Archive for March, 2013

The Resurrection, An Enemy’s Perspective Part 1

Posted in Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2013 by paulthepoke

Let’s look at those who were hostile or indifferent to Christ. What was their response to the resurrection? Let’s set aside the hundreds of eye witness accounts of believers or followers of Christ who saw a resurrected Jesus. What does the Bible have to say about non-believers? What was their response and perspective after the death of Jesus? The religious Jews and their power base were threatened by Jesus. He was moving in on their turf. The Pharisees wanted any memory of Jesus to be completely sealed in a tomb. The Romans wanted political and military control of the region. The last thing the Romans wanted was upheaval and a social uprising. They were interested in “keeping the peace” as they saw it.

Matthew 27:64-66 “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

The Pharisees have a request after the death of Jesus. To kill Him was not satisfactory. The Jews were bent on squelching any “resurrection”.  Pilate was likely agreeable to the Jews’ request just to get them out of his hair. He washed his hands of Christ’s pending death and claimed innocence of His blood (Matthew 27:24).

Pilate issued a Roman guard to protect the tomb. A guard was usually four men. These men were skillfully trained. Failure to perform their duty resulted in torture and death in front of their peers. The size of the average stone used to seal a tomb during Jesus’ day was approximately 1.5-2 tons. This would have taken several men to complete the job.  The tomb was sealed by the Roman Empire. If the Roman seal was broken, death by upside down crucifixion was the penalty. McDowell, J., Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1972, 1979.

Matthew 28:2-4 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

These were Roman soldiers. These were the most skilled, deadly, and armed military men of their day.  But they had an encounter with something they had not seen before, a being capable of moving a sealed, two ton stone. This thing was bright, white hot and came with an earthquake. It dropped out of the sky. It was a picture of eerie calm. The angel sat on the grave stone it moved, not exactly a hostile or defensive posture.

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Isaiah 8:1-4 Isaiah’s Family and Prophetic Implications

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2013 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 8:1 Then the LORD said to me, “Take for yourself a large tablet and write on it in ordinary letters: Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey (Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz).

Isaiah 8:2 “And I will take to Myself faithful witnesses for testimony, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.” 

God has witnesses to what he is saying. He chose Isaiah, Uriah, Zechariah. Look at the character of the men He chose to be witnesses. He selected a priest and two prophets (Isaiah included). All three are men of God.

Look at the names of the people and their meaning. According to Strong’s Concordance, Uriah means “Jehovah is my light (flame)”. Zechariah means “Jehovah remembers”. Jeberechiah means “Jehovah blesses”. We cannot forget Isaiah, his name means “Jehovah has saved”. Here is the message in the witnesses to God’s word. He saves, remembers, blesses, and illuminates.

God wants this written down and he wants human witnesses to His word.

Isaiah 8:3 So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the LORD said to me, “Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz;

Yes, there is sex in the Bible. Isaiah had sexual relations with his wife and she became pregnant. God did tell Isaiah to give the child a specific name. He was married to an unnamed prophetess. Isaiah and his wife had two sons, Shear-jashub (meaning the remnant shall return, Isaiah 7:3) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (meaning speed the spoil, hasten the prey). Jewish tradition notes that Isaiah may have been a relative to Jewish nobility, a nephew to King Amaziah. His cousin would have been King Uzziah in Chapter 6.

Isaiah 8:4 for before the boy knows how to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.”

According to Ryrie Study Notes, the child was approximately two years old when Tiglath-Pileser III tore through Damascus and Samaria in 732 BC.

Isaiah 7:23-25 Shekels and Thorns and Thistles

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 7:23 And it will come about in that day, that every place where there used to be a thousand vines, valued at a thousand shekels of silver, will become briars and thorns.

How much is a shekel worth in modern day terms? We know these particular shekels were made of silver.  There is no definitive statement of accuracy in regards to how much a shekel weighs. The best estimate is a shekel weighs roughly .5 ounces. In March of 2013, silver is worth approximately $30.00 per ounce. Based on the text, one grape vine equals one shekel of silver.

1000 shekels X ½ ounce per shekel = 500 ounces of silver.

500 ounces X $30.00 per ounce of silver = $15,000 in today’s economy.

$15,000 divided by 1,000 plants = $15 per plant.

Genesis 3:18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field…Thorns and thistles are a reminder of disobedience that took place in the Garden of Eden. Thorns and thistles exist because Adam listened to his wife instead of to God. Adam ate the fruit from the tree that God said, “You shall not eat from it”. The ground was cursed and as a result, we now have thorns and thistles. According to God, thorns exist because of disobedience to Him. Consider this the next time you look at a beautiful red rose. It did not have thorns in the beginning. Every thorn we see should be a reminder.

From a humanist perspective, it was just a piece of fruit. What is the big deal?

The humanist cannot say, “Nobody was harmed or died because of this action”. We all die because of disobedience to a simple request. Do not eat from one tree.

And let’s not get all pious and bust on Adam for eating the fruit. Who are we kidding? Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin”?

Isaiah 7:24 People will come there with bows and arrows because all the land will be briars and thorns.

This ground is a barren waste land. People are hunting for food in the wild. Bows and arrows are the tools used for hunting game. The people are hungry.

Isaiah 7:25 As for all the hills which used to be cultivated with the hoe, you will not go there for fear of briars and thorns; but they will become a place for pasturing oxen and for sheep to trample.

Previously, this land was used for growing food. Choice vines were tendered as noted in verse 23. It was productive farm land. It will become a space for animals to wander around looking for food.

Isaiah 7:20-22 Razor Close Shave

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2013 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 7:20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates (that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard.

God is using the King of Assyria as an instrument. Here is some background as to how Jewish culture viewed a razor, shaving, hair, and a beard. Presentation of hair was important to the Jewish people. During this time, hair was worn long by men and women. People would curl their hair for effect. Baldness was considered humiliating or embarrassing. Bald people were made fun of or insulted. (Holman Bible Dictionary).

The beard was considered an ornament.  The beard was not shaved but trimmed. Size and fullness of beard were symbols of respectability and trustworthiness. The beard was an object of an oath with blessings or shame stated (New Unger’s Bible Dictionary).

The bodies of people were completely shaved from head to toe including the beard. The phrase “hair of the legs” is interesting. Some have interpreted this to be idiomatic language for pubic hair. The idea was total humiliation.

Figurative language is used in verse 20. The “razor” is likely the future king Sennacherib. Judah was flattened in 701 BC. According to the records of Sennacherib, forty-six cities were destroyed in Judah.  Approximately 200,000 people were captured and taken from the land (Wycliffe Bible Commentary).

Isaiah 7:21 Now in that day a man may keep alive a heifer and a pair of sheep;

Each person has limited livestock at this time, three animals. A heifer is a young cow that has not produced off spring. There is no mention of a bull. This could make reproduction and growth of populations difficult.

Isaiah 7:22 and because of the abundance of the milk produced he will eat curds, for everyone that is left within the land will eat curds and honey.

If a person was alive and survived, people will live off of these animals. There is no other food source. The lack of vegetation and crops will be discussed in the next verses.

Isaiah 7:17-19 Flies and Bees

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2013 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 7:17 “The LORD will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria.”

A warning and judgment from God is coming to your people, Judah, the southern kingdom.  They have not experienced judgment from God since Israel had split. The kingdom split in 1 Kings 12. The event itself is noted in 1 Kings 12:16. When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!” So Israel departed to their tents. The year of the split was approximately 920-930 BC. God tells them who the instrument of punishment is going to be, the king Assyria.

Isaiah 7:18 In that day the LORD will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

God causes this to happen.  The Hebrew word for “remotest” is qatesh. It means end, mouth, extremity, border, or outskirts per Strong’s Concordance.  He calls for the Egyptians with a hiss or a whistle from the “mouth” of the rivers. I take it to be from the Nile Delta. Assyria is symbolized as a bee. These two insects or countries will meet in the middle in the land of Judah. The flies will swarm and the bees will sting. Egypt and Assyria clashed in 701 BC (Ryrie Study Notes).

Isaiah 7:19 They will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes and on all the watering places.

These forces from Egypt and Assyria come in and take over. The word “all” is used three times in this verse. It refers to the foreign forces, thorn bushes, and water resources. It is the Hebrew word “kol”. It is defined as all, the whole of, any, each, every, anything, totality, everything. Foreign troups are everywhere. They stress out an area that already has depleted resources and limited food.

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