Intertestamental period: Silent Years

I want stress something that has been bothering me the past few months. It has bothered me primary because it was real to me. I essential was a part of the problem. I could say I was a victim, which is partly true, but I don’t like to complain.

The problem is this: today’s Christians are not studying the Bible in historical context enough. The root problem is probably deeper, today’s Christians aren’t studying the Word of God enough in general.

I wonder how many Christians under the age of 25 could correctly associate each book of the Bible with its general time frame in history (I’ll even be nice and say: give or take a century.)

I hope I am wrong, but I think America’s young Christians might be failing.

I say all that a I am finishing up my Intro to OT and NT classes this semester, I started them in the summer semester. No one had ever informed me about the Intertestamental period. I had been trained (and trained well) in Sunday school classes, generally about all the big names (Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon…I could even name some of the kings like Ahab, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josiah, etc…and I knew about all the major prophets…In fact I even knew where all these names fit into history on a general basis.)

Then after the Babylonian exile and the return from exiles during the Persian rule….that is where the Sunday school lessons are not enough. (At least for me!) I did not really know what happened next in history. I have learned a lot in my intro to OT and NT classes!

All I knew was that the NT started and John the Baptist is preparing the Way for Jesus. Malichi was a nice bridge foreseeing John the Baptist and Jesus. But what about these silent years?

This “intertestamental period” is also known as the 400 silent years. History lessons of 8th Century till Christ’s life and death are important, but a lot of times this time period is forgotten about. I think that it is forgotten, many times becuase it is not addressed in the Bible very much. And becuase nothing wirtten from this time period is in the Biblical canon. The story goes, “if it is not in the Bible then it must not be important.”

I have a problem with this line of thinking for quite a few reasons. First it is addressed in the Bible. Second the Bible is ultimate truth, but there is truth outside of the Bible, history. The Bible lines up with history, furthermore showing God’s soverighty. Finally, just becuase something is not mentioned/addressed in the Bible directly, does not mean something is not important.

The book from the Bible that helped me the most to look into this period is Daniel. Daniel is propbaly one of the most difficult reads, but it does address the “silent years” through prophetic visions! While they are hard to read and understand we can still glean a lot about history from them. What is wonderful is that the visions line up with real history!

Anyways, I wanted to list some resources that address the “silent years:”
Timeline
Pictoral resource
Summary text of period
More in-depht readings:
Ray Stedman
George Kirkpatrick

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Jacob i loved Esau I hated

When I first saw this in Romans 9, I was confused and struggled. How was it that God, who is love, hate someone?

When studying the Bible, it is crucially important to always study the context of a particular Bible verse or passage. In these instances, the Prophet Malachi and the Apostle Paul are using the name “Esau” to refer to the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau. Isaac and Rebekah had two sons, Esau and Jacob. God chose Jacob (whom He later renamed Israel) to be the father of His chosen people, the Israelites. God rejected Esau (who was also called Edom), and did not choose him to be the father of His chosen people. Esau’s and his descendants, the Edomites, were in many ways blessed by God (Genesis 33:9; Genesis chapter 36).

So, considering the context, God loving Jacob and hating Esau has nothing to do with the human emotions of love and hate. It has everything to do with God choosing one man and his descendants and rejecting another man and his descendants. God choose Abraham out of all the men in the world. The Bible very well could say, “Abraham I loved, and every other man I hated.” God choose Abraham’s son Isaac instead of Abraham’s son Ishmael. The Bible very well could say, “Isaac I loved, and Ishmael I hated.”

Here is a note from the NEXT Bible : The context indicates this is technical covenant vocabulary in which “love” and “hate” are synonymous with “choose” and “reject” respectively (see Deut 7:8; Jer 31:3; Hos 3:1; 9:15; 11:1).

Romans chapter 9 makes it abundantly clear that loving Jacob and hating Esau was entirely related to which of them God chose. Hundreds of years after Jacob and Esau had died, the Israelites and Edomites became bitter enemies. The Edomites often aided Israel’s enemies in attacks on Israel. Esau’s descendants brought God’s curse on themselves. Genesis 27:29, “May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

Some sources:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jacob-Esau-love-hate.html
http://net.bible.org/passage.php?passage=Mal+1:2-3
http://www.meguiar.addr.com/Jacob_Esau.htm

Personal religion and Public Politics

Trust in God rather than political measures. Leaders may think they can see what needs to be done in a situation, but in reality things are unfolding according to God’s purposes.

Read Eze. 11:19-20, 36:26.

Political programs are compatible with religion of the heart…they are not a private matters. It is a mistake to have no place for religion in public policy because the Old Testament text demands obedience from the heart as a people of God together. Formally organized side of religion can and ought to be part of a full response to God. Religious life is not separate from political organization.

Another amazing OT passage, Christians today forget!

“He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.”

This is Isaiah 59:17!

Christians forget that and only recall later in Eph. 6 when Paul applies the Warrior aspect of our faith to us personally.

But what is important to remember is that The Lord is a Warrior…I think that we, Christians today, forget this. It is still true tody!

Check out Ex. 15:3, Isa. 42:13

Here is a cool document I found that shows how God, The Divine Warrior applies today and in the New Testament

beautiful feet

Go to fullsize image
Check this out!:

Isa 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Christians can (and do) commonly quote the passage in Romans 10:15 when Paul says “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
But what people often forget is that this was a quotation from the OT prophet Isaiah!

Isn’t this spectacular!

A lot of times we miss the quotations of the OT in the NT. And the integration of the meaning of the texts is something awesome to thing about!!

Social justice

I have written blog posts about this previously but
today it seems even more real and more concerning!
I am going to be blogging more about this in the future as well,
the topic:
social justice.
Why has it been so real to me recently?
I have been reading the prophets a lot recently!
It is not just in Amos, although there it is prevalent!
Just read in Isaiah, Micah, Malachi – social justice is a foundational point to all of the prophets and the ideas are not just limited to the prophets!
In fact the prophets were only building on the foundations of the Mosaic and Deuteronomic law!
Which also speaks about fighting for justice!

God is a God of justice, love and compassion.

I will be posting more later to build on this but I wanted to stress the idea in this post that OT stresses the importance of fighing for social justice.

In later posts I will address these questions:

Does the NT also address social justice/issues the same way?
How does this relate to us today in modern world?
Why should you care?
What social justices should we be concerned for/ fighting for?
How does this relate to Dominion theology and what are the concerns (pros and cons?)
How does this relate to our political stance?
Should a conservative and/or liberal Christian work together for social justice?
How does fighting for social justice relate to post-modern society?
How does it relate to the emergin and emergnat churches? Should we be concerned?
Can we take stands for social justice and not loose our foundational, essential theology?

OT laws in real life

In my Into to Old Testament class this summer, I learned a lot.
One of the most memorable things from the class is this article.
Dan Hayes talks about how the OT law applies today in real life and how it does not.

It is a great read. I highly recommend that you check it out.

But the law has a place in today’s Christianity….
It is important.
What I find beautiful though is that the Christianity is not just the law.

Christianity is the law and the Gospel.

Through the law we realize our flaws, our falleness, and our need for help.
Through the Gospel we come to know our Savior, our friend, the grace and mercy that we need. The only way to fulfill the law is by accepting the Gospel.

It is so wonderful!