Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Intertestamental Period

Been through a journey through the Major Events of the Old Testament.

The Patriarchs
The Exodus - under Moses
The Wandering
The Conquest - under Joshua
The Judges - "every man did what was right in his own eyes"
The Kings - Saul, David, Solomon
The Divided Kingdom - Northern 10 tribes - Israel  Southern 2 tribes - Judah
The Prophets - (the ones who prophesied during the period of the Divided Kingdom
The Exile - Israel - 722 BC, Judah - 586 BC
The Return - (the Post Exile Prophets)

Next:  New Testament - coming of the next prophet - Mark 1:1-4 - John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Christ.

Question:  What happened between the testaments?  400 years?  Anything of consequence?  importance?

400 Silent Years - The Intertestamental Period - Malachi to Matthew
(no prophetic voice - no recognized prophet rose up)

Israel returns from exile - 538 BC
Ruled by Persia - 539BC - 330 BC - allowed to go home, rebuild temple, etc.  but still under Persian rule.
Ruled by Greece - 330 BC - 166 BC
Independent Rule - 166 BC - 63 BC - basically self-governing
Roman Rule - 63 BC - Birth of Christ

There was a lot of stuff going on in the world during this time period.

430 BC - Malachi prophesied - the old testament closes

336 BC - Alexander the Great takes the throne at 20 yrs. of age after father, Phillip, is assassinated.

330 BC - Alexander defeats the Persians - 24 yrs. old - by age 30 has the largest empire in the ancient world.  Never defeated in a battle.

NOTE:  Alexander's education/world view came from Aristotle - personal tutor
A).  Aristotle had a passion for unity, ie:  all people with a common culture, language, religion, world view, etc.  so...
B.)   Alexander devoted himself to conquer and unify the world --- "Hellenization" - (Greekify the whole world)

326 BC - Alexander the Great dies - at age 30 - had no heir.
So the kingdom was divided between 4 generals

Our focus is on two generals - Ptolemy who took over area of Egypt and
                                               Seleucid who took over area of Syria

Compare:  Israel - 1)  culturally??? not excited about Hellenization - not interested in accepting Greek gods, and the Greek worldview.
                            2)  geographically?  between Egypt and Syria

So........constantly caught in the middle of:
1)  Political maneuvering (war)
2.)  Forced Hellenization - to the point of being killed if didn't comply

175 BC - (a Seleucid) - Antiochus Epiphanes came to the throne (Epiphanes = manifestation of god - claimed to be the "revealed god")   He was also referred to as "Epemines" - meaning demented/insane

Jews revolted/army came/killed 40,000 Jews/sold 40,000 into slavery
Established Laws - 1) assembly for prayer forbidden
                              2)  Sabbath observance forbidden
                              3)  possession of scripture illegal
                              4)  circumcision illegal
These were capital offenses - die publicly

Then Antiochus entered the Holy of Holies and sacrificed a pig to Zeus.

164 BC - Maccabean Revolt - Mattathias refused to sacrifice the pig on the altar, and then killed the priest who said he'd do it.  When Mattathias died, his son, Judas Maccabee, took over leadership and engaged in guerrilla warfare - won Israel's freedom - purged and rededicated the temple.  Finished this on December 25 and commemorated it with a sacred day they call Hanukkah.

So......... 166 BC - 63 BC - Israel self-ruled

63 BC - Pompey, a Roman general, takes Jerusalem and Palestine becomes part of the Roman Empire.

40 BC - Herod the Great was made a puppet king of Palestine by the Roman Senate.  (He was on throne when Jesus was born, had the infants killed, the one the Wise Men went to see.)

Herod rebuilds the temple to be greater than Solomon's ... (construction from 20 BC to 63 AD

What's going on here???

Answer:  God knows.  Dan. 2:31-45
                                   Matt. 3:1-2 - next kingdom is near - the Kingdom of God

Gal. 4:4-5 - "fullness of time" - Right time, Appointed time.  Christ will return at the right time, the appointed time.

Application for us?  today?

2 Pet. 3:1-4, 8-14, 17-18

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Return

So far this series has covered:
The Patriarchs
The Exodus
The Wandering
The Conquest
The Judges
The Kings
        "    - the Divided Kingdom
                the Prophets
The Exile

And today, the next event - The Return from exile.

The History of How this Happened:
722BC - Israel falls to Assyria
586BC - Judah falls to Babylon
562 BC - Nebuchadnezzer dies - he was an incredible leader, and immediately the empire begins to crumble
539 BC - Babylon falls without a fight to Cyrus (the Great) - Persian.  The city was so disorganized that they didn't fight, just fell.  He didn't destroy the city, just occupied it.
538 BC - Cyrus signs the decree stating that all Jews can go back home if they so desire.
537 BC - The 1st. return - Zerubbabel - roughly 50,000 Jews go back to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple
536 BC - temple reconstruction begins.  For about 10 years nothing much done after the start due to a lot of opposition and discouragement.  Around 520 BC the prophets Haggai and Zachariah rise up to encourage the people to resume repairs.
516 BC - the temple is completed - much weeping amongst the people - some from great joy because of the miraculous return to their homeland (the younger ones) - some in great sorrow for remembrance of the glory of Solomon's temple (the older generation)
458 BC - the 2nd. return - under Ezra
445 BC - the 3rd. return - Nehemiah
Esther - was during these returns but she stayed in Babylon.  Many Jews stayed in Babylon instead of going back.  These are referred to as the "dispersia" in the New Testament

4 Events Related To the Return

1.  The letter of Jeremiah - written to the exiles in Babylon (these exiles thought they were going to return home right away).  So, Jeremiah writes a letter to them.  Jer. 29:1, 4-10, 11-14 = exile going to last 70 years

2.  The Vision of Ezekiel who was living in exile in Babylon - Ezek. 37:1-14 - saying the same as Jeremiah.
Also, "....when all hope is gone, I will bring you back, and then you will know that I am the LORD!"

How???  It's 900 miles back, 4 month journey, no permission, no means, no support....???
Answer:  Exra 1:1-11 - Cyrus authorizes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, encourages financing, and returns the articles stolen from the temple

#3.  The Prophecy of Isaiah - Isa. 44:24-28, 45:1-7 - God = power behind Cyrus.  Vs. 28 - prophecy about Cyrus - written 150 years before Cyrus was born.

#4.  The Prayer of Daniel - in exile in Babylon - taken in the first deportation.  Has been in exile 66 years when he writes this.  Read the scroll of Jeremiah that said exile would last 70 years, so he realized that was coming shortly. 
Daniel 9:1-7 (a), Daniel 9:17-19 -not because we are righteous, but because You are a merciful and great God.

Lessons:  God is faithful, wise, long suffering, goes to any lengths to draw his people to Him.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Prophets

What we've already covered:
The Patriarchs
The Exodus
The Wandering - 1 year for each day the spies were in the land
The Conquest - settled, well-established
The Judges - dark time where every man did what was right in his own eyes.  Ends with Samuel
The Kings -
       The Divided Kingdom - 10 northern tribes = Israel   2 southern tribes = Judah
The Prophets
The Exile

Last week - 930 BC Israel was at its peak - moral state, spiritual condition.

Israel - went into exile - around 722 BC.  Judah around 586 BC

However, economic condition during this time before the exile was very good.  The two nations cooperating, no major internal crisis.  They did extremely well financially for some time.

BUT, on the other hand, 1) the poor were exploited and the gap between rich and poor got wider and wider.
2) the courts became corrupt - you could buy a verdict.
3)  personal immorality was rampant

ENTER:  The Prophets...... who speak for God. - PRE-EXILIC (preached prior to the falls - 7th. & 8th. century BC) and                                                   CANONICAL  - meaning have books in the Bible

A.)  They are inspired to speak for Him - Jer. 20:9 and
B)  Empowered to speak for Him --- Holy Spirit

We are looking at some of the Canonical prophets who preached prior to the exile

The movement begins with:
#1.  Amos - the herdsman/shepherd - was from Judah.  Sent to preach to Israel, which didn't sit well up there.
Amos 7:10-17 (a) - "what the LORD says...."

#2.  Hosea - from Israel - preached to his own people - Israel  Hos. 1:2  "your sin against God's LAW and God's LOVE"  - He would forgive them if they would just return to Him.
According to tradition:  Hosea had no converts, and died of heartbreak

#3.  Micah - country boy/peasant preacher (experienced injustice!)
He predicted:  the fall of Samaria, the destruction of Jerusalem, Babylonian captivity, return, AND the Birth of Messiah - Matt. 2:6 - Classic summary verse:  Micah 6:6-8

#4.  Isaiah - upper class/in the courts/preaches to Kings (wife was a prophetess) in Judah
Isa. 1:10-18 - preached for 50 years, 5 kings - last king Manasseh got tired of his preaching, and, according to tradition, had him put in a hollow log and sawed in two.

#5.  Nahum (the Elkoshite???)  nobody out of nowhere. - "woe to Nineveh", capital of Assyria.  Preached in Judah after the fall of Israel.  (mid 7th. century)  Nahum 1:7-8, 3:19

#6.  Zephaniah (bipolar prophet) - the extremes of the "Day of the Lord".
On one hand - Zeph. 1:14-18 - hellfire and damnation, wrath of God
On the other hand - Zeph. 3:19-20, 3:17 - Love of God for His people

#7.  Habakkuk (name means "embrace")
"Lord..... do something!"  BUT "not that!!" - (the Babylonians)  Hab. 3:16-18

#8.  Jeremiah (weeping prophet) - warned  them for 40 years/ 5 kings, to the end (after three assaults, three deportations) - then he wrote "Lamentations" - a funeral dirge for the people, the nation, the temple.
Jer. 20:7-9 - epitomizes all of the 8th. century prophets.  Spoke for the LORD in their own free will.

We should stand in AWE  of their Courage and Commitment - to God, to His people (they were patriots as well as prophets)

That covers a lot of ground! 

Question:  Can we summarize the message of the (7th. & 8th. century) prophets??

Answer:  We CAN!  In fact, Jesus did it for us....  Matt. 22:34-40

So????  What do you want of me?  Isaiah?  Amos?  Nahum?  Zephaniah?

Answer:  Go..... LOVE God - with head, heart, & hands
                     & LOVE neighbor.

BUT - "not always easy!  This is the 21st. Century!! - church is full of hypocrites!  my neighbor is a jerk!  society mocks righteousness, persecutes the Godly!
Besides..... where are the Rewards?  what are the blessings??? & I'm tired, weary, battle worn.....

Answer:  like the 8th & 7th Century BC.... God still needs believers who'll believe, servants who will serve, followers who will follow, people who will stand!!

The call remains to serve, follow, represent, etc. 

What He requires of us = Love the Lord, Love your neighbor.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Jewish Exile

ISRAEL (northern 10 tribes) - Summary account - 2 Kings 17  - about 722 BC

1.  The Seige (3 years)

2.  The fall of the capital city of Samaria

3.  Deportation of the Jews

4.  Importation - of other conquered peoples into the land

5.  Melding (merging/mixing) - of beliefs & practices

6.  Samaritans - from this mixing - of Jesus' day.

JUDAH (southern two tribes) - Summary account - 2 Kings 24 & 25

605 BC - (Jehoiakim) - 1st attack by Babylon and deportation - this included Daniel.   Then Judah becomes a vassal kingdom and THEN they rebelled

597 BC - (Jehoichin) - took the throne during the siege after his father's rebellion - at age 18 - reigned 3 months and 10 days!!
Then the 2nd. attack by Babylon & deportation - this one included Ezekiel.  The temple was stripped!!  and Zedekiah, Jehoichin's uncle, was placed on the throne by king of Babylon.

586 BC- Zedekiah rebelled - siege, famine, fall.  His sons were all killed, he was blinded and deported to Babylon along with another group of the people.  Jerusalem was destroyed!!  All the Babylonians left behind were the very poorest of the poor.

All along, the prophet Jeremiah told the kings they'd better not rebel as this was God's hand of retribution.

2 Kings 25:21 (b) - "so Judah went into captivity away from her land" - the land God had promised to them, but because of continued sin - exile.


GOD IS FAITHFUL - we like to think that God's faithfulness is all nice, sugar and spice.  No, God is righteous, just, etc.
"God is Faithful" could be the lesson of every sermon:
         The Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, 12 sons
         Egypt - seeking relief from famine
         The Exodus - around 1450 BC - God sends Moses into Egypt to free his people
         The (40 years) Wandering (the rebellion) - after came out of Egypt - 1st. generation refused to go in and take the land
         The Conquest - leadership passed to Joshua - 2nd generation went in and settled the land, although were still pockets of the original inhabitants
         The Judges - no strong leader - the people fell into sin, God let them be conquered by the neighboring peoples, they cried out for help, God raised up a judge who led them into conquest, they prospered, the judge died, they fell back into sin, etc., etc., etc.
         The Kings - Saul, David, Solomon - under Solomon, Israel reached the golden age.  When Solomon died his son, Rehoboam took over - he was tougher than Solomon.
               The Divided Kingdom - The 10 northern tribes pulled away from Rehoboam and set Jeroboam up as king.  He established two temples of worship - one in the north at Dan and one in the south at Bethel and set up golden calves so the gods who led them out of Egypt.  The next 200 years saw Israel (the northern 10 tribes) slide down, down, down.  20 kings - all did evil in the sight of the Lord.
722 BC - taken over by Assyria - deported & imported.
             The 2 southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah (Judah) - held on longer but started the downhill slide as well.  586 BC - conquered by Babylon.  Had a few good kings who brought reform but the downward slide couldn't be stopped.

I.  God is Faithful to His WORD - Lam. 2:17 (a) - Remember???  Renewal of the Covenant??? - Mt. Gerizim/Mt. Ebal - blessings and cursings - Deut. 28:45-52 - promise in God's word.
So..... read John 3:18 - Take it serious!!  Because God is faithful to His Word!!
Not our place to revamp, re-apply, revise it.
Example:  recent popular bumper sticker:  "God said it, I believe it, that settles it"  Not true!!  "God said it, that settles it"  Makes no difference if we believe it or not.

II.  God is faithful to His Purpose -
Which is:  draw all men to Him  - example:  John 12:32   ie:  reveals Himself to draw men

Question:  How does the exile accomplish this??? - Ezek. 6:8-10, 12-14
Point being:  He reveals Himself in discouragement, tragedy, as well as in blessings/prosperity.
The exile is for the salvation of Israel - couldn't teach it in the prosperity

(Having said I & II, we can now say...)
III.  God is Faithful to His People - this has to come after I & II
means He is faithful, dependable, trustworthy in His dealings with you .... what we need.
Does not mean He is faithful to give what you want, desire, assume, think you should have.
Example:  Jesus - John 2:23-24 - "I will be your king, but I will not do what you want me to do."  He is not obligated to your idea of faithfulness.

On one hand, this is hard to accept.  However, Heb. 12:5-12

SUMMARY:  Jeremiah said "exile" - false prophets said "no way!  God is faithful!!"  They were, in fact, denying God's faithfulness!!!  Because He is faithful to His Word and His purpose.

APPLICATION:  God is Faithful!  You CAN depend on Him.... BUT, best get in line with Him ... not faithful to do what the masses say, TV preachers say, etc.
Because He IS faithful to His Word, His purpose, Him self first.  2 Tim. 2:13  Also, trust that if you Don't accept the Son, there is NO other way to the Father.