Sunday November 11th: 3 Kislev
It was on this day that Roman ensigns, emblems and images were removed from the Temple courtyard by order of Pontius Pilate. The Jews were incensed at the presence of these things in the Temple court and were threatening a war unto the death. Apparently, Pilate thought it wise to remove these emblems, many of them with pagan affiliations, because they proved to be a incitement for the Jews of that day.
There are two interesting concepts that we can glean from this particular story and both of them are alluded to in the book of Romans. The first one is this:
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1-2)
The Roman’s authority had been given to them by God and that fact had to be respected. Furthermore, every kingdom, every president and, yes, every dictator since then was given authority only because God allowed them to have that authority. That doesn’t mean that He condones what they do, have done or will do; it’s just to say that their authority was bestowed upon them by God because, somehow it serves His purpose. According to Paul, if we choose to resist those authorities, we might find ourselves resisting God’s purposes. That is a hard pill for some to swallow, but the facts are the facts.
The second issue is that the Romans purposely placed a stumbling block before the Jewish people. In order to demonstrate their authority over the Jews, they created a potentially violent environment, almost as if they were daring the Judeans to respond. Consequently, it’s easy for us to justify the Jews’ response: They were resisting tyranny and the fact that God’s house was being profaned. It makes sense to us today that their threat of rebellion was resistance to tyranny.
So what happens when WE place stumbling blocks before others? In Romans 14, Paul takes up this issue and speaks of topics where there is room to disagree, similar to things that we deal with today. For instance, Paul compares those who eat all foods with those who eat only herbs, the vegetarians of the day. He looks at both sides and determines that we aren’t to judge one another, and we are not to cast a stumbling block before others. He makes the same argument for those who esteem certain calendars over others. He compels us to do what is right in God’s eyes and not placing a stumbling block before those who may be a bit more immature than you.
Having addressed this, he now makes what is, perhaps, the most critical point in Romans 14.
“Therefore, do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Messiah in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” (Romans 14:16-18)
Let us be committed to the things Paul mentioned with as much tenacity and zeal as we are to issues like food, calendars and our pet doctrine. If we will commit ourselves to righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, we will be much more affective when the time comes to make our point about these other issues. If we are committed to these things, we will not be quick to judge other nor plant a stumbling block in his path.