Don’t follow the crowd – Exodus 23

Some things just stand out more after reading them again, a few times.

In Exodus 23, the laws of the covenant are being put down. One of these is in verse 2:

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd

Isn’t this exactly what happened to Jesus in Matthew 27 when Pilate asked the people if they would prefer him to release Barabbas or Jesus and the chief priests stirred up the crowd, encouraging them to call for Barabbas?

Ironic given the stringent legalism of the priests.

Referencing Recent Events in Luke 13

Luke 13:1-5 is an interesting passage, it refers to an event and disaster that are not recorded in the other gospels.

1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

In verses 1-3 there is reference to sacrifices mixed with the blood of some Galileans. Barnes and Gill both indicate in their commentaries that it is likely that Pilate killed them while they were offering sacrifices, resulting in the mingling of blood.

In verses 4 and 5, Jesus refers to a tower in Siloam, which I assume at the time had recently fallen and killed 18 people.

There doesn’t seem to be much known about what happened, I just find these two references interesting because Jesus most often uses parables to make a teaching point, but here he has used two recent events, the first brought up by people asking a question and the second to emphasis the point.

Luke 12 – The Servants

I enjoy reading Luke, in many places he has bits of information that help explain things from the other gospels.

In Luke 12 for example, there is one section that is paralleled in both Matthew and Mark (though more closely in Matthew), and there is one verse in Luke that is not in the other gospels. This verse helps explain the entire section much more clearly.

Luke 12: 35-48

35“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

41Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

42The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

47“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

The verse of particular note here is verse 41 and then the subsequent verses.

Matthew 24:42-51

42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

You will notice here that there is no parallel to Luke 12:41 or Luke 12:47-48. Matthew 24:42-44 fairly closely matches Luke 12:35-40. Similarly Matthew 24:45-51 fairly closely match Luke 12:42-46. Some of the wording is different though, and in Luke this slight differentiation in wording along with the extra verse that isn’t in Matthew make it significantly clearer.

Matthew 24:45

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?

The wording is such that everyone involved is perceived as a servant, and while this is accurate, it can make it seem a bit irrelevant. Here, it’s just a matter of which servant is in charge of the other servants.

Luke 12:42

The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?

Comparatively, in Luke 12:42, the one in charge of the other servants is referred to as a manager. While the other wording is the same, “faithful and wise”, the use of the term manager gives us the perception that this servant is probably more learned than the others and has proven himself to be responsible. As such this servant has been entrusted with the greater responsibility of being a manager.

Luke 12:41

Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

The inclusion of this short, simple verse gives the passage more clarity because we have people to directly relate it to.

Who does the master put in charge (vs 42)? In other words, who does Jesus leave in charge to feed the others that serve him? He leaves in charge other servants who’s role is entirely to look after the others and feed them. At the time this was written, that was the apostles, in essence, the ministers or pastors of the time.

The parallel passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke all mean the same thing, but that slight difference in wording and the inclusion of Peter’s question in Luke make it all the more clear.

They Talked About His Departure

In Luke 9, there is an interesting tidbit that’s not in any of the other gospels.

A section in verse 31 in particular (NIV):

30Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

The other gospels only say that they spoke, not what about. According to Luke though, Jesus actually spoke with Moses and Elijah about his departure, or in the King James Version it says, about his decease.

I’ve always been curious about that.

40 Days in the Desert

When we here about Jesus spending 40 days in the desert where he was tempted by the devil, we often assume that the 3 temptations we here about in Luke 4 and Matthew 4 are the temptations that he was faced with. They are all we see or hear about when people share this section of his life in the form of a story, or in a movie or other medium. There is an interesting little verse that is in both Luke and Matthew though:

Luke 4:2

(KJV)
Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

(NIV)
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

Matthew 4:2

(KJV)
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.

(NIV)
After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

So it was after the 40 days that he was hungry, as anyone that hasn’t eaten for that long would be. So it is after the end of the 40 days that the devil tempts him to turn stones into bread in verse 3 of both Matthew and Luke 4. The other 2 temptations then come after this one.

So what about during the 40 days? According to verse 1 of chapter 4 in both Matthew and Luke, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in the desert, however it also indicates that he was tempted for those 40 days by the devil in Luke 4:2 and Matthew 4:1.

Thinking about it with that in mind, it makes this story more amazing. Not only was Jesus very hungry when the devil began to tempt him in with the 3 temptations that we hear about, but he had also been picking away at Jesus for 40 days prior to that with other temptations. I know what it’s like when someone has been constantly at you to do something, as I’m sure you do as well. It can often seem like it is easier just to give into what they want after a while. Jesus stood firm though, despite being hungry and probably sick of the devil’s constant attentions.

What Is The Most Important Commandment?

Mark 12:28-34 is one of my favourite examples of Jesus outwitting the questions of the priests, pharisees, teachers etc that were designed to trap or trick him.

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

32“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Read moreWhat Is The Most Important Commandment?

Bartholomew and Thaddaeus

I’ve just been looking at these two disciples, because you never hear about them!

The only references to them are:

Matthew 10:3

2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Mark 3:18

16These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Luke 6:14

13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Acts 1:13

13When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.

So who are Bartholomew and Thaddaeus?

I’ve been trying to find out more about them. There isn’t much, but there are a few interesting things.

There is another disciple of note in Luke 6:14 and Acts 1:13, and that is Judas son of James. This is a different Judas to Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.

According to Barnes commentary, Judas is Thaddaeus. Gill sheds a bit more light on this indicating that Thaddaeus is thought to be a deflexion of Jude, or Judas.

If this is the case, then it is interesting to note Jude 1:1.

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

If you look at it in the Greek, the first word, Jude, is the Hebrew word used for “Judas”, “Juda” and “Jude”. So it seems entirely plausible that Thaddaeus is indeed a deflexion of this word.

Gill suggests that Thaddaeus is the Jude that wrote the book of Jude. It seems a little odd to me that where Luke has referred to Jude as the son of James in both the books of Luke and Acts, Jude himself indicates that he is the brother of James, not the son of James.

It does to some degree make sense as the congregations were referring to members as brothers and sisters in God. So while James may have been his father, he would also be his brother in Christ.

As for Bartholomew. I haven’t actually been able to find anything else on him thus far!

Jesus’ Anointing at Bethany

I’ve been studying the book of Matthew in the Bible recently, and there some interesting things that I’ve picked up on this time that I’ve not really taken note of before.

Matthew 26:6-13 is one very good example. These verses are from when Jesus was in Bethany with his disciples, they were at the house of a man referred to as “Simon the Leper”. It is paralleled in Mark 14:3-9.

The way it goes down is that they are there reclining, a woman comes with expensive perfume in an alabaster jar. The disciples give her a hard time about it, saying that it could have been sold and used for a more something else rather than wasted (such as feeding the poor etc). In John 12:4-6 it indicates that it was primarily Judas Iscariot that was objecting.

Jesus rebukes them though because he understands the deeper meaning behind it. The part I quite like though that I’ve not noticed before, and that no one ever includes when they retell this part of Jesus’ journey is Matthew 26:13 and Mark 14:9, the very end:

Matthew 26:13

“I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Mark 14:9

“I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Word for word in both books. This is so important, that people will hear about Jesus’ being anointed with expensive perfume by this woman whenever they hear the gospel. Jesus is basically prophesying that this will be part of the gospel.

I can imagine the disciples there trying to figure out what he means. Talking amongst themselves. What on earth is he going on about? They don’t even know all of the gospel yet. It makes a bit more sense in the Greek. The word that is translated to gospel is “euagelion”, which according to Strong’s Greek Concordance means “a good message, that is, the gospel”. If gospel is a newer, English word, then chances are in the Greek originally it may have just meant the good news, as we still often refer to it.

At this point though, the disciples only understand part of the good news, why is this so important? Look though, Jesus’ prophecy has proven true. It was recorded by two of the gospel writers as part of the gospel.

Can you just imagine later on down the track after Jesus’ death, the light bulb coming on over one of the disciples about this?  Excitedly explaining what it actually meant and why Jesus rebuked them.

I think it’s pretty cool really. She just wanted to do something nice for Jesus and subsequently gets remembered through history for almost 2000 years so far for it.

Why A Star?

I started reading through the book of Matthew again recently, and in Matthew 2, it talks about the three wise men (or magi in some translations) that came from the East. Something I’ve heard and read many times, but I got to thinking, why was it a star?

1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

It’s also mentioned again in verses 9 and 10:

9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Why did they see a star? What does a star mean according to the Bible?

I did a bit of hunting with E-Sword and found some interesting verses.

Amos 5:26

25Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

26But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

27Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.

According to Amos, a star can represent a god.

Acts 7:43

40Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

41And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

42Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

43Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

New Testament confirmation that a star can indeed represent a god.

1 Corinthians 15:41

39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

Glory varies and comes in different shapes and sizes. In verse 41, one star is different from another in glory. If we think of stars in the sky, it’s clear that some are brighter and more brilliant than others. So if a star is a representation, or a symbol of a god, then it seems that not all gods are equal in glory.

1 Peter 2:19

12Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

13Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

14Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

15Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

17For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Something referred to as the day star can arise in our hearts, and when it does, it’s like a light that shines into a dark place and allows us to have a greater understanding of the Bible and prophecy in particular.

Revelation 8

18And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

19I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

20Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

21And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

24But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

25But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

28And I will give him the morning star.

29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The morning star can be given, according to verse 26, to the people who live according to God’s will (in the NIV the wording is “does my will to the end“).

Revelation 22:16

16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

So Jesus is the self-proclaimed Morning Star.

Conclusion

With this in mind, it seems to me to be reasonable to assume that the star the wise men, the magi, saw would have have been brilliant, glorious star outshining all of the other stars and probably would have been visible both day and night.

Further thoughts and passages of interest

There are some other interesting verses to note as well in the Bible relating to stars, however rather than being in the context of Jesus and God, they are referring to angels in general (Job 38:7) and to Lucifer/Satan, even to the extent where in Isaiah 14:12 he is also referred to as a morning star in some translations. The King James Version simply refers to Lucifer as the son of the dawn in this verse, the NIV though refers to him as both a morning star and a son of the dawn.

In Hebrew, it is a bit different again. Note that I don’t actually know Hebrew, so I am going off of the meanings of Hebrew words provided by Strong’s Concordance. The way I understand it is that in Hebrew, this verse simply says: “How did you fall from the sky son of dawn?”. There is one other word in there in Hebrew though between sky and son, in Hebrew according to Strong’s Concordance it is pronounced “Hay-lale”. According to Strong’s, it is based on the Hebrew word which is pronounced “haw-lal”. This word, according to Barnes Commentary and Strong’s Concordance means “to shine”. My understanding based on Strong’s is that haylale in essence is star, thus the sentence would read “How did you fall from the sky, Star, son of dawn?” I have capitalised star as it is used as a pronoun in this sentence. If it is dawn as this verse indicates, then it is a morning star as well.

Anyway, I’m going off on a bit of a tangent there and I’m already well past the conclusion! I would like to look further into where this leads, so I’ll write another blog at some point continuing on from this one, and if it goes where I think it’s going, it will be quite interesting!

Romans, Grace, Faith, Law

I hear Christians referred to a lot as New Testament Christians, but what does that actually mean? Christians didn’t exist prior to the New Testament, before the New Testament there were no Christians, Christians only came into existance after Christ came to earth, prior to that there were no Christians, or I guess you could say “Old Testament Christians”.

My understanding is that they are referring to the new covenant with Christ. Again though, the new covenant didn’t exist until the New Testament anyway, so it’s really a confusing way of saying you are a “Christian”. Often though I hear as part of this that the old covenant and the law of God are no longer relevant. If that’s the case though, then the New Testament doesn’t make sense. Just in the book of Romans there are an enormous number of references to continuing to keep the laws of God. So if they are discarded, why does Paul encourage keeping them? Lets look at them:

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