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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Book Of Lamentations

Lamentations has 5 chapters and all of them are part of the dirge for Israel after the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet for this reason. His prophesies forecast destruction and bondage. Nobody liked Jeremiah or his efforts at preventing the coming destruction. Of course, he named their sins and called for repentance. He was dismayed but not surprised by the response he got.

Lamentations is unique as a Book of the Bible. All five chapters are poetry, but unlike Psalms, they all have the same theme. Each chapter is an acrostic poem. There are Psalms that follow this pattern. Each chapter uses the letters of the Hebrew alphabet as a structural platform. In Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 each has 22 verses with each verse beginning with the next successive letter of the alphabet, Aleph, Beth, Gimel, etc. Chapter 3 has 66 verses and the verses are grouped by threes. He continues the use of the letters to in succession to shape the poem. (This pattern only works in Hebrew.)

He refers to the former glory of Israel, her armies, her Kings, but he mourns what has happened to her people. He repeatedly  calls to mind the sins which led to this disaster and reminds the people they knew there would be consequences, but they flaunted God's laws. 

In Chapter 3 he returns to a joyous exclamation of hope. The Lord's mercies have kept us from complete destruction. My soul claims hope in him. It is good to hope and wait patiently for the salvation of the Lord. Even though he has allowed grief, he will also show compassion. He does not enjoy afflicting us, but this is the result when we rob men of justice. (The Living Bible, Lamentations:21-26.)  

 Read Lamentations and repent. Seek God's forgiveness. Live in obedience. Revel in the joy of grace.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Joseph, the Husband of Mary

Joseph seems to be sort of neglected in the Christmas story. He is  initially referred to because Mary was engaged to him. In the Gospel of Matthew the order of events leaves Joseph till last to be notified of the impending birth. Apparently Mary did not disclose her pregnancy to Joseph at the time of the Angel's visit. Perhaps she waited until physical changes prompted questions. Joseph was a righteous man and he did not intend to dishonor God by engaging in unseemly behavior, so he planned to dissolve the engagement quietly. God was not worried about Joseph's reputation. He assured him that Mary was worthy to be his wife and the child was the Messiah who would save the people from their sins

Joseph's importance is emphasized by the genealogy that traces through him. Even though Joseph is a step-father, the Gospel of Matthew is careful to explore the genealogical connection through David. Matthew also points out that Joseph was visited by an angel who convinced him of Mary's virtue. There would be no breech of his honor to take Mary as his wife. Still with all the confidence God put in Joseph, the scripture devotes little time or ink to him in the Gospels.

I have been taught that he is assumed to have died by the time  Jesus was grown. There is no mention of him after Jesus' twelfth birthday. Jesus would have learned the builder's trade from Joseph even though his calling from God was to preach and heal and establish the Church. Some comentators point out that houses in Israel were built from stone, not wood and lumber, so he would have been a stone mason rather than a carpenter. Boats were built of wood and some of the furniture and doors so I have reason to believe he was also skilled in working with wood.