The world is full of opposites—hot and cold, light and dark, pressure and vacuum, love and hate. If God is the source of all love and kindness, then surely there must be an entity who is the source of hate and bitterness. MANY OF THE WORLD’s religions are based on the assumption that existence is a struggle between good and evil. Applying this assumption to the Bible, some suggest that in the world and in the lives of individuals there is a struggle for dominance between God and Satan. But is this what the Bible says? Isaiah 45 is a remarkable chapter in which the Hebrew prophet looks forward two centuries and addresses by name Cyrus the Great, the future King of Persia: “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—to subdue nations before him and loose the armour of kings” (v. 1).
ONE NIGHT EVERY YEAR, close to Easter, Jews all over the world observe the feast of Passover. It’s a ceremony which dates back three and a half thousand years to the nation’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, which is recorded in Exodus chapter 12. For a week beforehand they sweep their houses clean of every crumb of bread, for no food made with yeast may be left in the home on Passover night. At the appointed time, the whole family gathers round the supper table, and the ancient ceremony begins. Before them on a clean white cloth are spread wafers of dry, unleavened bread, just like their ancestors ate on the first Passover night. There is also a bowl of salt water to stand for the tears they shed In Egypt. Bitter herbs represent their cruel bondage, and a dish of fruity paste recalls the clay from which they once
I USED TO wonder why Christadelphians get so hung up on the subject of baptism, but now I know. Quite simply, it’s because they take the Bible seriously. I want to show you one particular ‘golden thread’ which runs from Genesis to Revelation. In Genesis 6 we read of Noah, who built a huge boat to save his family and the animals with them from the Flood which God sent to sweep away the wickedness of the world. So a principle was established— salvation by means of water. In Exodus 14 we see the nation of Israel escaping from the pursuing Egyptian army by miraculously passing through the Red Sea. The Apostle Paul says this was symbolic of baptism (1 Corinthians 10:2): they were being cleansed from their life of slavery so they could become God’s people. The thread shines through the New Testament. It’s there all the time, and
IT IS EASY to get hold of an English Bible. In fact we have a lot of choice because there are dozens of different translations. We can use a paper copy or read it for free on the internet, or download it to a mobile phone. However, there are an estimated 250 million people in the world without access to any part of the Bible in a language that they understand well. There are over 2,000 languages without a translation. Printed English Bibles have been available since the 1500s but translations into other languages came much later. For example the Bible was translated into Farsi and Russian in the 19th Century and into Afrikaans in the 20th Century. The Bible is still a best-seller, although not read as much as in previous generations. Nonetheless, many people still treasure their Bible. After all, it claims to be God’s Word. But how
IN THE RUINS of a building which is thought to have been a guardroom, close to the remains of the ancient gates of the city of Lachish in Israel, excavations unearthed a number of fragments of clay jars. These were not ordinary broken jars, they’re called ‘ostraka’. They were pieces of broken pottery that were used as cheap writing material. There are a couple of dozen ostraca in the collection. It’s possible that they all came from the same jar, and were a series of letters written by the same person. They were found in a layer of burnt remains which archaeologists date to the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 588 bc. The Babylonian invasion is described in the Bible, for example by the prophet Jeremiah: The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, all the kingdoms
WHEN GOD BROUGHT His people Israel out of slavery in Egypt to lead them to the Promised Land, they camped in the desert in a city of tents. They needed a place that was set aside specially for the worship of God, and at first they used the tent of Moses, the man whom God had appointed as the people’s leader. This tent was pitched outside the main camp (Exodus 33:7–11). The Tabernacle While they were in the wilderness God gave them the Law which was to govern their life and worship, which became known as the Law of Moses. And He instructed them to build a special tent to be the focus of their national worship. This tent was called the Tabernacle, and whereas Moses’ tent had been outside the camp God insisted that the Tabernacle was erected in the centre of the camp, in the midst of His
MALACHI’S NAME means ‘messenger of God’. He was the last of God’s prophets in the Old Testament, prophesying after the Jewish exile in Babylon. After his days ‘the sun went down on the prophets’ (Micah 3:6) for about 400 years—until the time of Jesus. The Message Malachi was told to remind Israel that God had been good to them, but that priests and people alike had failed (1:2). Their punishment must come and God would open His message to the Gentiles (non- Jews). A greater priest is to come—the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Messenger of the covenant” (3:1). Through him God will make a new covenant with believers, both Jews and Gentiles. Chapter 3 foretells Christ’s coming in judgement—or blessing—depending how he is received. He is to be preceded by a forerunner who will “prepare the way before Me” (3:1). When he first came, his forerunner was John the Baptist
IN THE BIBLE names often have meaning— they tell us something about the person. For example Abraham was the ancestor of the Jews and many of the Arabs, and the spiritual ancestor of all God’s people (Galatians 3:29): and his name means ‘Father of a multitude’. There is one name which occurs far more often than any other name. It appears only in the Old Testament, but it appears nearly 7,000 times. It’s a beautiful and majestic name which is full of meaning. As you would expect, it’s the name of God Himself. If you’re a Bible reader you may just be wondering how you’ve missed it. The answer is that most Bibles don’t print it—but they indicate where it should be. Wherever you see the words Lord or God in capital letters, that’s where God’s name was in the original Hebrew manuscripts. Some Bible readers insert the name wherever