Knowing the complexities and how important Jerusalem was to the Jewish people, the Romans try to be careful too. They had to be careful on how they ruled Jerusalem. To keep the peace they ruled at arm’s length, using local monarchs and religious leaders to aid in fulfilling their Roman agenda. Although they used others to help rule, they were still visible all through the city. Their armies were stationed around, and their garrison’s would execute locals that weren’t trying to uphold their agenda. And because of the Roman agenda, which basically amounts to having to obey Roman rules, pay Roman taxes, and allow Roman god’s and culture into the one true God’s city…because of this, the Jewish locals hate the Roman empire. I mean paying Roman taxes and obeying Roman rules is one thing, but what they really hate is that it is just blasphemous to make the one true God have to blend into all the dozens of god’s the Romans come with, ranging from the God of the sun and the ocean, to the God of bees, and the Goddess Edesa who rules over banquets and barbaque.
Mixing the One true God with all these other nothing god’s is an abomination. And to let this happen, in God’s city, is also a dangerous thing for the Jewish people. They have to be careful how much they let happen, because in the scrolls of scriptures, our Old Testament, prophets warned them many times over about the worship of other gods. For the Jewish people the one true God of everything is a jealous God and doesn’t like to be betrayed or His people to be unfaithful to Him…God’s justice will come down full force on the people like it had in the past. Therefore, because the Jewish locals fear the one true God, and they hate the Romans so much, they close ranks around their culture and God’s laws, and conservative strict abidance to the one true God’s laws has completely taken over the Jewish people. All things Roman, all things anyone other than Jewish does not apply. For the first century Palestinian Jew, righteousness is the careful abidance to all the laws of the one true God that was given directly to them by God Himself on a mountaintop years before.
For the Jewish people the law is sacred. It is the embodiment of God’s intentions in the world. It lays out a demanding but achievable pattern for a life of righteousness. It tells one what to eat, what to wear, how to behave, and to keep all the rules is something that pleases God and with this abidance one can become pure and clean in God’s eyes. And if one happens to slip up, and become impure or unclean, there are rules for becoming clean and pure once again—usually by sacrificing something in the Temple in which God dwelled. And there is the big problem. With the Romans ruling over them with all their unrighteous filthy god’s, impure taxes, and blasphemous images of Roman rulers on all the money they have to use, it is like the Jewish people can never get clean. They can sacrifice every animal in the entire land and never be completely pure with the Romans in control. The Romans make the Jewish people forcefully dirty, forcefully unfaithful, and feeling like they are betraying the one true God all the time. And what they want and what they need is what the Roman empire will not give them…their freedom, their independence.
Stay Tuned for Part III coming soon.