Theme weeks coming up!

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

We started in-person school Friday and I’m so happy. I love being with the kids and I love my school. I used to teach elementary school in Maine and since I’m a native New Englander, all my school life whether as a certified teacher, substitute, or student, I was used to the Post-Labor day start. We had a September to June schedule. I’ve never gotten used to the South’s August to May schedule, but I love the job anyway.


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Jailed for the Lord – Paul in the ‘House of Darkness’

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

Thank goodness for historians. In ancient Rome during the last days of the Apostle Paul, Sallust and Livy, for example, wrote of the notorious jail in Rome known as the Mamertine, dubbed so in the medieval period. It’s originally known in history as the Carcer, or the Tullianum, or at least, the lower half of the underground dungeon was. History does not record for a definite fact that Peter and Paul were at different times held there, but tradition and Roman practice indicate it was a strong possibility.

This essay is constructed in three sections:

Section 1: The prison itself. What was it like?
Section 2: Paul in Prison
Section 3: Facing Death

Roman Forum. Mamertine Prison was up behind the building with the dentil cornice. EPrata photo

What was the Mamertine Prison like?

The Mamertine prison was a prison in the Roman Forum where high-profile prisoners…

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May 5, 2021 – #5 of 31 Days of Biblical Women

Eve ~~

Genesis 2:15-25

Eden, fresh from the hand of the Creator. Beautiful beyond imagination. Self watering and weed free. Every tree bearing delicious fruit, just for the picking. Yes, there were two special trees in the very heart of the Garden. The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

There was only one prohibition. Do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

They why plant it there? To see if man would choose life.

Then from His loving heart, the Creator put the man into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs and closed the flesh. Out of the rib, He made a perfectly matched and fitting together, helpmate. A woman. And the man was “wowed!”

Naked and unashamed the roamed and worked the Garden, eating fruit as they desired, learning about each other. Heaven on earth.

One day, walking together, the woman laughing and frolicking, her toes treading deep in the soft dewy grass, they came upon a magnificent tree.

“No, Eve. Let’s go on. We aren’t to eat the fruit on that tree.”

“Why not?” she asked her husband.

“The LORD God said so,” Adam told her.

“But why not?” she said again, walking toward the tree, her eyes wide with wonder.”

“He said we would surely die.”

“What does ‘die’ mean, Adam?” she said circling the trunk of the enticing tree, delight on her face.

“Why, hello there,” came a silvery voice from the heavily laden branches. “Did God actually say ‘you shall not eat of any tree in this lovely garden?”

The woman peered closer and saw a beautifully colored serpant weaving before her.  “We may eat of all the trees here except this one. He said we would ‘surely die’ if we did. We may not even touch it,” she added coyly.

“You shall not surely die,” came the sensuous, deep voice. “For God knows that when you do eat of it, you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

He paused then continued, “Here, try one. It is sweeter than any fruit you have ever eaten.”

The woman saw that the fruit would be good for food, and wasn’t that her tummy growling?

It was a beautiful fruit as well, so shining and deeply hued. She fancied she could even smell the warm fruitiness. Her mouth began to water.

And, if eating the fruit would make her wise, well, why wouldn’t anyone want that. She reached up, touched one of the fruits, and it fell into her hand.  She put it to her mouth and took a bite. It was so sweet and juice ran down her chin. “Ohhhhhh!” she moaned in pleasure.

“Here, husband, you must have one too!”

And Adam also ate.

Instantly the eyes of their soul were opened and the knew they were naked and they were ashamed. They crept into the trees, hands and arms covering the parts of their bodies they had deemed beautiful before. The half-eaten fruit lay in the grass, already beginning to rot. Flies hovered nearby.

 

Later, in the cool of the evening when they always walked and talked with their Creator, they heard His voice. That voice that had inspired such great joy within them, now struck terror.

“Where are you, my children?”

Adam crept out from the bushes, the hastily woven leaves covering his genitals. “I… we…heard your voice and were afraid because we are naked.”

“WHO told you, you were naked?” thundered the voice of God. “Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?”

“The woman you gave me to be with, she gave me the fruit and I ate.” Adam answered his voice quavering.

God turned to the woman, “What have you done?”

“The…the…serpent deceived me… and… I ate,” her voice barely a whisper.

The God of the Universe turned to the serpant and roared, “You are cursed above all things. I will put enmity between you and the offspring of the woman. You shall bruise His heel.  But HE, He shall crush your head!”

“And as for you, woman, you will have pain now in childbearing. Your desire will be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Majesty turned then to Adam. And in a still but intense voice, He said, “Because you listened to your wife, cursed is the ground because of you. In pain you shall eat of it all your days. Prickling, painful thorns will it bring forth for you, to tear your flesh. You will sweat and toil and in the end you will return to the dust from which I made you.”

Then in saddness and anger the Creator drove the humans He’d created out from the Garden He’d made for them. He placed one of His myriads of cherubim with a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

Lest the man and woman now eat of it and live eternally in their SIN.

The picture represents Eve in shame before Mary who is carrying the promised offspring, the Son of God, who will indeed die by the serpant’s wiles, but who will rise from the dead triumphant to crush death and Satan forever.

 

 

LORD, help me to seek Your face and Your ways, and to love and obey you with my whole heart. Lead me not into temptation and deliver me from the Evil One.

Jh

May 4, 2021 – #4 of 31 Days of Biblical Women

Esther ~~

Esther, chapter 2

A beautiful girl chosen by the King of Persia to be his new Queen, unbeknownst to him, a Jewess. Pampered and Primped in the king’s haram spa until she was fit to be called to spend a night with Him. She found favor.

Meanwhile, a proud and pompous descendant of the Amaekites approached the King with a wicked plan. He hated all Jews and tricked the King into agreeing that a “subversive people group” needed purging from Persia.

Esther got wind of the plot from her uncle Mordecai. He asked her to save her people by doing the impossible – going into the king’s inner court without first being called to beg his favor. The law stated that the one who did so was to be put to death…. unless the king held out the golden scepter.

Her uncle’s words, “Do not think to yourself that in the King’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

While the Jews in capitol city fasted and prayed – Esther and her women as well – Esther made a plan.  She went in the strength of Almighty God with the simple, yet sly plan, to see the King.

And miracle of miracles King Ahasuerus held out the scepter!

Twice the King and the Amalekite were invited to Esther’s private quarters for a sumptuous meal. During the second, when the King was sated with rich food, Esther told him about the Amalekite’s plot to kill her.

In a rage, the king ordered his death by hanging, and since the Law of the Persians could not be cancelled, he ordered that the Jews could fight and defend themselves when the henchmen came.

After that, a great celebration was held to honor the Jews’ victory. It’s called Purim, and is celebrated today.

##

PS: The whole story of Esther in the Bible is a delightful, intriguing read.  I’ve left out many of the unbelievable details. But read it on your own. It almost sounds like an episode of the Keystone Cops.

 

 

LORD, help me to be willing to stand up against evil and proclaim the righteousness of God and the Son regardless of my own safety.

JH

May 3, 2021 – #3 of 31 Days of Biblical Women

Sarah ~~

Genesis 18:1-14

Sarah had followed her husband from Ur of the Chaldees (modern day Iraq) to Canaan (later to be Israel) along with his father, brother, and nephew. A long journey because God had called her husband – a man of faith – to this new land. God had promised it would be theirs forever.

Then, walking from one end to the other of this long strip of “promised” land at the Eastern side of the Great Sea, camping in tents, till the pasture ran out, then moving on, making do.

And then a famine, no crops, no water for the animals, and another long journey to Egypt. “Say you are my sister, Sarah,” her husband whispered as they entered the well-watered land.

And of course she did, because she always obeyed him, and after all, wasn’t she his “half” sister? But who knew that Pharoah would desire her and take her. Sarah looked at her husband with pleading eyes as she was led away. “Tell him the truth, husband!” But he was silent.

Sarah was a woman of faith. She prayed to God and rested in the peace He sent as she settled in the kings harem. And then tragedy struck Pharoah’s palace; women began miscarrying babies, infants who were born died, and not one woman could conceive. And God spoke to Pharoah in a dream. “That woman you took is another man’s wife. Return her to him.”

This Pharoah listened to God. He took Sarah and returned her to her husband, along with food, livestock, servents, gold and silver.

“Your God spoke to me, why didn’t you?  What’s wrong with you, man? What, you were afraid?  Give me a break!  You are lucky, I could have defiled her…. and then what would your God have done to me. BE GONE!”

And yes, reader, that happened again with King Abimilech. But this time she was a few weeks pregnant with a promised son. “Tell him you are my sister,” he’d said, and Sarah didn not even look back. She trusted God. She knew this king would not defile her. God would protect that promised seed growing within her – the One by whom the whole world would be blessed, the One who would come to save His people. Hadn’t He promised it?

Sarah remembered a few months earlier, when three strangers had come to their tent. They looked like angels, Sarah thought! She had hid inside, right at the flap of the tent and listened to them.  And her laugh of… of what? Joy? distain? unbelief?  She knew not which. But the One had said that in a year she would bear a son!  Ha! She was 75 and her husband 100.

But it had happened, so Sarah KNEW the Holy One would protect the small speck of humaness in her by the power of His Word.

And the son was born. He was named Isaac, which means “he laughs.”  Yes, he was a good, happy baby. But Sarah knew that the Holy One had heard her laugh, and had His own joke with the boy’s name.

 

 

LORD,  that I might have patience and faith to trust You in my trials, and joy in all  Your promises.

May 2, 2021 – #2 of 31 Days of Biblical Women

 Michal ~~  

2 Samuel 6:16-23

King David was finally able to bring the Ark of God to Jerusalem and put it in the place he had set up for it. His heart was bursting with indescribable joy and praise to Almighty God who had chosen him to be King, and now had allowed the sacred object that symbolized His very Presence among His people to be brought near.

As the procession wound it’s way from the former safe-keeping place, David made sacrifices to God. All of Israel rejoiced with him. Their shouting was joined with the echoing sound of the rams horns heralding the wonderful event. The Ark of God was coming to the City of God, and David, elated beyond measure, took off his kingly robes and danced for joy before the LORD.

From her window in the palace, Michal saw her husband dancing for the joy of the LORD, and blessing His Name continually, and she despised him. She was a daughter of Saul, the former king, a second choice who was given to David as a reward for a military victory. She was bitter and jealous, and when she saw what she considered dispicable behavior by her husband, hatred and anger burned in her.

When David came in to bless his own house, Michal went to meet him and spat out her disdain. “Oh how the king of Israel “honored” himself today, uncovering himself before the eyes of his female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”

Surely this was as a bucket of ice water over the elated King.

“It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and all his house to be prince over Israel, the people of the LORD,” David reminded her firmly.  “And I will make merry before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this! And I will be abased in your eyes! But the female servants of whom you spoke shall hold me in honor.”

Michal chose on that day whom she would honor and love. Not the LORD God of Israel and not her husband, the king of Israel. Her heart had frozen to stone. 2 Samuel 6:23 “And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.”

 

Lord, help me to “Keep my heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

“Create in me a clean heart, O god, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

May 1, 2021 – #1 of 31 Days of Biblical Women

May 1, 2021 – 31 Days of Biblical Women – Eshet Chayil

It is a 22-verse poem found in proverbs 31:10-31, and sung each Sabbath to honor Jewish women. It is an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet (like the sections in Psalm 119). Some interpret it as being about Abraham’s wife, Sarah, or about Solomon’s great grandmother, Ruth.

Eshet Chayil is Hebrew for “woman of worth,” “valor,” “strength,” or “virtue.”

 

The Woman Who Fears the LORD

10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.

14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.

15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands, she plants a vineyard.

17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.

 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

 

LORD, give me a heart of virtue, courage, and strength, to serve my family.

 

jh

 

Bible Women Study – 31 in May

I found this “adventure” that took place in 2017, four years ago.

How fun this would be THIS YEAR if you all took the time to read about these women in the Bible – one per day – and wrote a short blog post, and, if you feel like it, draw a picture of how you imagine each one.  Will you do it?  I’m going to try.

Let me know and I’ll read your blog too!

woordvrouw challenge schema EN

Thank you Sara Lindenhols in the Netherlands!

http://www.lucilight.nl & http://www.saralindenhls.wordpress.com