Posts Tagged ‘Israel’



January 26, 2013

“If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” John 11:48

Consider if you were a member of the Great Sanhedrin during the Roman occupation of Israel.  The Romans were the sole superpower of the time.  They were masters of subjecting other countries.  You don’t conquer the known world without learning the skills of maintaining such an empire.

English: Español: Trabajo propio. Máxima exten...

English: Español: Trabajo propio. Máxima extensión del Imperio Romano. Superpuesto en un mapa físico. Deutsch: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Romans conquered a people, they granted some ruling authority to the locals for one primary purpose.  The restlessness of a conquered people could be abated when it appeared that they were ruled and judged by their own people.  That policy of limited self-rule effectively kept the peace in subservient providences for centuries.

That was the situation during the time of Christ.  Both Herod and the Sanhedrin had jobs allowed by the Romans with the primary purpose of keeping the people from rebelling against Roman rule.  If they could not do that, then the Romans would go to “plan B,” which was to get someone else or do it themselves.

Israel was a rebellious brew that always threatened to spill over.  It was the job of the Sanhedrin to keep it under control and they did a very good job for many years.  However, they had a monumental failure.  Their failure to beat down rebellious fervor resulted in exactly what they had feared about Jesus – “the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation”.

They were absolutely right.

In 66 AD, a growing movement got away from these guardians of Roman rule and flourished into open, armed rebellion.  The rebellious Jews were actually able to push the occupying Romans out, for a while. That was until Titus and his armies showed up.

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rebellions are a serious problem in empires.  An empire cannot tolerate even one rebellion for fear that it might spread.  The Romans knew that.  Therefore, Roman treatment of the Jewish rebellion in 70 AD was a message to all those other conquered peoples in the empire.

It was brutal.

Israel was never the same after the Romans got done with Jerusalem.  The chief priests and Pharisees concerns about the Romans taking away both their place and their nation had become a reality.  Jerusalem wasn’t even called Jerusalem for 200 years.  The center of Jewish society, the temple, was gone; the sacrificial system was gone; the Sadducees were gone.

How could they have been so absolutely right and so absolutely wrong at the same time?

The Sadducees and the Pharisees were being pragmatic when dealing with Jesus.  They were considering the practical consequences of the nation following after this Carpenter.  They knew what the Romans could do.  They were right about what the Romans would do.  History showed that they were right.  The pragmatic solution was to sacrifice a single life so that the entire society would survive, albeit still in bondage.  That was better than what happened in 70 AD.

Their problem was that they did not consider all the practical consequences regarding Jesus of Nazareth.  They only considered the practical consequences within this physical world.  They did not consider the implications of Jesus being who he claimed to be.

Once you believe Jesus’ claims, you have a game changing variable – GOD.  God is a player in all that we do, whether we acknowledge that or not.  The potential, practical consequences of different actions and inactions in this life are changed when you consider God.  There are clearly impossible consequences in this world.  Yet, the impossible is possible when you remember that God is for you.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

When you consider God in your decisions, you will find that everything gets turned upside down.

The Pharisees tried to save their lives and their nation and ended up losing both.

Jesus told us that, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 6:35)

What was the difference? – GOD

The Pharisees were willing to violate the law and condemn an individual so that they would live in bondage.

Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself to free the nation, “and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” (John 11:51) –

What was the difference?  – GOD

We must always remember to look beyond the practical consequences of this world and realize that none of those consequences stand when God is for us.

With God, there is nothing that is impossible.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for reminding me that nothing is too hard for you.  Thank you for being all powerful and sovereign over everything.  Father, forgive me for those times when I don’t trust you or logic is used to cover a lack of faith.  Lord, teach me to lean on you; instruct me on how to trust you in all things.  Show me the balance between wisdom and blind obedience; between testing you and having trust in you.  Amen


“Thence to That to Zzzzz”, – Dec. 9th

December 9, 2012

“And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” Joshua 21:44

Occasionally, I have to read legal descriptions of properties.  That is a mind numbing process:

 Beginning at a point 605.05 feet South and 323.75 feet East of the Northwest corner of Government Lot 5 in Section 10, Township 15 North, Range 2 East of the W.M.;

Thence North 86.43 feet;

Thence East 85 feet;

Thence South 65 feet;




Thence to thence to ad nauseam.

 I really, really, really, don’t like to read legal descriptions. However, there is one particular legal description that I have read with enthusiasm. The land that document describes is the location of our home.  My wife received this property in the form of an early inheritance. Her parents are alive and well but they saw that we could put this property to better use now rather than waiting several decades.  It was an incredible blessing and that inheritance is where we have built our home.

If we had not received the property as an early inheritance, we would be waiting; waiting to receive a promised inheritance. We call that sort of promise a will but it is really a form of a covenant. My wife’s parents faithfulness would have been the basis of that promise.

The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan (il...I have recently been reading through Joshua 13 – 21.  It reads a lot like legal descriptions, rather mind numbing.  This is where Joshua makes the allotments of the promise land to the specific tribes of Israel. It is not very exciting and I have a tendency to skip and rush through it because it doesn’t seem very relevant to me.  I am sure it was very relevant to someone in the tribe of Zebulun or someone in the tribe of Naphtail or Asher but I am not in one of those tribes and the names of all those places and cities bear  little importance to me.

However, these passages have a meaning that extends beyond their plain reading. They have importance beyond that of entitlement to some property in the Middle East. God’s promises are being fulfilled to the tribes of Israel; God’s faithfulness is on full display.  God made a promise to Israel.  He promised to bring them into the promised land and he did exactly that. Every good promise that God made came to pass.

We believers have been given the promise of eternal life. We know by faith that we are now experiencing the free gift of eternal life and will continue to experience that gift after our death. We are heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ – that is our hope.

A promise is only as good as the one making the promise. You can’t rely upon the promise of a liar.

Can you trust the one making the promises in the Bible?  How do we know that God keeps his covenants – his promises?

We can know that God keeps is promises because he has done it before – he has proven his faithfulness to his people time and time again. He said that he would give Israel a land flowing in milk and honey and he did exactly that. He did it with such accuracy as making official allotments to each tribe of Israel, even down to the equivalent of our legal descriptions.  God is very precise about his promises.

There are so many things in this life that can cause us to doubt.

When that happens, we have to go back to what we know.

  • God is a covenant keeper;
  • We know this because He has faithfully showed it to Israel when he gave them the promised land and He has shown it countless times after that.
  • He does not change.
  • He has kept His promises before. He is doing it today and He will do it tomorrow because that is who He is;
  •  Therefore, we can hope in the promises that God has given us.

These passages are as boring as a legal description until we realize that they are describing a God that is intensely relevant to each and every one of us this very day.  God’s faithfulness to His own word is why we can hope in our future.

What are you basing your hopes on?

PRAYER: Lord – You are faithful and you have shown that so many times. You are a proven rock. You are a tried fortress. You are an established shelter. Father – thank you for giving me your word to answer my doubt.  Thank you for being a convent keeping God, whom I can trust.    Amen

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