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Jesus Alone: The Messiah’s Temptation

Jesus Alone: The Messiah’s Temptation
Excerpt


It is no coincidence that Jesus’ temptation immediately follows his baptism. Many of God’s people have had similar experiences. Right after conversion or some other significant spiritual event, precisely when a certain level of victory or maturity seems to have been attained, temptations resume more strongly than ever (cf. Elijah in 1 Kgs 19:1–18 and Paul in Rom 7:14–25).


Blomberg, Craig. Matthew. Vol. 22. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992. Print. The New American Commentary.

The Parable of the Talents

The Parable of the Talents
Excerpt


Jesus illustrates the nature of the kingdom of heaven once again with a story about a master with good and bad servants (Matthew 25:14). Again, the master goes away for a while and then returns (Matthew 25:15, Matthew 25:19). In this parable the servants are given money to invest wisely. On “talents” see comments under Matthew 18:24. The NIV margin suggests somewhat too small a sum. If one talent equaled sixty denarii, a conservative estimate since the denarius was an average minimum daily wage, then at the current (1991) American average five-dollar minimum wage for an eight-hour workday, the talent would be at least equivalent to $2400 (and it might have been much more—see comments under Matthew 18:23–35). Not all servants are given the same amount, since each has different capabilities and gifts. F. D. Bruner comments, “In the kingdom of Christ not all are created equal.” Nor is everyone expected to perform at the same level of competence, but all …

God and the Blind

God and the Blind
John 9:3, John 9:4
Excerpt


It is, however, possible to translate this passage in a way that God does not appear as one who arbitrarily makes a man blind so that he can later show his power in healing him. In TEV the words He is blind so that actually translates “but that” of the Greek text. The last part of  John 9:3 may be joined with the first part of John 9:4 by placing a comma after him. The following translation would then result: “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sins. But that God’s power might be seen at work in him, (4) we must keep on doing the works of him who sent me as long as it is day.” On the basis of the Greek, it is not only grammatically possible to translate in this way; it also suits the context well. Jesus’ answer to the disciples then becomes a rejection of their belief that the man’s blindness was due either to his parents’ sin or to his own sin, but he makes no judgement as to the reason that the man was born blind. …

A Kingdom Divided

A Kingdom Divided
Excerpt


‎What happened after Solomon’s death is often referred to as ‘the division of the kingdom’. As a statement of fact, that is what happened: the extensive empire ruled over by Solomon was split into two. To a large extent, however, this split seems to have been the natural culmination of an ideological division that had existed for much longer. The northern tribes, led by Ephraim, and the southern tribes, led by Judah, had only ever been truly united by their common allegiance to David. Both groups looked on him as a leader following in the footsteps of the judges, whose position was therefore assured only because God had chosen and equipped him. His continued rule was valid only insofar as he lived up to the responsibility that was involved in such a lofty calling. Solomon had come to power in different circumstances altogether, and became king for no other reason than that David was his father. …


Drane, John William. Introducing the Old Testament. Completely r…

Paul’s Greeting

Paul’s Greeting
Ephesians 1:2
Excerpt


Paul’s extension of grace (charis) and peace is different from the normal Greek letters which had only “greetings” or “greeting” (chairein; e.g., the apocryphal 1 Maccabees 10:18, 1 Maccabees 10:25; thousands of ancient papyri letters; and Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26; James 1:1). “Grace” expresses God’s steadfast love toward man and “peace” shows the relational state as a result of that grace. Paul opened his letter to the church at Ephesus with greetings to the believers there, expressing his wish that God’s grace and peace be with them. (See the chart“Paul’s Introductions to His Epistles” at Rom. 1:1-7.)


Hoehner, Harold W. “Ephesians.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. 615. Print

Schematic Perspective View of the Nordburg

Schematic Perspective View of the Nordburg
Fig. 4. Schematic perspective view of the remains of the Nordburg. Structures retrieved by excavators have been hatch-marked on vertical faces. Integrations have an arbitrary height of 0.5 m.
Notwithstanding its planimetrical peculiarity and its extremely damaged remains, the Nordburg presents several traits common to other Syro-Palestinian palaces. Those traits again testify, also in nonreligious architecture, to the cultural unity of this area. The planimetrical interpretations presented here must be mere proposals because of the actual preservation state of the Nordburg and the tormented history of its excavation and surveying. The greatest efforts have been devoted to resetting the plan of the palace, retaining as much as possible of the information reported by its excavators. This work has revealed great accuracy of the German plan, even though it was drawn still in a “pioneering archaeological era.” Unfortunately, Schumacher, who produc…

Darius

Darius ‎On the left, the relief from Bisotun shows the Persian king Darius in front of the defeated and captured foreign people. They have their hands tied on the back, and their necks tied to each other. Above their heads hovers the Persian god Ahura Mazda who presents Darius with the ring of the ruler. ‎Ezra 4:5, Ezra 4:24; Ezra 5:5–7; Ezra 6:1, Ezra 6:12–15; Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:15; Haggai 2:10; Zech 1:1, Zech 1:7; Zech 7:1

Table of Shewbread

Table of Shewbread ‎From the Arch of Titus, Rome.

Traditional place of Jesus' birth in church

Traditional place of Jesus' birth in church

Garden Tomb burial spot of Jesus

Garden Tomb burial spot of Jesus

Beliefs of the Samaritans

Beliefs of the Samaritans
John 4:1–45
Excerpt


The main beliefs of the Samaritans demonstrate both the close affinities as well as obvious divergencies from mainstream Judaism. They held in common with Judaism a strong monotheistic faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In contrast, however, there was an elevating of Mt Gerizim in the north as the only holy place for sacrifice, based on several divergent passages in Deuteronomy and Exodus in the Samaritan text. Mt Gerizim came to be identified with the site of Abel’s first altar (Gn 4:4), the site of Noah’s sacrifice after the flood (Gn 8:20), the meeting place of Abraham and Melchizedek(Gn 14:18), the site of Isaac’s intended sacrifice (chGn 22), and many other associations.


Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible 1988 : 1887. Print.

Fire as Symbol and Imagery

Fire as Symbol and Imagery
Exodus 3:2, Ex. 3:4

Excerpt


Fire is a common symbol of holiness and in some cases of protection (cf. Zech. 2:5). It represents divine action, with God himself presented as ‘a consuming fire’ (Heb. 12:29; cf. Deut. 4:24). Fire is God’s servant (Ps. 104:4; Heb. 1:7), and his word is like fire (Jer. 23:29). In reference to God’s action, fire is most frequently a symbol of destruction associated with the wrath of God and his jealousy. As a metaphor of God’s holiness, however, it may also purge or purify. The Babylonian exile is described as purification by fire (Ps. 66:12; Isa. 43:2), and certainly the Day of the Lord will purify Israel (Zech. 13:9; cf. 1 Cor. 3:13-15).

Fire is a central element of the description of theophany throughout biblical literature. God’s appearance for covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:17), the appearance in the burning bush (Exod. 3:2), the leading of Israel with the pillar of fire by night (Exod. 13:21-22), and the appearance in fire on Mo…

Piggin

Piggin piggin
  pig•gish \ˈpi-gish\ adjective 1820   1:      of, relating to, or suggestive of a pig 〈a piggish snort〉   2:      having qualities associated with a pig—pig•gish•ly adverb—pig•gish•ness noun

Mish, Frederick C. “Preface.” Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. 2003 : n. pag. Print.

His Lot Was to Burn Incense

His Lot Was to Burn Incense
Excerpt


The part assigned to each priest in his week of service was decided by lot. Three were employed at the offering of incense—to remove the ashes of the former service; to bring in and place on the golden altar the pan filled with hot burning coals taken from the altar of burnt offering; and to sprinkle the incense on the hot coals; and, while the smoke of it ascended, to make intercession for the people. This was the most distinguished part of the service (Rev 8:3), and this was what fell to the lot of Zacharias at this time [Lightfoot].


Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Vol. 2. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997. Print.

The Sea of Galilee from the Wall of Tiberias

The Sea of Galilee from the Wall of Tiberias

‎We have here the picture of the Sea of Galilee from the wall of Tiberias. With his artist, one of the editors reached Tiberias at noon on the 8th of May, 1894. We passed through the gate, entering the walls of the town, passing out of another gate, and found our tents pitched on the slopes just above the point from which this picture was taken. We see our muleteers down to the left, watering our horses in the Sea of Galilee. This little inland sea is nearly always rough, especially near the shore. The waves rise and fall, causing a kind of delightful music. The pebbles on the shore have been worn until they are round. Among these pebbles are numerous little shells which tourists greedily pick up, and which have been distributed in all parts of the world. This is the most sacred lake in human history. Most of the active ministries of our Lord were spent in sight of these waters. Here He found His disciples. Here He performed His miracles a…

The Emperor Was Supreme

The Emperor Was Supremeking—The Roman emperor was “supreme” in the Roman provinces to which this Epistle was addressed. The Jewish zealots refused obedience. The distinction between “the king as supreme” and “governors sent by him” implies that “if the king command one thing, and the subordinate magistrate another, we ought rather to obey the superior” [AUGUSTINE in GROTIUS]. Scripture prescribes nothing upon the form of government, but simply subjects Christians to that everywhere subsisting, without entering into the question of the right of the rulers (thus the Roman emperors had by force seized supreme authority, and Rome had, by unjustifiable means, made herself mistress of Asia), because the de facto governors have not been made by chance, but by the providence of God.

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Vol. 2. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997. Print.

Jonathan Warns David

Jonathan Warns David
‎For a moment, as Michal’s husband, David stood at the pinnacle of his early fortunes. Saul had set his harsh rule firmly upon the Hebrews, and to be his son-in-law was to be a very great personage in the land. The king’s trusted comrade Abner seems to have remained his chief general. Jonathan, Saul’s eldest; best beloved son was ever at his father’s side. But after these, David was the chief man of the kingdom. He was the active champion, always taking the field against the Philistines; and, a new war arising with the old enemy, David led the Israelites with such success that again the people hailed him as their savior. Again the offensive echo of their songs of praise rang through Saul’s burning brain. ‎The king’s wavering distrust of his popular general, settled into a deadly malignity. He spoke plainly to his more trusted servants, asking them to slay David. He even broached the matter to his son Jonathan. This loyal friend went at once to David with warning …

Bethlehem: Franciscan Church—Entrance

Bethlehem: Franciscan Church—Entrance
‎Bethlehem. The entrance to the Franciscan church which was built in 1871 over the Milk Grotto, south of the Church of the Nativity. It was named after the drop of milk that fell from Mary’s breast, according to tradition, when she was hiding in the cave with the baby Jesus and her husband Joseph. The drop of milk whitened the soft limestone of the cave wall, which nursing mothers scrape off to mix with their food, in the belief that it will improve their milk. The stonework on the entrance arches depicts scenes from the life of the Holy Family.

Scribes in Preexilic Times

Scribes in Preexilic Times
2 Kings 22:12
Excerpt


The ability to read and write was not widespread in ancient Israel, and professional secretaries were needed in the various aspects of public life. This appears to be the earliest biblical notion of the term “scribe” and has no particular religious connotation. Scribes were employed to keep accounts or transcribe legal information (Jer 32:12), military data (2 Chr 26:11), other public documents (Jgs 8:14; Is 50:1), or personal correspondence (Jer 36:18). These secretaries were essential to royal administrations, and there is frequent mention of a chief scribe who functioned as a court recorder (1 Kgs 4:3; 2 Chr 24:11), adviser (2 Sm 8:16–17; 2 Kgs 18:18; 2 Kgs 22:12; 1 Chr 27:32; Is 36:3), and financial overseer (2 Kgs 22:3–4). Secretaries or scribes were associated with the priesthood as well, serving as recorders for temple affairs (1 Chr 24:6; 2 Chr 34:13–15).


Elwell, Walter A., and Philip Wesley Comfort. Tyndale Bible dictionary 2001 …

The Shaduf, an Ancient Egyptian Watering System

The Shaduf, an Ancient Egyptian Watering System
‎The shaduf, an ancient irrigation device still in use, consists of an upright frame on which is suspended a long pole. At the long end of this pole hangs a water container, while the short end carries a counterweight. With an almost effortless swinging and lifting motion, the waterproof vessel is used to scoop up and carry water from a water source to an irrigation channel or another vessel. A shaduf can raise over 660 gallons (2,500 l) per day. ‎Gen 13:10, Prov 11:25, Isa 58:11, 1 Cor 3:6–8

Head of the Procession in the Festival of the Mah’mal

Head of the Procession in the Festival of the Mah’mal
‎The coverings for the sanctuary at Mecca are sent every year from Cairo by the representative of the Sultan of Turkey. The Mah’mal having made the pilgrimage to Mecca often is not only a symbol of royalty, but is also regarded as a sacred relic. Even the sight of it in the esteem of devout Muslims brings a blessing. At the head of the procession we see soldiers who are followed by camels, highly decorated, and bearing on their humps palm-branches, with oranges attached. Each section of the procession is preceded by a band of music, the largest being that which accompanies the Mah’mal. The cavalcade moves very slowly. The people cheer the “Prince of the Pilgrimage” as he goes by between two camels, one in front of the other. He is to conduct the expedition when it finally starts from the Birket-el-Hagg to Mecca. The leader of the pilgrims follows the “Prince of the Pilgrimage.” He goes before in the desert to lead the way. An unus…

Thoughts for the Quiet Hour

October 21

  Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life
    Rev. 2:10
There is a heaven at the end of every faithful Christian’s journey.

Cuyler

Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.

Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan

October 21: Visions of Grandeur
Ezekiel 41:1–42:20; Revelation 20:7–21:8; Job 38:34–41

In times of struggle, a vision of grander glory is often enough to move us beyond our current circumstances. We find encouragement in glimpsing the vastness and power of God’s plan.
When Ezekiel and God’s people are weary and desperate for hope, God gives His prophet an unusual vision: He shows Ezekiel the temple—not as it is, but as it should be. The temple symbolizes Yahweh’s presence among His people. It points them toward proper worship and life. It reminds them not only of who He is, but who they are meant to be. As we tour the temple with Ezekiel, we see that God intends to restore not only the temple, but also proper worship (Ezek 40:1–42:20).
John the apostle’s vision recorded in Revelation echoes Ezekiel’s: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea did not exist any longer. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming do…

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year

October 21st
Direction by impulse


Building up yourselves on your most holy faith. Jude 20.

There was nothing either of the nature of impulse or of cold-bloodlessness about Our Lord, but only a calm strength that never got into panic. Most of us develop our Christianity along the line of our temperament, not along the line of God. Impulse is a trait in natural life, but Our Lord always ignores it, because it hinders the development of the life of a disciple. Watch how the Spirit of God checks impulse, His checks bring a rush of self-conscious foolishness which makes us instantly want to vindicate ourselves. Impulse is all right in a child, but it is disastrous in a man or woman; an impulsive man is always a petted man. Impulse has to be trained into intuition by discipline.
Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on the water is easy to impulsive pluck, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the wate…

Spurgeon, Charles H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings

Morning, October 21      Go To Evening Reading
 “The love of Christ constraineth us.”           — 2 Corinthians 5:14
How much owest thou unto my Lord? Has he ever done anything for thee? Has he forgiven thy sins? Has he covered thee with a robe of righteousness? Has he set thy feet upon a rock? Has he established thy goings? Has he prepared heaven for thee? Has he prepared thee for heaven? Has he written thy name in his book of life? Has he given thee countless blessings? Has he laid up for thee a store of mercies, which eye hath not seen nor ear heard? Then do something for Jesus worthy of his love. Give not a mere wordy offering to a dying Redeemer. How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for him, but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, neither flowing forth to his poor or to his work. Out on such love as that! What do men think of a love which never shows itself in action? Why, they say, “Open rebuke is better than secret lov…