Who was this ghastly king, and what were his infamous deeds? Herod the Great was a convert to Judaism. He was a prefect of the Roman Empire, a tyrant, a brilliant politician, and a murderous villain. He accomplished some spectacular building projects, including an expansion of the second temple in Jerusalem. Among the victims of his murderous carnage, he killed his wife, his brother, and two of his sisters’ husbands, but what is his enduring legacy in the Holy Scriptures?
The story of the stoning of Stephen may be found in Acts 6 & 7. He was among the first deacons ordained by the 12 Apostles. He was a man after God’s own heart, an evangelist, an erudite theological historian (an influential speaker), a man of great courage, and he was martyred for speaking the truth. In the Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican traditions, he is celebrated in the Feast of St. Stephen on the second day of Christmastide.
I am impressed by Stephen’s knowledge of biblical history, his final great sermon, and the courage he displayed before the false accusers who stoned him to death. See the link above for the whole story.
I have penned a haiku which commemorates Stephen’s life. May all glory go to God.
Ever wonder about “Christi Aduentu” (Advent of Christ) and its significance for Christians? The Latin term adventus is a translation from the Greek form parousia, which refers to the Second Coming of Christ. In the Western Christian tradition, observations of Advent encompass three primary forms: 1) to celebrate the birth and Nativity of Jesus at Christmas; 2) to celebrate Christ in one’s heart in daily devotion and prayer; and 3) to acknowledge Christ’s coming in glory at the end of the age. Advent ceremonies in churches encourage a season of corporate worship and shared expectations, sometimes acknowledging a corporate desire for readiness at the Second Coming of Christ.
The Advent season typically includes a wreath of candles, one of which is lit to celebrate the opening of the season, in conjunction with the reading of Scripture, devotional time, and prayers. Another candle is lit on each subsequent Sunday. Some wreaths include a fifth candle representing Jesus, which is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
In the Book of Revelation, sometimes referred to as “apocalyptic, prophetic,” or “epistolary literature,” the Apostle John composed a broad range of prophetic visions written in figurative language, which begins by addressing the Seven Churches of Asia, and the book reaches a crescendo (of sorts) in the Second Coming of Christ.
Revelation is a mysterious book, and especially the enigmatic passage in which Jesus appears on a white horse. This passage mentions several names of the Savior, and it is enveloped in figurative (sometimes cryptic) language. It appears to represent the Second Coming of Jesus:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16, NKJV).
I’ll attempt to unpack this passage with my own verse in “The Evening News,” which is very good news.
Thanksgiving is upon us and I am saturated in gratitude. My path to this place is paved with the fine rapport and altruism of people whose love for their fellows is absolute. I was led to this diminutive Michigan city 13 years ago, where I discovered a community of people who love one-another. My Blessings abound. I enjoy the warmth and cheer of a loving wife, affable friends, and the unsurpassed love of the Living Savior.
My Thanksgiving message is from Ephesians 4:32): “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” I traveled far to arrive at this place, and I believe there are many fine cities just like it. May your terrestrial destination be likewise. Home is where you find your dog, and the love of Christ Jesus. If you are a winsome traveler, you might enjoy this haiku, “Shiawassee Ice,” which I posted 4 years ago at Thanksgiving.