“Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.’ When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided” (Acts 23:6-7). Continue reading
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach’” (Matthew 23:1,3). Continue reading
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you.’” Continue reading
It is very difficult, seemingly impossible, to undo our engrained understandings. Our perception of the Pharisees is one of those things. For as long as I can remember, the word Pharisee was synonymous with hypocrisy or evil. The definition is affirmed by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “Pharisaical = self-righteous hypocrite.” I learned it in school. Pastors warn about it. But is that definition scriptural? Were the Pharisees evil, self-righteous hypocrites? Continue reading
First Kings 3 tells a story of God speaking to Solomon. God says, “Ask for whatever you want me to give to you.” Solomon replies in 1Kings 3:9, “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and discern between right and wrong.” Solomon asks for wisdom. God is pleased. God tells him that because his request was good, he would receive not only wisdom, but also wealth and honor.
What did wise Solomon do at the beginning of the very same story in 1 Kings 3? Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh. Continue reading
King David was one of only three successful kings of Israel. Think about that for a moment. To use approximations, the Israelite exodus happened between 1500-1300 BC. David reigned around 1000 BC. He was followed by Solomon. Then the kingdom fell apart. Before the captivity, only Hezekiah might be considered a successful king as nations are evaluated.
David’s kingship could be categorized as an enigma. Continue reading
First Samuel 9 begins: “There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish….Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.”
Israel had insisted on an earthly king. God had told Samuel to listen to them, but not without first giving them a serious warning. Samuel said that a king would conscript their sons for military service and their daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He warned that the king would take from the best of their fields and crops and from their livestock and flocks. He warned that the day would come when they would realize the error of their ways and when they would cry out. He warned that their choice would have permanent consequences, and God would not answer.
Israel chose a human path. They wanted to be like the pagan nations around them. And so it began. Continue reading
Samuel was aging. The elders in Israel saw that Samuel’s sons were not like him. They demanded a king to lead them. They wanted a leader. They wanted to be like other nations. First Samuel 8:5 records their request: “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
Samuel inquired of God. God told him to warn the people: it would not go well for them, and they would be subjected and conscripted. The elders and people would not listen to Samuel’s warning and insisted that they wanted a king. Continue reading
My wife and I have been married for 43 years. God is good! In that time, I have never become fully accustomed to her packing. A small suitcase is never sufficient. Clothes are piled on the bed and then sorted. The bedroom floor is covered with shoes. Sorting follows. The selection then begins. And eventually her suitcase is packed and mine is there for the things that don’t fit in hers.
Can you imagine the packing frenzy in Egypt on Passover Day? Israel had been foreigners in the land for 400 years, and God was about to deliver them. Moses told them to get ready for a mass exodus. While faith in God and his prophet Moses motivated them, consider the practical aspect.
Imagine the stress. There had been nine plagues, and Pharaoh reneged on each promise to let them go. Why would #10 be different? Continue reading
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. Matthew 2: 1-3
Why was all of Jerusalem disturbed? Continue reading