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Mary: A Virgin Mother

Listen to segment 1 of “Trinity Tidbits: 1st (Mary) of 10 amazing women of the Bible!” on Anchor: Episode 1: Mary: Mother of Jesus.

Today’s devotion will focus on Mary of Nazareth.

Mary of Nazareth image
Mary of Nazareth

What do we know about Mary? The audio episode linked above tells a little bit about her. When you listen to the audio you’ll know a little information.

Mary spoke Aramaic. She lived with extended family. The nuclear family of today honestly didn’t exist. It wouldn’t have worked. There were too many chores that needed several people working together.

When she was about 11 or 12 years old, Mary began to menstruate. This meant she was of marriageable age, in Aramaic a betulah. The corresponding word in Hebrew, the ancient language of religious texts, is almah.

The first menstruation was a big milestone in any girl’s life, and in Mary’s case, it would have been celebrated with a party – to let everyone know she was now ready for marriage.

Now that Mary’s menstrual periods had started, serious consideration was given to the choice of a husband.

Mary’s whole family joined in the selection of an appropriate husband. After all, it was something that would affect them all, because of the nuclear family lifestyle they lived.

Joseph, Mary’s prospective husband; he was a young man, not much older than she was, and well-regarded by the people of Nazareth. We know this because Matthew’s gospel calls him ‘just’ or ‘righteous’.

The betrothal was a formal agreement to marry, settled with the transfer of property from the young man to the girl. The betrothal of a young couple had to be public, witnessed by many people. At this stage, there was no sexual contact.

During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. Luke 1:26-27

Mary was pregnant. What’s following? The next thing we know, Mary was pregnant. Her normal menstrual periods stopped. This can be hidden for quite a while in the modern world. But in Mary’s time, when a whole family lived and slept in one or two rooms, the fact that a young girl’s periods had ceased was noticed immediately.

In the conservative Jewish family Mary belonged to, her pregnancy meant severe embarrassment if not outright disgrace to herself and all her family.

This is human thinking:

These are the facts we know:

  • Mary was pregnant.
  • There had to be a human father.
  • She was frightened, her family embarrassed, and the man, whoever he is, could not be named.

So who was he? There are several theories. Only theories.

Shocking as the idea may be, he may have been a member of her own family. Statistics in the modern world show that pregnancies with an unnamed father usually come from the girl being interfered with by an older male relative. Probably not much has changed in two thousand years. This is one possibility, however distasteful, that has to be faced.

Was Mary the rape victim of a Roman soldier?

Another theory, quite well argued, is that the father of her baby was a Roman soldier posted at a nearby army station. On the face of it, this sounds unlikely, something you’d read in an offensive tabloid. But there are some facts that make the theory at least probable:

  1. Nazareth, where Mary lived, is only a few miles from Sepphoris, the capital of Galilee (see top left of the map at right). It was much more advanced than little Nazareth, and there were Roman soldiers stationed there. Mary and the other residents of Nazareth certainly came into contact with these soldiers at various times.
  2. Sepphoris is in the north of Galilee
    Sepphoris is in the north of Galilee.

    At around about the time that Jesus was conceived, a great many of Galilee was in an open uprising against Roman rule. This uprising followed immediately after the death of Herod the Great in 4BCE.  Sepphoris, only four miles from Nazareth, was the center of the uprising in Galilee. The royal palace there was attacked and robbed (Josephus, Ant.17, 10.5/271-72). The whole area was a breeding ground of raging discontent against the Roman occupation.

  3. In the cleaning up processes after the rebellion, the Roman general Gaius burned Sepphoris and sold its residents into slavery. Remember that Sepphoris was less than four miles from Nazareth. Some of this violence and disorder must have been felt in Nazareth, only an hour’s walk away.
  4. Is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to think that in this situation a young girl may have been raped by a soldier from nearby Sepphoris? Any Roman soldier stationed in the backblocks [the outback] of Galilee would have been the riffraff, socially speaking, of an army already noted for its savageness – a ‘kill first then let’s talk’ policy was what had built the Roman Empire.
  5. Early Jewish writings (the Baraitha and Tosefta, written about 150-200AD) openly talk about Yeshu the Nazarene, who was the son of a Roman soldier called Pantera. ‘Yeshu’ is the original Semitic word for ‘Jesus’. Though it may, of course, be pure coincidence, a monument was also found of a ‘Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera of Sidon, aged 62, a soldier of 40 years’ service, of the 1st cohort of archers’. Jesus, during his short career as a philosopher/teacher, makes an otherwise unexplained trip to Sidon, detouring quite out of his way to go there. (Mark 7.31) It seems a strange thing to do unless he has some connection to the place.

So a Roman soldier as the father of Mary’s unborn baby is a possibility. No more than a possibility, but at least that.

Mary visits Elizabeth

It’s at this stage of her pregnancy that Mary went away to stay with a reputable cousin, Elizabeth. It’s not known which relative she was. It was possibly done for her own safety.

Mary returned to Nazareth and Joseph takes responsibility and asks Mary to marry him.

I’ll end this post with that. However, let’s go back to the audio episode linked at the top. What can we take away from Mary and her actions?

  • Mary modeled an attitude of obedience and trust.

When we take on the attitude of obedience and trust what happens? Where does it lead us?

Comment or send me a message using the contact form:

A Practical Prophet

Micah 6_8 image

Micah tells of Yahweh’s expectations of we humans.

Known as the “practical prophet,” Micah states plainly what God expects of man: to do rightly of others, to love kindness, and to live humbly with & obey Yahweh. His plain and effective communication gained esteem and honor.

We all have expectations, of ourselves and each others. Think about it. How do your expectations line up with Yahweh’s?

We’re very busy making ourselves what we want. What about what Yahweh wants? How are we busy with making ourselves line up with Yahweh? Or, are we at all?

Living rightly, being kind, and living humbly obeying Yahweh will bring more blessings into our lives than we can imagine. We need to get vertically aligned with Yahweh. How do we do that?

Here’s what scripture says:

Galatians 5:16-18 So I tell you: Live by following the Spirit. Then you will not do what your sinful selves want. Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please. But if the Spirit is leading you, you are not under the law.

The key to living in spiritual alignment is to remove anything satan uses to control you. I know, it sounds complicated. However, it’s not.

Some tools to help:

  • Get into The Word
  • Prayer works wonders (sincerely spending time with Yahweh and asking Him to lead you and use you, not the other way around.)
  • Praise & Worship
  • Fellowship with like-minded believers

Where do you find yourself today? Apply these tools and let go of your human nature wants that aren’t in line with Yahweh. How’s that working for you?

Would you like to connect with me? Need prayer? Contact me below in the form:

Disciple Making

Matthew 28:27-29 image

Surely, this is a Great Commission! The principal verb of command in the original language isn’t “go” but “make disciples.” Accomplishing the Great Commission commands us to be making disciples, not just deciders. It means baptizing believers and to teach them to obey all Christ commanded. Obedience is the purpose of Christ’s Great Commission. Only doers of His word are true disciples (Matt. 7:21; John 8:31).

There’s a different way that this is a Great Commission. Originally, Jesus told His disciples to go just to “the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 10:6). Except now He charges them to go to all the nations (ethnic groups). With faithful disciples in barely half of the twenty-four thousand “nations,” an enormous amount continues to be done in achieving this Great Commission.

Do you agree this sounds like a “mission impossible”? It would be if it weren’t for Christ’s promise to be with those who go and make disciples in all nations. With the command is the promise. His attendance makes it achievable.

Who’s ready to accept the “mission impossible” challenge? If not, why? What’s holding you back? What’s stopping you?

Comment and let’s chat.

You can send me a message or prayer request here:

His Gift: Good Works Through Salvation by His Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10 image
We were made to do His Good Work. His Gift of salvation makes us who we are.

We are unable in and of ourselves to save ourselves. There’s not one iota we can do to save ourselves.

Because of our salvation, we do good works. We do it because we want to; not because we have to. We hunger for it!

How does that look in your life? Comment, let’s chat about it.

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Yahweh’s Mercy

Jonah 4:2 image
Jonah is the best known of the Minor Prophets, probably because of the whale tale. Except that the intent of the book is not about the whale but about the unsympathetic prophet. Jonah was a prophet sent to inform a Gentile nation. However, he ran away! Why?

Jonah ran away from Yahweh’s call because he knew what the God of Israel was really like! It’s true, whether or not you agree. Why, if he went and informed those idolatrous Gentiles, Yahweh might save them! To Jonah, they were the enemy. No doubt, Yahweh would not save them!

Because of a second chance, Jonah went, resentfully. And just like Yahweh said would happen, Nineveh repented. Yahweh advised. And Jonah was mad. In v. 11 Yahweh asked, “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for this important city, Nineveh?” Yahweh loves pagan city-dwelling Ninevites.

Do we? Like Jonah, we may know Yahweh is “gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness.” How are we reflecting His heart toward the hated and violent “Ninevites” in our towns? How are we fulfilling His appeal to go to them and teach His word of repentance and forgiveness?

But wait! How can we fulfill His appeal to us to go to the pagans and teach His word of repentance and forgiveness while we’re like Jonah running away? We need to stop running away and stand up for Yahweh and His Good News of the Gospel.

Who’s with me? Comment and let me know how this looks in your life.

Need prayer? Send a request using the form below:

How Wicked Is Our Sin?

This isn’t something I normally do. However, this one time I felt this message to be powerful enough to share, even though it’s on Facebook. Watch the video. It’s not long. However, it will knock your socks off. That is if you’re wearing any. Then, if not, it will make your hair stand up and take notice.

How Wicked is Our Sin? – Paul Washer

A powerful word from Paul Washer on the wickedness of sin. Video by Mike Lynam

Originally Posted by Depraved Wretch on Thursday, August 24, 2017

Isaiah Foretells Jesus’ Life

Isaiah 53_2-6 image

Isaiah is ultimately famous for his prophecies regarding the coming Christ. Written almost 700 years before Jesus’ birth, these marvelous prophecies graphically describe the birth, life, and death of the agonizing Savior. It reads as if Isaiah was literally standing at Calvary and observed the crucifixion.

Isaiah 53 represents with nearly photographic exactness the dying Christ. As we read the words of Isaiah, we rejoice that God chose to tell about His Son many centuries before Bethlehem. Through Isaiah’s eyes, we know Christ is positively the Son of God, The Great “I-AM.” Without question. The evidence is clear!

What are you doing with The Good News of Christ? How are you sharing this gift of Salvation’s story to a lost world?

Me: This devotional blog is an example. I’m spreading Yahweh’s Word digitally and verbally, in person, with people.

Comment your experience. Let’s chat.

Contact me privately for prayer or simply to connect with me, if you like, using this form below:

Bring The Good News!

Isaiah 40_8-9 image

Yes, “all flesh is grass.” Whichever, in the time of Isaiah or John the Baptist, generations come and generations go, but,

A voice says, “Cry out!” Then I said, “What shall I cry out?” “Say all people are like the grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass dies and the flowers fall when the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are like grass. The grass dies and the flowers fall, but the word of our God will live forever.” (Is. 40:6–8).

It’s the eternal word of forgiveness and comfort to all who’ll repent and believe The Gospel of Jesus Christ. But this Good News needs to be declared boldly to every generation before it disappears, wilts and passes away like the grass. Hence,

How beautiful is the person who comes over the mountains to bring good news, who announces peace and brings good news, who announces salvation and says to Jerusalem, “Your God is King.” (Is. 52:7).

Be that beautiful person who boldly declares the Good News of Jesus Christ.

That’s what this ministry is about, “declaring, boldly, the Good News of Jesus Christ!”

Do you need prayer? How may I pray for you today? Use the contact form below to send me an email message with your prayer request.

Now, it’s your turn! Let’s chat! What’s your experience in declaring, boldly, the Good News of Jesus Christ?