Jesus often quoted what we know today as the Old Testament. He used these Scriptures to create curiosity, break traditions, and answer questions in a way that penetrated hearts, stirred thoughts, and even angered the religious leaders of His time. Not only did His statements about the Bible challenge their thinking then, but His words also continue to raise questions in the minds of many today.
Prof. Lawrence Schiffman talks with Rabbi Barry Schwartz, JPS Director, about his role as Editor of Outside the Bible, a groundbreaking JPS anthology of second temple literature to be released in 2013.
Outside the Bible is the most comprehensive collection of texts comprising ancient Israel’s excluded scriptures and earliest biblical commentary, accompanied by modern commentary that places them in context and explains their significance for Jews and Christians alike.
Funds are needed to complete this groundbreaking project, destined to become a classic. This remarkable three-volume anthology is projected for late fall 2013 publication. For more information, please download the Outside the Bible Brochure. [PDF 2.45MB]
I cannot wait for such an anthology, which promises to fulfill a much needed voided in the area.
Fall is olive harvesting season in Israel. And in the West Bank, still today, olives are harvested in the ancient way with harvesters all over the countryside taking up rods and sticks, beating the trees to knock the olives from their branches as you will see in this video short. But, why is it important for us to visualize this picture?
The prophet Isaiah uses the olive harvest as a metaphor to describe coming judgment. In his description, the tree is the earth, the beating with rods is God’s wrath and the falling olives are people. While Biblical metaphors of judgment are often not our favorites, they are extremely numerous and important because without seeing and accepting the reality of the problem we can’t be protected by the solution.
Isaiah’s message is two-fold, to give strong warning of judgment, but also to bring hope…there will be a remnant…a few olives will remain! The important question then is how can we be part of the remnant? In chapter 53, Isaiah reveals that salvation will come through the coming of a person — one who will take God’s wrath and punishment for sin upon himself.
When I see an olive tree being beaten, I see Jesus being beaten before his accusers. With each blow, I see my many sins fall like olives, and because of Him…I am saved! But what of others? Isaiah’s message was powerful and urgent…judgment IS coming…listen and return to God to be saved. May our hearts and words to this world be the same…judgment IS coming…but salvation has come…BELIEVE in Jesus and be saved!
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7) To better understand this scripture, we must realize that it speaks in shepherding terms. The writer of Hebrews is quoting David, “For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”. (Psalm 95:7-8)
We can better understand this important scriptural phrase by visualizing the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep. A shepherd uses his voice to care for his flock. His calls lead them to pasture, water and shelter. In the same way, Jesus calls for souls to follow him.
When Jesus found Peter and Andrew the first thing he said to them was, “’Come, follow me,’… At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matt 4:19)
“Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” (John 1:43)
Mathew was busy collecting taxes, “’Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matt 9:9)
When these men heard the voice of God calling to them they immediately responded, but not all followed. Therefore, the author of Hebrews warns us, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Today’s video short brings to life Matthew 4:18-19 where we learn that Peter is a fishermen on the Sea of Galilee who leaves everything to follow Jesus. In turn, Jesus promises Peter that he will make him a fisher of men. Yet, at the end of the gospels, still on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and after a miraculous catch of fish, Jesus gives his final charge to the fisherman Peter by instructing him to “Feed my lambs…Take care of my sheep…Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17
The nature of fishing and shepherding are very different. And yet, each human soul needs both. Fishing is about catching while shepherding is about caring, providing and protecting. The Bible also makes this distinction between the nature of the spiritual gifts of evangelism and pastoring. My experience has been that evangelism is like fishing, while pastoring is synonymous with shepherding.
Jesus provided Peter with both of these gifts. Soon Peter would go fishing in Jerusalem and with the gospel he would net 3,000 souls for the kingdom of heaven (Acts 2). Now he had 3,000 souls to feed and care for. He did both in obedience to the One who had caught and cared for his own soul. My prayer has always been to have within our ministry a heart for both of these gifts and to see them functioning together at the heart of the church, whom like Peter, Jesus commissioned to both fish and shepherd the souls of people.
Joel Kramer writes:
My current video project, The Soul Shepherd, has had me filming Bedouin shepherds and their flocks over the last two years. Today I begin sharing some of that footage with you in this video short, The Gate.
As you watch, ponder the metaphor of our human souls as sheep needing the care of a shepherd. Let the visuals and scriptures help you see more clearly your relationship with “our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep”. (Hebrews 13:20).
Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel with an interesting note on the Tabernacle: A tent of rams’ skins.
U moet ook voor de tent een dekkleed van roodgeverfde ramshuiden maken,
Exodus 26:14a (HSV)
Hadden we een vorige keer gesproken over de tachasvellen, deze keer over het tentdoek van ramshuiden die er onder lag. Ook tegenwoordig zien we nog vaak nomaden in het Midden-Oosten gebruik maken van tenten die zijn bespannen met tentdoeken gemaakt van ramsvellen. Meestal zijn deze zwart door 1) de huid van zwarte geiten en rammen is gebruikt, of 2) deze zijn in de loop der tijd zwart geworden vanwege het vele vuil. In onze tekst zien we dat wordt gesteld dat deze huiden rood gemaakt moeten worden en zowel door looi-technieken (toegevoegde chemicaliën) als door achteraf het verven met kleurstoffen van bijvoorbeeld de meekrap behoren tot de mogelijkheden. Voor het nabouwen van de tabernakel is uiteindelijk onderstaande template gebruikt, welke is samengesteld uit verschillende huiden. Voor hen die geïnteresseerd zijn is het leuk om te weten dat alle zijkanten precies op elkaar aansluiten zodat straks als het op het tentdoek wordt geprojecteerd ze naast elkaar kunnen worden gelegd. Hoewel de template al behoorlijk bruin/rood is zal deze later de rode kleur krijgen als apart onderdeel van het tentdoek.
Belangrijk is om te weten hoeveel huiden werden gebruikt en een ram is een stuk kleiner dan de eerder besproken Dugong. Na enige berekeningen kwam ik uit op een kleine 200 rammen die nodig waren om het tentdoek te maken. Een van de voordelen van zo’n tentdoek is dat als het vochtig wordt het enigszins uitzet waardoor het waterdicht wordt. Wat perfect is om de tabernakel droog te houden. Daarnaast is het zo dat door het opgenomen vocht er een microklimaat ontstaat waardoor het een paar graden koeler is dan buiten.
Ferrell Jenkins writes on his great travel blog:
Jesus used the common millstone in one of his teaching illustrations.
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:1-2; cf. Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42 ESV)
The photo below shows a collection of millstones at the Roman ruins of Bosra in southern Syria, a few miles north of the border with Jordan, in a region known as Hauran. The area has seen much volcanic action in the past. These dark millstones are made of basalt. The region is described by Ulrich Hübner this way.
Bozrah lies on one of the fruitful and water-rich plains of S Haurān at the important intersection of the N–S route, which leads from Damascus through the Transjordan to the Hejaz, with the E–W route, on which one could travel from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia. (The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary)
This Bosra is not to be confused with Bozrah in Edom (Genesis 36:33) or Bozrah in Moab (Jeremiah 48:21-24).
Millstones were significant in Bible times.
- Used for grinding grain (even manna) (Numbers 11:8; Isaiah 47:2).
- The work might be done by a slave girl (Exodus 11:5), or two women working together (Matthew 24:41).
- Taking a person’s upper millstone as a pledge would deprive the person of his livelihood (Deuteronomy 24:6).
- A woman at Shechem “threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull” (Judges 9:53; 2 Samuel 11:21).
- In the LORD’S challenge to Job, He describes Leviathan with a heart as hard as stone, “Even as hard as a lower millstone” (Job 41:24).
- The sinking of a great millstone is used in the Apocalypse to describe the fall of Babylon (Revelation 18:21).