This blog was created to show scripture in view of it's first century historical context. The key to understanding any passage of Scripture has always been a good grasp of the language, culture, politics, and historical setting in which Scripture was originally written. Too few are willing to look at what History and Scripture has unveiled together.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Josephus pleas with the Jews
Josephus pleas with the Jews spare the city of Jerusalem and the temple.
Upon this Josephus stood in such a place where he might be heard, not by John only, but by many more, and then declared to them what Caesar had given him in charge, and this in the Hebrew language. So he earnestly prayed them to spare their own city, and to prevent that fire which was just ready to seize upon the temple, and to offer their usual sacrifices to God therein. At these words of his a great sadness and silence were observed among the people. But the tyrant himself cast many reproaches upon Josephus, with imprecations besides; and at last added this withal, that he did never fear the taking of the city, because it was God's own city. In answer to which Josephus said thus with a loud voice: "To be sure thou hast kept this city wonderfully pure for God's sake; the temple also continues entirely unpolluted! Nor hast thou been guilty of ally impiety against him for whose assistance thou hopest! He still receives his accustomed sacrifices! 2. As Josephus spoke these words, with groans and tears in his eyes, his voice was intercepted by sobs. Josephus War of the Jews Book 6 Chapter 2
Mans will can no way go against God’s will for Jesus said in Matthew 24:1-2. Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Matthew 23:38 "See! Your house is left to you desolate;
It is so very easy to read certain Bible passages of years and never fully realize what they are saying.
A similar passage is to be found in Acts 6:9-14 Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. Then they instigated some men to say, "We have heard him (speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God)." They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They presented false witnesses who testified, "This man never stops saying things against this (holy place and the law). For we have heard him claim that this (Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses) handed down to us."(Acts 6:9-14) New American Bible (emphasis added).
It is real important to understand the historical setting in which this was originally written. These false witnesses were making the clam that Stephen was speaking against the (laws of Moses and the holy place). In other words the Holy Temple. For this they accused Stephen of speaking blasphemous words. We have to remember when reading this the Jews had the Torah of Moses and the Holy Temple which represented (the shekinah of glory the presence of God) for over 15.000 years. They were still hanging on to many of the Judaistic rituals that had been so much a part of their life. It was extremely difficult for the Jews to accept the superiority of the New Covenant. It was especially hard for them to make a clean break with the old Mosaic customs.
Lest look at verse 14 again. For we have heard him claim that this (Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses) handed down to us. When this statement was made Jesus had already been crucified, and acended to the Father.
Please ask yourself the following question. How in the world could these people falsely accuse Stephen of saying (Jesus the Nazorean will destroy the Holy Temple and change the customs that Moses) handed down to us?" When Jesus has been arrested and crucified many years earlier.
It is not important if these false witnesses were making false clams against Stephen or not. The point is these people had the idea that Jesus was going to destroy the temple and change the Mosaic customs handed down to them. Mention
The real purpose of this whole episode, is to accuse Stephen of the crime of saying Jesus will destroy the Temple and the Mosaic law handed down to them. Stephen or his accuser tied the parousia of Christ and the destruction of the temple with the end of the Judaistic (age or world). Stephen defense was not a response to refute the charges against him but takes the form of a discourse that reviews God's word to Israel and leads to a prophetic declaration a plea for the hearing of the words.
First Century History ~ The miseries that were within the city during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, Josephus reported that a heifer being led to the altar in the temple gave birth to a lamb; he reported that a bright light shined about the altar in the middle of the night and gave the appearance of daylight. The Works of Flavius Josephus War of the Jews Book 6 Chapter 5