Simeon praises the Lord

What kind of person was Simeon?  Why does it say that Jesus’ parents were surprised at what he said?  What new things do we learn?

Tomorrow’s a fourth Sunday in the month, so no morning Explore meeting, but in the afternoon, a Bible Study at Colin and Annette’s, looking at Luke 2 and Simeon. Children are welcome.  Please bring some cake.

4.30 – 6pm, Karibu, Sandhill Street, Ottery St Mary.   We start with tea and cakes and then study.

The Promise of a Saviour

Tomorrow at 11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church, Leisa concludes the Old Testament part of our Bible Timeline series, which we started January 2016.  What happened between the Old and New Testaments?

At the close of the Old Testament, Jerusalem was ruled by Persia. Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in 333 B.C. and established Greek culture and the Greek language as a unifying force for that part of the world. When Alexander died, his kingdom quartered, but Hellenistic (Greek) culture still advanced and remained the dominant influence. When Rome conquered that part of the world, Roman influences were introduced but initially the Greek influence was still strong. The march of the nations passed from Persia to Greece to Rome.

Throughout the four hundred Silent Years, there were militant Jews who attempted to revolt against foreign rule and make Jerusalem and the surrounding area of Judea an independent country. These included the Maccabeans and Zealots.

There were two primary religious ‘parties’ in Jerusalem during this time. Unfortunately, neither offered much guidance in true spirituality, as they were caught up in promoting a religious ‘legalism’ of external adherence to rules while overlooking inner motivation and attributes. The Pharisees were orthodox and conservative, and they fostered separation between themselves and “secular” society. The Sadducees were more liberal. They were the party of the Jerusalem aristocracy, and they used their wealth and influence to keep the political waters calm. A ruling board, called the Sanhedrin, was made up of representatives from both the Pharisees and Sadducees, but the two groups had little in common except their desire for religious freedom and, later, their antagonism for Jesus of Nazareth.

The ‘Messiah,’ or ‘Saviour’, was one who was prophesied throughout the Old Testament to come and save the Jews. Some felt they needed spiritual salvation, and others were looking only for political salvation. For both reasons, the expectation and hope for the coming of the Messiah was strong during the four hundred Silence Years between the Old and New Testaments. Events of the Silence Era seemed to especially prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah:

  • This part of the world has a common language and a common culture, which facilitates the spread of a Messianic message.
  • The Roman Empire has brought this region military peace, an extensive system of roads and sea travel, and a common government so that people can travel extensively without interference.
  • The Jews are suffering such religious persecution and political humiliation that widespread hope and expectation of a savior exists.

These facts made the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, claiming to be the Messiah, an event that captured the attention of the entire Jewish world.

Nehemiah rebuilds Jerusalem’s walls

Tomorrow at 11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church, Lynn picks back up our Bible Timeline series, where we’re coming to the end of the Old Testament.  Nehemiah rebuilds Jerusalem’s walls.  Why do you think this was important?

God prompted Cyrus, king of Persia, to initiate the financing and rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Under the direction of Zerubbabel, a notable Jewish figure in Persia, the rebuilding of the temple began. They encountered considerable opposition from Gentiles around Jerusalem. At the urging of Haggai and Zechariah, two Jewish prophets living in Jerusalem, the restoration of the temple was completed.

Rebuilding the temple is a direct parallel to the spiritual rebuilding of the Jewish people. Temple worship had been discontinued for seventy years. Most of the Jews had never seen or heard the Law of Moses. They had to be instructed in a national reeducation program. Ezra set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, to practice it, and to teach God’s statues and ordinances in Israel to rebuild the people as they return from exile.

Even though not all Jews returned when they could have (see the Book of Esther, whose events take place during this Era) many Jews came back home to Jerusalem. The temple stood restored as the dominant structure in the city, but the walls of the city were still broken down. This was a security threat as well as a source of national humiliation. Nehemiah, another Jewish notable serving Artaxerxes, king of Persia, was burdened to rebuild the walls. He was given permission and financing by the king of Persia to do so. A short time later, the walls framed the noble city of Jerusalem. Restoration was complete as the temple was rebuilt, the people were rebuilt, and the walls were rebuilt.

Nehemiah: Destruction from war and neglect

During the seventy years of captivity, the leadership of Judah has been taken into exile, and the city of Jerusalem falls into disrepair.  Not only has the city suffered the ravages of the military campaign during the initial conquest, but it has also fallen victim to the erosion of neglect.  The destruction from war and neglect leaves Jerusalem in a state of abject ruin.

A fourth Sunday in the month, so no morning Explore meeting, but in the afternoon, a Bible Study at Colin and Annette’s.  4.30 – 6pm.  We start with tea and cakes and then study.  It’ll be a bit different as we’ll begin by watching a ten-minute video clip of a Chinese man who overcame his greatest fear until in the end he saw it as a gift. We’ll then introduce Nehemiah.  Children are welcome.

If you are reading this after the event, here is the full video (15 mins) that I showed a clip from;  Jia Jiang, What I learned from 100 days of rejection.

‘Basically the idea is for 30 days you go out and look for rejection, and every day get rejected at something, and then by the end, you desensitize yourself from the pain. And I loved that idea.’  Jia Jiang

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