A New Judaism – without Land or Temple (586 – 537 BC)

Read Exodus 19-35:3; Leviticus 7:22-27, 11-20, 23-27;
Deuteronomy 4-26; Jeremiah42-52; Ezekiel 29-34
& Daniel 3-8
The Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s temple, and the city of Jerusalem, with fire. This destruction, and later disasters in Jewish history, are mourned with fasting by the Jews every year on 9th Av. This day of mourning is called Tisha B’Av. (Image from an 1850 painting by David Roberts).

Judgment brought repentance and renewed religious fervour…

The loss of the temple and sacrificial system left a vacuum in Jewish religious life and identity that had to be filled with something.  Sin (failure to keep Torah) had brought this destruction upon them, but there was no more sacrifice for sin without the temple where such sacrifices had to be made.  So how could the people find any redemption?

There was only one thing they could do, seek redemption through repentance and obedience to the commands of the Torah that could be followed outside of the temple, such as circumcision, Sabbath observance, purity laws, and dietary prescriptions (1). The captives set about purifying their religion by rejecting all foreign gods and practices, focusing on that which God had commanded through Moses (2).  They gave up all idolatry and were never again led into its evil practices as they been wont to do before.  A vital sense of repentance was created and private devotion and prayer encouraged.  Their elaborate nation-wide ceremonials, great festivals and temple sacrifices were replaced with local community prayer, fasting and Sabbath observances.  The latter included assembling the people together for prayer and the reading of the scripture (3). Study of the Torah became the focus of practice, with weekly meetings in public study houses (1).  The result was the rise of the Synagogue among the Jews dispersed throughout the Babylonian Empire (4).   Having Jewish life in the dispersion revolve around the Synagogue, and the teachings of the Synagogue, protected the Jews from the integration that had caused the northern kingdom of Israel to disappear into the melting pot of nations.

Priestly role of teaching Torah now open to all men…

This rise of the Synagogue in turn resulted in a significant shift in the role of teaching the people the meaning and practice of the Torah. From Moses until the end of the first temple period the Levitical priesthood had been responsible for the whole sacrificial system; maintenance of the tabernacle and then the temple; ministering to God through music, song, prayer and incense; and with teaching the people Torah observance, reading the books of Moses to them and explaining the meaning (Deut. 17:18-20; 28:58-63; Deut. 30:9-10; Deut. 31:24-26; Joshua 1:8; Joshua 23:6; 2 Kings 22:13; 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Kings 23:21; 1 Chr. 16:37-40; 2 Chron. 18; 2 Chron. 31:2-3; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 8; Neh. 10:28-29; Neh. 13:1 & Daniel 9:13).   Jewish religion had centred on the Temple and the Temple was the domain of the Levitical priests, only they were qualified to serve in its precincts.

There were no such restrictions on service in the Synagogue.   As Synagogues were established wherever ten Jewish families could gather, many of them did not have any Levites as members, so the reading of Torah and leading of the services often fell to those of other tribes.  Thus a new class arose as scholar, teacher and spiritual leader to explain God’s expectations to the common people – the Rabbi (4).  Although not an official title until after the destruction of the second temple, the function of rabbi began to develop during the Babylonian captivity. 

Aramaic was the international language of the ancient Near East. It is a Semitic language, closely related to Hebrew. The Jews in Babylon quickly adopted the Aramaic language as they started businesses, traded with their neighbours and rose to positions of political power and social influence.  The language of the Torah remained Hebrew. As increasing numbers of Jews, particularly the younger generations, spoke Aramaic in their everyday lives, the Synagogue Torah reading increasingly included explanation of the meaning of the text in Aramaic. (5) 

From repentance, to observance, to legalism…

The necessity of remaining as a distinct people while scattered throughout the Babylonian empire expanded the rabbinical role from just reading and explaining the Torah to ‘building a fence’ around the Torah, legislating additional laws and enforcing cultural traditions and customs to keep the Jews separate from all other peoples (6).  Thus began the development of oral traditions added to the Torah to explain its meaning in practice as a minority in a pagan society (7).  Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah, plus additional laws instituted by the rabbis, plus the customs of the community, became jointly known as halakhah and all became binding on every member of the community as Jewish Law or “the path that one walks / the way” (8).  Whereas the prophets speaking God’s heart to His people made it easy for the most simple person to understand what God requires of us; “to act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8), the teachers of the law made it so intricate and complicated that only highly trained scholars had any hope of understanding all the requirements they attributed to God.

Halakhah  הֲלָכָה, is often translated as “Jewish Law” although a more literal (and more appropriate) translation is “The Way” or “the path that one walks”.  The word is derived from the Hebrew root ‘Hei-Lamed-Kaf‘, meaning to go, to walk, or to travel. Halachah is “the way” for a Jew to walk through life, “the way” a Jew is directed to behave in every aspect of life; encompassing civil, criminal and religious law.

During the Babylonian captivity teachings began to emerge in connection to the Torah that were not in the text. These involved interpreting, modifying and enacting rules of conduct for every aspect of Jewish life. This body of teaching continued to be developed over the following centuries so that it was quite extensive, dictating every aspect of Jewish life, by the time of Christ.

Halakhah was developed from three sources:
1) Mitzvot D’Oraita (Commandments from the Torah)- the 613 mitzvot (commandments) that were developed by the rabbis from what God gave the Jewish people in the Written Torah. Some are direct quotes from scripture but others have a fairly tenuous relationship to what is written in the Torah. These 613 mitzvot are subdivided into 248 positive commandments, “mitzvot aseh” (commandments to do), and 365 negative commandments, “mitzvot lo ta’aseh” (commandments not to do).
2) Mitzvot D’Rabbanan (Laws Instituted by the Rabbis) – these rabbinic laws are also referred to as mitzvot (commandments) and are considered to be as binding as Mitzvot D’Oraita. Mitzvot d’rabbanan are commonly divided into three categories: gezeirah, takkanah and minhag.
…..a) Gezeirah (literally “fence”) are the fence rabbis built around the Torah – laws instituted to prevent people from accidentally violating a Torah mitzvah. For example, a gezeirah commands Jews on the Sabbath (Shabbat) not to even handle an implement that could be used to perform ‘prohibited work’ (such as a pencil, money, or a hammer), because someone holding the implement might forget that it was Shabbat and perform prohibited work.
…..b) Takkanah (literally remedy or fixing) is a rule unrelated to biblical laws that was created by the rabbis for the public welfare. For example, the “mitzvah” to light candles on Chanukkah, a Jewish holiday instituted after the OT was written.
3) Minhag Mitzvot are customs that developed for worthy religious reasons and had continued long enough to become a binding religious practice, often referred to in the NT as “traditions of the elders“. These ‘traditions of the elders‘ are considered a binding part of halakhah (the ‘Oral Law’ / the ‘Way’), just like a mitzvah, a takkanah or a gezeirah. (8, 9)
The word “minhag” is also used in a looser sense, to indicate a community or an individual’s customary way of doing some religious thing. For example, it may be the minhag in one synagogue to stand while reciting a certain prayer, while in another synagogue it is the minhag to sit during that prayer.

Imagine how audacious it would have sounded when Yeshua (Jesus) came and claimed to be “the Way” (John 14:6).   Instead of following “the law” of the community, He was the embodiment of “the law” of God. He challenged the culture of His people with the culture of His kingdom.

“…the God we serve is able to save usBut even if He does not

585 BC King Nebuchadnezzar celebrated his conquests by making an image of gold, thirty metres high and three meters wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.  Then he summoned the provincial officials to the dedication of his image, among them were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who would now have been in their thirties and spent half their lives in Babylon.   These three refused to fall down and worship the image of gold that Nebuchadnezzar had set up and so were tied up and thrown into a blazing furnace that had been heated seven times hotter than usual in the king’s rage.    The soldiers who threw them in were consumed by the flames, as were the ropes that bound them, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were walking around unharmed in the furnace with a fourth man whom Nebuchadnezzar described as looking like a son of the gods.  Such was the impact of this that Nebuchadnezzar promoted these three faithful ones and decreed that anyone who spoke against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses turned into piles of rubble. (Daniel 3)

A true friend urges repentance…

Three years later Nebuchadnezzar had another dream which greatly disturbed him.  Again, none had the wisdom or courage to give the king the interpretation of his dream except Daniel.  The dream contained a warning that Nebuchadnezzar would be cut down and appear destroyed, left wandering with the wild animals and eating grass like cattle for seven “times” until he acknowledges that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, at which time his kingdom would be restored to him.  Daniel pleaded with Nebuchadnezzar to repent and renounce his sins by doing what is right and being kind to the oppressed.  Twelve months later, as Nebuchadnezzar’s heart was lifted up in pride declaring: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my power and for the glory of my majesty,” God’s judgment fell upon him and he became so insane that he was driven away from people and lived out in the open eating grass.   In due season Nebuchadnezzar repented of his pride, raised his eyes toward heaven and his sanity was restored, and with that his kingdom as well. (Daniel 4)

Wrongdoing brings fear, which brings rebellion…

Back in Judah, the Babylonians had allowed some of the poorer survivors of their conquests to remain to tend the land and placed Jedediah, a grandson of Josiah, over them (2 Kings 25:22). He was soon murdered (2 Kings 25:25) and the people, fearing that Nebuchadnezzar would avenge his death, decided to flee into Egypt (2 Kings 25:26). Jeremiah had warned them against taking this decision (Jer.42:9-22.) but was overruled and, along with his scribe Baruch, was dragged along with them (Jer.43:6-7). They settled in the Egyptian town of Tahpanhee (Jer.44:1), and built a Jewish community there, keeping many of the customs of their heritage but continuing in disobedience to God and every direction He gave them through the prophet Jeremiah.   Tradition has it that they eventually stoned Jeremiah to death (13) (14) (15).  In 569 BC Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt in fulfilment of Jeremiah 43:8-13; 46:13-26 and Ezekiel 29:19, taking captives back to Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC and was succeeded by his son, Evil Merodach in 561 BC.  Just five years later Evil Merodach was succeeded by Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-law Nabonidus. Then in 553 BC Nabonidus left his son, Belshazzar, to reign as coregent in Babylon while he travelled west into Arabia to gain more land and rebuild temples in the Assyrian city of Harran. (13)    Neither Nabonidus nor Belshazzar were popular with the people, having alienated the priests, politicians and military alike.

The historic/prophetic context of Messiah’s coming…

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel, who was now about 67yo, had a prophetic vision while lying on his bed.  Scripture records five interwoven prophetic visions which Daniel received over a period of 68 years.  These fuelled Jewish Messianic expectations and speculations.  The first, as we had seen, was back in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, 604 BC, when as a teenager Daniel had a vision of the king’s dream of a great statue with golden head, silver chest, middle and thighs of bronze and legs of iron that was struck by a stone that became a great mountain which filled the whole earth (Daniel 2).   In Daniel’s second recorded vision, 52 years later, the great sea of humanity was stirred and four different beasts came up out of it (Dan. 7:2). These were four kings (Dan. 7:17) who correlated to the four kingdoms depicted in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:31-41).  

The significance of these four beasts was that they were Gentile kings whose kingdoms would rule over Israel one after another until the coming of Messiah

As in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, they were judged by the Ancient of Days who gave everlasting dominion and glory and a Kingdom to “One like the Son of Man” (Daniel 7).   These first two visions both began with a depiction of what already was ruling over the Jews – the Babylonian Empire.

First Beast – Head of Gold –
Babylonian Empire

The first beast in Daniel’s vision was “like a lion and had eagles’ wings” (Dan 7:4).  The lion is used as a symbol for Babylon in the book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:7; 49:19; 50:17), and eagles symbolize Babylonian armies (Jeremiah 49:22).   This correlates with the head of fine gold in Nebuchadnezzar’s image, whom Daniel had identified as Nebuchadnezzar, to whom God had given the kingdom of Babylon (Dan. 2:37-38).  Nebuchadnezzar was the Babylonian ruler who had conquered the Jews in his expansion of the empire. (14)  “Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.” (Dan. 7:4).   This could be referring to Nebuchadnezzar’s mental break and restoration (Dan. 4:19-37) or just to the weakening of the kingdom after his death.  

Daniel’s third vision, just two years later and still under Belshazzar’s rule, was of a ram and a goat and the fierce king who would arise in the latter time of the goat’s kingdom (Daniel 8).  This was depicting the next two kingdoms that were yet to rule over Israel, and correlated with the next two beasts of Daniel’s earlier vision.

In 539 BC, the first major event predicted in these prophetic visions took place, Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians.   Belshazzar sought to display his greatness by holding a massive feast for a thousand of the Babylonian nobles, gave orders that the gold and silver vessels from the temple in Jerusalem be used for the wine as they praised the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.  The sudden appearance of a hand writing on the wall revealed what they had been too busy revelling to notice – God’s judgment had arrived and the kingdom of Babylon had been given to the Medes and Persians.  That same night Belshazzar was slain by the Medo-Persian army who had diverted the Euphrates River so they could enter under the city wall through the lowered water.

Second Beast – Chest & Arms of Silver – Ram with Long and Longer Horns Medo-Persian Empire

The second beast was like a bear (Dan. 7:5).  The second kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream had been the chest and arms of silver, which would arise after Babylon (Dan. 2:39a).  This kingdom is seen in Daniel’s third vision as a ram with two long horns, one longer than the other, and none could stand against him as he came from the east butting westward, southward and northward (Dan. 8:3-4). That ram is identified as the kings of Media and Persia in Daniel 8:20.  The bear of Daniel 7 is described as being “raised up on one side”, just as the ram had one horn longer than the other, and Persia was stronger than Media. The combined strength of the Persians and the Medes led to the conquest of Babylon in 539 BC with the resulting extension of their empire over much of the Middle East, including Israel. Isaiah had prophesied the Medes overthrow of Babylon 175 years before (Isaiah 13:17-20), noting their disdain for silver and gold, the very gods that Belshazzar was worshipping when they broke into the city, overran it and killed him (Daniel 5). (15) Jeremiah had also prophesied that God would raise up the Medes to destroy Babylon (Jer. 51:11, 28-31).

As we continue on our journey towards Messiah’s birth we will see how accurately Daniel’s prophesies foretold what was to come and how each historical fulfilment increased the expectation that God would send their Messiah.

References

1. Thomas, Christine M. Exile to Babylon and Diaspora. Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. [Online] Winter Quarter 2006. [Cited: 24th Aug 2016.] http://www.religion.ucsb.edu/faculty/thomas/classes/rgst116b/JewishHistory.html.
2. Hooker, Richard. The Jewish Temples: After the Babylonian Exile (538 – 332 BCE). Jewish Virtual Library. [Online] [Cited: 24th Aug 2016.] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Exile1.html.
3. Tidwell, Josiah Blake. The Captivity of Judah. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: 26th Aug. 2016.] http://biblehub.com/library/tidwell/the_bible_period_by_period/chapter_xv_the_captivity_of.htm.
4. Dell Markey, Demand Media. What Effects Did the Babylonian Exile Have on the Jewish Religion? The Classroom. [Online] 18 Aug 2016. http://classroom.synonym.com/effects-did-babylonian-exile-jewish-religion-7222.html.
5. Spiro, Ken. Babylonian Exile. SimpleTo Remember.com Judaism Online. [Online] [Cited: 16th Aug 2016.] http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/babylonian_exile/.
6. Landis, Brad. A Hedge Around the Law. Bradlis7. [Online] 9th October 2013. [Cited: 24th Aug 2016.] http://s.bradlis7.com/2013/10/a-hedge-around-the-law/.
7. Jacobs, Louis. Encyclopedia Judaica: Halakhah. Jewish Virtual Library. [Online] [Cited: 24th Aug 2016.] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0008_0_08206.html.
8. Rich, Tracey R. Halakhah: Jewish Law. Judaism 101. [Online] [Cited: 26th Aug 2016.] http://www.jewfaq.org/halakhah.htm.
9. MJL. Halacha: The Laws of Jewish Life. My Jewish Learning. [Online] [Cited: 7th March 2020] https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/halakhah-the-laws-of-jewish-life/
10. Emil G. Hirsch, Victor Ryssel, Solomon Schechter, Louis Ginzberg. Jeremiah. Jewish Encyclopedia. [Online] 1906. [Cited: 26th Aug 2016.] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8586-jeremiah.
11. Bible Pages. The prophet Jeremiah – where did he die? Bible Pages. [Online] 28th July 2016. [Cited: 26th Aug. 2016.] http://www.biblepages.net/eya124.htm.
12. Sacred Texts. Chapter XXXII Of The Death of the Prophets; How They Died, and (where) Each One Was Buried. Sacred Texts. [Online] [Cited: 26th Aug. 2016.] http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/bb/bb32.htm.
13. Timeline for the Life and Times of Jeremiah. Generation Word. [Online] [Cited: 22nd Oct. 2016.] http://www.generationword.com/notes/jeremiah/prelim-notes.pdf
14. Rashi. Daniel – Chapter 7. Chabad. [Online] [Cited: 23rd Oct. 2016.] http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16490/jewish/Chapter-7.htm#showrashi=true.
15. Walvoord, John F. 6. The Medes And The Persians. Bible.org. [Online] [Cited: 23rd Oct. 2016.] https://bible.org/seriespage/6-medes-and-persians.

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and consider the following questions…

* What is your response to difficulty and hardship?
* What has God taught you through the troubled times in your life?
* What were some of the healthy responses that the Jews had to their great losses?
* What were some of the unhealthy responses that they had to their losses?
* In seeking to live wholeheartedly for God, how can we avoid becoming legalistic or judgmental?
* Has your church made up extra rules to try to make your people pure and righteous?
* What are the customs in your church? How do those customs strengthen your community? Do any of those customs cause any problems?

Author: Anita

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption." 1 Cor. 1:26-30 ESV These verses are the story of my life. A shy, introverted woman who didn't know how to relate to others and had a fear of anyone in authority - foolish, weak, low and despised. The most unlikely candidate for any position of leadership. But God delights to choose such, to take those who are not and make them something in Christ, to do the impossible through the unlikely. In 2006 Jesus sent me to the nations with His glorious gospel to set the captives free and prepare His bride for the wedding of the Lamb.

7 thoughts on “A New Judaism – without Land or Temple (586 – 537 BC)”

  1. Hardship and difficulty are part and parcel of life. More to that, it is written that if we don’t suffer with Christ, we cannot reign with Him. Persecutions and dying daily are integral parts of the walk with Christ. When I am confronted with hardship and difficulty, I look into Jesus knowing He is there with me and will see me through. I know that whatsoever He allows to befall me is for my good in my walk with Him. All things work together for good as it is written.

    I have learned that when things get tough, I should lean more on Jesus. He has proven to me that His plan for me is to triumph over situations by His doing so I look into Him. Trusting on Him pays. I have learned that truly as John the Baptist said, no one can receive anything if not given by God.

    They were forced to look more into God which created many synagogues and gave opportunity for others to serve God. They also developed love for the Word of God and the desire to know more about God increased. That brought repentance and turning back to God wherever they were.

    On the other hand, they went into legalism, the creation of the rabbis (pharassees and sadducees) who brought in laws and added to God’s Word. They brought in a human touch to God’s Word and hence polluted God’s perfect ways. They created more burden and yokes which the Word of God was given to remove. The transform the law of liberty to a stumbling block for the people.

    The Bible lays out the fruit of the Spirit which every child of God must manifest. This fruit in full manifestation in our lives will cause us to love and put on with others. The love of Christ will constrain us to bear with others and show them the right way in humility. It is written that when helping a brother who has fallen, we should be careful less we fall. Full acceptance and living according to the Word of God will cause us not to be legalistic and judgmental. We must not add to the Word or subtract. We must not modify and we must always know that no one has the monopoly of God’s knowledge since we know in part and we all form one Body.

    Our motto in the Church is the Bible plus nothing and the Bible minus nothing. No addition to the Word for no reason at all. We obey what is written and when not written we do not teach nor hold unto. The Word of God alone should make us holy and righteous since it is not our working but the working of Holy Spirit from within.

    We move in line with the Word of God. We help when we have the means and the need to help is there. We do all not to disturb our neighbourhood even when we have all night prayers. We do street evangelism with our trolley speaker. This at times provoke some people who say we are disturbing their peace but we do not do it everyday and not for long. We spend time in prayers and Bible study and insist on holy and righteous living as the only way to please God. In all we do, we point people to Jesus. Our Church community know that we are a family and so each one has his or her responsibilities to ensure the upkeep and growth of the community.

  2. New Judaism —-Without Land or Temple (586 — 537 BC )
    _____________________________________My response to difficulty and harships as a christian and a child of God is to remain faithful to God and continue to persevere through patience and endurance.
    Difficulties and hardships are very sure of which believers of God must be aware with. God cautions christians to be patience in times of difficulties.
    Revelation 2: 10 teachers the community of God to remain faithful unto death during hard times in order to receive the eternal crown of life.

    Christ has taught me to depend on Him in every situation,this therefore means that no matter the gravity of my afflictions,I have to still depend on God in these times of troubles.
    In Philippians 4:13 Paul says:I can do all things through christ who strengthens me so I must be strong in Him.

    The Jews became aware of their great losses in that they were being given warnings by God sent prophets of their time but they were adamant to the will God.
    Their oppression made them aware of the need of a deliverer.
    It was then that they saw that they have to seek God again through repentance. So their healthy responses were that they saw they needed God to deliver them.

    They lost their Temple worship, they lost kingship dynasties and they lost the beautiful city they love most.Their religious activities became desolate– abandoned.

    Legalism makes one ‘holiest than thou ‘.
    God sees us as righteous only when we are wash in the blood of Jesus.
    We cannot fully accomplish all what we have to do to meet God’s standard.Therefore, only God can be the righteous judge
    we should not therefore be too legalistic as well as judgemental on others unlike the Pharisees who thought they know more than all in their days.

    There are church programmes which seek to bring members closer to God. Monthly fasting and prayers and two weeks all night prayer sessions. Also, every Tuesday evening Bible studies is also available to instruct members to live right for God.

    As customs are within cultures, we cannot do them away in our worship.Customs in my church has to do with the way we worship God and the lay down procedures which worshippers have to follow.
    These customs are no other than what the scriptures mandate. So members have to demonstrate this customs of Christianity to the community in which they live.
    I will here say that my community is feeling the impact of some of the faithfuls.Christ did not cause any problems , the Jews were problems to themselves because they did not understand the scriptures. Therefore, the church customs are not causing any problem in my community.

  3. 1. The Christian walk is not always sunshine, and being a minister of God does not exempt you from difficulty and hardship. Difficulty and hardship come in many ways. Best friends die, children abandon their faith, Church leaders stand against pastors, rejection, and etc. In many ways, I have experienced some of these difficulty and hardship in the ministry. Sometimes it seems it is not fair, when you do everything right you know to do, and bad things still happen. This can be frustrating and overwhelming, especially for when you trying to minister to others. Investing so much energy and effort into the Church while having your life sucked dry by difficult situations can lead to burnout.
    I thank God for the strength of Holy Spirit concerning my positive responses to difficulty and hardship. I do look at difficulty and hardship situations from God’s perspective, knowing that God has a purpose for allowing it. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a scripture I love much and its helps me to responses positively during the hardship and difficulty situations. In times of difficulty and hardship, I keep tight hold on the gospel – the precious, life-giving gospel. The difficulty and hardship I faces is going to be used by God for my good and for God’s glory. The gospel has saved me and given me a new set of spiritual eyes to see things differently. I do fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12). Also, I notice the importance Paul places on not allowing the ministry to be discredited because of the responses of me to difficulty and hardship (2 Corinthians 6). I do pray for strength and endurance to persevere.
    2. In times of troubles, God has a lot of lessons for us. I have received a lot of taught from God through the troubles times in my life. There was a time, the Church I am pastoring in Accra stood against me. This generated huge troubles, and I planned to give up the ministry. God spoke to me not to quit. He taught me through this troubles times to send the gospel of Jesus Christ to the villages and the prisons. When you rely on the strength of the Lord in times of troubles, He provide the peace, comfort, and strength you so desperately needed.
    3. Jews encountered great losses because of their sins, disobedience, and shifted from the ancient path of God. This brought destruction upon them. Through this destruction, here are some of the healthy responses that the Jews had to their great losses. Jews seek redemption through repentance and obedience to the commands of the Torah: which contains the moral laws, sacrificial laws, the dietary laws, and civil laws. They gave up all idolatry. They established private devotion and prayer. Study of the Torah became the focus of practice with weekly meetings in public study houses.
    4. At the results of the destruction, there are unhealthy responses that the Jews had to their great loses. They continuing in disobedience to God and every direction He gave them through prophet Jeremiah. They were not keeping the Torah and worshipping gods.
    5. Most Christians do not want to be called saints because they do not want to live like it. Holiness marked the purposes of God with Isarel. When the Lord delivered Israel from bondage of the Egyptians, He declared that the relationship that they had with Him would now be that of a people who belonged uniquely to Him. That unique relationship set them apart from other people (Exodus 19). Peter made that point clearly in 1 Peter 1:14-16. Prior to the application of Christ’s saving work in our lives we live one way – but now, in Christ, we are to live distinctly as His people. One huge mistake in our generation has been that of attempting to dilute the gospel, and attempting to legislate holiness. By dictates from the pulpit, pressure from the Church staff, enforcing tradition of men, and an atmosphere of living by false teachings congregations have attempted to “be holy”, when, in fact, become legalists.
    What we should do is to stick to the Word of God and follow the original footsteps of God. We should teach sound doctrine, understand what God require and walk with God. We are to teach and encourage the Body of Christ of how we are to help one another to live faithful lives to God.
    6. To follow our Church programs, we do have some rules to make the members of the Church pure and righteous. We make sure to check that, the rules do not conflict with the Word of God. We have a rule of Bible study class which every member involve in discussion. This base strictly on Bible.
    7. Customs can be found in every Church in Ghana.
    Customs like, “women recognise as second class people” in my Church, head covering, pastors recognition, and etc. In some way, this strengthen the community to practice humility, especially women. Again, it strengthen the community of hard-working, especially men.
    Yes, these customs cause problems, especially in my Church. For example, women in the Church are oppressed in one way or the other. And because of customs the women are not active. Again, because of these customs, the respect and support to pastors are in very low.

  4. First of all, I must say that troubling moments in life are generally challenging seasons for almost everyone. Personally, during some of the turbulent times in my life I have learned to give thanks. But I must also say that on some occasions, being thankful while in the middle of a difficult situation is the most difficult thing I have done. The scripture says that in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). Thanking God means that am positive and thankful to Him for the benefits He intended for me when He allowed this turbulent situation to manifest in my life.

    Secondly, God has taught me to maintain an attitude of rejoicing! Just like giving thanks, the scripture instructs me to rejoice in all situations: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). I know that I cannot escape the pain of a difficult situation, but I always command myself to rejoice in God Himself and in the good things that He will do through my difficult situations. Rejoicing is normally born out of the faith and trust that I put in God.

    Thirdly, God has taught me to believe and act on His Word. The scripture clearly shows that when Jesus was tested in the wilderness, He responded to each temptation by quoting Scripture. For example, when Satan urged Christ to turn stones into bread, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3: “It is written; Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). By following Jesus’ example and successfully engaging in spiritual warfare through proclaiming the truth in the face of difficult moments I have always discovered that is the backbone of my victory. Ephesians 6:17 describes the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit” the only offensive weapon in our spiritual armour. Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). They are also the authority by which we can claim the promises of God. He said that if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

    Probably the most difficult lesson I have been taught by God during difficult moments of my life is one of crying out to Him in prayer. Somehow I keep thinking that the greatest reason God has for taking me through the trials of life is to bring me to the firm conclusion that I need Him more than before. I know that God has the ability to protect me from every trial, distress or trouble. Instead, He often chooses to deliver me in the midst of troubles. In Psalm 50:15 the bible says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” I am always convinced that God’s goal through my troubles is to strengthen my trust and dependence on Him so that glory and honour may be to His holy name.

    Another important lesson is that God has taught me to overcome evil with good. Jesus gave His disciples a clear set of instructions about responding to those who made life miserable for them. In Matthew 5:44 He said, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. I know that such responses are not my natural tendencies, but they do reflect the heart of the God I have received. Apostle Paul said that we be not overcome by evil, but that we overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). I know that God promises to give a blessing to those who reward evil with good. If you react to a person who offends you and become bitter toward him, you actually put yourself in an emotional prison. Bitterness will control your thought life, your emotions, your free time, and your health. In order to be freed from this prison, you must forgive.

    Lastly, God assures me through scripture that He will not permit me to be attacked with troubling experiences in life that are too overwhelming for me to handle. But He says He will grant me grace to be an overcomer. In I Corinthians 10:12–13, Apostle Paul exhorts that: “……No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, I have come to conclude that every negative experience of my life is only a temporal one, and that God is exalted above it.

  5. In difficulty and hardship I have always pondered on the scripture that teaches us that; “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Like many people, when I encounter difficulties, I often wonder; why? I know that searching for answers and learning to view “bad things” as “good things in disguise” are disciplines that God wants His children to develop as they mature spiritually.

    I know that one day I respond to God’s grace and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, am now “born again” into the Kingdom of God. At the moment of my salvation, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in my spirit. He confirms my relationship with God, comforts me, and leads me into all truth (Romans 8:16, John 14:16–17 and 16:13).

    God began His supernatural work of transforming my life into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ; Who was and is perfect. (Romans 8:29.) As I began to mature in my faith, God uses tests and trials to develop my character and ministry. By responding to trials in the grace of God, I experience the power of God’s Spirit, which manifests in my life through the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23.)

    I am encouraged by the words of Apostle Peter. He said beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy (I Peter 4:12–13). And Apostle Paul said the “difficulties and hardships” are opportunities to grow spiritually. In several negative situations that I face, instead of despairing when I encounter trials, I confess like Paul who said he would glory in his infirmities so that the power of Christ would rest upon him. (II Corinthians 12:9).

    Am very confident that God will not allow anything to happen to me without His permission, and He will not let any “bad thing” happen that will not ultimately bring me more good than destruction.

  6. My response to difficult times and hadships is to continue trusting in God who is able to make me through.He is more than able to make all things easier for me physically and spiritually
    I regard this troubling times as a test of my faith.God tries our faith through troubles and difficulties
    In that regard the Jews lost grace given to them by God and calamities fell on them
    God’s love is uncondition and by Grace alone
    Legalism limits our righteousness since we cannot fulfil all what the law says.In the same way we are all sinners and there is need to judge each other.Only God is the righteous Gudge.He is Just God.
    In regard to our church there are some rules set which we think can make pure and righteous.For example that church members have to fast twice a week.This though cannot bring righteousness. Only y knowing and allowing to live a Christ centered life
    Customs in church have great dangers.Giving as an example is coming to church early ,but if you come late you feel ashamed and this hinders your communion with God as you feel guilty of coming early.You start thinking God is to reprimand you a d also will not forgive you.In most cases church members leave Churches as they go about with that guilty conscious

  7. A. My response to difficulty and hardships as a born again child
    of God is to remind faithful, stand fast, and to be immoveable, always trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    B. God had taught me trouble times in my life to depend on
    Him and alone, and it gives me zeal to worship and praise Him.
    C. Some of the healthy responses that Jewish had to losses was that they continued to believe and trust God of their forefathers
    D. And some of the unhealthy responses that the Jewish had to their losses was that they served foreign gods.
    E. In seeking to live wholeheartedly for God and avoid becoming legalistic and judgemental we need to stick to the true Word of God without adding or subtracting.
    F. In some instances we do make some rules to make our members to be pure and righteous.
    G. In Africa we do sometimes adopt our customs into the
    Church by covering of heads by the women, and not allowing women to fully participate in Church activities, and such any one who do practice such are usually condemned by the community.

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