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Showing posts from June, 2010

New Testament Tales - Out of the Desert

Out of the Desert
1. How was John the Baptist related to Jesus?
2. What’s special about the birth of John the Baptist?
3. What’s special about John’s father? And his mother?
4. What’s the significance of John’s diet and clothing?
5. What sort of ministry did John have when he baptized Jesus?
6. What did baptizing Jesus do to John’s ministry?
7. What did Jesus do after his baptism?
8. How did John end up in jail?
9. Was John always convinced that Jesus was the Messiah?
10. How did John die? Does his death sound plausible?

Jesus began his public ministry by receiving the sacrament of Baptism from his cousin John. John is the son of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. Zechariah was a priest, therefore a Levite. The fact that Elizabeth is also a Levite means Zechariah is particularly honored, but the fact that they have no children would be looked on as a curse. They lived in the hill country of Judea, south of Jerusalem, except when Zechariah had to serve in the Temple. There would h…

New Testament Tales - Out of Nazareth

Out of Nazareth

1. When was Jesus presented in the Temple?
2. What’s the significance of the gifts his parents gave?
3. When was Jesus lost in the Temple?
4. What’s the significance of where he was found?
5. How could Jesus’ parents have lost him?
6. What other stories do we know about Jesus’ childhood?
7. When did Joseph die?
8. How many brothers and sisters did Jesus have?
9. Why do so many stories not appear in the gospels?
10. What’s the difference between faith and tradition?

Jesus was circumcised and named on the eighth day according to Jewish law. After six weeks, when Mary and Jesus had completed the period of purification (another Jewish law that protected mother and child from illness during those critical early days) Jesus was presented in the Temple as the first-born son. (First-born son means both first child and first male child. Sons born after miscarriages would not have been first-borns.) The gift they bring is the substitute gift (doves or pigeons) rather than the more expensiv…

New Testament Tales - Out of Bethlehem

Out of Bethlehem

When was Jesus born?Where was Jesus born?Where did Jesus’ family come from?How did the shepherds find Jesus?How did the wise men find Jesus?How many kings were there?What’s the significance of the gifts the wise men gave?When and why did Jesus’ family go to Egypt?Which children were killed?What did Jesus’ family do when they returned to Israel?
The calendar switches from 1 BC (one year “before Christ”) to 1 AD (first “year of the Lord”) with no zero in between. While this makes logical and literary sense, it’s kind of confusing mathematically. Is Jesus meant to be born in the first year before Christ, or is he zero years old in 1 AD? Actually, Jesus’ birth is probably in a completely different year. Herod the Great, who killed the innocents in Bethlehem, died in 4 BC, suggesting Jesus was born before 4 BC. But Quirinius conducted a census in 6 AD, suggesting a later date. (Luke describes this as “the first census when…” so he could have conducted an earlier one too.) Ha…

Revelation: Conclusion

15: Revelation 22:6-21 Conclusion

The passage lists three witnesses to the truth of Revelation, symbolically promising that the message is certain.
1. The angel - 6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true
2. Jesus - 7 “See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
3. John - 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.

Daniel was told to keep the end of his apocalyptic visions secret: Daniel 8:26 26 As for you, seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now. But John is told not to seal up his vision now. Everything changed when Christ died. Now the end is coming “soon,” at least in God’s terms.

In the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:30), the farmer tells the laborer to 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest. Here God repeats the message, saying that the evildoer will continue to do evil, to the end of time. But we are not to be afraid.

Isaiah 40:10 10do not fear, for I am with you, d…

Revelation: City of God

14: Revelation 21-22: The City of God
The final visions in Revelation seem to move away from the immediate impact of images that could be applied to the Christians under Rome. Images of the City of God seem much more clearly apocalyptic, just as parts of Jesus' message in Matthew 24 applied to the immediate future and the fall of Jerusalem, while others were purely apocalyptic.

Peter takes up the message of a new creation in 2 Peter 3. 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

1. The New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-8)
1 Sea… implies separation, and is also representative of a source of evil (as in the beast from the sea).
2 City includes culture and life as well as bricks and mortar.
2 Jerusalem… represents peace and the presence of God. The word itself is plural…

Revelation: Millennium

13: Millennium – several views
The fourth and fifth images of victory show Satan bound and Jesus reigning with the Saints for 1,000 years, the Millennium. But what does it mean?

One thousand years: Symbolically, 1,000 = 10x10x10 = the time of man (10), made complete (raised to the power of God, or 3). But it could also be a physical period of time, possibly 1,000 years, or just a generic long time, which is yet to come to pass.

Premillennial Interpretation:
This is the oldest interpretation in the Christian church.

Jesus will come. He will defeat the beast. The dead saints will rise and reign with Jesus for 1,000 years. Then Satan will be let loose. He will be defeated again. The final resurrection will take place and the saints will go to heaven.

The prefix PRE indicates that Jesus comes BEFORE the millennium.

This interpretation unites Jewish apocalyptic and Messianic ideas: The Messiah comes and establishes a reign on earth. The thousand years then coincide with the fulfillment of other J…