Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

Hello friend, allow me to introduce myself, hear me loud and hear me well. I am the one and only semisynthetic diacetylmorphine, I was born 95 years ago in old Germany.

I am a narcotic, my friend, an opiate, derived from Morphine. I am best known as Smack, Horse or the Big H, but only my real name, Heroin, can define me properly.

I am exceedingly powerful, I have by-passed the strength of Morphine. You will be hooked in the blink of an eye, your tolerance will rapidly grow.

I am nationwide, a star, the King from Hell. I am snow white, pure crystal, my taste is bitter and my touch is fatal.

My American family alone is an easy 1½ million, I am the King and they are my pawns. They turn to Methadone to escape me, but always come back.

I am a professional murderer, a Central Nervous System depressant. I will turn your thoughts into babbling mush, remove your aggressiveness and delete your sexual drive.

I will depress your appetite and your ability to cough, you will scratch like a flea infested dog. I will rape your health, dementia will become your new personality.

I turn millionaires into welfare cases. I will only give you misery and sleep for I am a thief, the god of the Land of Nod.

You will be victimized by necrosis, Your body tissues will slowly decay. You will smile like a moron, as you nod off into the reality that only I can create for you.

I am Death’s harlot, a truly dead lay!

by Curt Stowell August 9, 1993

Snow Ride


The name is all around, a pure white alkaloid.

Albert Niemann is my pa, the cocoa bush my creator.

I swing with Tarzan, party with Jane.

I am wild, ecstatic, and out of control, a true filthy bitch.

I have made it with Inca priests and their nobles,

fought wars with Bavarian soldiers.

Been with Freud, Coca-Cola too.

I am just a little German girl, I dare you to hold my hand.

Take me into your arms, feel me attack

your Central Nervous System.

I will give you the euphoria of loss, the rush of destruction.

I have watched century past,

taught amphetamines all that they know.

I party with airplane pilots,

steer the big yachts,

toot the trains,

and seen the moon.

Make sure your ski shoes are on tight,

I am going to crystalize your mind.

A bad dream I am not, I'm a horrifying reality.

Try me out once and you will see,

Mount Saint Helen’s blow  cannot compete with mine.

I have destroyed professionals,

changed genius’s minds.

I have ruined relationships,

and destroyed more lives than Hitler can count.

I will steal your sleep so you will not make sense,

your behavior will be more irrational then a schizophrenic’s.

Your checks will be a rubber ball, credit obsolete.

You will trade your automobile for a fix,

turn your house into a Brothel.

The head whore will be you, your spouse being shared.

I will prolong your physical endurance,

retard your fatigue and hunger for a bit longer,

then whip you with a cat-o-nine tails.

Your heart will beat like the speed of light.

Your eyes will play golf,

you will look like a sweat house

and smell like a hog.

I am the Snow Queen, the Big “C,”

The Bitch of Destruction.

I will make you irritable and depressed,

but now you are mine and cannot leave me for not.

You will visualize the “not for reals,”

having fear and paranoia for breakfast.

Yes, I am extremely proud of myself,

for my word is law in the land of Crystals.

You will rob and kill for me,

you will vandalize your own mother for that rush of destruction.

I turn women into greedy, cheating, lying pros,

and men into impotent fools.

Friend,

the name is Cocaine, Snowy Magic,

The Black Rose of deadened life.

by Curt Stowell
August 17, 1993

Back To Top

The Boardwalk

Wickedly the sign swells of contemptuous vacancy,

a myriad of rooms, big yard fenced in bloody stone.

Long is the stay, short and narrow the exit.

twenty years the bargain.

“Pretty Boy” of luxurious wealth, 

why the confident walk, sleep of deep beauty?

Do you not know today you marry?

Can you not see the dark of day?

Pain, Hate, and Death the proprietary priests,

mandating monarchies of red of grey walls.

Rape, overdoses, murder run rampant and free,

have you any money?

End of war cannot be, it has not begun,

there are no warriors, only lost victors.

Time is not known of,

for “time” is plentiful.

Writ of Habeas Corpus breathes of abysmal tangencies,

thick putrid air, crimson steel of sour peanut butter.

With heavy of hand frightened horrifying eyes write,

a tune of cruel beauty the fat lady cannot carry.

A toast – Black Deceit

by Curt Stowell
September 21, 1990

On The Boulevard

Listen real close, my little friend,

this is me, not the wind.

I know you’re young, stubborn as a mule,

but hear these words and don’t take me as a fool.

It’s behind the big ugly wall,

where men and women truly fall.

Around the world, have you been, 

think you know it all, can only win?

Stand around, watch it all,

you won’t feel so damn tall!

You’ll quickly learn,

it isn’t butter in here they churn.

I heard a shriek, turned to see,

before my very eyes, murder in the first degree.

These men are animals with certain needs,

one boy bends over, another drops to his knees.

They’re sick and they’re mean,

it doesn’t matter if you’re an adult or just a teen.

In pain someone cried and screamed,

no biggy, it was only a guard getting reamed.

Refusal to pay came from the man’s tongue,

he was beat to death, then hung.

One snitched, his sentence was no joke,

a pair of hands showed him how to choke.

Still another ratted, this ended all his fun,

from his throat, like a river, blood did run.

There are laws, they are their own,

learn them quick, else they’ll be shown.

The weak do not last,

break the prison code you go down fast.

You’ll learn a lot, you’ll learn it well,

here it’s worse than Hell.

You’ll lose your mind, you’ll lose your soul,

be careful, else your heart be stole.

Have you paid attention, did you really hear?

this is the place the Devil himself does fear.

Here I am, fresh out of the penitentiary,

expected to fit in with society.

I have no wheels, not a trade,

can ‘t even get into the army brigade.

I began to take and I began to connive,

this is what we are taught in order to survive.

I heard a click, I heard my name,

knew it was the end of my game.

I looked around, what did I see?

six forty-fives staring straight at me.

Once again I sit behind bars of steel,

where only Pain, Hate, and Death are real.

The street life may be hard, but it’s easier than the joint,

am I making myself clear, are you getting the point?

This is my story, this is my song,

you may not believe I’m right, but I’m surely not wrong.

I have seen many of lives ruined and destroyed in “time,”

don’t call me a liar, for one of them was mine.

You may think life isn’t fair and too hard,

but friend, that is only because

you have not lived on the Boulevard.

by Curt Stowell
June 1990

If Jesus Came To Your House

If Jesus came to your house to spend some time with you,

If He came unexpected,  I wonder what you’d do.

Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honored guest,

and all the food you’d give to Him would be the very best.

And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have Him there.

That serving Him in your home is joy beyond compare.

But when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door.

with arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly visitor?

Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in.

or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been.

Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?

Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?

And I wonder – if the Savior spent a day or two with you,

would you go right on doing the things you always do?

Would you go right on saying the things you always say?

Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?

Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you go?

Or would you maybe change your plans for just a day or so?

Would you be glad to have Him meet your closest friends?

Or would you hope they stay away until His visit ends?

Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?

Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?

It might be interesting to know the things that you would do

if Jesus came in person to spend some time with you.

Author Unknown

The Winking Rock

One night, around ten o’clock, I was sitting on the back porch smoking a cigarette talking to God.  While I was talking to Him, a movement in front and to the left caught my eye.   Look at the rock.Rock 1

The farthest hole, the one that is a brownish-yellow color (added that for the picture), shook rapidly and then stopped, like a leaf does when the wind blows it.  It did it twice.  There had been a slight breeze, but not enough to even blow the grass.

It appeared that the rock was winking at me.  So I asked God if that was him or a leaf, and He did not answer my question.

The next morning, while I was having a cigarette, I looked at the rock and the leaf was no longer there, I figured the wind blew it away.

That night, again while I was smoking a cigarette, I looked at the rock and the leaf was back.  This surprised me, so I got up to examine it, and there was no leaf.  The hole goes all the way through.  The light from the porch made it appear as though a leaf was in it. 

Therefore I believe that it had been God talking to me since nobody else could make light shake.  Aside from that, the things that I thought He said to me were proven to be true.


Book - City of RocksCity of Rocks, 7th; A Climber’s Guide

By Globe Pequot

City of Rocks has been called Americas premiere granite sport climbing area. Tucked away in the enchanting high desert corner of Idaho state, this unique area continues to attract climbers from around the globe.The City of Rocks is renowned for its fascinating and often bizarre geography, plentiful moderate climbs as well as famous test-pieces of extreme difficulty. With an inviting combination of rustic western atmosphere, scenic camping and well protected climbs, the City of Rocks is a unique and refreshingly enjoyable experience.This seventh edition of City of Rocks – A Climbers Guide offers the most thorough and up to date information, maps and topos detailing over 750 high quality climbs. Also included are details on local amenities, camping, geology, biking, hiking and running trails, climbing lore, and other Idaho climbing spots to discover.
Book - Rock ClimbingRock Climbing Joshua Tree West

By Globe Pequot

Rock Climbing Joshua Tree West directs you to more than 2,300 rock routes in one of the most popular climbing destinations in the world. This comprehensive guide documents, with unprecedented detail, nearly every climb in the western region of this desert national park: Quail Springs, North Wonderland of Rocks, Lost Horse, Hemingway and Roadside Rocks, Real Hidden Valley, and Hidden Valley Campground and the Outback.

This guide features:

  • Guaranteed binding – if this binding fails, the publisher will replace the book for free
  • Complete written descriptions, recommended gear, and first-ascent information
  • Detailed route photos, topos, and maps
  • Easy-to-follow driving, approach, and descent directions

Spread the Good News

Matthew 

“No man can serve two masters for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will old to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24).

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?You Cannot Serve God and Mammon

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?

For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof ” (Matt 6:25-34).

(For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost – Rom 14:17).

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at:Kingdom of God

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt 7:13-14).

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt 7:21-23).

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen,” (Matt 28:18-20).

Mark

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.Sower

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly things, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mk 16:15-18).

Luke

“And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

“A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it was withered away, because lacked moisture.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bear fruit a hundredfold.  And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

esus is not talking about getting baptized by water, but by the spirit, His spirit.

Jesus is not talking about getting baptized by water, but by the spirit, His spirit.

They on the rock are they, which when they hear receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which when they have heard go forth, and are choked with cares of riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart having heard the word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience” (Lk 8:1-15).

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece,

And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.

And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.God can do anything

And they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (Lk 9:1-6).

And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Lk 18:27).

John

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

The same was in the beginning with God.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:1-2 & 14).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16).

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:Jesus prays for us

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou has given me; for they are thine.

And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee.  Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one, as we are.

While I was with them in the world, I kept them ion thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.One God, One Mediator

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Sanctify them through the truth: thy word is truth.

As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.Harvest Prayers

And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them”  (Jn 17).

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side.  Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so sent I you.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

The other disciples therefore said unto him, we have seen the Lord.  But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.Blessed are those that believe and don't see

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and My God.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jn 20:19-29).

Philippians

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:13).

1 Timothy

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up unto glory” (1 Tim 3:16).

James

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (Jas 4:7-8).

1 Peter

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:Without God we are nothing

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:6-8).

1 John

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 Jn 2:15-17).

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us:

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 Jn 5:13-15).

Revelation

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:21).If God is for you

“And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev 22:12-13).


Book - Luther's WorkLuther’s Works [LW] Volume 15: Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and the Last Word

By Martin Luther / Concordia Publishing House

This volume contains three works that exemplify and state Luther’s principles of Old Testament exegesis. All three are on less familiar Old Testament texts. All of these texts have, in Luther’s estimation, suffered from intolerable misapprehensions and interpretations. They stand in need of rescue from obscure translation and interpretation. The notes on Ecclesiastes (1532) admit that Ecclesiastes is one of the more difficult books of the Bible, but Luther points out that the “difficulties” arise because commentators have failed to understand the purpose of the book and have taken no intelligent approach to those strange ways of speaking called Hebraisms. He shows that Ecclesiastes does not condemn the creatures of God, it condems man’s depraved affections and desires. It does not promote ‘contempt of the world’ nor teach that we ought ‘to be in doubt about the grace and love of God toward us.


Book - Seek the kingdom of GodSeek Ye First the Kingdom of God: And His Righteousness and All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You

By Julia Floyd Jones / WestBow Press

Prison: A Business

Not everyone in prison deserves to be there, many are just at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Many are innocent. McNeil Island 1

There are others that committed the crime they were convicted of but imprisonment is a much greater punishment than the crime itself.  For example, if someone commits the act of rape and is then killed by another, has the killer committed a crime?

If a parent is without food for their child should they let the child starve or do what is necessary to feed them?  According to our laws they have both broken the law, but God says otherwise.

Exodus 20:13, one of the Ten Commandments, says, “Thou shalt not kill.”  He is talking about murder, not proper punishment.

And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe (Ex 21:23-25).

Those that committed a crime without proper cause should be imprisoned accordingly, meaning that the punishment is equal to the crime. 

For example, I did 9 years in Washington State for unarmed robbery.  I did the act due to my need/desire for Cocaine.  Was my sentence fair?  It was more than fair, I got off easy.  Twenty years later, in Texas, I was in my own backyard naked slamming dope and my neighbor’s 16 year boy saw me and because I was already a felon I did 3 years and have to register as a Sex Offender.  Was my sentence fair?  I would say no, but I don’t regret it because from that I got a personal relationship with Jesus.

Hypothetical Situation:McNeil Island 2

You live next door to me and are told that I’m Sex Offender, but you aren’t told why I’m classified as one so you despise and and possibly fear me.

The person on the other side of you is a batterer, or robber, or drug dealer, or murderer, but you aren’t told that.  Is the law on your side?

The laws are no longer made to protect the innocent, but to control the environment.  Prisons are no longer used to keep the innocent safe; they’ve become profitable businesses.

The laws of God in the Old Testament still stand today unless Jesus has made a change in them.  Jesus has not changed or altered the laws noted above, He redefined them:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;

But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whatsoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matt 5:38-39).

It sounds like Jesus is saying that we should ignore cruelty and allow the wicked to continue as they are.  On the contrary, He is telling us not to be evil like they are, to punish them with His love, i.e. to set the punishment equal to the crime.  That is what God was saying when He created the eye for an eye law, but man is just too ignorant to understand Him.  This my perception, I could be wrong.

If you have never done time you haven’t a clue what goes on behind those walls and writers of movies that have prison scenes in them obviously have not been incarcerated because trust me, it is an entirely different world.  It’s nothing like jail.  Prison is a cross between a kennel and being in a foreign country. 

McNeil Island 3Have you ever had a nightmare where you wanted to scream out of fear but you couldn’t?  If you have, welcome to the beginning of your stay in the penitentiary.

If you have a relative or friend behind bars and are undecided on whether you should send them money, I would say yes send it, even $10 is a lot in prison.  I use Jpay to send money.  Yet, do watch yourself because many will take advantage of your kindness. 

So you ask, “Then why should I help them?”  Just because.  Hopefully my poems “The Boardwalk” and on the “On The Boulevard” will help you understand prison.

Now that I’ve ran my mouth are you wondering if I respect the law?  I respect God’s laws.

Do I trust the police?  Usually, I’d trust a convict first, at least I know what they’ll do or not do.  Yet, not all cops are bad.   The media rarely tells us the good things that cops do, only the bad.

Do I trust politicians?  What, do I sound stupid?

Book - IdolatryWe Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry
By G.K. Beale / IVP Academic

The heart of the biblical understanding of idolatry, argues Gregory Beale, is that we take on the characteristics of what we worship. Employing Isaiah 6 as his interpretive lens, Beale demonstrates that this understanding of idolatry permeates the whole canon, from Genesis to Revelation. Beale concludes with an application of the biblical notion of idolatry to the challenges of contemporary life.

 


Book - Finding GodFinding God in Unexpected Places

By Philip Yancey / Random House, Inc

An Atlanta slum. A pod of whales off the coast of Alaska. The prisons of Peru and Chile. The plays of Shakespeare. A health club in Chicago. For those with eyes to see, traces of God can be found in the most unexpected places. Yet many Christians have not only missed seeing God, they’ve overlooked opportunities to make him visible to those most in need of hope.

In Finding God in Unexpected Places, Philip Yancey serves as an insightful tour guide for those willing to look beyond the obvious, pointing out glimpses of the eternal where few might think to look. Whether finding God among the newspaper headlines, within the church, or on the job, Yancey delves deeply into the commonplace and surfaces with rich spiritual insight. You’ll journey from Ground Zero to the Horn of Africa, and each stop along the way reveals footprints of God, touches of his truth and grace that will prompt you to search deeper within your own life for glimpses of transcendence.

Between the Testaments

The Time Between the Testaments 

I wouldn’t say that knowledge of the period between the Old and New Testaments is necessary to understanding the four upcoming Gospels, but then again, it can’t hurt.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 22:37-40).

The Pilgrim’s Progress in Modern English, Updated Edition

The Prilgrims Progress

The Pilgrims Progress

By reading “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan you will understand exactly what Jesus meant and the Holy Ghost will walk you through it. 

I buy most of my books from Christianbook.com because they have the best prices and I don’t want to contribute to Jeff Bezos if I don’t have to.  When Amazon first came out and it was just a book store he was good, but now as a billionaire he has become evil and greedy.

With the Old Testament canon closing with Malachi at about 397 B.C. we see that this period between Malachi and Matthew covers some 400 years.

This 400 year interval has been called “the dark period” of Israel’s history in pre-Christian times, because during it there was neither prophet nor inspired writer.

With this period we seem to find the sad fulfillment of Psalm 74:9 upon Israel:

“We see not our signs; there is no more any prophet; neither is there among us any that knoweth how long. 

The condition of the Jews as a nation and race at the beginning of this 40 year period should be kept in mind. Two hundred years earlier Jerusalem had been overthrown and the Jewish people were carried into the Babylonian exile (606-586 B.C.) as punishment for their unfaithfulness to God.

This map reveals the expansion of the Persian Empire from Cyrus the Great to Darius I, 550-486 B.C. The Persian Achaemenid Empire was actually the last great empire of the ancient Near East. It’s boundaries extended from the Aegean Sea in the west to the Indus River in the east, such a large empire was created in just a little over 10 years by Cyrus II the Great.

At the end of this 70 year punishment period, the Babylonian empire, having been overthrown and succeeded by that of Media-Persia (536 B.C.), Cyrus, the Persian emperor, issued a decree permitting the return of the Jews to Israel. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, some 5,000 Jews returned.

Some 20 years after their return, after many setbacks, the building of the Temple was completed in 516 B.C. Then after another 58 years had passed, in 458 B.C., Ezra the scribe returned to Jerusalem with a small group of Israelites and restored the Law and the ritual.

Still another 13 years later, in 445 B.C., Nehemiah had come to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and become governor. Now, once again, there was a Jewish state in Judea, though of course under Persian rule.

Such, then is the picture of the Jewish people at the beginning of the 400 year period between Malachi and Matthew:

The Jewish Remnant back in Judea for about 140 years (536-397 B.C.);

  • A small, dependent Jewish state there;
  • Jerusalem and the temple rebuilt;
  • The Law and the ritual restored; but
  • With the mass of the people remaining dispersed through-out the Media-Persian empire.

The Political Development

This map reveals the expansion of the Persian Empire from Cyrus the Great to Darius I, 550-486 B.C. The Persian Achaemenid Empire was actually the last great empire of the ancient Near East. It’s boundaries extended from the Aegean Sea in the west to the Indus River in the east, such a large empire was created in just a little over 10 years by Cyrus II the Great.

Now, if we are to appreciate the Jewish community as it re-emerges in the pages of the New Testament, we need to look at their political development as well as their religious development.

Viewed politically, the course of the Jewish nation in Palestine reflects the history of the different world-empires which ruled Palestine. The one exception to this was the Maccabean revolt, which resulted for a short period of time in there being an independent Jewish government.

Jewish history during those 400 centuries between the Testaments runs in six periods:

  • The Persian
  • The Greek
  • The Egyptian
  • The Syrian
  • The Maccabean and
  • The Roman

The Persian Period (536-333 B.C.)

During the Graeco-Persian War in the 5th century B.C., King Xerxes (520-465 B.C.) invaded Greece in 481 B.C. with hundreds of thousands of infantry soldiers and an enormous naval fleet.
The Persians ultimately lost. One of the most famous battles during the subsequent war was between Xerxes’s army and the Greeks at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.

The Persian rule over Palestine, which commenced with the decree of Cyrus in 536 B.C. for the return of the Jewish Remnant, continued until 333 B.C., when Palestine fell under the power of Alexander the Great (the third of the Gentile world-empires foretold by Daniel).

During the Graeco-Persian War in the 5th century B.C., King Xerxes (520-465 B.C.) invaded Greece in 481 B.C. with hundreds of thousands of infantry soldiers and an enormous naval fleet. The Persians ultimately lost. One of the most famous battles during the subsequent war was between Xerxes’s army and the Greeks at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.

This means that at the end of the Book of Malachi the Jews were still under Persian rule, and remained so for about the first 60 years of the inter-Testament period.

Persian rule seems to have been tolerant. The high priest form of Jewish government was respected with the high priest being given an increasing degree of civil power in addition to his religious offices, of course he was responsible to the Persian governor of Syria.

The Greek Period (333-323 B.C.)

Alexander the Great is a phenomenon in history. Catapulted into leadership through the assassination of his father when he, Alexander, was but twenty years of age, and he transformed the face of the world, politically, in little more than a decade.

“He is the “notable horn” in the “he-goat” vision of Daniel” (Dan 8:1-7).

In his march on Jerusalem, he not only spared the city, but also offered sacrifice to Jehovah and had the prophecies of Daniel read to him concerning the overthrow of the Persian empire by a king of Grecia. (Dan 8:21.)

Thereafter he treated the Jews with respect and gave them full rights of citizenship with the Greeks in his new city, Alexandria, and in other cities.

This in return, created decidedly pro-Greek sympathies among the Jews, and, along with Alexander’s spreading of the Greek language and civilization, a Hellenistic spirit developed among the Jews which greatly affected their mental outlook afterward.

The Egyptian Period (323-204 B.C.)

This is the longest of the six periods of the inter-Testament period. The death of Alexander resulted in a period of time of confusion which was resolved by a four-fold break-up of Alexander’s empire under four generals: Ptolemy, Lysimachus, Cassander and Selenus.

These are the four “notable ones” which take the place of the “great horn,” as predicted in Dan 8:21-22.

After severe fighting, Judea, along with the rest of Syria fell to Ptolemy Soter, the first of the Greek kings to rule over Egypt. The beginning of the Ptolematic Dynasty.

For a time Ptolemy Soter dealt harshly with the Jews, but afterwards became just as friendly. His successor, Ptolemy Philadelphus, continued this favorable attitude. His reign is notable in that the famous Septuagint (Greek language) translation of the Old Testament Scriptures was made from the Hebrew onto the Greek language.

Ptolomy Soter, King of Egypt
Boyhood friend of Alexander the Great, whom he later served as such a devoted bodyguard that he even kidnapped Alexander’s body enroute to Macedonia.
He diverted it to Alexandrea, the first of Alexander’s many eponymous city foundations, to make the tomb become the focus of the Ptolemaic ruler cult he established in Egypt.

We see the importance of this when we realize that the Greek language had now become the language of the civilized world. The Jews were so numerous in Egypt and North Africa that such a translation had become a necessity. The Septuagint came into general use well before the birth of Jesus and was still in use during the time Jesus was on earth and was quoted by Jesus.

The Syrian Period (204-165 B.C.)

When Ptolemy Philopater (fourth Ptolemy) died, his successor, Ptolemy Epiphanies, was only five years old. Antiochus the Great seized his opportunity and in 204 B.C. invaded Egypt. Judea, with other territories, soon after became annexed to Syria and so passed under the rule of the Seleucidae. 

There are two points about this period. First, it was at this time that Palestine was divided into the five sections which we find in the New Testament. (Sometimes the first three of these collectively are called Judea.) These different provinces are:

  • Judea,
  • Samaria,
  • Galilee,
  • Perea,
  • Trachonitis.

Secondly, this Syrian period was the most tragic part of the inter-Testament era for the Jews of Judea. Antiochus the Great was harsh toward the Jews. So was his successor.

Yet the Jews in Judea were still permitted to live under their own laws, administered by the high priest and his council. But with the accession of Antiochus Epiphanies (175-164 B.C.) a “reign of terror” fell upon the Jews.

In 170 B.C. Jerusalem was plundered, the wall torn down, the temple desecrated, temple sacrifices were abolished, the Holy of Holies was stripped of its costly furniture, Jewish religion was banned, a pig was sacrificed on the altar and the Temple at Jerusalem was rededicated to Jupiter Olympus with a statue of Jupiter Olympus erected on the altar and the people were subjected to monstrous cruelties.

The Maccabean Period (165-63 B.C.)

This excessiveness by Antiochus provoked the Jews to revolt and resist.

Judas, known as Judas (Hebrew word for hammer), gathered around him a large army of guerilla fighters and after several victories assumed the offensive.

A representative from Antiochus IV called upon Mattathias to make the pagan sacrifice, but he refused.
When another of his townsmen stepped forward to do it, the aged priest struck him down. He also killed the king’s messenger and began to lead a revolution.
Mattathias died in 166 BC, and his son Judah, nicknamed Maccabeus (the hammer), took his place. He lead a war against the Syrian Greeks.
In spite of overwhelming odds the Jewish people gained an improbable victory. The temple was regained in 165 B.C. and rededicated.

Jerusalem was captured, the temple refurnished, and on 25th of December the anniversary of it being polluted three years earlier, the orthodox sacrifices were reinstituted (which date the Jews still observed as the Feast of the Dedication: (see Jn 10:22).

Judas Maccabeus also captured the chief posts up and down the land.

Antiochus contemplated revenge against Judas, but a defeat in Persia, in addition to the successive defeats in Jude,  seemed to have brought upon him a superstitious dread which developed into a fatal sickness. He is said to have died in a state of raving madness.

What seemed to be a deliverance proved to be the deadliest crisis to come. Antiochus’s son was very young. Lysias was the self-appointed Syrian regent. He invaded Judea with an army of 120,000 and defeated Judas and his army at Bethsura. 

Judas and his men retreated to Jerusalem which was placed under siege. But just when it seemed hopeless because of a rival regent at the Syrian capital, Lysias suddenly persuaded the young son of Antiochus to make peace with Judea – promising them the restoration of all their religious liberties. Thus the Maccabean revolt was crowned with success.

Further troubles arose later, however, from a new successor on the Syrian throne, Demetrius. During this period Judas Maccabeus was killed.

In 143 B.C. Simon, the brother of Judas assumed leadership of the army. He was able to capture all other Syrian strongholds in Judea and forced the Syrian garrison in the citadel at Jerusalem to surrender.

Thus Judea was freed of all alien troops; and from that time (about 142 B.C.) was once again under independent Jewish government. Except for one short lapse, this continued until Judea became a Roman province, in 63 B.C.

The Roman Period (63 B.C. onward)

The Herod family now appears on the scene. Antipater, the father of the Herod who reigned at the time of our Lord’s birth, managed to secure the support of Roman general Pompey to gain control of Judea.

Herod, 73/74 B.C. – 4 B.C., also known as Herod the Great and Herod I, was a Roman client king of Judea.
He has been described as “a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis”, “the evil genius of the Judean nation”, “prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition” and “the greatest builder in Jewish history”.
He is known for his colossal building projects throughout Judea, including his expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (Herod’s Temple), the construction of the port at Caesarea Maritima, the fortress at Masada and Herodium. Vital details of his life are recorded in the works of the 1st century C.E. Roman–Jewish historian Josephus.
Upon Herod’s death, the Romans divided his kingdom among three of his sons—Archelaus became ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea, Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, and Philip became tetrarch of territories east of the Jordan.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us that when King Herod learned about the birth of the Messiah, he tried to trick the wise men into serving as spies to help him murder Jesus. When that didn’t work, he killed all the male children in Bethlehem under two years old in a murderous effort to exterminate God’s anointed one (Matt 2:16).

The result was a siege of Jerusalem which lasted three months with Pompey taking the city. Pompey with disregard for the Temple strolled into the Holy of Holies – an action which at once estranged all loyal Jewish hearts toward the Roman. That was 63 B.C.

Pompey’s subjugation of Jerusalem ended the period of Judea’s regained independence. Judea now became a province of the Roman empire. The high priest was completely deprived of any royal status, and retained priestly function only.

The governing power was exercised by Antipater, who was appointed procurator of Judea by Julius Cesar in 47 B.C.

Antipater appointed Herod (his own son by marriage with Cypros, and Abrabian women) as governor of Galilee, when Herod was only fifteen years old. In about 40 B.C., after appealing to Rome, Herod was appointed king of the Jews.

Herod seeking to ingratiate himself with the Jews married Marianne, the granddaughter of a former high priest, and by making her brother Aristobulus high priest. He also greatly increased the splendor of Jerusalem, building the elaborate temple which was the center of Jewish worship in the time of our Lord.

However, he was as cruel and sinister as he was able and ambitious. He stained his hands with many murders. He slew all three of his wife’s brothers – Antigonus, Aristobulus and Hyrcanus.

Later he murdered even his wife. Again, later, he murdered his mother-in-law. And still later he murdered his own sons by Marianne. This is that “Herod the Great” who was king when our Lord was born.

Such then, in brief, is the political history of the Jews in Palestine during the 400 year period between Malachi and Matthew. 

Such then, in brief, is the political history of the Jews in Palestine during the 400 year period between Malachi and Matthew.  Yet, what they were doing then they are still doing today but worse and they are now global.

The Roman Empire was in full control during the time of the New Testament.

The Religious and Spiritual Development

You do not have to read far into the pages of the New Testament to realize that some great changes have come upon the Jews and the Jewish nation in Judea, since the last writer of the Old Testament laid down his pen.

The Sanhedrin was an ancient Jewish court system which was made up of 23 to 71 men, women were not allowed. The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme religious body in the Land of Israel during the time of the Holy Temple.
There was also smaller religious Sanhedrin in every town in the Land of Israel, as well as a civil political-democratic Sanhedrin, they existed until the abolishment of the rabbinic patriarchate in about 425 C.E.

It is not simply that Palestine has changed hands half a dozen times. There are new sects or parties: Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Herodians.

There are new institutions: Synagogues, Scribes, and the Sanhedrin.

These changes – the rise of these new sects and institutions, and the evolutions of Judaism (the evolving of the people and their religion around the Old Testament Scriptures into one and the same have come about during those 400 years between the Old Testament and the New.

This in itself shows the importance attached to the inter-Testament period. Let us now briefly look at these religious developments.

To begin with, if we are to understand in general the spirit and trend of the Jewish community during that stretch of centuries we must appreciate the profound impact made upon the nation by the Babylonian exile.

The Jews went into that exile with what seemed to be a hopelessly incurable infatuation for idolatry; the majority of them emerged from it and believed in the one true God.  Yet, once Jesus was born all hell broke loose because they defied Him. 

Therefore, as Jesus said, their true god is:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (Jn 8:44).

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan (Rev 2:9).

Baal, an idol god that was worshipped in many ancient Middle Eastern communities, especially among the Canaanites, who apparently considered him a fertility deity and one of the most important gods in the pantheon. He is still worshipped today and as of now, the time of this writing, you can buy him on eBay for $2,300, but if necessary you can make monthly payments. And the seller is in New York. What is happening to our country?

It is a fact, that 95-99% of the Jewish people worship foolish stone idols and by doing so, whether they realize it or not, they worship Satan himself.   You cannot worship the devil and Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

And the Word was made flesh…(Jn 1:1, 14).

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…(1 Tim 3:16).

You cannot worship God and Satan:

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils (1 Cor 10:21).

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth (Rev 3:15-16).

Synagogue

The Law now became the standard of holiness and the symbol of nationality. Thus the rise of the local synagogue. For here the Scriptures were read and expounded by the scribes.

The basic idea of the synagogue was instruction in the Scriptures, not worship, even though an elaborate liturgical service developed later, with public prayers read by appointed persons, and responses made by the congregation.

Also, since the public reading of the Law had now to be by translation into the Aramaic tongue which the people learned in Babylonia (Neh. 8:8, where such translation is implied), the transition from translation to exposition and even to discourses was easy, though no doubt it took place gradually.

That such synagogue discourses were common in our Lord’s time is seen in such references as Matt 4:23, 9:35; Lk 4:15, 44; Acts 5:15, 14:1, 17:10, and 18:19.

Scribes

Who and what were the scribes? We read of scribes away back in Old Testament times, but they must be distinguished from that further order of scribes which developed during the inter-Testament period and had acquired such important status in our Lord’s time.

Ruins of the “White Synagogue” built upon the remains of the “Synagogue of Jesus”. Capernaum, Israel.

It is not difficult to see how, when once this new order of scribes came in, it rapidly gained great power. The very nature of this new Judaism was to make every Jew personally responsible for the keeping of the whole Law.

Therefore, “a definite rule” had somehow to be extracted from the Law to cover practically every activity of daily life. This endeavor to make the Law such a detailed code created a complex and sometimes acute problem.

To accomplish this, there had to be a body of trained experts, who made the study of the Law the great business of their lives.

Thus the scribes who we meet in the Gospel narratives were a class of professional experts in the interpretation and application of the Law and the other Old Testament Scriptures. In the Greek of the New Testament their usual title is the plural, grammateis, translated as “scribes.” Less frequently they are called “lawyers”, nomikoi.

Jesus Reproves the Scribes and Pharisees.
In the 1st century, scribes and Pharisees were two largely distinct groups, though presumably some scribes were Pharisees.
Scribes had knowledge of the law and could draft legal documents (contracts for marriage, divorce, loans, inheritance, mortgages, the sale of land, and the like).
Every village had at least one scribe. Pharisees were members of a party that believed in resurrection and in following legal traditions that were ascribed not to the Bible but to “the traditions of the fathers.”
The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart.
Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against.

It is with Ezra that the office of the scribe reaches a new dignity. In Neh 8:1-8 we see Ezra elevated in a pulpit, reading and expounding and applying the Law and with Levite assistants, “causing the people to understand the Law.”

And still today, those that practice Judaism live by the Law, not by Faith (faith and grace both mean belief in Jesus Christ).

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace (Rom 6:14).

It doesn’t matter if you believe in God as our creator, if you do not have faith in Jesus Christ you are under the law and therefore under Satan.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to Go must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb 11:1, 6).

And if you are under the law:

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword (the law) shall perish with the sword (Matt 26:52).

Pharisees

The Pharisees must be distinguished from the scribes. Again and again in the Gospel narratives they are mentioned in conjunction with the scribes, but although this reveals closeness of affinity it does not imply oneness of identity.

Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought in Judea during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 B.C.) in the wake of the Maccabean Revolt.
After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., Pharisaic beliefs became the liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism (commonly known as simply Judaism).

The Pharisees were an ecclesiastical party, held together by their peculiar aims and views, whereas the scribes were a body of experts in a scholastic sense. Certainly a man might be both a Pharisee and a scribe; and the fact is, that practically all the scribes were Pharisees in outlook and association; yet the two fraternities were different from each other.

It was inevitable that the Pharisees should have much in common with the scribes, those specialist in the Written Law, and in the ever enlarging Oral Law (The Oral Law was that complex code of application of the Written Law to every area of one’s life and activities).

The origin of the Pharisees as a movement may be compared to a river which flows underground for some distance before coming to the surface and flowing visibly onwards. The spirit and attitudes of the Pharisees were present in post-exile Judaism long before the sect took its historical form under the name “Pharisees.”

The thing, however, that eventually crystallized them into a clique or sect was a body of Jews, primarily made up of the priests, whose goal and interest was the worldly aspects of religion and politics. These two groups provoked each other into existence. Thus we have the Pharisees on one side and the Sadducees on the other.

The Pharisees as a body were influential way beyond their numbers. According to Josephus the number of Pharisees in Herod’s time was only about 6,000. Yet, despite their small number, they had in fact such a hold on the popular mind that no governing power could afford to disregard them.

The mark of the Pharisee – the ritualist – is that he is always ADDING TO – He is not content with the written Word of God, and with the plain truth of the Gospel. He must start adding his own ideas and ordinances, until religion and salvation are a highly complicated matter.

This is just what the Pharisees did, until, with the weight of their accumulated religious ceremonies and observances, they made religion a burden too heavy for men to bear.

The Sadducees

The Sadducees seem to have been in the first instance neither a religious sect nor a political party, but a social clique. Numerically they were a much smaller body that the Pharisees, and belonged for the most part to the wealthy and influential priestly families who were the aristocrats of the Jewish nation.

The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Judea during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century B.C. through the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.
The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. As a whole, the sect fulfilled various political, social, and religious roles, including maintaining the Temple.

The leaders of the party were the elders with seats in the council, the military officers, the statesmen, and officials who took part in the management of public affairs. With the mass of the people they never had much influence; like true aristocrats, they did not greatly care for it.

Their one ambition was to make themselves indispensable to the reigning prince, that they might conduct the government of the country according to their own views.

The Sadducees held, like most modern politicians, that the law of God had no application to politics. If Israel was to be made great and prosperous it must be by well-filled treasuries, strong armies, skillful diplomacy, and all the resources of human abilities.

To expect a Divine deliverance merely by making the people holy, they accounted as sheer and dangerous fatalism.

As a body they rejected totally the Oral Law accumulated by the scribes and held to by the Pharisees, and professed to stand by the Written Law alone; though, even their stand on the Written Law alone was done so with great skepticism.

Matthew 22:23 and Acts 23:8 show how skeptical was their attitude to the Written Law, for we are told that they denied the bodily resurrection, and did not believe either in angels or spirits.

Thus, we can understand how intolerable to such a group was the teaching of Jesus and His Messianic claims. Their hatred is measured by their readiness to consort even with the detested Pharisees in order to kill Him.

A Statue of Pontius Pilate
The fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from 26–36 A.D. He is best known as the judge at the trial of Jesus and the man who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus. As prefect, he served under Emperor Tiberius.

It was the Sadducees, in fact, who were directly responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion (compare Lk 3:2; Jn 11:49, 18:13,14,24, 19:15; Mk 15:11).

The mark of the Sadducee – the rationalist – is that he is always TAKING FROM. He cannot accept the written Word of God in its entirety, nor the truth of the Gospel as it stands without drastic deletions.

Everything must be tried at the bar of human reason. This, that, and the other thing must be cut out to make faith reasonable and tenable. This was precisely the attitude of the Sadducee. He could not or rather would not, believe either in angels or demons, either in the resurrection of the dead or in any other miracle.

The Herodians

In Matt 22:16, Mk 3:6 and 12:13 we find yet another Jewish clique, namely, the Herodians.  There is no explicit information as to their original banding together, but their very name, of course, speaks of the role.

Whatever the religious preferences of its members may have been, the group as such was in no sense a religious cult or union. This is a political group and the leading aim of its members was to further the cause of the Herod government.

Whether they were directly connected to the Herod household or throne is mere conjecture, but obviously the ready seal of royal approval would be theirs.

We can well imagine that many would consider it sound policy to strengthen the hold of the Herod house on Jewish leaders and public. What could be wiser than to back the Herodian throne, which enjoyed the favor of Rome, and thus giving Judea the protection of that mighty empire?

The Herodian road from the second temple era The Herodian road down the western wall of the temple mount, Jerusalem. The Herodian Dynasty was a Judean dynasty of Idumaean/Edomite descent. Herodian dynasty began with Herod the Great, who assumed the throne of Judea, with Roman support, bringing down the century long Hasmonean Kingdom. His kingdom lasted until his death in 4 B.C., when it was divided between his sons as Tetrarchy, which lasted for about 10 years. Most of those kingdoms, including Judea proper, were incorporated into Judea Province in 6 CE, though limited Herodian kingship continued in Northern Levant until 92, when the last Herodian monarch, Agrippa II, died and Rome assumed full power of his domain.

Many would see in the Herods the one Jewish hope of separate national continuance; the one alternative to direct heathen rule. Others would be inclined to favor a blend of the ancient faith and Roman culture such as the first Herod and his successors had sought to effect as the highest consummation of Jewish hopes.

This group was hated by the Pharisees. The two parties were bitterly intolerant of each other, which makes the consorting of the Pharisees with the Herodians against our Lord all the more astonishing.

The mark of the Herodian – the secularist – he cared neither for adding to nor taking away from. Like the careless Galileo, he “cared for none of these things.”

The written Word of God, the message of the Gospel was far from his first concern. His prime consideration was the life that now is. What does it matter that a heathen Herod reigns on a throne made crimson with crime so long as material interests are furthered?

While the ritualist Pharisee was busy adding to, and the rationalist Sadducee was skeptically taking away from, the secularist Herodian was heedlessly passing by.

The Sanhedrin

There is one further Jewish institution which had its beginning during the inter-Testament period, which plays a big role in the Four Gospels: that is the Sanhedrin, quite often translated as “council”.

The Sanhedrin was the supreme civil and religious tribunal of the Jewish nation. The supreme judicial and administrative council of the Jewish people. With that representative body must lay forever the real responsibility for the crucifying of Jesus Christ.

Jesus stands before the Sanhedrin In the New Testament, Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin (a Jewish judicial body) following his arrest in Jerusalem and prior to his dispensation by Pontius Pilate. The trial is reported by all four gospels. Jesus is condemned by the Jewish authorities when he will not deny that he is the Son of God. The Jewish leaders did not have the authority to crucify Jesus so they demanded that the governor, Pontius Pilate approve of it and he did (Matt 27:11-26, Mk 15, Lk 23, and Jn 18:28-19:42).

The Sanhedrin consisted of 71 members, made up, so it would seem, of:

  • The high priest;
  • Twenty-four “chief priests” who represented all twenty-four orders of the whole priesthood;
  • Twenty-four “elders,” who represented the laity, often called “elders of the people”.

Twenty-two “scribes,” who were the expert interpreters of the law in matters both religious and civil.

Jesus Christ presumably had in mind the president and 70 senators of the Sanhedrin when He chose His 70 representatives and co-workers, as recorded in Luke 10., just as He had the twelve tribes of Israel in mind when He appointed the twelve apostles.

His choice of those 70 was prophetic perhaps, among other significances that the authority of that old-time Jewish court was indeed now passing away in favor of a new “70” under His own presidency.

The Common People

There is, yet, one very important aspect of the old-time Judaism which we must not on any account overlook. It is not only courts and schools and leaders and parties which compose a nation, but those thousands and thousands of individuals who are only known anonymously and collectively as “the common people.”

These common people, far removed from the pomp of earthly courts and the strife of factions and the heated atmosphere of political and religious fanaticism were waiting for the consolation of Israel.

And now at last as we enter into the New Testament and the long awaited Messiah.

 

Before the Bible

Before the Bible

Exactly when God first created the earth and put life on it is unknown.  Close to 100 years ago, astronomers and mathematicians calculated the existence of the earth to be 2 billion years, and life on earth to be 300 million years.  Through studies of the many sciences, most believe that the earth is around 4.5 billion years old.  This is actually of no importance, but it’s interesting to some.  All that’s important is God (Matt 6:33).

According to James Ussher (and I haven’t heard of any disagreements from anyone) the creation of us began in 4004 B.C. Genesis 1:1 says,

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” 

And Genesis 1:2 says, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God (the Holy Ghost) moved upon the face of the waters.” 

There are many that believe there was a wide gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

God made us in His own image and after his likeness (Gen 1:26), and that explains why there were others before us that were not quite like us, such as Neanderthal man (around 24,000-130,000 years ago). 

Neanderthals (or Neandertals) are our closest extinct human relatives. There is some debate as to whether they were a distinct species of the Homo genus (Homo neanderthalensis) or a subspecies of Homo sapiens. Our well-known, but often misunderstood, fossil kin lived in Eurasia 200,000 to 30,000 years ago, in the Pleistocene Epoch.

Neanderthals (or Neandertals) are our closest extinct human relatives.
There is some debate as to whether they were a distinct species of the Homo genus (Homo neanderthalensis) or a subspecies of Homo sapiens.
Our well-known, but often misunderstood, fossil kin lived in Eurasia 200,000 to 30,000 years ago, in the Pleistocene Epoch. Neanderthals’ appearance was similar to ours, though they were shorter and stockier with angled cheekbones, prominent brow ridges, and wide noses.
Though sometimes thought of as dumb brutes, scientists have discovered that they used tools, buried their dead and controlled fire, among other intelligent behaviors.
It is theorized that for a time, Neanderthals, humans and probably other Homo species shared the Earth.

Neanderthal man was thick-skulled and heavy-boned; he stooped forward and could not hold his head as erect as we do.  He was chinless and probably incapable of speech, he was very thick-set, not quite one of our species.  Yet, his brain-case was at least as large as ours, and there can be no dispute about his inclusion in the genus Homo. 

Many people believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, also recognized as Natural Selection or Survival of the Fitness.  But where did everything come from, the Big Bang?  Where did space come from so there could be a Big Bang?

Darwin’s Theory suggests that man evolved from an ameba to whatever up to the Neanderthal Man and on up to what we are today. 

Problem here is that Neanderthal Man, Paleolithic Man, and Cro-Man all became extinct.  Adam and Eve did not evolve from anything they were created by God.

We may not be the first beings created, but we are the first beings created in God’s likeness and after his image.  And not only that, to prove how much we mean to God, everything He created, besides us, he just spoke into existence.  He made us with His own hands and breathed life into us (Gen 2:7).

Archaeology and the Bible

The data recovered from archaeological excavations can be used by the biblical scholar in many ways.  Archaeology has provided the basic chronology for both the Old and New Testaments. Our knowledge of the biblical languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek – has greatly increased through ancient texts discovered in excavations. 

Entire civilizations mentioned in the Bible have been resurrected by the work of the archaeologist.  Occasionally archaeology has provided data that has clarified the meaning of a biblical text. The meaning of the term Millo in 2 Samuel 5:9 formerly puzzled scholars.  Discovery of a vast stone terrace that supported structures in David’s Jerusalem – the “millo” – makes clear what the ancient term meant.

Stratigraphy and Typology

Excavation proceeds on a scientific basis by employing the twin principles of stratigraphy and typology.  Stratigraphy refers to the different layers or strata that make up the tell (areas built up by successive settlement at a single site).

Archaeologists have found one of the oldest artifacts of Jewish culture on the Iberian Peninsula. This marble plate has a Hebrew inscription, “Yehiel”, at an excavation site in the south of Portugal and it is believed to be a tomb slab.

The first task of field work is to untangle the different layers found in the tell and establish a stratigraphic sequence.  Each layer represents a separate part of the site’s overall history and must be distinguished from other layers to avoid confusion.

Archaeologists normally excavate in 5 x 5 meter squares and leave a catwalk or balk either of 1/2 or 1 meter unexcavated along the perimeter.  The balk reveals the different layers to the trained eye.  All objects and remains recovered from each layer are kept separate, their exact locations carefully noted.

During the last forty years, greater emphasis has been given to the principle of stratigraphy, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Kathleen Kenyon, resulting in greater precision and more accurate results.

Perhaps most importantly, archaeology has brought the biblical world to life and allowed us to understand it on its own terms.  The illustrative value offered by archaeology cannot be overemphasized.  Through archaeology the biblical text and the world in which it was written have been given flesh by the dedication of countless excavators working on thousands of ancient sites.

Archaeology: Recovering Ancient Societies

King David’s Palace and the Millo The Millo was the Stepped Stone Structure.

Since about 1860, the archaeologist has provided a wealth of material enriching biblical studies. The remains of long-dead civilizations and forgotten cities have given life to the biblical text. We’re in a much better position than ever before to understand the Bible and its world.

The Old Testament is not in an exact chronological order, meaning that many of the incidents that happen are mentioned in more than one book and/or different events occur in the same time frame so that the years/books may cross one another. 

Or the books may just be out of place, for example, it appears that Job lived during the Book of Genesis, but the Book of Job is the 18th book of the Bible. 

I’m not going to change the order of the books of the Bible, and following the Bible isn’t difficult, but placing historical facts in the right place, without repeating myself, will be impossible in many places. 

Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the ancient Near East, existed as an independent state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BC, until its collapse between 612 BC and 599 BC, spanning the mid to Early Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age.
From the end of the 7th century BC to the mid-7th century AD, it survived as a geopolitical entity, for the most part ruled by foreign powers, although the Neo-Assyrian Empire and successor states arose at different times during the Parthian and early Sasanian Empires between the mid-second century BC and late third century AD, a period which also saw Assyria become a major center of Syriac Christianity and the birthplace of the Church of the East.
Centered on the Tigris in Upper Mesopotamia (modern northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and the northwestern fringes of Iran), the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires at several times.
A substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian “cradle of civilization”, which included Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, and Babylonia, Assyria was at the height of technological, scientific and cultural achievements for its time. At its peak, the Assyrian empire stretched from Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea to Iran, and from what is now Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus, to the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and eastern Libya.

Therefore, instead of being redundant I will separate the historical facts within different books of the Bible.  For example, the Assyrians were quite active for many, many years.  They’re mentioned in Genesis, Kings, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and Zephaniah. 

Yet, they also play a part with the Philistines, Israel, Judah, Babylon, and others.  Therefore, I will try and place the facts where they best fit.

Some of these, let me call them, historical plates will be quite lengthy, but I will try and keep them short and in sync with what you just read, or in some cases, what you are about to read, in the Bible, but I’m not God, I cannot put a square in the corner of a circle.

This isn’t my scheme, but God’s.  And I’m not trying to get your attention, God is.  If you aren’t right with Jesus when He comes back and you end up going to Hell, I won’t cry over it because I won’t have any recollection of this life (Is 65:17-18), but God will, you can count on that (Eze 33:11; 2 Pet 3:9).  Wouldn’t you cry if your child died?

Jesus returns