Bible Studies

 






 
 

Part Two.

 

Why Is the Land of Milk and Honey
Flowing with Blood and Tears?

By Chris Josephson

Let’s continue a little further with the time-line which gives foundation to learning some reasons why there continues to be blood and tears in the Land of Milk and Honey.

Last time we left off with 975 B.C. 586 B.C.

574 B.C.

§                 Ezekiel received his vision of the Third Temple in. (Ezekiel 40-48) It is a description of Israel in the land during the Kingdom Age.

520 B.C.

§                 the book of Haggai was written

519 B.C.– 487 B.C.

  • Zechariah

397 B.C.

  • Malachi

These prophecy books are very interesting studies, and usually jump ahead of their time. So to stick with trying to answer the question stated in the title, we must look into history and learn the events transpiring between Malachi and Matthew.

The close of the Hebrew Scriptures left Israel in two great divisions. The northern nation for the most part was carried off to Assyria and widely dispersed throughout the world. The southern kingdom, Judah, was in captivity at Babylon and somewhat dispersed throughout the Persian Empire, more as colonists than captives. A remnant of the tribe of Judah with Zerubbabel, a prince of the Davidic family, and the survivors of the priests and Levites, returned to the land under the permissive decrees of Cyrus and his successors and established again the Temple worship.

It is with this remnant that Bible students have been, and are mainly concerned – the others having been assimilated among the nations to the point they lost their identity.

This period from Malachi to Matthew was not without an important history of “Jews” – the nickname they became known by. After this point whenever one spoke of “The Children of Israel” it meant this known “remnant” mainly of the tribe of Judah, but also Benjamin, Levi and a mixture of a few devout from among the 10 tribes who defected the northern kingdom because of the idolatrous worship introduced by Jeroboam and the succeeding kings of Israel. Now there was no longer a Kingdom of Israel.  “The Kingdom of Judah” was a kingdom only in the spiritual and cultural sense. They were without a flag, without a civil government of their own, but functioned as a “minority” under foreign Gentile rule.

The Persian control continued about 100 years and was the most tolerant of the Gentile rulers. They allowed priests to function, and along with religious power, they had a measure of civil power under the governors of Syria (who functioned under Babylon). During this period the rival worship of Samaria was established in the northern part of Israel (John 4).

333 B.C.

  • Syria fell under Alexander of Greece, during which time the Jews were treated with much favor.

320 B.C. – 198 B.C.

  • When Alexander’s empire broke up into 4 pieces, Judah fell under the hammer and anvil of Syria and Egypt. Great numbers of Jews were established in Egypt.
  • The Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Bible was made by Jewish scholars there (285 B.C.).

 

198 B.C.

  • Antiochus conquered Judah and annexed it to Syria.

180 B.C. (approx.)

  • The land became the dowry of Cleopatra, a Syrian princess married to the king of Egypt.
  • But on the death of Cleopatra, the land was reclaimed by Antiochus Epiphanes.

170 B.C.

  • Epiphanes plundered Jerusalem, profaned the Temple and enslaved great numbers of the inhabitants.

December 25, 168 B.C.

  • Epiphanes offered a sow on the great altar of the Temple, and erected an altar to Jupiter. Temple worship was forbidden. The people were forced to eat pig meat and to desecrate many other Biblical customs.

165 B.C.

  • The revolt lead by the Maccabees was provoked by Ephiphanes’ desecration of the Temple and persecution of the people. Judas Maccabee regained possession of Jerusalem, purified and rededicated the Temple. The event is celebrated to this day in the Jewish festival “Chanukah” – meaning Dedication. In John 10:22,23, we learn Jesus observed it.
  • Judas Maccabee was slain in battle and his brother Jonathan succeeded him in leadership. Under him and his brother Simon and nephew John Hyrcanus, the Hasmonean line of priest-rulers was established and was suffered by the other powers.
  • Thus began a corrupted order of Temple control. Under the order established by God through Moses, priests were not to be kings and kings were not to be priests.

63 B.C.

  • The Roman conquest of Judea and Jerusalem by Pompey,
  • He left Hyrcanus, the last of the Hasmonians, in a nominal sovereignty; An Idumean, Antipater, was the actual power.

47 B.C.

  • Antipater was made procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar and appointed his son, Herod, governor of Galilee.
  • After Caesar was murdered and disorder was the day in Judea, Herod fled to Rome.

40 B.C.—38 B.C.  

  • Herod was appointed king of the Jews and returned, married the beautiful granddaughter of Hyrcanus, Marianne, and appointed her brother, the Maccabean Aristobulus III, high priest.

Judah was not guilty of idolatry after the Babylonian captivity, but it was during that period, the rabbis put in writing what is called “The Oral Law” – a great collection of tradition known as Mishna and Gemara (forming the Talmud), and which was superimposed upon the Law. Obedience was transferred from the Law itself to the traditional interpretation. Midrashim (a manner of study), the Halacha (an accepted application to the Torah) and Kaballa (a mystical interpretation of Scripture) came into play.

There arose the two sects known as the Pharisees and Sadducees. What did they believe and what was the difference? Acts 23:6-8.

Jesus appeared during this time when many, including the Essenes, considered the Temple to be in the hands of a cult that had departed from the Torah.

It is enlightening to study Jesus’ teachings and His rebukes of the Judeans in charge of the Temple in the setting of this religious and political atmosphere. We need to keep in mind that when it says “the Jews” in the Gospels (especially during the week of Passion) it is speaking, not of all Jews, but of the leaders in charge.

33 A.D.  

  • Yahshua died and at the same time the Temple’s veil was split. He arose from the dead and appeared to many during the next 40 days, culminating in his ascension from the Mt. Of Olives
  • Ten days later on the festival of Shavuot (Giving of the Law – Pentecost from the Greek) the believers in Yahshua were filled with the Holy Spirit and the gospel began to be preached to the world.
  • This took place in the Temple. While we were living in Ramallah in the early 70’s, excavations at the Temple Mount revealed a massive stairway on the southwest corner of the Temple Mount, leading from Solomon’s porch, then a landing with the stairway turning southward, ending at the intersection where two wide streets came together. Then we understood how Peter could have preached the Gospel to thousands – from the landing to the crowds below. Their attention had been grabbed by the phenomenon of speaking in tongues by Galileans who had not learned their languages.

70 A.D.

  • The city of Jerusalem was sacked, the Temple destroyed and the people taken into captivity, or fled for their lives to the desert regions. The story of Massada occurred at this time and was predicted by Jesus. (Luke 23:27-30)
  • From that time until the last century, Judah, as well as the 10 northern tribes of Israel, has been in exile. However there has always been a presence of Jews, though small, living in Jerusalem.

Between the years 250 A.D. and 1948 A.D.

  • During this period of 1700 years, Jews have experienced more than 80 expulsions from various countries in Europe – an average of nearly one expulsion every 21 years. Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and 71 other countries.

You are no doubt acquainted with the history of this bloody trail of pogroms, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades --- many forms of anti-Jewishness crowned by Hitler and his Nazis.

But Germany isn’t the only country that needs make an account of how the Jews were treated during our era. England’s double-cross of the promises contained in  the Balfour Declaration -- the “White Paper” which limited the number of Jews returning – even sinking boatloads of them. U.S.A., too, is certainly not lily white as we turned a blind eye toward what was transpiring and limited immigration to this country – best illustrated in the story of the S.S. St. Louis. And perhaps the greatest crime of the Allies during WW II was refusing to bomb the railroads that carried Jews to their deaths.

Not a pretty story. In it all Zionism was born and Hertzl’s prediction of “50 Years” from the first Zionist Congress till the nation was born proved to be a true prophecy.

Now, they have returned to what? They began making it a land of milk and honey once again, but the struggles resulting from her unwanted presence by her neighbors have brought a deluge of blood and tears.

The late Elmer Josephson and many other prophecy teachers fully expected things would go better and better in the Land after Israel became a nation again. The accomplishments there have been staggering with resultant blessings worldwide, but the blood and tears go on and intensifies.

Why?  What is the solution? And the most probing question is, what can we do about it?

Open for Discussion:

Question: Do you see anything in what we have studied thus far that gives a clue?