St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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The Bible: The Background of The New Testament

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All of the Old Testament is a preparation for the coming of Jesus. From the time of Adam and Eve, God has His plan in mind. Humanity falls quickly into every sin imaginable, but God intervenes for humanity by speaking to them and offering a relationship with them, despite their sins. God chooses to love His servants and show them His ways. He protects Noah from the flood. He enters into a deeper covenant with Abraham. Though Abraham muddles through the mud of sin, God still does not leave him. He gives the Ten Commandments in Moses’ time. The people of God fall away in the following centuries while God calls them back through judges, kings and prophets. God was patient with His people then, as He is today. It takes millennia to prepare the people for the Savior. Even then, we humans have hard heads. It continues today, even though Jesus came two thousand years ago. Jesus came at the optimum time to save souls.

In the time of Jesus, the Jewish community was not united. There were many sects. Some of these sects believed in strict adherence to the Torah (first five books of the Bible, The Law). The Essenes were very strict. They fasted, lived like monks, did not believe in the sacrifice of the Temple because the Ark of the Covenant was not there. It is believed that John the Baptist was a former member of the Essenes. In Luke 22:10, there is a man who is carrying a jar of water that the disciples are to follow to prepare for the last supper. This man with the water jar is believed to have been an Essene. Pharisees believe in the afterlife and angels, but the Sadducees do not. The Scribes go strictly by the book, the Torah. There were many who wanted to start a holy war to call on God’s Blessing. Barabbas is believed to be of this mold (Mk 15:6-7). Some were scholarly and some wanted to appease the Romans to keep peace. I heard of a comment by a Jewish person which is sort of a joke. It goes like this: “If you had 100 Jewish men in a room, how many opinions would you have? The answer is: 101 or more”. This is not much different than any other ethnic group. It illustrates the diversity of the culture and how many people, even in the time of Jesus, were not as united as we tend to think. Yet, Jesus drew from all facets of life and differing opinions.

Despite all the many opinions flying around, there were certain tenants of the faith that were non-negotiable and foundational. The first is that God is One and there is no other. Worship belongs only to the One True God. The second is the Sacred Books known to us as the Old Testament. Even then there was a lot of heated debate about which books to use. The only ones that were agreed upon by all were the first five books known as the Torah. They are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Jesus used all of the books that we have to teach His ways and reveal Himself as the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ. The Ten Commandments were of necessity to the Jewish people of the time. They understood their importance and the grace of God’s Wisdom given through His commandments. Extended with the Ten Commandments is the law of Moses given in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These were books of great wisdom that Moses wrote as a guide based on his experience hearing trials for the Jewish people and based on the fact that Moses was led by God Himself.

Author: stjosephstmary

We are two Catholic Churches close to downtown Freeport, IL. Our communities are over 150 years old and have been dedicated to our lord Jesus Christ since our inception. We believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was concieved by the Holy Spirit, born of ythe Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

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