Tag Archives: Did You Know?

The Evil Jonathan and His Righteous Ancestor

Did You Know?

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with Jonathan, the son of Saul, who was the bosom friend of David.  Jonathan comes across in the biblical narrative as a true friend, selfless, loyal, devoted to God and to righteousness.  However, there is another man named Jonathan in the Bible—one who is nothing like the friend of David.

In Judges 17-18, a man named Micah (not the prophet) had built an idol, and acquired the services of a Levite to serve as his personal priest (even though this Levite was not a descendant of Aaron).  This Levite claimed to speak to Micah on behalf of God, and in worship, apparently used an idol that Micah had built.  The Levite was treated very well for his services.

Later on, some men from the tribe of Dan came and stole the idol, and convinced the priest that it would be far better for him if he was priest of an entire tribe instead of just Micah’s house.  So, this false priest gladly went after the power and possessions that came with this new opportunity.  The problem is, he was violating God’s law by presuming to act as priest when he wasn’t of the right lineage, and condemning himself by being associated with idol worship.

This Levite’s name was Jonathan.  And though his actions were sinful and self-serving, it gets worse.  Judges 18:30 says “the children of Dan set up for themselves the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land” (ASV, ESV, NIV, etc.).  This Levite who completely disregarded the law of God was the grandson of the most famous Israelite in history—Moses.

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Job Prefigures Revelation?

Did You Know?

It’s well-known that the book of Revelation makes frequent reference to the Old Testament, especially prophetic themes and phrases.  But did you know that it actually makes a thematic reference to the book of Job?

In Job 40-41, God speaks to Job from the whirlwind (a whirlwind is loud enough, but can you imagine a voice speaking to you even louder than the whirlwind?!?).  God explains to Job that He is in charge, and can control things that humans can’t hope to.  As an example, God directs Job’s attention to two well-known creatures: the Behemoth and the Leviathan.  So, in essence, God tells His servant, “These two creatures you can’t control, I can.”

How does this fit in with the book of Revelation?  Simply this:  In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (known as the Septuagint, or abbreviated as LXX), which was the main Bible of the first century, the word “Behemoth” was the Greek word Therion; the word “Leviathan” was the Greek word Drakon.

In Revelation 12-13, we are introduced to two creatures that were causing great difficulty for the Christians: the Beast (as in “mark of the beast”) and the Dragon.  You’ve probably figured out the connection by now, but I’ll say it anyway: the word “Beast” in Revelation is Therion (just like “Behemoth”); the word “Dragon” is Drakon. In the book of Revelation, it’s made pretty clear that the servants of God had no hope of overcoming these creatures—but God tells them, in essence, “These two creatures you can’t control, I can.”

Thus, the book of Job is part of the background to understanding the book of Revelation.  Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

The OTHER “Wee Little Man”

Did You Know?

Sometimes when reading the New Testament, you can get confused about who is being spoken of because of several people having the same name.  For example, two of Jesus’ disciples were named “Judas.”  In order to differentiate them, John called the non-betrayer “Judas…not Iscariot” (John 14:22).  There were two apostles named “Simon,” both of whom were called by surnames—Simon Peter, and Simon the zealot.

The fact that there are three prominent followers of Jesus named “James” necessitated that there be some kind of identifying marker given to distinguish them.  One was called “James, the son of Alphaeus,” one was “James…the son of Zebedee,” and of course there is James, the brother of Jesus.  But he is called “James the less” in Mark 15:40.  (Note: some scholars believe it is speaking of James, the son of Alphaeus, but I believe the evidence better supports the brother of Jesus.  More on that Wednesday, though.)

The word “less” in that verse is the exact same word used to describe Zacchaeus in Luke 19:3—little in stature.

So Mark describes the brother of Jesus as “Little James” or “Short James.” (poor guy)

Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Lose a Tooth, Gain Your Freedom?!?

Did You Know?

In the Old Testament, God permitted the Israelites to purchase people as slaves (how and why this was done is a topic too large for this short article).  In the New Testament, God permitted slave-owners to retain their slaves.  However, God did give rules for how the master was supposed to treat his slave.  In the New Testament, masters were told to remember that they too had a Master in heaven (thus they were slaves to Jesus), and to treat their slaves accordingly (Colossians 4).

In the Old Testament, God gave instructions regarding the treatment of slaves, some of which are quite interesting.  If the slave was an Israelite, he had to be released—along with his family—at the year of Jubilee.  But did you know that in the Law of Moses, God states that if a master hit his slave, and caused that slave to lose his/her tooth, he had to release them from their slavery?  Exodus 21:27 says so.

I don’t know about you, but if I was a slave to a cruel master, that might not be a bad tradeoff!

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Murder Plot That’s Usually Forgot

(NOTE: I have been asked to write short articles for the church bulletin at our new work.  Each one is a “Did You Know?” article, focusing on little-known facts in the Bible.  We will be posting those here each week–starting today–for your enjoyment.  Also, we are still in the process of house-hunting, and helping to improve the property at Jesse’s parents, which has limited how much posting I’ve been able to do here.  Thanks for sticking with us!)

Did You Know?

He was quite famous, a celebrity in Israel. The people flocked to see him, and because of him, many people believed. But the chief priests wanted him dead. Surely you know who we’re talking about, right?  Well, let me give you one last clue: a week before the cross, even Jesus came to see him!

The man is Lazarus.

In John 12:9-11, the Bible says that the Jews came not only to see Jesus, but to see Lazarus.  His resurrection from the dead was so impressive to them that many of them believed in Jesus as a result of seeing and talking to Lazarus.  Here was undeniable proof of the power of Jesus, and confirmation that He was sent by God with a mission—He could be the Messiah!

This was unacceptable to the chief priests, whose rejection of Jesus had already caused them to contemplate murdering Him (John 11:47-53).  But now they had Lazarus in their sights, ready and willing to put him to death as well.  Their mood certainly didn’t improve when the next day, Jesus enters the city and people spread the word about Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead at Jesus’ hand (John 12:16-17).

The murder plot to kill Lazarus is often lost among the many details of Jesus’ final week, but happen it did!  Did you know?

-Bradley S. Cobb