Your E-mails- June 2021

Your E-mails- June 2021

How did people in the Bible tell the time? What is the ‘third hour of the day’ (Mark 15:25)? THE SYSTEM of dividing the day into 24 hours is ancient. It would have been in use when Abraham lived in Ur (Genesis 11:27–32), and when the Israelites lived in Egypt (Exodus 1). The one clock that’s mentioned in the Bible is the sun-dial in Jerusalem in the time of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:11), and it’s likely it would have used this system of counting the hours. However the Israelites in the Old Testament, in common with people generally at the time, appear to have had a relaxed approach to timekeeping. References to the time of day are generally not more specifc than to morning, noon, evening, night, early and late. When we come to the New Testament it’s the First Century ad and Israel is part of the Roman

The Light of the World

The Light of the World

The Gospel of John records a number of sayings of Jesus which begin “I am…” In this series we think about some of the profound things he said about himself. You can catch up with the previous articles here. JESUS SAID, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). What did he mean by this? He didn’t mean it literally, because he was not actually a physical light, but he meant it spiritually. Jesus himself said of his cousin John the Baptist, “He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light” (John 5:35). John was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus. John was a burning lamp who shone for a time: Jesus was the light of the world who gives the

The Bible in a Nutshell

The Bible in a Nutshell

WE KNOW WHAT IT WAS that the first apostles preached, which stirred people to  believe and be converted: “When they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12). What are the “things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ”? The following list is a brief summary of the basic teachings of the Bible, together with a selection of Bible references in connection with each teaching. The BibleIt is the Word of God and is unique. It contains God’s message to humankind for our salvation. It was written by many men over the centuries whom God used as instruments for the writing of His Word. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Governor’s Memoir

The Governor’s Memoir

Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus Christ to death. This is an imaginary memoir, but it is based on the facts as we know them from the Bible and archaeology (except the ending, for which there is no evidence.) The Bible verses are given for reference. You can catch up with Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here. Part 4I ORDERED WINE, and as I drank I summoned a scribe. Over each cross we wrote the crime for which the prisoner was being executed. I dictated to the scribe: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. I had it written in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. I knew it would enrage the Jews. Sure enough during the afternoon a deputation from Caiaphas came with a demand: “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”

The Danger of Crowds

The Danger of Crowds

WE ARE USED TO CROWDS in our busy lives. Crowds in shops, at sporting events, at concerts, and in holiday resorts. During the Covid crisis crowds suddenly became hazardous, and we were urged to avoid them in order to avoid spreading the disease. They can also be hazardous in other ways: people have been crushed while panicking and fleeing from danger, as well as while rushing together towards something they want. There is another hazard associated with crowds. Being in a crowd affects how we feel, and in a crowd we can do things that we would not do when alone. It is easy to get drawn along instinctively by the mood and emotion generated by large numbers of people. This can give us a sense of courage, and engender strong feelings about things which have previously been of little interest to us. We can be drawn into doing things

Haggai

Haggai

HAGGAI WAS SENT by God to the Jews who had returned from captivity in Babylon. They had been led back by Zerubbabel (of royal descent) and Joshua (a High Priest). The foundations of the new temple had been laid in Jerusalem, but after opposition from neighbouring nations enthusiasm for the building work had waned. Now, 18 years on, God’s message through Haggai and Zechariah (see Ezra 5:1) was intended to stir the nation into action. “Consider Your Ways!”Not only were the returned exiles distracted by adversaries hindering the work, but they were becoming comfortable and complacent: “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” ’… Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” (Haggai 1:2, 4). They did respond, and the temple was

Different Points of View

Different Points of View

IT’S GOOD TO BE able to see other people’s points of view. If we all did this more often there would be more understanding and less confrontation in the world. People with strong opinions can be particularly bad at seeing different points of view. They can be intolerant of those who disagree with them. Perhaps, deep down, this is because they are afraid of having their beliefs challenged. Some of the most opinionated people you’ll meet are religious people. And as it happens, religious people can be some of the most intolerant. You only need to think of the brutalities of the Church Inquisitions over the last few centuries, or the so-called Islamic State in recent years. Reacting against the intolerance and bigotry that’s undoubtedly characterised many churches in the past, many modern Christians make a point of being nonconfrontational and inclusive—to the extent that it’s common to hear phrases

Does it Matter What we Believe?

Does it Matter What we Believe?

THIS IS A QUESTION that is often asked as part of an argument along the lines of “You Christians are always talking about being saved and believing the Gospel, and yet the world is full of people who seem to want to argue about what the Gospel is. There are scores of different religions and sects, and they all claim to be true. Surely, if you just try to do what is right, and lead a good life, then when the rewards are given out God will see that you get your fair share.” When you think about it, the suggestion that it does not really matter what we believe is based on the assumption that we are all acceptable to God in our natural state. This is a very attractive thought— but that of course does not make it true. The vital question is this: how does this assumption

E-Mails: July 2021

E-Mails: July 2021

In his prayer at the Last Supper Jesus said “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:4-5). This sounds very much as though Jesus is co-equal and co- eternal with the Father. THIS IS ONE of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible. It’s a prayer of the Son to his Father that the love and unity which they have between them may be shared with his disciples. When you read the chapter through, it’s clear that Jesus was sent by his Father, was given his work by his Father, he’s glorified his Father; his Father gave him his disciples… so the first question is, does this really sound like the prayer of one who is