Tree of Knowledge – A Tree of Good and Evil – The Cross

I am asking you to put yourself into the mind frame of anyone in the Roman world before the resurrection of Jesus and the writings of the first apostles.  If we transported such a person into our timeframe and they saw crucifixes and crosses around our necks, on our books, and being used as decorations on and in buildings; what would be their first thoughts?

  • Are these people marked to die?
  • Is that a jail building where you are sent to wait?
  • Can there be that many people working for Rome to kill people?
  • There are countless variations of these questions.

One thing I am fairly certain of is they would only follow you if they wanted to see someone die a slow painful death.

Since Jesus’ death we had smoothed the cross out, lost the blood (for the most part), made it huge or much smaller, and made then shiny.  Most of these actions can and will be defended.

Alright, back to my post.  The Romans did not invent the idea of killing someone on a pole, they just perfected the practice.  Ezra 6:11 and Esther 9:13 refer to people being “impaled on a pole” (NIV).  The Romans added a cross piece and that extended the length of time it took for someone to die.  If you said “cross” in Israel it was an evil thing and they took it as a curse.

Before you start thinking that I don’t like the cross in artwork or on a building, you are INCORRECT.  It has served people as a point of meditation and comfort for a long time.  I do have an issue if you make it a “good luck charm”. 

Now, imagine people who are under Roman rule with Herod in charge of your nation being told “if you want to be my worthy disciple deny yourself and carry your cross as you follow Me”. (Matthew 10:38, 16:24) The Sermon on the Mount, yes.  Healing sickness and disease, yes.  Food for 5000 plus people, yes and yes.  Carry my cross, not so much.  To be made a public “spectacle” would be “foolish”, so why “endure its pain and shame”.

Yes, there is evil associated with those two pieces of wood.  The leaders of the religious classes in Jerusalem made that clear in Matthew 27:42 with their challenge for Jesus to come off of the cross.  Simon of Cyrene, probably, was not too happy with having to pick up Jesus’ cross – Matthew 16:24. (That statement is very subjective depending on who is preaching in the morning.  His sons are mention later in the Book so good did come from it.)  But, just like the Tree in the Garden, we know its evil side and its good side.  

Hebrews 12:2 clearly speaks of Jesus knowing the cross carried shame.  He went past that for the joy it would give when He could sit next to the Father again.  In enduring the evil, He perfected our faith and disarmed the demonic powers by His triumph on the cross. (Colossians 2:15, Yes, I am mixing verses.  I will reference them and I used the NIV.)  As Peter witnesses to Cornelius in Acts 10 about what Jesus did and how the Jews hung Him on the cross; I can hear Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:18 – When I was perishing the message that the cross was good was foolishness, but now it is the power of God in my life.

Exercise, sugar, and many other things in life have an evil side but also a good side.  We know things like this because Eve wanted the fruit and Adam took a bite, thus getting knowledge. 

Pentecost – The Offerings of the Feast

 

Pentecost, one of the three feasts that were mandated for Israel in Exodus 23 and 34.  The first time was during the conversation God had with Moses on Mount Sinai before Moses broke the Tablets of the Law.  Chapter 34 is the same order after Moses had to write the Law.  Pentecost was the party at the end of the grain harvest.  First Fruits was the beginning of the barley harvest that starts with Passover.  Pentecost is the end of the wheat harvest.  (Read the Book of Ruth also see Ruth Continued)  God had planned for parties to take place in the Land, while the people were still in the desert.

In the first two commands about Pentecost, Father God does not go into a lot of detail.  The particulars of the Feast are written in other Books of the Bible. In Leviticus 23: 15 – 22 very specific orders are given to the priest for the offerings.  The orders include four parts that make up the whole package. I am not going into detail on the components. 1. The Wave Offering 2. The Burnt Offering 3. The Sin Offering 4. The Fellowship Offering.  More on this later. Numbers 28: 26 – 31 has a slightly different take on the offerings for Pentecost.  I can see this list being for the people to make sure they have enough materials for the priest to do their job and offer the correct sacrifice.  Deuteronomy 16: 9 – 12 seems to be a reminder to the people to give according to how they have been blessed and that they are to have fun before the Lord.

The Four Parts of Leviticus 23 – It is important to remember that part of this feast commemoratives when God gave the Law in Exodus 19.  It seems that the story really goes to Chapter 32 and ends with the Levites putting to death 3,000 partyers and the destruction of the gold calf.  (Joseph Prince points out that 3,000 joined the Church on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem.)  Please allow me to do some extending of the parts of the sacrifice that was taking place in the Temple.

Pumpkin seed and Wheat

  • The Wave Offering – God’s waving created the sound of the rushing wind.
  • The Burnt Offering – The tongues of fire “burned” the disciples in the Upper Room.
  • The Sin Offering – Peter’s sermon introduced Jesus as the “sin offering” that had been paid.
  • The Fellowship Offering – In Acts 2:42 begins the fellowship part of the sacrifice that still should be going on.                The pic is from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/pumpkin-seed-and-wheatdried-cereal-seeds-photo-p182054 

Ruth – Continued

This study of Ruth will overlap other studies I have done, please click on the highlighted links to see them.  I am writing this during the time period called the Counting of the Omer – the days between Passover and Pentecost.  For the Jew these are two Feast that the Lord God gave them to celebrate and remember Him in the celebration.  On the historical side of this thought, it is the time Israel took to go to meet the Lord on Mt. Sinai.  Ruth is set in this period of time as she and Naomi return to the Promised Land during the barley harvest. (Bethlehem means the house of bread.) Because of this connection the study of Ruth in this time period is frequently part of the Counting of the Omer.

It is called the Book of Ruth, but it is also the story of Naomi.  The first chapter is her story and the verses of 4:16 +17 give her a happy ending.  Naomi’s actions are central to the story of Ruth and my musings took me all over the place, which is the reason for this post.   

Family 1 – Naomi shows a “family love” here that is a little foreign to my paradigm.  She inspired a bond with her “daughters” by marriage.  Ruth and Orpah were so attached to Naomi that both of them started out to a strange land without any recorded argument.  Orpah turned back only at Naomi’s urging.  Naomi coached Ruth, as a daughter, in 2:22 and 3:1-4,18.

Ruth’s bond and love for her “mother” have always been a highlight of this story.  “She lived with her mother-in-law” (2:23) is an interesting phrase and that it made it into scripture is equally intriguing.   

Family 2 – The ancient Hebrews/Middle East peoples and some ideas about marriage and family duties that are not accepted or legal today.  The concept, however, is still solid but not carried out with the intensity as it should be – family takes care of the family.  Especially, in times of death to the breadwinner of the family.

Naomi, in Ruth 1:12+13, makes a case to her daughters-in-law for returning to their father’s home.  Naomi is referring to the custom/Law of Moses of a brother marrying his brother’s widow.  Before the Law of Moses this custom is mentioned in Genesis 38:8, Tamar’s husband dies and Judah requires Onan to fulfill the responsibility of a brother.  Deuteronomy 25:5-10 is the inclusion of this in the Law of Moses and the story in Ruth is the practical application of it in real life. The second half of this custom/law is in Boaz’s act of redemption, found in Ruth 4:5.  He reminds the other kinsman that he will get Ruth and be required to maintain the family name/property.

I believe that this whole thought/custom/law came from Genesis 2:23+24 where Adam gives a prophecy concerning the relationship of a husband and wife. The child would belong to the dead husband because he and the wife are ONE.  In noting that thought, right or wrong, Ruth 4:16-22 does list Boaz as David’s descendent in the line of Perez.

Moab – Ruth’s family tree started with the sordid events of Genesis19:30-38.  Lot’s daughters conceive children with him and the older daughter’s child was named Moab.  Moab means “from father”.  

During the Exodus God did not want the Israelites fighting with the Moabites because they were Lot’s family (Deuteronomy 2:9).  They, however, joined into the plan in Numbers 25 to seduce Israel so they would lose God’s favor and protection. So, in Deuteronomy 23:3 Lot’s descendants are forbidden from entering the Temple of the Lord.

If that sounds off to your thinking, you are not alone.  Solomon and David could not enter the Temple because of Ruth!  Okay we know that did not happen.  I do not remember the justification but it is smoothed out in Jewish traditions.  Some translations put the burden on the “father” in Deuteronomy 23:3 which would work because of Boaz being Hebrew.

The Women in the Root – In Matthew there are five women listed in the root of Jess/David/Jesus.  They are an interesting group.  (I have written about many of these ideas in the post below.)  This post I will look at “DNA” additions into Judah/Israel.

  • Sarah, Rachel, and Leah are all family from Terah (Genesis 11:27).
  • Tamar – Genesis 38:27-30 possibly Canaanite
  • Rahab – Canaanite from Jericho
  • Ruth – Family from Terah by Lot
  • Bathsheba – Hebrew
  • Rehoboam’s mother was Ammonite (see Deuteronomy 23:3) she is a descendant of Lot

These are other post about David’s Family

These are the names and their meanings from the Strong’s Concordance/Vines Dictionary.  

  • Elimelech – #458 – God of the king
  • Mahlon – #4248 – sick
  • Kilion -Chilion – #3630 – pining (suffer a mental and physical decline, especially because of a broken heart), destruction
  • Orpah – #6204 – mane, nape or back of the neck, the back, stiff neck 
  • Ruth – #7327 – friend – female associate or neighbor
  • Naomi – pleasant 
  • Boaz – #1162 – uncertain meaning – the name of one of the pillars on the Temple
  • Obed – #5744 – serving 
  • Ephrathites – #673 – fruitless; from the root #6509 to bear fruit or bear fruitful
  • Bethlehem – #1035 – house of bread 
  • Kinsman (KJV) Num. 5:8 -#1350 gaal redeemer, to redeem, 27:11 – #7607 flesh, kin by blood; Ruth 2:1 – #3045 yada, to know/kinsman                        gaal Lev.25:25 redeemer in Deu.19:6/Num.35:19 it is revenger; in Isaiah 41-36 it is God as Redeemer      The pic is from http://www.freebibleimages.org 

I AM in John

I AM in John

The purpose of this post is to explore the times when Jesus uses “I am” in the Book of John.  I think this adds to John’s purpose of proving that Jesus is the Messiah.  There are some loose groupings of how/when Jesus used the term.  I will not try and list all of the verses but will leave that up to you and a concordance or a Bible app like BibleGateway. 

We use the phrase “I am” in our speech with other people frequently.  In Exodus 3:14 the Almighty God choose this phase as the name He wanted Moses and the Israelites to know Him by.  As with many translations, our English thoughts and ancient Hebrew usage can yield slightly different meanings.  (see I AM – Exodus) But think about it the next time you introduce yourself to someone or announce that you are going somewhere.

To non-Jews    Jesus used this phrase when He was talking to the Samaritan Woman and to Pilate.  These were at the beginning and end of His earthly ministry.  Jesus affirmed to the Woman that He was the Messiah and to Pilate that He was a King – John 4:26/18:37.  

What Jesus Said About Himself This is the reason I started thinking about this post.  I know there are other sources that will only list seven of these.  (Seldom am I in perfect harmony with them.)  Remember, this is just from the Gospel of John.  They will be out of order.

  1. 8:58 – before Abraham was born, I am (NIV).  The 8th chapter of John has eleven times when Jesus uses “I am”.  This is the only time that Jesus actually declares He is God.  This was done at the end of a long conversation with the Jews in the Temple.  They were going to stone Him and He “slipped away”.
  2. 4:26 – He told the woman at the well that He was the Messiah.
  3. 18:37 – Pilate He was a King.
  4. 6:35 This was after He fed the 5,000.  He identified as the Bread of Life (manna).
  5. 8:12 In the Temple.  He is the Light of the World.  Jesus says this again in 9:5 as He is healing the man born blind.
  6. 10:7+9 This is with the “man born blind” – Jesus is the Gate for the Sheep.    
  7. 10:11 He is the Good Shepherd.
  8. 10:36 He is God’s Son.
  9. 11: 25 He is the Resurrection and the Life.  This was said as He was raising Lazarus and going to Jerusalem for His final Passover.
  10. 13: 13 Jesus quotes the disciples calling Him Teacher and Lord.  
  11. 15:1+5 He calls Himself the True Vine.  This was in His last meal on Thursday of Holy Week.        
  12. 14: 10,11, and 20 Jesus says He is in the Father.  Even without this one, I am over the seven.

He Is Going Away I count seventeen times Jesus says He is going away.  20:17 is to Mary at the garden tomb.  The other times He says this in private and before a crowd starts in Chapter 7:34 and 8:14+21.  Here He was in the Temple.  The majority of these announcements are during Holy Week and are in chapters 13, 14, 16, and 17.  Jesus told the Disciples but they could not hear these as a prophecy.  He told them plainly in 12:36 that He was to be “lifted up”. 

The Mob 18:5,6, and 8 takes place in the Garden with Judas and the mob.  They are looking for Jesus of Nazareth and He answers with “I am He”.  My post the Root, Branch, Fruit deals with the prophecy you “cannot find” in Matthew 2:23.  The key is the word netzer which means branch and is the root for Nazareth.

Great Commission – John’s Style 20:21 has Jesus telling the Disciples “I am sending you”.  Jesus compares His order to what the Father did with Him.  Jesus has also given them “peace” and then breaths on them so receive the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost and their next step in God was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  During the Counting of the Omer, the Disciples spent time with Jesus before the Ascension and their ten days of intense prayer. 

Day of Atonement, Passover, Epiphany

The Day of Atonement, Passover, and Epiphany may seem like three strange Feast to be linked together when talking about the birth of Jesus.  Bear with me as I explain their connection.  

I know it is a good thing that God is a “God Who hides Himself” and did not give us exact dates for everything that occurred.  “He concealed things” so we could search them out.  Luke or Matthew could have given us “better” timestamps but Holy Spirit stopped them.  But Luke did give us some very important calendar dates.

Time

Jewish timekeeping is different than Western thought, it was started by God in the Garden.  (another post on time) The Biblical day starts in the evening and goes to daylight.  This thought is consistent in the Bible as there are many examples of things going from dark to light.  The Jewish religious month is lunar-based; they would add an extra month when needed to keep them in line with the revolution of the earth.   In the Book of Leviticus, the major feasts are set in this framework of months.

Day of Atonement

This important day, for the Jews, of fasting, prayer, and repentance is explained in Leviticus 16.  In Leviticus 23: 26 its time is given as the tenth day of the seventh month.  In Luke we find Zachariah, John’s father, doing the offering of incense behind the Veil in the Second Temple.  Luke 1: 23 had him finish “his time of service” before going home.  This possibly was until the end of the month, so he was with Elizabeth in the eighth month.  She stayed secluded for five months.  (I am not trying to do days or exact times, those belong to God!)

Passover

Luke 1:26 has the “sixth month” for Mary’s visit with Gabriel.  That should be the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, which makes it the first month of the Jewish year, the month of Passover!  The Father is a God of order.  It would seem fitting to “birth” Jesus in Mary at Passover. That would put Jesus’ “coming out party” with the angels and shepherds in the December/January time frame (Julian Calendar) of the month of Tevet.  (see the calendar below)

Epiphany 

From ancient times (before the fourth century) the 6th of January has carried special importance in the Church!  Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Testament to Freedom, pgs. 504-5 talks about Epiphany.  I read it in a compilation called God is in the Manger.  On page 90, he talks about four events associated with that date – the birth of Jesus, His baptism, the wedding of Cana, and the arrival of the Magi. Traditions are frequently built on fact.  Some of these I will not try to defend or deny, but it sure is interesting.  (Again, I am not trying to be dogmatic in writing this.)

Tevet is the Jewish tenth month.  The root of the word comes from tov or nine.  The meaning of the word is “good”.  If you look in Psalm 119: 65 – 72, the ninth section of that acrostic psalm you will find the idea of good four times in the NIV. (I did an alternative to how Psalm 119 is written.)

Matthew, in his telling of the Christmas story, injects that the Wise Men had seen the star two years earlier (Herod killed the babies two and under.).  He gives no timestamp, but if it was on Jesus’ birthday (Passover) when they found Him, it would fit. 

Okay, I will go out on a limb here, because I know the Father is a God of order!  Jesus’ return with Mary and Joseph from Egypt should have been at the same time as the Exodus (Passover).  I will inch a little further out and say that Jesus’ baptism with John coincided with the anniversary of the “baptism” of the people in the Red Sea. 

The wedding at Cana – I am clueless!  John was writing about proofs of Jesus’ divinity when he wrote on the Seven Miracles (or the Plus One I added), not about dates and times.

For you scholars out there, I have not researched any of these thoughts on Epiphany!  It may well be that someone else has already come up with the same ideas!  I like the way they fit together, and it gives me a reason to reflect on Epiphany.  One day in Heaven I will have to ask how close I was to being correct.   

pic is from Wikipedia