2019 Study Summary 18: Rejoice with Me; for I Have Found My Sheep Which Was Lost
Luke 12–17; John 11
“Rejoice with Me; for I Have Found My Sheep Which Was Lost”
How can word-insights help me find that which is lost?
The study chapters include key words that represent our blessings and responsibilities. Some Jewish thoughts on forgiveness, leprosy, gratitude, work and burial may add insights to the parables and scriptures to be studied this week.
How can I better understand forgiveness?
“Repentance consists of several stages — firstly the sinner must reflect on his actions and realize that he has indeed done the wrong thing. He must then make up his mind never to do it again, and confess his sin. On this basis the two confessions Ashamnu and Al-Het were introduced into the prayers for the Day of Atonement which is a special occasion for repentance and forgiveness. However, even when a sinner has done all these things, his repentance is still not final until he has been exposed to the same temptation and withstood it . . . he should not deliberately put himself on that spot again.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How does the increased kindness become an expression of gratitude?
“As a sign of gratitude for having been spared the fate of Egypt’s firstborn who died on the eve of Passover, tradition has made it incumbent upon Jewish firstborn to fast on the day before Passover. If the child is too young, his father fasts in his place. If the father himself is a firstborn, then the child’s mother fasts for him. Should Passover fall on a Sabbath, the fast takes place on Thursday, not Friday.” “The contents of Grace After Meals are as follows: The first blessing (Birkat ha-Zan) praises God for providing food . . . The second (Birkat ha-Arez) expresses particular gratitude for the redemption from Egypt, the covenant of circumcision, the revelation of the Torah and the “good land” of Israel which God has given the Jewish people.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How can hospitality increase my sense of gratitude?
“In Talmudic literature, hospitality is a great mitzvah, and is even more important, according to some rabbis, than prayer. The guest should be shown his room on arrival, so that he will enjoy his meal and not have to worry about where he will sleep later. The host is forbidden to make his guest uncomfortable by appearing miserable or sad, or by watching him too closely when he eats. The guest too, has responsibilities, including showing gratitude to his host, and complying with his host’s wishes. Guests must not accept hospitality if they think that doing so will impoverish the host.” “Because Jerusalem was regarded as the common possession of the entire Jewish people, householders in the capital were forbidden to take rent from pilgrims, but as a token of gratitude, the pilgrims would give their hosts the hides of the sacrificial animals.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How is “labor” part of the commandments?
“The Bible regards labor as an aspect of world order. In the story of Creation, man working the soil is the important element in the development of vegetation (Genesis 2:5). Work is praised not only for purposes of earning one’s bread but also for the contentment which results. Idleness, on the other hand, is condemned as a social evil. The ideal suggested and followed by most of the sages is to combine learning and work. Maimonides proposed that the day be divided into thirds, with equal time for learning, labor and other matters.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What are Bible instructions on labor relations?
“Two basic principles helped shape biblical labor policy. First, the employer’s duty to pay his worker on time (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15). Second, the right of the worker to eat from the produce of the field while he is working (Deuteronomy 23:25, 26). The worker’s duty is to do his work in a faithful manner.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What does Jericho’s wealth teach me?
In examining the oasis of Jericho and its history, a reflection of three Biblical events teach us something about wealth. In Joshua’s time, Achan stole wealth when “the walls came tumbling down.” In Jesus’ time, He experienced a temptation of wealth and then in a tax collector’s conversion, wealth is returned.
What do I learn from Achan being stoned for coveting wealth?
During the conquering of Jericho, the prophet Joshua commanded that all living persons and animals were to be killed except for Rahab (the harlot who had saved the Israelite spies). All gold, silver, other metal, and worthwhile items were to be brought to the Lord’s treasury. Though no loot was to be taken at Jericho, a certain man named Achan succumbed to the temptation of wealth. Because he took a Babylonish garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold and hid them in his tent, the Israelites experienced a terrible defeat at their next battle. After Joshua had interviewed them man by man, he found Achan, who confessed the theft. He and his entire family were stoned to death and then with all of their possessions they were burned with fire. (Joshua 7:20-25)
How did the Savior react at the Mount of Temptation?
Jesus was tempted with the wealth of the world by Satan. This probably happened at Jericho, an oasis, an important and busy crossroad. This way station was obviously a place of wealth, both natural and manmade. The Mount of Temptation just above Jericho marks the traditional spot where Jesus’ temptation with wealth may have occurred. (Matthew 4:8-10) A monastery has been built into the side of the mount. Tradition indicates that for many years, the monastery was “wordless.” Possibly this was done in symbolic gesture of the silent walks the Israelites made around the site.
What’s important about wealth?
A tree in Jericho marks the traditional site of that Zacchaeus event. I recall that some professional tree surgeons touring with me a number of years ago remarked that the supposed Zacchaeus tree looked more like two hundred years old than two thousand. Fortunately, it’s not the tree but the story that reminds us of what is important. The three Jericho stories have some connection to wealth. Achan succumbed to temptation, disobeyed, and stole. Jesus was tempted but refused the wealth of the world. Zacchaeus, may have surrendered to temptation, yet, he was willing to repay his wrongs – fourfold. The important lesson underlying these accounts is that there is no ownership; it is all stewardship. Everything belongs to the Lord. Whatever wealth man assembles is a test of his stewardship. The test of stewardship is manifested by faith.
How authentic is the Tomb of Lazarus?
The entrance and steps to Lazarus’s tomb were made by Christians just hundreds of years ago. However, they do lead down through the crest of a hill to the remains of a first-century Jewish tomb. Typically, such tombs had two chambers. One chamber was for the mourners who returned for seven days, praying and weeping. (This mourning is called Shiva in Hebrew.) Another chamber is the burial room, wherein the bodies were placed within a day of passing away. After three days it was customary to close the burial room but to continue mourning for the rest of the seven-day period. Jesus asked, “Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord come and see. [Then] Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. . . . [Jesus] . . . cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” (John 11:34-43)
How can the dead arise?
Lazarus’s family was amazed! They knew that within a day of his death, the body had been washed, completely immersed, and anointed with fragrant spiced oils. They probably assisted in dressing the body, fastening his hands and feet, and reverently wrapping the talith over his head and around his body. As they laid him in the burial chamber, they knew that he was dead, and now, before their very eyes, he was alive again. His “shuffling” out of the burial chamber must have astonished the mourners so much that Jesus had to reassure them: “Loose him and let him go.” (John 11:44) The miracle was reported to high priests who immediately felt threatened, Jesus’ popularity imperiled their social and political standing.
Who would object to the wonder of life-again?
A council convened, and Caiaphas, the High Priest that year, wanted Jesus to die. He further justified his wicked proposal by exclaiming that Jesus’ popularity was spreading to other Jews in other lands. Again, that would imperil his influence throughout the Jewish world. Caiaphas’ anger justified his call for Lazarus’ death as well.
Who is responsible for the burial?
“The duty of burial is an obligation of the deceased’s heir but if they cannot or do not perform it, the whole community is responsible. In Talmudic times, the communal fraternal societies for the burial of the dead evolved out of an appreciation of this duty. In many communities, even till modern times, acceptance into the hevra kaddisha (as the society is known) is considered to be an honor and only mature, respected men and women are initiated.” “One of the functions of the hevra kaddisha is the Tohorah rite. This is washing the corpse and preparing it for burial. The corpse is dressed in simple white shrouds and, as a rule, wrapped in the tallit he wore during his lifetime. The tallit is, however, invalidated by having one of the zizit removed.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How is respect demonstrated in burials?
“Although nowadays burial always takes place in a cemetery. . . In biblical times the practice was to bury the dead in family sepulchers which might have been in natural caves or man-made buildings. In Talmud times, the custom developed of setting aside special places to bury the dead. This was primarily to keep the graves out of town since they can be a source of ritual impurity, particularly for the kohanim (priests)..” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)