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RBKay
How do we Love?

The Servant


The Land Jesus Knew and Lived in.

Dr. H. L. Willmington


The land where Jesus was born was viewed differently by different people. In the first century about 1/10th of the population of the Roman Empire was Jewish, though only about 500,000 or 600,000 Jews lived in their ancient homeland. Most major cities of the empire had relatively large Jewish populations. These men and women looked to Jerusalem for spiritual and legal guidance. Pairs of sages, the scribes, and “teachers of the law” mentioned in the Gospels, went out from Jerusalem with official word about the dates of Jewish holy days and to settle disputes within the Jewish communities by applying the ancient Mosaic Code. To the empire’s Jews, Judea and especially Jerusalem was far from insignificant: it was the Holy City, the focus of their faith, and gifts poured into the temple treasury from Jews around the world.


Jerusalem had a reputation even among pagans. The Jerusalem temple had been expanded and beautified by Herod the Great. By the end of his 40-year reconstruction project, it ranked as one of the wonders of the ancient world. 


Many a wealthy Gentile traveler made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the temple, even though he or she was unable to enter its inner confines. The port city of Caesarea also gained a worldwide reputation. Herod’s engineers had created an artificial harbor using giant cut blocks of stone and then built a magnificent city on a barren coastal plain. The city boasted administrative centers, an open-air theater, a hippodrome for chariot races and the games so popular among the Romans, and temples dedicated to traditional Roman deities.


Talk to the Jewish citizens of Herod’s kingdom and you’d find other perspectives on what all Jews held to be the “Holy Land.” The priestly elite, wealthy and comfortable in their position, were satisfied with the status quo. 


The Pharisees, also a well-to-do class, concentrated their attention on observing every detail of God’s Law, and looked forward to the resurrection of the just. Still, among the common people of Judea and especially of Galilee, the history and future of the little land was more important than the present.


The average person struggled to make a living, working in the city as an artisan, serving on one of the large estates of the king or the wealthy as a hired laborer, or struggling with his own small plot of land. Taxes were staggeringly high: the temple took a tenth, the landlord and the king far more, and one could not even go to a city with produce to sell without paying additional duties along the road and at the city gates. Within the city, bakers, glass makers, metalsmiths, potters, and perfumers plied their trades and paid their taxes. And waited. They waited, looking expectantly for God to act.


Throughout the little land the Jewish population remained convinced that God had spoken to Abraham and promised that the whole land would belong to his descendants. God had spoken to Moses and confirmed the chosen position of the Jews by giving them a Law to live by. God had exalted His people in the time of David, making Israel one of the most powerful nations of the Middle East. And God had promised that one day a Descendant of David would appear to lead His people back to greatness. In that day Herod and his Roman overlords would be cast out. The promised One, the Messiah, would rule not only the Promised Land but would dominate all foreign nations as well. While some of the people, called Zealots, urged armed rebellion now, and another minority, the Essenes, demanded the religious separate themselves from an impure society, the majority of the people simply waited. They lived normal daily lives. They watched their children grow up and educated them in the Scriptures. They celebrated weddings and grieved at funerals. They knew the tragedies and joys that all human beings are heir to. And all the while they waited, expectant, sure that God would keep His promises and that deliverance would come. Perhaps even in their own time!


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Does this sound like today?


We have people today that are so sure that they know how to interput Scriptures; like the ancients.


They were wrong in interpertation just as we are today.


We are to live to the Worship and the Glory of God and in doing so live the 10 Commandentands just as Jesus did and love others with service to them.


RBKay