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HOW DID SYNAGOGUES COME ABOUT?

OCT 18

Matthew 1:17
Memorise 1 Corinthians 3:17
“…My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Matthew 1:17 documents three very significant phases of the history of Israel. Each phase is a symmetrical 14 generations apart. How wonderfully precise the plans and timing of God! The first phase stretches from Abraham to David, the second from David to the invasion of Israel and Judah that led to being removed from their land and into captivity. The third phase stretched from the start of the captivity to the first coming of Christ. It was during the third phase that Synagogues were formed. To understand why Synagogues were formed, one has to understand the circumstances the people of Israel were in when they were in captivity. They were removed from their land and they were dispersed far and wide throughout the empire states of their enemies. The intention of the conquerors was to cause them to learn and absorb the culture of the people and in turn lose their own. The conquerors were mostly effective in doing so. However, the remnant people of Israel were very adamant about not losing their culture and heritage. As God’s witness, their culture did not just result from their history as a race, but came from God Himself through the Word of God. The Synagogues were places of assembly, instruction in God’s Word and mutual encouragement. Synagogues kept their faith alive during the captivity years. Synagogues were very much in existence during the time of Christ and the Apostles. Christ and later the Apostles often taught there and used it as a good opportunity to preach the gospel to the Jews. The Synagogues in Ephesus were used by Paul to evangelise to much of Asia Minor. As we also know, by the time of Christ, many synagogues were no longer places of pure teaching. Instead they became corrupted just like their leaders. As believers, we have a similar setup.

For us, we have the local church given to us by the mercies of God. It is for our benefit. It is a place of learning, prayer, worship, fellowship and service which all serve to make us more faithful and closer to God. However, we often take it for granted. Attending church can be with reluctance and the study of God’s Word even boring. We should not wait for these graces to be taken away before we realise what we have lost. May we seek to always thank God for what He has given us and may we avail ourselves to these means of grace found in activities in church as well as seek to see how we can serve Christ in our local churches.

Thought: What if there was no more church?
Prayer: I thank Thee Lord for giving us a place to worship, fellowship and study Your Word.