Monday, February 18, 2019

Belshazzar and the Writing on the Wall


“He should have seen the writing on the wall.” This expression refers to clear evidence—evidence that was ignored—of a bad or dramatic event about to happen.  This connection between impending doom and writing on a wall traces all the way back to the Bible, to a miraculous event in the life of Daniel the prophet, and to one of the most important turning points in all of history.

This was back at a time when the Jewish people were in exile in Babylon, one of the lowest moments in their history.  The depth of their despair is captured in the opening verse of Psalm 137:  “By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion” (Psa. 137:1).  Their exile meant the end of Israel’s existence as an independent kingdom, the end of their national sovereignty, and the end of their personal freedom.   It looked very much like the final chapter in God’s special relationship with the Jewish people.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jacob's Trip to Haran and Back


Two weeks ago, we talked about Jacob and his trip to Haran.  We talked about the dream he had at Bethel—the dream of the ladder—and the promise he made to God there.  We also talked about how he fulfilled that promise many years later when he got back to the Land of Israel.  

Today we’re going to talk about the rest of Jacob’s adventure:  his time in Haran and how God used that time to shape him into the man of God he later became.  Because if there’s one thing we know for sure about Jacob, it’s that when he started off in life, he was trouble.  Oh yes, he was a good boy, a mama’s boy (Gen. 25:27,28).  But he was also a liar and a cheater; a deceiver.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jacob's Vision at Bethel

Bethel:  site of Jacob's Vision

Do you know the song “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder”?  It’s an old Negro slave spiritual.  It expressed the slaves’ faith that after this life of difficulties and trouble, they would be admitted to heaven.  Notice that the song understands Jacob’s ladder to be a symbol of the believer’s spiritual ascent into heaven:  “we are climbing Jacob’s ladder.”  The ascent is agonizing, but the result is glory. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Images of Prayer in the Worship of Israel


Acts 3:1:  "But Peter and John were going up into the Temple for the hour of prayer, the ninth hour." 

So often through the years, Christianity has been presented as a total break with Judaism, a completely different religion that has nothing in common with the ancient religion of the Jewish people.  Instead Christianity has been presented as a philosophical faith that has more in common with Greek philosophy than with the Bible.  But if that's true, why were Peter and John coming here, to the Temple, to pray, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus?  (Jesus ascended to heaven in Acts chapter 1, this is chapter 3.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Scripture Garden II

Well and Watering Troughs

Last week we talked a little about the Scripture Garden where my wife and I used to work.  We covered about half of the items in the garden, and this week we’ll take a quick look at the other half.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Scripture Garden I

Biblical Resources Scripture Garden at Tantur

Today I’d like to share with you the first part of a walk through a Scripture Garden that my wife Karen and I used to work at in Israel.  This garden was located halfway between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  It's no longer there today, but has inspired many imitators that carry on the tradition. What was in the Scripture Garden?  More than two dozen full-sized models and restorations of objects from daily life in Bible times.

The purpose of the garden was to help you understand the imagery of the Bible.  Many times we read about different things like wells or threshing floors or wine presses or olive presses in the Bible, but we really don’t understand what they were or how they worked.  And since so much of the imagery of the Bible depends on this knowledge, we often don’t understand the meaning of this imagery, and so don’t understand the meaning of the verse or section it appears in. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hebrews 2


Last week, in Hebrews chapter 1, we saw how the book of Hebrews begins:  by identifying Jesus as the Son of God, who is the “character”—the impress or exact likeness—of the Father.  Because of this, he is infinitely greater than any of the angels.  And to prove it, Hebrews quotes verse after verse from the Bible, to show that Jesus is far greater than the angels.  The angels are spiritual servants, but Jesus rules and reigns at the right hand of the Father in heaven.