, who feared that such strong influence over the people might carry to a revolt -- for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise -- believed it much better to move now than later have it raise a rebellion and engage him in actions he would regret. And so John, out of Herod's suspiciousness, was sent in chains to Machaerus, the fort previously mentioned, and there put to death; but it was the opinion of the Jews that out of retribution for John God willed the destruction of the army so as to afflict Herod." -- Josephus, Antiquities 18.5.2 116-119Further study The podcasts on reincarnation explain further that he was not literally Elijah.You may also want to listen to the Elijah podcast.You will find a study on the Nazirite (specifically, their parents) in Principle-Centered Parenting (formerly The Quiver.)
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Hebrews 11:35The "Hall of Fame of Faith" of Hebrews 11 mentions a number of men and women by name, yet many persons are only alluded to (Hebrews 11:32-38). Some are known from Bible, others from extrabiblical sources.The courageous martyr who was sawn in two was Isaiah, who traditionally was executed by Manasseh (Martyrdom of Isaiah 1:10, 5:1; also recorded in the Talmud).Probably the best known, and most colorful, instance the Hebrew writer refers to is found in verse 35.Hebrews 11:35 refers to 2 Maccabees 7, the moving story of a family of 8 who take their stand on the God of Israel, refusing to be released so that they might "attain a better resurrection."The story has been a constant source of inspiration for devout Jews ever since the second century BC.The context2nd century BCAntiochus Epiphanes IV (foretold in Daniel 11) insists on divine honors. He has no sensitivity to or tolerance for Judaism.Heavy pressure to conform to pagan (Greek) societyGreek language, fashion, sports, culture, idolatry.Prohibition of circumcision.Violation of Sabbath and kosher laws.Some Jews refused, and this led to a revolution, the Maccabean revolt.Judas the Hammer (Judas Maccabee) leads the revolt. The revolution was successful, and for the period of about a century the Jews enjoyed political autonomy.The Seleucids and Ptolemies, heirs to the fractured kingdom of Alexander the Great, could not hold on to Judea. The Jewish Hasmonean dynasty now sits on the throne.This comes to and end when the Romans, who were eclipsing the Greeks from the 2nd to 1st centuries BC, seize control of the region in 63 BC. They rule Jerusalem until 614 AD (when it is captured by the Persians). The Muslims seize Jerusalem in 638 AD.During this century of Jewish rule, the monarchy and the priesthood became entangled and corrupt. The lascivious and equivocating Herod the Great appeals directly to Augustus Caesar and solidifies his position as king of the Jews. The priesthood has by now become a sham. Longing for the spirit of the days of the Maccabean martyrs, many Jews wistfully read the books of 1-2 Maccabees.The theology of the passage At this time some Jews believed in resurrection only for the righteous, others that the wicked would be resurrected and then destroyed in the fire, while the righteous would be resurrected to everlasting life.You will notice that the seventh son warns Antiochus of judgment, but not of infinite hell. Like Christians in the first four centuries, Jews in the intertestamental period held several different positions on the nature and duration of hell.You will detect a trace of a patriarchal attitude in the text. If this bothers you, remember that this passage in 2 Maccabees lifts up the woman as a worthy example for us all.There are times when government demands absolute allegiance; we must refuse.The Law of Moses must be upheld.The brothers actually interpret their persecution as the punishment of God for their sins (!).2 Maccabees 7:1-41
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Joseph of Arimathea in the N.T.: Matt 27:57-60Mark 15:43-46Luke 23:50-53John 19:38-42What do we learn from Joseph?Take a stand: sometimes deeds speak more loudly than words.There may be times when our discipleship will be more public.Be invested emotionally and financially in your faith.Find strength in another believer (as Joseph partnered with Nicodemus).Sometimes we need to speak up!Joseph in traditionPatron saint of undertakersTie to Britain and Holy Grail (some traditions as late as the 9th C).Some 2nd and 3rd century traditions of Christianity in Britain.See The Gospel of Nicodemus, The Narrative of Joseph, and The Passing of Mary.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Text: John 8:2-11 Comments Today's study is on a well-known passage, even though it is not in the original manuscripts of John's gospel.Still, it rings true, is of early origin, and is therefore is found in most Bibles.Few scholars doubt its authenticity, even if it was not originally in its present location in John.Sometimes it follows Luke 21:38. Or is found after John 7:36, or John 7:44. Sometimes it's even located after John 21:25.Although scholars nearly unanimously reject the story as original in the fourth gospel, they are also of one mind in accepting its veracity.It is perfectly in character with what we know of Jesus and his attitude towards sin/sinners.It is unlikely to be an invention of the later church, since in the second century sin was dealt with much more harshly than it is in this passage.Some early Christian preserved the story, and some early copyist of John placed it between chapters 7 and 8, probably because it seemed a good fit (verses about judgment, tensions between Jesus and the Pharisees).For more on this--and to find out exactly which early manuscripts contain the passage--please visit the chapter notes on John 8 at this website. (Many of the notes from this study are reproduced below.)The settingAs was Jesus' custom during the feasts, he taught in the day and stayed evenings somewhere on the Mount of Olives (v.1). He probably enjoyed the hospitality of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. (Search your concordance under Bethany.)The venue for his teaching was the temple complex. (And by forgiving the adulteress, he was challenging, "usurping," the authority of the priests.)The time was early morning, before the heat of the day.He taught in the seated position (v.2), which was the normal posture of a rabbi with his disciples. Then comes the shocking interruption (v.3). The question, and the arrest of the woman, seem staged.Since adultery takes place in secret, it is likely that the accusers had been waiting (and hoping) for the transgression to take place. Their posturing--and possibly the adultery itself?--was premeditated.Only the woman has been brought in, despite the implicit charge that the man had been present (v.4).The accusers have little concern for the woman. Their aim is only to trap Jesus. Here is the trap (vv.5-6).Jesus advocated compassion. He forbade us even to hate our enemies. He had intimated that the new covenant was in the process of being inaugurated -- that the old law might not apply anymore. And yet the Torah required the death penalty for both parties (Leviticus 20:10).Would Jesus then contradict himself, or the Mosaic law?Masterfully, Jesus extricates both himself and the woman from the dilemma.His reply is perfectly suited to the occasion. Jesus was always an excellent thinker on his feet.Acknowledging the demand of the law for adulterers ("Let anyone without sin cast the first stone...") while confronting all present with their own sin (and potential hypocrisy in judging her), he extricates both himself and the woman from the dilemma (v.7ff).The older in the crowd, realizing that Jesus occupies the moral high ground and will not be trapped, walk away.The younger in the crowd, less savvy and more moralistic, linger longer, but they too in the end leave the scene.The accusers apparently depart as well.In the end, only two persons remain.While offering her divine forgiveness, Jesus hardly condones her immorality."Sin no more" (v.11).The heart-warming vignette demonstrates the church's attitude towards erring members. Sin will not be taken lightly, but forgiveness is always available if there is repentance.This passage is one of several understood by early Christians to forbid capital punishment. The early position on execution is found in such writers as Lactantius (c.290-300 AD): When God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits the violence that is condemned by public laws, but he also forbids the violence that is deemed lawful by men. Thus it is not lawful for a just man to engage in warfare, since his warfare is injustice itself. Nor is it [lawful] to accuse anyone of a capital offense. It makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or by the sword. It is the act of putting to death itself which is prohibited. Therefore, regarding this precept of God there should be no exception at all. Rather it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred creature.The WomanShe is a nobody, a cipher, an object -- dehumanized, just like the blind man (John 9:2), only of interest for theological reasons.She is a victim. She has been set up, so it seems.She is guilty. It takes two to tango, and two to commit adultery. She may not be responsible for the system, but she is responsible for her own actions.She is all of us! For outside of Christ, the world views us as nobodies; we--or well-meaning "experts"--may insist we have been victimized; yet in our heart of hearts, and in the presence of the holy God, we are guilty. We all stand as much in need of Christ's grace as this poor woman--and so we ought to learn from her.Yet anyone in Christ is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)!Thought questions:What differences, if any, do I detect between the "old law" and the new?Do I have a fixed opinion on capital punishment? What position do I suppose that Jesus and the early church held to? Does it surprise me to learn that the early church opposed capital punishment? (All of this changed in the 300s, with the beginning of the Catholic Church.) For more on this, listen to the podcast on Capital Punishment.Had I been present, which of the characters in this story would I have been: the older persons, the younger persons, the woman, or the accusers?
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductoryFor most people, this is far and away the best known reanimation in scripture.In the 7th reanimation podcast, Jesus raises a friend.I recorded an earlier podcast on Lazarus (NT Character Podcast 20). You might want to listen before or after today’s podcast.Hear also Christ Through the Ages, podcast 10.As a result, in order to avoid duplication, I will try to keep my comments to the subject of the reanimation itself. Further, we won’t read every verse in the account. Scriptural study: John 11:1-7, 11-15, 17-27, 32-49a, 51b-53; 12:9-11Lazarus (v.1) is not to be identified with the Lazarus in the parable of Luke 16:19-31, although the coincidence of names is intriguing.“This illness does not lead to death” (v.4). Of course it does lead to death, but only for a short time.Just as with the miracle of the blind man two chapters earlier, God will be glorified (v.4).Lazarus is a beloved friend (v.5). We always feel differently when we knew the person who’s died, and never more than when we had a significant relationship.A great uncle – 10k – took me fishing. Not close but we’d met several times. Mother father sisterHe delays his visit to Bethany, it seems, precisely in order to make sure that Lazarus has passed.Sleep (v.11) is a common biblical metaphor for death. See Q&A 1356.This section (vs.17-27) is rich with theology, dense with meaning and insight. Of course Lazarus, the subject of this podcast, isn’t really doing anything. But no one exists to himself alone; there is a sizeable network of friends, family, and acquaintances involved in all our lives, and this network becomes visible at key junctures in our lives, like births, weddings, deaths.“Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (v.26). How would we answer Jesus? What difference does it make in our lives? Are we always on the lookout for opportunities to share the good news?Jesus does not minimize death, even though it isn’t the last word.Jesus wept (v.35). He was not so intellectual in his knowledge of truth that the common and human waves of emotion washed over him without affecting him deeply!Many were buried in caves (v.38).You may also want to listen to Martha (NT Character podcast 19).Notice once again Jesus' direct address to the deceased (v.43).Notice also how the dead were prepared (v.44).Strips of linenSeparate headpieceNo coffin or sarcophagusLazarus comes out (v.44)!John’s gospel features seven confessions of faith, seven “I am statements,” and seven signs. The raising of Lazarus is the last sign—which itself points to the resurrection of Jesus.This miracle places Jesus’ life in extreme danger. For more on the high priest who suggested Jesus' execution, listen to Caiaphas (v.49) NT Character Podcast 42.The raising of Lazarus takes place just outside Jerusalem itself, with its religious power center, the Temple, controlled by unscrupulous and rapacious priests and teachers.It’s not just Jesus who is in danger; Lazarus himself is now singled out for execution (12:9-11)!It is not God’s agenda to grant longevity or immortality. We all die, and hardly anyone comes back from the dead, in the sense of reanimation. And no one is immortal—only God, and those who in Christ receive the gift of eternal life. Every reanimation in the Bible has a reason, and points to deeper truths.Application“Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (v.26). How would we answer Jesus? What difference does it make in our lives? Are we always on the lookout for opportunities to share the good news?Let’s live like it today!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionThere are other servant girls in the Bible who play significant roles, like Naaman's (2 Kings 5:2-3) and Rhoda (Acts 12:13).Today we will look at the servant girl who exposed Simon Peter's cowardice--the time he was ashamed of Jesus.She is anonymous -- yet still important.The story is found in all four gospels. (Order: Mark, Matt, Luke, John)ThefouraccountsMark 14:66-70 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus." 68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you mean." And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." 70 But again he denied it...Peter plays dumb.The servant girl is smarter, and exerts far more effort identifying Peter than Peter does identifying Jesus -- what he should have been doing.Matthew 26:69-72 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean." 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72 And again he denied it with an oath: "I do not know the man." Matthew doubles (blind man healings, demoniacs)Some are troubled that the details in the four accounts don't match. Yet the discrepancies don't disqualify the testimony of the evangelists; they actually confirm it, since if they were fabricating the story they would have smoothed out the differences.Luke 22:54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, "This man also was with him." 57 But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him."It's not that Peter isn't following Jesus at all. Rather, he's "following at a distance" (22:54). Do we do that?It's dark, but there's a full moon, yet that wasn't enough for the girl to make out Peter's face. But the fire provides plenty of light for the identification.John 18:15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, "You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.Peter had access because of the other disciple (John?). He'd spoken to the servant girl, whose responsibility was manning the door, so that Peter could be admitted.Thus her identification of Peter has credibility.Peter warms himself by the charcoal fire. What was he doing? What was he thinking? And how did he feel when the servant girl correctly identified him?AnalysisMark's account (second reading):Triple prediction (beginning at Mark 8:31, 9:31, and 10:34)Triple denialTriple prediction makes the denials more poignant, less excusable.Are we ever like Peter? How do we deny Christ? When was the last time?That's all Mark offers us. Luke and John take us further:Triple affirmation in John 21.He is reinstated, as Jesus had foreseen: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32)Triple sheet with non-kosher animals in Acts 10 -- still tending to be obstinacy?Peter is again correctly identified by a servant girl in Acts 12!ConclusionIt's not just the major characters of the Bible that we can learn from. Everybody counts. Similarly today, whatever your role in life or in your company or church, you are important. The servant girl helped Peter to see where he was spiritually.And today she still speaks. She accuses the cowardly, faint-hearted church.Rather than hoping others won't notice we are Christians, we should hope that they may quickly identify us -- the sooner to share with them the reason for our hope.She challenges me -- and I suspect she challenges you, too.Perhaps you'd like to learn from other characters in the N.T. and in the O.T. -- over 100 in all, once both series are completed.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website."How Will This Be?"Mary asks the question of the angel, “How will this be?”, when faced with a seemingly impossible and improbable situation. The answer was equally puzzling to this young woman! So she leaves Nazareth and heads for the hills to see Elizabeth, her older wiser relative (Luke 1). Why? She needs to talk and be heard. For three months these two women walk and talk through life together, experiencing spiritual, emotional and physical times and I imagine Mary was present for the birth of John.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Here is the sixth and final lesson (19 minutes) in our special Mary series.We hope you have enjoyed Vicki's lessons on Mary -- which is her favourite biblical character.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Orchestrated execution of Jesus Christ. How could the holy priesthood established by Moses and Aaron become the mortal enemy of Jesus, the Messiah?Unrighteous priesthoodHow does the 1st century priesthood violates the original Levitical plan? It was supposed to be:High priesthood a lifetime appointment (Heb 7:23).Holy — not assimilating to the dominant regional culture, but a shining beacon for all Israel and the watching world.Separate from the monarchy. Priests (from the tribe of Levi) could not serve as kings (tribe of Judah). It's not good when religious leaders have political power, or when political leaders have spiritual power! The temptations to corruption are just too great.Precedent: Hasmonean times (140-37 BC), with appointment of Aristobolus.Annas, the father-in-law Annas (or Ananus or Ananias) son of Seth, born before 20 BC, died around around AD 40.Appointed by the Roman legate Quirinius as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman province of Iudaea in AD 6.High priest AD 6-15, then deposed by procurator Gratus. Yet remained highly influential through his son-in-law and his 5 sons.Putting it all together, here are the terms of Annas, Caiaphas, and the five brothers:Ananus (or Annas) the son of Seth (6–15)Eleazar the son of Ananus (16–17)Caiaphas, properly Joseph son of Caiaphas (18–36), married the daughter of Annas (John 18:13)Jonathan the son of Ananus (36–37 and 44)Theophilus the son of Ananus (37–41)Matthias the son of Ananus (43)Ananus the son of Ananus (63)Scriptures:Luke 3:2 — During the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.John 18:12 -- So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people... 19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest... 28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor's headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor's headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. Caiaphas, the son-in-law Caiaphas was the major antagonist of Jesus.According to Josephus, Caiaphas was appointed in AD 18 by the prefect before Pontius Pilate, Valerius Gratus. He served for 18 years -- a long term.ScripturesMatt 26:3 -- Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.26:57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.John 11:45 -- Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied thatJesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.John 18:13 -- And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year.Acts 4:5 -- On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”Caiaphas is also the "high priest" of Acts 5:17-21, 27; 7:1; 9:1. His persecution of Christ naturally continued through a bitter persecution of Christ's followers. (And to think that Saul of Tarsus was commissioned by Caiaphas to hunt down our brothers and sisters in Christ!)Dante places Caiaphas in the 6th realm of the 8th circle of the Inferno, with the hypocrites. His torture: eternal crucifixion on the hypocrites' path, who step on him for ever.1990 Ossuary discoveryInscription: "Joseph son of Caiaphas"Luxurious ossuary. See image above.Dated to second half of 1st C.Contained the bones of an old man.Observations and suggestions:Don't be surprised at institutional injustice, especially in powerful religious structures.When Jesus cleanses the temple courts he is telegraphing a message to Annas and Caiaphas. The Talmud calls some of these first century priests "great hoarders of money."These men lived in the lap of luxury. Visit the priestly home in pre-70 Jerusalem!There's no priesthood or high priest today -- at least not on earth. Our great high priest serves in heaven. And we serve him, as a "kingdom of priests" (1 Pet 2:9; Exod 19:6).God can work even through corrupt leaders. This was Jesus' attitude in Matt 23:3.At a deeper level of providence, since Annas and Caiaphas engineered the execution of Christ, they unwittingly accomplished God's purpose through the ages: to provide forgiveness and reconciliation through the true sacrifice offered by the true priest, who even now mediates for us in the true temple in heaven! Caiaphas was right (John 11:50).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Scripture: Luke 2:25-35.Bio:Simeon is righteous and devout.He takes the infant Jesus in his arms—suggesting he may have been a priest at the temple. (Jesus was taken there on his 40th day and his parents made the required offering—see Lev 12:1-8.)Having recognized the Messiah, Simeon is now ready to die. (This implies that he is advanced in years.)He served the Lord faithfully, even though he had grown old.Simeon's insight:He realized that the good news was not for Israel only, but for the entire world. This was no narrow nationalism, but a universal vision. (Recall that in early Christianity, it was a struggle for many Jewish Christians to welcome Gentile Christians as full partners in the gospel.)Simeon's perspective is deeply scriptural.Although one might have expected everything about the message of the Messiah to be positive (happy news), Simeon realizes there is a dark, doleful aspect to the dawning Messianic age. Not everyone will happy accept the Messiah and his message.He foresaw that a sword would pierce Mary's soul, tool (probably referring to the agony of watching her son's crucifixion, when she's approximately 50 years old).He rejoiced in and was content with God’s willApplication:Are we like Simeon? If we are older Christians, do we still have passion for the Lord?Do we have a truly scriptural perspective, or is it only a patchwork of loosely connected ideas?Are we content in accepting God’s will for my life, for his people, and for the world?
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Scripture: Luke 2:36-38.Bio:Hannah (Hebrew) = Anna (Greek & Latin).In some ways she reminds us of her OT namesake (faith, presence at the house of God, deep spirituality).Luke supplies her father’s name, Phanuel, but not her husband’s. (She is more integral to the biblical story than he is.)Luke mentions her tribe, Asher. She numbers among the very few NT characters identified by tribe: Jesus,—Judah (Luke 2:4; Matt 1:1-16); Saul—Benjamin (Phil 3:5); and Barnabas—Levi (Acts 4:36).Implication of the numbers: she was over 100 years old when she met Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.She is a prophet.Both Simeon (NT character podcast 43) and Anna are advanced in years, people of faith, and meet Mary, Joseph & Jesus. And the account of Simeon is longer than the account of Anna. Yet Anna "outranks" Simeon, a man praised as righteous and devout (Luke 2:25). Simeon is not explicitly called a prophet. Rather, the Spirit moved him to speak.Simeon came to the Temple courts; Anna was there nearly always.She is the New Testament’s only named female prophetess. She reminds me of Huldah the prophetess (earlier podcast)Her life is marked by fasting, prayer, speaking, and prophesying.She does not remarry—in a culture when remarriage was the norm after the death of a spouse, and especially for one who became a widow at such a young age (20?)."Luke’s description shows her as well adjusted, engaged in Israel’s life and useful to the Lord. She may well have become the model for the righteous church widows Paul describes in 1 Timothy 5:5.” — Robin Gallaher Branch, “Anna in the Bible” in Bible History Daily“Anna shows one model of aging in the Biblical text. Luke presents her positively, as a woman without the bitterness that may come with age and as one full of hope. As she moves throughout the Temple, no doubt she seeks to do good to those whom she encounters." — Robin Gallaher Branch (same source).Anns's insight:She foresees the redemption of Jerusalem (Simeon had foreseen the restoration of Israel). Perhaps she was aware of and distressed by the corruption and politics of the Temple.The prophecies of Zion (Jerusalem and its center of worship) and Israel were going to be fulfilled, but not in the way most people would have expected. (The true Jerusalem is "above," as Paul explains in Gal 4.)She speaks about the Lord to all who are interested. That is, she does not confine her verbal witness to a handful of "special people" (like Joseph & Mary). This shows both generosity and wisdom.Application:Men: Do we have a positive attitude towards women? In the Bible, they are prophets. They can serve as national leaders (Miriam, Deborah). They are often portrayed as wiser and more spiritual than men.Older people feature prominently in Luke, as well as in the rest of Scripture. Yet our culture worships youth. This is destructive of self-image, hinders morality, impedes wisdom, reduces respect for others, etc.Are fasting and praying part of our daily and weekly lives?Do we speak about Jesus to all who are interested?Remember, we are men and women of faith for the long haul. Decades and decades and decades…
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Major text: Rom 16:1-2Supporting texts: Acts 15:22-23; 30-32; Rom 12:3-8; 1 Tim 3:4; 1 Thess 5:12Rom 16:1 Now I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 2 so that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and provide her with whatever help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to [a patron of] many, including me.ObservationsPhoebe means bright—connection with Phoebus Apollo, the sun god.Cenchrea is one of Corinth's two seaports.Phoebe is the first person named in Romans 16—where Paul greets at least 9 or 10 female colleagues, besides his male coworkers.Most likely it was she who delivered the letter.See the parallel in Acts 15:22-23, 30-32 (the commendation of Judas and Silas).Romans is one of most important letters of Paul, dealing with a potentiality sensitive topic (the Jew-Gentile controversy, not unlike the racial issues of our own day).If she bore the letter to the various house churches of Rome, she may also have been the one who read the letter aloud.Even if others read Romans aloud, Phoebe would have been the one who clarified things if there were questions.Female leadership?Does this sound like too much responsibility for a first-century woman?She is called diakonos (v.1). See Phil 1:1.Diakonos = servant, minister.See Acts 6 and 1 Tim 3.She is also prostatis.In classical times, prostatis (the feminine form of the noun) = leader, chief; guardian, protector.In Roman times, the word could mean patron.This is one of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12 (see v.8). In the NT, there were women prophets, servants, teachers, leaders, etc….Forms of the word also show up in 1 Tim 3:4 and 1 Thess 5:12.Female teachers, prophets, and leaders in the Bible, Miriam (Exod 15:20; Mic 6:4), Deborah (Judg 4-5), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chron 34:11-33), Noahdiah (Neh 6:14), Isaiah's wife (Isa 8:3), Anna (Luke 2:36), Priscilla (Acts 18:24-26; Rom 16:3-5, 1 Cor 16:19), Philip's daughters (Acts 21:8-9), Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2), and Junia (Rom 16:7).ConclusionLet’s be aware of our presuppositions when it comes to leadership in the ancient church.Respect and honor Phoebe—and all who are like her!As we read the New Testament, let's try to re-imagine their world, including those occasions when fresh letters or gospels were first read aloud!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionMost biblical figures give us few insights into the heart or the personality. Timothy is one of the persons about whom we know much more, mentioned some 30x in the N.T.He was in the circle of persons trained by the apostle Paul.ACTS 161Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Jewish / Greek. Jewish mother (2 Tim 1—mother Eunice and grandmother Lois)“A disciple”—not a bad phrase for one’s epitaph.But this is early in Timothy’s life, not late. As we will see, he seems to have continued to grow—to be a disciple, a learner.Character is key. That is, we should not chose people as leaders because they are impressive in a worldly way: photogenic, or tall, or powerful, or intellectual.He good character was known in more than one location.3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.Paul averts unnecessary criticism by having Timothy circumcised. This is a strategic decision.Titus he did not circumcise, but then Titus came from a fully Gentile background.4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.Timothy saw Paul at work, not only in Lystra, but in many towns.Paul and Timothy were coworkers.It’s immensely valuable to work with someone who knows how to share their faith, plant a church, deal with problems, preach the Word, etc. I have benefited from his sort of training.He understood unity between Paul & Jerusalem leaders. And he would have understood that this unity, achieved through hard work—sound theology & relational investment—was spiritual & productiveThe remainder of ActsInvolvement with the Thessalonian ministry. Paul’s “companions” (16:6; 17:1)17:14—Berea17:15—Paul wanted him to join him in Athens18:5—Came with Silas from Macedonia to Corinth. (Rom 16:21 – with Paul in Corinth)Wrote with Paul: 2 Cor, Phil, Col, 1-2 Thess = 5 letters19:22—Paul dispatched him to Macedonia with Erastus20:4—Joins Paul and others, traveling through Macedonia to Syria1 CORINTHIANS4:15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.Timothy to some extent mirrored Paul’s passion & perspective.Paul found him to be trustworthy.PHILIPPIANSPhil 219 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. Timothy was Christlike. In Phil 2 Paul highlights: Jesus, Timothy, and Epaphroditus.He had a genuine concern for others It’s not theoretical.Paul and Timothy have a father/son type of relationship.EPHESUS (1-2 Timothy)1 Tim 4:11-16 11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Command—authorityYoung: Acts 16: young + 13 years later (time elapsed between Acts 16 and 1 Tim 4), so Timothy was likely in the 30-40 age range.How to prevent them from discounting one's age (v.12)?Speech – sobriety, not silly, not coarse, edifyingConduct – exemplaryLove – relationshipsFaith – alive!Purity – keeping clear of the many defilements of the world.13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.Preaching and teaching based on reading (not an assortment of verses to prop up the preacher’s agenda). Integrity in handling the Word!Progress—keep growingLife and doctrine: life (v.12) + doctrine (v.12) = impact on others.For more on Timothy, watch the iFaith video sermon "Last Will & Testament," on 2 Timothy.Conclusion: 3 of Timothy’s qualities we can learn fromWisdom in the scriptures (2 Tim 3:14-16): 14Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful …Qualified to teach and preachIs our thinking saturated in Scripture? How much time are we investing on a regular basis?Concern for others. Phil 2 is high praise indeed. CharacterIt’s what attracted Paul to him in the first place.Humble enough to learn from Paul—such that he mirrors Paul—proven worth.The last piece of news in Hebrews, before short exchange of greetings, is v.23.23 I want you to know that our brother Timothyhas been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.Like Paul, he was willing to go the distance, run the race, fight the good fightDo we focus more on external matter, or the heart, the inner life, character?
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionTitus was a major figure in Paul’s life, although not mentioned in Acts (which is selective).We come across him 13x in NT, 8 times in 2 Cor—also Gal, 2 Tim, Titus.Unlike Timothy, he had no Bible background. A true gentile!Paul, we notice, was effective at working with people from biblical background as well as with those who had no biblical conditioning—that is, pagans.Galatians 2:1-3 1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.No 1. first century issue: how much of Judaism must Gentiles observe? Similar confusion today with so-called “Messianic Judaism.” (Do we need to observe the Jewish Law?)Timothy and Titus are different cases—the apparent discrepancy is easily resolved with the principle of 1 Cor 9:22.2 Corinthians 2:12-13 12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.Titus almost certainly carried the “painful letter” referred to in chapter 7.Communication took place by letter, envoy, personal visit, or conference.It isn't just that Paul misses Titus. Paul wants to know the impact of his “severe letter.”2 Corinthians 7:5-7 5 For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.Titus has relayed the good news.Titus wasn’t merely a messenger; he too was affected by the Corinthian response—“comforted.”[The famous repentance passage follows.]2 Corinthians 7:13-16 13 By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titushas proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.Titus wasn’t just a mercenary; he loved the Corinthians. The relational bonding is key in a Christian leader. Knowledge of the Bible and personal consistency are not enough, particularly when serving in so broad a circle as Titus did.The Corinthians respected Titus as much as they respected Paul.2 Corinthians 8:6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.He was entrusted with the matter of the famine relief collection—no small task.The Corinthians are donating to assist hungry Judean brothers and sisters.(The famine was predicted by the prophet Agabus in Acts 11:28.)2 Corinthians 8:16-17 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.Titus's initiative reminds me of Onesiphorus in 2 Tim 1:17.We also may admire his enthusiasm. One man has enthusiasm for thirty minutes, another for thirty days, but it is the man who has it for thirty years who makes a success of his life. Samuel Butler (1612-1680)These are great characteristics.Work on these things in the fellowship!2 Corinthians 8:23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you…2 Corinthians 12:18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?Paul can trust Titus.He is a true partner in the ministry.Titus1:4—Close relationship. “Child.”1:5—Entrusted him to appoint elders. It's reasonable to assume that Titus possessed the strength of character indicated in the list of qualities for church leaders1:13—Entrusted also to rebuke those teaching error.2:1—Paul trusted Titus to teach sound doctrine.2:15—"all authority" and “Let no one despise you”– Probably not because of Titus's youth, but because he wasn’t an apostle like Paul, only filling in in his place. Or perhaps because he lacked the intensive biblical background of his mentor.3:10-1—Paul also entrusted him to deal with divisive persons.3:12—"…do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there." This parallels Paul’s request to Timothy in 2 Tim 4. Suggests this is an important relationship to Paul.2 Timothy 4:10—Titus had gone to Dalmatia2 Tim is probably written after Titus. This is around 10 years later than 2 Corinthians.Titus is still in Paul's circle.Wrap-upAs one interpreter neatly observes, “Titus was… a troubleshooter, peacemaker, administrator, and missionary.”According to tradition, Titus died around the year 100, on the island of Crete. Skull of Titus is in Heraklion (?).What we can do:Be a support to Christian leaders. Respect the older men and women in our lives.Aim for character traits like enthusiasm and initiative.Stop making excuses for small thinking. Even if you weren’t brought up around the Bible—if you’re more of a Titus than a Timothy—God can still use you in powerful and important ways.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionSilas is mainly referred to in Acts 15-18. “Silas” first appears in Acts 15:22. He is referred to by his full name, Silvanus, in 2 Cor 1:19; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; and 1 Pet 5:12.His ministry is rich:Silas is a prophet—one of two who encourage the faithful in Antioch (15:32). In some sense, bringing the Word of God—or a word from God.He's also a writer. He assisted both Paul (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1) and Peter (1 Pet 5:12).And he is Paul's colleague in ministry. After Paul's disagreement with Barnabas, Paul takes Silas with him (in lieu of Barnabas himself) on the trip to the cities where Paul and Barnabas had established congregations (Acts 15:40). Compared with Barnabas, Silas is perhaps more an assistant than a partner. Nevertheless, especially considering their Philippian experience, they must have been bonded.Acts 16:19-40The situation in Acts 16:16ff. – economic motivation for persecution.Notice the verbs: seized, dragged, stripped, beaten, flogged, thrown, fastened.Lack of due process. Both Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. When I’m treated unfairly, do I pout?I often assumed these were happy songs. Maybe so, yet the Psalms include many darker, though situationally more appropriate, prayers.Praying and singing are excellent therapy for the cuts and bruises, and even for the injustice.The miraculous release reminds us of Peter’s release from prison in Acts 12.Further:Thessalonica: After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia (Acts 17:1). Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas (17:4a). While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly. (17:5b).Berea: That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea (17:10). When Paul leaves Thessalonica, Silas stays behind with Timothy, and is thereafter associated exclusively with him and only secondarily with Paul (17:14, 17:15b, 18:5a).Corinth: Preached there along with Paul and Timothy (Acts 18:5). The trio are also mentioned in 2 Cor 1:19.For us:Don’t be afraid of opposition. An extra reason—besides Jesus’ and Paul’s promise that it is unavoidable, and Peter’s promise that the spirit of glory will rest upon us—is relational. It draws people together when they shareabout their hardships—or share them, going through them together.When you’re in trouble, sing (Acts 16:25)!Be faithful. Peter tells us Silas is a “faithful” brother.We will not be perfect, but we can be faithful.It’s nice when busy people need us, and can depend on us. Silas was such a person.Accept differing degrees of closeness between Christians, even when they spend a significant amount of time together.Consider Jesus and the 3, or Paul and Timothy.And that’s okay! Be content to be the "number two guy."
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundLydia is from Asia (Thyatira), but resident in Europe (Philippi). She is the first convert from Europe in the book of Acts.Philippi is a Roman colony—there's no synagogue. Still, Jews and those Gentiles attracted to Judaism had regular places of prayer, typically outside the city and out of doors—like at rivers.Paul (and Luke) visit the river on the Sabbath, expecting to find worshippers of God. And so they did!Text: Acts 16:14-15, 40Lydia"Lydia" is a place name – after a region of Asia Minor. (Like calling someone "Kansas" or "Sydney.")Lydia is a merchant—reminding us of the Proverbs 31 Woman (Prov 31:12-31).Possibly she was a widow, or otherwise well-off / independent.She hailed from Thyatira of Revelation (Re 2:18)."Worshiper of God" indicates she was drawn to the true God (of Judaism).The Lord opened her heart. (See Luke 24:31-32). Her response includes baptism.Lydia seems to have been the first convert in Europe!She’s mentioned one more time—just 25 verses later. Her home is where Paul and Silas headed after their incarceration (v.40). It is likely that her home, and her network of relationships, served as a sort of beachhead for the gospel.Final thoughtsJust because you run a business doesn’t mean you can’t live an active Christian life.Regardless of our degree of busyness with our business, we're never too busy to serve the Lord.We model not only hard work and productivity, but also fairness, respect, gentlenessIf you have been blessed with material goods and a home, make it available for the spread of the gospel. Hospitality is an important virtue. It’s expected of church leaders.In evangelism we don’t need to seek atheists and agnostics only—it’s fine to focus on those already on a faith journey. Paul spoke of the gospel as first for the Jew, then the Greek (Rom 1).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Agabus (Acts 11:27-29) A Jerusalem prophet, like Judas and Silas (Acts 15)Hagabos means "locust"—which is interesting, given the connection of locusts with famines.The famine prediction was made 43/44 AD.The "whole world" is the Roman world, as in Luke 2:1.Claudius was emperor 41-54 AD.Suetonius and Tacitus, Roman historians, refer to this famine.The apostle Paul organized the famine relief collection (2 Cor 8-9) to enable Gentile Christians to share material with the Jewish-background Christians in Judea, where the famine would be especially severe.In the NT, merciful charity is esp. to be given to the family of believers (Gal 6; Matt 25).The Christians took Agabus seriously.The prophecies and the resulting collection led to unity among Christian of different backgrounds.And, like nearly all the prophecies of the OT, this one pointed to the near future (not the distance future).Agabus’s prophecy is highly practical.Acts 21:10-11Agabus makes another prediction.He does not tell Paul it’s God’s will for him not to go to Jerusalem.Luke and others beg Paul not to go (v.12), breaking the apostle's heart (v.13.), although eventually they conclude this must be God’s will (v.14). See indicated in 1 Cor 14:29; 1 Thess 5:20-21. Note: this Jerusalem visit isn't the same as the famine relief visit. It takes place many years later.Rhoda (Acts 12:12-16)Rhoda = rose. Roses from the island of Rhodes.She was a slave girl. Many slaves became Christians in the time of early church.Rhoda correctly identifies Peter by voice. (We assume there was no peephole in the door.)Yet she fails to open the door!She is overjoyed—not neutral or nonchalant. She really cared.Rhoda relays the message.Yet she is not believed—why?Was it because of her low status?Or her being a woman?Or from a failure of the others to back their prayers with genuine faith?Rhoda keeps insisting—she does not back down. She knew the truth, and it was important.And she is vindicated—eventually.ConclusionBoth Rhoda and Agabus had correctly glimpsed the truth—and made sure that people heard it.One was listened to (and respected), the other doubted.Do we listen? Do we pick up on the things the Lord may be trying to show us?And when we understand, do we make sure others receive the message, or do we easily back down?Rhoda was instrumental in Peter being rejoined to the assembly. Agabus was instrumental in tightening the bond between Jewish and Gentile Christians.May we all have the insight of Agabus, and the faithful persistence of Rhoda!
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.BackgroundThis study is not primarily about Paul. (For that, please watch the iFaith video sermon on Philemon, or listen to the Philemon unit in The Prison Epistles, or read the NT Chapter Study notes on Philemon, all at this website.) Rather, we will explore the interplay between Philemon and Onesimus.This is a personal letter, and to some extent a private letter, but what has happened is most likely public knowledge, and the whatever the result of Paul’s letter, everyone—all those mentioned in the introduction—will know.Philemon 1-22A church meets in Philemon’s home.Apphia is likely Philemon’s wife.Philemon is introduced as dear friend and collaborer. Paul is not writing to a stranger. He’s not even just writing to an acquaintance. Philemon is a friend—a dear friend.Philemon is known outside his immediate home and clearly respected.He has good relationships.He has not only helped many; Philemon is a loving person.Onesimus has become Paul’s spiritual son.After running away from Philemon, Paul met him and Onesimus became a Christian.“Useful” (v.11)—a word play.Paul is sending him back, as there are unresolved issues—and feelings.Paul is hinting that Philemon should grant Onesimus his freedom, that he may continue to serve the apostle. He expects that Philemon will accede to this request—not under duress, but in keeping with his good heart and character.Onesimus has stolen from Philemon.Paul hopes that Philemon will remit the debt.I think of the bishop Myriel in Les Miserables (Victor Hugo, 1862). The priest showed kindness to the recently freed prisoner Jean Valjean, who then steals away in the night—after stealing Myriel’s silverware. The bishop not only pardons him—he gives him even more silverware. It is one of many truly touching scenes in this masterpiece.Paul not only hopes for this outcome; he expects it.So, what was the outcome? We are not told.Philemon is mentioned nowhere else in the NT. This is not, however, the case for Onesimus.Colossians 4:7-9If this is the same Onesimus—I see no reason to doubt it—Paul is as fond of him as ever, and he praises Onesimus for his faith and service to the apostle in his ministry.Is Onesimus free?It’s possible Onesimus accompanied Tychicus, delivering the letters of Colossians and Philemon (which some scholars think were written and delivered at the same time). In this case he may not yet have returned to Philemon—unless Philemon’s house church is in Colosse.Or perhaps Colossians is written soon after the liberation of Philemon.ConclusionIf Paul’s prediction is correct, Philemon did the right thing. He set Onesimus free.His debt to Philemon was canceled.The watching church were all edified.According to one tradition, Philemon and Onesimus were martyred in the persecution under Nero (64 AD). But Ignatius (107) also mentions an Onesimus (“a man of inexpressible love, and your overseer in the flesh”), which would indicate martyrdom during the persecution under Domitian (95).Perhaps a true friendship between equals developed. Philemon and Onesimus were both in Christ, in whom there is neither slave nor free.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionsAquilaAquila means "eagle."There are 7 well-known Aquilas in ancient times, including our Aquila.He is always mentioned with his wife.PriscillaHer name means "venerable."There are 2 well-known Priscillas—one martyred in the 2nd C, and our Priscilla.She is Priscilla in Acts 18:2, 18, 26. She is Prisca in Rom 16:3; 1 Cor 16:19; 2 Tim 4:19. Priscilla is the diminutive form of Prisca.CorinthActs 18:1-3Expelled from Rome by emperor Claudius.Christianity as a sect of Judaism.Being God’s people doesn’t necessarily shield us from injustice.Aquila was Jewish. Presumably Priscilla was, too, although that is not made totally clear.Leatherwork: a versatile and wise way to serve in ministry—in the same profession as Paul.SyriaActs 18:18Travel time with PaulProbably headed to Syrian AntiochEphesusActs 18:24-26Apollos was on the right track, but apparently off-base on baptism.John’s baptism did not confer the Spirit. Yet it could be argued that Apollos gave strong evidence of the Spirit in his life.The dozen Ephesian disciples in the following chapter seem to have been significantly more in need of correction than Apollos. Paul baptized them. Apollos may have been baptised, esp. if Luke has arranged these two passages to be perfectly parallel. But he may also have placed the two accounts together because they were opposites: the Ephesians needed to be baptized, but not Apollos.Priscilla and Aquila taught ApollosApollos was a powerful figure; learning required humility on this part.He is not too proud to say not to being taught by a woman.Priscilla can be viewed as the married counterpart to Phoebe.One is single in ministry.One is married in ministry.1 Cor 16:191 Cor was written from Ephesus.P&A were well connected.They led a group together.RomePerhaps they have returned to Rome after the death of Claudius in 54. (Until the next expulsion?)Rom 16:3-4They head the list of Paul's greetings.They were courageous.They were appreciated by many.Aquila and Priscilla were persons of character.2 Tim 4:19Paul’s final letterP&A are greeted at the top of the list, just as in Romans.1 Tim was written to Ephesus. Perhaps they are back in Ephesus again (?)Comments The names of Priscilla and Aquila often appear on lesson titles on marriage or couples ministry. That’s understandable. Their working relationship I’m sure was admirable.Priscilla and Aquila were tentmakers, or leatherworkers. Self-supporting—very smart! More the norm for Christian leaders than the clergy-laity model, supporting full-time salaries work for leaders, and which nearly every denomination has adopted.1 Cor 9:5-6: Barnabas didn’t take along his wife, if he was married; ditto for Paul. Sometimes one spouse will be fully engaged in missionary work, sometimes both. Or it may be a hybrid situation.The Bible never defines ministry as full-time church work.Nor does the Bible require such persons to be married, or their spouse to work alongside them.Priscilla teaches Apollos.As suggested, Priscilla may be the married version of Phoebe.Going it alone, like Paul (though often he wasn’t alone)—choosing not to marry, like Jesus, or to serve in a special ministry in which your spouse does not share, is totally fine. But if you have the passion and the stamina to be a vocational missionary, Priscilla and Aquila may serve as strong role models for you.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.John Mark IdentityMark may not be John Mark. John was a common name in the Jewish world, and Mark a common name in the Roman world. And having a Greco-Roman name along with a Semitic name was not uncommon.Even if John Mark is not the writer of Mark, you can still derive some benefit from our study.Some identify him with the young man who fled naked (Mark 14:52), but this is unsure.He is associated with Peter, according to Papias (early 2nd C.).Acts 12:12Mid-40s ADPeter returns to John Mark’s house once released from prison.Prayer meeting. [Listen also to the Rhoda NT Character podcast]John Mark's family were people of means.Acts 12:25He is a missionary.And connected with Saul and (esp.) Barnabas.Acts 15:36-4149 AD.Paul felt young John Mark should not join them. Too much pressure? Untested or fragile? In some other unreliable? Not a good chemistry between Saul and John Mark?The brothers and sisters support Saul/Paul. This must have been hard for Barnabas, who had believed in Saul when no one else did—and for John Mark, too.Barnabas chooses to remain with Mark.Cyprus is the ancestral home of Barnabas. Jews had been scattered all over the broader Mediterranean world.Col 4:10c.60 AD.Mark was Barnabas’ cousin. Mark has reconnected with Paul, more than a decade after the time of Acts 15. People change in 10 years.Philemon 24Mark is numbered among other colleagues of Paul.He sends greetings to those in the Lycus Valley. He knew many people around the world, e.g. in Cyprus, Syria, and quite likely Egypt.2 Tim 4:9-1164-68 ADNot only have Saul and John Mark reconnected, but now the apostle appears to be fond of Mark.Note: As Paul was executed under Nero, who died in 68 AD, and most scholars date the composition of Mark to around the year 65, it is just possible that Paul had already read Mark.Paul appreciates Mark’s help, and he praises him.Further:Although Mark, like all four gospels, is anonymous, there is an early and strong tradition that Mark was the author. (See Papias.)Mark was close to Peter. Mark could be “The Gospel of Peter” (except that’s an apocryphal document from the late 2nd).Peter felt comfortable with Mark recording all his weaknesses.Mark was a leading figure in Egypt.Alexandria: Although missionary work there is not mentioned, it is unthinkable that the apostles would have skipped Egypt!The best candidate is Mark—not only because the Egyptians today insist so loudly that he is the founder of Egyptian Christianity, but because there are, as far as I know, no further claimants to the title.Mark was a great man, and his name is still highly popular (although I know of only one John Mark).The combination of writing and missionary experience is a good one.This is no armchair academic! The same can be said of Matthew (one of the 12), Luke (traveled with Paul), and John (an apostle).Matthew (Levi) – covered in another talk, so let's be brief… Matthew is mentioned in Matthew 9:9 and 10:3, and comes from Capernaum.His other name is Levi, son of Alpheus (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27).Matthew collected taxes for Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. He may have been despised as a collaborator, but his willingness to follow Christ shows his heart was good.As a tax collector he would have been literate in both Aramaic and Greek, in addition to being good with numbers. We actually know more about Zacchaeus (Luke 19), another tax collector in the first century, than about Matthew.According to early tradition, Matthew died in Parthia, where he had ministered.His gospel was the most quoted among the earlier church fathers, just as people are still naming their baby boys after him worldwide.For more, check out Q&A 1551: Whatever Happened to the Apostles (after N.T. times)?Luke IdentityDoctorOnly Gentile writer of the NTWrote ¼ of the NT.Accompanied Paul—look for the “we passages” in Acts.He is mentioned three times in the NT, all three times in epistles penned by Paul in the 60s AD.Col 414This is the sole verse where we learn that Luke is a doctor.He was no street hawker, no quack. (If he lacked credentials or ability, it is doubtful attention would be drawn to his shabby vocation.)His polished Greek attests to a high level of his education.Philemon 242 Tim 411—accompanies Paul in his final days before execution.ThoughtsThe message of Christ attracted not only the disenfranchised and the educated, but also professionals and even the well-off. (But see 1 Cor 1:26.)There is a parallel in the lives of the two most influential apostles. Just as Mark accompanied Peter, Luke accompanied Paul. As Mark’s gospel reflects Peter’s life and character, so Luke’s 2-volume work provides us with an abundance of information about Paul, to which we would not otherwise have access.Like Matthew, Mark, and John, his name is highly popular.Matthew – from the HebrewMark is a Gentile name, but John is HebrewLuke is a Gentile name, from the Latin Lucius.By tradition, Luke was martyred in the reign of Nero.Nero orders his hand and arm to be cut off—which Luke miraculously reattaches! Then he is taken out to sea and beheaded, body and head placed into a bag and cast into the sea. His remains wash up on an unnamed island.His remains are moved to Constantinople in the 350s, later taken to Padua (Italy). In 1354 Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV removed his head from the reliquary and takes it to Prague. Luke's head and hand are placed on display in Rome in the 17th century. It was not uncommon for relics from a single body to show up in multiple cities.Source: Syriac / Coptic scholar Jacob Lollar, 2020.John – covered in another talk, so there’s no need to repeat the material here. John—Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Ephesus, Patmos.Probably buried in Ephesus.Further study: Q&A 1551: Whatever Happened to the Apostles (after N.T. times)? Also consider the N.T. Character Podcast on John (login required—but not if you listen to my podcast—sign up wherever you get your podcasts).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.The name SalomeThere are two Salomes in the NT— no surprise, given the popularity of the name in the 1st C.Salome comes from shalôm, peace.Top 10 first century names: Salome (Shalom, Shalom-Tsiyyon), Simon (Shim’on), Mary (Mariam, Maria), Joseph (Yosef), Judas (Yehudah), Lazarus (El’azar, Eli’ezer), Joezer (Yeho’azar), John (Yohanan), Martha (Marta), Jesus (Yeshua’). Salome is the most popular. The unnamed SalomeFirst, the granddaughter of Herod the Great.She was the daughter of Herodias and Herod Antipas, named in Josephus (Antiquities XVIII, 5.4).This Salome is unnamed in the gospels.Matt 14:6-20Presumably Salome saw no problem with her mother’s suggestion.This is the power politics at its ugliest.It is easy to imagine that the dance was immodest, given the well-known worldliness of the Herods.The event is also recorded in Mark 6:21-28.The named SalomeSecond, the mother of James and John: parallel Mark 15:40-41and Matt 27:56.Mark 15:40-41Salome was a follower of Jesus during his earthly ministry.She gave financial support for the Lord’s work. (See also Luke 8:1-3.)Salome was among the women who witnessed the crucifixion.Mark 16:1-8She was among the first witnesses of the empty tomb—who, with the possible exception of the Roman guards, were all female.What an honor!Mother of James and John?Sometimes Salome is identified as the mother of James and John. Given how common a name Salome was, this could easily have been the name of the two apostles’ mother, whether or not it refers to the same person. Is the identification is correct, we gain further insight from Matt 20:20-22.(In Mark's version of this account, we do not read of the mother prompting her sons to seek positions of honor.)She too had some views about the management of power – which is politics. Not crass or violent like the other Salome and Herodias, yet still based on incorrect premises.ConclusionThe two Salomes make for an interesting contrast:One is wordly, the other godly.One is wicked, the other righteous.One opposes God’s people, the other supports them.While the godly Salome was a follower of the Prince of Peace, her worldly namesake had nothing to do with peace.Challenge: Get to know the major and minor characters in the NT. (Then tackle the OT!)
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionThere are 13 Josephs in the Bible.This Joseph is mentioned 13x in the NT: Matt 1:16, 18-19, 24; 2:13, 19; Luke 1:27; 2:4, 16; 3:23; 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42Joseph was among the top 5 popular names in Jesus’ day.He is generally given insufficient attention.Matt 1:18-21... 24-25Joseph is descended from the royal line of Judah.Joseph is a just man.Even after the inexplicable pregnancy of his betrothed, he is determined to protect Mary’s honor.He obeys the angelic message.The marriage is not consummated, for whatever reason, until after the birth of Jesus. (Other sons and a few daughters follow.)Matt 2:11The Magi meet Mary and Jesus.Is Joseph there? He isn't mentioned.Matt 2:13-15Again, Joseph obeys.Herod the Great dies in 4 BC.Matt 2:19-23Yet again, Joseph obeys God. Joseph is sort of like Noah—no speaking part (until after the deluge).In fear—or common sense?—he withdraws not to Judea (in the south), but to Galilee (in the north).Luke 2:4-5, 16c. 7 AD.The shepherds greet Joseph and Mary.Luke 2:41-52Neither she nor Joseph understand what Jesus means when he says “my father’s house.” Or maybe they get it, but only partially.Mary is depicted as the thoughtful one.This is the last time we meet Joseph.Joseph’s death and his other childrenPresumably he died before Jesus’ public ministry began—yet perhaps not too soon after Luke 2.In Matthew 13 we find that Joseph and Mary had at least 8 children in all. While it is possible all had been born by the time of the events of Luke 2, this seems unlikely.What is admirable about JosephSomewhat surprisingly, Joseph has no speaking role. (This is in contrast to the some of the rather humorous apocryphal gospels.) Although, in terms of airtime, Mary eclipses Joseph, yet still he is a worth learning about. Of course in a sense he does answer the Lord when spoken to. He answers with his actions—same as you and me.He is an obedient man.He obeys the authorities.He observes Torah, respecting and obeying the Scriptures.Joseph also does as instructed in several angelic dreams.Joseph is a man of honour. He protects his wife.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Why immigrants should be welcomed:In some of the uncharitable attitudes exhibited in the discussion there is more than a hint of hypocrisy.“Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. / I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” (inscription on the Statue of Liberty)We are called to obey the laws of the land, and yet our land (for us Americans) is a nation built of immigrants.The Bible calls us to love the alien (Leviticus 19:34), because God loves the alien (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).Yes these laws governed a church-state. Under the new covenant, the church is not a political entity.The Law of Moses teaches us much about the heart of God, yet it is not a platform for civil law in our time.Inflexible policies are rarely in harmony with the principle of love.Why illegal immigrants should return to their home nations / strive to become legal:Lying to immigration authorities can damage one’s conscience. Keeping a clear conscience receives a huge emphasis in the scriptures. Always being “on the run” can erode faith.Social services are expensive; somebody has to pay. (And some needs are more legitimate than others.) The scriptures also emphasize pulling one's own weight.In most countries there is a way to become a legal resident. It may be better to come clean, plead for clemency, and let God move in his own way.On the other hand...In some cases, going back to countries of origin is unrealistic or even dangerous (political or religious persecution)!The issues are complex. Anyone who denies there are any "gray areas" in scripture is unrealistic -- isn't being honest.It isn't the church’s job to be vigilantes who cause trouble or hardship for those who, for whatever reasons, have chosen to “hide” from immigration authorities.Conclusion:As long as there is human society on this earth, there will be nations and laws and borders. Without borders, states will be overrun by their enemies.Capitalism may work better than socialism, but Christ-followers are called to neither position.Christianity was never intended to be elevated to the level of national policy. That's because those on the narrow road will never be more than a small minority in their society.Each situation be considered on a case-by-case basis.Let us balance justice with compassion. How would Jesus have dealt with the illegal alien?
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.1. The example of Paul-Standing on rights (Acts 16, 22, 25)-Waiving rights (1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1)2. Lawsuits-Two views: no litigation or no litigation against fellow believers-"Why not rather be wronged?" (1 Corinthians 6, Matthew 5)3. American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)-Which side would you find yourself on?-Submit to which authorities? (Romans 12, 13)-If this intrigues you, please hear the podcast on the American Civil War.4. Civil Disobedience-Only when man's law opposes God's law may we resist.-It is justified only when the command of man contradicts the law of God, not when the law of man contradicts our personal preference or convenience.(Daniel 3, 6; Acts 4-5)5. Christian Government-There is no such animal! The experiment has been tried, with catastrophic effect.-Two separate spheres (faith and politics).-Beware Dominion theology (Genesis 1:28), whose aims are not dissimilar to those of the radical Muslims.6. Ultimate allegiance-Many Christians are confused about the relationship between the church and the state.-Text of the Pledge of Allegiance (1892): I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Note: The words "under God" were added in 1954.- No follower of Christ can pledge ultimate allegiance to a flag, or to the state that it represents.- [The following letter has been taken from Christianity Today, Oct. 2012, p.62.] "As one who has served over 31 years in the U.S. Coast Guard... I do not believe churches should display the American flag in their sanctuaries. 'No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America' (U.S. Code Title 4 Chapter 1). The usual practice in our churches is to display both the American flag and the Christian flag in the sanctuary. Since the American flag must be displayed in the preeminent position, this symbolically places our allegiance to our country over our faith in Jesus Christ and our citizenship in his kingdom." -- Ted Brandsma (Littleton, Colorado)7. The example of Christ-Philippians 2ConclusionLaw and government are expressions of God's sovereign authority. Insofar as the authorities don't ask us to violate biblical principles, we are to obey the law.Our individualistic society is heavily focused on rights, privileges, and entitlements. Yet a Christian is willing to waive his or her rights for the greater good.Some of us need to rethink the relationship between church and government.In all things, our example should be that of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2). Whom do we resemble more:an individual bent on his rights, orthe one who ceded his rights in order that the poor might be made rich, enemies might be loved and convicted of their lack of love and holiness, and the bleeding, breaking heart of God might be revealed?
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Consequences of breakdown of of ethics The breakdown of ethics in the workplace has dire social and personal consequences:Resentment and ill willRuined relationshipsDeep rationalizationsSeared consciencesCycles of oppression, poverty, and retaliationIncidence of crimehopes polMonday follows Sunday; what we claim to believe in church must be translated into action every day of the week. Judaism unusual for its ethical monotheism:Sabbath broke cycle...... was not just one day for righteous living (Isaiah 58).Provision is made for the poor and the oppressed -- all of those at a disadvantage.Its prophets spoke truth to power, challenging all those corrupted by the self-directed ethics of the world -- including those wielding illegitimate power, be they priests or even kings.Passages to ponderLev 19:33-37Deut 25:13-16; Proverbs 11:1, 16:11; 20:10,23Wisdom of Amenemope 16: "Do not lean on the scales nor falsify the weights."Amos 8:4-6Luke 19:8-9Prevalence of compromiseAbundance of biblical passages suggests there were widespread problems in this area.Since cultures vary widely, it is wiser to offer principles, rather than a list of practicals. (All the same, principles arepractical!)A Dozen PrinciplesPay taxesReject shoddy materials and workmanship (excellence)Insist on transparency ("fine print," deception, honor)Uphold employee contracts (integrity and clear communication)Employee benefits (part of a fair compensation)No threats, e.g. implying you might terminate an employee who won't work extra hours, do favors, and so on (abuse of authority).Disingenuous advertising.Thing theologically about involvement in promoting products that destroy life (e.g. cigarettes).Neither shrink working hours nor stretch breaks.Don't violate your conscience.Treat foreigners (or those otherwise at a disadvantage) with equity.Value people over goods and services.ConclusionWe live in the world -- most of us listening to this lesson are in the working world -- yet we are not to be of the world.Like Moses in the Torah, Jesus in the new covenant demands that we practice what we preach. He dismisses any notion that what we are in private is disconnected from what are do in public.Is it possible you and I have some thinking to do? Some honest soul-searching, in which we consider whether we are living, and working, ethically?
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Some scriptures to considerProverbs 30:7-9Revelation 3:14-201 Corinthians 1:261 Timothy 6:6-11, 17-19Ezekiel 16:49Proverbs 4:23Concluding thoughtsMake as much as you can, and we can give away more to others.Review the related podcasts on:Serving the PoorWhat the Bible Says About TithingA Christian Response to the Global Financial Crisis"Men of genius are admired; men of wealth are envied; men of power are feared; but only men of character are trusted.""There's nothing wrong with possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess us!"
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.An out-of-work money manager in California loses a fortune and wipes out his family in a murder-suicide.A 90-year-old Ohio widow shoots herself in the chest as authorities arrive to evict her from the modest house she called home for 38 years.In Massachusetts, a housewife who had hidden her family's mounting financial crisis from her husband sends a note to the mortgage company warning: "By the time you foreclose on my house, I'll be dead." Then Carlene Balderrama shot herself to death, leaving an insurance policy and a suicide note on a table.I. What crisis?The "bubble" has burst. Whether this is a recession, a depression, or worse, conditions have changed in the global economy. There is a pervasive atmosphere of anxiety.During one recent week (in 2008), global stock markets tumbled 7 trillion dollars! This is affecting the entire globe! Everyone is talking. We have felt the crisis, at least indirectly (through our friends who have been hit, and through rising prices).Can affect our faith, too. (Not to mention marriages.)This is complex! Involves multiple agencies – hard to nail anyone down.We are not going to solve it in a day! -- but we can get a biblical perspective….II. How are people responding to the crisis?AngstFinger-pointing: Democrats! Republicans! Government! God! The Devil! America! Businessmen! Consumers!Disengagement, hopelessnessRefusal to even think about it. Keep head down, keep going…In some places, people have no choice but to think about it. Zimbabwe’s inflation rate recently hit 231m%. Imagine having Z$1m yesterday, and today it’s barely worth $1!“I believe there is God’s justice in action in what’s going on here and we haven’t seen the end of it… We’re going toward a one-world bank and a one-world monetary system, and if you believe the Word of God and you read Revelations… you will see clearly what’s being spelt out, and we are in the end times.” – James Bidgood, Australian MPEasy to give up, either ignoring it or else rationalizing it with a Que será, será attitude.There's a different sort of aloofness, a way to ignore the issues:Some of us are doing just fine, and say “It is a blessing from God,” or “I must be a good person,” or “I am pretty good with money.”But it ain’t necessarily so!Ecclesiastes 9:11. Not everything is so neat and tidy, so predictable! There is a possibility that some of it comes down to chance – Black Swan. God allows some random things to happen.The book of Job: Bad things do happen to good people. Could be a test from God. Even if he didn’t custom design the crisis for you and me, it can still be a sort of test: how will we respond? James 1:2-15.On the other end of extreme religious reactions, “It is a lack of faith,” as one eminent evangelist said on TV. Blessing if you get everything you want? If a child gets everything he asks for?The reality is complex… Many consider money to be a personal matter. Yet there are more passages on money and wealth and possessions than, say, all those on faith and repentance and baptism combined. So, how we respond is important. Nothing diminishes our need to live responsibly! Here’s where the Bible has a lot to say.III. How does the Bible shed light on the crisis?The financial crises in the Bible offer parallels.Famines had similar effects:In the time of Joseph [Genesis 41-47]In the time of Elisha [2 Kings 6-7]In 1st century Judea [Acts 11:28-30; 2 Corinthians 8-9].These are testing times, driving up prices, straining relationships, affecting families, removing comfort, leading to despair, revealing character.Realize that money is not the answer!“Vanity of vanities” Emptiness! Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV).The US government is throwing money at the problem. (Whose money?) A feast is prepared for laughter, and wine makes life happy, and money is the answer for everything (Ecclesiastes 10:19 CSB)“Daily bread” Moderation – Proverbs 30:7-9 "Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, `Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God (NIV). See also Matthew 6:11.Balance hard work with generous liberality.Industry – Pull your weight. 2 Thessalonians 3:10: In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: "If anyone isn't willing to work, he should not eat" (CSB). and yet there is a balancing principle: Kind to the needy, giving to those who ask (Luke 6).Generosity. Keep giving! Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity (2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV).Although the N.T. does not command any particular percentage for giving, most of us western Christians are able to go beyond the O.T. norm!Note: Some believers have been generous to a fault. Those who are deep in debt and have not spent responsibly may need to give away less of their income until they get their house in order. The ultimate goal, however, is to be a generous giver.Live responsibly.Stewardship. Matthew 25.Study the Proverbs and strive to become a disciplined person.Watch out for materialism.Definition…. PleonexiaIt was the sin of Sodom. Ezekiel 16: 49-50: This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.The Lord never promises financial prosperity. Jesus in Matthew 6 – “seek first…. and all these things…” “You can’t take it with you.” Nothing is ours to keep forever anyway. Don’t spend money you don’t have!“Credit, not debit.”Credit card debt – The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7 NIV)Don't be one of those who enter agreements, who put up security for loans. If you have no money to pay, even your bed will be taken from under you (Proverbs 22:26-27 CSB).People before things. 1 Timothy 6:7ff. Value relationships. What’s more valuable? Relationships, family… Use things and love people, not love things and use people…Be content.Philippians 4:11. We are still rich.We may have lost a lot. (Though is it only on paper?) But think of the rest of the world; most nations are poor.Be humble. Deuteronomy 8: 6-18: So keep the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper. When you eat and are full, you will praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you. "Be careful that you don't forget the LORD your God by failing to keep His command-- the ordinances and statutes-- I am giving you today. When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn't become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flintlike rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end He might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, 'My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,' but remember that the LORD your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm His covenant He swore to your fathers, as it is today (CSB)Old covenant more physical, material…. Does not apply to us today.Still there are principles to learn:Be humble.We are not self-made people! Quote from Jim McGuiggan, Genesis and Us.Guard your heart! (Proverbs 4:23)IV. Why should we talk about the crisis?We should talk. This area should not be taboo. Feeling pressure… need someone to talk to. Therapeutic!Even talking with our kids is good…Questions to ask myself about money:How did I get it? (Exploitatively? Legally? Ethically?)What am I doing with it? (All used for my own comfort, or helping others, too?)How is it affecting me? (Enslaving? Holding on to integrity? Distraction?)Questions to ask others:"How is the crisis affecting you?”“How are you handling things?”“Do you have any counsel for me?”We need to talk about this. Take advantage of the greater climate of openness.We need to care enough to ask. People need us to ask…ConclusionLet’s talk about it. This is a great opportunity to connect with people, to get them to open up, to meet them authentically and to minister to them in a place where it hurts.Keep studying for biblical conviction. Turn to God, study the scriptures – as we have seen, they have a lot to say about this matter!Further study:Abraham & Lot (Genesis 12-19) – the contrast of the life of one swayed by materialism (Lot) with one more rooted in the Word2 Chronicles 25:5-10 and Proverbs 6:1-5 – release from unwise financial commitments.The passages on famine in III (1)Proverbs — over 30 passagesLuke – over 30 passages (see Acts, too)Take AIM! Spiritual Life DVD series. Nine speakers bring lessons on a variety of topics, including many vital spiritual and financial principles.Excellent books:Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians Living in an Age of Hunger: A Biblical Study (IVP, 1977) and The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005). Deeply challenging.Robert Wuthnow, Poor Richard's Principle: Recovering the American Dream Through the Moral Dimension of Work, Business, & Money (Princeton University Press, 1996). Superb.Craig Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches (Grand Rapids: Intervarsity, 2001). A thorough and scholarly study, with many practical ideas.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.What about survivalism? Are these people on the right track biblically? Can Christians be "survivalists”?Survivalism as a popular movement is well worth understanding, especially as some Christians are attracted to it. This attraction is increasingly common in society at large; think of the many TV programs, like Survivor, or movies, like The Book of Eli, or video games, like Fallout.Survivalists believe that the responsible thing to do before the inevitable breakdown of society is to become self-sufficient. One will need adequate supplies of food and water to last for months (if not years) of anarchy and chaos. People need to provide for their families. Those who fail to take measures should not count on hand-outs. "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty" (Prov 22:3).Further, one would be foolish to trust that normal human civility will suffice to maintain possession of one's cache. It may be necessary to defend it with force. Further, the time to load up on ammunition is now—before gun stores close.It would be foolish to stay in or near a city. Better to plan on surviving in a rural and (preferably) isolated area. A sturdy shelter will be needed (underground is best -- maybe a luxury doomsday condo, if finances allow), and a generator may also prove helpful if and when public utilities are completely disrupted.AssumptionsWhat are the fundamental components and assumptions of survivalism?Things are going to get bad. (Even if they don't, it's wise to be prepared.)God wants us to stay alive. Injury and death must be avoided (at all costs).We should stockpile water and food so that we have enough to survive until such time as things are safe again. (Think Old Testament siege conditions, as in 2 Kings 6 and 2 Kings 18.)A cache of weapons and ammunition is crucial. If someone trespasses onto my property I am justified in using lethal force, especially if he is attempting to raid my provisions.Since society will be in a state of chaos, we should plan to live in a secure shelter (amply furnished and supplied).Since money will lose its value, wealth should be converted to gold, silver, or other intrinsically valuable media of exchange.We shouldn't count on rescue. Normal disasters elicit assistance from the government; this time the cavalry won't be coming to save us. In effect, God helps those who help themselves.These, then, are the fundamentals of survivalism and the assumptions on which it is based. Now it's time to evaluate. Survivalists make some good points, a number of which resonate with thoughtful Bible readers.Society may well collapse one day. No empire lasted forever, after all.The prudent take this into account. He or she prepares. One should not bank on rescue."Paper money" is arbitrary. Banknote values depend wholly on the strength of the government backing them.Wicked men will try to rob us. This is already the reality, and crime only tends to increase in times of civil chaos.It is right take up arms to defend the innocent, like oneself and one's family..Let me respond to the previous 5 points. After that we will examine the teachings of Jesus and Paul with implications for survivalism. As we will see, there are numerous fundamental problems with survivalism.Indeed, empires come and go. Even Rome fell (as intimated in Revelation); we should pay attention and learn. A breakdown of society, perhaps a massive technological failure or terrorist attack, is not a possibility to be dismissed. I recently read Marc Elsberg's novel Blackout. Although it is a work of fiction, even since it was originally published there have been attacks on the electrical power grid (in Europe) that demonstrate the plausibility of the scenario he envisions.Preparing for contingencies is biblical. Yet we are not our own saviors; as much as we like to be in control, Jesus is the Savior. Yet that hardly means he shields us from hardship, suffering, or persecution. Romans 8 is no promise of peace and prosperity. There the only guarantee is that nothing, however horrific, can separate us from God's love.This point doesn't go far enough. If we "cash in" our paper money for gold, silver, etc., these too are arbitrary. They have no intrinsic value (apart from, say, industrial applications). Further, the Bible warns us not to love money or allow it to become an idol. See Luke 16:13-15!Since thieves break in and steal, we had best store our treasure in heaven (not in a bunker). Not fair that the evil men succeed? Relax; one day there will be a Day of Judgment. (See Psalm 73.)Defending the innocent in court is a strong prophetic theme. Yet while the OT allowed limited violence in self-defense, in the NT we are told to relate to enemies in a different way. The use of lethal force was unacceptable even in the case of Christ—and no one was more innocent than he.Jesus and Paul on SurvivalismTo embrace survivalism as normally conceived requires a rejection of the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, as well as of Paul's teaching in the epistles. Please take a moment to read over three passages, two from Matt 5-6, and one from Rom 12. They are somewhat lengthy, but if we want our convictions to come from scripture, we need to engage. Take your time; digest them.“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt 5:38-48).“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matt 6:25-34).Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:17-21).Jesus gave us the formula for surviving in any situation: Seek first the kingdom.Rather than hoard food and refuse it to one who is hungry, we are to feed him—even if he is our enemy! Further, hospitality is one of highest biblical virtues, including taking the stranger into our home. Recall the Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24).As my friend David Berçot observes, "Survivalism is kindred to the spirit of the man Jesus described in the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21). The rich fool was hoarding his goods so that he could later take life easy. The survivalist hoards his goods to make sure he will have something for tomorrow, in case calamity comes. Neither person really trusts in God’s provident care. Both types of persons are focused on themselves (and their families), instead of others."Jesus forbade all forms of violence. "Put your sword away. He who draws the sword will die by the sword" (Matt 26:52). Now that we live in the Messianic Age, swords have been beaten into plowshares (Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3). We don't "study" (prepare) for war any more. No more killing.Interestingly (Berçot again), "Jesus told His followers that a horrible calamity was coming on Jerusalem in the near future (Matt 24), and indeed the calamity came with the Roman army (70 AD). Yet he didn’t advise his followers to start building up a survival cache; he said just the opposite! Once the calamity was at the door, he told them to leave everything behind and flee. That’s exactly what the Christians in Jerusalem did. God provided for their needs, and they all survived by fleeing to Pella (a town across the Jordan)."Biblical Christians do not choose life over faithfulness. We do not have to survive some coming apocalypse, but we do need to remain obedient to God's commands.Thus we see that even a cursory reading of the NT scriptures reveals that survivalism as commonly presented is un-Christian on multiple fronts. If you are reading this article and have been attracted to this position, I urge you to rethink your position.* * * * * *If you'd like to explore the topic in more depth, this will get your started:The website of Modern Christian Survivalist, which attempts to combine survivalism (as I have delineated it above) and the Bible.The article by Focus on the Family: A Biblical View of Survivalists and Preppers fear—"sanctified paranoia." This is a nice introduction to the issue.The Survivalism page at Rational Wiki. The article is very well done. "Meet Your Neighbor, The Survivalist" (CNBC, 29 May 2009), about someone who has stockpiled far more food than he could ever eat, so there's plenty to share with others.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.The purpose of this talk is not to lay down the law, nor to defend the status quo, nor to encourage us not to engage in society. (If anything, Christians need to be more engaged.) The aim is to consider how Jesus approached power—how he lived, what he permitted, and what he prohibited. As we seek for zealous obedience to God’s Word in a spirit of grace, we stand to benefit greatly by looking to Christ. In this talk (39 minutes) I will make four observations, under the headings of alignment, agenda, amalgamation, and attitude.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.I. PRINCIPLES OF CRIME & PUNISHMENTPrinciple 1: God is a God of JusticeUltimately all crimes against God (Psalms 51:4). What does the Bible say about crimes against man (person/ property)?Proverbs 24:25, Ecclesiastes 8:11, Ecclesiastes 5:8-9.Lex talionis: Limitation: a maximum, not a minimum. See Exodus 21:24, Matthew 5:38.“Let the punishment fit the crime” – Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado (1885).Principle 2: There will be a Judgment Day, and it will be FairThere will be an ultimate judgment – and it will be fair (Genesis 18:25; Luke 12:47-48; Romans 2:5, 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrew 9:27; 2 Peter 3:7; 1 John 4:17, etc).Yet there may be a delay.Habakkuk wondered…Numbers 32:23.1 Timothy 5:24.Principle 3: Moral Authority must Speak Truth to Power or No One is Above the LawThe prophets spoke out against social injustice: Elijah, Amos, John the Baptist, and many others…Jesus challenged leaders of his day. Reminded high priest, governor, and other authorities about some important spiritual principles...There are times when believers must speak up -- speak out!Principle 4: Law is GoodMuch of modern law comes from the Romans.Even more may come from the Jews: property law, torts, worker’s compensation, litigation, etc (Exod 20-Deut 33).Even studying OT law shows us God’s wisdom, providence and justice. Even though it is not the law of God for us, it is still the word of God for us, and we have much to learn!Principle 5: Civil Disobedience is Occasionally JustifiedHenry David ThoreauDaniel 3:18, 6:10 – obey government except when contradicts law of GodOn the other hand, we should pay taxes, even if they’re unfair -- we disagree with how the government chooses how to spend them. Give to those who ask you (Matthew 5:42). Insistence on “rights”?Principle 6: The State has the Right to Punish InfractionsFines, traffic tickets, etcImprisonmentExecution: Romans 13.II. THOUGHTS ON INCARCERATIONAncient times:Temporary, awaiting trial.Long-term – more likely for king’s prisoners. Or those rulers did not want to make martyrs of.Paul (Acts 24, 28) and Joseph (Genesis 39+) are unusual in the length of their incarcerations.Prisoners were visited by friends or relatives -- fed, clothed, care for by them. The state did little (see Jeremiah 37-38).Does our system of incarceration work? “Correctional,” or “penitentiary”? Or just a punishment?It works poorly, though in some nations the penal system is more effective than in others.Two extremes: soft and hard; focus on prisoners' rights vs. focus on society's rightsReformation of character?Not usually. Rather, recidivism!US – 5% of world population and 25% of world’s prisoners. China – less glorious human rights record – far fewer incarcerated!Prison ministry?In NT times, prisoners would normally have been believers (Hebrews 13).And yet prisons present a great evangelistic opportunity. Implication of Philippians 1:7,12-14; 4:22).
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Scriptures read or referred to in the podcast:Matthew 6:9 -- "Our Father..."Matthew 23:37 -- Jesus compares himself to a hen.Isaiah 66:13 -- God compares himself to a mother.Ephesians 5:22-32 -- We all stand corporately in a femine relationship to Christ as our bridegroom.1 Thessalonians 2:6-12 -- Paul, his relationship to the Thessalonians, thinks of himself as a nurse, a mother, and a father.John 15:8, Luke 8:11, James 1:21 -- his seed is planted in us, and we are to bear fruit. This is a strongly feminine metaphor.God as husband -- meaning spiritual unfaithfulness is adultery -- is a common biblical metaphor (as in Jeremiah, Hosea, Ephesians, James, Revelation).Genesis 1:26-27 -- God's image is reflected in mankind, both male and female (and even better when the two are together).Nowhere does the Bible tell us to address God as "mother."Conclusions1. God is not lonely. He does not need a consort. (Note: in ancient religions, it was common for a god to have a goddess as a wife/consort. The worship of Yahweh strenuously rejects such thinking.) Among the persons of the Trinity there has always been love.2. God is not sexual. He's neither male nor female, though he created us in his image as males and females. And yet...3. God is personal, and therefore we have no choice but to relate to the Lord in a personal way.4. God is analogically (not biologically) masculine. Nor will he be held captive by a pronoun ("he" or "she").5. One suspects that what really bothers some critics of Christianity is the Lord's sovereign claim over their lives.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.THE QUESTION: Why did the man Jesus come to earth? Why not a woman: the daughter of God—a female Messiah?JESUS CAME AS A SON NOT BECAUSE:Male is better -- Galatians 3:28 contradicts this.God is only analogically masculine, not sexually masculine. When we pray Our Father, it’s not because God is male – since he isn’t a sexual being. If this intrigues you, please hear the podcast on The Shack.Random genetics (50/50).LAMENTABLY, WOMEN WERE DISCOUNTED IN THE ANCIENT WORLDChristianity hadn't transformed attitudes towards minorities, the disenfranchised, foreigners, the needy, women--since Christianity did not exist yet. Jesus entered a Jewish world.Would be discounted in Roman eyes:“Only foolish and low individuals, and persons devoid of perception, and slaves, and women, and children, of whom the teachers of the divine word wish to make converts” -- Celsus in Origen, Contra Celsus, 3.49"...Augustus confined women to the back rows even at gladiatorial shows: the only ones exempt from this rule being the Vestal Virgins… No women at all were allowed to witness the athletic contests…" -- Suetonius, Twelve Caesars, Augustus 44.Would be discounted by Judaism:"... happy is he whose children are males, and woe to him whose children are females." -- Talmud Kiddushim 82b"But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, not let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul, since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment." -- Josephus Antiquities 4.8.15"Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women." -- Talmud Sotah 19a"Any evidence which a woman [gives] is not valid, also they are not valid [to offer]. This is equivalent to saying that one who is accounted by the rabbis as a robber is qualified to give the same evidence as a woman." -- Talmud Rosh Hashannah 1.8Yet some Talmudic passages are more positive towards women, like Niddah 45 and Ketubot 2.6-7.(Compare to Islamic view: Female legal witness worth half that of a male “because of deficiencies of a woman’s mind.” -- Hadith of Bukhari, 3.826) BUT BECAUSE ONLY A MAN COULD FREE BOTH MEN AND WOMENLiberates males from stereotype (and rut) of maleness: "strong, dominating, independent, self-sufficient"Jesus taught Paul the important lesson, that "Christ's power is perfected in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).Jesus taught, and lived out, servant leadership (Mark 10, John 13).Jesus was emotionally vulnerable (e.g. John 11:35).He was connected to others, not a lone wolf.Delayed his ministry till he was in his 30s—as oldest of 8 or more children and head male in a family.Worked with and through others. He knew men need friends, support. Jesus in this way is the paradigmatic male--showing us men how God meant for us to live all along.Doesn’t just model it, but walks us through it.Women typically understand this better than men—they're more relational.Probably “macho” isn’t the word you’d first apply to Jesus, but in a way he was far more masculine than most men today who are viewed as powerful.It takes strength not to go with the flow (get drunk at a party).Physical fitness – manual labor as stonemason or carpenter; then walking all over Palestine for 3 years!Jesus also showed great emotional strength:It takes strength to forgive (Luke 23).It takes strength to be patient when others repeatedly let you down.It takes strength to receive ugly censure without lashing back, or at least defending yourself.Jesus taught that true greatness doesn't lie in how others serve you, but in how you serve others.We need this message to sound out not only in our communities, in the government, and in the workplace, and evenin the church, where the charismatic alpha-male senior pastor paradigm is dominant!In short, women were expected to be nurturing, caring. One not expected to behave this way—namely, a man—was able to create a more subversively powerful example of love in action.Jesus frees women too, in several ways.He shows that gender doesn’t determine worth or rank.Treated women with highest respect – unlike the world.Completely pure in how he viewed women: they were not objects, but subjects.Traditional way of blessing women depended on childbirth – Luke 11:27 – Jesus contradicts this.Discipleship:Luke 10 – called women to spend some time away from daily chores to sit at his feet as disciples. See also Luke 8.John 4 – the Samaritan woman is more the evangelist than the 12 apostles!CONCLUSIONOf course there’s more to be said:We haven’t even discussed the doctrine of the Trinity – how Jesus Christ was eternally the Son of God. (God couldn't send a "daughter" if he didn't have one.)or the scandal that would have surrounded an itinerant woman preacher gathering disciples…And we've only just begun to work through the implications for the current feminist controversy.I acknowledge the influence of Stanley Grentz's Theology for the Community of God, pp.289-292. For me his work was seminal, and helped me begin to think through this issue.In short, Jesus, in order to accomplish his mission, had to be a man.Not because men are better than women,but because otherwise life-bringing his message would have been:discounteddiluted or obscuredAnd the most effective modeling could only take place—in a patriarchal society—by a man.Hopefully this perspective will prove useful to you in your evangelism, in answering questions from outsiders but also from insiders.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.What is your take on the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriages? And advice?Following the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize "gay marriages," here are a few bullet points that may prove helpful in guiding our thoughts.On this topic, God's word isn't difficult to understand, and can be ascertained quickly using any Bible concordance. Both testaments teach the same, and studies may be found elsewhere at this website. Taking our stand on the Word is not always fashionable. And yet modern liberal interpreters would have us believe that the unanimous understanding of the church has been flawed for 2000 years -- as was that of Judaism before (from the 13th century onwards). This means one of two things: that the apostles seriously misunderstood sexual ethics, or else that God intended his revelation to apply only to earlier centuries, and to be updated as society became more sophisticated. Neither one of these possibilities seems convincing. Note: modern Judaism no longer holds to a biblical view of heterosexuality.God will judge those outside the church, as Paul reminds us in 1 Cor 5. This is not our task. Moreover, we can still accept the person even if we don't accept the teaching. This is the meaning of tolerance. (Please refer to the two newsletter articles on tolerance: part 1, part 2.)This is nothing new! Building on the foundation of the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, the Gay Rights Movement, well organized and widely supported in the courts, media, the arts, and higher educational institutions, has been advancing powerfully. I am amazed that anyone would be taken off guard. 40-50 years of rhetoric, judicial verdicts, and the idolization among the youth of film stars, sports stars, and others who approve of nearly every sexual behavior -- so many years of the liberal agenda add up. Legalization and even promotion of homosexual lifestyles has been the reality in many western nations for many years.It's unrealistic to expect government to adopt biblical morals. In our world -- as in the world of the Bible -- the government does not normally side with the church on moral issues.Jesus said, "Render to Caesar..." (Matt 22:21). Jesus rejected the ethics of Caesar, yet he respected Caesar’s right to govern as he saw fit. It is not the place of Christians to fight with the weapons of the world (2 Cor 10:4), nor do we put our hope in the arm of flesh (Eph 6:10-18).Not all homosexuals reject the Bible outright, and some re-interpret the principal passages on homosexuality as supporting gay lifestyle choices. Please watch gay apologist Vines, and read my response to the significant points raised by this young man.A civil union is not a biblical marriage. From Genesis to Revelation, biblical marriage is always between one man and one woman. Rather than use unbiblical terminology ("gay marriage"), let us refer to this relationship in a more neutral manner. I would suggest using "same-sex union" or "gay union" or "civil union" in place of "gay marriage."Serious Christians ought to be informed on the issues. Guy Hammond of Strength in Weakness ministries (SIW) has published a thoughtful assessment of the current situation. There is also a permanent link to SIW at the bottom of my homepage. You might also take a look at one of the studies in Christianity Today.Let's shatter the stereotype of the bigoted Christian. Reach out to men and women who self-identify as LGBT. Have them over to dinner (the way of Jesus). Defend their rights -- don't oppress them. Strive for empathy. Avoid caricatures. Don't talk about them; talk to them. Act in love.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionNorth American slavery had precedents in the Arab slave trade, though slavery throughout human history was hardly limited to Africa.400 years' duration, 4 million dying in the middle passage."Enslavement is almost ubiquitous in human history. What made Atlantic slavery unique was its vast, industrial scale, its racial determinism, and its absolute nature, in which slaves' legal status was hardly distinct from that of animals" (Alex Ryrie, Protestants: The Faith that Made the Modern World [New York: Viking, 2016], 184).American Civil War.Racism still an ugly issue in the United States."Slavery was abolished in Great Britain in 1807 and in all the British Empire by 1833. In the revolutionary U.S. it would not happen until the 1860's, and at a cost of at least 618,000 lives and the destruction of much of the South. Staggering. Can we really argue for 'American Exceptionalism?'" (Tom Jones)The Jim Crow laws persisted in the United States through 1968, in effect impeding the rights of citizenship for Black Americans, even after the Civil Rights Act and the legal right to vote.And slavery still exists globally (girls are abducted to become sex slaves [Asia], and boys to become child soldiers [Africa]).Does the Bible support slavery, a thoroughly demeaning, dehumanizing institution? Slavers quoted the Scriptures to support their inhumane practices. Yet American chattel slavery was very different from slavery in the ancient world. As we shall soon see, Antebellum slavery provides a false analogy.Slavery in the Ancient WorldBecame slaves because of poverty or war, often by personal choice. Usually they were not kidnapped; they entered servitude in other ways.Not permanent.Hope of eventual emancipation.Indentured servants paid off debts.Slaves possessed some legal rights.Due process.Right to own their own slaves.Not racially based:Only one's clothing indicated his status as a slave.Not the color of his skin!Not socially based.Not necessarily lowest rung of society. Not necessarily degrading. Could in fact be upgrading. Consider Joseph, promoted under Potiphar and Pharaoh.Could own property, lead a normal family life, and sometimes even participate in the same clubs as their masters!Easiest for city slaves, then farm slaves, and hardest for those working in the mines, or even as prostitutes.Not necessarily menial positions.Civil service, doctors, nurses, accountants, writers.Some famous ex-slaves in the ancient world: Felix (Acts 23-24), Aesop (5th century BC), Patrick (5th century AD).Sometimes freed because their labor was cheaper when the master wasn't paying room & board.Around the first century they were so often freed that Augustus Caesar made a law that none could be freed before the age of 30.Obviously if this is slavery, it has far less in common with the North American variety than we ever imagined.Slavery and the O.T.Dignity: regulating an inferior work arrangement, not idealizing it.Anti-kidnapping laws. Amos and other prophets spoke of the evil of human trafficking.Anti-harm laws: Freedom for bodily abuse. Exodus 21:20, 26! No other ancient law holds master accountable for treatment of his slaves. Code of Hammurabi permitted master to slice off disobedient slave’s ear. Law held master’s to account for their own servants, not just someone else’s. Exodus 21:6-7.Hittite laws – fines for sheltering runaways. Hammurabi: death for abetting runaways. But slaves were still just property. Babylon: returned slaves were branded, ears slit…. Anti-return laws – Deuteronomy 23:15-16.Laws in favor of the poor, e.g. automatic debt cancellation.Deuteronomy 15:4,11 – God did not desire poverty or servitude.Hebrew slavery was an oasis of liberty compared to typical slavery among the pagans.In other law codes in the Ancient Near East, this subject is dealt with at the end, but in Exodus it follows the Decalogue immediately. Direct connection between righteousness before God and righteous dealings with our fellow man.Slaves were to be set free if master knocked a tooth out. Human rights.Indentured servitude (Exodus 21 – dramatic improvement over slavery). Servitude existed because poverty existed.Slaves freed in the 7th year, though with the option to make the slave relationship permanent.Suboptimal (Nehemiah 5).Re: Exodus 21:9 ("He shall deal with her as a daughter"): "She is virtually his foster-child. The old Chinese custom of buying a slave-girl, as wife for the son in days to come, is an exact parallel. Probably the origin of the custom was the same in either case: to avoid paying a higher bride-price at a later age, and to rear the future daughter-in-law within the family, ensuring that she 'fitted in'. Such an attitude to slaves abolishes slavery, except in name" (R. Alan Cole, Exodus: An Introduction & Commentary, in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, IVP, 1973).Exod 21:16 and Deut 24:7 have serious implications for the slave trade.Non-Hebrew slavesKidnapping forbidden (Exodus 21:16), yet that did not mean there wasn't a supply of slaves.They did not enjoy the same freedoms as Hebrew slaves. Leviticus 25:42-46: Male and female slaves from the pagan nations.Could be bequeathed to their master's children.Yet given the biblical emphasis on compassion, and the imperative to love the alien, it seems likely even foreign slaves were treated with a modicum of dignity.Leviticus 19:33-34 – Israel to love the stranger in the land.Exodus 21 – protect all servants from abuse.Slaves could acquire servants themselves, and even purchase their own freedom.Foreign servants might be elevated (as in 1 Chronicles 2, with marriage to an Egyptian servant). Inheritance rights.Non-Israelites could not acquire land, so they might have had no option but to attach themselves to an Israelite family.Slavery and the N.T.In the context of the Roman Empire.Perhaps 1/3 were slaves, another 1/3 freedmen. If this figure sounds too high, consider that when the Czar freed the serfs in Russia (1861), one third of the populace were toiling in this enslaved condition.Romans ruthless in putting down slave revolts (e.g. under Spartacus).Anachronistic of us to fault Paul and other early Christians for not stirring up dissension.N.T. scriptures1 Corinthians 7 — slaves should take the opportunity of freedom if possible, otherwise be content.Ephesians 6, Colossians 3-4: powerless mentioned first: wives before husbands, children before parents, slaves before masters.Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11: status in Christ not dependent on socioeconomic factors.Paul sending Onesimus back to Philemon: freedom of travel. Compare Deuteronomy 23:15.Slave trade mentioned in Revelation 18:13, condemned in 1 Timothy 1:10.1 Timothy 6:1-2: Nowhere are masters told to demand submission from their slaves.Romans 6, 1 Corinthians 7, John 8 etc -- true freedom has nothing to do with political rights, and real slavery is slavery to sin.The early church (after 1st century)Ministrae tortured under Pliny (Bithynia, early 2nd century). Slaves occupied positions of leadership.No automatic exemption from requirement to show good character just because one was a slave."Those, that first come to the mystery of godliness... let them be examined as to the causes for which they come to the word of the Lord; and let those that bring them exactly inquire about their character, and give them... testimony. Let their manners and their life be inquired into, and whether they are slaves or freemen. And if any one is a slave, let him be asked who his master is. If he is slave to one of the faithful, let his master be asked if he can give him a good character [reference]. If he cannot, let him be rejected, until he show himself to be worthy to his master. But if he does give him a good character, let him be admitted. But if he is a household slave to an heathen, let him be taught to please his master, so that the word isn't blasphemed (Apostolic Constitutions 8.32).Perhaps this was requiring more than the church expected in the first century, but it is an interesting piece nonetheless.1 Clement 55:2 (about 96 AD) -- people selling themselves into slavery to free others."But when Christ came he annulled even [slavery], for in Christ Jesus 'there is no slave nor free.' Therefore, it is not necessary to have a slave; but if it should be necessary, then only one or at most a second... Buy them and after you have taught them some skill by which they may maintain themselves, set them free" (John Chrysostom, Homily 40 on 1 Corinthians 10).Many slaves were attracted to the Christian faith.Why, if (as some critics allege) Christianity put them down?For the same reason that minorities and women were attracted: they were respected, welcomed, loved, and honored.ConclusionsHebrew slavery saw increased humaneness over that in slavery in the secular world.Through the course of biblical history, an ethic of dignity and respect is cultivated. Pedagogical function.Progressive revelation: God enlightening his people more and more through the course of biblical history.There is a difference between recording and approving; between regulating and approving.God's highest standard and will are revealed only in the New Testament.Overall trajectoryChattel slavery—Israelite treatment of foreign slaves—Israelite treatment of Hebrew slaves—socioeconomic freedom. Those who labored for emancipation, esp. in Britain and the United States, were inspired by biblical principles.Through Christian influence, slavery was eventually eliminated in most of the world. This did not take place because of the influence of Hinduism, or Islam, or any other major world religion.Slavery in N.T. times was radically different from slavery in the more recent American experience.Most criticisms of slavery in the Bible are based on caricatures of Christianity, ignorance of Hebraic law, and lack of exposure to the true message of the gospel.Christianity is not a cause for the injustice and brutality of slavery. It was through the effects of the Spirit of Christ, after all, that the great emancipation movements were inspired and to some degree successful.As believers, we need to be ready to defend the Bible from unfair attack. In our interactions with outsiders, you and I need to know our stuff.Further thought & studyPaul Copan, Is Yahweh a Moral Monster?Brian J. Dodd, The Problem with PaulChinua Achebe, Home and ExileHarriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s CabinA biblical response to chattel slavery, by Richard Rodriguez
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.In April someone asked me if I'd seen Black Panther. I had heard of it, but admitted I wasn't particularly interested in yet another superhero movie. "I'll probably watch it once it comes out on the airplane," I replied. Yet on learning the film featured a black superhero -- possibly the first ever -- and had touched some emotional chords among many African Americans, I knew I needed to see it. This is an important film -- and one reason I needed to watch it was that I am not an African American. There are some things I simply don't get.As it turned out, in May I was able to watch Black Panther on a flight to Japan. (Even on the small screen, the movie was riveting.) I took copious notes. I watched it a second time (without the sound) on a flight from Atlanta to San Antonio. It's truly a superb film. But let me digress for a moment.Detour: Black LightningPoking around the worldwide web, I quickly found another black superhero. He is Black Lightning, a winsome and modest school principal with superpowers. But this DC Comics creation isn't recent; Black Lightning came out way back in 1977 -- the last time it snowed in the Bahamas, and the year I became a Christian. The television series Black Lightning came out in 2018. As one reviewer put it,It is a disturbingly familiar scene: a black motorist standing outside his car on a rainy night, arguing with the white police officer who has pulled him over for seemingly no reason. As this moment plays out in the opening minutes of “Black Lightning,” the CW series based on that DC superhero, the motorist in question is Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), who stepped back from his role as a crime-fighting vigilante to focus on his civilian identity as a high-school principal and father to two teenage daughters. Just when his roadside confrontation is about to cross a dangerous threshold, Pierce closes his eyes. When he reopens them, his pupils glow with angry electricity… Click to continue reading the New York Times article. For more on the important cultural issues highlighted in the Black Lightning series, click here.This is very well done -- I was hooked, with at least enough interest to view the entire first season (13 episodes). Then I found more superheroes of color... and more... We took this detour to note that there are numerous black superheroes (even if I was clueless as to their existence) -- not to mention superheroes of other complexions and ethnicities. See the bullet points at the end of this article for a complete list. For now, back to Black Panther.Vibranium & WakandaLong ago a meteor containing a special element, vibranium, struck West Africa. As a result, there is a mountain full of vibranium, which has been mined for centuries -- and yet they are only just scratching the surface. Because of the unique and near-miraculous properties of vibranium, the people mining it, the country of Wakanda, become a highly advanced civilization -- more advanced than any of the developed nations of the world. Some of the many cool special effects of Black Panther are bulletproof suits, aircraft like spaceships, holographic telephones, and super-advanced medicine (e.g., bullet wounds healed 100s of times faster than normal).Yet fearing what might happen if other nations also possessed vibranium, they hide their secret from the outside world, in order to safeguard their source of power. Their warrior-king becomes the first Black Panther, the protector of Wakanda. (For more about the plot and characters, click here.)Black Panther has all the elements of a great film. There are some aspects that are not realistic. For instance, the Northern Lights are visible in West Africa. (But, hey, this was fun!) Wakanda itself has been cobbled together from multiple (continental) African cultures, languages, and geographical regions of Africa (which probably broadened its appeal).Beneath the surfaceAlthough I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I was conscious of a layer of dialogue -- sometimes just small nuances -- passing below me:When T'Challa's uncle comes to the US, he observes US how blacks were being treated. He is indignant! From childhood up, I have certainly witnessed plenty of mistreatment and injustice.T'Challa’s sister calls Everett Frost, a CIA agent, a “colonizer.” Anyone who knows the history of Africa, especially in the past 125 years, has a different view of the western powers.Wakanda was in a position to liberate the two billion people "who look like us."When T'Challa's rival for the throne, N'Jadaka (Killmonger), is mortally wounded, T’Challa says that maybe he can be healed. N'Jadaka replies (I am quoting from memory): "Why? So you can just lock me up? Just bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors that jumped from ships 'cause they knew that death was better than bondage." I thought of films like Amistad, and books like Uncle Tom's Cabin, which depict the horror of chattel slavery.The film ends with a question about black identity: "Who are you?" In other words, Who am I? Will I do what is right? What is meaningful? Or will I only react to how I have been treated? Great questions all.I noticed these salient points -- perhaps I could write an essay -- but I confess I did not feel much. (Knowing the history of an oppressed people is a good start, but it hardly puts the reader on the inside.) Since I am an "outsider," I asked three friends for their take. The first two are African-American; the third is married to an African-American. (I also spoke to several more friends from Africa, Asia, and Europe, but I thought the following responses were the most thoughtful.)Joey Harris, CEO & Consultant, Aeron IT Consulting, Augusta, GeorgiaMichelle Wright, Anchor and Morning Reporter for WSB Radio, AtlantaMichael Burns, Teaching Minister, Minneapolis-St. Paul Church of Christ -- with a special ministry as a popular speaker on racial issues.What my friends thought -- and felt:Joey responds:"I appreciated the (typically intra-community) themes of the various ways of resisting colonialism represented by Wakanda (isolationism) and Killmonger (armed resistance/revenge/militancy), as well as the larger themes of Wakanda protecting the world from their advanced technology (isolationism) vs. sharing their knowledge and technology with the rest of the world. I enjoyed the way their decision was portrayed at the end of the film, and again at the first of the two post-credit scenes.As an African-American, it was refreshing to see a representation of an African country free from the effects of colonialism with a multicultural (pan-African), religiously pluralistic, multiethnic society which fused traditional aesthetics and values with ultramodern technology, without surrendering their unique cultural identity. I especially enjoyed the way that women and men were portrayed as equal partners in all aspects of society. And yet the traditional respect of elders, authority, and society were maintained in ways which still fit well with modern society and technology. Even the user interfaces of the technology were done in very believable and African ways.I liked the way they protected their society (and the world from their technology) by having an outer, 'public' Wakanda— the portrayal of the Wakanda marketplace was also very believable, with the streets milling with people, shopping, eating, transacting business, etc—and a hidden, shielded, 'true' Wakanda.Directorially, I loved the way that Coogler managed such a large cast and gave everyone—not just the main, titular character—important roles and screen time. I also enjoyed how General Okoye and her husband were on opposite sides politically, but able to maintain their relationship in the face of strongly opposing views. The women in general were strong characters. (Okoye, N’kia, the Dora Milaje, the Queen -- and of course, T'Challa’s little sister, Shuri, was 'the world's smartest living person.') (In Avengers, it’s Infinity War; they make it clear she is much smarter than both Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.) Yet she is still a (teen? early twenties?), a normal, fun-loving young woman in other respects.The villain was truly tragic. He had a valid point about injustice, but a wrong way of reacting/dealing with it. Yet I was struck by how humble T’Challa was, sparing his opponents (the other tribal chieftain and Killmonger), as well as wanting to collaborate with people and nations wherever possible. Getting to the heart of things, T’Challa admits that he and his ancestors were wrong to isolate Wakanda with protectionist policies, hiding the true nature of the country’s advancements. The Wakandans ultimately decide to share their knowledge and take concrete steps to do so as soon as the decision had been made—a blessing for the world."Michelle weighs in:"Black Panther stirred me... It was fantastic. As many have said, it was nice to see 'people who looked like me' on the screen—both protagonists and antagonists. It was so good to see personal differences, not just differences of skin color. The acting was superb, and the effects fantastic. It truly made me proud (in an honored, not prideful way). The movie opened up discussions not just between American blacks and whites, but also between American blacks and African blacks.There were a lot of deep, deep things in this superhero flick. There are so many layers dealing with so many things: economic disparity (Compton v. Wakanda), lack of exposure, the death/killing of black fathers which leaves many black sons fatherless and trying to figure out what to do, concealing of talents/resources, and hiding who we really are (for fear of exploitation). A truly amazing movie!"Michael comments:"My boys were very excited to go see Black Panther, so we went. Here are my thoughts.1. Black Panther is an important movie about black identity in America. I've had people ask me before why it is okay for black people to say that they are proud to be black while it seems not okay for whites to say they are proud to be white. The answer to that has to do with identity. White is a category of social construct that has always been, at its core, about power and control. It's a fluctuating category that didn't always include Italians, Slavs, Irish, and others, while no one has a problem saying they’re proud of being Scottish or German or Greek. While these ethnic identities should never trump our identity in Christ, they can be fun but important pieces of who we are. After all, identity was in Christ. He saw no superiority in his ethnic identity, but he still identified with being Jewish, viewing the Jews as his people. But black Americans don't have that ethnic and cultural identity. It was stripped away from them. They can't say I'm proud to be Igbo, or Zulu or Xhosa. They only thing they have is to confirm pride in being black. We did a DNA test for my wife recently, and she found out that she is most predominantly Nigerian. There was something important about that to her, I think. It doesn't matter in terms of her being in Christ, but it does matter. Galatians 3:28 doesn’t deny there are differences between male and female, slave and free—only that in Christ—at the foot of the cross, as it’s often said—we all stand on even ground.That's where Black Panther becomes so important. Most African Americans don't have those roots and identity. Wakanda is a mythical place but it was never colonized, it was never enslaved, and it embodies all kinds of African culture. It is the dream. And because so many black Americans don't have that ancestral identity, Wakanda seems like the perfect symbol. It gives them an identity. This is why, I think, so many have latched on to it. For that reason, I think it was a really important movie for many. It connected them with something they want, even if they haven't always known they wanted it—an identity. This identity of course is a secondary identity for those in Christ, but still an important one.2. The character of Kilmonger is both fascinating and nuanced. In the end, his philosophy is embraced as correct; T'Challa changes his mind. Kilmonger felt it was wrong for Wakanda to turn its eye inward and ignore the injustice imposed on the rest of Africa. He was right. But I see an important piece of social commentary under the surface with this character. He allowed his bitterness towards these injustices to boil over, becoming a weapon of revenge. In so doing, he was destroyed by the very injustice. Wakanda had ignored the oppressed, but they had survived. They would now turn to help others, but on their terms. That's very powerful social commentary. That leads into the next observation.3. The movie gets at the very real social pressure put on African Americans when they have "made it" somehow. They must deplete their own resources, at least according to the community, by giving back what they can to family members and others. My wife has felt an enormous pressure from this and the constant requests and expectations to pay for everything, to help, to take care of others. These can be difficult waters to navigate. Should they indiscriminately help because that is their obligation? Should they start over with their own generation and give to the next, yet realize they simply cannot save everyone else? Should they help but on their own limited terms? Difficult questions to answer.4. Black Panther does a brilliant job of capturing the tension between Africans and African Americans. I've met many African disciples living in the United States who tell me that when they moved here as teens their African parents told them to stay away from African Americans because they were no good. They have really had to struggle with their prejudices since becoming Christians. The movie doesn't overtly address those issues, but it is there under the surface in a very real way.Those are just a few thoughts that I have had initially. Oh, and the big fight scene in the final third of the film dragged on and was a bit gratuitous, but I guess that's Marvel films for ya :-)."Bonus (not included in the podcast): An African response: "It is a nice movie, although after watching a few productions from Marvel and DC, it was not exhilarating enough for me... The plot, with the conflict in the two generations of Wakanda kings and their relatives, is a great script, though.I always find the fake African accent of Americans funny. The addition of the South African actors brought some authenticity. The portrayal of an Africa that does not have much to offer to the world is not something some Africans take lightly. I know there are many Africans still who prefer it that way so that handouts continue coming, but it is a wrong view of Africa. A major part of the movie portrays an Africa fully able to take care of itself, using its own natural resources. I like this; frankly, I wish most Africans (and the world) could see and believe that we have enough to take care of ourselves and help the world!I like the strong sense of identity and loyalty that comes out from among those who stand with Wakanda. This is the heart of many Africans, and things like these excite me and remind me how committed and loyal our hearts can and should actually be toward our God.The picture also had some realistically familiar African settings, like that village on the mountains with people on horses and walking around in blankets. It looked and felt like Lesotho [in Southern Africa]. Which brings a funny twist: the clothes of the men look like they are from today's Lesotho, while and the women soldiers look like West African warriors of years gone by. Much of the language used is also familiar. I may be mistaken because of the close similarities in languages, but I think it is Zulu. Overall, the movie is more representative of Southern Africa than it is of other parts of Africa. That is my opinion." -- Rapula Malejane, Botswana [Southern Africa]Spiritual growth opportunitiesIf you're still holding out, watch Black Panther.Appreciate the biblical points of the film. For example: Reject racial stereotypes.Share, don’t hoard.Engage, don’t withdraw.Human anger does not bring about God’s will.Some character embody "godly" wisdom, others "earthly" wisdom (see James 3). [Selected scriptures read from James 3-4.]Talk to friends about how the film impacted them.And if you are a majority race member (white), especially if you live in the U.S.:Read literature by prominent blacks (e.g. W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk).Read John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me.Learn about more black superheroes.Read Michael Burns’s Crossing the Line: Culture, Race, and Kingdom.Embrace forgiveness, patience, and reconciliation—not bitterness, anger, and agitation.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Scriptures cited:1 Samuel 4:18 -- Eli overweight1 Samuel 2:29 -- the real issue was spiritual1 Samuel 2:12-17 -- his sons were affected, tooJudges 3:17, 21-22 -- EglonAmos 4:1 -- sins of the rich oppressorsJames 5:5Ezekiel 16:491 Corinthians 4:41 Corinthians 6:12-20 -- body the temple of the Spirit1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1 -- limiting freedoms for sake of others and glory of God (see 8:1-11:1)Galatians 5:23 -- self-control a fruit of the SpiritProverbs 23:2 -- take drastic measures if you will eat inappropriately! (admittedly out of context)There is no scripture dictating the ideal body shape or body weight. What is "fat" is partly a matter of perception, culture, or fashion.Reasons to stay trim:Our bodies are temples of the Spirit; self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.Our example to others (including children); we don't want anything to impede the gospel.Respect for those who have nothing -- those who struggle to eat at all.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.ESCAPE, Lesson 1 of 4: Douglas Jacoby and Steve Brand have joined forces to teach a series called ESCAPE. Steve Brand is a professional counselor and expert on addictive behaviors. The series explores addictive substances and behaviors and what God's word has to say about them. There are four lessons in the series. Here's the provisional plan:The psychology and neurochemistry of pain, escape, and addiction. Focus: marijuana, alcohol, pain medication.Alternate fictional reality. Focus: movies, novels, worlds of gaming, TV.Fantasy proxy relationships. Focus: pornography.Computer and internet behaviors. Focus: gambling, shopping, surfing, smartphones.The series tackles the importance of not being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), or falling prey to the many tempting avenues of "escape."Addendum 1 (from Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Does God Exist?, used with the permission of John Clayton):POT LEGALIZATION. One of the most dramatic changes in American social views is the new attitude towards marijuana. At the time of this article 21 states and the District of Columbia sanction medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington have now legalized recreational marijuana. There are wild claims made by both the supporters and detractors of marijuana, but in the June 14, 2014, issue of Science News some basic facts are listed (page 17). Marijuana affects the amygdala of the brain, causing altered emotional states. (The amygdala performs a primary role in processing memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions.) Marijuana reduces motor activity in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain which is associated with voluntary motor movements, eye movements, procedural learning, and cognition. Marijuana also affects the brain's cerebellum, causing impaired coordination. It alters cortex thinking, making it hard to pay attention or switch quickly between two tasks. Another part of the brain affected by marijuana is an area critical to short-term and long-term memory, the hippocampus. This makes memory less efficient, making it harder to learn and remember new information. The hypothalamus, which controls hunger, among other things, is stimulated by marijuana, increasing appetite and creating the “munchies” effect. It also targets the nucleus accumbens, which plays an important role in pleasure, causing the pot user to want to use it again. In spite of claims to the contrary, marijuana can be addictive. Ten percent of users become dependent. We are reminded of the need to take care of the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). Source: Science News, June 14, 2014, pages 17.Addendum 2 (based on frequent questions submitted to this website): If everything God created is good, including the plants (Genesis 1), then why can't we enjoy marijuana? The many plants that the Lord created include the poisonous as well as the health-giving. Of course, everything God created is good. How about lava? Common sense dictates that we keep our distance from some things.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.ESCAPE: Lesson 2 of 4.Douglas Jacoby and Steve Brand have joined forces to teach a series called ESCAPE. Steve Brand is a professional counselor and expert on addictive behaviors. Here's the provisional plan:The psychology and neurochemistry of pain, escape, and addiction. Focus: marijuana, alcohol, pain medication.Alternate fictional reality. Focus: movies, novels, worlds of gaming, TV.Fantasy proxy relationships. Focus: pornography.Computer and internet behaviors. Focus: gambling, shopping, surfing, smartphones.The importance of not being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), or falling prey to the many tempting avenues of "escape".A friend writes in with a pertinent quote:"Technology offers even more examples. Video-game players get into flow so frequently that Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas have become the most widely accepted theoretical framework for explaining the lure of the joystick. Studies have shown that the amount of flow generated by a video game directly correlates to everything from player engagement to overall product success. In fact, as Dr. Erik Gregory, the executive director of the Media Psychology Research Center, wrote in 2007: 'Placing players in flow is the key to video gaming’s universal appeal.'Meanwhile, for Internet surfers, researchers have found flow the secret ingredient to almost every aspect of online experience. Both website slipperiness (the ease with which we enter and exit an online experience) and website stickiness (how certain sites hold our attention) are influenced by the state. Researchers at Vanderbilt University have found that from the marketing side of this coin, online flow experiences attract customers, mitigate price sensitivity, and positively influence subsequent buying behaviors."- Kotler, Steven (2014-03-04). The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance (p. 98). New Harvest. Kindle Edition.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.ESCAPE: Lesson 3 of 4.Douglas Jacoby and Steve Brand have joined forces to teach a series called ESCAPE. Steve Brand is a professional counselor and expert on addictive behaviors. Here’s the provisional plan:The psychology and neurochemistry of pain, escape, and addiction. Focus: marijuana, alcohol, pain medication.Alternate fictional reality. Focus: movies, novels, worlds of gaming, TV.Fantasy proxy relationships. Focus: pornography.Computer and internet behaviors. Focus: gambling, shopping, surfing, smartphones.The importance of not being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), or falling prey to the many tempting avenues of “escape”.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.ESCAPE: Lesson 4 of 4.Douglas Jacoby and Steve Brand have joined forces to teach a series called ESCAPE. Steve Brand is a professional counselor and expert on addictive behaviors. Here’s the provisional plan:The psychology and neurochemistry of pain, escape, and addiction. Focus: marijuana, alcohol, pain medication.Alternate fictional reality. Focus: movies, novels, worlds of gaming, TV.Fantasy proxy relationships. Focus: pornography.Computer and internet behaviors. Focus: gambling, shopping, surfing, smartphones.The importance of not being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), or falling prey to the many tempting avenues of “escape”.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.IntroductionStem Cell Research (SCR) is an area of medical ethics.The issues are complicated because of the science, and also difficult because the Bible does not address scientific or medical issues directly.What are stem cells? "Stem cells are the body's raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells, called daughter cells. These daughter cells either become new stem cells (self-renewal) or become specialized cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle, or bone. Stem cells are unique — no other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types."The NIH has invested more than $500 million in human embryonic stem-cell research.A research law passed by Congress in May 2011 gave the Obama administration the go-ahead to continue funding embryonic stem-cell research. Other presidential administrations had been resisting this research.Two poles of opinion re: Embryonic SCRFor: "Support SCR if you care about disease." Paid ethicists may regard pre-implantation embryo as a clump of cells, not a person. ESCR touted as a panacea. Such a position disrespects the views of nearly all world religions. It also exaggerates the current success of ESCR, which are negligible.Against: Conservative believers (esp.) hold that personhood begins at fertilization or conception. Psalm 139 gives us a “divinely inspired ultrasound." Oppose research if we're "playing God." Such reasoning has been used to oppose counseling, surgery, and science in general. Was Psalm 139 (as poetry) intended to give us scientific data about human life? Are those who oppose SCR against all SCR, or only against ESCR?It’s not that simple; beware those who oversimplify.Two sources for SCEmbryo, amniotic fluid, fetus, umbilicus, placenta. More than 400,000 fertilized ova are in cold storage.ASC: can obtain from brain, lung, breast, liver, pancreas, tooth pulp, bone marrow – even adipose tissue.We don't have to settle the difficult metaphysical issues in order to talk intelligently about scientific research.RisksESC: Obtained from IV fertilizations (at about day 3) -- destroys the embryo. Risk of rejection; risk of tumors.ASC: Obtained from adult (or from one's own body) -- reduction of rejection or tumorigenesis.What works?Adult stem cells far more successful than embryonic. Ease of procurement.The technology is in its infancy, yet (as of time of this podcast), 514 clinical trials -- all with ASC, none with ESC.ASCs have scores of over 60 therapies, ESC have none that I am aware of.Applications: Leukemia, multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, solid tumors, sarcomas, testicular cancer, brain tumors, retinoblastoma, breast cancer, neuroblastoma, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, renal cell cancer, autoimmune diseases.IPSs (induced pluripotent stem cells) have eclipsed ESCs in terms of value because of lower cost, greater ease of production, and problems originating in genetic identity of the patient.In financial terms, so far, ESCR has yielded a poor return.ConclusionsAt the present, ASCR is far more promising than ESCR.Fine to have a position, but be willing to suspend while evaluating evidence.If you don’t understand the science, admit it’s beyond you--be humble.Some Christians I talk to admit they don’t understand.Others are dogmatic, yet it’s clear they haven’t any idea what the scientific evidence is behind their opinion.In any SC discussion we need to distinguish whether we’re talking about ESC or ASC.If you believe that life starts at fertilization and are contemplating medical intervention for pregnancy, or are discussing the issues with others, think carefully about your words and decisions. Will left-over eggs will be frozen and then destroyed? Or frozen, and later experimented on? Maybe implant all the eggs, or maybe hold off for now.We need a robust Christian ethic that recognizes God’s boundaries and values.Christians need to engage theologically in the issues of our day, not sit it out.Worst to have an ill-informed opinion!Actually better to have no opinion.But best to have an informed opinion.FurtherPodcast on Abortion (as this site)Dr. Oz on Oprah, click here.Presidential debate at Saddleback. Click here.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Things mentioned in this podcast:The American Civil War (1861-1865)--over 600,000 dead.The incongruity of brothers killing brothers! Nearly all denominations urged the killing of soldiers on the other side.The Restoration Movement was exceptional in not dividing (though there was still a negative impact). Nearly all the RM leaders were pacifists.Luther: okay to kill unless you know it's a fellow Christian. (Isn't this backwards?)Not allowed to sue a brother (1 Corinthians 6). So would we be allowed to kill him? If we cannot hate our enemies (Matthew 5), can we hate our brothers in Christ?Romans 12:12-21.Mark Twain (1835-1910): War Prayer (available in many places in the public domain) an incisive and biting rebuke of militant Christianity.If this podcast inbtrigues you, be sure also to hear Law, Allegiance, Revolution.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.1 Introduction What does the Bible say on the subject of abortion? In fact, no scriptures address the subject head-on. This is curious, because abortion and exposure of unwanted infants were common in the ancient world. Various poisons were administered to induce abortions. Several ancient texts related to abortion and exposure of infants:The Hippocratic Oath forbade abortions: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art” (c.400 BC). There would be little need to forbid them if they were unknown or not performed by some physicians."Ah, women, why do you dig out your child with sharp instruments and administer harsh poisons to your children as yet unborn?... Neither the tigress has done this in the jungles of Armenia, nor has the lioness had the heart to destroy her unborn young. Tender woman does it, though, but does not go unpunished. Often she who slays her own in her uterus dies herself."—Ovid (43 BC-17 AD), Loves 2.14.27-38.Exposure: "If you chance you bear a child, if it is male, let it live. If it is female, throw it out."—Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 744 (a text from ancient Egypt, dated to 1 BC).While early Christians were vocal in their opposition to abortion (see ¶3), the scriptures typically referenced are far from conclusive. Principles may be adduced, such as the injunction against murder, but it seems circular to define abortion as murder in order to settle the question of its morality. Might there be exceptions? If there are, then a universal prohibition is not possible.Most Bible students believe life starts at conception, based on the poetry of Job 10:8-12; Psalm 139:13-16; and Jeremiah 1:5. If they are right, then any abortion is tantamount to killing. But did God intend poems to be mined for literalistic doctrine? Not likely. Consider Psalm 139:13-16.13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.Psalms are poetry. We were not literally “knitted,” nor were we woven “in the depths of the earth.” The psalm clearly affirms that life begins before birth; it does not establish the time of that first moment of that life.In Matthew 1:18-20, Joseph is told that Mary was "with child," and about this child, "What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” This gives stronger support for the idea that conception is the point of the beginning of life. But even here we might wish for clearer testimony. An omniscient God knows the future, and so can easily have a providential view of our entire existence, even before we have a soul.What about Exodus 21:22-23?22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely [or has a miscarriage] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life…This passage is capable of two translations: miscarriage or premature birth. Here the penalty for causing an abortion or miscarriage was a fine, not the death penalty, as if the baby were already born. Although I am not pro-abortion, I hold that the Bible appears to recognize some differences between a baby already born and one still in the womb.In the absence of direct, explicit, crystal-clear scriptural teaching on abortion, it may be fruitful to ponder the following questions. Try to answer them honestly.2 Questions for thoughtThe fertilization process requires many hours, and is followed by another day in which the individual (diploid) is formed. In what sense is the mother-to-be pregnant before the process is complete?Is the loss of a 16-cell embryo equal to the loss of a full-term fetus?Up until two weeks, the zygote can split into twins, triplets, and so on. The process of individuation is still incomplete. Can a soul be shared three ways?The baby's heart starts beating after 22 days. Does life begin with the heartbeat?The sex of the embryo is not determined until the seventh week. Accordingly, many Muslims and Jews consider the embryo to be fully human only after 40 days. (Though I interpret the Muslim Hadith of Bukhari 4.549 to indicate ensoulment at 40 or 120 days.) Do Jews and Muslims value life less than Christians?All the organs are formed by the end of the first eight weeks of gestation.