Continuing on with the country spotlight, we travel to the island nation of Cyprus, with a rich history from the Greeks and Turks.If you are interested in an affordable property with beachfront water views WITHOUT the threat of hurricanes, this may be an option for you!
Scripture Reading: John 19:16b-30 So they took Jesus, 17 and carrying his own cross he went out to the place called “The Place of the Skull” (called in Aramaic Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” 20 Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,' but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.'” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”23 Now when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.) 24 So the soldiers said to one another, “Let's not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.” This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.” So the soldiers did these things.25 Now standing beside Jesus' cross were his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!” 27 He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!” From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.28 After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty!” 29 A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth. 30 When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.Main Themes[I am still working on the blog post.]Historical Context: Roman CrucifixionThe latter half of chapter 19 describes the crucifixion of Christ, one of the most significant events in human history even without taking into account its religious implications. If its theology is true, then its significance is certainly without rival. Yet, I fear the story—gory and mystical as it is—barely fazes us. It is part of our cultural DNA. It's too familiar, while yet remaining unexamined. In an attempt to bring some “newness” to the story, I will begin this session by reading an extended quotation from Tom Holland's (the historian, not Spider-Man) Dominion. Tom Holland is not a Christian, yet he realized, to quote the books byline, “how the Christian revolution remade the world.” He has the best description of crucifixion and its first century cultural significance I have encountered. Without further ado, here is Tom Holland in the preface to Dominion: No death was more excruciating, more contemptible, than crucifixion. To be hung naked, ‘long in agony, swelling with ugly weals on shoulders and chest', helpless to beat away the clamorous birds: such a fate, Roman intellectuals agreed, was the worst imaginable. This in turn was what rendered it so suitable a punishment for slaves. Lacking such a sanction, the entire order of the city might fall apart. Luxury and splendour such as Rome could boast were dependent, in the final reckoning, on keeping those who sustained it in their place. ‘After all, we have slaves drawn from every corner of the world in our households, practicing strange customs, and foreign cults, or none—and it is only by means of terror that we can hope to coerce such scum.'Nevertheless, while the salutary effect of crucifixion on those who might otherwise threaten the order of the state was taken for granted, Roman attitudes to the punishment were shot through with ambivalence. Naturally, if it were to serve as a deterrent it needed to be public. Nothing spoke more eloquently of a failed revolt than the sight of hundreds upon hundreds of corpse-hung crosses, whether lining a highway or else massed before a rebellious city, the hills all around it stripped bare of their trees. Even in peacetime, executioners would make a spectacle of their victims by suspending them in a variety of inventive ways: ‘one, perhaps, upside down, with his head towards the ground, another with a stake driven through his genitals, another attached by his arms to a yoke'. Yet in the exposure of the crucified to the public gaze there lurked a paradox. So foul was the carrion-reek of their disgrace that many felt tainted even by viewing a crucifixion. The Romans, for all that they had adopted the punishment as the ‘supreme penalty', refused to countenance the possibility that it might have originated with them. Only a people famed for their barbarousness and cruelty could ever have devised such a torture: the Persians, perhaps, or the Assyrians, or the Gauls. Everything about the practice of nailing a man to a cross—a ‘crux'—was repellent. ‘Why, the very word is harsh on our ears.' It was this disgust that crucifixion uniquely inspired which explained why, when slaves were condemned to death, they were executed in the meanest, wretchedest stretch of land beyond the city walls; and why, when Rome burst its ancient limits, only the planting of the world's most exotic and aromatic plants could serve to mask the taint. It was also why, despite the ubiquity of crucifixion across the Roman world, few cared to think much about it. Order, the order loved by the gods and upheld by magistrates vested with the full authority of the greatest power on earth, was what counted—not the elimination of such vermin as presumed to challenge it. Criminals broken on implements of torture: who were such filth to concern men of breeding and civility? Some deaths were so vile, so squalid, that it was best to draw a veil across them entirely.The surprise, then, is less that we should have so few detailed descriptions in ancient literature of what a crucifixion might actually involve, than that we should have any at all. The corpses of the crucified, once they had first provided pickings for hungry birds, tended to be flung into a common grave. In Italy, undertakers dressed in red, ringing bells as they went, would drag them there on hooks. Oblivion, like the loose earth scattered over their tortured bodies, would then entomb them. This was a part of their fate. Nevertheless, amid the general silence, there is one major exception which proves the rule. Four detailed accounts of the process by which a man might be sentenced to the cross, and then suffer his punishment, have survived from antiquity. Remarkably, they all describe the same execution: a crucifixion that took place some sixty or seventy years after the building of the first heated swimming pool in Rome. The location, though, was not the Esquiline, but another hill, outside the walls of Jerusalem: Golgotha, ‘which means the place of a skull'. The victim, a Jew by the name of Jesus, a wandering preacher from an obscure town named Nazareth, in a region north of Jerusalem named Galilee, had been convicted of a capital offence against Roman order. The four earliest accounts of his execution, written some decades after his death, specify what this meant in practice. The condemned man, after his sentencing, was handed over to soldiers to be flogged. Next, because he had claimed to be ‘the king of the Jews', his guards mocked him, and spat on him, and set a crown of thorns on his head. Only then, bruised and bloodied, was he led out on his final journey. Hauling his cross as he went, he stumbled his way through Jerusalem, a spectacle and an admonition to all who saw him, and onwards, along the road to Golgotha. There, nails were driven into his hands and feet, and he was crucified. After his death, a spear was jabbed into his side. There is no reason to doubt the essentials of this narrative. Even the most sceptical historians have tended to accept them. ‘The death of Jesus of Nazareth on the cross is an established fact, arguably the only established fact about him.' Certainly, his sufferings were nothing exceptional. Pain and humiliation, and the protracted horror of ‘the most wretched of deaths': these, over the course of Roman history, were the common lot of multitudes.Decidedly not the common lot of multitudes, however, was the fate of Jesus' corpse. Lowered from the cross, it was spared a common grave. Claimed by a wealthy admirer, it was prepared reverently for burial, laid in a tomb and left behind a heavy boulder. Such, at any rate, is the report of all four of the earliest narratives of Jesus' death—narratives that in Greek were called euangelia, ‘good news', and would come to be known in English as gospels. The accounts are not implausible. Certainly, we know from archaeological evidence that the corpse of a crucified man might indeed, on occasion, be granted dignified burial in the ossuaries beyond the walls of Jerusalem. Altogether more startling, though—not to say unprecedented—were the stories of what happened next. That women, going to the tomb, had found the entrance stone rolled away. That Jesus, over the course of the next forty days, had appeared to his followers, not as a ghost or a reanimated corpse, but resurrected into a new and glorious form. That he had ascended into heaven and was destined to come again. Time would see him hailed, not just as a man, but as a god. By enduring the most agonising fate imaginable, he had conquered death itself. ‘Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…'The utter strangeness of all this, for the vast majority of people in the Roman world, did not lie in the notion that a mortal might become divine. The border between the heavenly and the earthly was widely held to be permeable. In Egypt, the oldest of monarchies, kings had been objects of worship for unfathomable aeons. In Greece, stories were told of a ‘hero god' by the name of Heracles, a muscle-bound monster-slayer who, after a lifetime of spectacular feats, had been swept up from the flames of his own pyre to join the immortals. Among the Romans, a similar tale was told of Romulus, the founder of their city. In the decades before the crucifixion of Jesus, the pace of such promotions into the ranks of the gods had begun to quicken. So vast had the scope of Roman power become that any man who succeeded in making himself its master was liable to seem less human than divine. The ascent into heaven of one of those, a warlord by the name of Julius Caesar, had been heralded by the blaze across the skies of a fiery-tailed star; that of a second, Caesar's adopted son, who had won for himself the name of Augustus, by a spirit seen rising—just as Heracles had done—from a funeral pyre. Even sceptics who scorned the possibility that a fellow mortal might truly become a god were happy to concede its civic value. ‘For the human spirit that believes itself to be of divine origin will thereby be emboldened in the undertaking of mighty deeds, more energetic in accomplishing them, and by its freedom from care rendered more successful in carrying them out.'Divinity, then, was for the very greatest of the great: for victors, and heroes, and kings. Its measure was the power to torture one's enemies, not to suffer it oneself: to nail them to the rocks of a mountain, or to turn them into spiders, or to blind and crucify them after conquering the world. That a man who had himself been crucified might be hailed as a god could not help but be seen by people everywhere across the Roman world as scandalous, obscene, grotesque. The ultimate offensiveness, though, was to one particular people: Jesus' own. The Jews, unlike their rulers, did not believe that a man might become a god; they believed that there was only the one almighty, eternal deity. Creator of the heavens and the earth, he was worshipped by them as the Most High God, the Lord of Hosts, the Master of all the Earth. Empires were his to order; mountains to melt like wax. That such a god, of all gods, might have had a son, and that this son, suffering the fate of a slave, might have been tortured to death on a cross, were claims as stupefying as they were, to most Jews, repellent. No more shocking a reversal of their most devoutly held assumptions could possibly have been imagined. Not merely blasphemy, it was madness.Even those who did come to acknowledge Jesus as ‘Christos', the Anointed One of the Lord God, might flinch at staring the manner of his death full in the face. ‘Christians', as they were called, were as wise to the connotations of crucifixion as anyone. ‘The mystery of the cross, which summons us to God, is something despised and dishonourable.' So wrote Justin, the foremost Christian apologist of his generation, a century and a half after the birth of Jesus. The torture of the Son of the Most High God was a horror simply too shocking to be portrayed in visual form. Scribes copying the gospels might on occasion draw above the Greek word for ‘cross' delicate pictograms that hinted at the crucified Christ, but otherwise it was left to sorcerers or satirists to illustrate his execution. Yet this, to many across the Roman world, was not as deep a paradox as perhaps it might have seemed. So profound were some mysteries that mortals had no choice but to keep them veiled. The naked radiance of the gods was far too dazzling for the human eye. No one, by contrast, had been blinded by the spectacle of the Son of the Most High God being tortured to death; but Christians, although accustomed to make the sign of the cross as a gesture of piety, and to contemplate with wide-eyed reverence the gospel accounts of their Saviour's sufferings, seem to have shrunk from seeing them represented in physical form.Only centuries after the death of Jesus—by which time, astonishingly, even the Caesars had been brought to acknowledge him as Christ—did his execution at last start to emerge as an acceptable theme for artists. By AD 400 the cross was ceasing to be viewed as something shameful. Banned as a punishment decades earlier by Constantine, the first Christian emperor, crucifixion had come to serve the Roman people as an emblem of triumph over sin and death. An artist, carving the scene out of ivory, might represent Jesus in the skimpy loincloth of an athlete, no less muscled than any of the ancient gods. Even as the western half of the empire began to slip away from the rule of the Caesars and fall to barbarian invaders, so in the eastern half, where Roman power endured, the Cross provided assurance to an embattled people that victory would ultimately be theirs. In Christ's agonies had been the index of his defeat of evil. This was why, triumphant even on the implement of his torture, he was never shown as suffering pain. His expression was one of serenity. It proclaimed him Lord of the Universe.Carrying His Cross to GolgothaJesus carries his cross out of Jerusalem to a place called Golgotha. Jews and Romans alike performed executions outside of a town. The Romans made a spectacle of it, in which soldiers would march the prisoner while crowds of spectators gathered to watch.John tells us that Jesus “carr[ied] his own cross.” The Roman custom was to have the prisoners carry their own patibulum—the transverse beam of the cross. This beam was later affixed over the upright stake (the palus, stipes, or staticulum). So, Jesus probably did not carry the entire cross as we normally see it depicted in paintings or movies. The Romans would often continue to scourge the prisoner. Given that Jesus had already been severely scourged, this may not have happened. If the lashings had continued, Jesus could have died before ever reaching the cross.The Synoptics tell us that someone else carried the cross:As they led him away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country. They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)The texts can be easily harmonized. After the severe scourging Jesus received, he was probably unable to carry the cross the whole way to Golgotha. The Romans quickly conscripted Simon of Cyrene to finish the job. No point in ruining a perfectly sadistic execution. The inference that Jesus was extremely weak is not mere speculation. Crucifixions lasted days with the criminal hanging on the cross. All four Gospels attest to Jesus dying quickly after being lifted. This shows he was mortally wounded well before the actual crucifixion.Golgotha is probably at or near where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is today. As Britannica explains:Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called Holy Sepulchre, church built on the traditional site of Jesus' Crucifixion and burial. According to the Bible (John 19:41–42), his tomb was close to the place of the Crucifixion, and so the church was planned to enclose the site of both the cross and the tomb.The Church of the Holy Sepulchre lies in the northwest quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.This is not mere reliance on the tradition that accompanies that church, but on historical evidence. The same evidence weighs against the famous “Garden Tomb”—which some Protestants believe to be Jesus' burial site—from being the correct location.Golgotha was also called “The Place of the Skull.” This could be from the shape of the terrain or, more likely, from the executions carried out there. Why do we, in the English-speaking Christian tradition, call this place “calvary”? As study note 56 in the NET tells us,The Latin word for the Greek κρανίον (kranion) is calvaria. Thus the English word “Calvary” is a transliteration of the Latin rather than a NT place name (cf. Luke 23:33 in the KJV).They Crucified Him Along Two OthersWhat is central to the Christian faith? The crucifixion of Jesus. Christians put crosses on their churches, wear crosses on their necks, and sing hymns like “The Old Rugged Cross.” Yet, in how much detail does the Gospel of John describe the crucifixion? In one. short. sentence.There they crucified him along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle. (John 19:18)The other Gospels hardly add much detail. Why? Because crucifixion was an unspeakably well-known horror at the time. It was the kind of event with which everyone in John's audience would have been familiar, and the kind of event no one wanted to think about—particularly in relation to someone beloved, much less their Lord!As explained by Tom Holland, crucifixions were intentionally horrific. They sent a public message. Executioners were given free reign to improvise and improve upon them. Sometimes the victim might be tied to the cross, other times they might be nailed to it. When nails were used, they were 5 to 7 inches long. They penetrated the wrist and sunk deep into the wood. The criminal would hang for hours or days. He (or sometimes she) would be unable to swat the flies off his wounds. He could not contain his bodily wastes. All while hanging from a cross anywhere from 6 to 10 feet in height.Jesus was crucified with two others. At first, this may seem surprising. They appear nowhere else in the story. However, this is not an unlikely situation. Crucifixions were a form of government propaganda. What better time to broadcast the message than during a popular festival drawing thousands of people from all over the empire.Jesus, King of the JewsPilate had a tablet made that displayed the charge against Jesus—“king of the Jews.” This would have been somewhat customary. During an execution, one of the soldiers might carry a tabula (tablet) declaring the charge and cause of execution. There is dark humor embedded in this scene. Pilate included the charge provided to him by the Jews themselves. He writes it in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Remember that during this festival Jews from all over the empire and some Gentiles would travel to Jerusalem. Many of them may have been more fluent in Latin or Greek. So, Pilate advertises to all there: this is the king of the Jews being crucified.Think of how the situation would have been perceived by those not “in the know.” The king of the Jews is being crucified by the Romans during the most important Jewish festival of the year, while a crowd of Jews—particularly the Jewish religious elite—cheer on. This would be confusing at best and treacherous at worst. It would have looked like the Jewish religious elite were siding with the Romans against the Jewish claim of sovereignty.The chief priests protest. The tablet must be rewritten, they request. “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,' but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.'” Pilate gets the last laugh. The Jewish leaders may have involved him in a situation with which he wanted no connection; they may have twisted his arm by threatening to accuse him of treason to Caesar; but they certainly cannot direct Pilate's execution of Jesus. “What I have written, I have written” he responds, taking his small revenge on them.There is a subtle theological point made by the message on the tablet. Remember Jesus' words in chapter 12:And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32)The message, at least on its face, seems serious: “king of the Jews.” And it is written not only in Aramaic (the language of the Jews) but in the “universal” languages. Greek was still the lingua franca and Latin was a close second. They were the languages spoken all over the world, or that's what anyone in John's audience would have thought.The point is that the message of Jesus' kingship is displayed for all the world to see, not just the Jews. Of course, there are many more languages and the Gospel message is still making its way to the whole world today, but the symbolism is powerful. Jesus died so that “everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, emphasis added)They Took His Clothes—Psalm 22The soldiers proceed to take whatever few possessions Jesus had upon his arrest. Confiscating the goods of an executed prisoner was standard practice. The removal of clothing upon execution was also standard. The Romans executed prisoners naked. In the ancient world just as today, nakedness in the wrong settings can be cause of shame. For the Jews particularly, public nakedness would have especially shameful. Given that Jesus was crucified in a Jewish setting and during a Jewish festival, the Romans could have agreed to keep loincloths on the criminals.The Roman army's basic unit was a contubernium, eight men who shared a tent. Dispatching half a unit, i.e., four men, would have been common for a task such as crucifixion. (This was called a quaternion, a squad of four soldiers.) Hence the need to divide the garments among several soldiers. The NET translation says they “threw dice.” This is possible (that they used actual dice), but as translator's note 74 to the NET explains:Grk “but choose by lot” (probably by using marked pebbles or broken pieces of pottery). A modern equivalent, “throw dice,” was chosen here because of its association with gambling.What the text calls a tunic would be an unfamiliar garment to us. Translator's note 71 in the NET explains:Or “shirt” (a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin). The name for this garment (χιτών, chitōn) presents some difficulty in translation. Most modern readers would not understand what a ‘tunic' was any more than they would be familiar with a ‘chiton.' On the other hand, attempts to find a modern equivalent are also a problem: “Shirt” conveys the idea of a much shorter garment that covers only the upper body, and “undergarment” (given the styles of modern underwear) is more misleading still. “Tunic” was therefore employed, but with a note to explain its nature.The main point John is making by describing how soldiers divided Jesus' clothes among them is a prophetic one. He reminds us how Psalm 22 is being fulfilled. I quote the entire psalm below (for the sake of legibility, I format it as if it were prose).For the music director, according to the tune “Morning Doe”; a psalm of David.My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I groan in prayer, but help seems far away. 2 My God, I cry out during the day, but you do not answer, and during the night my prayers do not let up.3 You are holy; you sit as king receiving the praises of Israel. 4 In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted in you and you rescued them. 5 To you they cried out, and they were saved; in you they trusted and they were not disappointed.6 But I am a worm, not a man; people insult me and despise me. 7 All who see me taunt me; they mock me and shake their heads. 8 They say, “Commit yourself to the Lord! Let the Lord rescue him! Let the Lord deliver him, for he delights in him.”9 Yes, you are the one who brought me out from the womb and made me feel secure on my mother's breasts. 10 I have been dependent on you since birth; from the time I came out of my mother's womb you have been my God.11 Do not remain far away from me, for trouble is near and I have no one to help me. 12 Many bulls surround me; powerful bulls of Bashan hem me in. 13 They open their mouths to devour me like a roaring lion that rips its prey.14 My strength drains away like water; all my bones are dislocated. My heart is like wax; it melts away inside me. 15 The roof of my mouth is as dry as a piece of pottery; my tongue sticks to my gums.You set me in the dust of death. 16 Yes, wild dogs surround me—a gang of evil men crowd around me; like a lion they pin my hands and feet.17 I can count all my bones; my enemies are gloating over me in triumph. 18 They are dividing up my clothes among themselves; they are rolling dice [literally, “casting lots”] for my garments.19 But you, O Lord, do not remain far away. You are my source of strength. Hurry and help me! 20 Deliver me from the sword. Save my life from the claws of the wild dogs. 21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lion and from the horns of the wild oxen.You have answered me. 22 I will declare your name to my countrymen. In the middle of the assembly I will praise you. 23 You loyal followers of the Lord, praise him.All you descendants of Jacob, honor him. All you descendants of Israel, stand in awe of him. 24 For he did not despise or detest the suffering of the oppressed. He did not ignore him; when he cried out to him, he responded. 25 You are the reason I offer praise in the great assembly; I will fulfill my promises before the Lord's loyal followers. 26 Let the oppressed eat and be filled. Let those who seek his help praise the Lord. May you live forever!27 Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the Lord and turn to him. Let all the nations worship you. 28 For the Lord is king and rules over the nations.29 All the thriving people of the earth will join the celebration and worship; all those who are descending into the grave will bow before him, including those who cannot preserve their lives.30 A whole generation will serve him; they will tell the next generation about the Lord. 31 They will come and tell about his saving deeds; they will tell a future generation what he has accomplished.Look, Here is Your MotherWho is standing near Jesus as he is crucified? All the disciples except the “beloved disciple” have deserted him. The women are the ones who remain with him. This is not entirely surprising from a historical standpoint. Roman soldiers would probably have permitted women followers to remain with the convicted criminal. There would have been many bystanders anyways, and women—even if followers of the criminal—may not have been viewed as active revolutionaries. In the Ancient world, women were allowed more latitude in mourning, and women were executed far less often. (Less often—but not never. The female followers of Jesus were still putting themselves at risk by openly supporting a crucified revolutionary.)Only the Gospel of John mentions the presence of a male disciple at the cross. We have discussed the identity of the “beloved disciple” before. Christian tradition is that the beloved disciple is John himself (the author of this gospel). The fact that only John mentions his presence at the cross makes sense. The other gospel authors focus on the crucifixion itself. John adds a short description of a touching moment he had with Jesus and Jesus' mother.Caution, a short rant is incoming: Nowadays, there are different proposals as to the identity of the beloved disciple. But, frankly, nowadays we can't even agree on what is a woman, so scholarly disagreement on any given point is not as weighty as it once was. Moreover, biblical scholarship is staunchly opposed to tradition. Scholars seem to go out of their way to suggest non-traditional hypotheses, even if they are quite weak or nonsensical. At any rate, I will proceed as if the beloved disciple is John. I don't think the other proposals are even worth discussing, but may this short rant serve as a disclaimer that you should look into those if you are interest. Ok, rant over. Back to the text.Remember that Jesus began his ministry at the behest of his mother, although she did not understand what she was requesting.When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to him, “They have no wine left.” Jesus replied, “Woman, why are you saying this to me? My time has not yet come.” (John 2:3-4)In chapter 19, Jesus' mother is present at the end of his earthly ministry.Recall that Jesus is Mary's oldest son, or only son if you take the Catholic approach. Joseph is absent from the narrative, which means he is probably deceased. This further means that the responsibility of caring for Mary fell on Jesus' shoulders. We may have a difficult time understanding the legal position of women in ancient Jewish society, but I will attempt to provide a short explanation. They were “connected” to society through the men in their lives: as the daughter of a man, as the wife of a man, or as the mother of a man. A woman left with no man in her life, either as a father, husband, or son, was a woman that belonged to no household. And a woman without a household had no support group. She was most often destitute. (A younger woman might be expected to remarry or return to her father's household if he was still living. With Mary, those choices were clearly not available.)Consequently, the duty of a son, particularly the eldest, was to care for her aging parents, especially his mother. Moreover, from what we understand of Jewish custom, a dying man was allowed and encouraged to settle the legal status of the women for which he was responsible. A crucified man could make his testament even from the cross.In the ancient world, both Jew and Roman, friendship could create a bond almost as meaningful as kinship. There are several ancient stories in which a dying man asks his friend to become like a son to the decedent's mother. Consequently, the exchange between Jesus, Mary, and John would not have seem odd to an ancient audience.Lastly, we need to understand that adoptive ties would have been taken seriously. A man adopting a woman as his mother is not mere poetry, but an honorable and serious commitment to care for her for the rest of her life.It is with all that in mind that we need to read the conversation in verses 26 and 27. “'Woman, look, here is your son!' He then said to his disciple, ‘Look, here is your mother!'” This was a serious command in which Jesus discharged his last duty—caring for his mother. There is a poetic beauty in that fact that as Jesus was crucified, he went to the grave with no earthly possessions. He had nothing to write a will about, except to settle the legal status of his mother. His mother is all he had and he gave her away as well.One notable detail in this exchange is that Jesus entrusted his mother to his disciple, not to a sibling (whether full or half-sibling, if the Catholic approach is taken). At this point in the narrative, Jesus' ministry has cost him his family. He is now closer to his faith family than he is to his “real family.” This would become a model for many Christians to this very day, when families would disown their own fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children because they placed their faith in Jesus Christ.I Am ThirstyEven on the cross, Jesus is working. He is careful with his words in order to “fulfill the scripture.” He exclaims, “I am thirsty.” On its face, this statement is a visible symbol of Jesus' mortality. The more biblically literate in John's audience, however, would recognize a reference to either Psalm 69 or Psalm 22. Psalm 22 was quoted above. Here I quote Psalm 69 in its entirety, again in the form of prose for easier legibility:For the music director, according to the tune of “Lilies”; by David.Deliver me, O God, for the water has reached my neck. 2 I sink into the deep mire where there is no solid ground; I am in deep water, and the current overpowers me.3 I am exhausted from shouting for help. My throat is sore; my eyes grow tired from looking for my God.4 Those who hate me without cause are more numerous than the hairs of my head. Those who want to destroy me, my enemies for no reason, outnumber me.They make me repay what I did not steal. 5 O God, you are aware of my foolish sins; my guilt is not hidden from you. 6 Let none who rely on you be disgraced because of me, O Sovereign Lord of Heaven's Armies. Let none who seek you be ashamed because of me, O God of Israel.7 For I suffer humiliation for your sake and am thoroughly disgraced. 8 My own brothers treat me like a stranger; they act as if I were a foreigner. 9 Certainly zeal for your house consumes me; I endure the insults of those who insult you.10 I weep and refrain from eating food, which causes others to insult me. 11 I wear sackcloth and they ridicule me. 12 Those who sit at the city gate gossip about me; drunkards mock me in their songs.13 O Lord, may you hear my prayer and be favorably disposed to me. O God, because of your great loyal love, answer me with your faithful deliverance. 14 Rescue me from the mud. Don't let me sink.Deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep water. 15 Don't let the current overpower me. Don't let the deep swallow me up. Don't let the Pit devour me.16 Answer me, O Lord, for your loyal love is good. Because of your great compassion, turn toward me. 17 Do not ignore your servant, for I am in trouble. Answer me right away.18 Come near me and redeem me. Because of my enemies, rescue me. 19 You know how I am insulted, humiliated, and disgraced; you can see all my enemies. 20 Their insults are painful and make me lose heart; I look for sympathy, but receive none, for comforters, but find none.21 They put bitter poison into my food, and to quench my thirst they give me vinegar to drink. 22 May their dining table become a trap before them. May it be a snare for that group of friends.23 May their eyes be blinded. Make them shake violently. 24 Pour out your judgment on them. May your raging anger overtake them. 25 May their camp become desolate, their tents uninhabited. 26 For they harass the one whom you discipline; they spread the news about the suffering of those whom you punish.27 Hold them accountable for all their sins. Do not vindicate them. 28 May their names be deleted from the scroll of the living. Do not let their names be listed with the godly.29 I am oppressed and suffering. O God, deliver and protect me. 30 I will sing praises to God's name. I will magnify him as I give him thanks. 31 That will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hooves.32 The oppressed look on—let them rejoice. You who seek God, may you be encouraged. 33 For the Lord listens to the needy; he does not despise his captive people.34 Let the heavens and the earth praise him, along with the seas and everything that swims in them. 35 For God will deliver Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah, and his people will again live in them and possess Zion. 36 The descendants of his servants will inherit it, and those who are loyal to him will live in it.So is Jesus' thirst and vinegar drink a reference to Psalm 22 or Psalm 69? The Gospel of Matthew seems to connect Jesus' statement with Psalm 69. In the Greek, Matthew describes the drink as being mixed with cholēn, translated as gall or bile in English. This is the same Greek word used in the Septuagint translation of Psalm 69:21. Notice that Matthew probably based his gospel on the Gospel of Mark, which uses the word esmyrnismenon (myrrh), so using the word cholēn seems like a deliberate interpretation by Matthew. On the other hand, the Gospel of John (and the Gospel of Mark in verse 15:34) makes a reference to Psalm 22 just a few verses before. Interpreting the reference as connected to Psalm 22 shows more literary consistency with the rest of chapter 19. Of course, as your resident fence-sitter, I must also suggest that the reference could be to both psalms. Jewish understanding of prophecy fulfillment was much more fluid than our modern sensibilities would like.Most importantly, both Psalms place us in the context of the suffering servant, persecuted for his service to God. One psalm ends in hope for the oppressed. The other in judgment for the oppressors.Gave Up His SpiritAfter fulfilling scripture, Jesus exclaims “It is completed!” and gives up his spirit. Allow me to begin the discussion of verse 30 with its latter half.John has emphasized time and time again that Jesus is in control, not the Jews, not Pilate, not anyone else but himself. He goes to the cross willingly and deliberately. The second half of verse 30 is the culmination of that theme. Jesus does not simply die. He gives up his spirit. Even at the moment of death, he is in control. Jesus, being God himself, sacrifices himself willingly.The verb used by John to refer to Jesus' giving up of his spirit is paredōken. This is the same verb (although different voice) as the verb used twice in Isaiah 53:12 (paredothē). In Isaiah, the verb is used passively (he is “given up”), while in John the suffering servant is active (he “gives up” his spirit). Nonetheless, the reference is fairly clear, particularly when we consider than John has referenced Isaiah 53 before (John 12:38).Isaiah 53 is a key passage to understanding the death of Jesus. As I did before with Psalm 22 and Psalm 69, I quote Isaiah 53 here as if it were prose:Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the Lord's power revealed through him?2 He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him. 3 He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.4 But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. 5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.6 All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.7 He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth.8 He was led away after an unjust trial—but who even cared?Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. 9 They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man's tomb because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.10 Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord's purpose will be accomplished through him.11 Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins. 12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”
Readings: Isaiah 8:23–9:3 Psalm 27:1, 4, 13–14 1 Corinthians 1:10–13, 17 Matthew 4:12–23 Today's Liturgy gives us a lesson in ancient Israelite geography and history. Isaiah's prophecy in today's First Reading is quoted by Matthew in today's Gospel. Both intend to recall the apparent fall of the everlasting kingdom promised to David (see 2 Samuel 7:12–13; Psalm 89; Psalm 132:11–12). Eight centuries before Christ, that part of the kingdom where the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali lived was attacked by the Assyrians, and the tribes were hauled off into captivity (see 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26). It marked the beginning of the kingdom's end. The Davidic empire finally crumbled in the sixth century BC, when Jerusalem was seized by Babylon and the remaining tribes were driven into exile (see 2 Kings 24:14). Isaiah prophesied that Zebulun and Naphtali, the lands first to be degraded, would be the first to see the light of God's salvation. Jesus today fulfills that prophecy—announcing the restoration of David's kingdom at precisely the spot where the kingdom began to fall. His gospel of the Kingdom includes not only the twelve tribes of Israel but all the nations—symbolized by the “Galilee of the Nations.” Calling His first disciples, two fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, He appoints them to be “fishers of men,” gathering people from the ends of the earth. They are to preach the gospel, Paul says in today's Epistle, to unite all peoples in the same mind and in the same purpose—in a worldwide kingdom of God. By their preaching, Isaiah's promise has been delivered. A world in darkness has seen the light. The yoke of slavery and sin, borne by humanity since time began, has been smashed. And we are able now, as we sing in today's Psalm, to dwell in the house of the Lord, to worship Him in the land of the living.
5. THE PROPHESIED KINGDOM After the death of King Solomon civil war broke out and the kingdom of Israel split into two parts: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Neither was strong. After 200 years of separate existence, the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians. The southern kingdom struggled on for another century, but then it too was conquered and its inhabitants were taken into exile in Babylon. During this depressing period in their history God spoke to the people of Israel and Judah through some prophets. He explained that they were being punished for their sin but still offered hope for the future. The prophets pointed forward to a time when God would act decisively through his King, the Messiah, to fulfil all his promises. The people of Judah must have thoughts that that time had come when they were allowed to return from exile, but God made it clear that the great time of salvation was still in the future. That is where the Old Testament ends: waiting for God's King to appear to introduce his kingdom. -- Vaughan RobertsMy Notes from Isaiah -- Who is the Messiah? (Jesus!) Isaiah 40:3-5 - He will be proceeded by a voice crying in the wilderness.Isaiah 7:14 - He is virgin born and named “God with us"Isaiah 9:6-7 - He is the forever King who bears the name Mighty God.Isaiah 11:1-3 - He shall be a righteous branch from the line of David.Isaiah 28:16 - He will be the cornerstone.Isaiah 40:11 - He will be a good shepherd who cares for the sheep.Isaiah 35:4-6 - He will cause the blind to see and deft hear.Isaiah 25:8-9 - He will shallow up death.Isaiah 42:1-3 - He will be the hope of the Gentiles. Isaiah 61:1-2a - He will be the Spirit filled Messiah who brings year of the Lord. How will the Messiah save us? By dying in our place for our sins. - Isaiah 53But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6) How should we response to the Messiah? Turn to the Lord! Isaiah 45:22-23“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.' Repent and believe the gospel! (Mark 1:15) Ask me a question | firstname.lastname@example.org
Here on the day after Epiphany, when we remembered non-Jews who came to Jesus after his birth, it is a great follow-up to come back to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. The Samaritans lived in a land that was once part of the Jewish nation, but broke away and then got gutted by the Assyrians. Still, many in that northern area wished to worship God, but Jerusalem remained the place of worship according the the central Jewish church. Jesus extending worship to her meant nobody would control worship but God. The Spirit would come, and did. Now we, like that woman, can all worship God at the level ground of the Cross.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Prayer Prophets are humans who speak on God's behalf. What is prophecy? When you encounter prophecy in the Bible, it usually refers to a message claiming to be of divine nature or origin. Since most of the Bible focuses on the ancient Israelites' relationship with their God, it makes sense that most of the Bible's prophecy comes from the same God. These messages come in many forms: dreams, poetry, sermons, and even dramatic physical stunts—like when the prophet Isaiah went nude for three years to signify how the Assyrians would strip and shame the Egyptians (Isaiah 20:3). Prophecies about the past, present and future. Major and Minor Prophets of the Bible. Personal note about my issues. Giving Links Thank you for listening, downloading and supporting the Speak Life Church and this podcast. https://giv.li/p2nj61 Zelle - pastor@SpeakLifeChurch.net https://www.patreon.com/speaklifechurchpodcast You can support the ministry by check or money order by sending it to Speak Life Church, 14713 Kent Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 Rev. Kenn Blanchard Kenn.email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
JOURNEY TO TRUTH 2023 CONFERENCE Grafton Illinois May 22 - 25 - GET YOUR TICKET TODAY! https://www.journeytotruthcon.com/ Our website: https://www.journeytotruthpodcast.com/ Donate: https://donorbox.org/donate-to-jttp Thank you
Bible Study: (3:24) EZ 2:8—3:4 What is the sweet and bitter scroll? MT 18:1-5, 10, 12-14 Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Letters (19:38) Can I go to communion if I can't do my penance before mass begins? What does the title Lord mean in the context of St. Joseph? Word of the day: Syrians vs Assyrians (29:37) Callers (36:48) - I'm 100 years old, but I'm tired of living. Could you help me? (40:41) - We're starting the Consecration to St. Joseph and there's a word 'divorce' in Matthew, could you help? (46:26) - Could you add to the story of Simon the Cyrenian? (49:29) - Caller reflects on different uses for the term Lord. Original Air Date: August 9, 2022
Full Text of ReadingsFeast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs Lectionary: 698The Saint of the day is Holy InnocentsThe Story of the Holy Innocents Herod “the Great,” king of Judea, was unpopular with his people because of his connections with the Romans and his religious indifference. Hence he was insecure and fearful of any threat to his throne. He was a master politician and a tyrant capable of extreme brutality. He killed his wife, his brother, and his sister's two husbands, to name only a few. Matthew 2:1-18 tells this story: Herod was “greatly troubled” when astrologers from the east came asking the whereabouts of “the newborn king of the Jews,” whose star they had seen. They were told that the Jewish Scriptures named Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he could also “do him homage.” They found Jesus, offered him their gifts, and warned by an angel, avoided Herod on their way home. Jesus escaped to Egypt. Herod became furious and “ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.” The horror of the massacre and the devastation of the mothers and fathers led Matthew to quote Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children…” (Matthew 2:18). Rachel was the wife of Jacob (Israel). She is pictured as weeping at the place where the Israelites were herded together by the conquering Assyrians for their march into captivity. Reflection The Holy Innocents are few in comparison to the genocide and abortion of our day. But even if there had been only one, we recognize the greatest treasure God put on the earth—a human person, destined for eternity, and graced by Jesus' death and resurrection. The Holy Innocents are the Patron Saints of: Babies Saint of the Day, Copyright Franciscan Media
View the bulletin for Saturday December 24, 2022 – CHRISTMAS EVE2:00 p.m. - Worship Service7:00 p.m. - Candlelight Worship Service(The 7:00 p.m. service streamed on our YouTube channel)All are welcomeFirst Reading: Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LordGod among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,“Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,'“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”Second Reading: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.Third Reading: Micah 5:1-5 Marshal your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel's ruler on the cheek with a rod.“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses. We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders,Fourth Reading: Luke 1:26-35, 38 In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. I am the Lord's servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.Fifth Reading: Luke 2:1-7 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.Sixth Reading: Luke 2:8-16 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.Seventh Reading: Matthew 2:1-12 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Kurdistan in America podcast is honored to have Mr. Martin Manna as our guest in the twelfth episode of Season Three.Mr. Martin Manna is the President of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and Chaldean Community Foundation. The Chaldean Chamber of Commerce represents the estimated 25,000 Chaldean-owned businesses in Michigan. The Chaldean Community Foundation provides social services to more than 40,000 New Americans annually. Mr. Manna shares his personal story and family's experience migrating to the United States and sheds light on the situation of the Christian community, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Assyrians, in the Kurdistan Region and the Nineveh Plains, as well as the accomplishments of the Chaldean community in Michigan.
Micah 5:2-5 NIV2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah,out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.5 And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses.We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders,Footnotes[a] Micah 5:2 Or rulers
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah American political satirist and journalist, P. J. O'Rourke, once said, “Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.” I agree with him - family love is very messy, and the messy, dysfunctional aspects of family life too often become systemic, passed down through generations. Quite honestly, life is very messy. And the Bible is brutally honest about this messiness in our lives as it contains stories of all kinds of people in the depth of messiness and dysfunction. One of the beautiful aspects of scripture is that it speaks the truth about our very lives, the truth about the messiness that creates all sorts of systemic problems within families and communities, the messiness that prevents us from living in relationship with others, the messiness everyone experiences in some form. And it is so fascinating that when looking at the messiness in our own lives, our reaction to it or our inability to thoughtfully respond in a healthy manner is usually rooted in some aspect of fear. In today's gospel reading, we meet up with Joseph as we hear Matthew's version of Jesus' birth. While the gospel of Luke focuses on Mary, the gospel of Matthew focuses on Joseph. And guess what? Joseph faces a very messy situation! Matthew does not give us the sweet, saccharine, syrupy, heart-warming stories of angels and shepherds and a baby born in a cattle stall. No. Matthew focuses on Joseph and the heart-wrenching struggle he was facing. The woman to whom Joseph is engaged, the woman to whom he is already contractually espoused, is pregnant. Mary and Joseph have not yet moved in with each other, they have not yet had sex, and Joseph experiences extreme heartache as he faces a very messy problem. Mary is pregnant and this could only mean one thing, she has been unfaithful. Can you imagine the emotions Joseph must have had when he heard this news? Anger, shock, hurt, disappointment, betrayal, fear and a need to distance himself from the mess. Yet, as Matthew describes Joseph and the situation in which he finds himself, Matthew calls Joseph “righteous.” Now, to be righteous, according to Torah, one must strictly follow the law. Therefore, as a good law-abiding Jew, Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death. After all, stoning was the punishment commanded in chapter twenty-two of Deuteronomy for engaged women who slept with other men. But Matthew also tells us Joseph was a man of compassion. So, instead of stoning Mary, Joseph decided he would quietly dismiss her as his wife. A quiet dismissal would hopefully minimize the public disgrace she would have to face. It is fascinating that, in the depth of his fear and the messiness, what never occurred to Joseph was that there is yet another way to be righteous - the way of acceptance and forgiveness and grace. Joseph, all on his own, couldn't possibly imagine how God could be present in so difficult, so utterly messy, so heartbreaking, so embarrassing, and so dangerous a situation as Mary's pregnancy. Therefore, God had to help him. Joseph was afraid. He was afraid to take Mary as his wife. The gospel writer tells us that, in the deep darkness of sleep, God came to Joseph in a dream. An angel of the Lord spoke to him saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” God brought truth, grace, forgiveness, and love into the irrational depths and quandary of Joseph's mind, heart and being. In ways deeper and more magnificent than the mind can possibly imagine, God changed Joseph. And because God changed Joseph, Joseph became a channel of God's grace in the world. In the depth of the messiness of life, in the mire and sludge of the unexpected and unexplainable, in that which Joseph perceived as betrayal, in the overwhelming darkness of an experience that created fear – yes, in that place, Joseph finds God present to him. God penetrated the darkness and the fear within Joseph, and that experience of God led Joseph to take Mary as his wife and name the child “Jesus” which means “God saves.” Now, Matthew was writing to a Jewish Christian audience, people who intimately knew Jewish scripture. So, the gospel writer connects Joseph's experience to the words of the prophet Isaiah, the words we heard in our first reading today. The prophet says: “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and they shall name him Immanuel.” (Immanuel is the Hebrew word for “God with us”). The truth about this Isaiah passage is that when Isaiah spoke these words to King Ahaz, the king was not very hopeful. When invited by the prophet Isaiah to “ask a sign” of God, Ahaz was not interested. In fact, Ahaz said, “I will not ask.” You see, Ahaz was living in fear and he was sure he would be defeated at the hand of the conquering Assyrians. However, Isaiah – good prophet that he was – was persistent. He pointed to the perennial sign of hope and new life for all people in any time saying, “a young woman will conceive and bear a son.” The truth about Isaiah's words to Ahaz is that the baby of which he was speaking was already in utero. We are not told who the mother of that baby was. But, because a newborn child is always the promise of hope, even in hard times, Isaiah names the child as a sign of God's presence: Immanuel God with us. Immanuel, God with us! These are powerful words packed full of meaning and, centuries after Isaiah, Matthew connects these words to Jesus' birth. These words gave Jesus identity and, as theologian Daniel Patte suggests, they do not simply describe Jesus. No, these words “Immanuel, God with us” were part of Jesus' very vocation. Jesus' calling was and is to manifest and make known God's presence in people's lives and save people from their sins. Jesus' calling then and now, is to manifest and make know God's presence to us in the depth of our fear and the messiness of our lives. Joseph discovered that the presence of God in the depth of the messiness of life drives out fear. God's presence moved him beyond fear. Joseph also discovered that the experience of God's presence brings forgiveness. And, he discovered God's presence brings change – change within self, change within the mess, and change to the world as he perceived it to be. We live in a world that is notorious for crushing hope. We live in a world that is notorious for turning love into a stingy commodity as if there is not enough to go around. We live in a world where we participate in creating systemic messes - messes in our lives, messes in our families, messes in our communities, monumental messes in our country and colossal messes in the world. So, I ask you, what are the messes in which you live? Listen to the voice of God's presence in your life, the voice that will penetrate the darkness of any situation, the voice that always says, “Do not be afraid.” Listen to the voice that always says, “You are loved, and your sins are forgiven.” Christmas is all about God's presence to us, Immanuel God with us. Christmas is all about incarnation. Christmas is about the love and grace of God that is on the way, the love that is in fact already here!! Christmas is all about God putting skin on God's dream for the world – about God's dream becoming flesh in this very broken, messy world. Christmas is God's invitation to each one of us to experience within ourselves the love that forgives sin and the love that comes to bring healing to the world. And, it is only the presence of Immanuel, God with us, that transforms the systemic, predictable, messy patterns of living and enables us to live into the dream of God where all things are made new. Yes, love is on the way and the Child will be born again in us, in the depth of our neediness, in the depth of our messiness, in our hurting and in our pain, and in our deep longing for God. Do not be afraid because the hopes and fears of all the years are met in this One, Immanuel, God with us – this One who is, in fact, already here!
3 Advent First Psalm: Psalm 55 Psalm 55 (Listen) Cast Your Burden on the Lord To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil1 of David. 55 Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!2 Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan,3 because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me. 4 My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me.5 Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.6 And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest;7 yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah8 I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.” 9 Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I see violence and strife in the city.10 Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it;11 ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace. 12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him.13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng.15 Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart. 16 But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.17 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.18 He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.19 God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God. 20 My companion2 stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant.21 His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. 22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. 23 But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you. Footnotes  55:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term  55:20 Hebrew He (ESV) Second Psalm: Psalms 138–139:23 Psalms 138–139:23 (Listen) Give Thanks to the Lord Of David. 138 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.13 On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.2 4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth,5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. 139 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 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.3 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. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain.421 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!5 Footnotes  138:2 Or you have exalted your word above all your name  138:3 Hebrew you made me bold in my soul with strength  139:14 Or for I am fearfully set apart  139:20 Hebrew lacks your name  139:23 Or cares (ESV) Old Testament: Isaiah 10:20–27 Isaiah 10:20–27 (Listen) The Remnant of Israel Will Return 20 In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For the Lord GOD of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth. 24 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: “O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. 25 For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. 26 And the LORD of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb. And his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. 27 And in that day his burden will depart from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck; and the yoke will be broken because of the fat.”1 Footnotes  10:27 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain (ESV) New Testament: Jude 17–25 Jude 17–25 (Listen) A Call to Persevere 17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They1 said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment2 stained by the flesh. Doxology 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time3 and now and forever. Amen. Footnotes  1:18 Or Christ, because they  1:23 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin  1:25 Or before any age (ESV) Gospel: Luke 3:1–9 Luke 3:1–9 (Listen) John the Baptist Prepares the Way 3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,1 make his paths straight.5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways,6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” 7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Footnotes  3:4 Or crying, Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord (ESV)
This is why arrogance is so dangerous: Jeroboam II became king in 782 BC. As they celebrate his coronation, what God knows—what the people have no idea about—is that the northern kingdom of Israel has less than 60 years left in its history! The Assyrians are gearing up to destroy Israel and the people haven't got a clue. Arrogance, sin, pride, an unwillingness to repent before God, costs a lot more than any of us are willing to pay…I said earlier that Israel's history was about over. I find often that God pours out His blessings on those about to be judged. It's His kindness which He hopes will lead to repentance. Now, I know God knows what people will do. He knew exactly when Israel would be judged. Still, by blessing them, He is taking one final chance to show them His love for them. It's too bad they wouldn't listen…
Historical Context of the Nativity - God's covenant with Israel o The Promised Land was given to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Jews would be Yahweh's people, and Yahweh would be their God. o However, Israel was disobedient, and worshipped other gods, and did many other wicked things besides, so God then handed Judah and Israel over to their enemies. - Babylonian Captivity o The Assyrians captured the northern kingdom of Judah in 721 BC; the Babylonians conquered Israel in 597 BC; both of these events came to pass just as God had sent the prophets to forewarn and promise the people. o With these two successive conquests, of Judah and Israel, many Jews were killed, or carried into foreign lands, or fled, or else were ruled over in their ancestral homeland by foreigners. o The Babylonians and Assyrians both were conquered and subsumed by the Achaemenid Persian empire. - Hellenization o With Alexander the Great's defeat of the Persians, his empire took possession of Judea. o After the death of Alexander, four of his generals divided the empire, and the part containing what had formerly been Israel was ruled by the Seleucids starting in 281 BC. o The Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes, ruling from 175-164 BC, persecuted the Jews, desecrating the temple in Jerusalem, and forcing the high priest and other devout Jews to eat pork, which they were forbidden to do. o This led to what was known as the Maccabean revolt in 167-160 BC, in which the Jews led by a certain warrior group called the Maccabees drove the Seleucids out, and established nominal Jewish self-government in the region again from about 110-63 BC. o A characteristic of this government, called the Hasmonean dynasty, was a reduction in the influence of both Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism. - Roman Conquest o The Hasmoneans were conquered by the Roman general Pompeius in 63 BC, thus ending, until modern times, meaningful Jewish self-rule. o As a client kingdom of the Roman empire, particularly under Herod the Great after the Roman Senate declared him “King of the Jews” in 37 BC, Judea was effectively under Roman rule. - Herod the Great o As a vassal of the Roman empire, Herod got his position because of his father's close relationship with the Roman general and dictator Julius Caesar. o To give you an idea of how ruthless he was, his mother-in-law was a part of the Hasmonean dynasty, and plotted at one point to restore the former dynasty to power by installing Aristobulus III, a member of her family, as the high priest, then sending him off to meet with Mark Antony, who was then in the midst of fighting a civil war with Octavian over who would be the Roman emperor after the assassination of Julius Caesar. § Herod was just so sure Aristobulus III would replace him as King of the Jews if he met with Antony that he arranged for the assassination of Aristobulus. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/garrett-ashley-mullet/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/garrett-ashley-mullet/support
Israel becomes a vassal state under the reign of Hoshea. He tries to make an alliance with Egypt resulting in his capture by the Assyrians. The kingdom falls and we are given all the reasons why. In the end, how long can you poke the bear and not get bit? Chad and Daniel discuss it. Have a listen! 1517 Podcast Network 1517 YouTube Donate
Sunday Service: "Wonderful Counselor" Website: www.PastorTodd.org To sow a seed: www.ToddCoconato.com/give Sermon Notes: When Isaiah wrote his prediction of the coming of the “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6), he was spurring Israel to remember their Messiah was indeed coming to establish His Kingdom (Isaiah 9:7). Isaiah was writing nearly 800 years before Christ. This period of history was tumultuous as the Assyrians were on the march, taking people into captivity by droves. Isaiah's prophecy gave the people of God a hope they so desperately needed: a Child would be born to fulfill the Davidic Covenant, and He would bear the titles “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Child was Christ; the prophecy will reach its consummation at Christ's second coming. That Isaiah calls the Messiah the “Wonderful Counselor” indicates the kind of character this coming King has. The word wonderful in this passage literally means “incomprehensible.” The Messiah will cause us to be “full of wonder.” The word is much weightier than the way it's used in normal conversation today—we say things are “wonderful” if they are pleasant, lovely, or the least bit likable. Jesus is wonderful in a way that is boggling to the mind. The same word for “wonderful” is used in Judges 13:18 when Manoah, Samson's father, asked the LORD (in a theophany) what His name was. The angel of the LORD responded, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” In other words, “Why do you ask my name, since it is beyond your understanding?” Jesus demonstrated His wonderfulness in various ways when He was on the earth, beginning with His conception in the womb of a virgin (Matthew 1:23). He showed He is the “wonderful” One in His power to heal (Matthew 4:23), His amazing teaching (Mark 1:22), His perfect life (Hebrews 4:15), and His resurrection from the dead (Mark 16:6). Jesus taught many wonderful things that are counterintuitive to the human mind: “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). “Rejoice and be glad” in persecution (Matthew 5:11–12). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Jesus' kind of wonderful is awe-inspiring and superior to any other kind, for He is perfect in every way (Matthew 5:48). The second part of the Messiah's title is the word counselor. In ancient Israel, a counselor was portrayed as a wise king, such as Solomon, giving guidance to his people (1 Kings 4:34; Micah 4:9). Isaiah uses this word again in 28:29 to describe the LORD: “This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.” Jesus is a wise counselor. “He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person” (John 2:25). He is able to advise His people thoroughly because He is qualified in ways no human counselor is. In Christ is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), including the knowledge of all human nature (Psalm 139:1–2). Jesus always knows what we are going through, and He always knows the right course of action (Hebrews 4:15–16). Christ's position as our Wonderful Counselor means we can trust Him to listen to our problems and guide us in the right direction (Proverbs 3:6). We can be sure He is listening because He told us to pray to Him about our worries (Philippians 4:6; James 1:5). We can be certain He has our best interests at heart because He loves us (1 John 4:19). And His love is so wide and deep (and wonderful) that we cannot fully understand it (Romans 5:8).
And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord.2 And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.4 It may be the Lord thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.9 And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?14 And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.15 And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.16 Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.17 Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,18 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.21 This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.22 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.23 By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel.24 I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.25 Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.26 Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the house tops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.27 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.28 Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.29 And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof.30 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.31 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.32 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.34 For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.37 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.This lesson covers most of Amos 9.9:1ff – judgment begins in the sanctuary"Strike the capitals" suggests earthquake, not military assault. This ties in to the prediction of chapter 8.V.3 Carmel's summit – caves, thickets, hiding opportunities.There will be no escape. “Gone is the time for object lessons, pleas, repentance and dialogue. Come is the time for the fullness of the judgment, whose nature and need dominate the book, to be released” (Hubbard 227).EgyptThe Israelites had been delivered out of bondage thereNile pictures return of the floodwaters, a return to chaos (conquered initially in Genesis 1).God's concern for the nations is a major OT theme.Genesis 12:3, Exodus 19:6, Psalms 100, Jonah 1-4, Malachi 1, Matthew 28, Luke 4, Acts 1-28, Revelation 7:9, to list just a few of the many passages.The Ethiopians (Cush) would have been regarded by Israel as insignificant.This major theme reveals the heart of God.Exile is decreed!The agents of judgment are the Assyrians.Readings from Nahum 1:14, 3:1-19 describe the cruelty of Assyria (capital Nineveh).They would meet their ultimate demise at the hands of the Babylonians (614, 612 BC).Captivity is a reversal of the exodus.Advanced9:2 || Obadiah 4, Psalm 139:7-11.Another point of no escape: 2 Kings 10:25.V.5 melting earth = Psalm 46:6, Micah 1:3-4.Cush (v.7) extended from Aswan to a point near Khartoum, a little north of modern Ethiopia. The borders of ancient countries often differed from their modern counterparts.
Psalms and Wisdom: Psalm 128 Psalm 128 (Listen) Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the Lord A Song of Ascents. 128 Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. 5 The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!6 May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel! (ESV) Pentateuch and History: Job 14 Job 14 (Listen) Job Continues: Death Comes Soon to All 14 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.2 He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.3 And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you?4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.5 Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,6 look away from him and leave him alone,1 that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day. 7 “For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.8 Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil,9 yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.10 But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he?11 As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up,12 so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep.13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!14 If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal2 should come.15 You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands.16 For then you would number my steps; you would not keep watch over my sin;17 my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover over my iniquity. 18 “But the mountain falls and crumbles away, and the rock is removed from its place;19 the waters wear away the stones; the torrents wash away the soil of the earth; so you destroy the hope of man.20 You prevail forever against him, and he passes; you change his countenance, and send him away.21 His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he perceives it not.22 He feels only the pain of his own body, and he mourns only for himself.” Footnotes  14:6 Probable reading; Hebrew look away from him, that he may cease  14:14 Or relief (ESV) Chronicles and Prophets: Isaiah 36–37 Isaiah 36–37 (Listen) Sennacherib Invades Judah 36 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh1 from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer's Field. 3 And there came out to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder. 4 And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? 5 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? 6 Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 7 But if you say to me, “We trust in the LORD our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar”? 8 Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 9 How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master's servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The LORD said to me, “Go up against this land and destroy it.”'” 11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 12 But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?” 13 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. 15 Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me2 and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?'” 21 But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king's command was, “Do not answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh. Hezekiah Seeks Isaiah's Help 37 As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD. 2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. 3 They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. 4 It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.'” 5 When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the young men of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7 Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.'” 8 The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. 9 Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush,3 “He has set out to fight against you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?'” Hezekiah's Prayer for Deliverance 14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: 16 “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20 So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.” Sennacherib's Fall 21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him: “‘She despises you, she scorns you— the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you— the daughter of Jerusalem. 23 “‘Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes to the heights? Against the Holy One of Israel!24 By your servants you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon, to cut down its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses, to come to its remotest height, its most fruitful forest.25 I dug wells and drank waters, to dry up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt. 26 “‘Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should make fortified cities crash into heaps of ruins,27 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted4 before it is grown. 28 “‘I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me.29 Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come to my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.' 30 “And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. 33 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” 36 And the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place. Footnotes  36:2 Rabshakeh is the title of a high-ranking Assyrian military officer  36:16 Hebrew Make a blessing with me  37:9 Probably Nubia  37:27 Some Hebrew manuscripts and 2 Kings 19:26; most Hebrew manuscripts a field (ESV) Gospels and Epistles: 2 John 2 John (Listen) Greeting 1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love. Walking in Truth and Love 4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we1 have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. Final Greetings 12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you. Footnotes  1:8 Some manuscripts you (ESV)
For additional notes and resources check out Douglas' website.So far:Amos preached a message of divine judgment, demanding repentance.Religion without righteousness is worthless.Economic and political prosperity are not necessarily a sign of divine approval.Opulent, self-directed living plus lack of concern for the needy is reprehensible.Yahweh's reign is over all the earth, not just over Israel.Since the law demands covenant faithfulness, without which the ultimate penalty of exile will be exacted, and since Israel has refused to listen to her prophets, she will surely go into captivity.Amos encountered official opposition.Religion in Israel was closely allied with the state. Power appears to have intoxicated the priests of the corrupt system of Jeroboam.Amaziah, priest at Bethel, commands Amos to return to Judah. "Southerner, go home!"The prophet remains undaunted.Light-hearted harvest is to become heavy-hearted judgment (8:1-3)Songs of joy in the season of plenty will become dirges and laments in time of judgment.The summer fruit (in August or September) would have been figs or pomegranates.Word-play: qayits means summer fruit (2 Samuel 16:1-2); qets means end. It's the end of Israel; the time is ripe!In these verses the message is no longer “Seek the Lord and live” (5:6). Now it has become: “It's too late; you must die” (like a physician telling patient his disease is terminal).That day (v.3) is none other than the day of 5:18-20. The Assyrians will surely come, though this is still a couple of decades off.Love of money at any cost (8:4-7)8:4-7 echoes 2:6-8. The entrepreneurs are running roughshod over the poor.The rapacity of the leaders reached criminal proportions. For an illustration of how the powerful seized whatever they desired, read 1 Kings 21 and 2 Kings 9 (the incident with Naboth's vineyard).They are impatient for the Sabbath to be over, so that they can get back to business (exploiting the poor). Israel was, as it were, eager to get out of church as quickly as possible in order to return to their favorite activity: making more money.God will bring an earthquake! (8:8)The earthquake (judgment) motif is also found in 2:13, 3:14-15, 9:1, and of course 1:1. Amos' prophecies would have grown greatly in credibility after the quake (see Zechariah 14:5).“… Amos perceives [the foundations of materialistic greed] to be so firm that only an earthquake can shatter its proud structures.” Craigie 185Then the prophet's imagery moves from the common to the metaphorical.Darkness, baldness, death8:9-10 – eclipse.Interestingly, there were two total eclipses in Amos' lifetime (9 February 784 BC, 15 June 763 BC). These would not have failed to impress the Israelites!Isaiah 30:26 and many other metaphorical passages describe blessing/punishment in terms of amplification/reduction of various natural phenomena.V.10 -- baldness refers to heads shaved in mourning (Jeremiah 16:6).The loss of an only son = goodbye to continued existence, personhood or progeny. See Jeremiah 6:26, Zechariah 12:10 (also Luke 7 – the widow of Nain).Spiritual famineThe famine has been caused by godless leaders, and failure on both their part and the people's to heed the word of God.This is not like Matthew 5:6. For these persons will stumble in their seeking, yet not find (as they refuse to repent).See 2 Chronicles 15:2-4.Word of God as bread: Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4 (Luke 4:4), Isaiah 55:1-3.V.13 -- When the young men/women (youth) are gone, there's no hope for the future. It's the end of the nation.Israel will fall, never to rise again. (Read about how Israel was dismantled and destroyed in 2 Kings 17-25).ConclusionIs there any hope for Israel? Perhaps a better question, is there any hope for us?Will we escape if we continue to ignore the word of the Lord?Am I giving my heart to something bigger than myself, to the message of Christ, to the cross of Christ, to the body of Christ and being transformed into the character of Christ?How many church members fail to read Amos, supposing it has nothing to say to them, no vital message? May it never be so.And last, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?AdvancedOn their cheating in business, the ephah = 22 liters, the shekel 11g. Merchants would line the basket to make it heavier, or use a larger counterweight than legal in the scales (Proverbs 11:1, 16:11, 20:10,23).Re: v.9: This is apocalyptic language, not literal. Like Isaiah 30:26, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2, and the book of Revelation. How many passages with apocalyptic language can you locate in the Bible?Re: v.12 – sea to sea = S to W; N to E (Dead Sea to Great Sea [Mediterranean], North to West: all four cardinal directions. The famine -- the judgment -- is national.V.14 -- "from Dan to Beersheba" means from one end of the land to another (see Judges 20:1).
The Anunnaki (also transcribed as Anunaki, Anunna, Ananaki, and other variations) are a group of deities that appear in the mythological traditions of the ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians. Descriptions of how many Anunnaki there were and what role they fulfilled are inconsistent and often contradictory. In the earliest Sumerian writings about them, which come from the Post-Akkadian period, the Anunnaki are the most powerful deities in the pantheon, descendants of An, the god of the heavens, and their primary function is to decree the fates of humanity. In Inanna's Descent into the Netherworld, the Anunnaki are portrayed as seven judges who sit before the throne of Ereshkigal in the Underworld. Later Akkadian texts, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, follow this portrayal. During the Old Babylonian period, the Anunnaki were believed to be the chthonic deities of the Underworld, while the gods of the heavens were known as the Igigi. The ancient Hittites identified the Anunnaki as the oldest generation of gods, who had been overthrown and banished to the Underworld by the younger gods.
Psalms and Wisdom: Psalm 125 Psalm 125 (Listen) The Lord Surrounds His People A Song of Ascents. 125 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel! (ESV) Pentateuch and History: Job 11 Job 11 (Listen) Zophar Speaks: You Deserve Worse 11 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said: 2 “Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and a man full of talk be judged right?3 Should your babble silence men, and when you mock, shall no one shame you?4 For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God's1 eyes.'5 But oh, that God would speak and open his lips to you,6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding.2 Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves. 7 “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?8 It is higher than heaven3—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?9 Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.10 If he passes through and imprisons and summons the court, who can turn him back?11 For he knows worthless men; when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?12 But a stupid man will get understanding when a wild donkey's colt is born a man! 13 “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him.14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents.15 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear.16 You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away.17 And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning.18 And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security.19 You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will court your favor.20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.” Footnotes  11:4 Hebrew your  11:6 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain  11:8 Hebrew The heights of heaven (ESV) Chronicles and Prophets: Isaiah 30:18–32:20 Isaiah 30:18–32:20 (Listen) The Lord Will Be Gracious 18 Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. 19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!” 23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow. 27 Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke;1 his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire;28 his breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches up to the neck; to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction, and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray. 29 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel. 30 And the LORD will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones. 31 The Assyrians will be terror-stricken at the voice of the LORD, when he strikes with his rod. 32 And every stroke of the appointed staff that the LORD lays on them will be to the sound of tambourines and lyres. Battling with brandished arm, he will fight with them. 33 For a burning place2 has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it. Woe to Those Who Go Down to Egypt 31 Woe3 to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD!2 And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.3 The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. 4 For thus the LORD said to me, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him he is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the LORD of hosts will come down to fight4 on Mount Zion and on its hill.5 Like birds hovering, so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it; he will spare and rescue it.” 6 Turn to him from whom people5 have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. 7 For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you. 8 “And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man; and a sword, not of man, shall devour him; and he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be put to forced labor.9 His rock shall pass away in terror, and his officers desert the standard in panic,” declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem. A King Will Reign in Righteousness 32 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice.2 Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.3 Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention.4 The heart of the hasty will understand and know, and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly.5 The fool will no more be called noble, nor the scoundrel said to be honorable.6 For the fool speaks folly, and his heart is busy with iniquity, to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the LORD, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink.7 As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil; he plans wicked schemes to ruin the poor with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is right.8 But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. Complacent Women Warned of Disaster 9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.10 In little more than a year you will shudder, you complacent women; for the grape harvest fails, the fruit harvest will not come.11 Tremble, you women who are at ease, shudder, you complacent ones; strip, and make yourselves bare, and tie sackcloth around your waist.12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine,13 for the soil of my people growing up in thorns and briers, yes, for all the joyous houses in the exultant city.14 For the palace is forsaken, the populous city deserted; the hill and the watchtower will become dens forever, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks;15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust6 forever.18 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.19 And it will hail when the forest falls down, and the city will be utterly laid low.20 Happy are you who sow beside all waters, who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free. Footnotes  30:27 Hebrew in weight of uplifted clouds  30:33 Or For Topheth  31:1 Or Ah,  31:4 The Hebrew words for hosts and to fight sound alike  31:6 Hebrew they  32:17 Or security (ESV) Gospels and Epistles: 1 John 3:4–24 1 John 3:4–24 (Listen) 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's1 seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. Love One Another 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers,2 that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,3 and God4 in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. Footnotes  3:9 Greek his  3:13 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters; also verses 14, 16  3:24 Greek him  3:24 Greek he (ESV)
The Middle East is a very curious place, but I hardly need to tell you that. For instance, everyone learns the parable of the Good Samaritan in church, and they learn that the Samaritans were pariahs to the Jews. I wonder, though, how many people know that the Samaritans are still there. Fewer still will know the story of how the Samaritans came to be.The Assyrians carried all of northern Israel captive into lands beyond the Euphrates, and lest the land go to waste—just lie there and grow thorns—they imported people from other parts of their empire to settle there. After they arrived, though, they had a serious problem with wild animals, and assumed that it was because they didn’t know the God of the land. So the king of Assyria sent back a priest to teach them the right way. Presumably, this priest brought a copy of the Torah with him, because the Samaritans copied it and made it their own.There is a document called the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is a Hebrew copy of the first five books of the Old Testament, but the script differs markedly from the later Hebrew. Some presume it is an older, pre-exilic style of letters. There are also some differences between what the text says and the Masoretic text—the latter being the text used in nearly all English versions of the Bible. What is fascinating about it is that, in many places where they differ, the Septuagint agrees with the Samaritan text. They both, along with some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, come from an earlier manuscript tradition. Nevertheless, the Samaritans weren’t immune from the same sort of corruption that had afflicted Israel.So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from there.2 Kings 17:32–33 KJ2000
Where did the name Palestine come from and for how long has it been in use? After reading the book "Palestine a four thousand year history" by Nur Masalha, a Palestinian historian and academic, it became clear that the name Palestine has been used since the 13th century BC until today. Only in the last decades did the use of the name Palestine become estranged, with the establishment of the State of Israel and the vilification of the Palestinian people. Many people doubt whether they can speak about Palestine and Palestinians. Using the name Palestine feels uncomfortable to many people. In his book, Nur Masalha shows with proof of many documents and quotes that the name Palestine has been the most common name that was used to describe the region between Egypt and today's Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, since it replaced the names Djahi, Retenu and Canaan. The first mention of the people living in the southern part of the Levant, the Peleset, gives the root letters for the name Philistia and Palaistine, that is used by the Assyrians and later the Greeks and Romans. The Arabic name Falastin derives directly from the name Palaistine, but in Arabic there is no letter P in the alphabet so they replaced it with the letter F.If you are interested to learn more you can click here to GET THE BOOK ON AMAZON (also available as audio book) Please support the podcast with a donation on Ko-fi and connect on social media:https://linktr.ee/storiesfrompalestine
In the Bible, the army of Israel is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. How did the army come to be and how was it formed? Was there always a standing army? How were wars fought during Bible times? In this latest episode of Bible Backdrop, I look at how the Israelite military was formed from the very first battle in Genesis to the formation of the professional army under Saul and David. If you are enjoying Bible Backdrop, please leave a 5-star rating and review. Bible Backdrop is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. You can also get in touch with the show by the e-mail mentioned in this episode.
Old Testament: Ezekiel 23 Ezekiel 23 (Listen) Oholah and Oholibah 23 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. 3 They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms1 handled. 4 Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem. 5 “Oholah played the whore while she was mine, and she lusted after her lovers the Assyrians, warriors 6 clothed in purple, governors and commanders, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. 7 She bestowed her whoring upon them, the choicest men of Assyria all of them, and she defiled herself with all the idols of everyone after whom she lusted. 8 She did not give up her whoring that she had begun in Egypt; for in her youth men had lain with her and handled her virgin bosom and poured out their whoring lust upon her. 9 Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians, after whom she lusted. 10 These uncovered her nakedness; they seized her sons and her daughters; and as for her, they killed her with the sword; and she became a byword among women, when judgment had been executed on her. 11 “Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became more corrupt than her sister2 in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister. 12 She lusted after the Assyrians, governors and commanders, warriors clothed in full armor, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. 13 And I saw that she was defiled; they both took the same way. 14 But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, 15 wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. 16 When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoring lust. And after she was defiled by them, she turned from them in disgust. 18 When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. 19 Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt 20 and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. 21 Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed3 your young breasts.” 22 Therefore, O Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will stir up against you your lovers from whom you turned in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side: 23 the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, desirable young men, governors and commanders all of them, officers and men of renown, all of them riding on horses. 24 And they shall come against you from the north4 with chariots and wagons and a host of peoples. They shall set themselves against you on every side with buckler, shield, and helmet; and I will commit the judgment to them, and they shall judge you according to their judgments. 25 And I will direct my jealousy against you, that they may deal with you in fury. They shall cut off your nose and your ears, and your survivors shall fall by the sword. They shall seize your sons and your daughters, and your survivors shall be devoured by fire. 26 They shall also strip you of your clothes and take away your beautiful jewels. 27 Thus I will put an end to your lewdness and your whoring begun in the land of Egypt, so that you shall not lift up your eyes to them or remember Egypt anymore. 28 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will deliver you into the hands of those whom you hate, into the hands of those from whom you turned in disgust, 29 and they shall deal with you in hatred and take away all the fruit of your labor and leave you naked and bare, and the nakedness of your whoring shall be uncovered. Your lewdness and your whoring 30 have brought this upon you, because you played the whore with the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. 31 You have gone the way of your sister; therefore I will give her cup into your hand. 32 Thus says the Lord GOD: “You shall drink your sister's cup that is deep and large; you shall be laughed at and held in derision, for it contains much;33 you will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow. A cup of horror and desolation, the cup of your sister Samaria;34 you shall drink it and drain it out, and gnaw its shards, and tear your breasts; for I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD. 35 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring.” 36 The LORD said to me: “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Declare to them their abominations. 37 For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. With their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up5 to them for food the children whom they had borne to me. 38 Moreover, this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and profaned my Sabbaths. 39 For when they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day they came into my sanctuary to profane it. And behold, this is what they did in my house. 40 They even sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and behold, they came. For them you bathed yourself, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments. 41 You sat on a stately couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed my incense and my oil. 42 The sound of a carefree multitude was with her; and with men of the common sort, drunkards6 were brought from the wilderness; and they put bracelets on the hands of the women, and beautiful crowns on their heads. 43 “Then I said of her who was worn out by adultery, ‘Now they will continue to use her for a whore, even her!'7 44 For they have gone in to her, as men go in to a prostitute. Thus they went in to Oholah and to Oholibah, lewd women! 45 But righteous men shall pass judgment on them with the sentence of adulteresses, and with the sentence of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses, and blood is on their hands.” 46 For thus says the Lord GOD: “Bring up a vast host against them, and make them an object of terror and a plunder. 47 And the host shall stone them and cut them down with their swords. They shall kill their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses. 48 Thus will I put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not commit lewdness as you have done. 49 And they shall return your lewdness upon you, and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Footnotes  23:3 Hebrew nipples; also verses 8, 21  23:11 Hebrew than she  23:21 Vulgate, Syriac; Hebrew bosom for the sake of  23:24 Septuagint; the meaning of the Hebrew word is unknown  23:37 Or have even made pass through the fire  23:42 Or Sabeans  23:43 The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain (ESV) Psalm: Psalm 119:153–160 Psalm 119:153–160 (Listen) Resh 153 Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.154 Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.156 Great is your mercy, O LORD; give me life according to your rules.157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies.158 I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands.159 Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. (ESV) New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 1–2 1 Thessalonians 1–2 (Listen) Greeting 1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. The Thessalonians' Faith and Example 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly1 mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers2 loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. Paul's Ministry to the Thessalonians 2 For you yourselves know, brothers,3 that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery,4 as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle5 among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 13 And we also thank God constantly6 for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men7 but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,8 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!9 Paul's Longing to See Them Again 17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy. Footnotes  1:2 Or without ceasing  1:4 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters  2:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 9, 14, 17  2:5 Or with a flattering speech  2:7 Some manuscripts infants  2:13 Or without ceasing  2:13 The Greek word anthropoi can refer to both men and women  2:14 The Greek word Ioudaioi can refer to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, who opposed the Christian faith in that time  2:16 Or completely, or forever (ESV)
Synopsis: Shalmaneser's Syrian invasions were countered by a coalition forged by King Ahuni of Bit-Adini. But repeated campaigns wore down his rivals and ended in Assyrian dominance. “Ahuni, terrified by my terrible, awe-inspiring weapons and my grim warfare, crossed over the Euphrates to save his life, and made his way to other lands. At the command of my lord Assur, the great lord, I annexed Til-barsip, Aligu, Nappigi and Rugulit as royal cities. I settled Assyrians there and built palaces in them for my royal residence. I renamed Til-barsip as Kar-Shalmaneser.” – Inscription of Shalmaneser III on the Kurkh Monolith Map of the Early Iron Age Near East: https://audio.ancientworldpodcast.com/Map_Near_East.jpg Map of Early Iron Age Northern Syria: https://audio.ancientworldpodcast.com/Map_Syria.jpg The Kings of Syria and Canaan: https://audio.ancientworldpodcast.com/Season_3_King_List.pdf Episode Images: https://audio.ancientworldpodcast.com/C16_Images.pdf References and Further Reading: https://audio.ancientworldpodcast.com/C16_References.pdf Please contact email@example.com if you would like to advertise on this podcast. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices