Beer and Wine: The Bible’s Counsel

I’ve been asked about the „strong drinks” in the Bible, especially the strange text in Deuteronomy 14:26. I did a research, forwarded the answer, and yet I found this article, very explanatory and authoritative. A study of the biblical passages dealing with alcohol, author William H. Shea. Reprinted from Signs of the Times, November 1988. Published on Biblical Research Institute’s website.

Doesn’t the Bible refer in a number of places to wine and strong drink? Don’t we quite often find people drinking alcohol in the Bible? Can’t we assume, then, that Scripture generally does not condemn drinking alcoholic beverages?

It’s true that we often find people drinking alcohol in the Bible and that Scripture speaks of alcoholic beverages, but we need to be careful not to read too much into a superficial look at such texts. When our English Old Testaments refer to alcohol, they generally use the words wine or strong drink. So any examination of the Old Testament’s attitude toward alcohol must take into account the different Hebrew words translated into these two English terms.

The term strong drink presents no major translation problems because only one Hebrew word, shekar, lies behind it. But even so, the translation strong drink is more general than it ought to be. Modern readers may well think of strong drink as distilled liquor. But that is not what the Bible means by the term shekar. Since the process of distilling alcohol did not develop until around A.D. 500, the strongest alcoholic beverage people could make in Bible times contained only 14 percent alcohol by volume, approximately the maximum produced by natural fermentation. This fact tells us that the scriptural term strong drink certainly gives us no license to drink what we know today as hard liquor.

If distilled alcohol is not what the Bible means by shekar, what does it mean?

Here is where ancient languages related to Hebrew can be helpful. Documents written in cuneiform script on clay tablets tell us that the Babylonians had an alcoholic beverage they called shikaru. (Notice how similar this Babylonian word is to the Hebrew shekar. It is actually the same word in two related Semitic languages.) Some of these clay tablets tell how shikaru was made so we can easily determine what beverage they are describing. From grain, the Babylonians made a mash which was allowed to ferment. In other words, these tablets that speak about making shikaru are talking about making beer! Since the Bible texts that use the word shekar are referring to the same drink, they are talking about beer as well.

This is something extremely relevant to our modern society. Here are Bible texts talking about beerthe beverage that is so widely advertized on American TV and that is so widely consumed by the American public.

And what view does the Bible take of this beverage? A very dim and negative view indeed. Of 21 Old Testament texts that mention shekar (beer), 19 strongly condemn it. The other two texts present special cases (we’ll discuss one of these later). The New Testament mentions this same beverage only once and prohibits its use by John the Baptist as he grew up.

To give something of the picture these 19 Old Testament texts convey, let’s look at what some of them say about shekar: Leviticus 10:9 prohibits its use by a priest in ministry; Numbers 6:2, 3 forbids Nazarites from drinking it; in Judges 13:3, 4 an angel warns Samson’s mother-to-be not to drink it during her pregnancy; in Deuteronomy 29:5, 6 God tells the Israelites that He did not provide this drink for them in their wilderness wanderings.

There is also the interesting story of Hannah. She went to the tabernacle at Shiloh and prayed so earnestly about the fact that she was childless that the priest accused her of being drunk with shekar. This she denied. See 1 Samuel 1:15.

The prophets of Judah in the eighth century B.C. were especially vigorous in their condemnation of strong drink, or beer. Isaiah mentions it eight times, and each reference is strongly negative. He pronounces a woe upon those who drink it (Isa 5:11) and notes that it would not bring mirth when God cursed the land (Isa 24:9). He points out that beer causes staggering (Isa 29:9) and that false priests and prophets were two groups who especially staggered from its effects (Isa 28:7). The prophet Micah noted that the people wanted precisely this kind of leaderone who would approve of its use (Mic 2:11). Proverbs 20:1 speaks of rage and brawling as two of its side effects.

Thus we see an almost universal condemnation of beer in the Old Testament. But what about Deuteronomy 14:22-28? This text doesn’t seem to fit the pattern; it seems to indicate that Israelites could actually pay part of their tithe in beer! Some have seen in this a modern license for beer-drinking.

First, we should carefully note that Deuteronomy 14 is dealing with a special use under special circumstances. The chapter takes up the subject of the tithe in verses 22 and 23. In a later section, it speaks about what might be called „delayed tithe.” It is here that beer occurs as part of the „delayed tithe.”

What is all this talking about?

Deuteronomy 14 identifies the tithe as certain foods and drinks that the Israelite was to take to the sanctuary located centrally in the nation. When the tithe was paid regularly and on time, the products offered were to include newborn lambs and calves, freshly pressed oil, new unfermented wine or grape juice (tirosh), and grain. All these were fresh products that came from the harvest of the new agricultural year.

But what was the Israelite to do if for some reason he couldn’t get to the sanctuary with these fresh products? He was to make a substitution, and it is this substitution that verses 24-26 describe.

Verse 24 presents the problem: that of an Israelite who was not able to get to the sanctuary on time. Verse 25 presents the intermediate solution: he was to convert his tithe into silver and retain the money until he was able to go to the sanctuary. Verse 26 gives the final step in presenting the delayed tithe. When he arrived at the sanctuary, the Israelite was to purchase some of the same agricultural products he should have brought earlier and eat the tithe meal before the Lord.

But the products he purchased for the tithe meal must be mature to show symbolically that the tithe presentation was late. Thus he did not present a lamb; he purchased a mature sheep for presentation. He did not present a calf, but a mature ox. Instead of fresh grape juice (tirosh) he presented yayin, wine that had fermented with the passing of time. And he did not present grain; he presented beer that had been made from grain. In each case, the delayed tithe meal consisted of things chosen to correspond to and show the development of the agricultural product which should have been presented originally. Although not readily apparent, this actually involved an interest penalty since the ox would cost more than a calf and the sheep more than a lamb.

Under these special circumstances, the symbolic substitution of beer for the earlier grain when presenting „delayed tithe” can by no means be taken as a license for unrestricted recreational use of beereither then or now. Especially when beer is elsewhere condemned in the Old Testament.

When we turn to the subject of wine in the Scriptures, we find two main words-tirosh which usually refers to grape juice in its unfermented state, the way it comes from the press as a new agricultural product, and yayin, a word with less clear meanings.

In 30 of the 38 references to tirosh in the Old Testament it is paired with grain and oil, or oil alone, as products of the harvest used for tithe and taxes, etc. Three texts (Mic 6:15; Isa 62:8; 65:8) refer to tirosh as the product of the grape; four texts (Prov 3:10; Joel 2:24; Mic 6:15; and Hos 9:2) speak of tirosh as produced by pressing. Only one text (Hos 4:11) suggests that tiroshmay produce intoxicationand this text may actually be referring to early fermentation or to the practice of mixing new and old (fermented) wine.

Thus tirosh appears to refer almost exclusively to unfermented wine or grape juice. But yayin, the other main word that the Bible uses for wine, clearly means fermented wine in most cases.

The Old Testament uses the word yayin some 140 times. Before dealing with specific texts, let’s get a general overview of its use in the Bible. By my count, the Bible presents yayin in a negative light 60 times; in about 60 more cases it simply mentions it without making any value judgment, and in only 17 references does it possibly say something positive about it. Thus yayin, fermented wine, is spoken of negatively much more often that it is positively.

On the negative side, first of all, are the stories in which fermented wine produces bad results. Not many (if any) historical narratives in the Old Testament mention a beneficial outcome from the use of wine, but several end disastrously: the drunkenness of Noah (Gen 9:21); Lot (Gen 19:32-35); Nabal (1 Sam 25:36, 37); Amnon (2 Sam 13:28); Belshazzar (Dan 5:1-3); and Ahasuerus (Esth 1:1-10), for example.

Isaiah (51:21); Jeremiah (23:9); Hosea (4:11; 7:5); Joel (1:5); and Habbakuk (2:15) are among the Bible prophets who point out the ill effects, both physical and moral, which intoxicating wine produces.

Proverbs 23:29-35 describes wine’s immediate physical effects (red eyes and blurred vision), its immediate social effects (strife and wounds), as well as the long-term results (woe and sorrow). Elsewhere, the book of Proverbs refers to wine as producing poverty (21:17) and violence (4:17). Isaiah adds that it deceives the mind (28:7), inflames a person, and leads to forgetfulness of God (5:11, 12).

Those texts which point to certain useful functions of wine should not be overlooked, but they should be placed in perspective. Three texts (Ps 104:15; Eccl 9:7; 10:19) mention that wine can make the heart glad and bring cheer. This indicates an awareness of the immediate physiological effects of alcohol, but these texts need to be placed along side the many other Bible statements mentioning its nonbeneficial long-term results.

Ecclesiastes 9:7 and 10:19 might superficially appear to give approval for indulging in alcohol. In a bit of ancient philosophy, Ecclesiastes 9:7 says, „Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved what you do.” RSV. It is a description of the author’s search for those things that bring meaning in life. This text is pointing out that man should be content with certain common duties of lifeincluding eating and drinking, even wine. However, the book ends with the author’s finding a greater good to provide meaning in lifethat man should fear God and keep His commandments. See chapter 12:13. All the other experiences in which the author tries to find meaning fade in significance beside this.

At least seven other Bible texts which appear to speak favorably of yayin do so merely by means of comparison; they are not speaking directly about wine itself. For example, the Song of Solomon uses a comparison with wine four times (1:2, 4; 4:10; and 7:9) to bring out the beloved’s beauty. Hosea 14:7 uses the fragrance of wine from Lebanon as a comparison. Proverbs 9:5, 6 uses wine figuratively in talking about the „banquet of life” that wisdom provides. Amos 9:14 and Zechariah 10:7 use the merriment that wine creates as a figure of how God’s people will rejoice at the time of His final victory.

Wine was also used as a drink offering in the temple service, just as we have seen that beer was used in the presentation of delayed tithe. These drink offerings were poured out beside the altar; they were not drunk by the priests.

Thus most of the texts which mention wine favorably actually use it figuratively in comparisons. A few speak of its immediate physiological effects. But by far the majority describe its detrimental resultssuch as wicked acts committed in connection with drinking wine. Isaiah, for example, associates wine with the taking of bribes. See Isaiah 5:22, 23. Amos combines wine with profaning sacred things. See Amos 2:8.

In summary, the writers of the Old Testament raise four indictments against drinking wine. First, they recognize its immediate adverse physical effectsredness of the eyes, blurring of vision, staggering, and drunkenness in general. Second, they recognize its long-term moral effectsvarious kinds of immoral and unethical behavior along with the social results of such actions. Third, they identify particular instances of such behavior and connect them with specific persons. Fourth, because of its effects, they prohibit certain classes and specific individuals from drinking any wine.

In contrast to this large negative picture, about the only positive images the Bible gives of alcohol are three texts that note alcohol can produce a state of levity (certainly a valid physiological observation). The Bible writers also occasionally use wine to draw some favorable comparisons in figures of speech. (Yet they also use wine to symbolize some unfavorable comparisons as well. See the „wine of wrath” in Psalm 75:8 and Jeremiah 25:15).

How then should we personally relate to alcohol in view of the overall picture given in the Old Testament? If one takes the whole picture into account and evaluates all the evidence, the most reasonable conclusion is that the only safe course is complete abstinence from alcohol in any form.

Anunțuri

What happened with the (first) mountain in Daniel 2?

I need some clarity on some things regarding the dream and its interpretation in Daniel 2.

Is the prophecy symbolic or literal? If it’s literal, yes, we have historically records to prove that these kingdoms actually existed. As the v. 45 says „the dream is certain, and the interpretation is sure”. However, if its symbolic then it’s fair to say that the mountain where the stone came from, must have a meaning, because in v. 35 it says that „the stone grew and became a great mountain and it filled the whole earth”. So, what happened to the first mountain where the stone was cut off from? Would it be fair to say it disappeared? Maybe the prophecy is both symbolic and literal…

What’s your views on that?

Thank you.

 

Thank you for the question(s). First, let me review the dream and its basic features, so that we can somehow see if it is symbolic or literal.

As we will see below, the dream is symbolic, and its interpretation has very concrete application. Let me start with the interpretation… While Daniel thanks the Lord for giving him the interpretation, he says that God “changes times and seasons, he removes kings and sets up kings” (v. 21). The vision is then about kings! Are they literal? Of course.

When Daniel is presented before the king, he tells Nebuchadnezzar that God has shown the king “what will be in the latter days” (v. 28). The worries the king had had were also about… “what would be after this” (v. 29), that is after his reign. Inevitably, the king meditated and maybe worried about the next king or even the kingdom to follow his reign.

Now, the dream is built around an image. This is of course a symbol. No one makes a statue of 4 different metals and with its feet of… clay! Whatever was symbolic in the dream, now turns to some historical application. I say “some” because, of course, we do not take everything. For example, there is nothing about the “neck”. There is nothing about the “two” arms or the “two” legs, although it says about arms and legs. While some people interpret even the “ten” toes, the prophecy itself does not say anything about their number (we presume the statue had ten).

When Daniel interprets inflexibly that “you [Nebuchadnezzar] are the head of gold” (v. 38), then we understand that such an application was for them in a “here and now” setting. Accordingly, the rest of the prophecy and its interpretation has to do with following kingdoms, in the future but nonetheless real. In chapter 5 we learn who followed the Babylonians – the Medo-Persians. In chapter 8:21 we learn about the kingdom of Greece, who conquered the Medo-Persia (the same is pointed out also in 10:20). To follow up, who conquered Greece? By the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Romans were the rulers of the world including Jerusalem (Luke 2:1, 3:1 or Luke 21:20, John 11:48).

Whatever would be the toes and the feet, they are not in the Bible, as the history of the Bible covers only as much as the first century of Christianity. We believe that these kingdoms, of whom Daniel says they will be divided, strong and weak, mixed in marriages, but not hold together, are those kingdoms found in the history of Europe after the fall of Rome (476 AD).

The last of the kingdoms is a stone. We believe is the reign of Jesus Christ, His kingdom, as about it we learn that it is “a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people” (v. 44). Even more, “it shall stand forever” (v. 44).

This stone is not metals (gold, silver, bronze, iron); it is not clay; this is not a mixture of metal and clay. It is stone, a completely different substance. Such a stone is taken from… stone. Cut out from a larger one, a mountain.


So, now your question is what happened to that mountain?

We don’t know. It is as simple as that.

And probably it does not have a special significance. This should not surprise or disappoint you. Remember what Daniel said about another set of visions? Read Daniel 7:1 and learn that after it all, “he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter”. Maybe even here, the “sum of the matter” did not include some details. For example, as I said before about the lack of information/interpretation of neck, two arms, two legs, let me add: it does not say anything about the clothes the statue might have had, if the arms were crossed (as some depict them) or along the body (as in some statues), if the person carried any weapon or insignia, if there were any shoes on the feet, how big was the stone, or why on the final destruction the order things is different (the “clay” is placed out of the normal order, v. 35 and v. 45).

Bear with me – the Bible does not say about what happened with the (first) mountain. About the second mountain, we are clearly told: “the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (v. 35). But only during the delivery of the interpretation, we learn that the stone was cut in the first place from a mountain (v. 45).

We do not know if that mountain was of this world or not. We presume it to be so. If it is so, then that first mountain was covered by the second. If not… then… we don’t know.

It is not to us to tell it what happened with it. The Bible says about the stone that it “was cut out by no human hand” (v. 34). The point is that it looks like having a divine origin, or at least not a human origin.. It is not the result of human efforts. May we suggest that while hitting the statue, it looks like coming from heaven? Exactly as Jesus’ kingdom. See John 18:36 – “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.””

Noi de ce nu dansăm? (când nu dansăm)

Am fost întrebat „Noi de ce nu dansăm?” Iată o tentativă de răspuns.

1. Definirea unui termen

Ce înțelegem prin dans? E o mișcare pe muzică…

Poate fi balet, dans tematic (cum era la noi în comunism sau cum este la unele programe culturale), dans țărănesc (fiecare țară are așa ceva), dans de joc la o nuntă (horă, sârbă, dansul pinguinului (!)), mișcările unei galerii la un meci, dansul ritual înainte de meci sau jocul de după luarea cupei, paradă militară, program aerobic, dans acrobatic, dans senzual, break-dance și nenumărate stiluri mai mult sau mai puțin dirty-dancing….

DEX-ul spune așa:

dans sn [At: (cca 1600), CUV. D. BĂTR. II, 227/1 1 / Pl: ~uri / E: fr danse] 1 Ansamblu de mișcări ritmatice, variate, ale corpului omenesc, executate de obicei în ritmul unei melodii, cu caracter ritual, artistic sau de divertisment Si: joc, (îrg) salt2, (înv) săltare, săltătură, (îvp) danț. 2 (Înv; pex) Ansamblu de oameni care execută aceste mișcări Vz joc. 3 Executare a unui dans (1). 4 (Îe) Ai intrat în ~ (sau horă), trebuie să joci Se spune când cineva se angajează la ceva fară posibilitatea de a mai renunța. 5 (Îs) ~ macabru Temă alegorică simbolizând egalitatea în fața morții, reprezentată de un schelet care atrage oamenii într-o horă, pentru a-i ucide. 6 (Îs) ~ul albinelor Mod diferențiat de zbor, prin care albinele semnalizează găsirea unei surse de hrană. 7 (Pex) Artă ale cărei mijloace de expresie sunt mișcările ritmatice ale corpului omenesc. 8 (Îs) ~ clasic sau academic Ansamblu de mișcări artistice convenționale care constituie baza tehnică a coregrafiei, a spectacolelor de balet etc. 9 (Îs) ~ pe gheață Patinaj artistic. 10 Petrecere la care se dansează.

 

2. Deschidere

Înainte de a spune ce credem ca adventiști despre dans (identificat mai sus), merită apreciat curajul de a întreba și apoi transparența de a vorbi despre subiecte care altfel sunt tabu. Mulțumim celui ce întreabă și sperăm să avem deschiderea necesară pentru a judeca lucrurile și dacă stau altfel decât am crede sau am fi dispuși să acceptăm.

 

3. Biblia și dansul

Dacă am identificat deci care e dansul la care ne referim (punctul #1), atunci vom vedea că discuția e în general cu tendință spre dansul între un el și o ea. Eventual dansul într-o horă, la o nuntă de nepocăiți. Unii ar pune în discuție și mișcările de la programele din unele biserici.

Dacă așa stau lucrurile, atunci merită spus de la bun început că Biblia nu vorbește deloc despre așa ceva. Iar dacă cineva găsește în Biblie jocul și dansul (vezi texte mai jos), atunci să se știe că acestea nu au nicio legătură cu dansul între un el și o ea din zilele noastre și nici cu dansul de la nunți. Cât privește dacă să o faci la biserică sau nu, iarăși nu va găsi în Biblie nimic despre a dansa la sinagogă, templu sau într-un serviciu divin.

 

Apare dansul în Biblie? Da.

  • Psalmii 149:3 – Să laude Numele Lui cu jocuri, să-L laude cu toba şi cu arfa!
    Dar să citim și versetul 6 unde spune să aibă și „sabie” la ei!

 

  • Psalmii 150:4 – Lăudaţi-L cu timpane şi cu jocuri…
    Dacă citim toată lista, vedem că acolo sunt enumerate multe instrumente de cântat și e posibil ca cuvântul pentru „jocuri” să fi însemnat și un anume instrument muzical.

 

  • 2 Samuel 6:14,16 – David juca din răsputeri înaintea Domnului… împăratul David sărind şi jucând înaintea Domnului.
    Aici a fost pur și simplu un gest de bucurie (pentru care chiar nevasta l-a disprețuit). David a făcut multe lucruri bune, dar nu tot ce a făcut el merită urmat (războaie, crimă, adulter, țiitoare etc.). Mai știți când a făcut pe nebunul? (1 Samuel 21:13)

 

Totuși, Ellen G. White ne dă o altă perspectivă:

„David juca din rasputeri înaintea Domnului“, în bucuria lui, ținând tactul cântecului” (Patriarhi și profeți, pag. 707 în original).

Probabil așa cum facem și noi uneori când aplaudăm pe un ritm (știu să țin un ritm la tobe).

 

Merită citit mai departe:

Dansul lui David, în bucuria lui plină de evlavie, înaintea lui Dumnezeu a fost dat ca exemplu de catre iubitorii de petreceri, ca îndreptățire a dansului modern; dar argumente de felul acesta nu se pot susține. În zilele noastre, dansul e însoțit de nebunii și petreceri nocturne. Sănătatea și moralitatea sunt sacrificate iubirii de petreceri. În mijlocul celor ce frecventează sălile de bal, Dumnezeu nu este un obiect al cugetării și al respectului; lor li s-ar părea că nu se cade ca la adunările lor să se facă rugăciuni și să se cânte cântari de laudă. Proba aceasta trebuie să fie hotarâtoare. Distracțiile care au tendința de a slăbi iubirea pentru cele sfinte și care scad plăcerea pentru serviciul lui Dumnezeu nu trebuie să fie căutate de creștini. Muzica și dansul împreună cu lauda plină de bucurie pentru Dumnezeu cu prilejul mutării chivotului n-au nici cea mai slabă asemănare cu desfrâul dansului modern. Unul urmărea să păstreze viu în minte pe Dumnezeu și proslăvea Numele Lui cel sfânt. Celalalt este o născocire a lui Satana pentru a-i face pe oameni să-L uite pe Dumnezeu și să-L dezonoreze.

 

  • Mai găsim în Biblie însă și petrecerea dată în cinstea fiului risipitor, întors acasă – „muzică și jocuri” (Luca 15:25).
  • Mai găsim pe fata lui Iefta, care a ieșit înaintea tatălui ei „cu timpane și jocuri” (Judecătorii 11:34).
  • Găsim că la sărbători fetele ieșeau „să joace” (Judecătorii 21:21, 1 Samuel 18:6).
  • Așa a făcut și Maria, sora lui Moise (Exodul 15:20)
  • Dar tot așa făceau și amaleciții (1 Samuel 30:16).
  • Este important să știm că petrecerile puteau degenera în adevărate apostazii. La momentul idolatriei, când au făcut vițelul de aur, oamenii din popor „s-au sculat să joace” (Exodul 32:6). Păcatul este menționat și în Noul Testament de către Pavel care face referire la același moment (1 Corinteni 10:7).
  • Și despre „Înțelepciune” spune Biblia că „juca” înaintea Domnului (Proverbele 8:30-31). Văd aici dansul tematic sau cel de bucurie, o serie de mișcări care transmit o bucurie, care reprezintă ceva (de genul: o mișcare de jos în sus arată creșterea; o unduire a trupului poate simboliza un vânt care-ți bate în față etc.).

 

4. Ce știu alții despre noi?

Ce scria BBC despre adventiști? Între altele că „Social dancing is not permittted.” Ne știu bine oamenii. Oare cum ar fi să spună despre noi că nu fumăm iar noi să ne apucăm de fumat?…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/seventhdayadventist_1.shtml

 

5. Resurse

Un articol bogat aici „Shall We Dance?” (Adventists Affirm e o revistă adventistă conservatoare). Articolul e scris de Bacchiocchi și bate în perspectiva mai liberală a lui Bill Knott. De știut că Bacchiocchi era foarte conservator, iar peste ani Knott a devenit redactorul-șef al… Adventist Review 😊

Concluzia articolului:

There are no indications in the Bible or history that dance was ever a component of divine worship in the Temple, synagogue, or early church. Furthermore, the Bible offers no support for the kind of romantic or sensual dancing popular today. Nothing in the Bible indicates that men and women ever danced together as couples. Dancing was essentially a social celebration of special events, such as a military victory, a religious festival, or a family reunion. Most of the dancing was done by women who were excluded from the music ministry of God’s house, apparently because their entertainment type of music was deemed unsuitable for the worship service.

The lesson that the church today needs to learn from Scripture and history is that secular music associated with entertainment is out of place in God’s house. Those who are actively involved in pushing for the adoption of such music in the church need to understand the biblical distinction between secular music used for entertainment and sacred music suitable for the worship of God. People in Bible times understood and respected this distinction, and we must respect it today if the church is to remain a sacred sanctuary for the worship of God rather than becoming a secular place for social entertainment.

At a time when the distinction between sacred and secular music is blurred and many are promoting modified versions of secular dancing music for church use, we need to remember that the Bible calls us to „worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (1 Chron 16:29; cf. Ps 29:2; 96:9).

 

 

Alte resurse adventiste

 

  • The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, article, “Dance”: “the Biblical dance bears little resemblance to the society dance (or even the so-called ‘square dance’) of modern Western civilization.”

 

  • The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, vol. 11, article “Recreation and Amusements,” section on “Dancing”: „social dancing as it is known today is not found in Scripture, and from the beginning the Seventh-day Adventist Church has objected to it. […] Because it is maintained that the dance tends to lessen interest in spiritual life, usually involves unchristian associations, and creates excitements that can lead to immorality, baptismal candidates are instructed to refrain from dancing (Church Manual).

 

Din Ellen G. White (citate și în Manualul Bisericii)

“The amusement of dancing, as conducted at the present day, is a school of depravity, a fearful curse to society” (MYP 399).

“Many of the amusements popular in the world today, even with those who claim to be Christians, tend to the same end as did those of the heathen. There are indeed few among them that Satan does not turn to account in destroying souls. Through the drama he has worked for ages to excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card table, Satan employs to break down the barriers of principle and open the door to sensual indulgence. In every gathering for pleasure where pride is fostered or appetite indulged, where one is led to forget God and lose sight of eternal interests, there Satan is binding his chains about the soul.”—PP 459, 460.

 

Concluzii

Așadar, de ce nu dansăm „ca lumea”?

Pentru același motiv pentru care nu ne tatuăm, nu bem, nu fumăm, nu jucăm poker și nu mergem la bar(ă). Pentru că nu face cinste lui Dumnezeu. Asta nu înseamnă că nu știu să mă bucur!

P.S. Da, frate, ar zice cineva, dar cum poți să te duci la o petrecere la care ești invitat și să nu dansezi? Ei bine, exact cum mă duc și sunt vegetarian, fiind atent să nu mănânc orice porc(ărie), exact cum pot să nu beau alcool, să nu fumez… Și să nu-mi fac cu ochiul cu nevasta altuia care, dansând, se bagă în seamă… (sis)tematic.

Is Jesus good?

Q. At some point the rich young ruler talks to Jesus and He replies. Jesus does not call Himself good. Why is that? Is it because he has to yet conquer sin? Because he has to overcome sin? Can you help me? 

 

Thank you, JP for the question(s). Let me first bring in here the full text, according to the Gospels (all texts quoted from ESV).

Mark 10:17-18. And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Luke 18:18-19. And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Matthew 19:16-17. And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”


As you can easily notice, Mark and Luke have basically the same wording – “good Teacher”. However, Matthew is different here, where this being “good” does not apply to Jesus. Instead, it is about a good “thing” to be done in order to get eternal life. Yet in all three reports, Jesus points out that there is only one who is good – God.

So, maybe before answering your question it would do us good to know better which was the question indeed. Was it about “Jesus being good”, or about “a good thing”?

We are not sure and I propose a proactive approach. It makes more sense to consider that both things were asked, in a manner like the following: “Good teacher, what good deed must I do to inherit the eternal life?”

This is not pushing, is just reading and merging the reports. When the ruler asks (in Luke) “what must I do” it is evidently that he is thinking of a good thing, although the word is missing. For sure he would not have had in mind some bad thing… In fact, he came in order to get something more, something better for his already virtuous life.

So, maybe the question was complex, stressing both good teacher and good deed, and then the Evangelists each emphasized what seemed to align with the focus of their writing. Matthew, who wrote having in mind a Jewish audience, most probably was more focused on “good deed”, on “what is good” etc. as we know they were obsessed on doing good to get eternal life (as the ruler’s question and motivation implied). While Mark and Luke, writing for general audience, stressed the other thing.

Now, as we tried to settle that, let’s see why is Jesus denying that He is good. Or, is He?

First of all, Jesus does not deny that He is good. Indeed, we may accept that such an approach from Him seems to imply that He is not good. But that is just our reading into it. Don’t forget that Jesus avoided many times saying openly He is the Messiah. That doesn’t mean He was not the Annointed one! He openly told He is, but only to the right persons and/or at the right time (to the Samaritan woman – John 4:26, to the apostles – Matthew 16:16-17, to Caiaphas – Matthew 26:64).

Indeed, Jesus does not call Himself good. Would that mean that He is bad? By no means. Let us broaden the options – maybe Jesus redirects the attention and focuses to somewhere else.

As an illustration, let’s imagine a new presidential couple on the morning after the ceremony. The new First Lady says to her dear husband: „Good morning Mr. President.” And he replies: „I’m not your president.” Is he implying he is not the president? By no means. Yet he still wants to be the lover, the husband… While president for all (including his wife), he is still her husband. When we avoid something it does not necessarily mean the opposite is right.

One very interesting explanation found in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary is that there was not such a custom to address a rabbi calling him “good”. If we get back to their setting, let us know that

„there seems to be no record in rabbinical literature that rabbis were ever addressed as ‘good’. On the contrary, in the Mishnah, God Himself is spoken of as ‘he that is good and bestows good’ (Berakoth 9. 2, Soncino ed. of the Talmud, p. 327).”

“Jesus does not disavow His deity, as might at first appear, but rather clarifies and emphasizes the full significance of the young man’s statement.” (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 457).

Coming back to your questions, you ask if “is it because Jesus has yet to conquer sin?” The answer is a clear No. That is out of question.

In Jesus there was no fault, no sin. That is for sure, as different apostles (Paul, Peter, John) have mentioned it repeatedly (read for example 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5). Even Jesus challenged His opponents to that – if they can find any sin in Him (see John 8:46). In fact, the question the ruler asked was not even close to our reading into it. The ruler didn’t question if Jesus was with or without sin. Accordingly, let us answer in line with the context.

Coming back towards a conclusion, if any person was “good” indeed, that would be only God. Jesus was „good” also, only that such a designation would equal Him with God, and that was a truth some were not ready to grasp. Yet. Or, if grasped indeed, as the ruler implied, would the answer satisfy and be followed as from God?

In other words, it seems that Jesus, when correcting the ruler, wanted to ask something like: why do you stress this out (Me being good)? Do you want Me to answer as you imply, as a Divine person? Are you ready to accept whatever will I tell you as answer to your request?

We know the rest of the story, how this young man turned away from Jesus. In the ruler’s mind, this „good teacher” suddently became the bad one. So he left sad, disappointed. Why?

Because of „bad answer” given by the „good teacher.”

That is, the cross.

Închinare în duh și în adevăr

Întrebare: „Ce este aceea închinare în duh și în adevăr?”

 

Textul biblic

„Doamne” I-a zis femeia „văd că eşti proroc. Părinţii noştri s-au închinat pe muntele acesta; şi voi ziceţi că în Ierusalim este locul unde trebuie să se închine oamenii.”

„Femeie” i-a zis Isus „crede-Mă că vine ceasul când nu vă veţi închina Tatălui, nici pe muntele acesta, nici în Ierusalim. Voi vă închinaţi la ce nu cunoaşteţi; noi ne închinăm la ce cunoaştem, căci mântuirea vine de la Iudei. Dar vine ceasul, şi acum a şi venit, când închinătorii adevăraţi se vor închina Tatălui în duh şi în adevăr; fiindcă astfel de închinători doreşte şi Tatăl. Dumnezeu este Duh; şi cine se închină Lui, trebuie să I se închine în duh şi în adevăr.” (Ioan 4:19-24)

  • Ioan 4:19-24 (dialogul între Isus și o femeie samariteană)
  • Cu alte cuvinte, întrebarea femeii este: unde să ne închinăm, la noi sau la voi?
  • Isus răspunde: închinarea nu ține de loc, ci de atitudine și de adevăr.

 

Contextul biblic

 Care era relația dintre samariteni și evrei?

  • Luca 17:16-18 (cei zece leproși, dintre care doar samariteanul mulțumește)
  • Luca 10:37 (pilda samariteanului milos)
  • Ioan 8:48 (Isus este văzut ca samaritean și demonizat)
  • Ioan 4:49 (iudeii n-au legături cu samaritenii)
  • Ioan 4:40-41 (Isus stă în casă la samariteni, mănâncă cu ei).

 

Ce știm din Biblie despre Samaria?

  • 1 Împărați 11:33 (pe vremea împăraților, după domnia lui Solomon, țara s-a rupt în două. Motivul principal a fost apostazia)
  • 1 Împărați 11:26-40 (Roboam a rămas cu două seminții, iar Ieroboam a preluat zece seminții.
  • 1 Împărați 11:31 (împăratul Ieroboam conduce cele 10 seminții din nord, Israelul, în timp ce în sud rămâne Iuda)
  • 1 Împărați 12:25-33 (Ieroboam duce poporul în rătăcire: idoli/viței, preoți ai lui, sărbători inventate)
  • 1 Împărați 16:23-24 (Samaria devine cetatea-capitală a Israelului)

 

Căderea Samariei sub asirieni

  • 2 Împărați 17. (ultimul împărat al lui Israel, Osea, a fost luat prizonier de Salmanasar, împăratul Asiriei)
  • 2 Împărați 17 (tot capitolul trebuie citit pentru a vedea păcatele care au dus la căderea Samariei, majoritatea având de-a face cu închinarea)
  • Spre exemplu: au urmat alte obiceiuri, păgânești (v. 8), au adoptat alți dumnezei (v. 7 și 16), au căzut în idolatrie (v. 10), s-au lepădat de credință (v. 15)… Punctul culminant este acela că și-au ars copiii în foc (v. 17). Autorul biblic scrie că „au făcut pe ascuns împotriva Domnului, Dumnezeului lor, lucruri care nu sunt bune” (2 Împărați 17:9). Cum adică, „pe ascuns”? Oare nu vede Domnul?…
  • 2 Împărați 18:27 (aveau o viziune limitată despre Dumnezeu)
  • 2 Împărați 17:20-23 și 18:11-12 (finalul trist al istoriei lor – plecarea în robia asiriană)
  • 2 Împărați 17:18 (nu mai rămâne decât seminția din sud, a lui Iuda – iudeii)

 

Noii samariteni (neamuri și religii amestecate)

  • 2 Împărați 17:24 (asirienii repopulează țara cu alte neamuri, păgâne)
  • 2 Împărați 17:29-31 (noua religie a samaritenilor este una amestecată)
  • 2 Împărați 17:32, 33-34, 41 (textele vorbesc despre amestec între religia adevărată și cea falsă)

 

La venirea din robie (după robia babiloniană a lui Iuda, de 70 de ani)

  • Neemia 4:1-2 (când să zidească cetatea, unii erau „ostașii Samariei”, alții erau „iudeii neputincioși”)
  • Neemia 4:4-5 (reacția lui Neemia față de samariteni)
  • Ezra 4:1 (Ezra îi numește pe samariteni „vrăjmași”)
  • Ezra 4:3 (samaritenii nu sunt lăsați să zidească alături de evrei cetatea Ierusalimului)

 

Revenind la vremea lui Isus

  • Femeia întreabă unde e locul adevărat de închinare, ori-ori – Muntele Garizim (Samaria) sau Muntele Sionului (Ierusalim).
  • Isus răspunde: nici-nici. Știa că Ierusalimul va fi dărâmat, Luca 21:6, după ce templul avea să nu mai fie locul de închinare (Luca 13:35; Luca 23:45).
  • „Voi vă închinați la ce nu cunoașteți”. Faptele apostolilor 17 (tot capitolul vorbește despre închinare la „un dumnezeu necunoscut”). De asemenea, în capitol, Pavel punctează repetat că Dumnezeu nu are formă (ca idolii), nu este slujit de mâini omenești (preoți), nu locuiește în temple (ca zeii).
  • „Mântuirea vine de la iudei”. Religia adevărată (vezi Romani 3:1-2; 9:4-5, Evrei 1:1-2). Ei aveau Biblia, din ei avea să iasă Mesia.
  • „Închinătorii adevăraţi” (deci e clar că sunt și… neadevărați). Vezi unii neadevărați în Matei 7:21-23 (făcători de minuni). Vezi alții în Matei 15:8. Ca formă, păreau că se închină corect. În realitate… nu! Alții bolboroseau cuvinte repetate, păgânii (Matei 6:7), alții se rugau tare, să-i vadă lumea (Matei 6:5).
  • Dumnezeu „dorește” închinători adevărați, nu ca Iuda (Matei 26:49). De preferat un Toma (Ioan 20:28)
  • „Dumnezeu este Duh” – El este oriunde. Vede în ascuns, când te rogi în odăița ta (Matei 6:6).

 

La vremea sfârșitului

  • 2 Tesaloniceni 2:4 (antihristul va pretinde închinare)
  • Apocalipsa 13:4 (oamenii se vor închina balaurului – Satana)
  • Apocalipsa 13:4 (oamenii se vor închina fiarei politico-religioase care va conduce lumea)
  • Apocalipsa 13:8 (cei aleși, cei scriși în cartea vieții Mielului nu i se vor închina)
  • Apocalipsa 13:12 (fiara a doua, o putere creștină cu coarne de miel dar cu glas de balaur, va face ca toată lumea să se închine primei fiare)
  • Apocalipsa 13:15 (toți cei ce nu se vor închina fiarei vor fi condamnați la moarte)

 

Apelul final din partea lui Dumnezeu pentru închinarea adevărată

  • Apocalipsa 14:6-7 (închinați-vă Creatorului)
  • Apocalipsa 14:9 (cine se închină fiarei primește mânia lui Dumnezeu)

 

Împlinirea profeției

  • Apocalipsa 16:2 (plăgile vor cădea peste cei ce se închină fiarei)
  • Apocalipsa 20:4 (cei ce nu se închină fiarei vor primi mântuirea)

 

Concluzii

  • În cele 10 Porunci (Exodul 20) avem două porunci care vorbesc despre închinare. Porunca a doua ne spune cui să NU ne închinăm. Iar porunca a patra ne spune CÂND să ne închinăm lui Dumnezeu. Se pare că timpul închinării e mai important pentru Dumnezeu decât locul închinării.
  • Isus nu a vorbit decât de 2 ori despre închinare. Aici, cu femeia samariteană, și în pustia ispitirii, când Satana a cerut ca Isus să-i aducă închinare. Așadar, dacă urmăm sfatul lui Isus, El spune că (1) numai lui Dumnezeu să i te închini (Luca 4:8), iar (2) lui Dumnezeu să te închini „în duh” (nu în trup/formă) și „în adevăr” (nu în minciună) (Ioan 4:22-24).
  • În duh = fii conștient că Dumnezeu este oriunde, nu este legat de un loc (templu, munte), de un ritual (ce cuvinte să spui), de niște oameni (preoți), de niște forme (cu fața către)…
  • În adevăr = Fii conștient că trebuie să te închini Lui „în adevăr”, nu în minciună. Isus este calea, adevărul și viața (Ioan 14:6). În adevăr înseamnă în El, în Isus Hristos, în minciună înseamnă în Satana (Ioan 8:44). Să ne închinăm după cum spune Scriptura, căci Isus S-a rugat Tatălui pentru noi când a zis: „Sfințește-i prin adevărul Tău, Cuvântul Tău este adevărul” (Ioan 17:17).

„You are gods!”

“Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?”
(John 10:34)

 

Questions: Who are these “gods”? Are there more “gods”? How do you explain this Bible text?

 

The context of Jesus’ words – John 10

Reading the whole passage of John 10:22-39, we discover that Jesus was being pressed to give a clear-cut answer to the question – “Are you the Messiah?” (v. 24). So, we have to keep in mind that such a context was a highly explosive one as the Messiah was the fulfillment of the Jewish aspirations and expectations (Matthew 11:3), the One sent by God as His representative. Accordingly, one either was the Messiah, or was just claiming such a title, by blasphemy.

Evidently, Jesus was fully aware He is the Messiah, as He confirmed that to others – for example to the Samaritan woman (John 4:25-26); to the group of the twelve apostles (Matthew 16:16-17); later on, to the council of the high priests and elders (and this claim led Him directly to death, Mark 14:61-64). In the same time, Jesus knew that such a claim from Him, without the proper context, will have a side effect – unbelief and continuous hardening of the heart (see also the high tensions in Luke 22:66-71). This was already obvious many times before (John 10:25-26). They did not believe him because of the prejudices they had against Him, that is against His way of showing how Messiah would really look and act like (the same can be seen in Peter’s reaction when Jesus spoke about a suffering Messiah, Matthew 16:20-23).

Jesus then pushes the discussion by saying “I and the Father are one” (v. 30). In His mind, that meant that His plans and the plans of His Father are one, that He is following the directions of His Father (see also John 5:19). However, taking it as an assertion, the Jews were ready to stone Him (John 10:31). Questioned by Jesus about their intentions, they justified their anger by indicating a blasphemy in Jesus’ sayings (v. 33). The main accusation was clear – “You, being a man, make yourself God”.

Here Jesus confronts them on their field of expertise – the Scriptures. Quoting a verse in Psalms, He points out that the Scriptures spoke like He did, calling some humans “gods”. Let’s get there and see the passage for ourselves – Psalm 82 (please take your Bible and read it).

 

The context of Jesus’ quote – Psalm 82

Psalm 82 presents a heavenly setting, a “divine council” where God sits in the midst of some “gods” (v. 1).

However, these so-called “gods” are being judged by God (v. 1-2) and even accused for showing partiality to the wicked (v. 2). Furthermore, they are being urged to do justice, to rescue, to deliver the ones oppressed (vs. 3-4). The conclusion is that such judges have no knowledge and are walking in the darkness (v. 5).

Then, God speaks to them as in a review: He commends them for being “gods”, for being “sons of the Most High” (v. 6). Yet, due to their faulty judgment, He says, they are going to die like “men” and fall like any human “prince” (v. 7).

In the end, the psalmist speaks again, as he puts all his trust in God, who is going to rightly judge the whole earth (v. 8).

As this was the psalm Jesus quoted, let us see what’s about this expression “you are gods”.

 

What does it mean – “you are gods”?

In Jesus’ own words, He explains that “He” (God) named these persons as “gods”, as they were the ones to whom “the word of God came” (John 10:34). It is evident that God sees His representatives on earth as “gods”, as “sons of the Most High”, as they are to judge and make justice according to His will.

The word for “gods” is “elohim”, which is used also in Exodus 7:1, where God makes Moses “a god” for Pharaoh. In other words, by receiving his message from the God of heavens, and now presenting it to the ruler of the nation, Moses acts to Pharaoh like a god speaking to a human. Moses is a man, no doubt about it. But he acts like a god to the ruler of the nation.

The same perspective as in Psalm 82 is to be found in Psalm 58, where in verse 1 the psalmist calls the judges/rulers also “gods”. As the psalm continues it is evidently that these “gods” are not ruling the way God wants – see the solution in verse 11, where in the end God is the one who judges on earth.

Again, the same setting is to be seen in Isaiah 3:13-15, where these corrupt judges are confirmed to be “elders and princes of the people”.

It becomes clear that these “gods” are not true to their calling. In the same time, some true “gods” would be the ones that follow their heaven commissioned task, that is fulfilling the will of the Father, the Most High, the Lord God of hosts.

 

Jesus as a Son of God

There is no question that Jesus really fulfilled such a task from His Father, as it is evident in texts like Luke 4:18-21, when preaching in Nazareth, or the one in Matthew 11:2-6, with a message to John the Baptist. While the rulers of this earth, be they kings, judges, priests, are not ruling according to God’s will, Jesus was one that did, as He was the one “consecrated” by the Father and thus “sent into the world” (John 10:36). He plainly told them: “I have shown you many good works from the Father” (John 10:32).

He admits having said that “I am the Son of God” (v. 36). There is absolutely no question about it. He did it. He believed it. He was indeed!

In the same time, He urges them to review what they perceived as an assertion and even blasphemy, to judge it objectively and see if He was doing or not “the works of My Father”. Evidently, He was a “god”, was a “son of the Most High”, because He was consecrated, sent into the world and here He fulfilled His Father’s will up to the end (see John 17:4 and Luke 22:42).

The passage moves toward an abrupt ending with Jesus affirming again His special and close relation to the Father, by using a language that in their uncircumcised ears was like another blasphemy: “the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (John 10:38). The story ends with Jews ready again to arrest Him…

 

Conclusions

We can step on sure grounds saying that Jesus acted like a real Son of God, He was right in presenting Himself as a Son of God. The accusers could not understand because they were not His sheep (John 10:26) – not listening, not discerning His voice, not knowing Him nor His Father.

The passage does not speak about humans becoming divine, about men becoming gods. However, in representing and reflecting God’s character on earth, humans are seen and appointed by God the Most High as “gods” (Exodus 7:1). Remember Matthew 5:9? (please open your Bible and read it).

If God’s word is spoken to you, then you become a “god” to our fellow men, with such a heavenly task of showing the character of the Father, doing His will, making justice the way He would. On the contrary, be you a “god”, if you are corrupt and departing from the plans of the One that called you, then you are surely to end like any mortal, falling to the ground (Psalms 82:6-7).


„We should be called the children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that is did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him.” (1 John 3:1-2)

Mrs. Pilate texting her husband

I have been reading Matthew’s gospel and there is a text which puzzles me. It’s Matthew 27:19. Why does Matthew record this? Thank you and God bless.

The text is as follows:

Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” (Matthew 27:19)

This insert is indeed as a parenthetical one – one can read the whole story with or without it. And it seems that it didn’t even change at all the course of the crucifixion. So then, why add it?

A general view of the Gospel according to Matthew reveals that it was written mainly for a Jewish audience. It starts with a book of genealogy, a specialty of Jews ( Timothy 1:4; Titus 3:9), where Jesus is being shown as a son of David and a son of Abraham (remember Romans 4, where Paul brings the same two Jewish heroes into discussion), there are so many parables (the notable way of teaching; see also Matthew 13:34-35), there are multitudes of quotes from the prophets of old, as a proof that Jesus was the Messiah (the general expression being “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by so and so, the prophet”) and many other features targeted to bring the attention of the Jews (clean/unclean, Sabbath observance, tradition of the elders etc.).

Matthew is interested to show that Jesus was the Messiah awaited by the Jewish nation. However, towards the end of the Gospel it becomes clear that the leaders of the nation reject Jesus as being the Christ (Messiah) – in a way He was awaited but not expected… to be like that. In the end, the fate of Jesus depends solely on Pilate’s decision – him being one from the Gentiles. If we read in Acts 2, Peter preaches that “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). The “you” here is the Jewish people, and the “lawless men” is the cohort of Roman soldiers. Yet, in Acts 3:13, Peter puts it a bit differently: “Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.”

Pilate is a smart man. “He perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up” (Mark 15:10; also in Matthew 27:18).

  • He tries to free himself of any guilt: mocking a true justice he challenges Jesus to defend himself (Matthew 27:13);
  • He tries to avoid the case by sending Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:7);
  • He plays the one in power who, as an act of grace, gives an ear to the shouting crowd (Matthew 27:17);
  • He even seems to defend Jesus (Matthew 27:23; John 19:4) and goes that far that he threatens the priests with releasing Jesus (Luke 23:14-16).
  • In the end, it all plays in front of the crowd, a third time (Luke 23:22), where Pilate fears for his throne, afraid of being spoken about as “not Caesar’s friend” (John 19:12). The gospel records it sadly concerning the shouts of the crowd: “and their voices prevailed” (Luke 22:23).

Now, having all this noisy background, what about one voice? It is the only voice that is for Jesus, and not against. It is a female voice. It is Claudia, the wife of the governor – Mrs. Pilate.

The text tells us that she had a dream in which she dreamed about Jesus. Following that dream, her evaluation about Jesus is plain, as she calls him a “righteous man”. In that dream she “suffered”. In other words, she saw something about Jesus that brought suffering to her soul. It is possible that she foresaw in a dream all the crucifixion and knew that it all started with her husband’s decision to deliver Jesus into the hands of Roman soldiers, as granting to the requests of the chief priests and later of the crowds. Claudia is in the position where she knows that by changing the route, by turning into the right and not into the wrong direction, everything can be changed for good.

Who is the man that can do something for the good of his wife and yet he doesn’t? Pilate is such a name. For the sake of his throne he accepts that his wife’s advice if worthless. That her suffering may continue.

Probable Claudia saw in a dream all the story up to the end: Jesus being crucified, three days later resurrected; but maybe she saw him also coming on the clouds of glory. It is that scene that John saw it later:

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” (Revelation 1:7)

Pilate will be one who will see Jesus coming on the clouds…

What Matthew tries to tell us might be that God loved Pilate that much that up to the last moments He tried to convince him to go against the evil. Even the most loved person of his life was on the other side, the good’s side, and advised him to do good. (It is like Jesus giving Judah even the last piece of bread, up to the end being a friend).

claudia-pilatePilate, you know your wife. She is not into this Jewish thing as a rebellious to you. She is your wife. And she had a dream about Jesus.

“Nonsense, women’s stuff…” might have thought Pilate. Anyway, Pilate didn’t pay any attention to his wife’s advice. The Gospel does not record any change due to this advice.

An interesting question is: how do we know about this story? Who told it to Matthew? Probably later on, the messenger from Claudia to Pilate became a Christian and he told the story to the church. Maybe even she became a true Christian. Anyhow, somebody told it to Matthew and he found it worthy to be inserted here. As a proof that a Gentile knew that Jesus was a “righteous man”, while the Jews, the chief priests, the elders, the mob, and the Gentiles, the kings (Herod, Pilate), the soldiers, all taught about him that He deserves to die.

Claudia might be one saved. Not the same with Pilate. The Gospel text proves that God speaks to us even to the last moment, all the way thru until we reach the point of no return. And that we should stand for Jesus! That’s where a text like this fits best:

“If anyone wouldcome after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and thegospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Manalso be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)