Tag Archives: Herod

Jesus the rejected prophet Luke 13:31-35

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know that Jesus is not to be ignored or treated lightly said … AMEN!

Today’s Gospel reading emphasizes the rejected prophet. Essentially we see the leadership of Israel telling Jesus to go take a powder. “We have everything under control, we know what we’re doing, thanks for sharing, but we will keep doing what we’re doing and stop in sometime when you can’t stay so long.” Adios, ave weidershein, dospedonia, aurevoir, see you later Charlie. It might appear that this is a warning from some well meaning Pharisee, but it’s more like “Herod wants to kill you and that’s just fine with us, see ya, don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.” Now of course the more cultured and refined of society would never say such things, they would just be snotty and presumptuous, clearly the Pharisees heart is full of hate. Sound familiar? Ya, we get that a lot in the world today. Not so much that anyone is going to kill you, no, you can get in trouble for that. Not so much that they want to see you physically dead, as much as just ruined, maybe … tee hee, some serious suffering, ostracism, and of course the trademark worldly, ridicule. Back in the day though ridicule was just as satisfying by stoning someone or wagging your finger at them, as they would do, while someone hung in shame from a cross.

Jesus had just taken a thinly veiled shot at those who presumed to be so religious, who were sure that they had been saved. Someone had just asked Him: “Lord will those who are saved be few?” Jesus’ reply was “strive to enter through the narrow gate”. While many will tell Jesus at the end time all about how much they did for Him, Jesus’ reply to those who put on a good show, but didn’t live up to it? “Depart from me all you workers of evil”. Does kind of make you stop and think. When we do that we need to drop our perspective, “I did this, I did that, aren’t I a swell guy” and start looking at it from Jesus’ perspective. “Is Jim doing My will, or is He just putting on a swell display for His own gratification? Is He serving me, or is Jim serving Jim?” The Pharisees knew full well what Jesus was saying when He answered the question. They were putting on a show, and in their heart they knew it, and their reaction to Jesus showed defensiveness on their part. “Really Jesus, you’re saying that we will be condemned?” Jesus did go on to say, to those “workers of evil, of iniquity” to depart: “In that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.” (Luke 13: 28) So Jesus is telling them what? … They are going to be going to Hell. They’ve been running their own show, it’s not about God, even though they claim to be all about God. It’s about them using God and their place as, presumably, God’s chosen leaders and them receiving all the glory and benefit. They’re not going to worry too much about turning the spotlight on God, that would take away from them.

The Pharisees are really acting as though they’re out on the playground, “oh yeah Jesus? We’re the cool kids and our boy Herod, well he’s going to fix your little red wagon.” But it wasn’t a fight after school, surrounded by all of Herod’s bully buddies. Herod could easily take Jesus and have Him executed and that’s just what the Pharisees wanted to see, so that they would have the satisfaction of wagging their fingers at Him and that is what they would do.

Jesus or the Pharisees might not be thinking about it, but Jesus has already been in Herod’s sights. Herod the Great tried to end the issue way back, when Jesus was a baby, when Herod sent soldiers into Bethlehem to slaughter the Holy Innocents. Jesus was supposed to be one of those innocents. But it wasn’t God’s will.

Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees was : “Go and tell that fox”! Herod you have no idea who you’re playing with. To the effect you better be careful and think about what I’ve already done. I’m not someone to toy with, try to bully, I’ve demonstrated who I am and you, Herod, had better be very careful of how you play this. This Herod, the one who tried to avoid executing John the Baptizer, was no where near as decisive as his father. No doubt Jesus would have put Herod the Great on notice the same way He was warning Herod Antipas, but he wanted Herod Antipas to be very aware: “Go tell that fox…” Jesus knew who Herod was, crafty, sneaky, a man without honor, who was more concerned with his ego, not to be trusted. Again not uncommon in post-modern man or woman. Go tell that self-obsessed ego maniac who he’s dealing with. “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.” You’re not in control buddy, I am. You don’t decide what happens, I do. I’ve done things you could never do, I will decide when it’s over and then what happens, I’m God the Son! You Herod will be taking that wide road to destruction where you will be weeping and gnashing your teeth, along with your self-important Pharisee buddies. So I’m going to pick up and leave from here, I’ve made my point and now it’s on to Jerusalem where God’s plan will be worked out according to His will, not the will of some two-bit despot.

At this point Jesus probably turned in the direction of Jerusalem, what should be the holy city, but in reality the one where God’s prophets are shamefully killed. What is partly in despair and partly dejection such high hopes for you, Jerusalem, and yet you’re just as grimy and sin-filled as the rest of the world and you camoflouge it with ornamentation and pretense. If Jerusalem is guilty of its arrogance and rejection of God the Son all the more the rest of the world. Jesus declares that Jerusalem is forsaken and will be with those who take the road to destruction. For those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, how can we show the rest of the world His glory and mercy and how in need all of us are of Him?

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

The Temple, was it refurbed by Herod just for Jesus?

Our tremendous minister of music, Ken Sanders, took over adult Bible study for the summer and picked a study on the Jewish temple.

The first place of worship for the Jewish people was the Tabernacle. Yahweh guided them to build the tabernacle to house the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments that God handed over to Moses for safe-keeping. It also included some manna and Aaron’s staff. Obviously hugely important to the Jews.

Now the Tabernacle was designed to be mobile, the Israelites lugged it around the wilderness and even after they settled in Israel, the location of the tabernacle varied and was finally settled in Jerusalem. Seems as if it was right outside David’s palace in Jerusalem and David, rightly so, felt that the holy items in the Tabernacle, well deserved a better place to be housed then in, essentially, a tent.

David brought it up to Samuel who agreed, but then advised David that he wasn’t going to be the guy to do it. David had fought for Israel, and that was honored, but God’s Temple was going to be built by a King of peace, Solomon. And Solomon did build the temple. It was magnificent, a wonder of the ancient world. It stood for about 400 years and was destroyed. The temple was rebuilt by Nehemiah and Ezra. It was built while Israel was still a captive of Persia so needless to say, it was no where near to the scale of Solomon’s. But it was a temple, met their needs and stood for another 516 years.

I found it interesting the timing of Herod the Great to vastly improve the temple. In contrast to other “Greats”, Herod achieved his “Great” moniker because of his incredible building achievements. He did more in a few years that has stood until today, then anyone in Israel’s history. Herod started the temple around 1 BC. According to Josephus it was magnificent.

I would hazard a guess that around the time Jesus was ministering in the Temple, around 30 AD, give or take, it was at the height of its magnificence.

Now this is all supposition on my part, but was this part of God’s plan? Did God guide Herod to restore some of the glory of the Temple in order that His Son may have a place, at least, more worthy for His Son to minister in? Also of interest that the Temple did not survive much past Jesus’ incarnational ministry. About forty years after Jesus’ ministry the temple was destroyed and hasn’t been restored in almost 2,000 years. The book of Revelation says that it will be rebuilt as part of the return of Jesus.

I submit that the Temple was restored by the God the Father so that Jesus, God the Son, would have a place that would be more worthy of His Son Jesus. Certainly our Lord and Savior, the Man who has most profoundly changed the history of man should have such a worthy place.

There will be another temple at the end of history and then, in the eternal resurrection, there will be a Temple that will be beyond the imagination of anything seen on earth. Where Jesus the King of Glory will rule those who He has saved to eternity. The Temple has been important for about 3,000 years, it will be important to the second coming of Jesus and then there will be an eternal Temple in the New Jerusalem the Resurrection. Herod’s Temple was where Jesus spent a great deal of time ministering. He was presented at the temple as a child faithful to Jewish tradition and it will be where He reigns for eternity. As a Christian, the Temple may not be important in my worship, but it will be important in our eternity.

In the Fullness of Time Galatians 4: 4-7 First St Johns December 28, 2014

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know the perfect timing of God said … AMEN

Under the heading: “There is no such thing as “coincidences” where God is concerned, for that matter anything, since God is concerned with everything about our lives, we read Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Galatian’s four short verses are loaded with teaching. Paul’s quote in Galatians 4 is particularly interesting: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son … to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons … you are no longer a slave, but a son,…”(Gal 4: 4-7)

The part that of find of interest right here is “…the fullness of time…” Some think that had something to do with Mary coming to term in her pregnancy, or something that was dictated by Joseph and Mary’s situation. But most see Paul’s short expression as an appreciation and understanding of how God does things in His time and dictates the course of events and history according to His will. The Father didn’t turn to the Son one day and for just any old reason say, “yeah, think it’s about time we do the incarnation thing.” This had been the plan since the beginning, He chooses to reveal that plan to us, first, in Genesis 3:15, at the very beginning and then just before He throws the switch to make it happen, the Father reaffirms His plan, in an even plainer way in Isaiah 9:6. The Genesis passage, the proto-Evangelium, where God promises Satan that there would be a Savior, that the Messiah, anointed One of God, would come into the world to crush Satan’s head. God the Son would crush Satan’s head and by doing so, would save us from the curse of Hell. That sounds harsh, necessary, but in your face. However the Father’s promise to Isaiah is the one that is His majestic promise that He made when Judah is about to be crushed by Assyria and to disappear as a nation, most of her people killed or enslaved. Certainly a great crisis where Yahweh promises them; “A Child is born, A Son is given, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Israelites knew that they were about to take a harsh and long-lasting beating and they needed this promise. Isaiah could have said the same thing Paul writes: “But when the fullness of time had come…”, because Israel had pushed too far for Yahweh and He was now about to let His people know what happens when they ignore Him and get too caught up in their own plans and expectations. The fullness of time had come and Israel, at least for a few generations, would cease to exist.

Paul on the other hand tells us that the “…fullness of time…” had just occurred for the Father to fulfill His promises to Adam and Eve, and to the people of Israel by Isaiah and it happened at this intersection of time. Although Paul didn’t know it, although Jesus prophesied it, this was the perfect time for God. While they were strolling away from the temple and the disciples were admiring the view of the buildings of the temple, Jesus took them to task and said “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Don’t become to fascinated by the things man, in this case King Herod, build, because there is going to be another turning point in Israel’s history and this temple that you find so fascinating will be completely destroyed in just a few years. In about 40 years Israel, as you know it now, will cease to exist along with the temple. The Judaism of Israel would no longer be focused on the temple and would be scattered again. A new world would begin and the Christians in Israel would be forced to leave and take Christianity into the world.

This time, that Jesus had been born into, was the perfect time for Him to come into the world and conduct His incarnational ministry. It was a time of peace in Israel, Jesus did not have to contend with wars or any kind of famine or drought. He could get everyone’s full attention on His ministry and drive it deep into their awareness so that they could readily understand their new relationship with the Father. They had time to absorb the Gospel and begin to live it before they had to go into the world to spread the Gospel. They had to unlearn the legalism of Judaism and the debauchery of paganism and to come to understand that they were saved solely and completely by grace. They couldn’t earn their way to Christ in this world or to eternity, they could only be brought to salvation in Him and through His actions, what Jesus does to save us.

The conditions were exactly right for the disciples to absorb Jesus’ teaching and take those teachings into the world. Not only was there peace, the conditions surrounding them enabled them to bring Jesus to the world. As Lee Strobel points out: “The time period when Jesus lived was ideally suited for the spread of Christianity. The vast reach of the Roman Empire primed the known world for the gospel. Roman roads allowed relative ease of travel and greatly increased the area to which the gospel spread. Roman authority also helped protect travelers from robbers and attackers. Throughout the Roman Empire, Greek was the common language, and allowed communication of the gospel between groups who lived hundreds or thousands of miles from each other.”1

The Pax Romana, that is the peace of Rome, which united the entire world, enabled Jesus’ disciples to teach and preach without the distraction of wars or other disruptions to those they preached to. Jesus’ disciples could travel and teach without being abused because the Roman Empire tolerated many belief systems. Any earlier or later, and the disciples would be persecuted before Christianity could take root. At this time Christians could worship and evangelize unmolested. God created the conditions through man, mostly the Romans, so that He could send His Son into the world to preach God’s Word and Will and so that His church would grow. The church of Jesus Christ might otherwise have been steamrolled or isolated to small parts of the world. Jesus’ appearance met other promises of prophecy. Strobel writes: “God fulfilled his prophesied time frame. Daniel predicted that the Anointed One would come and would be ‘cut off’ (killed) before the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple (Daniel 9: 24-26).”

From Paul’s writing we can see the sovereignty of God, that is God controls and is Lord of all that He has created. He planned and controlled human history so that at just the perfect time in that history His Son would appear and become the focus of the entire world. The world had never been brought together as it had under the Roman Empire and in a couple of hundred years it would be shattered and different peoples would be separated from each other, unable even to communicate. God controls the events of the world, which He does, although He permits man, because of His sin, to spread war and sickness and famine throughout the world. Then clearly God controls those who He has chosen to be Lord of their lives. For myself there is no doubt that God chose the perfect time for me to know Jesus as my Savior. Because you are here, baptized, listening to His Word, about to take His Body and Blood, He has chosen you at just the right time to be saved in Jesus.

Strobel writes: “ God had an appointed day when he would intersect human history with the promised redemption. The moment in history when Jesus arrived was tailored for the rapid spread of the Gospel. All human history is balanced on the fulcrum of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.”2 God gives us the understanding we need in order to know Him as our Father and Jesus as our Savior, and when we see it in human history, we can better understand how He works in our own personal lives. Take some time over the next week and think about how “..in the fullness of time…” God the Father, Abba, has made us His own sons and daughters that Paul writes about in this passage.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

1Lee Strobel The Case for Christ Study Bible p 1634

2Ibid p 1634

Herod the Great, the King of Israel, placed there by the Romans, was without question one of the greatest builders in Israel’s history. The reason he is called “Great” is for the many buildings, built during his reign. Israel has no real port on to the Mediterranean. Herod built this mostly to accommodate the Romans. It is a very Roman city with aqueducts, coliseum, made to be a very contemporary city of the time.

Pontius Pilate a very real historical figure

Up until recently the historicity of Pontius Pilate was doubted, critics of the Bible pointed to this “doubt” as another “proof” that the Bible was not historically accurate. Up until the stone’s discovery in 1961, Pilate was thought to be fictional, that is until the stone (pictured) was found. The stone was a dedication to the building of Caesarea Maritima and refers to Pilate as Prefect of Judaea. The stone is generally accepted to be authentic. This is a display at Caesarea Maritima, the stone there is a replica, the original is in the Jerusalem Museum. Archaeology continues over and over to confirm facts, not just from Jesus’ time, but for all the Bible.