April Essays


April Overview: Life in Relationship with God


Philip Yancey says in his book The Bible Jesus Read that the Old Testament teaches about life with God: not how it is supposed to work, but how it actually does work. We find an amazing variety of human experience: wonderful miracles and devastating failures, shocking violence and heroic victory. It unflinchingly describes what life is really like as sinful people start living together with a holy God.

In April we will read some stories that show this variety of experience. As the book of Joshua begins we see the victories that God gives the Israelites as he leads them into the promised land. But the Israelites aren't completely faithful to God's plan, and when they finally build homes in the land that God has given them, they have left much of the paganism there that will lead to major problems later. The book of Judges describes how this causes them to repeatedly fall, because "each of them did what was right in his own eyes." In 1 Samuel God will finally step in to give them some leaders who will direct them - first Samuel, then Saul, and then David.

This month we will also be grappling with Paul's reasoning in Romans. He is primarily concerned with one question - how can gentiles be included in the church without being part God's covenant people? God has separated Israel and taught them for 2000 years, and then he came as one of them - how can these people who have had no part in that be included now? And why is it that the rest of Israel haven't found what they have? We will once again read the gospel, this time according to Mark, to hear again the teaching of the One who is at the center of all of the scriptures.

This really is a good month to jump back in if you've gotten behind, especially if the books of the law are too difficult in the Old Testament. The stories are fast paced and interesting, even though some will leave you scratching your head...



Week 14:
Deuteronomy 33 - 34, Joshua 1 - 15, Romans 9 - 13, Psalm 37 - 38

New Beginnings, Again and Again

"So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan." Joshua 3:14 - 17

Because the Eastern culture of the Bible often focused on images to explain theological truths, we can have a much greater understanding of the stories of the Bible if we look a little beyond the immediate events to see the patterns that keep coming up over and over again. If we just read about the parting of the Jordan without thinking about any of the rest of the Bible, we miss 90 percent of what is going on.

If we first ask the question of what other stories are reminiscent of this, the first thing that comes to mind is the parting of the Red Sea that occurred 40 years earlier. In both instances it is clear that God is present - before by the presence of the pillar of fire, and now by carrying the ark in front of them, which signified His presence as if He was walking ahead of them into the Jordan. One interesting difference is that before the people stood back while the wind blew to part the water, but this time God required them to set foot in the swollen river waters of the Jordan before He parted the river. Before he did the miracle to give them faith, but now He required their faith to do the miracle. The steep banks of the flooding river Jordan would surely have swept them away, just as the Egyptians would have killed them before, but this time the fear was in following God, not in lingering behind.This was a test of whether they had learned what they spent 40 years in the desert taking lessons on - how to trust the Lord.

Beyond the parallels to the Red Sea crossing, we can also see a really fascinating theme that runs through all of the Bible - the picture of God beginning a new creation. Genesis begins the story of creation with the Spirit of God "hovering over" the deep (Tehom), and one of his first acts of creation is the separation of water from water. This picture is a theme that recurs over and over in the scriptures, every time God starts something new. There is a little of a poetic motif there, because the word for "the deep" is Tehom, which was symbolic of chaos. It is a picture of God conquering evil and chaos to bring order and a beautiful new thing into existence. The word for Spirit in Hebrew is "ruach", which also means wind or breath, so when God parts the waters by a great wind it a picture of God in the act of creating.

Where do we see this? First we see it in Genesis 1:1 of course, but only a few chapters later, after the flood destroyed all of life on earth, we read in Genesis 8:1-3 God caused a wind (ruach) to pass over the earth, and restrained the waters of the deep (Tehom), and the flood waters recede, giving the world a new, clean beginning. There seems to also be an image of cleansing too, as the world is cleansed of all of the evil that had been done because of the wickedness of mankind.

We next see this in the parting of the Red Sea as the wind (ruach) blows to separate the waters so that the Israelites can pass through. This marks the beginning of God's new nation of Israel who now would have their own sovereignty and identity as the people of God. Interestlingly, the Israelites fall into sin, just as Adam and Eve did after God's first act of creation, and God judgement comes from God just as it did to the generations after Adam with the flood.

So we see that as they pass through the river Jordan that once again God is parting the waters, and in a sense, re-creating them as his people and cleansing them of their sin. It is then that they take on the covenant again, just like they did at Sinai, and make a clean beginning.

There is one more place significant scene in the Bible when we see this imagery of God at the waters - it is at the baptism of Jesus. Here the heavens are parted (reminiscent of the waters being parted) and we see the Spirit of God "hovering" over, in the form of a dove, just as it hovered over the first waters of creation. Here is God's new creation, God on earth in the form of the Son of Man. Interestingly, the next scene after his baptism is the temptation in the desert - like the temptation of Eve, and the Israelites in the desert, right after their "creation". But whereas as both Eve and the Israelites sinned, Jesus triumphed over sin, showing that He is God's final and perfect creation, God Himself in the form of a man.

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©2002 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All of the articles in this series are copyrighted and may not be redistributed without the express written consent of the author. To request permission for use, contact Tverberg@OurRabbiJesus.com.

The Read Through the Bible Commentaries were sent out by email during 2002 and are available in an archive on this site. If you would like to receive the current monthly En-Gedi commentary by email, use this form to sign up.

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Week 15: Joshua 16-24, Judges 1-8; Romans 14 - 16, Mark 1-2; Psalm 39 - 41


Love is the Fulfillment of the Law
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8 -10)

An enormous amount of discussion has gone on over the book of Romans and Paul's understanding of the law since the Protestant Reformation, but it is always interesting to add some insights from first century culture. Twice Paul says that love is the fulfillment of the law in this passage - what does he mean by this?

An insight that David Bivin, editor of Jerusalem Perspective, has given us is that the words "fulfill" and "abolish" in the first century were terms used in rabbinic law interpretation. The rabbis spent much time discussing exactly what God must have intended in the scriptures for how they should live. They frequently used the terms "abolish" and "fulfill" in the sense that if a rabbi misinterpreted the Torah to the point that he had undermined its intent, he had "abolished" it. When rabbis disagreed with each others' interpretation they would accuse each other of "abolishing the Torah", but when they approved, they said they had "fulfilled the Torah". For instance, Jesus interprets the commandment "Do not commit adultery" by meaning that even by thinking lustful thoughts we are breaking it. By giving its clearest meaning, Jesus fulfilled, or established that law more firmly. In contrast, if a modern pastor taught that using pornography was acceptable in God's eyes, it would abolish what Jesus had said, so that people would stop understanding it as it was intended. Misinterpreting the Bible is a way of destroying its ability to teach us.

Obviously, that sheds a great new light on Matt 5:17 when Jesus says "I came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it." He meant that his intention was not to misinterpret the scriptures to undermine them, but to clarify their meaning so that we could understand their intent. This classic interpretation that Jesus "fulfilled the law" in order to nullify it is exactly the opposite of what the passage says, which becomes clear in the next verses that say that the smallest letter will not disappear from the law and that anyone who breaks the least of them or teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven. (Matt 5:18-19)

Looking again at the Pauline passage, if Paul is using this sense for the phrase "Love is the fulfillment of the law", he is saying, as Jesus did, that the clearest interpretation of “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” and “Do not covet,” is "Love your neighbor as yourself". He isn't saying that by loving they are bringing the law to an end, but that they are being obedient to the law's truest intent.

So does that mean that Christians need to "earn their way to heaven by obeying the law"? Paul makes it very clear in Romans that we are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ's atoning death and resurrection. He explains that Jew and Gentile alike are convicted of their sinfulness by the law, God's teaching, (torah, in Hebrew) on how we should live. But, through Christ their sinfulness is atoned for, and they become part of a new covenantal relationship with God through Christ.

A covenant always indicates a relationship between two parties, and promises of faithfulness are always a part of a covenant. When people marry, they take vows to love, honor and cherish as they make a covenant with each other. They don't "earn their marriage" by "obeying the laws" that they promised to uphold. They uphold their vows because of their love for each other, and because of that covenant that they already have. In the same way, God didn't give the Israelites the law in order that they earn salvation, He formed a covenant with them that they would be His chosen people, and then gave them the law to teach them how to live. We also come under a new covenant with God through Christ, and because of that new relationship, we should be faithful and obedient to God out of gratitude for the grace He has shown us. And we do this by loving each other, the truest fulfillment of God's teaching for how we should live.

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©2002 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All of the articles in this series are copyrighted and may not be redistributed without the express written consent of the author. To request permission for use, contact Tverberg@OurRabbiJesus.com.

The Read Through the Bible Commentaries were sent out by email during 2002 and are available in an archive on this site. If you would like to receive the current monthly En-Gedi commentary by email, use this form to sign up.

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To read more about Jesus' words in their original context, see David Bivin's book "Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights from a Hebraic Perspective". This is available through En-Gedi's Online Resource Center or through the website www.jerusalemperspective.org, which has more articles of this nature. David lives in Jerusalem and will be traveling in the US in the fall for his annual speaking tour. He will hold seminars in West Michigan in November.

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Week 16: Judges 9 - 21, Mark 3 - 7; Psalm 42 - 44

A Judge as a Savior?

Last week and this week we are reading the book of Judges. It is about the history of the Israelites right after they move into the land of Canaan. When they fell into idolatry because of their Canaanite neighbors, the Lord allowed them to be oppressed until they cried out to Him, and then He would raise up a judge to save them from their enemies. These judges would sometimes act as rulers by making decisions in court, but often they did not. The term "judge" was used to refer to these heros, like Gideon or Sampson who won battles that freed the Israelites from foreign oppression.

At first I found this very odd - - that the term "judge" could be used to describe a savior or a hero. I thought of the word "judge" as the very opposite of "save". Didn't Jesus say that he came into the world not to judge it but to save it? (John 12:47) But reading more of the Old Testament, we find that often the words "judgement" and "salvation" seem to be used as synonyms:

From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet — when you, O God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. (Psalm 76:8-9)

For the LORD is our judge, The LORD is our lawgiver, The LORD is our king; He will save us. (Is. 33:22)

So how can a judge be a savior? A key can be found in the fact that the word for "judgement" (mishpat in Hebrew) is also the word "justice". If we look at a judge from the perspective of the guilty, then we see him only as one who punishes. But if a person believes the laws are fair and looks at a judge from the perspective of a victim, the judge is one who brings justice. Imagine that a woman is abused by her husband and a policeman arrives and arrests him. When her husband is put in prison, this act of judgement of him is salvation for her from her abuser. So these "judges" who act as saviors in Israel were those who brought justice - who set things right after people have been suffering because of injustice. They saved the people of Israel by freeing them from those oppressing them. That is why the word judgement and salvation are often linked. When God saved the ones being wronged from those who are wronging them, He is both judging and saving at the same time - bad news for one side, good news for the other.

This has made me revise my picture of God. I used to think of God as evil when He judged sin, and good when He was merciful. I imagined that any kind of anger at sin was wrong, so Jesus would have just smiled and talked about love even when a person had swindled the elderly out of their last dime, or beat their children, or blew up large buildings full of people. This is perverse! Because God loves the people who have been victimized by sin, He is angry and will bring the guilty to judgement at the end. But it is out of His love for the guilty that He is merciful and desires to forgive. God is good both when He is just, and when He is merciful.

So how does this fit with what Jesus said, "I came not to judge the world, but to save it"? Here we see that God has come up with a shocking, amazing answer to the problem of sin that even exceeds that the good He would do by being perfectly just. The key is atonement and repentance. Through Jesus' atonement, He made it possible for sinners to be saved by repentance rather than be condemned in God's future judgement. He says that He himself will stand in judgement at the end of time, but He has come to atone for the sins of any who would repent and follow him.

God would rather have an abusive husband transformed into a loving husband than to sit in jail. He would rather have a terrorist find Christ than to just be caught and punished. In this way He can both stop the damage of sin and bring redemption to the life of the sinner. Because we all are sinners, He bids us all to repent and to find new life following Him. Only through Jesus' atoning blood and the work of the Spirit can lives be cleansed from sin and be transformed to reflect His love.

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©2002 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All of the articles in this series are copyrighted and may not be redistributed without the express written consent of the author. To request permission for use, contact Tverberg@OurRabbiJesus.com.

The Read Through the Bible Commentaries were sent out by email during 2002 and are available in an archive on this site. If you would like to receive the current monthly En-Gedi commentary by email, use this form to sign up.

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Week 17: Ruth 1 - 4, 1 Samuel 1 - 13, Mark 8 - 12, Psalm 45 - 47

An Amazing Mountaintop Scene
Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son (in whom I am well-pleased - Matthew), listen to Him!” All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. Mark 9:2 - 8

This week as we are reading the book of Mark, we find an odd scene. Jesus and a few of the disciples go up on a mountain, and Jesus' face and clothes become brilliant. And then both Moses and Elijah appear and speak to him, and God's voice is heard speaking from a cloud. This scene is called the "Transfiguration, which refers to Jesus' change of appearance to a glorified state. If we want to understand the scene, we need to see the scriptures behind the event. Knowing the characters involved and similar scenes in the Bible will shed much light on this passage.

Why were Moses and Elijah there?

Among the Jews, Moses has always been regarded as the greatest person in their history. He redeemed them from slavery in Egypt, did miracles for them, mediated their covenant with God, and gave them God's word. But Moses says to the Israelites that one is coming even greater than him:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him! ...The Lord said ..."I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. (Deut 18: 15 - 18)

It was commonly understood by Jews in Jesus' day that the coming Messiah would be "the prophet greater than Moses". Moses' presence on the mountain is a hint that Jesus is this prophet like Moses. Interestingly, Jesus also redeemed his people, did miracles, established a new covenant, and gave them God's word! So indeed, He is like Moses, only greater.

Elijah was the greatest of all of the prophets of Israel, preaching to the northern kingdom to repent and to follow God and not the Baal idols. He is a part of another well-known messianic prophecy from Malachi that says:

"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6 "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers..." Malachi 4:5-6

It was commonly understood among the Jews that when the Messiah came, Elijah would come first to tell people to repent and to announce the Messiah's arrival. In the next verses in Mark the disciples even ask about that, and Jesus says that John the Baptist had come in the spirit of Elijah to fulfill that mission. But still, the presence of Elijah on the mountain hints to the fact that Jesus is the one that Elijah was to proclaim.

The presence of Moses and Elijah also has another meaning. In Jesus' time, the scriptures were referred to as "the Law and the Prophets". (The third group of books, "the Writings", was not usually included at that point.) Moses was the representative of the Torah (law), often called the "books of Moses". Elijah represented the "Prophets", the books of the scriptures that included many prophetic writings. So together the two figures hint at the idea that all the scriptures, the "Law and the Prophets" are pointing toward Jesus as the coming redeemer. Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus about his coming death (see Luke 9) suggesting that Jesus' sacrificial atonement is the culminating event of all of the scriptures.

Why did God speak those words from the cloud?

The words God speaks from the cloud are interesting as well. Each of the things he says about Jesus are messianic phrases from the scripture. The phrase "This is my son" comes from Psalm 2, which is about the "Anointed one" (messiah in Hebrew), the one who will rule over the nations. The phrase "in whom I am well-pleased" (found in Matthew's version of the Transfiguration scene) is from Isaiah 42, in another messianic passage about God's chosen servant. Finally, the voice says, ""Listen to him!", a quote from Deuteronomy 18 about the prophet greater than Moses. Even though these passages are short, they were recognized as messianic allusions in that culture. God is actually using the same "hinting" technique that the rabbis of that day used! And interestingly, He chose one passage from the Law (Deuteronomy 18), one from the Prophets (Isaiah 42) and one from the Writings (Psalm 2) to show that Jesus was the one that He spoke about through all of the scripture.

Other parallels:

It is interesting that during their lifetimes, both Moses and Elijah have experiences where they encounter God on a mountain top. In Exodus 33, God tells Moses to stand in a cleft of rock on Mt. Sinai, and God shows him His glory. Moses remains there 40 days afterward. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah also ascends a mountain. At first he feels a strong wind and then an earthquake, and then finally encounters God as a voice. Interestingly, he also is on Mt. Sinai (Horeb) and he also stays there 40 days. Perhaps Moses and Elijah were encountering God once again, only as they saw the fulfillment of God's plan in Jesus!

Several prophecies in both the Old and New Testament describe Christ in all his final glory:

Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne and high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. Then I noticed from His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. (Ezek. 1:26 - 28)

and

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. (Rev 1:12-14)

So this scene in Mark gives us a glimpse of the future glory of Jesus. Even though the next few weeks of his life will be Jesus' greatest rejection and suffering, His disciples see that the man they have been walking with is the one that all of the scriptures are looking for. And someday we all will see Jesus in this glorified way, when He comes again.

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©2002 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All of the articles in this series are copyrighted and may not be redistributed without the express written consent of the author. To request permission for use, contact Tverberg@OurRabbiJesus.com.

 



Week 18: 1 Samuel 14 - 28, Mark 13 - 16, 1 Corinthians 1, Psalm 48 - 49

Hearing Jesus' "Hidden" Messages
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A while back in the En-Gedi commentary series we discussed Jesus' teaching style, which was very much like that of other rabbis of his day. (See the January article Jesus' Habit of Hinting.) Jesus often uses phrases or even single words to allude to teachings in the Old Testament. He could do this because he lived in a biblically literate Jewish culture. People were very familiar with the Old Testament scriptures because they lived in an oral culture in which people memorized the text.

Jesus' culture also had the habit of public discussion about the Bible. Traveling rabbis would teach in each village, and the town's conversation would revolve around scripture and the latest teaching. This isn't that surprising -- in most cultures throughout world history, religion is a central part of public culture, and many people very literate about religious matters. It has only been in the twentieth century that many cultures have become publicly secular and people ignorant about faith issues.

So Jesus, like others, had a sophisticated teaching style that expected his audience to be familiar enough with the scriptures that they knew the references he was making. By knowing the reference, people would know the entire context and hear more complex ideas behind his words. He wasn't hiding secret messages - actually, he expected people to catch his allusions. In medieval times the Jews referred to this technique of hinting as "Remez", but the practice predated Jesus.

We actually do the same thing today. When a headline says "War in Afghanistan May Be Another Vietnam", it is assuming that everyone knows the history of the Vietnam War. Without saying anything but the word "Vietnam", people immediately know the reference and have an emotional reaction to that difficult time in US history. Or when we refer to a government scandal as "Travel-gate" or "File-gate" we are subtly alluding to the Watergate scandal. Just by adding that half word, we hint that the issue is a major White House scandal that will cast a shadow over the presidency. (Even in the last sentence, you need to know which white house I am talking about!) These allusions are a way of quickly bringing understanding from common cultural knowledge.

We can find many, many of these in the gospels. Last week in Mark there were several. Let's look at one passage from last week where Jesus uses this technique:

He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS’? But you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”  (Mark 11:15 -17)

Jesus is using two quotes from the Old Testament prophets about the Temple. One is "my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations" which comes out of a text from Isaiah 56:

Is. 56:6-7 “Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD,
To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the Sabbath
And holds fast My covenant;
Even those I will bring to My holy mountain
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;
For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.”

The other comes from Jeremiah 7:

Jer. 7: 9-12 “Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—that you may do all these abominations? “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” declares the LORD. “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. 

Both of the passages share a common subject - God's "house", the Temple - in fact, in some ancient texts, both passage use the exact phrase "my house". Rabbis would look for an exact word match in order to link two texts together. This technique was called "gezerah sheva". Another example is with the two texts "You shall love the Lord with all of your heart..."(Deut. 6:5) and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18). When they are quoted together it is because the word "Ve'ahavta" (You shall love) is in common between them. Rabbis would assume that one passage would shed light on the other, or would combine the two to teach a new thing.

So what is Jesus saying in the passage in Mark about the Temple? If we just read the surface meaning, Jesus says that the Temple is supposed to be a place where people pray, not a place where people do business, and maybe unscrupulously too. But the Isaiah passage describes God's greatest goal for the temple - that it would be a place of worship not just for Jews but for all the nations of the world. And the Jeremiah passage describes the worst possible abuse, where people are being openly wicked, and then fleeing to the temple because they figure God would protect it from destruction. The passage says that He let the temple be destroyed at Shiloh, and then threatens that God would do it again if they didn't repent.

Some think that Jesus was particularly angry that the sellers were crowding the Gentiles out of the court of the Gentiles, the area of the Temple where foreigners could worship the True God. But the message may be even stronger than that. It is known from Josephus and other ancient historians that the Jewish temple authorities were deeply corrupt in Jesus' time. They profited from the sale of sacrificial animals, extorted pay from the other priests, and had people killed who opposed them. Several of Jesus' sayings were about the destruction of the Temple because of its corruption, and even in today's reading in Mark 14 we read his prediction that the Temple would be destroyed. Jesus is very likely using Jeremiah 7 to hint that the selling in the Temple is only one symptom of great corruption that would ultimately lead to God's judgement. "Den of robbers" doesn't just refer to the sellers, it refers to the wicked temple authorities.

Since we know that we put cultural "hints" in our own conversation, we should expect that Jesus would in His words too. Certainly by learning more about His first century culture we can understand Jesus better. We should take joy to see that one of the major sources of his "hints" is something that we already have at our fingertips - the Old Testament. This should challenge all of us to learn Jesus' scriptures, if we want to understand Jesus and follow Him.

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A major reference for this article is Remember Shiloh, an article by Joseph Frankovic on the www.JerusalemPerspective.com website. Another helpful reference is the audio lecture series "Jesus, the Master Teacher" by Dr. Randall Buth, available through the En-Gedi Online Resource Center.

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©2002 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All of the articles in this series are copyrighted and may not be redistributed without the express written consent of the author. To request permission for use, contact Tverberg@OurRabbiJesus.com.

The Read Through the Bible Commentaries were sent out by email during 2002 and are available in an archive on this site. If you would like to receive the current monthly En-Gedi commentary by email, use this form to sign up.