Category Archives: Israel

THE TEMPLE AS A TOOL OF EMPEROR WORSHIP (3)

Emperor worship temple 3PMW 2020-079 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this third entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually.

The temple authorities, including especially the high priests, were irrevocably corrupt long before the Jewish War. Indeed, the high priest in Jesus’ day was Anna, of whom Brown (Jn 1:121) notes: “the corruption of the priestly house of Annas was notorious.” According to Josephus: “The principal high-priestly families, with their hired gangs of thugs, not only were feuding among themselves, but had become predatory, seizing by force from the threshing floors the tithes intended for the ordinary priests” (Ant.. 20.180, 206-7). The Babylonian Talmud laments: “Woe is me because of the house of Boethus; woe is me because of their staves! . . . Woe is me because of the house of Ishmael the son of Phabi; woe is me because of their fists! For they are High Priests . . . and their servants beat the people with staves” (Pesah. 57a). “Starting by about 58 or 59, the high priests began surrounding themselves with gangs of ruffians, who would abuse the common priests and general populace” (Horsley HP 45). In fact, “the high priests and royalists actually contributed to the breakdown of social order through their own aggressive, even violent, predatory actions” (Horsley HP 24). Continue reading

THE TEMPLE AS A TOOL OF EMPEROR WORSHIP (2)

PMW 2020-078 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.Emperor worship temple 2

In this second entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually.

Temple Abuse; Temple Transience

Over and over again the temple cult is disparaged by the OT prophets when Israel falls into sin: Isa 1:10-17; 29:13; 43:23-24; Jer 6:20; 7:1-6, 21-22; 11:15; Eze 20:25; Hos 6:5-6; Am 4:4-5; 5:21-25; 9:1; Mic 6:1-8; Mal 1:10. Jeremiah even presents God as dramatically denying he ever directed Israel to sacrifice: “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you’ ” (Jer 7:22-23). Continue reading

THE TEMPLE AS A TOOL OF EMPEROR WORSHIP (1)

Emperor worship temple 1PMW 2020-077 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this 8-part series I will be arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually. Let’s begin (it’s almost time for breakfast).

As John writes, Israel has been a part of the Roman regime for almost a century. As such she enjoyed special leagues of “friendship and mutual alliance” which began with Julius Caesar (Jos. Ant. 14:10:1 §185; cf. Leon 8-11). Her love for Caesar was so great that after he was murdered, Jews wept for many nights at the site of his cremation (Suetonius, Jul. 84:5). Josephus, a priestly member of the Jewish aristocracy, praises Julius and records many of the treaties with the Jews which were established by Caesar and later Roman authorities (Ant. 14:10:2-25 §190-267). He then declares: “there are many such decrees of the senate and imperators of the Romans and those different from these before us” (Ant. 14:10:26). Israel engages these alignments despite her OT prophets condemning unholy alliances as harlotry (e.g., Hos 7:11; cf. Rev 5 Excursus). As noted above, the exercise of the Land beast’s authority is “in his [the Roman emperor’s] presence” (13:1a). Later in Rev 17 we will see Israel’s alliance symbolized by a harlot engaged in a drunken sexual orgy with the sea beast. Continue reading

POSTMILLENNIAL PAUL

PaulPMT 2020-031 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Paul was a postmillennialist. We can know this by process of deduction. We know he was not a dispensationalist, because the dispensational system is so complicated that it took 1830 years to develop. Plus he never presents a Rapture chart in any of his known epistles (though admittedly he could have included one in either of his two lost Corinthians epistles). And we know he was not an amillennialist because he did not have a Dutch name. Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (8)

PMW 2020-016 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is my final article on the study of Revelation’s seven-sealed scroll. In this one I will be focusing on Revelation 5 and the divorce grounds.

Covenantal marriage requires formal, legal grounds for divorce. In Deuteronomy 24:1 we read that the husband must find something morally “unclean” (ervah) in her. Jesus affirms the moral grounds for issuing a covenantal divorce in Matthew 5:31–32 and 19:7–9: “fornication” (porneia). In Isaiah 50:1 God’s divorce decree against Israel mentions her “iniquities” (peshaim). In Jeremiah 3 her divorce decree appears in the context of a statement regarding her being covenantally “faithless” (meshubah) and “treacherous” (bagad) (Jer 3:6, 8). Whatever these terms mean, they show the necessity of moral grounds for divorce. In biblical law no one could secure a divorce for “any cause at all” — contrary to the Pharisees’ challenge to Jesus (Mt 19:3; see also: Jos., Ant. 4:8:23; m. Gitt. 9:10). Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (7)

PMW 2020-015 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

As we continue our study of Revelation’s seven-sealed scroll, we must continue with our insights into Jesus’ earthly ministry, which I began in the last article.

During his three and one-half year ministry, the Lord comes to his own but they do not receive him (Jn 1:11). The Apostle John is particularly concerned to demonstrate this recurring problem (Jn 12:37–41), so that he characteristically calls them “the Jews” in order “to denote the Jewish nation as hostile to Jesus.” And no wonder! They are of their father the devil (Jn 8:44). Early in John’s Gospel we witness the Baptist’s wilderness message (Jn 1:23) which reminds us of God’s marrying Israel in the wilderness (Ex 19:1–2); see an allusion to the coming destruction of the temple (Jn 2:19); learn of the dullness of Israel’s leaders (Jn 3:10); and discover that worship will be de-centralized away from the temple (Jn 4:21–23). In John’s Gospel “Jesus is largely rejected in Jerusalem and Judaea” whereas “it is in Galilee and Samaria that he is received and that many believe in him.” In Jerusalem “‘the judgment of this world’ and of its ruler takes place.” Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (6)

PMW 2020-014 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this, the sixth installment of a study of Revelation’s seven-sealed scroll, we must consider Christ’s coming and its consequences.

Interestingly, Christ alludes to the Old Testament marriage imagery and relates it to his own coming and ministry. In the several places where he touches on this theme, he “moves wholly within the circle of ideas of His contemporaries when he expresses the meaning and glory of the Messianic period in the images of the wedding and wedding feast.”

Early in his ministry Jesus uses wedding imagery to explain why John the Baptist’s disciples fast though his do not: “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom do not fast, do they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast” (Mk 2:19∥). “It is clear . . . that in this connection the bridegroom is an allegorical indicator of the Messiah,” with the wedding imagery being built upon the Old Testament relationship of God to Israel. Continue reading