Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Yom Kippur 2018

The Western Wall on Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur concludes the Ten Days of Awe or the High Holiday Days.  Annually, the Jewish people are commanded to observe the Day of Atonement:

26 The Lord said to Moses, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves,[d] and present a food offering to the Lord. 28 Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30 I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”

At the heart of the observances tonight and tomorrow will be fasting and prayer.  The worshiper denies himself food, drink, sexual intimacy and the pleasures of life.  Before the Book of Life is closed again tomorrow evening, Jewish people seek to draw near to the Lord for forgiveness and the renewal of their relationship with God.

As Christians, the themes of these days must not be lost to us.  With gratitude to our Lord Jesus, we are forgiven and reconciled to the Lord who made heaven and earth.


Friday, August 31, 2018

Ever Wonder About the Prayer Petitions Left at the Western Wall?

Ever wonder about the prayer petitions left at the Western Wall?  I certainly have left my share, and I have wondered about the end results of my paper petitions.  All has now been revealed.

According to The Times of Israel, the prayers are harvested twice annually and taken to a repository on the Mount of Olives for safekeeping along with old documents and scrolls.  This occurs prior to Rosh Hashanah and Passover.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Second Season of Renewed Excavations at Masada

Herod's Palace-Fortress
The second season of Masada's renewed excavations may have revealed King Herod's "pleasure garden" according to archaeologists.  The garden was located near the ruins of the Byzantine Church.

To read more go to this link or pick up the latest edition of Bibilical Archaeology Review!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

More About Bread and the Bread of Life According to the Fifth Gospel - Mark 6:35, 41-51

Bread continues to be the focus for Sunday's preaching.  This week, however, the discourse between Jesus and those gathered round lengthens to include the "bread of life."  While bread is a basic necessity of daily life, God's gift of "living bread" results in eternal life.

With the words "I am," Jesus lays claim to His role in God's plan for feeding all the hungers of humankind.  Three times, we hear Jesus echo God's reply to Moses as to His identity.  "I am who I am."  In fact, John records seven "I am" sayings of Jesus.  None of the seven is more instructive than Jesus as the bread of life.

As their fathers complained in the wilderness, the Jews (John's common designation for the Jewish leadership) murmured at Jesus' daring claim.  Only God's Messiah could provide the bread of life, and they knew Jesus to be only "the son of Joseph."  And with a knowing glare, they spoke of His mother as well.

Jesus held fast to His father's design and invitation!  "Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that gives everlasting life."

This week's narrative closes without a definitive response from the crowd.  We must wait until next week's lesson (still in the bread chapter) for the results.





Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Sunday's Text for Preaching - John 6:25-35 - According to the Fifth Gospel

Many Bible teachers refer to John 6 as the "bread chapter of the Bible."  The gospel writer begins with the feeding of the 5000, and then records conversations between Jesus and the crowd about bread, the staff of life and the true bread.

According to the Fifth Gospel, here's what we know:

  • It is now the day after the miraculous feeding, and the restless crowd is back for more bread, the staff of life.
  • Jesus notes their desire in seeking Him: "you ate your fill of loaves."  In fact, they seem bent on making Him a king or a "bread messiah."  He had made that decision in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-3) by resisting Satan's first test.  "Man shall not live by bread alone."
  • Jesus then corrects the crowd's expectation of Him and God's gifts in John 6:27.  "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life..."
  • By recalling God's gift of daily manna in the wilderness, Jesus points beyond the rich metaphor of bread to the true bread which gives eternal life.  Had the crowd forgotten its history?  The messiah would repeat the miracle of the manna and more.
  • When the crowd demands that bread, Jesus offers up one of John's many "I am" sayings.  "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst" (v. 35).
Slow of heart to believe, the clamoring crowd departed as hungry as ever.
Traditional Sites for the Bread Chapter

Friday, July 27, 2018

Get Your Free Copy of Israel: An Archaeological Journey

Archaeological discoveries shed light on places of sorrow and joy, from Roman prisons to seaside entertainment districts. Explore the religion and history of ancient Israel from the Iron Age through the New Testament era in this collection of articles from Biblical Archaeology Review.  Visit BAR for your copy!
Israel: An Archaeological Journey provides a close look at life and religion at the heart of the Holy Land.