The study of the culture and idioms of the first century Hebrews assists us to more completely understand the Scriptures. It is not that we won't get a message from reading independently of Hebraic culture, but it probably won't be the complete message. Today, we want to look at the story of the raising of Lazarus. Yahushua was very good friends with this family: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus fell sick and died. While he was living, his sisters sent word to Yahushua hoping He would come and heal their brother. Yahushua gets the message and waits two days before making the journey to see him. By the time Yahushua arrives, Lazarus has been dead four days. Is the number four significant? Why did Yahushua wait the two days before leaving? Without an understanding of Hebraic culture, the numbers don't seem too significant. However, they are very important and the local Hebrews certainly would have understood their significance.
It was the belief and custom of first century Hebrews that when a person died, their spirit hovered above them for three days. On the fourth day, that spirit descended into Sheol, the place of the dead. There was a belief that within the first three days, a miracle could occur and the spirit of the departed could return to the dead. However, on the fourth day, there was no possibility of a miracle because the spirit had departed. Now the four days make sense, don't they. Yahushua waited four days to demonstrate His divinity and power over death. Now read John 11:24-25: "Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Yahushua said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Martha knows that her brother's spirit has departed and the only hope is a last day resurrection; however, Yahushua is about to demonstrate that with Him nothing is impossible. Yahushua then calls forth Lazarus and he is raised from the dead. This was an impossibility to them, but Yahushua was demonstrating that He is the God of the impossible.
Do you have an impossible situation today? If so, know that He is the God of the impossible. He will not fail you. Even though it may look like He is too late, He is never too late. Trust Him completely today for your every situation!
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