March 2013


So far we have covered

1. My preliminary response to the sermon by the Pastor
2. My thoughts on the Magi Gifts To Jesus
3. Millionaire Supporters Of The “Sophisticated Travelling Ministry”
4. Jesus Providence To The Disciples
5. Jesus ministry to the poor
6. Demystifying Judas, The Property Tycoon Wannabe and Treasurer
7. Demystifying Insulas and the housing at Jesus time.

Finally we have reach the last point, which is just as hilarious as the previous post

Pt 9: Jesus wore good clothes

John 19:23-24 : The soldiers were casting lots for the clothes of Jesus. As the video of his sermon ended, I was unable to hear this point. So I did a little research over the internet, and I realized, the main argument for claiming that Jesus was wearing designer wear, lies behind the fact that the soldiers cast lots for his tunic, and it was describe as a “Seamless woven” from top throughout.

Some claims that the Roman soldiers would not argue over a worthless clothing.

The Truth About Dressing In The Time Of Jesus

According to the time of Christ the people’s clothing have 5 components. I managed to find this from a website

1.  A head piece, some type of turban or cloth about the head
2. Sandals, a type of walking shoe
3. An undergarment
4. An outer robe hanging loosely usually all the way down to the ankles
5. A belt or sash called a girdle which held up the outer garment

Jn 19:23 tells us that the soldiers took 4 of the parts, and divided among themselves. and there was a 5th part known in Greek as “χιτων” (Chiton) that was the so called “Designer piece” that Jesus was wearing.

There are many legends surround this piece of clothing, you can see them  here.

It is most likely a coat

While we think that the soldiers are arguing over a expensive piece of Garments. The same words Chiton is also found in Lk 9:3. And here Jesus told them not to bring more than 1 when they travel.

The ancient people do not have wardrobes of clothes to wear in their time. Even on a journey, they only wore the one that they have. (In the case of Jesus) . Therefore, to own a second piece of garment is a big bonus. Hence it Is not surprising the soldiers would fight for the clothes.

Therefore it cannot be used as an evidence to prove that the Chiton  wore by Jesus are “designer wear”.

The Jewish Tunic

If we were to recall the story of Dorcas, she made many Chitons for the widows and Orphan (Acts 9:39) and if the one wore by Jesus was the outer garment.

Jewish woman made Chitons for their children when they grow up and have reach manhood. Hence this “designer fabric” designer could jolly well be Mary the mother of Jesus.

While I believe clothes like this has semimetal  values,  I do not think one could compare this to designer clothes today.

Why Then Did The Soldiers Bid For It?

Bear in mind a coat is useful for the wearer especially in the cold winters time. In fact, in ancient time, the coat could even be used as a pledge for loan (Deut 24:10-13)

In Deut 24, God instructed the people to return to the pledge items (clothes) back to the people so they will be able to keep warm at night. This was Gods law regarding lending to the poor.

Hence there are many reasons why the Soldiers would want to bid for the garment. It is valuable and useful, but most people would have at least one. Although an addition coat like that would always be useful in time of cold weather.

I guess it is up to you to decide if that is indeed “an expensive designer apparel” as the prosperity teachers believe  it to be.

Conclusion

I hope that this series will shed light into the time of Christ and help readers to read in context of the life and times of the bible. It has allowed me to relook once again into the the life and times Of Jesus and it has also challenged me to rethink about some of my previous understanding of the bible stories.

Before I close off, I would like to close off with Paul’s words

“ For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” – Paul (2 Cor 8:9)

The riches mentioned by Paul here is talking about the fact that we could inherit eternal life. This could only be accomplish when Jesus sacrifice himself for us on Calvary.

To degrade the salvation grace of God into a “quest to get material blessing from God” is just like the days when the Israelites build a golden calf and said

“This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!" – Israelites (Ex 32:4)

In fact, Aaron said this that angered God even more

“Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” – Aaron (Ex 32:5)

The Israelites then did not deny the fact that the Lord brought them out from Egypt, they just made a golden calf and called him “The god who brought you out of Egypt”.

We all know what happened at the end of the story, it resulted to the death of 3000 men.

Let us be careful when we interpret scriptures, and let us not make the same mistakes the Israelites of those days did.

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Just a song that I came across while travelling in Vietnam, it was sang by someone special to me, and I hear it every morning.

I feel that the lyrics captured the feelings if a new Bride. The excitement of a new life together. It also talk about couples needing to go through difficulties and to have one heart. This is something that we in the modern world tend to forget

When God created Adam and Eve, he solemnized the very first wedding on earth himself. And God laid down the first principles of marriage.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Moses (Gen 2:24)

Jesus quoted this principle when the Pharisees came and asked him about Divorce.

“Have you not read that He who madethem at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’  and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”-Jesus (Matt 19:4-6)

Sadly, the modern man now regarded marriage as a mere paper contract between a man and a woman.

So as we read the lyrics of this song, let us remember the promise we made to each other, and the resolve to walk through life’s difficulties together. Let us remember our marriage vows before God and rekindle that love that had died down.

Title: Cô Dâu  (新娘)

Artiste: Rachel Ái Phương

(Stanza 1)

Người ơi,em mơ về anh đã bao ngày
Một người yêu em và thương em
Chờ anh,em đã chờ lâu lắm
Biết không?người em chờ là người cho em
ngày bình yên

(Chorus)

Ngày mai,em là cô dâu mới
Ngày mai,em mặc chiếc áo dài theo chồng
Ngày mai,em cười thật hạnh phúc
Ngày mai,em được ở bên người mà em yêu
Ôi! em thương anh,em yêu anh,yêu vô bờ
Ôi! em mong anh,em nhớ anh đến từng giây

 

Title: Bride

Artiste: Rachel Ái Phương

(Stanza 1)

I have been dreaming of you for a long time
The one who would love me ,
whom I have been longing for a long time.
Do you know that I have been waiting to
spend days of bliss together with you?

(Chorus)

Tomorrow I am going to be your bride.
Tomorrow I will wear my áo dài and follow you
Tomorrow I will smile brightly with happiness
For I will be with the one I love tomorrow
Oh! I love you, I love you so much
Oh! I long and missed you each passing
moment

Note: áo dài is the Vietnamese
Traditional Wedding Dress

(Stanza 2)

Hãy mãi,cho em một tình yêu thật chân
thành,thủy chung
Em chỉ cần như thế
Mỗi đêm,vai anh là chiếc gối ấm êm,dìu em
vào bình yên
Cho giấc ngủ em say

(Repeat Chorus)

(Stanza 3)

Người ơi! em mơ về anh đã bao ngày
Một người yêu em và thương em
Từ đây,hai ta sẽ chung bước
Đôi tim hòa chung nhịp
Cùng nhau,đi qua ngàn mưa giông
Bình yên trong ngôi nhà
Yêu thương……….

(Stanza 2)

I asked for your sincere and
faithful love forever
For I only need to
rest my head upon your
shoulder every night.
I would sleep soundly

(Repeat Chorus)

(Stanza 3)

I have been dreaming of you for a long time
The one who would love me.
We will hold on to each other from now on
With our hearts beating in unison
We will get through all difficulties together.
Living in our lovely home,
peacefully.

 

In the previous post, we have discussed the positive aspect of the life of Obadiah.

We talked about how he choose to fear God while living in the midst of people who had no fear for God. We also talk about his perseverance and courage when it comes to doing what is right. He risked his life to protect the 100 prophets of God

But like all human beings, Obadiah had his weakness. So for this study, I would point out 2 of his weakness.

Obadiah Chooses To Stand At King Ahab’s Side

Obadiah is a fine man who fear God, and he is courageous enough to do protect that prophets whom queen Jezebel wanted dead. But then, as we study into his character, one would tend to notice that he choose to stand on the side of King Ahab. His stand is starkly in contrast with the stand of Prophet Elijah.

Elijah was a man who dare to be on the side of God. His name “Elijah” was a declaration that courage. Elijah means  “Yahweh (Jah) is my(I) Lord(El)”. Elijah is also a courageous man who fear God. He bravely withstood King Ahab and spoke against him when Ahab accuses Elijah of bringing trouble into the kingdom of Israel.

"I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals.” –Elijah (1 Kings 18:18)

Throughout the entire story, Obadiah kept silent, he did not dare to speak a word against the King. The stand of Elijah and Obadiah is reflective to the stand of 2 types of modern Christians.

The bible often records of fights between too opposing groups of people. Here are some examples of it

1. The Sons of Korah (Levites) stood against Moses and Aaron
2. Azariah the Priest together with 80 Valiant Priest, stood against King Uzziah
2. The Apostles stood against the Sanhedrin

These are situations, where one cannot afford to be neutral. It is necessary for us to choose a side. In those 3 examples, the conflicting parties are all believers of God. This is a reminder that conflicts do happen within the church. That is why we need to discern where God is standing.

Elijah represents the Christians who spoke bravely against the evils in the world, they choose to stand on the side of God and to preach his words boldly. They will persist even when others refuse to listen, even when treated with hostility. They spoke in hope that the people will repent and to turn back to God

There is another type of Christian, who would choose to take a stand similar to Obadiah. They just maintain their fear of God, they try their very best to make a difference and do the right thing. But yet they do not dare to make a stand openly before others.

Personally I feel that as Christians, we need to have  the fear of God, and we need to try our best to make a difference. But there are times when it is necessary for us to speak out against the evils in the world. Therefore it is important for us to take the side of God and to be open about our stand to the world.

Christians ought to shine as the light of God, having a stand different from the world. For we know that man would face judgment for everything that we have done (Eccl 12:13-14).

I am sure God remembers the faithfulness of Obadiah, his fear of God and his brave acts of saving the prophets of God. But God would certainly wish that Obadiah to have taken a stand with him and not to work alongside evil man like Ahab. God has a valid reason to fill so.

Let us consider what the Psalmist wrote in Ps 1

“ Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel
   of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners,
   Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

   But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
   And in His law he meditates day and night.

   He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of 
   water, That brings forth its fruit in its season,
   Whose leaf also shall not wither;
   And whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalmist (Ps 1:1-3)

Obadiah is certainly different from being like a tree planted by the rivers of water, because of his choice to stand with King Ahab,  he is often faced with situations where he is forced to do something he doesn’t agree. One example can be seen here when  King Ahab  gave him an order to follow.

"Go into the land to all the springs of water and to all the brooks; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, so that we will not have to kill any livestock.” – King Ahab (1 Kings 18:5)

I am sure Obadiah must be grieved in his heart as he carried out the work. It seems that King Ahab cared for his processions more than the people. He task Obadiah to feed his livestock instead of helping his countrymen during the famine.

Very often, a righteous heart would be grieved when he see wickedness and lawlessness around. Elder Peter once wrote this about Lot living in the city of Sodom

“(for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)” – Pet (2 Pet 2:8)

Obadiah’s refusal to make a stand must have tormented his heart. Especially when he witness the lawless deeds of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel.

I am not suggesting that Christians needs to go around prosecuting people or to speak without wisdom and discernment. But as Christians, we ought to take the side of God. We need to live a life of fearing God and our conduct must be being different from the the world. It is just that, sometimes as we are living our life of faith, we would encounter situations where it is necessary for us to openly be on the side of God. 

Choosing not to do so would only bring grieved to us. It would also incur the wrath of God.  when we witness lawless deeds and evilness around us.

Edmund Burke once said this

“The Only Thing Necessary For The Triumph Of Evil
  Is For Good Men To Do Nothing” – Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797)

Obadiah’s Fear For His Life

Sometimes as I read the story of Obadiah, I wonder what motivated Obadiah to make a choice to keep quiet and not speak out. Perhaps he feels that he needs to survive in order to continue providing help to the prophets.

But as I read his story, it appears to me  that he seems to have a very unique (and at times Morbid) view about God. He seems to worry that God would not protect him and would get him killed. It can be seen in his response to Elijah when asked to bring a message to king Ahab.

“How have I sinned, that you are delivering
your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me?”- Obadiah (1 Kings 18:9)

“And it shall come to pass, as soon as
  I am gone from you, that the Spirit
  of the LORD will carry you to a place
  I do not know; so when I go and tell
  Ahab, and he cannot find you, he
  will kill me. But I your servant have
  feared the LORD from my youth.”- Obadiah (1 Kings 18:12)

Obadiah seems to feel that Elijah choice to confront King Ahab is an act of rashness. He felt that the spirit of God would intervene and save Elijah by taking him away.Obadiah feared that if he were to come with Ahab, and not find Elijah there, he would be executed by Ahab instead .

Personally I feel that Obadiah is being really paranoid here, perhaps he is unaware that it was God who instructed Elijah to meet Ahab (1 Kings 18:1). But Obadiah’s paranoia also indicates his fear of death. Perhaps he may have chosen to remain silent before Ahab because of his fear of death.

His fear of death affected his faith in God. If God would save Elijah by taking him away, when then would God allow Obadiah to die in the hands of Ahab? Obadiah’s faith may have been affected because he had seen the ruthlessness of Ahab and Jezebel,

It is natural for humans to fear death, even the faithful queen Esther needed  3 days of fasting before finding the courage to enter the court of King Ahasuerus. Jesus before taking the bitter cup on the cross,  was in such great agony that his sweat becomes like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Lk 22:44)

But even as we fear for our lives, we ought to understand the the Lord would save us to the uttermost. (Heb 7:25). We have to remember what our Lord once said

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me,
  though he may die, he shall live.” – Jesus (Jn 11:25)

Sometimes, we forget that the ultimate objective of our faith is to return to God in heaven. if we truly believe in that, we would not fear dying.

I am not suggesting that Christian should put themselves into danger and to seek death. But we should not fear death. We should entrust our lives to God, this would help us find courage to do everything that God has instructed us to do. 

Ultimately, Obadiah succeeded in bringing the message to King Ahab, which lead on to  to Elijah’s victory at Mount Carmel.

Concluding The Study On Obadiah

In this short 2 part study, we have explored both the strengths and weaknesses of Obadiah. Many of the ancient saints are just like us, they have strengths as well as weakness.

Let us learn from Obadiah the following lessons

1. To fear God under all circumstances.

Obadiah choose to fear God, even though he is a man of power and authority. He choose to fear God even though the people around him stopped fearing God.

2. To have the  perseverance and courage to do the right thing.

Obadiah managed to rescue 100 prophets of the Lord. Such actions requires long term courage. He had to persist in supplying food and water to the Prophets during a famine. In order to do this, Obadiah needed courage to overcome the fear of getting caught and as well as the patience continue working.

However, let us also be mindful of the following

1. Choosing to take a stand for God

Obadiah despite all his courage, did not speak out against the evil acts of King Ahab and Jezebel. That silence bring agony to his heart, especially when he witness the evil acts of his two bosses.

2. Not to be overly Paranoid with Fear of death

While Christians do not seek to be death. One should have the faith that God will save us to the uttermost. While its natural for us to have a fear of death, let us also remember that our Lord is the Lord of life.

Let us remember the words of Jesus

“ For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” –Jesus (Matt 16:25)

Let us learn from Obadiah and may God help us in all that we do.