Your E-Mails: May 2022

“Can you give modern equivalents of the weights and measures we come across in the Bible?“ Ed: THE ACTION of the Bible spans 4,000 years and many different civilisations. It contains many references to weights and measures. Sometimes units of measurement might vary between different cultures and different periods in history, and to add confusion there were sometimes ‘royal’ measures and ‘common’ measures which were different. Here’s a selection of weights and measures with equivalents about which we can be fairly certain: An omer is around 2 litres. An omer of manna was enough to feed someone for a day (Exodus 16:16). An ephah is 10 omers, that is around 22 litres. So when Ruth gleaned in Boaz’s barley field and he told his reapers to leave a bit extra for her, she went home laden with 10 days’ worth of food (Ruth 2:17). A cubit is based on the

‘I Only Am Left’

‘I Only Am Left’

THE PROPHET ELIJAH had a very important role to play in the purpose of God. He was involved in great spiritual victories and possessed many godly qualities which are an example for us. However, he was not perfect, he was just like us: ‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours’ (James 5:17). There was a time when Elijah reached a point of loneliness and despair in his life. He felt that his life was no longer worth living. In order to help him through, God gave him a powerful, hard- hitting lesson. There are no doubt times in our lives when Elijah’s desperate cries of ‘I, even I only, am left’ resonate with how we are feeling. Thankfully, the chastening lesson which God taught Elijah has been left on record for us to learn too. Spiritual Victory The great spiritual victory for which Elijah is famous is the

The Atonement

The Atonement

FIRST, a thrilling statement of the Apostle Paul: ‘In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation’ (2 Corinthians 5: 19). Think about that. The message of the Gospel is not about the appeasement of a God who is angry at our failings: it is about a God of love, in His mercy providing a way for us to be reconciled, after our failings have alienated us from Him. Now the Apostle John: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1: 9). What does that mean? We are sinners, by our nature we are unrighteous. But God wants to cleanse us from our unrighteousness. Clearly it does not mean that God will make us into sinless people, because we

The Golden Calf

The Golden Calf

WITH AN OMINOUS clonk the tablets struck the rock. Young Joshua watched in horror. Only that morning they had collected them pristine from the angel of God. The fine inscriptions in economical Hebrew covered both sides of each gleaming stone. Now Moses had deliberately smashed them together on the ground, his face twisted with rage (Exodus 32:19). Six weeks before, the two men had toiled higher and higher into the cloud-covered mountain, leaving behind the Israelite camp and their families and friends. The days passed quickly. As Moses received each new commandment from God, Joshua probably helped him write it down in a book. Afterwards they were given a detailed plan of the new Tent of Meeting that God wanted the Israelites to build, and instruction in the system of worship to be set up around it. It was thrilling and absorbing, and Joshua would feel elated to be so

Galatians

Galatians

DURING HIS FIRST missionary journey the Apostle Paul established a number of congregations of believers in Galatia, which was the First Century name for what is today central Turkey. He visited them again on later journeys (see Acts 13–18). Sadly, the Galatian believers were very soon influenced by Jewish elements who wanted Christians to continue observing the Law of Moses. Paul reminds them of the need to keep to the one true Gospel— Jewish rituals such as circumcision are no longer required. His words still apply: ‘As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:9). But although Jewish practices no longer apply to those who follow Christ, the Jewish promises—God’s covenant with Abraham in particular—are still valid. We are instructed to follow the example of Abraham, the man of

Being Separate

Being Separate

IT IS DIFFICULT TO overestimate the importance of Abraham—the father of the Jews and the Arabs, the spiritual ancestor of all the faithful: ‘If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise’ (Galatians 3:29). We are introduced to Abraham (or Abram, as he was then called) in the early chapters of Genesis: ‘Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you”’ (Genesis 12:1). Note that: he was called to leave the heathens among whom he lived in Chaldea, in order to follow God. And he willingly obeyed: ‘By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going’ (Hebrews 11:8). In time Abraham’s descendants the Israelites settled in Egypt,

All One in Christ

All One in Christ

WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT. The way the world is, that means we’re valued differently. If you’re good looking or clever or wealthy you’re likely to go further in this life. But that’s not the way God sees us. If we’re followers of Jesus Christ, we’re all equally precious to God. A Letter to a Friend Tucked away in the middle of the New Testament is the letter of the Apostle Paul to Philemon. It’s only about a page long. It’s one of the most delightful letters ever written from one friend to another. Philemon was a Christian in Asia. Paul at this time was a prisoner of the Emperor in Rome. The letter concerns a slave called Onesimus, who belonged to Philemon but had run away. He had found himself in Rome, where he’d come across Paul and was converted and baptised. The bond grew between them, and Paul came to