The Jewish uprising against the Romans at Masada (Video)

Mysteries of the Bible reports on Jewish uprising against the Romans at Masada. (Biblical Mysteries EP05)

Masada (Hebrew מצדה, pronounced About this sound Metzada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel, on top of an isolated rock plateau (akin to a mesa) on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. The Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Jewish rebels and their families holed up there. Masada is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Arad.

Masada is Israel’s most popular paid tourist attraction.

The siege of Masada was among the final accords of the Great Jewish Revolt, occurring from 73 to 74 AD on a large hilltop in current-day Israel. The long siege by the troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels and resident Jewish families of the Masada fortress. The siege was chronicled by Flavius Josephus, (who did not witness the event), a Jewish rebel leader captured by the Romans, in whose service he became a historian. Masada has become a controversial event in Jewish history, on the one hand becoming a place of reverence, a site commemorating fallen ancestors and their heroic struggle against oppression, and on the other a stark warning against radicalism.

Legacy

The siege of Masada is often revered in modern Israel as „a symbol of Jewish heroism”. According to Klara Palotai, „Masada became a symbol for a heroic ‘last stand’ for the State of Israel and played a major role for Israel in forging national identity”. To Israel, it symbolized the courage of the warriors of Masada, the strength they showed when they were able to hold of Masada for almost three years, and their choice of death over slavery in their struggle against an aggressive empire. Masada had become „the performance space of national heritage”, the site of military ceremonies. Palotai states how Masada „developed a special ‘love affair’ with archeology” because the site had drawn people from all around the world to help locate the remnants of the fortress and the battle that occurred there.

VIDEO by DiscoveryHaven

Spurgeon – JESUS INTERCEDING FOR TRANSGRESSORS on the cross

His View From The Cross by James Tissot c. 1895DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 18, 1877, BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

“And made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12.

Our blessed Lord made intercession for transgressors in so many words while He was being crucified, for He was heard to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It is generally thought that He uttered this prayer at the moment when the nails were piercing His hands and feet and the Roman soldiers were roughly performing their duty as executioners. At the very commencement of His passion He begins to bless His enemies with His prayers. As soon as the Rock of our salvation was smitten, there flowed forth from Him a blessed stream of intercession. Our Lord fixed His eyes upon that point in the character of His persecutors which was most favorable to them, namely, that they knew not what they did.

He could not plead their innocence and, therefore, He pleaded their ignorance. Ignorance could not excuse their deed, but it did lighten their guilt and, therefore, our Lord was quick to mention it as in some measure an extenuating circumstance. The Roman soldiers, of course, knew nothing of His higher mission—they were the mere tools of those who were in power—and though they “mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar,” they did so because they misunderstood His claims and regarded Him as a foolish rival of Caesar, only worthy to be ridiculed. No doubt the Savior included these rough Gentiles in His supplications. And perhaps their centurion who “glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous Man,” was converted in answer to our Lord’s prayer.

As for the Jews, though they had some measure of light, yet they, also, acted in the dark. Peter, who would not have flattered any man, yet said, “And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance you did it, as did, also, your rulers.” It is doubtless true that, had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory, though it is equally clear that they ought to have known Him, for His credentials were clear as noonday! Our Redeemer, in that dying prayer of His, shows how quick He is to see anything which is, in any degree, favorable to the poor clients whose cause He has undertaken. He spied out in a moment the only fact upon which compassion could find a foothold and He secretly breathed out His loving heart in the cry, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Our great Advocate will be sure to plead wisely and efficiently on our behalf! He will urge every argument which can be discovered, for His eyes, quickened by love, will suffer nothing to pass which may be in our favor. The Prophet, however, does not, I suppose, intend to confine our thoughts to the one incident which is recorded by the Evangelists, for the intercession of Christ was an essential part of His entire lifework. The mountain’s side often heard Him, beneath the chilly night, pouring out His heart in supplications. He might as fitly be called the Man of Prayers as, “the Man of Sorrows.”

Read the sermon in  its entirety here- http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols22-24/chs1385.pdf

Defending the Ressurection (via) Justin Holcomb, the Resurgence

by Justin Holcomb at the Resurgence

Of all the teachings of Christianity, no doctrine is more central than the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Put bluntly, if Jesus Christ claimed to be the savior but remains dead in a tomb after a brutal crucifixion, his claims were, and are, meaningless. However, if Jesus did rise from death, then his claims to deity, his bearing the penalty of our sins in our place on the cross, and his statements about the afterlife are vindicated.

No future without the resurrection

Without the resurrection, Christians have no savior and are left without hope of a future resurrection, since Christ himself did not rise. Paul writes in 1 Cointhians 15:14 and 17, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” On this basis alone, it is fair to say that Paul saw the resurrection as the lynchpin of the Christian faith.

Throughout the history of the church, the truth of the resurrection has been attacked from every angle. New books and television media appear questioning the truth of the resurrection, by re-hashing old theories about what happened to Jesus’ body. Since the resurrection is crucial to Christianity, Christians ought to be concerned with giving an apologetic defense of it.

Historically credible accounts

The first step is defending the resurrection from the detractors is to establish the fact of the historical events that took place as conveyed in the Gospels.  As William Lane Craig notes in his book Reasonable Faith, “The issue is whether the gospel narratives are historically credible accounts or unhistorical legends.”

The resurrection can be defended by showing that the Gospel accounts were:

  1. authentic—that they were written by the authors who claimed them
  2. pure—that they were not changed from their original form
  3. reliable—that the apostles were neither deceived nor deceivers

Even Bart Ehrman, the notorious New Testament critic, says that “we can say with some confidence that some of his disciples claimed to have seen Jesus alive.”

Not only an empty tomb

In his impressive book The Resurrection of the Son of God, N. T. Wright establishes the fact of the historical events that took place as conveyed in the Gospels. He sketches a map of ancient beliefs about life after death in both the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds. He then highlights the fact that the early Christians’ belief about the afterlife belonged firmly on the Jewish spectrum, while introducing several new mutations and sharper definitions. This, together with other features of early Christianity, forces the historian to read the Easter narratives in the Gospels, not simply as late rationalizations of early Christian spirituality, but as accounts of two actual events: the empty tomb of Jesus and his appearances.

Since the resurrection is crucial to Christianity, Christians ought to be concerned with giving an apologetic defense of it.

The Gospel accounts are historically credible, not merely mythological legends embellished over time.

In the next two posts, we will see that the resurrection is the best explanation of the historical events, over and against rival hypotheses.

A defense of the resurrection must give evidence for the historical validity of the events described in the New Testament, and it must show how the resurrection of Jesus provides the best explanation for this historical data. In this post we will focus on the empty tomb of Jesus Christ.

The empty tomb

One of the easiest parts of the resurrection data to establish is the fact that the tomb is empty. Because the location of Jesus’ burial was known to those living in Jerusalem, it would have been unlikely that they would have believed the Apostolic preaching of the resurrection of Christ if there was not an empty tomb. Jesus’ burial is widely attested in early, independent testimonies, both biblical and extra-biblical.

Furthermore, as is often noted, women were not considered reliable witnesses in first century Jewish culture, so it would have been foolish for the authors to have fictionally constructed an account involving women in order to gain credibility.

The person who wishes to deny the resurrection of Christ is left with the unexplained mystery of the empty tomb that existed three days after his death.

Matthew 28:11–15 speaks of a myth that was spread among the Jews concerning the body of Christ. Apparently the Jews were saying the disciples stole the body of Christ. This is significant because the Jews did not deny the tomb was empty, but instead sought an alternative explanation to the resurrection. The emptiness of the tomb is a widely attested historical fact.

Just because the tomb of Christ was empty does not necessarily mean the resurrection happened. Indeed, there have been four alternative hypotheses to resurrection that have been advanced over the years.

Conspiracy theory

First, some offer the conspiracy hypothesis, which says the disciples stole the body of Christ and continued to lie about his appearances to them. On this account, the resurrection was a hoax.

This hypothesis is not commonly held in modern scholarship for several reasons:

  1. This hypothesis does not take into account that the disciples believed in the resurrection. It is highly unlikely that numerous disciples would have been willing to give their lives defending a fabrication.
  2. It is unlikely that the idea of resurrection would have entered the minds of the disciples, as such an event was not connected to the Jewish idea of a Messiah. The scholar William Lane Craig writes, “If your favorite Messiah got himself crucified, then you either went home or else you got yourself a new Messiah. But the idea of stealing Jesus’ corpse and saying that God has raised him from the dead is hardly one that would have entered the minds of the disciples.”
  3. This hypothesis cannot account for the post-resurrection appearances of Christ.

Apparent death

The second hypothesis attempting to explain away the resurrection is the apparent death hypothesis. This view says Jesus was not completely dead when he was removed from the cross. Once in the tomb, Jesus was revived and escaped, thus convincing the disciples of his resurrection.

This view is difficult to hold for a few reasons:

  1. It is unlikely that a half-dead man would have been capable of even getting up to walk, much less moving the stone that sealed the tomb, over-powering Roman guards, and fleeing from sight.
  2. This theory cannot account for the disciples’ attribution of resurrection to Christ, for if they had seen him after he was revived, they would have merely thought he had never died.
  3. It is also foolish to think the Romans, who had perfected the art of killing people, would have let one slip by without ensuring he was dead.
  4. Finally, given the physical torture described in the Gospel accounts, it is highly unlikely that Jesus could have survived.

Wrong tomb

Third, the wrong tomb hypothesis suggests the women had gotten lost on their way to the empty tomb and accidentally stumbled upon the caretaker of an empty tomb. When the caretaker said, “Jesus is not here,” the women were so disoriented they fled, their story later being developed into a resurrection myth.

Like the other theories, virtually no one holds to this view. There are at least three reasons:

  1. First, this theory does not explain the post-resurrection appearances, and it is spurious to think that such a simple mistake would have led a first-century Jew to think a resurrection had happened.
  2. In light of the early evidence that is available concerning the location of Jesus’ tomb, it is almost impossible that the women would have confused its location.
  3. This hypothesis emphasizes that the caretaker of the tomb said that Christ was not there, but it passes over the next phrase: “He is risen!”

Displaced body

Fourth, some propose the displaced body hypothesis to explain Jesus’ resurrection. This theory says Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus’ body in his own tomb but later moved it to the criminal’s graveyard. The disciples were not aware that Jesus’ body had been moved and therefore wrongly inferred that he had risen from the dead.

Because of the spurious nature of this theory, virtually no modern scholars hold to it:

  1. This theory cannot account for the post-resurrection appearances of Christ or the origin of the Christian faith.
  2. It is uncertain why Joseph would not have corrected the error of the disciples by simply showing them where he had moved the body of Jesus.
  3. The criminal graveyard, most likely, was quite close to the crucifixion site, so it would have made little sense why Joseph would not have simply buried Jesus there in the first place. In fact, it was against Jewish law to allow a body to be moved after it had already been buried.

The resurrection really happened

In light of these failed hypotheses that attempt to disprove the resurrection, the person who wishes to deny the resurrection of Christ is left with the unexplained mystery of the empty tomb that existed three days after his death.

A defense of the resurrection must give evidence for the historical validity of the events described in the New Testament, and it must show how the resurrection of Jesus provides the best explanation for this historical data.

The Post-Resurrection Appearances

In 1 Cor. 15:3-8, Paul says that Jesus appeared to Cephas, the Twelve, more than five hundred people at once, James, all the apostles, and finally to Paul himself. 1 Corinthians, an authentic letter composed by a man acquainted with the first disciples, actually claims that people saw Jesus after his death.

Because of the specificity of the list that Paul puts forth, it is fairly indisputable that Jesus actually appeared to the people that Paul mentions. The gospels all speak of post-resurrection appearances of Christ. It would be quite ridiculous to suggest that each of these events was a hallucination. Few scholars argue, therefore, that on different occasions different groups of people had experiences of seeing Jesus. They therefore question whether the experiences were actual physical, bodily appearances of Christ. However, Paul leaves no room for a merely psychological experience. His theology of the resurrected body ensures that he meant that Christ actually, physically appeared. This is confirmed by the gospel accounts. In light of this evidence, one can be certain of the fact that Jesus appeared to the people mentioned in 1 Cor. 15 after his bodily resurrection.

A Plausible Explanation

The resurrection is the most plausible explanation for the postmortem appearances of Christ. The alternative—the hallucination hypothesis—says nothing to explain the empty tomb. Nor does it explain the disciples’ belief in the resurrection. In typical psychological postmortem experiences, the person having the experience rarely would think that a dead person actually returned physically to life. As N.T. Wright argues, postmortem appearances in the ancient world would be more evidence that the person was dead than that he was alive.

Because of the diversity of appearances catalogued, it is highly unlikely that the hallucination theory can be held. Therefore, the physical resurrection of Jesus proves to be the best explanation for the postmortem appearances described in 1 Cor. 15.

The Origin of the Christian Faith

The fact that Christianity started and grew is evidence for the resurrection. William Lane Craig writes: “Even skeptical New Testament scholars admit that the earliest disciples at least believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead.” For Jews, the Messiah was viewed as a figure that would be triumphant and rule on David’s throne, not a figure that would be crucified and die.

The resurrection undid the catastrophe of the crucifixion. The Messiah, who had died, is risen! The resurrection validated and verified the claims that Christ had made about his own identity. The origin of Christianity rests solely on the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

The resurrection validated and verified the claims that Christ had made about his own identity. 

To deny that the resurrection was the cause of the Christian faith, an alternative explanation must be given.  But there is no plausible alternative. Therefore, “Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that the tomb was somehow emptied and the disciples saw hallucinations—suppositions which we have seen to be false anyway—the origin of the belief in Jesus’ resurrection still cannot be plausibly explained” (Craig).

Come Let Us Reason…

It stands to reason that Jesus Christ did in fact rise from the dead victoriously on the third day after his death. No alternative hypothesis can adequately explain the empty tomb, the postmortem appearances of Jesus, and the origin of the Christian faith. For this reason, one has no good reasons why not to accept this most central element of Christianity.

Haggai and the rebuilding of the Temple in 520 B.C. by John Piper

A SURVEY OF THE MAJOR AND MINOR PROPHETS – HAGGAI

Historical Background of the Book. The Jews had been held captive in the land of Babylon for about 60 years. Around 540 B.C., King Cyrus of the Medeo-Persian Empire displaced the Babylonians. Being favorably inclined toward the Jews, he allowed about 50,000 Jews to return to Canaan around 539 B.C. under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua (Ezra 1-2). Around 536 B.C., they began rebuilding the temple which had been destroyed by the Babylonians 50 years prior (Ezra 3). However, they encountered opposition from the local inhabitants to the north, the Samaritans, Gentiles the Assyrians had placed in the area after displacing the Northern Kingdom. By decree of King Artaxerxes, Cyrus successor, construction on the temple was halted around 535 B.C. (Ezra 4).

biblequestions.org

The Author and the Audience. Around 520 B.C., the word of the Lord came to Haggai (Ezra 5:1). Little is known about him. Some scholars suggest he may have witnessed the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians. His audience was Zerubabbel, Joshua, and the Jews in Jerusalem.

Outline/Major Themes. The overall theme of the book of Haggai is two fold: 1) the Jews have not prospered because they have neglected the rebuilding of the temple and 2) they needed to repent, get to work, and finish the job.

  • Ch. 1:1-11 The call to repent and rebuild
  • Ch. 1:12-15 Zerubabbel’s response of repentance
  • Ch. 2:1-9 Encouragement since the rebuilt temple would be filled with God’s glory
  • Ch. 2:10-19 The people would be restored and blessed 
  • Ch. 2:20-23 A promise made to Zerubabbel which has messianic overtones To the Jews’ credit, they resumed construction and completed the temple about five years later (Ezra 5-6).

Messages for Christians. In the events surrounding the book of Haggai, we see echos of several New Testament themes:

The lingering consequences of sin – The overall temple complex built during Zerubbabel’s time was smaller than Solomon’s and had less gold and precious stones. The ark of the covenant, the 10 commandment tablets, and the mercy seat had been lost or destroyed along with the first temple. Likewise today, Christians can repent of sin, but sometimes sin has lingering consequences (e.g., weakened spiritual influence, unplanned pregnancies, an increased appetite for sinful things).

The ends don’t justify the means – The Jews did not accept help from the idolatrous Gentiles to the north. According to the New Testament pattern, congregations today are to be financed by the free-will offerings of Christians (not by selling merchandise or services to the general public nor by financial appeals to non-Christians such as bake sales, garage sales, or rummage sales). Always put God first (Matt. 6:24-34; Matt. 13:7, 22). Don’t become weary in doing good by external persecution or by internal indifference (Rev. 2:4-5; Heb. 10:24-25; Gal. 6:9).

„The way Haggai motivates the Jews to build the temple of God has a powerful application to our own efforts to build the Church of God. I want to focus mainly on the message Haggai delivers in 2:1–9. But since the book is small, we can take a quick tour through the two chapters to see how 2:1–9 fits into the lay of the land.”

You can listen to the following in audio sermon format at Desiring God.

Take Courage: You Build More Than You See

John Piper at  Desiring God

In 586 BC the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and took most of the Jews into exile. About 50 years later Cyrus, the Persian, took Babylon, and brought the Babylonian Empire to an end. The next year (538 BC) he allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. All of this was owing to the sovereign hand of God fulfilling the prophecies of Jeremiah (Ezra 1:1).

Return to the Land

Among the returning exiles were (probably) the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Ezra 5:12sums up for us what these two contemporaries accomplished:

Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and Joshua, the son of Jozadak, arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

So Haggai and Zechariah were sent by God to assist in the rebuilding of the temple. This work was begun, according to Haggai 1:15, on the 24th day of the sixth month of the second year of the reign of Darius, which in our dating is September 21, 520 BC. So you can see that about 18 years went by between the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of the temple. This delay is what brings forth the message of Haggai.

The way Haggai motivates the Jews to build the temple of God has a powerful application to our own efforts to build the Church of God. I want to focus mainly on the message Haggai delivers in 2:1–9. But since the book is small, we can take a quick tour through the two chapters to see how 2:1–9 fits into the lay of the land.

Structure of Haggai

The book is clearly divided into four distinct messages from the Lord, each of which is precisely dated. The first message, delivered by Haggai to Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the priest, is dated (according to 1:1) in the second year of Darius (king of Persia), the first day of the sixth month (August 29, 520 BC). This message extends to the end of chapter 1. The second message is found in 2:1–9 and is dated (2:1) on the 21st day of the seventh month (October 17, 520 BC). The third message is found in 2:10–19 and is dated (2:10) on the 24th day of the ninth month (December 18, 520 BC). Finally, the fourth message comes in 2:20–23 on the same day as the third one. One of the things that we see when we look at this little book long enough is that the first and third messages are similar and the second and fourth messages are similar. This morning we will only have time to survey the first and third so that we understand the context for the second message (2:1–9).

Neglecting the Temple of God

The first message in chapter 1 reveals to the governor and priest and people that the reason they are all frustrated is that they have tried to make their own lives comfortable while neglecting the temple of God. Verses 4–6:

Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now therefore consider how you have fared (or: consider your ways). You have sown much and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them in a bag with holes.

So they lived in perpetual frustration and discontentment. Nothing satisfied. We can’t pass over this lesson easily. It’s for us, too. If you devote yourself to sowing and eating and drinking and clothing yourselves and earning wages, but neglect your ministry in the body of Christ (the temple of God, 1 Corinthians 3:1617), you will live in constant frustration. If you spend your time and energy seeking comfort and security from the world, and do not spend yourself for the glory of God, every pleasure will leave its sour aftertaste of depression and guilt and frustration.

The reason I mention the glory of God is because of verse 8. Haggai’s remedy for frustration goes like this: „Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says the Lord.” Both then and now the real problem is not the neglect of a building but indifference to the glory of God. The temple of the Old Testament existed for the glory of God. And the Church today exists for the glory of God (Ephesians 1:61214). Indifference to the growth and spiritual prosperity of the Church and its mission is always a sign of failure to love the glory of God. And the sour fruit of this failure is a life of chronic frustration. He who seeks to save his life will lose it to continual frustrations; but he who loses his life for the glory of God and the good of hiscause will find life, deep and fulfilling. Verse 9 sums up the situation in Jerusalem: „You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while you busy yourself each with his own house.”

Then in verses 12–15 Haggai reports that Zerubbabel and Joshua and the people obey and begin to work on the temple, on the 24th day of the sixth month. So, after 18 years of neglect and frustration, the people begin to learn their lesson: „seek the kingdom first, and all these other things will be added” (Matthew 6:33).

Half-hearted Obedience

Now, skipping over 2:1–9 (the second message), look at 2:10–19, the third message. Verse 10 dates it in the 24th day of the ninth month, three months after the work on the temple began. Things have not gone well. Evidently the attitude of the people is that mere contact with the temple makes them clean in God’s sight while, in fact, they are living in sin. The holiness of the temple is not rubbing off on them. On the contrary, their sin is desecrating the temple. That’s the meaning of verses 11–14, a kind of parable applied in v. 14 to the people like this: „So it is with this people and with this nation before me, says the Lord; and so with every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.” So, even though they have begun to obey the Lord by working on the temple, their work is unclean because of sin in their lives.

So what Haggai does in response to this imperfect obedience is point the people back to the great turning point in their experience when they began to work on the temple. Verses 15–17 tell the people to consider what they should do now, in view of how life was for thembefore they started building the temple. „Pray now, consider what will come to pass from this day on (i.e., how you should live now, remembering) . . . I smote you and all the products of your toil with blight and mildew and hail; yet you did not return to me, says the Lord.” In other words, recall how miserable and frustrated you were in your disobedience before you began to lay stone on stone in the temple. The implication is: surely it is utter folly to go on in sin now, if it cost so much then. So verses 15–17 call the people to consider what they should do now, in view of how life was for them before they started building the temple.

Verses 18–19 are more positive: they call the people to consider how they should live now, in view of how life has been for them (not before, but) since they began to build the temple. „Since that day,” the prophet asks in verse 19, „is the seed yet in the barn? Do the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree still yield nothing? From this day on I will bless you.” I think what he means is this: it has only been three months since you began to build. The seed is not in the barn but in the ground. The time for fruit-bearing is coming. I am not against you. I am for you and will help you. So consider your ways. Cleanse your hands, and keep working on my house. I promise to bless you.

So we have heard Haggai’s first and third message. They are similar in that both of them seek to motivate the Jews to build the temple by showing them how frustrated they were before they began to obey, and how much blessing they can expect from God if they press on in their work with clean hands. What is at stake is the manifestation of God’s glory, not merely brick and mortar and timber.

A Paltry Replacement?

Now, let’s go back and look more closely at the second message in 2:1–9. According to verse 1, the message comes on the 21st day of the seventh month, a little less than a month after the people had begun to build. It seems as though the work has slowed or come to a complete stop, because Haggai’s message is that they take courage and get on with the work (v. 4). What makes this message so practical and relevant is that we can see ourselves so easily in the workers. And God’s encouraging words become very easily words of strength for us, too.

Verse 3 shows why the people have become weak and discouraged in their labors. Haggai asks, „Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not in your sight as nothing?” The workers are discouraged because the memory is still alive of how glorious the temple used to be. Less than 70 years ago it stood in this very spot, the apple of God’s eye, the magnificent achievement of Solomon, for centuries the center of holy worship. But instead of inspiring the people, this memory made the people look at the pitiful edifice they were building and feel hopeless. „How do you see it now? Is it not in your sight as nothing?” What’s the use, they say. We can’t match the glory of Solomon’s temple. We’re wasting our time. Nothing beautiful or worthwhile will ever come of it. We got along without it in Babylon; we can do without it here. Better to have the beauty of a great memory than a paltry imitation. So their hands are slack in the work.

Does that sound like anything in your experience? I think anybody who has ever undertaken a work for the cause of Christ has felt that kind of discouragement: the sense that you work and work and the product seems so paltry. You pour yourself into a thing week after week and month after month and the fruit is so minimal. Then you look back in history or across town and see the grand achievement of others, and your temple seems so trivial. And you get discouraged and are tempted to quit and put away your aspirations and drop your dreams and put your feet up in front of the television and coast. Who wants to devote his life to a second-rate temple?

Bethlehem is a prime target for discouragements like these. This church is the Solomon’s temple of the Baptist General Conference. There once was such a glory here that across the Conference Bethlehem is still thought of mainly in the past tense: once the biggest church; once she gave almost 50% of her income to missions; a thousand people used to be in Sunday School; the spawning ground of great spiritual leaders. Perhaps some Sunday School teachers remember the halcyon days of Bethlehem and grow weary and discouraged over their small ministry. Most of you have known the discouragement of feeling that what you are doing for Christ is of so little significance that you may as well quit.

Take Courage, Work, Fear Not

If that’s you, this message from Haggai is tailor-made for your heart today. God confronts the discouragement of the people, first of all, with a heartening command in verse 4: „Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work.” God clearly does not agree with their assessment of the situation. If they think their work on the temple is of so little significance that they can quit, they are very wrong, for God says, „Take courage, . . . work!”

He gives two arguments why they should take courage and work heartily. And both of these are crucial for us as well. The text continues in verses 4 and 5: „Work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit abides among you; fear not.” God’s first argument why they should „take courage,” „work,” and „fear not” is that he is with them. For most of us the value of a job increases with the dignity and prestige of the people who are willing to do it. How could we ever, then, belittle a work when God says he is with us in it? When God is working at your side, nothing is trivial.

But the promise is not only that he will be at your side; he will also be in your heart encouraging you. Look back at the end of 1:13. „I am with you, says the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord.” If we will ask him and trust him, God not only works with us, but he moves in to stir up our spirit and give us a heart for the work. He doesn’t want crusty diehards in his work; he wants free and joyful laborers. And so he promises to be with them and stir them up to love the work.

But not only that. When he refers in 2:5 to the promise or covenant (literally: word) made at the Exodus, he shows that his presence is the same powerful presence that divided the Red Sea. Exodus 19:4 says, „You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” So when he promises to be with the people in their work, he means: I will use all my divine power like I did at the Exodus to help you and strengthen you and protect you. Therefore, take courage, work, fear not.

But there is one other encouraging thing about this promise. For those Jews whose minds were all taken up with the glory of Solomon’s temple, this promise may have had a very special impact. Just before David’s death he encouraged his son, Solomon, with words very similar to Haggai 2:4 and 5: „David said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and of good courage and work. Fear not, be not dismayed; for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work of the service of the house of the Lord is finished”‘ (1 Chronicles 28:20). The implication of this similarity is that the same God who worked with Solomon to build his great temple is also at work with you now. Therefore, take courage, work, fear not.

The second argument God uses to encourage those who think their work only produces paltry results is found in verses 6–9:

For thus says the Lord of hosts: once again in a little while I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake the nations so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.

In other words, take courage, work, and fear not, because you build more than you see. All you see is a paltry temple. But God promises to take your work, fill it with his glory, and make your labors with a million times more than you ever imagined.

Fulfillment of the Prophecy

How was this prophecy fulfilled? Like most prophecies, it was fulfilled in stages, and the final fulfillment is yet to come. By the time Christ had begun his ministry, Herod had rebuilt Zerubbabel’s temple so that it was truly magnificent. The temple was destroyed in AD 70, but Jesus had said in John 2:1920, „Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up . . . But he spoke of the temple of his body.” Jesus said there is a direct continuity between the Old Testament temple and himself: once God met his people in the temple, now God meets us in Jesus Christ. Some interpreters believe a glorious temple will again be built in Jerusalem and stand through the millennium as Christ rules on earth (cf. Ezekiel 41ff.; 2 Thessalonians 2:4). That may be, but the final state of eternity is described inRevelation 21:22. When the new Jerusalem descends, John says, „And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.”

The point is this: God had a purpose for a temple. The Jews of Haggai’s day could not see it all, and what they could see seemed so paltry. So God came to them with a word of promise: Take courage. You build more than you see. The heavens and the earth and sea and land and all treasures are mine. I will take the fruit of your little labor and make it glorious beyond measure, no matter how trivial and paltry it may seem to you now.

There is a principle here that applies to you and me: God takes small, imperfect things and builds them into a habitation for his glory. O, how we should take courage in our little spheres of influence! And is this not the message of Advent and Christmas? What more appropriate word could God have said to Mary as Jesus was growing up: Take courage, young mother, you build more than you see. And so it is with every one of us. Nothing you do is a trifle if you do it in the name of God. He will shake heaven and earth to fill your labor with splendor. Take courage, you build more than you see.

Ben Hur subtitrare in Limba Romana

Descriere:

Una din productiile de referinta ale Hollywood-ului, Ben Hur este povestea unui nobil evreu, si a destinului acestuia punctat decisiv de doua intilniri cu Isus. Cum spune si subtitlul filmului (A tale about Christ, O poveste despre Cristos), imaginea centrala o reprezinta chiar Mintuitorul. Pe parcursul a mai bine de 3 ore, filmul ne poarta prin Iudeea sau prin Roma, construind o poveste credibila despre stralucirea, agonia si in final mintuirea unui om cu o soarta exceptionala.

Durata 3 1/2 ore exceptionale!

FA CLICK SA VEZI FILMUL AICI

Ben

Plot

The film’s prologue depicts the traditional story of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.

In AD 26, Prince Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is a wealthy merchant in Jerusalem. His childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd), now a military tribune, arrives as the new commanding officer of the Roman garrison. Ben-Hur and Messala are happy to reunite after years apart, but politics divide them; Messala believes in the glory of Rome and its imperial power, while Ben-Hur is devoted to his faith and the freedom of the Jewish people. Messala asks Ben-Hur for names of Jews who criticize the Roman government; Ben-Hur counsels his countrymen against rebellion but refuses to name names, and the two part in anger.

Ben-Hur, his mother Miriam (Martha Scott), and sister Tirzah (Cathy O’Donnell) welcome their loyal slave Zaimonides (Sam Jaffe) and his daughter Esther (Haya Harareet), who is preparing for an arranged marriage. Ben-Hur gives Esther her freedom as a wedding present, and the two realize they are in love with each other.

During the parade for the new governor of Judea, Valerius Gratus, a tile falls from the roof of Ben-Hur’s house and startles the governor’s horse, which throws Gratus off, nearly killing him. Although Messala knows it was an accident, he condemns Ben-Hur to the galleys, and imprisons his mother and sister, to intimidate the restive Jewish populace by punishing the family of a known friend and prominent citizen. Ben-Hur swears to return and take revenge. En route to the sea, he is denied water when his slave gang arrives at Nazareth. As Ben-Hur collapses in despair, a local carpenter whose face is hidden from the viewing audience, but who is obviously Jesus, gives him water and renews his will to survive.

After three years as a galley slave, Ben-Hur is assigned to the flagship of Consul Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins), assigned to destroy a fleet of Macedonian pirates. As slave „Number 41,” Ben-Hur’s self-discipline and resolve are noticed by the commander who offers to train him as a gladiator or charioteer. But, Ben-Hur declines, declaring that God will aid him.

As Arrius prepares for battle, he orders the rowers chained but Ben-Hur to be left free. Arrius’s galley is rammed and sunk, but Ben-Hur unchains other rowers, escapes and saves Arrius’s life and, since Arrius believes the battle ended in defeat, prevents him from committing suicide. Arrius is credited with the Roman fleet’s victory, and in gratitude petitions Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus (George Relph) to drop all charges against Ben-Hur, adopting him as his son. With regained freedom and wealth, Ben-Hur learns Roman ways and becomes a champion charioteer, but longs for his family and homeland.

While returning to Judea, Ben-Hur meets Balthasar (Finlay Currie) and his host, Arab sheik Ilderim (Hugh Griffith), who owns four magnificent white Arabian horses. Ilderim introduces Ben-Hur to his „children” and asks him to drive Ilderim’s quadriga in the upcoming race before the new Judean governor, Pontius Pilate (Frank Thring). Ben-Hur declines, but hears that champion charioteer Messala will compete; as Ilderim observes, „There is no law in the arena. Many are killed.”

Ben-Hur learns that Esther’s arranged marriage did not occur and that she is still in love with him. He visits Messala and offers to forget Messala’s betrayal in exchange for freeing his mother and sister, but the Romans discover that Miriam and Tirzah contracted leprosy during their five years in prison and expel them from the city. They beg Esther to conceal their condition from Ben-Hur, so she tells him that his mother and sister have died in prison.

The chariot race scene, illustrating the extre...

The chariot race scene, illustrating the extremely wide aspect ratio used (2.76:1). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enraged, and seeking his vengeance, Ben-Hur enters the race. Messala drives a „Greek Chariot,” with blades on the hubs, designed to tear apart competing chariots. In the violent and grueling race, Messala attempts to destroy Ben-Hur’s chariot but destroys his own instead; Messala is trampled and mortally wounded, while Ben-Hur wins the race. Before dying, Messala tells Ben-Hur that „the race is not over” and that he can find his mother and sister „…in the Valley of the Lepers, if you can recognize them.”

The film is subtitled „A Tale of the Christ”, and it is at this point that Jesus Christ reappears. Esther is moved by the Sermon on the Mount. She tells Ben-Hur about it, but he will not be consoled; blaming Roman rule — not Messala — for his family’s fate, Ben-Hur rejects his patrimony and citizenship, and plans violence against the Empire. Learning that Tirzah is dying, Ben-Hur and Esther take her and Miriam to see Jesus Christ, but they cannot get near Him; his trial has begun, with Pilate washing his hands of responsibility for Jesus Christ’s fate. Recognizing Jesus Christ from their earlier encounter in Nazareth, Ben-Hur attempts to return the long-ago favor by giving Jesus water during His march to Calvary but guards pull them apart.

Ben-Hur witnesses the Crucifixion. Miriam and Tirzah are healed by a miracle, as are Ben-Hur’s heart and soul. He tells Esther that as he heard Jesus Christ talk of forgiveness while on the cross, „I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.” The film ends with an emotional reunion between Ben-Hur and his mother and sister, followed by a scene of the empty crosses of Calvary and a shepherd leading his flock.

Differences between novel and film

There are several differences between the original novel and the film. The changes made serve to make the film’s storyline more immediately dramatic.

  • In the novel, Messala is seriously, but not fatally, injured in the chariot race. In the movie, Messala falls victim to an accident that is caused by his own attempts to sabotage Ben-Hur, and he dies from the wounds sustained from the accident. In the book, Messala plots to have Ben-Hur murdered in revenge, but his plans go awry. It is revealed at the end of the novel that Iras (who is Messala’s mistress and does not appear in the 1959 film) had murdered Messala in a fit of anger about five years after the chariot race.
  • The film has the chariot race taking place in Jerusalem, the novel however has it taking place in Antioch.
  • In the novel, Ben-Hur becomes a convert to Christianity before, rather than after, the Crucifixion, and he does not display the harsh bitterness that he does in the William Wyler film. Similarly, the healing of Ben-Hur’s mother and sister takes place earlier in the book, not immediately after the death of Christ.
  • In the novel, the character of Quintus Arrius was acquainted with Ben-Hur’s father, but in the movie there was no such prior association between the Arrius and Hur families. In the novel, Arrius dies and passes his property and title on to Ben-Hur prior to Ben-Hur’s return home. No mention of Arrius’s death is made in the 1959 film, so presumably he is still alive at film’s end.
  • The novel ends about 30 years after the chariot race, with the Ben-Hur family living in Misenum, Italy. While in Antioch, Ben-Hur learns that Sheik Ilderim (who does not die in any of the film versions of the novel) had bequeathed him a large amount of money. At about the same time he learns of the persecution of Christians in Rome by Emperor Nero, Ben-Hur helps establish the Catacomb of San Calixto so that the Christian community will have a place to worship freely. The movie, however, ends almost immediately after the Crucifixion of Christ and the healing of Ben-Hur’s mother and sister. This is presumably only a few years after the chariot race, not thirty years afterward. None of the characters (except Balthasar, who appears in the Nativity Scene) is shown to age in the film.
  • (VIA) Wikipedia

HOSEA AND THE FREE LOVE OF GOD Hosea 9:1-4 (…on sex and greed)

art by James Tissot biblearc.com

from BibleArcs.com

Hosea 9:1-4

Rejoice not, O Israel! Exult not like the peoples; for you have played the whore, forsaking your God. You have loved a prostitute’s wages on all threshing floors. Threshing floor and wine vat shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail them. They shall not remain in the land of the Lord, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria. They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the Lord, and their sacrifices shall not please him. It shall be like mourners’ bread to them; all who eat of it shall be defiled; for their bread shall be for their hunger only; it shall not come to the house of the Lord.

God Takes Away the Liquor
Central Idea

Do not be happy, for you have forsaken God and therefore your wine and bread are going to fail you in exile!

Joy, and even shadows of it, will be taken from those who cheat on God.

Wine and bread were created for the enjoyment of God’s people (Ps 104:15, Eccl 10:19, 1Tim 4:3), or better said–they were created as sweet shadows of joy to lead us into joy’s very substance–God himself (Ps 4:6). But for those who spiritually and physically prostitute themselves out, even the shadows are taken away (vs2). You cannot divorce joy from its source.

We also find in this text two instances of ironic punishment in kind. The people love prostitution on the threshing floor, so the threshing floor will run dry (vs1-2). And because they have refused to worship God, the pleasure of drawing near to him with drink offerings and sacrifices will be refused to them (vs4). Deut 28:47-48a perfectly presses home this point. Hear the incredible weight and horror of these words:

Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything.

Sex and greed–is there a more deadly combo?

Pride is certainly core to the essence of sin, but we would be hard-pressed to find a combination of manifestations more deadly than these two. Illegitimate sex is the only sin one does against his own body (1Cor 6:18) and sucks one down to death (Prov 2:16-19). Greed, on the other hand, was the occasion that led Judas to betray the Son of God (John 12:4-6, Matt 26:15) and cannot dwell together with love of God (Matt 6:24). And those who practise either will not inherit the kingdom of Messiah and God (Eph 5:5).

Sex and greed are unspeakably dangerous–and how much more when they partner together, as they so often do. So flee, my friend, with all your might from pornography, „Hooters” bars, SI’s swimsuit edition, trashy romance novels, prostitution, and whereever else these vices may be found!

For the sake of your soul, flee from prostitution and its wages!

Who presently has rights to the land of Israel/Palestine?

While this is by no means the go-to passage in determining the answer to this question, it does provide a small insight. The promised land has never ultimately belong to any people, including the people of Israel. Rather, it (along with all the universe) has always been „the land of the LORD” (cf. Lev 25:23). Thus, while not doing much for answering the practical question at hand, this does put the question in its place–far beneath more important questions like, „How can anyone–Jew, Palestinian, or other–be under the favor of the One who owns it all?!”

Egypt as the symbol, Assyria as the coming reality.

See the arc of Hos 7:13-16 for notes on the use of Egypt in Hosea. Here, in 3a-b, we find Egypt being used as a symbol of exile and Assyria speaking to the actual coming reality.

How to repent when living under the judgment of being turned over to sin.

This phrase stands out to me: „they shall eat unclean food in Assyria.” Thus the punishment of God is to turn the people over to further disobedience to the law of God (cf. Rom 1:24,28). Strange, is it not? And with it comes the question we have posed. We find the answer, not in the exile of the Northern Kingdom, but in the exile of Judah–with Daniel and his friends. They too have been given up (because of sin) to exile in a city that only provides unclean meat to eat. But they do not eat the meat. By faith they do not indulge in the sin that the people as a whole have been given up to.

What does this mean for us? It means we must, with God’s help, fear the Lord–even when the nation/state/city we live in has been given over to sin such that it is built into „the system” and becomes an expected part of daily life. By faith we do not eat the meat.

Mourner’s bread?

Deut 26:14 gives insight into this phrase and suggests that the idea here is that the people will be perpetually unclean, unable to perform religious duties to the Lord while in exile. This privilege has been stripped from them in judgment.

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