Category Archives: Holy Land Tour 2007

For Email Subscribers And A Reminder About One Earthly Enemy

A Muslim home in Jerusalem's Old City, exterior decorated following pilgrimages to Mecca and/or other sites important to Islam.

Here’s an idea. Since I’m no longer linking to my feedburner email subscription service and whenever I get my Google account mess straightened out, I’m going to be closing that account, which will affect those of you who have been receiving email notifications of my posts for the past couple of years. It might be wise if you just go ahead and unsubscribe from that service yourself and then subscribe to my new WordPress subscriber service. I think that would be the simplest route for now.

Also, if any of you are interested in a great interview regarding Islam, you might enjoy checking out this Sunday’s episode of The White Horse Inn, “Christianity Confronts Islam.” Michael Horton interviews former Muslim and converted Christian, Sam Solomon, regarding the nature of Islam. In the light of all the popular reassurances that “Islam is a relgion of peace,” even though we see little popular moderate Muslim resistance to Islamic terrorism, Solomon’s words will be a sober reminder that things aren’t as rosy as the politically correct culture would have us believe. We in the West must not forget what an ever-present threat and danger Islamic terrorism is to us all. Let this interview be your next reminder.

“On” or “After”? Defending the Friday Crucifixion

Shrine in Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Shrine in Church of the Holy Sepulchre

In case you didn’t perceive it in the light of my series on St. Patrick (which is still ongoing–stay tuned, true believer!), one of my pet peeves about the anti-traditional wing of Christianity is that they will deny the established, sound views on things seemingly for the sole reason of not being in agreement with Roman Catholicism. It may just be me, but that’s the way things look to me. One example of this is the two competing sites in Israel for which the claim is made that it is the genuine site of Calvary and Christ’s tomb. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has the vote of all the ancient churches, be they Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, what have you. Then there’s the Garden Tomb (formerly Gordon’s tomb), for which the claim was not made until a nineteenth century Protestant made it against the prevailing established evidence which overwhelmingly supports the validity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Speaking generally, many Protestants tend to prefer the Garden tomb because it doesn’t have a big, old medieval or Crusader-era church built on top of it, ruining the view.

In the realm of traditional biblical claims, the question of on which day of the week Christ died is divided between those who aren’t uncomfortable with historic, established, orthodox traditional views and those who are. I was reading the Wikipedia article on Good Friday yesterday (here’s the link), in which the Good Friday customs of various groups are outlined. After the ancient Eastern and Western groups are treated, naturally the historic Protestant customs are described, followed by a section entitled, “Other Protestant Traditions.” The second paragraph of this section reflects the tendency I’m addressing:

Some Baptist, Pentecostal and many Sabbatarian and non-denominational churches oppose the observance of Good Friday, instead observing the Crucifixion on Wednesday to coincide with the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover Lamb (which Christians believe is an Old Testament pointer to Jesus Christ). A Wednesday Crucifixion of Jesus Christ allows for Christ to be in the tomb (heart of the earth) for three days and three nights as he told the Pharisees he would be (Matthew 12:40), rather than two nights and a day if he died on Friday.

I think this paragraph does a good job of highlighting part of the reason for the debate: wooden literalism. Firstly, the desire is to make sure the crucifixion of the Lamb of God takes place at the precise moment the copies and shadows of the heavenly things are offered, as if it just couldn’t happen at any other moment. Secondly, just because Jesus used the language in this one exchange that in modern English vernacular corresponds literally to a seventy-two hour period, the rest of the Gospel references to when Christ rose must be interpreted in the light of this verse understood this particular way. Anything else is unacceptable to such interpreters. Again, the fear being agreement with Rome on something. The net result becomes that Jesus couldn’t have died on Friday because it wasn’t a “literal” three days and three nights. Only Catholics and those other denominations that retain more Roman Catholic like practices than we do would be so gullible as to agree with the Friday view of the crucifixion.

One of the most popular denials the anti-traditional interpreters make is the traditional appeal to the fact that in the first century Jewish idiom a “day” can refer to either part of a day, or the entire day. I’ve yet to hear a persuasive argument against this linguistic phenomenon out of those who hold the Wednesday view, I just hear the unbroken mantra of “three days and three nights.” In other words, it seems to me those who hold this view simply don’t want to be confused by facts because they’ve got their proof text and they’re sticking with it.

All I’d like to do is focus on the other Gospel passages that refer to when Christ would rise from the dead. They tend to fall into two categories: those that have Christ rising “on the third day,” and those that have Christ rising “after three days.”

If the Wednesday crucifixion were true, and Christ did lie in the tomb for a literal seventy-two hour period, then perhaps the “after three days” verses are preferable. These passages are Matthew 27:63; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34. Here’s the first of Mark’s references, Mark 8:31–

“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (emphasis mine).

On the other hand, if Christ did die on Friday, spend Saturday in the tomb and rise before sunrise on Sunday morning, then this scenario is more easily reflected by the “on the third day” verses. These passages are Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:64; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7, 21, 46. Let’s use Luke’s final verse as an example, Luke 24:46–

“and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead . . . . ‘”

If life were simple and we could resort to a majority vote, the traditional view wins. But I know it’s not that easy.  However, it is worthy of note that the time frame references that don’t explicitly reveal a seventy-two hour period outnumber the ones more favorable to the Wednesday crucifixion view. No wonder when the early church compiled the New Testament teachings of the apostles into creedal form, they used the language that favors the Friday crucifixion view:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Maker of heaven and earth,
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell. 

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
    from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
    the holy catholic church;
    the communion of saints;
    the forgiveness of sins;
    the resurrection of the body;
    and the life everlasting.

Amen.

Out of Judean Caves into Cyberspace!

Did I ever tell you that I got to go to Israel last November? If you were in a cave back when I posted far too little about it several months ago, let me tell you that the thing I looked most forward to seeing was the Dead Sea Scrolls

Shrine of the Book Museum

Shrine of the Book Museum

exhibit at the Shrine of the Book Museum in Jerusalem. The experience was well worth the cost. I even discovered two books that I really want to get around to buying and reading someday. One is The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, a translation into English of all the Dead Sea Scrolls that contained books of the Old Testament. The other is The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, which contains all of the writings of the Essenes, detailing their beliefs and customs and other glimpses of first century life in Israel.

Now, however, CNN tells us that the scrolls will be coming to us in addition to our having to go to them. Not that I don’t want people to keep going to see them in person. Nothing could ever beat that. Read the article at CNN.com called, “Dead Sea Scrolls Go From Parchment to the Internet.”

Corinthian Creed Added to My Box

Scanning Across the Ruins of Ancient Corinth, Greece

Over in my sidebar, you will find the recording made of the quartet who performed the song, “Corinthian Creed,” which I wrote to summarize the teaching of 1 Corinthians 15 on Paul’s defense of, teaching about and exhortations in light of the resurrection of Christ and our future resurrection at his Second Coming. Just find the black box on the lower right side of this page and select the file at the top of the list called “Corinthian Creed” and you’ll be able to hear our performance.

For a further introduction, read what I wrote about it back on September 30, 2006. Above, you may enjoy a view scanning across the ruins of Ancient Corinth which I shot on my Holy Land Tour in November of 2007, of which, more pictures are available for viewing in my Flikr photo box which is also in the sidebar to the right.

Jesus’ “Lost Years” Found In the New Testament

Herod’s Temple Model

 In my post last Sunday morning, I blogged about Lee Strobel’s book defending “the Real Jesus.” With this topic fresh in my mind, as well as the Sunday School lesson which I’d prepared for that morning, when class began, during our conversation with the children before the lesson, one of them asked out of the blue where Jesus was between the time he was a kid and the time he began his public ministry. I could tell immediately where he was going. Naturally, he followed up by saying his dad had been watching the History Channel and heard that people say Jesus went to India for some time between the ages of 12 and thirty. In the providence of God, my lesson for the day was from Luke 2:39-52, the account of “The Boy Jesus in the Temple,” as the heading over this passage in the English Standard Version describes it.

I’m not terribly familiar with the claims regarding Jesus’ reputed trip to India, spread by those outside the realm of orthodox Christianity. However, having perused the search engine and scanned a few sites (like this one, for example) and Wikipedia articles (like the one on the gnostic Acts of Thomas and the theosophical  Aquarian Gospel), I’ve hit upon the apparent basis for the theory that Jesus went to India as a boy. I’d probably already be more clued in about it if I didn’t avoid History Channel programs of this nature and other popular sources of info on the secularized revisionist research on the “historical Jesus.” But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My immediate response to my student was that there are a lot of people who like Jesus, but who don’t believe the Bible. Often, they are people or groups from other religions that associate Jesus with their beliefs in an attempt to lend credibility to them, or for some other reason. In the middle of giving this summary of where stories like that come from, a verse from my lesson came to mind. “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover” (Luke 2:41). After I glanced at the passage for a minute, it became clear to me that even though the verse doesn’t say, “Now Jesus and his parents went . . . ” the context indicates that when his parents went to Jerusalem every year, so did Jesus.

It seems I’ve found a piece of New Testament evidence that would indicate that Jesus of Nazareth did not, in fact, ever go to India, or on any fanciful “magical mystery tour” of eastern religions between the ages of 12 and 30, as suggested by the Aquarian Gospel, but was with his parents every year when they went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover.

Audio of Adrian and Dr. Tolar!

May I introduce to you our fascinating tour guide, Adrian?

Our Fascinating, British-Israeli Guide, Adrian!

This interesting little British guy was brought to Israel as a child by his devout, Jewish parents. He works primarily for the Israeli national parks service around the Dead Sea area, but also teaches English as a second language to his fellow Israeli citizens in addition to his brilliant career as a tour guide for eager American evangelicals like myself. He can speak Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish in addition to his native tongue, the Queen’s English.

I have posted a few recordings of Adrian’s fascinating presentations on the bus and at various sites around Israel on my Box.net account, which can be accessed here, or in the future, from my CHK Multimedia page, on which you can click the “Audio for Mind and Heart” link and listen to the files posted December 12, 2007.  Adrian’s talks include info regarding all sides of all issues (as much as he’s aware, anyway, which is quite a bit!), historical, geographical, economic, religious (often representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim views).

Dr. William Tolar, Retired Professor of Biblical Backgrounds, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Some of the audio files also include recordings of Dr. William Tolar (more on his credentials later), interspersed throughout. He is equally interesting, considering he is a retired professor of Biblical Backgrounds from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the image above, Dr. Tolar is standing at the foot of the Areopagus in Greece, the site where Paul preached the famous sermon about the “Unknown God” of the Athenians (Acts 17:16-34). The Greek text of Paul’s sermon is inscribed on the plaque over Dr. Tolar’s shoulder.

Here’s Where Jesus Cleansed the Temple

Ruins of the area of the temple cleansed by Jesus

Do you see what appear to be the ruins of ramps outside that wall in the center of the picture? Our guide told us that used to be the porch leading to the temple complex where moneychangers gathered. Which means it’s the place where Jesus exhibited his zeal for his Father’s House and cleansed the Temple and dared them to crucify him, the True Temple, so that he may rebuild the Temple of his body on the third day, obtaining eternal redemption and assuring us who believe of our justification on the basis of the righteousness of Christ alone!

Jesus Cleanses the Temple (John 2:13-22)

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Some good, and some not-so good pix

Herod’s Vaults at his Caesarea palace complex on the Mediterranean shore facing Rome, his own personal Mecca! Click the following images to enlarge.Herod the Great’s Vaults at his palace in Caesarea

Mary’s Home, Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

“Traditional Site” of Mary’s home, inside Nazareth’s Church of the Annunciation

The Sea of Galilee, from our boat ride

The Sea of Galilee

Dr. William Tolar at Corinth part 2

Here’s a second excerpt from Dr. Tolar’s remarks at the ruins of Corinth in Greece.

Dr. William Tolar at Corinth part 1

I took this video at the Ancient Corinth Archaeological Site and Museum, the ruins of the New Testament city of Corinth. Dr. Tolar was lecturing on passages relevant to the city. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the entire lecture, but at least you can get a taste of what our group was treated to. Later I’ll post more on Dr. Tolar so you can get to know him better.

There are a couple of other good videos featuring more of the Ancient Corinth Archeological Site at AncientCorinth.net.

The Current Bethlehem Experience

I noticed yesterday on the magazine rack at the grocery store that National Geographic has written an article about what life is like in Bethlehem nowadays, featuring the experiences of a Jewish, Muslim and a Christian family. It’s a pretty enlightening read. And might make you want to help by looking up that Herodion Store website I posted on the other day, and help the Bethlehem economy by placing an order. The article is called, “Bethlehem, 2007 A.D.”

Misadventures with Egyptians

digi0735.jpgI have to get this off my chest before I can enjoy blogging about all the positive aspects of my Holy Land Tour. It’s appropriate that I should post about this early in my vacation blogging, because, when we finally got to Egypt after about 9 days of touring Greece and Israel, I found myself wishing we’d visited Egypt first. The reason I wished we’d toured Egypt first was because then I would have had the energy and enthusiasm to enjoy Egypt in spite of the Egyptians. I know, criticize me for complaining. I agree with you. But sure enough, our visit in Cairo, Egypt (boasting a citywide population of 20 million citizens!), for me, at least, was a two-day misadventure. I definitely dug the pyramids and the Sphinx and the boat rides on the Nile (accept of course for the sail boat without wind in which we spun around and around in circles!)

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First of all, the border agents weren’t very patient with the little, old ladies who were chatting in the line waiting to show them their passports. If they weren’t paying attention when the agent was ready for them, he’d invariably slam his fist on the counter and snap at the women to get their attention and grouchily command them to approach the counter. I must say I found myself less than edified by this repeated experience.

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digi0675.jpgSecond of all, once we got on our bus and entered the city, and noticed what a war zone the working class section of town looked like, and learned the reason for the dilapidated appearance of most of their otherwise functional buildings, I went from annoyed to appalled! Our Egyptian tour guide informed us that in the less affluent side of town, the city government doesn’t charge taxes on buildings that are being built until the building is completed. Naturally, since it is an economic law that taxing a behavior discourages that behavior, many of the builders lost all motivation to complete their buildings to avoid paying their taxes–much to the detriment of the Cairo skyline!

Then there was all the traffic! Did I mention there are twenty million people living in Cairo, Egypt? Did you know that there are only seven more than that living in the entire state of Texas? Twenty million Cairo citizens–and they’re all stuck in traffic everywhere you go. Which means they’re all laying on their horns and trying like the dickens to get around anything and everything in their way. To add excitement to the mayhem, because the traffic is so congested, no one can really go that fast anyway, so pedestrians feel free to jaywalk anywhere they please, weaving in and out between the sardine-packed parking lots full of cars they call streets. Plus, realizing there’s safety in numbers some of them would join arm in arm in groups of about five or so, and step out into traffic to do their jaywalking. Then there were the children chasing our bus down the street like a pack of dogs! But to pump a little sunshine into this post, at least many of them were very happy to see busfuls of Americans and their wallets coming into town. We did quite often see happy Egyptians waving enthusiastically at us everywhere we went.

Another group of Egyptians who were glad to see us were the extremely aggressive souvenir salesmen whom you simply couldn’t make eye contact with, let alone discuss the price of their wares, unless you’re ready to lay down some cash! If they can’t get your attention, some of them will assure you they aren’t looking for money when they offer to take your picture with your camera, only to then stick their hand out and start asking for money once they’ve provided their neighborly service. God is so gracious with me. Would that I could have founnd such compassion for my neighbors, the Egyptians!

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At the Garden Tomb with Ken Trestrail

Here’s the speaker and the speech we heard when we visited the Garden Tomb. We also enjoyed a Lord’s Supper Service on site. They give away olive wood cups out of which we drank the grape juice. Click your way into YouTube and watch all three videos in the series. It only gets better and better!

The Apostle Paul Walked Here!

s5000112.jpgHere I am on “main street” in the ruins of Corinth. I’m told it’s likely Paul used this road to get where he was going when he was in Corinth, but Dr. William Tolar (former dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and professor of Biblical or Theological History–I forget which) says he doesn’t think scholarship is on the side of Paul’s using it when he first arrived in the area. I’m not a Paul scholar, so that’s all Greeks5000087.jpg to me!

Here’s a picture of a “bema seat” to which Paul alludes in his writings.

Sorry so sloppy. I’m still new at uploading my own photos to my blog.

Remedial Vacation Blogging Illustrated

Okay, I thought I didn’t know how to do this yet, but I just figured it out. Here’s a few pictures from my trip. And more to come.

First we visited Greece. Here’s my wife and I, with my pastor and his wife in front of the Acropolis. My pastor, Bill Weaver, says, he visited the Acropolis over 30 years ago when there was no scaffolding around it, preventing entry. If I get a copy of that shot soon, I’ll post it. Even our Greek tour guide said she’s never seen it without scaffolding.

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I’ll give you a couple more soon.

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