Writing in the Dust

Writing in the Dust

JESUS had many enemies, and they were frequently trying to catch him out and get him into trouble. One such incident is recorded in the first 11 verses of John chapter 8. Let’s put on our cloaks, load up our donkeys and take ourselves back in time to the temple court in Jerusalem, and mingle with the crowd.  It’s daybreak, the coolest part of the day, and already a large number of people have gathered to listen to the teacher and healer  from Nazareth about whom we’ve heard wonderful things. Suddenly there’s a scuffle, and a band of men push to the middle of the circle, dragging a sobbing woman. They stand her beside Jesus and turn her around to face the crowd. “Teacher!” one of them shouts, making sure everyone can hear. “This woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us

The Structure of Acts

The Structure of Acts

This is the third in a series in which we examine this fascinating Bible book. You can catch up with the previous articles at www.gladtidingsmagazine.org. IF WE ARE to understand a book of the Bible, it’s useful to divide it up into the sections that were intended when it was written. We can then think about what those sections include and what they are there to teach. The Acts of the Apostles can be divided into sections in a number of different ways. Each way of dividing up Acts provides another layer of understanding of the book. Structure by Progress Reports Acts contains a number of progress reports which summarise the state of the Christian community at the time. These divide the book into seven sections, each of which has a dominant theme and concludes with the report. The sections are: 1.            Introduction to the Gospel: The purpose of Acts

The Palace at Shushan

The Palace at Shushan

ON THE outskirts of the city of Shush in western Iran lie the remains of Shushan, winter palace of the kings of Persia and the setting of the Bible book of Esther. Esther was the Jewish queen of the Persian King Ahasuerus (Persian kings had various names, it’s generally agreed he was Xerxes I who reigned approximately 486–465BC). Some modern scholars have dismissed the book of Esther as a work of fiction which bears no relation to historical facts. However, excavations at Shushan have provided fascinating evidence that the book is actually highly accurate in its descriptions of the royal city and palace—indicating that we can also be confident of the other historical details. For example: •             Chapter 2:11 describes Esther’s con- finement in the ‘women’s quarters’ to which the public had no access. Archaeologists have identified the harem, containing a series of apartments each with its own small courtyard.

The Most Beautiful Sight in the World

The Most Beautiful Sight in the World

DID YOU KNOW that the word ‘beautiful’ was specially invented for the Bible? When William Tyndale was translating the Bible in the early 1500s, he came across a Hebrew word that meant ‘lovely to look at’ and he couldn’t find an English word that properly expressed its meaning; so he took the French word ‘beau’, which means someone who is handsome or pretty, and added the German ending ‘ful’, and came up with ‘bewtifull’ (that’s the 16th Century spelling). It means “full of loveliness to look at”. What Would You Say? What is the most beautiful sight in the world? We could ask ten people and get ten different answers. This is one man’s answer: “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion” (Psalm 48:2). Mount Zion is the hill on which the original city of Jerusalem was built. The name ‘Zion’ is often used for

The Devil

The Devil

ALTHOUGH there is a lot of good in the world, nobody would deny that there is also a lot of evil. Have you ever asked yourself where all the evil comes from? Jesus of Nazareth gave us the answer: “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…” (Matthew 15:19). Evil deeds come from evil thoughts and evil thoughts arise in the hearts of people like us. The same message is found throughout the Bible. For instance, not far into the history of the world a thoroughly rotten and corrupt society had developed: Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their

Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes

The alternative title of this book is “The Preacher”, and the opening verse identifies the writer as “the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem”. It was probably King Solomon. “All Go to One Place” Solomon was famous for his riches, wisdom and exploits. He had everything the world could offer, so he was well qualified to talk about the meaning of life. In this book he underlines the emptiness of life without God. Without God’s word, and our response to it, all would be pointless. We would all end up, like animals, in the dust of death; for in the grave all life and consciousness ceases (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20; 9:4–6). This is the consistent teaching of the whole Bible, but in Ecclesiastes it is repeated time after time. “Remember Now Your Creator” Chapter 12 describes in vivid poetic language old age, and the deterioration of the different parts

A Little Can be Fatal

A Little Can be Fatal

“A LITTLE BIT won’t hurt me—it looks lovely,” Ian begged. “No!” insisted his father. “You’re allergic to it and even a little bit could hurt you a lot.” Some people are intolerant of certain foods and eating them makes them ill. Others are allergic to even the slightest trace of a food (for example nuts). They have to learn, like Ian, to be constantly on the look out and to avoid them. This involves reading food labels and asking about possible cross-contamination in kitchens. Carelessness could be fatal. Although symptoms can usually be relieved if action is taken quickly, there is no cure for the actual allergy. Sometimes small amounts of something can have large effects. Things like mould, germs and cancer cells spread quickly. A little leaven (yeast) will cause a whole batch of dough to rise, and the Apostle Paul says that bad influences can corrupt our lives

A Confession of Faith

A Confession of Faith

IT WAS a beautiful African morning and the sun shone down from an azure sky. My companion and I sat in the shade of a eucalyptus tree awaiting our first candidate. Several people had requested to be baptised into the Lord Jesus Christ. It was important that they knew what they were committing to. We were there to hear their ‘confessions of faith’—that is, to hear them express what they believed and show a sound understanding of Bible teaching. Many who would come had never spoken to us before, and so we would be sure first to put them at their ease by chatting about general things; then we’d turn the conversation toward spiritual matters. Most of the candidates were well prepared, and although often somewhat nervous they were able to give a more or less fluent confession of their faith. I particularly remember Philip. He seemed very young to