photo by waiting for the word on flickr
Today’s Audio Episode
Rachel: A Beloved Wife-Trinity Tidbits
Click and listen in to:
Rachel: daughter of Laban, wife to Jacob and mother to Joseph and Benjamin, and sister to Leah.
Joseph was tricked into marrying Leah 1st, sister to Rachel. Genesis Ch 29-35 tell their story in detail.
Later this week, devotional readings will give more details on this story. Check it out.
Great life lessons are to be gained from this story. Can you figure them out? Listen and read to see.
Join me this week as we talk about Rachel.
A few months later, after Mary went back to Nazareth, Elizabeth gave birth to the son she had always hoped for. She named him ‘John’. Luke 1:57-66
Everyone was very happy and excited for her.
She did quite well for an elderly woman giving birth.
There was a discussion among family about the baby’s name and what it would be. They decided his name would be after his father, Zechariah. However, Elizabeth quickly corrected them. She was adamant, his name is “John”. Afterall, this is what Gabriel the angel gave instruction to.
Zechariah now able to speak. This baby would one day be a prophet of the Most High, he said, preparing the way for the Messiah.
This picture is the last we see of Elizabeth. By the examples of the time, she was already old, and she might not have lived to see John grow to adulthood.
So, the main takeaway from this story is that being patient and waiting on the Lord brings great blessings.
How are you doing in your waiting time? Share and bless others with your experience.
While Elizabeth was pregnant with the future John the Baptist, she gave refuge to her young cousin Mary of Nazareth who, pregnant with Jesus and single, might have been escaping from the anger of her relatives.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, about a hundred miles away in Judea, might’ve been a dire effort by her family to save her from this destiny [in a Middle Eastern rural community at the time, this kind of situation could simply result in an honor killing of the young girl by her fiancé’s family], to get her out of the way until a resolution had been worked out. Leaving Galilee and traveling south, Mary punctually arrived at Elizabeth’s house in Judea after a trip of about three or four days.
When they met, each recognized that they and their children would be an incredible part of God’s plan for mankind.
Luke 1:39-45 Mary got up and went quickly to a town in the hills of Judea. She came to Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the unborn baby inside her jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She cried out in a loud voice, “God has blessed you more than any other woman, and he has blessed the baby to which you will give birth. Why has this good thing happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy. You are blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really happen.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Well, in this story, at first glance, we just think two women relatives were meeting and the younger one might’ve been visiting to help the older one through the childbirth.
You may not see it in your life, but God is using you and your life for a bigger plan than you realize. A magnificent and awesome plan. In the grand scheme of it all, our lives are like a massive grand puzzle that God is putting in place using all the pieces of life.
Don’t allow all of the life’s pieces to bring you down. That’s what satan wants. He wants us to be in strife so he can slip in and manipulate us with his sneaky ways keeping us oppressed and depressed.
How does this look in your life? What are you doing with your life puzzle pieces to honor and glorify God? Comment and let’s interact. Bless others with your testimony. Be blessed by what God is doing in other’s lives.
Next & final post coming up: Elizabeth gives birth to John the Baptist.
Eve Was the First to Receive the Divine Prophecy of the Cross
Eve was the first sinner and saw the fruit of her sin as she stood at the world’s first grave and buried her dead son. After confessing her sin she heard the Lord say to that serpent, the devil, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15). With this first promise of the Redeemer, there started the wicked path of life ending at the cross where Jesus Christ, born of a woman, presented a satisfying victory over sin and Satan.
Through a woman, God’s just universe was ruined and became “a world of sinners lost, and ruined by the fall.” Now, through a woman, a perfect salvation has been given for a sinful people. Through Eve’s sin, death came into the world, but at the cross, both sin and death were defeated, through “dying, death He murdered.” When Jesus cried, “It is finished,” He meant that the serpent’s head, symbolizing power and authority, had been bruised. He defeated all satanic principalities and powers that Eve’s sin brought into the world, and put them under His feet.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
As we leave our reflection upon the world’s first woman, first wife, first sinner, first mother, and first mourner, there are one or two lessons to be gleaned from Eve’s story. For instance,
- “many daughters of Eve have learned that the serpent is never more dangerous than when he claims to be the sincere supporter interested in nothing but her progress and happiness.”
What a shrewd, wicked impostor Satan is. How naive so many are – of his tricks! Besides,
- any temptation is a common occurrence, and each of us should learn from the first person on earth to be tempted, its way of reaching and continuous actions, and protect ourselves from a fall through the benefit of Jesus Christ’s own victory over the enemy.
There is no sin in being tempted. We only sin when we give way to temptation. Refusing to give way to the attraction of sin, our Garden of Eden awaits perfect.
- At the heart of Eve’s wretched story, however, is the good lesson that a woman has the power of burden or blessing over a man’s life. If she falls, man falls with her.
Paul said, “in Adam, we die- in Christ, we are made alive.”
In asking loyalty to Christ, Paul relates Eve to represent the quickness that one is wicked (see 1 Timothy 2:12-14).
So, there you have it. The Biblical account of Eve.
How can you relate to Eve’s story? Comment, let’s interact.
Next week: we’ll be talking about, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist.
Listen to this segment: “Esther: For Such a Time as This” on Anchor for the short audio version.
‘Esther’ means ‘hidden’ – her Jewish identity was hidden from the King. Esther’s Jewish name Hadassah, means ‘myrtle’, a tree whose leaves release their fragrance when crushed.
Queen Esther’s story has three parts:
- Vashti was banished, and Esther became Queen.
Queen Vashti disobeyed the orders of her husband King Ahasuerus, so he divorced her. Lonely, he sought a new queen who was to be the most beautiful woman in the land. A young Jewish orphan, Esther, was chosen. She kept her Jewish identity secret. Her cousin Mordecai, a servant of the king, overheard a plot and warned his master through Esther.
- Esther saved Mordecai from Haman.
Mordecai offended a high court official called Haman, who decided to kill not only Mordecai but all the Jews in the Persian empire (the first recorded slaughter against the Jews). Esther turned the tables on Mordecai. She pleaded with the king at two banquets she gave, and Haman was horribly punished. He was hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai.
- Esther saved the Jewish people.
Letters were sent throughout the kingdom revoking the order and the Jewish people in Persia were saved. There was great rejoicing, and an annual festival was celebrated to remember the courage of Esther and the deliverance of the Jews. This festival was called Purim.
Why did Esther’s story mean so much to Jews?
- Esther was a symbol of Jews who lived successfully in an alien culture.
- As a woman, she was not in a position of power, just as Diaspora Jews were not members of the power elite.
- As an orphan, she was separated from her parents, as Diaspora Jews are separated from their mother-country.
- With both these handicaps, she had to use every skill and advantage she had, as Diaspora Jews did. They, like Esther, had to adapt themselves to the situation.
What are the main themes in Esther’s story?
- Let God be your ruler: Esther’s story was a political ridicule, showing the danger of giving absolute power to someone who might be a fool. Ahasuerus governed by whim rather than by wisdom, becoming the tool of anyone shrewd enough to exploit him. The lesson is clear: do not give too much power to any one person; in the long run, God alone should rule us.
- Right Living: the Book of Esther was written for Diaspora Jews (Jews who lived outside Israel), to show them how to live in exile. If they encountered bigotry and prejudice, they must act with courage, wisdom, and integrity.
- The origin of Purim: the story explained the origin of a major Jewish feast day.
Christianity is sometimes accused of causing the anti-Semitism that has shamed the modern world. This story shows this prejudice existed long before the birth of Jesus.
The book of Esther doesn’t suggest that the goal of proper Jewish living is to return to Judah; rather, it encourages the idea that Jews can live personally fulfilling, and even socially successful, lives in exile from Palestine. It asks who are we; if we not only don’t live in Judah but also don’t even want to?’
- Esther’s courage and wisdom were used by God to save His people from extinction.
- Beauty and creativity are also useful tools for a God-fearing woman.
What are your thoughts on this story? Comment, let’s interact!
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
Sadly, grief is part of the human experience. Loss is part of life, and grief is a natural response to loss. But we have the hope of Christ, and we know that He is strong enough to carry our burdens (Matthew 11:30). We can give our hurt to Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We can find solace in the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Paraclete (John 14:16). In grief, we cast our burdens on Him, rely on the community of the church, delve into the truth of the Word, and ultimately experience hope (Hebrews 6:19-20).
So, mourn and grieve. It’s healthy to a point.
At the moment, my husband and I grieve. We grieve the loss of our beloved furbaby. Today’s a new day. The Sun beamed very brilliant orange in its rising. No, I didn’t grab the camera to capture it. It was behind buildings and trees. It glowed around about. It was like our furbaby was radiating her love and smile in that sunrise!
Praise You, Yahweh for Your comfort and compassion, mercy and grace to get us through.
Are you grieving loss? If so, surrender it to Yahweh. He’ll comfort you and carry you through to the other side of the grief. I trust Him.
Comment and let us know so we can pray for you.