When they got to the Jerusalem suburbs, Jesus halted the throng and was all, Look, the prophets said I would ride into town in style. So go take that donkey and her colt a few blocks away and if anyone asks, say “God needs it.” The groupies stole the donkey for Jesus. He mounted and then his followers began throwing branches and jackets down for him to ride on in some sort of ghetto-fabulous royal procession. People came out of their houses to stare at this strange parade, and when they could make themselves heard over the chanting groupies, they were all, What the fuck is this? And the groupies were all, It’s Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee!
Jesus rode up to the Temple and hulked out. With a roar, he started throwing tables and chairs around, beating up anyone who sold anything–even the sacrificial pigeon seller. People fled. Then the groupies filed in, chanting, Me-ssi-ah! Me-ssi-ah! and Jesus healed some people. The priests were like, Whoa, guy! What’s all this then?! Jesus smirked and was all, Out of the mouths of babes, as the saying goes. Continue reading “Matthew 21: Jesus gets hangry”
Later, Jesus went for a walk along the beach, but crowds started following him. So he hopped in a boat and rowed out from the shore, but the crowd just kept growing. He shrugged and, while his groupies manned the boat, started telling stories to everyone on the beach:
This dude decided to sow some seeds and he just scattered them everywhere. Some got eaten by birds, others landed in rocks and didn’t grow, and some landed in thick weeds and were choked out. Only the seeds that landed on good soil actually grew. Get it? Everyone might hear me speak, but shallow people won’t take it to heart and people too worried about life won’t listen. It’s only the rare listener whose heart is like good soil.
So this other dude sowed seeds in only good, tilled soil, but while he was asleep this asshole who hated him snuck into the field and sowed a bunch of weeds. When things started growing, the field hands asked if they should weed, but the farmer was all, No, just let everything grow together and when it’s harvest time, we’ll pull and burn the weeds before we harvest the wheat. I’m like that farmer and the devil is my asshole enemy! The harvest is the end of the world and the angels will reap the good and burn the sinners! Continue reading “Matthew 13: Parables”
Afterwards, Jesus decided to wander around the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, apparently having no job, family, or other responsibilities. And since he had no job, he had no money, so he had no food, but he wasn’t inured enough to homelessness to eat bugs like John. Hunger and isolation does funny things, and by the end of those 6 weeks, he was having conversations with Satan, his dad’s old tempter-in-chief and gambling buddy.
Satan was all, Well, if you’re really a god or God’s son, why are you starving? Turn some of these rocks into bread. But Jesus was all, Dad says I gotta trust It and starve for a little longer.
Then Satan took Jesus to the top the Temple and was all, Why don’t you test out this God’s your dad theory and throw yourself off? Cuz if It’s really your dad, It’ll send angels to save you and then you’ll know for sure. But Jesus was all, Dad’s not that kind of God. It always says, Don’t test me, son! So I’m not gonna risk it. Continue reading “Matthew 4: Starvation, Satan, and Stuff”
Early in King Darius’s reign, the people of Bethel sent representatives to the Temple to find out, now that the exile was ending, if the mournful fasts they periodically held were still necessary. God’s response was, Uh, yeah! Then It told Zechariah to remind everyone why they had been sent into exile in the first place. So Zechariah said, Hey, don’t you remember that God got pissed and let Its people be defeated and scattered because we didn’t obey It? And all It wanted was for us to treat each other with justice and fairness; to be merciful and forgiving; and to not oppress needy people, like single women and their children, immigrants, or poor people. But we didn’t, and we were punished.
Zechariah dreamed of four chariots, one drawn by red horses, one drawn by black horses, one drawn by dappled horses. His angel told him they represented the four winds patrolling the earth.
When some exiles returned from Babylon, God told Zechariah to take three of them–Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah–to Zephaniah’s house and there to take their gold and silver to make a crown for the high priest Joshua because God loved him so much because he was making sure the Temple got rebuilt.
Zechariah had another vision. He saw a giant, super elaborate, golden floor lamp standing between two olive trees. An angel was there beside him, and was all, Do you know what this lamp means?
And Zechariah was all, No.
And the angel was all, It symbolizes Zerubbabel, with whom God is super pleased because he finally started rebuilding the Temple.
Zechariah nodded sagely, and the angel went on, Do you know what the trees stand for?
The trees stand for the two guardians of the earth, the once and future kings, who will be back when needed!
Haggai wrote other letters to Governor Zerubbabel ben Shealtiel and High Priest Joshua ben Jehozadak about to give them God’s messages. In one of these letters, Haggai wrote, So God wants to know if any of y’all ever saw the Temple before it was destroyed? Or even read a description of it? Because It’s not, how shall I put this? impressed with the results so far. But no matter. It’s going to shake up the nations and make it rain on Judah so y’all can bling it up.
And another time, Haggai wrote to them to ask, Do y’all understand the difference between clean and unclean things? Like, have you even cracked open Leviticus? Because y’all keep offering some things the Lord don’t like. But, here’s what God’s willing to do. If you only offer the right sort of things in the right sort of ways, God will make sure that the crops stop suffering from blight and drought and that the next harvest will be huge.
In a third letter, Haggai wrote to Zerubbabel to tell him that God had chosen him as Its signet ring, and to remember that he was blessed and loved by God during the coming wars.
The end! More about the Second Temple in Zechariah next time!
Efforts were made during the tumultuous time of the returning exiles described in Ezra to rebuild the Temple. The prophet Haggai wrote to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel ben Shealtiel, and the high priest, Joshua ben Jehozadek, that God wanted Its house rebuilt and ASAP. Haggai wrote, God wants to know if y’all think it’s ok that y’all are living in houses and It’s still homeless? God also wants you to know that the reason nothing y’all do down in Judah ever prospers is because y’all have left It homeless. Until you rebuild God’s house, you will never be able to turn a profit or grow enough crops!
So Zerubbabel and Joshuah organized the people to get the materials and crews to rebuild the Temple.
Years after Nebuchadnezzar had died, and Babylon had gone through several kings in quick succession, the last king of Babylon, King Belshazzar, was having a party. He thought that the party was lacking something, though, something special. But then he hit on the idea of having cool dishes, so he ordered that the Temple vessels be cleaned up and used to serve his guests.
The party was hoppin’. The music was rockin’. The concubines were laughing and tugging on the beards of officials. The queen was looking tipsy. But everything screeched to a halt when a giant disembodied hand manifested and wrote MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARIAN. No one knew what it meant. The mood was killed. Unimportant guests quietly slinked out. The concubines buzzed back to the harem. Continue reading “Daniel 5: The writing on the wall”
In 597 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jehoiakim, took the Jewish nobility hostage, and looted the Temple.
But Nebuchadnezzar was a generous man and believed that the barbarian Jews might be civilized, so he ordered his chief of staff to select all the likely Jewish lads for a three-year education program in which they would be taught the language and literature of Babylon. He even condescended that these Jewish scholars should be fed with the leftovers from his own royal table.
Among those chose were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were renamed Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, respectively. These boys were particularly devout and were revolted at the thought of not keeping kosher meals. So they begged the chief of staff to allow them eat vegetarian. Continue reading “Daniel 1: About those Jewish boys”