When God Swore Oaths

When God Swore Oaths

HELEN WAS complaining to her husband about their son. “He promised faithfully to tidy his room and he hasn’t done a thing!” Dad said nothing, but shrugged his shoulders. “And you’re not much better,” she railed. “You threaten to punish him and don’t. No wonder I can’t believe a word he says.” Human Oaths What a different world it would be if everybody always meant what they said! In a court of law, witnesses are usually required to swear an oath or give an affirmation that they are telling the truth—in an attempt to ensure that they really do tell the truth. Because it’s acknowledged that very often, people do not. ‘Your word is your bond’ used to be a popular maxim. It is a principle which is endorsed strongly by the Lord Jesus: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely,

The Little Town of Bethlehem

The Little Town of Bethlehem

JESUS CHRIST WAS known throughout his life as Jesus of Nazareth (for example Matthew 21:11). He was from a small village in the north of Israel. When the Roman governor put him to death he wrote the accusation on his cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). This might seem inconsequential to us, but it was one reason why many people in Jesus’ day could not accept him as the Messiah (the anointed king). Because the Jews knew that their Messiah would come from Bethlehem: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2). Bethlehem was a town in the south of Israel in the Judean hill country. It was renowned as the birthplace of

The Creator

The Creator

THE MORE WE LEARN about the universe, the more we’re amazed at its intricacy and its vastness—from the functioning of a living cell to the unimaginable magnificence of space. The Bible tells us God made it all (Genesis 1:1). Through the Microscope The phenomenon of life has always been a source of wonder, but it’s only relatively recently that we’ve started to learn just how spectacularly complex it is. In the 17th Century, with the invention of the microscope, it was discovered that living things contain tiny components which were named cells. By the 19th Century it had been established that cells are the basic building blocks of all living things, and scientists were discovering the bewildering array of different kinds of cells which perform different functions in every organism, from plants to plankton to people. During the 20th Century we learned to look inside the cell and we’ve now

Bible Toolbox

Bible Toolbox

The Bible can be a daunting book. In this series we look at what it is, and how to read it. IF YOU REALLY want to understand the Bible, the first thing you must do is read it. By reading the text you will become familiar with it. When you read one part it will begin to remind you of something you have already read. As your familiarity with the book increases so will your understanding. As the Bible says itself, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Understandably this may seem to be quite a daunting task, the Bible is after all a very large book. It is therefore helpful to have a bit of an overview of what it’s all about. For the Bible isn’t just one book, but a collection of 66 books, written by different authors over a period of

Obadiah

Obadiah

THIS IS A short prophecy, consisting of just one chapter, about Israel’s Arab neighbours. It applies particularly to our days, and it has an amazing outcome! Esau and Jacob The name Obadiah is Hebrew, meaning ‘servant of Yahweh’, the God of Israel. Interestingly, the prophecy is about both Israel and Arabs. The nation of Edom was descended from Esau, who was brother to Jacob the ancestor of Israel. Edom was located south and east of the Dead Sea. Today it is the southern part of the Kingdom of Jordan. The Edomites were always hostile to Israel, just as their ancestor Esau had been to Jacob (see Genesis 27:41). When the Babylonians invaded Judah around 586 bc, the Edomites took the opportunity to persecute the Jews(verses 11–14). Mount Esau and Mount Zion Mount Esau (vs. 8, 9, 19, 21), sometimes called Mount Seir, is another name for the country of Edom.

The Wonder of Bible Prophecy

The Wonder of Bible Prophecy

IT IS DIFFICULT TO COMPREHEND the ideas of time without any beginning and space without any end—but they are ideas which are generally accepted nowadays. In my opinion these ideas are at least as difficult to comprehend as the idea of an infinite God Who can foretell the future. So why is this idea not more widely accepted? The Bible contains many prophecies of events that were future to the time of writing, and even future to our day. These prophecies are not viewed with favour by many modern intellectuals. I would call it prejudice, and when I am explaining the idea of Bible prophecy to friends my first and hardest task is often to open their closed minds in order that they might pay proper attention to the subject. A Unique Feature The fact is that Bible prophecy has been recognised by many eminent thinkers.* It has often been

Your e-mails

Your e-mails

WHAT ABOUT the ‘rapture’? My mate is going to be taken up before the ‘event’ as he will be one of the chosen ones. The rest of us are going to have a hard time down here … The ‘rapture’ is the idea which is held by some churches that at the end of the world Jesus’ followers will be taken away to meet him. Some preachers present colourful pictures of the faithful ascending to heaven in bliss while down below the earth spirals into chaos and horror. The idea is built upon a passage in one of Paul’s letters: For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet

Things to Come

Things to Come

IN 1936 EUROPE was on the brink of war, and the world wondered what the future would hold. It was an apt moment for the release of a film entitled Things To Come. The film was written by the author and visionary H G Wells, and it presented his view of the future of humankind. He predicted that the approaching war would be so dreadful because of the advanced technology available, that it really would be the war to end all wars and humankind would finally come to its senses and decide to live in peace. The peoples of the world would set about using the marvels of modern technology to build a utopian society of harmony and prosperity. The film ends with a stirring speech by the president of the new order, in which he extols humanity’s unending quest for knowledge and advancement which will lead us to the

The Temple of God

The Temple of God

GOD’S PEOPLE ARE described in the Bible as ‘the temple of God’ (1 Corinthians 3:16), ‘the temple of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 6:16) and ‘the temple of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6:19). These fascinating terms refer back to the actual temple which existed in Jerusalem, and they have profound implications for how disciples of Christ should live. It was King David who originally proposed to build a temple (or ‘house’) for God (the account is in 2 Samuel 7). God explained to him through Nathan the prophet that he would not be the one to build the house, it would be his descendant. Also, by means of his descendant God would build a house for David! When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He

The Pool of Siloam

The Pool of Siloam

IN 2004 A SEWER sprang a leak in Old Jerusalem, and while repairing it the workmen came across a length of buried stone steps. Archaeologists moved in to investigate, and identified that the steps dated to the Second Temple Period (around the First Century ad, that’s the time of Jesus). As the excavation was widened it emerged that they belonged to a mikveh—a ritual bath in which pilgrims visiting the city for religious festivals would purify themselves before heading up to the Temple to offer their sacrifices. The bath was roughly square, and huge, about the size of two Olympic swimming pools. (The First Century historian Josephus records that over two million people would descend on Jerusalem for the feasts.) It was soon realized that this was none other than the Pool of Siloam, which is well known to Bible readers because it was here that a blind man was