JERUSALEM, the movie, finally coming to an Imax theatre near some of you September – November 2013 + London Jan. 2014

JERUSALEM TRAILER

Below, you can find out if the movie is playing in your city.

About the Movie: Through the unrivaled beauty and visceral nature of the IMAX® experience, JERUSALEM seeks to increase public understanding and appreciation for Jerusalem’s historical, spiritual, cultural and artistic uniqueness, as well as highlighting some of the intersections between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Photos courtesy of Jerusalem the movie (via email announcement <info@jerusalemthemovie.com>)

Jerusalem the Movie 1

Jerusalem the Movie 2

Arheologi au dezgropat ruinele palatului regelui David in Israel

O echipă de arheologi din Israel crede că a descoperit ruinele palatului ce a aparţinut personajului biblic, regele David.

Arheologii de la Universitatea Ebraică de la Ierusalim şi Autoritatea pentru Antichităţi susţin că au descoperit un complex fortificat aflat pe o întindere mare dintr-un sit arheologic localizat la vest de Ierusalim, numit Khirbet Qeiyafa

„Khirbet Qeiyafa este cel mai bun exemplu de până acum care prezintă un oraş fortificat din timpul regelui David”, a declarat arheologul Yossi Garfinkel, sugerând că este posibil ca David însuşi să fi folosit teritoriul.

Garfinkel susţine că echipa sa a descoperit obiecte de cult obişnuite de iudei şi că nu au găsit nicio rămăşiţă a vreunui porc, animal a cărui carne nu este consumată de evrei. Astfel de indicii, spune Garfinkel sunt „dovezi neechivoce” care demonstrează că david şi descendenţii săi au condus acest loc.

Totuşi, criticii spun că teritoriul ar fi putut să aparţină altor regate din zonă, iar majoritatea specialiştilor susţin că până acum nu s-au descoperit dovezi definitive care demonstreze existenţa regelui David. Potrivit acestora, arheologia biblică este discutabilă, iar israelienii folosesc adesea astfel de descoperiri aflate pe teritorii pe care le revendică palestinienii, pentru a face legătură cu trecutul lor istoric.

De exemplu, în ciuda dovezilor arheologice, palestinienii neagă faptul că templul iudaic biblic domina dealul pe care se află Moscheea Al-Aqsa. În general, cercetătorii sunt împărţiţi în cei care cred şi cei care nu cred că istorisirile biblice sunt validate de rămăşiţele fizice.

Actualele acţiuni de excavare nu sunt primele care i-au determinat pe specialişti să declare că au găsit palatul regelui David. În 2005, arheologul israelian Eilat Mazar a declarat că a găsit rămăşiţele palatului în Ierusalim şi că acestea datează din secolul X î.e.n., perioada în care David a fost la putere. Şi teoria lui Mazar a trezit scepticism în rândul comunităţii ştiinţifice, iar printre critici s-a numărat şi Garfinkel. (Jos- model dupa templul lui David de la NOVA)

Folosind datarea cu carbon, arheologii au concluzionat că rămăşiţele de la situl arheologic nou descoperit datează tot din secolul X î.e.n. De asemenea, specialiştii au găsit şi o cameră de depozitare cu o lungime de 15 metri, ceea ce sugerează că aici exista un sistem regal de colectare a taxelor.

Garfinkel consideră că regele David a trăit permanent într-un loc încă nedescoperit din Ierusalim, vizitând Khirbet Qeiyafa sau alte palate doar ocazional, pentru perioade scurte de timp. El a mai adăugat că plasarea sitului pe un deal indică faptul că liderul a ales un loc sigur, la înălţime, în timpul unei ere violente, marcată de conflicte dese.

„În timpul lui David a fost pentru prima dată când o mare parte din zonă a fost unită sub un singur monarh. Nu a fost o eră liniştită”, a explicat Garfinkel.

Arheologul Israel Finkelstein, de la Universitatea Tel Aviv, este de acord cu Garfinkel, că Khirbet Qeiyafa este un sit „elaborat” şi „bine fortificat” ce datează din secolul X î.e.n., dar el consideră şi să situl ar fi putut fi construit de palestinieni, canaaniţi sau alţi oameni. El a mai adăugat că fără un monument închinat celui care a ridicat construcţia, nu se poate spune cui i-a aparţinut teritoriul.

sursa http://www.descopera.ro photo #1 www.cbc.ca and photo #2 www.pbs.org

Archaeologists claim to have found King David’s palace in Israel

Via the Christian Post Photo credit – photo #1 www.cbc.ca and photo #2 www.pbs.org

Archaeologists in Israel have claimed they have found the ruins of a palace that belonged to the biblical King David at a site west of Jerusalem, but some experts say there is lack of evidence to prove the claim. A team of archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel’s Antiquities Authority got together for a seven-year dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site west of Jerusalem. And at the completion of the dig, they say they have discovered a large fortified complex that was the first palace of King David in what was once a Judean city of Sha’arayim, according to The Associated Press.

The Old Testament book 1 Samuel 17:52 records that after David killed Goliath, the Philistines ran away and were slain on the „road to Sha’arayim. „Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” say the two leaders of the team, Yossi Garfinkel from Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Antiquities Authority.

They say there is „unequivocal evidence” in the form of cultic objects that were typically used by King David’s subjects, the Judeans. Besides, they found no trace of pig remains – as pork is forbidden under Jewish laws.

They say they have discovered another structure at the site which was a storeroom. „The southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of about 1,000 square meters was revealed at the top of the city,” they say. „The wall enclosing the palace is about 30 meters long and an impressive entrance is fixed it through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah. Around the palace’s perimeter were rooms in which various installations were found – evidence of a metal industry, special pottery vessels and fragments of alabaster vessels that were imported from Egypt.”

NOVA’s filmmakers envisioned what King David’s palace complex might have looked like- from www.pbs.org

„This is the only site in which organic material was found – including olive seeds – that can be carbon-14 dated,” The Times of Israel quotes Yoli Schwartz, a spokeswoman of the Antiquities Authority, as saying. „The palace is located in the center of the site and controls all of the houses lower than it in the city. From here one has an excellent vantage looking out into the distance, from as far as the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Hebron Mountains and Jerusalem in the east. This is an ideal location from which to send messages by means of fire signals.”

While other experts agree the finding is significant, they say it’s possible it belonged to other kingdoms of the area. Prof. Aren Meir of Bar Ilan University told Haaretz that the archaeologists should not over-rely on the Bible, as question-marks hang over the existence of King David’s monarchy along with Solomon.

However, Garfinkel and Ganor maintain, „The palace that is now being revealed and the fortified city that was uncovered in recent years are another tier in understanding the beginning of the Kingdom of Judah.”
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com

3,000-year-old text from King David’s time is found in the holy city (oldest inscription ever found in area)

Jar fragment bearing an inscription in a Canaanite language that was unearthed near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount by Hebrew University archaeologist Eilat Mazar. (photo credit: Eilat Mazar/Noga Cohen-Aloro) Photo and Story From The Times of Israel:

3,000-year-old text from King David’s time, in an unknown language on the top of a jug, is earliest alphabetical writing ever found in holy city. Oldest inscription found in J’lem, but no one can read it.

An ancient inscription dating back to the time of King David, recently discovered in Jerusalem, has researchers scratching their heads.

The 3,000-year-old text comes from the top of what remains of a large earthenware jug and is the earliest alphabetical written text ever uncovered in the city, according to a statement from Hebrew University, whose researchers found the artifact.

Dated to the 10th century BCE, the artifact predates by 250 years the earliest known Hebrew inscription from Jerusalem, from the period of King Hezekiah at the end of the 8th century BCE.

The new inscription was found around the top of a jug, but only the first letter and last few now remain. Although the characters are legible, it is in an unknown Canaanite language.

The pottery was found in December 2012 but details of the discovery were only published on Wednesday after initial examinations of the find were completed.

Archaeologist Eilat Mazar, who is leading the dig that found the inscribed fragment, speculated that the text names the owner of the jug, its destination, or perhaps its contents.

Mazar reckoned that the text comes from the Jebusite people who lived in the area at the time, or some other Canaanite tribe that called Jerusalem home at the time of King David, around 1000 BCE. The date makes the discovery the oldest known text to be found in Jerusalem after the Israelite arrival in the city.

Reading from left to right, the text contains a combination of letters approximately 2.5 cm tall, which translate to m, q, p, h, n, (possibly) l, and n. Since this combination of letters has no meaning in known west-Semitic languages, researchers are boggled as to what the letters say.

According to Mazar, the inscription, in the Canaanite language, is the only one of its kind discovered in Jerusalem and an important addition to the city’s history.

Researchers from the Hebrew University found the artifact at a dig along the southern wall of the Temple Mount enclosure.

The southern wall meets the Western Wall, a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Temple courtyard, at a corner that has been extensively explored by researchers and developed as an archaeological park.

The jug, along with pieces from six other jugs typical to the period, was found beneath the floor of the remains of a large structure where they were apparently placed in ancient times to shore up the floor.

Christians tortured in the Sinai

Photo credit www.charismanews.com

from CBN News inside Israel you can watch the video here by leonida sheets:

JERUSALEM, Israel – From the West Coast of Africa to the deserts of Sinai, Bedouin tribes are conducting a human trafficking trade on a massive scale.

It’s no secret. The trade reaps millions of dollars and deals with human misery. It could be stopped but so far no one has dared.

„By that time I had lost sense (sensation) in both my hands,” an Eritrean torture victim told CBN News. „It was a result of the accumulated torture but mainly because (both) of my wrists were tied up so tightly, (and I was) hanged up from the ceiling for three days, the blood was cut off from my hands and the flesh started to literally drip from my hands.”

Torture in the Sinai

This man is just one victim of this widespread modern-day slavery, kidnapping, and torture trade in the Sinai desert. There are many pictures and videos of this horrible practice on the Internet.

For this story, this Christian man from the African country of Eritrea is going by „Philip,” but that’s not his real name. CBN News covered his identity for his protection.

„In some cases, we were tortured simply because we were Christians,” he told us, his chest trembling slightly as he spoke.

„Sinai was always a place for human smuggling, but since around two years ago – even a bit more – it started also to be a place of human torture,” Shahar Shoham, director of Physicians for Human Rights, told CBN News.

Shorham has documented more than 1,300 cases of torture in the Sinai. Those survivors, like Philip, made it to Israel. But most of the cases of torture are not documented.

„They torture them in horrible methods, like hanging upside down from the ceiling, like using electric shocks, like burning them on their bodies,” Shorham said.

Kidnapped for Ransom

This story begins in Eritrea, where many like Philip fled from its brutal dictatorship. He traveled to a United Nations refugee camp in Sudan. There he was kidnapped by a Bedouin tribe.

They transferred him – along with many others – through Sudan, Egypt, and all the way to the Sinai desert and their torture camps.

What happens next in these camps is diabolical.

„What they make you do is call your family and ask them for the money,” Philip explained. „Usually they will do the asking. They will say, ‘Either send this money or your brother will die or your father will die or your son will die.’ It depends on whoever is picking up the phone.”

„While you’re talking to your family they would pour molten plastic on your body so that you would scream and perhaps they thought that would persuade your family to pay or collect the money faster,” he said.

The tribesmen demand what for most poor Eritrean families is a king’s ransom.

„The ransom fees can go up to $40,000 for an individual and even $50,000, and until the ransom fees (are) paid, the people will not be released,” Shoham explained. The financial burden on the families is devastating.”

Killing a Soul

Sister Azziza is a Catholic nun from Eritrea who is based in Jerusalem. She has interviewed many of the Sinai survivors.

„People are destroyed physically (and) psychologically because of what they know they did to their family, how they are living,” Sister Azziza told CBN News.

But many do not make it out alive.

„We estimate that around 4,000 people died in the Sinai, some of them from torture,” Shoham said. Many who were with Philip died.

„We couldn’t help them; that was the most horrible thing,” he recalled. „Some you know. You have experienced some of the harshest treatment in this world and yet they’re dying and you couldn’t do anything to help them. That was horrible.”

Hanged Like Christ

Yet the torture and the dying go on.

CBN News talked with a 35-year-old Eritrean woman named Segen. She is five month’s pregnant.

Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean human rights activist living in Sweden, arranged our conversation. The kidnappers give them cell phones so they can call their family and friends.

We talked via Skype, linking Sweden, Jerusalem, and the Sinai.

It was sobering. You could hear the strain in Segen’s voice.

„They are asking for money every minute and they hit us and they put us – they will make us lie down on the floor and you know their feet would be up and they would hit their feet and melt with melted plastic bags,” Estefanos said.

„And so that way they cannot stand because they will torture their feet, and every day they hang them the way they hang Jesus Christ,” she said.

„What does she mean when they hang them like Jesus Christ?” CBN News asked.

„They hang us the way He was hanged and they take off their clothes. While they are naked they will hang them. And they will just hit them with big bats like all day for hours,” she said.

No Secret to the World

Many of the Etritreans, like Segen and Philip, are Christians. Many don’t survive.

„There are around 7,000 that went through these torture camps and 4,000 that died.  Those are huge numbers and I don’t think that the world needs to keep quiet about that,” Shoham said.

Philip miraculously survived and made it to Israel where he received life-saving medical treatment.

The location of these torture camps is no secret.

„Their location and whereabouts is known already by many high officials,” human rights activist Majed El Shafie told CBN News.

„The only way out of this problem is for the international society or the international community to put pressure on the Egyptian government to release the victims, to stop these human traffickers,” he said.

Shafie believes some of the American financial aid to Egypt could be used – with conditions – to help these victims.

„Every American listening to us right now – not only Americans but anybody in the world – can make a difference,” he said.

„You can contact your congressman. You can contact your senator. You can show them that you care about these issues,” he said. „If you send an email, or fax or make a telephone call, he can save a life.”

The dead sea scrolls: The greatest archaeological find of all times

How do you know that the Bible you read today is the same one that the apostles wrote? Or much less, what the prophets wrote thousands and thousands of years ago? We’ve all played the gossip story, where you tell a story to one who tells it to another person, who tells it to another person, and then seen the story changed dramatically in just a few generations. And for thousands of years, these writings have been copied, and recopied, and recopied, and so, how do you know that what we have today is anything what they wrote? If you’ve talked to very many people about the Bible, you’ve heard that kind of objection, and hopefully you have a good answer. I think there are a number of ways to approach it. But. I think that’s one of the powerful messages of the dead sea scrolls. Notes from the lecture continue below the video…..

Qumran in the West Bank, Middle East. In this ...

Qumran in the West Bank, Middle East. In this cave the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. In dieser Höhle in Qumran wurden die Schriftrollen gefunden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. Patton is the staff Geologist for the Qumran Plateu excavation in Israel, the site that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls some 2,000 years ago. These scrolls, perhaps the most significant archeological discovery of all time, have changed the way we view the Bible. Many have been led to believe that the original text of the Bible has deteriorated over years of copying and recopying. The Dead Sea Schrolls provide a test of that hypothesis, allowing us to compare modern versions with recently discovered manuscripts written over 2,000 years ago. Dr. Patton will take you to the same scene of the original caves where the scrolls were discovered with one of the Bedouins who made the discovery. This is a fascinating story with eternal implications. Dr. Patton has a broad educational background; four years at Florida College, Temple Terrace, FL (Bible); two years at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN (Geology); two years at Indiana Univ./Purdue Univ., Indianapolis, IN (Geology); two years, Pacific School of Graduate Studies. He has worked as Geologist in US, Canada, Australia, England, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Cambodia, Israel, and Jordan. Dr. Patton has participated in dinosaur excavations in Colorado, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and Canada. He is credited with excavating the longest consecutive dinosaur trail in North America, totaling 157 tracks, extending over 500 feet. He is a member of the Geological Society of America and was a speaker at their 1997 annual convention. Dr. Patton lectures at universities across the United States. He has conducted up to twelve Creation/Evolution Seminaries a year for twenty five years. He has participated in numerous public debates on creation/evolution including radio and TV debates. He has testified three times before Texas State Textbook Committee, Austin, TX. Presently, Dr. Patton is consulting geologist & partner in Mazada Corporation, Dallas, TX. He is a staff geologist of the Creation Evidence Museum, Glen Rose, TX, staff geologist for the Qumran Plateau excavation in Israel.

Notes from the video:

How do you know that the Bible you read today is the same one that the apostles wrote? Or much less, what the prophets wrote thousands and thousands of years ago? We’ve all played the gossip story, where you tell a story to one who tells it to another person, who tells it to another person, and then seen the story changed dramatically in just a few generations. And for thousands of years, these writings have been copied, and recopied, and recopied, and so, how do you know that what we have today is anything what they wrote? If you’ve talked to very many people about the Bible, you’ve heard that kind of objection, and hopefully you have a good answer. I think there are a number of ways to approach it. But. I think that’s one of the powerful messages of the dead sea scrolls.

It is dependable. That is, the Bible that we have today is like what the apostles wrote, and  what the prophets wrote. We understand the objection and the difficulty that people have in grasping that, because everything that we know about in this world goes downhill, it deteriorates. And so, things begin to degenerate, so why not the message that the apostles and the prophets wrote? We understand from Genesis chapter 3, the beginning of this deteriorative process, where a curse was placed on the earth.

Genesis 3:17b-19 “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

This, I think, pervades the whole universe. Isaiah speaks of this effect that we see:

Isaiah 40:7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

But then, he tells us there is an exception to this degenerative process:

Isaiah 40:8 but the word of our God endures forever.” 

That’s different. This is the promise of the word of God, and some say, „Well, but, how do you know this is true? And one of the evidences would be from the dead sea scrolls. But, we need to understand what God’s words promise, and that is that there is an exception. Jesus, Himself says in Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Now, we have radical teachers like Joseph Smith, and like Mohammad, that says the word did pass away and that’s why you have to have new writings and you have to pay attention to what they’ve written, that I believe is very different. But it doesn’t need to be replaced if it’s never passed away.

Peter is quoting from Isaiah in 1 Peter 1, when he says all flesh is like grass:

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.

…and then, Peter goes on to apply that to what the apostles have written, not just the Old Testament Scriptures:

26 And this is the word that was preached to you. (by the apostles)

Now, that’s the promise. In spite of this promise, we are told over and over again that it has degenerated, and even from religious leaders. And that it needs to be replaced. But, in spite of the fact that information that the dead sea scrolls is filtered most of the times through liberal scholars, we have very good, I believe, confirmation of exactly what Isaiah and Jesus, and Peter are promising here. And I think, that’s the primary significance of the dead sea scrolls. Let’s begin talking about the discovery of the dead sea scrolls. photo below – wikipedia – The Psalms Scroll, designated 11Q5, with transcription

The discovery of the dead sea scrolls

When it was first announced, back in the 1940’s, it was declared even in Time magazine, to be the greatest manuscript discovery of all time, by William Albright. He was considered dean of American archaeologists. We’re told that these 2 individuals, along with several others who were with them, teenagers at the time, were near the dead sea. They were shepherding sheep, goats and they had lost one of the goats. They were hunting for it, and in the process of trying to find their long livestock, they found the dead sea scrolls.

At the 6:26 minute mark, Dr. Patton shows a picture of one of the original men who was there when the scrolls were discovered and shows the entrance to the cave, which Dr. Patton visited. He tossed a rock into the opening of the cave to see if the animal was in there, and he heard the sound of breaking pots. As a result, he realized that there were pottery vases inside. He lowered himself inside and found 37 vases, He removed at least 7 of these scrolls and carried them back to his tent, where they stayed for maybe a couple of years, before they realized the significance of it. In talking to some of the ones who were there, and had them in their tents, they were aware they were very important. The parchment on which they were written was unusual, reserved for very important documents, and so they used them for important documents. Like, if they wanted to divorce their wives, they’d take some of the dead sea scrolls and write on the back of it. (photo below wikipedia- Scholar Eleazar Sukenik examining one of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1951).

But, eventually they realized that this was important enough that they can get some money for it. Through a series of intriguing events, they finally wound up with Khalil Eskander Shahin, „Kando”, who lived in Bethlehem at the time. He had a gift antiquity shop in the St. George Hotel. He was a cobbler. He thought, originally that he could use this leather parchment  material, maybe to repair some shoes. It was in excellent condition, sealed in the jars. Eventually, it came to the attention of Professor Eleazer Sukenik of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. And he understood (I am just greatly condensing the story) that these were greatly important documents, and was able to acquire 3 of them. Four of them were purchased by  Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, better known as Mar Samuel of the Syrian Orthodox Church. He, along with John C. Trever verified that these were very ancient documents and Mr. Samuel then advertised them in the Wall Street Journal.  Yigael Yadin, the son of the Professor Eleazer Sukenik,  who had purchased the first three, Yadin, who was also leader of the Israeli underground army (this was before just right before Israel was a state). Jerusalem was under siege by the Arabs. Bethlehem was under total control of the Arabs and Mr. Sukenik had to travel there, against the advice of his son to purchase the first 3. And now, his son goes to Mar Samuel, who has got the other 4 advertised in the Wall Street Journal. The son saw the ad in the paper, and arranged through an intermediary, because he would not have sold them to an Israeli for $250,000. So, all 7 of them came into the possession of Hebrew University and are now housed in the Shrine of the Book. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 at Khirbet Qumran in what was then British Mandate Palestine, and since 1947 known as the West Bank.

Let’s think about the site of the dead sea scrolls. The northwest corner of the dead sea, about 15 miles from Jerusalem, right on the edge of the seashore. And this was a renegade community, renegade in terms of  the way orthodox jews thought about it in Jerusalem. They thought the ones in Jerusalem were renegades. I think there’s a sense in which they were both right. We see that the temple, in Jesus’s time, built by Herod, a megalomaniac, trying to outdo Solomon with all of his building program, and as Jesus reveals in the writings of the New Testament, he was very much opposed to a lot of what was going on. They were too, though they had some pretty strange ideas in this community.

The authors of the dead sea scrolls

It was excavated in the 1950’s, and it was a very elaborate complex, probably the dwelling place of about 200 people. They weren’t married, they did not believe sex was appropriate, and somehow they survived for 300 years there, through a heavy recruiting program. They had some other unusual ideas, but they also – this is usually not revealed by the liberal scholars because these were kooks according to them- they also had some very righteous conduct and some excellent insights into the Scriptures. And, there’s some facts about them that provide some excellent evidence for us, in view of the concept of the Scripture that we have today. We can see that they had a very elaborate water system. They had engineered an aqueduct to bring water from the nearby mountains and they had all kinds of washing pools, and ceremonial baths and up to 3 story buildings, with a watchtower and then the scriptorium was at least 2 stories. Because of the insights that we gain, when we look at their attitude towards Scripture and towards the Messiah, they (liberals) want to discredit that and call it just a pottery factory. But, inside the scriptorium, the benches were made to stretch out the scrolls (13:00). The inkwells are found in the ruins. And so, they were stretching out rolls, sewing them together, writing on these benches, and I think it’s pretty obvious what they were doing. Those clay benches that were designed to roll the scrolls out, and to facilitate the copying of them have of course been recovered. Several of them are on display in the Rockefeller museum today, and some of them are in Amman, Jordan. photo below wikipedia – Qumran Scriptorium.

But, this whole community was a worshipping community, considering themselves much more orthodox and righteous, appropriate, loved of God, than any of what was going on in Jerusalem. In 66 A.D. the jews revolted against Rome. At that point, they understood that there were going to be big problems and so, they began to take all of their scrolls and hide them, sealed in jars with beeswax, in the caves. That accounts for their almost miraculous preservation. The intact Isaiah scroll is just beautifully preserved, if somewhat burned around the edges. Two years after they revolted against Rome, the 10th Roman legion marched into this area in 68 A.D. and destroyed it. They completely burned it and did set up camp there and lived there for maybe 25 years. They evidently did not find the scrolls. They were hidden in the caves in the surrounding areas. There are 11 of them that have been found. We were able to go up to those caves, when I was working as a geological consultant for the dig that was going on at that time. One of the original fellows that was there when the scrolls were found went with us to cave 1 and to several other caves and told us (speaking in Arabic through a translator)  of the events and described it for us. His grandson, Yosef, is an accomplished archaeologist and has been able to work with us at the excavations.

Cave 4 is perhaps the most important of the caves. The bedouins found, eventually, over 15,000 fragments. The archaeologists found another 40,000 . Sometimes people say, „Well, they held these things for so long that the were some kind of shenanigans going on. Well, you’ve got over 50,000 fragments. You don’t just put those together easily. They’re from over 400 manuscripts, that is, from this cave. There is a total of over 800 manuscripts from all the caves. And, about 100 from this cave (cave 4) were biblical manuscripts. But, the papyrus on which they were written, and mainly the parchment, if it’s not sealed in the jars, of course does not hold together. It does deteriorate, and it had to be pieced back together. We look inside cave 4, and you see that this is a man made cave. Perhaps, an original cave that they have enlarged and embellished. (at the 18:00 minute mark you see where most of the fragments had been collected from and found).

Dr. Patton’s dig site was on the plateau immediately adjacent to the Qumran area, and was in response to the charge that they (the community) were disconnected to the scrolls, that they were just a pottery factory. We moved a lot of dirt. It is very hot, as it is the lowest spot on earth, about 1300 feet below sea level. Even in December the temperature is near 100 degrees (F), in the summer it’s about 130. Our area was on the eastern portion, which dealt with this pre-Hasmonean circular pit. The Hasmonean era is sometimes called the period between the Old and the New Testaments. We were excavating these cooking pots. One of the things that’s obvious when you excavate remains  is that these people, in the first place, ate very well and they had elaborate clothing and wine pots.

Many people say John the Baptist came from the wilderness and was an Essene, that was here in this Qumran community. But, he didn’t dress that well, he didn’t drink, he didn’t eat that well. Locusts and wild honey is different form the feasts that we saw remains of. I see no connection at all; I see a contrast. These were rather wealthy people. They gave all their money to the community, when they joined up, and they lived well from this communal arrangement. We were looking carefully at the meals which they ceremonially buried in the pottery and found from the DNA analysis of these bones that the DNA matched the sheepskin. So, that the sheep that were used to make the skins on which the scrolls were written, matches the sheep that they were eating. They were of the same family, which refutes the idea that this was just a pottery factory. (22:20)

The contents of the dead sea scrolls

There’s a lot of misinformation. Obviously, it’s not all Scripture. Some 400 of the manuscripts- about half- are these crazy things, these pseudo apocryphal fake scripture. Books that are not inspired, that somehow give the impression of inspiration. And so, what were they doing with this, if they had so much respect for Scripture. Certainly in my library I have some commentary written by some people, that have wrong ideas, which I need to know about, so I can answer. And the fact that you find some of these squirrely books, crazy ideas, is not surprising at all.

200 of the texts are what are called sectarian texts, or manuscripts. This was peculiar to the Qumran community, the Essenes. The Book of Discipline, particularly, gives us insight into how they lived and they baptized 2-3 times a day. They really believed in baptism, and they had the pools all over the place. And they didn’t believe in marriage, and held to some other ideas. But, what was really interesting is their view towards Scripture, that we’ll talk more about. And so, about 1/4 of the library, a greater percentage were of actual manuscripts, or copies of the Scriptures. They would copy and recopy, almost wear out and retire and make new copies. But, they were very devoted religious sect, devoted to studying the Scriptures. 24 copies of Genesis were found.  33 of Deuteronomy. These were the 2 books they seemed to give more emphasis to. Isaiah was popular, 22 fragments, Psalms 39 fragments. And, actually, we find every book of the Old Testament represented, with the exception of Esther, and there is reference to Esther in some of the commentaries which indicate they thought Esther was a part of the canon, what was inspired. I think we’ll find fragments as we continue to search here, of Esther. We find whole or fragmentary copies of every book in the Old Testament, with the exception of Esther, and Esther is referred to.

Perhaps, most significant is the fact that 12 of the scrolls are written in pale0-Hebrew. One of the great challenges to faith is a theory that has overthrown the faith of thousands, some of my close friends, that says that the early books of the Bible were not written by Moses- this documentary hypothesis, as it’s referred to tells us that they were actually written after the exile, made up to look like Israel was ancient to give greater political significance at the time. And they’ve got computer analysis and very technical approaches to try to prove that. 12 of these are written in the Paleo-Hebrew, which is the style that was only used prior to the exile. After the exile, they added vowels, they changed the shapes of the letters, and it’s very easy to see the difference. Now, I don’t think these were actually written before the exile, but, they’re copies of manuscripts that were written, that proves they were in existence prior to the exile. The oldest scroll is the Genesis scroll, written in Paleo-Hebrew, dated to (Wikipedia reports the dates for them, to as early as 325 B.C.) conservatively, 300 B.C. But, in Paleo-Hebrew, which indicates this is a copy  of that which was before the exile. Here is Genesis, a part of the books that they say had to e written after the exile, that we know from the dead sea scrolls, was not (meaning it was written before the exile and pointing to Moses). And that it was in existence before the exile and that documentary hypothesis is exploded for that and several other reasons.

There were a number of interpretive commentaries which I think were very insightful. The liberals don’t like them, because the Essenes believed them and they believed the Bible. The commentaries indicate that. They believed they (the books) were prophetic and that they foresaw the coming of the Messiah, and they understood the Messiah better than the apostles did. They understood, as the New Testament writers did, that this was God’s word. But, they referred to the Messiah as the pierced Messiah. One that would die and would be resurrected. The liberals think that this idea of the Messiah that would die and then be resurrected developed hundreds of years after Christ and that the New Testament was written long after the New Testament times, and that this was just a spin that put on new ideas after they developed for hundreds of years. They got it from the Old Testament prophecies hundreds of years before Christ. This is not an oddball, developed spin on the Old Testament prophecies. This is derived directly from the prophecies, even before Christ arrived.

photo below wikipedia – Great_Isaiah_Scroll Isaiah scroll discovered at Qumran.

The great Isaiah scroll is on display at the Shrine of the Book, at that museum, is the most exciting. If you study Isaiah in seminary today, you won’t study Isaiah. You’ll study Isaiah 1 and Isaiah 2. The liberals have to split this because the second part of Isaiah has prophecies in it. If it were written in the time of Isaiah, it would have to be a supernatural prophecy. And so, they fix that: They split it saying, „Yeah, this is Isaiah 1- it was written at the time of Isaiah, but Isaiah 2 (with the prophecies) had to be written after the exile. That was made up to make it look like prophecy.” And so, when they found the Isaiah scroll, which dates to 300 B.C., and a copy of that which was before the exile, they certainly expected to find 2 different scrolls, because it’s  taught in seminary: Isaiah 1 and Isaiah 2. Not so. All, one complete intact scroll, written in Paleo-Hebrew, altogether 24 feet long. Interestingly, in the margins, you have markings of the Messianic passages, that they understood, 300 years before the Messiah arrived, they understood what this was about. You see why the liberals don’t like it and they don’t tell you about this stuff, but, they tell you about the kooky stuff. (30:40) photo of Mark 6 fragment mentioning Genesareth via bitcoladopini.blogspot.com

Mark 6-52,53 papyrus fragment Dead Sea ScrollsBut, there’s much more. One of the most exciting finds involves Cave #7. And, if I was speaking to a Jewish audience in Jerusalem, you would hear big groans right now. In Cave #7, of course this is from the 1st century, we have different types of manuscripts that are written on papyrus rather than on parchment, the sheepskin, and it is written in Greek, not in Hebrew or Paleo-Hebrew. Cave #7 has collapsed. It’s sides and roof have fallen away and 19 small fragments of papyrus were found. They couldn’t read them initially, and as they continued to study, „Oh Yes,” there was a fragment from Exodus, Jeremiah and with computer analysis they could see how these letters would fit into a text. But they couldn’t read the rest of them. 17 of the 19 fragments were unread. The reason was they had to find them in the Old Testament. And they weren’t Old Testament. They were New Testament fragments. One of the most obvious is from Mark, and this particular fragment mentions Genesareth, which is a peculiar word for  the Sea of Galilee, used only in the first century, and so, this helps date it, together with the style of the letters. And this is a quotation from Mark 6:52-53, that mentions Genesareth. The way you do this is you superimpose text over this and you see if it fits (see video at 32:30 minute mark) and even with just a few letters you can identify it.

And, as they continued to analyze it, they found several other passages from Mark 4:28, Mark 6:48, Mark 6:52-53, Mark 12:17, Acts 27:38, and Romans 5:11-12, and 1 Timothy 3:16, 4:1-3 and 2 Peter 1:15, which was one of the more controversial and James were verified. And the real significance is this is necessarily before 68 A.D. when the Romans came in and destroyed all of this. The style of the letters indicates about 58 A.D. Now think about it. Now we have it verified: Jesus said, in Mark 13:2 „Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” And what happened in 70 A.D.? The Romans marched in and the stones were thrown down and the streets were pummeled by the stones. This was in 70 A.D. and it was prophesied before 68 A.D. and we can prove it(68 A.D. was when the Essene community was destroyed by the Romans and the scrolls were placed in caves to be found hundreds of years later). Now you can see why they don’t like that.

The same process that allowed them to verify Ezekiel and Jeremiah , in the papyrus from the Greek, was used to find Mark. And they accept one, but not the other, because it doesn’t fit their theological views. This is ongoing, and you don’t hear a lot about his either. They’re papyrus fragments. Hanan Eshel who is a professor at one of the major universities, there in Israel, in 2005 found a number of fragments from Leviticus. The bedouins actually found it, he in his association with them, learned that they had them. They approached him. He purchased them from the bedouins and took them immediately to the Department of Antiquities, saying, „Here is what we have found.” They fired him from his university position, they imprisoned him for over a year. You’re not supposed to buy this stuff from the bedouins. He is no longer a university professor, but he is working with us in our dig, in our efforts to gain permits. He has identified the cave from which these fragments came. We just finished a dig and we have to publish before we can apply for a new permit.

Let’s summarize the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls:

  1. They reveal a sect whose approach to Scripture and view of prophecy were similar to the early church. As Paul wrote, when they received this in Thessalonniki, as it was in truth the Word of God. And, as he told the people of Corinth, „If you’re spiritual, you accept this as the commandments of the Lord.” This is the way they viewed Scripture.  
  2. It destroys the idea that the beliefs of the New Testament were developed over hundreds of years, after Christ and the apostles already died, and somewhat this tradition and myth grew. No, that’s not the case at all.
  3. Like John the Baptist, they believed they were in the desert as forerunners of the Messiah and arrival was imminent. They believed that it was time, and it was imminent, as John the Baptist preached.
  4. Like Jesus and the apostles, they believed they were living in the last days of the Old Testament era, and that Scriptures predicted the coming Messiah. A Messiah that was a suffering Messiah and one that would be resurrected. The apostles didn’t get that during the lifetime of Christ. Finally when the Holy Spirit came, they understood it. But, these people understood it ahead of time.

The accuracy of Textual Transmission

One of the lessons that we learn is the meticulous view by which these Scriptures were copied. Interestingly, Josephus comments on this. He says, „We’ve been given practical proof of our reverence for our own Scriptures. For, although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured either to add, or remove, or to alter a syllable, and it is an instinct with every Jew, from the day of his birth, to regard them as the decrees of God, to abide by them, and, if need be, cheerfully to die for them.” And that’s reflected in the processes of copying that we see in the records, in the manual of discipline, and in the artifacts that have been excavated. They copied every letter after they finished copying a page. And if the tally did not match, they threw it away and started over. So it wasn’t just copying, and hopefully they got it right. They had ways to check.

We now have with this, manuscripts 1,000 years older than any manuscripts that existed before the discovery of the dead sea scrolls. The oldest that we had before the dead sea scrolls were discovered were the Aleppo Codex. This was the Masoretic text, that dated to 900 A.D., talking about Old Testament text. When the King James Bible was translated, that’s the best we could do. And up until the 1940’s, that’s well over 1000 years (dead sea scrolls are) after the prophets (O T Prophets wrote them). Copying them for 1000 years, it has to produce some changes. It couldn’t be like the original. Well, now then, we have the Isaiah scroll 1000 years earlier, and so we can check. What happened between the 1000 years that intervened between the oldest scrolls and the newer ones? They compare perfectly. They are identical, word for word in 95% of the text. The other 5% involve obvious slips of the pen and spelling mistakes. There is no significant difference at all. And it is one scroll from beginning to end.

When we understand the way they did it, and how it compares there is no longer a reasonable charge. The latest Old Testament book was written 325 B.C. The oldest Dead Sea scrolls was written about 300 B.C. It is less than a generation removed from the original that we have copies today. Although we don’t have the originals, we have what goes right back to it. If you have less than a generation removed from the original, you can’t be worried about that 25 years if you look at the accuracy within 1000 years (to the Dead Sea Scrolls). If you are determined not to believe you have an excuse. I think God does that to those that are not honest. But, to honest, reasonable people it’s not reasonable to think that this is not like the original. We can get to within less than a generation. And then, with the New Testament we have that which was written during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses who saw the crucifixion, who saw these events take place. It was written then, probably about 50 A.D., before the prophetic events (Jerusalem) that occurred before 70 A.D., and we can prove that (with the Mark fragment). Now that’s significant.

Our text is dependable. Our view of prophecy is not something that was spinned hundreds of years later, but was inferred directly from the Old Testament, even before Christ. And the New Testament was written during the lifetime of the people who saw it. We have dependable text, and it’s not reasonable to think otherwise. And therefore, we conclude, just exactly what Isaiah concludes, as inspiration from God:

Isaiah 40:7-8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

There’s an exception, and it  has to be a supernatural exception, and it is by God’s promise that the word of God stands forever. And we can defend that proposition and show that it’s unreasonable to deny it.

Related articles

A study on the Resurrection of Jesus with Gary Habermas and Antony Flew

12 Historical Facts

(Most Critical Scholars Believe These 12 items)

1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
2. He was buried.
3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).
5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).
6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.
7. The resurrection was the central message.
8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
9. The Church was born and grew.
10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.
11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).
12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

What Do Most Scholars Believe?

In The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel (p. 112), Mike Licona said, „[Gary] Habermas has compiled a list of more than 2,200 sources in French, German, and English in which experts have written on the resurrection from 1975 to the present. He has identified minimal facts that are strongly evidenced and which are regarded as historical by a large majority of scholars, including skeptics. We try to come up with the best historical explanation to account for these facts. This is called the Minimal Facts Approach.”

William Lane Craig (sadly, a non-OSASer) does confirm Habermas recorded 1400 scholars (both skeptics and non-skeptics alike) whom 75% agree the tomb was empty and nearly all agree the original disciples truly believed they had seen Jesus alive from the dead bodily, for a vision wouldn’t convince the disciples of resurrection.

Gary Habermas said (2009) on the John Ankerberg Show, „I just did a count recently of what scholars say. First of all you can count guys on one hand of the 2400 sources since 1975 on the resurrection [in] French, German, English…who think apparent death [is true]. When scholars respond they still cite David Strauss. I think we would all like to have that kind of influence in our writings. His critique has been around almost 200 years.” Habermas was referring to Strauss’s argument that Jesus wouldn’t look much like a risen Messiah to the disciples all battered and bruised.

Habermas and Licona co-authored the award winning book, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (2004). Historian Paul Maier said the book’s response to naturalistic explanations for the resurrection „are the most comprehensive treatment of the subject anywhere.” Philosopher J. P. Moreland said the book presented what „may be the most thorough defense of historicity of the resurrection.”

Gary said in a 2009 Ankerberg video, „If we start with the cross approximately 30 AD and call that ground zero, 1 Corinthians 15 checks in at about 55 AD whatever the writer, conservative or not conservative, we have 25 years. In ancient historiography this is incredible in a time when the best known biography of Alexander the Great is that of Plutarchalmost 400 years after Plutarch. When we learn about the early Caesars from Tacitus to Suetonius a ‘good gap’ is 100 years; 25 is incredible [for Jesus]. Paul says, ‘I am passing onto you as first importance that which I also received’ (1 Cor. 15.3).” Paul said, „I make known to you brethren the gospel which I preached to you” (1 Cor. 15.1). Gary says, „This earlier preaching may have taken place 51 AD about 21 years after the cross.” But point of fact, Jesus died not in 30 AD, but 33 AD on April Fool’s Day, Friday, April 1 (Gregorian) which I am sure of just +18 years after the cross.

Gary said, „Almost all contemporary scholarship believes Paul received this material (Gal. 1.18) when he went to Jerusalem about 5 years after the cross. Some put it as early as 3 and as late as 8, but he was converted about 2 years after the cross before he went away for 3 years. Paul spent 15 days with Peter. It is safe to say they talked about more than just the weather. Paul said he preached nothing but Christ crucified.” Gary said about James D.G. Dunn, „In his recent book Remembering Jesus that this passage (1 Cor. 15.3ff) wasn’t just taught. It was already stratified. It was already put in this creedal form within months of the crucifixion.”

Gary said (see video), „I did a count recently of people who have written from about 1990 to-date [2009]. 75% of scholars today say that resurrection or ‘something like it occurred.’ Of that 75%, three to one say it is a bodily appearance. Ted Peters had a book that was published by Eerdmans a few years ago, and 20 out of 20 scholars in his book that he edited said ‘bodily resurrection.’ Higher critical scholars who are in the minority will still usually concede the appearance involved sight and was embodied.”

In the summer of 2012, Gary wrote in the Southeastern Theological Review, „by beginning with a ‘lowest common denominator’ version of the facts. If I am correct in holding that this basis is still enough to settle the most pressing historical issues, then it is indeed a crucial contribution to the discussions. We will return below to some ramifications here. Regarding my references to the ‘vast majority’ or ‘virtually all’ scholars who agree, is it possible to identify these phrases in more precise terms? In some contexts, I have identified these expressions more specifically. At least when referencing the most important historical occurrences, I frequently think in terms of a ninety-something percentile head-count. No doubt, this is one of the reasons why the concept has gained some attention.

„My bibliography is presently at about 3400 sources and counting, published originally in French, German, or English. Initially I read and catalogued the majority of these publications, charting the representative authors, positions, topics, and so on, concentrating on both well-known and obscure writers alike, across the entire skeptical to liberal to conservative spectrum. As the number of sources grew, I moved more broadly into this research, trying to keep up with the current state of resurrection research. He said this again at William Lane Craig’s „On Guard” conference, „1 Corinthians is one of six to eight books all accredited critical scholars accept. You can count the exception on two hands, probably one hand. I have 3400 sources in a bibliography from 1975 to the present (2012). When I say you can count the guys on one hand who disagree with this it is not very many. They believe Paul is the best source, and 1 Corinthians is one of the most dependable sources. They allow 1 Corinthians and Galatians. Both are on the accepted list. Bart Ehrman says they are the authentic Pauline epistle. So does most everybody else. Whatever you write, these two books are allowed [indicating Paul’s genuine belief]. Paul is writing a mere [no more than] 25 years later. That is incredible. We have no other founder of a major world religion who has miracles reported of him within a generation.”

„I endeavored to be more than fair to all the positions. In fact, if anything, I erred in the direction of cataloguing the most radical positions, since this was the only classification where I included even those authors who did not have specialized scholarly credentials or peer-reviewed publications. It is this group, too, that often tends to doubt or deny that Jesus ever existed. Yet, given that I counted many sources in this category, this means that my study is skewed in the skeptical direction far more than if I had stayed strictly with my requirement of citing only those with scholarly credentials. Still, I included these positions quite liberally, even when the wide majority of mainline scholars, ‘liberals’ included, rarely even footnoted this material. Of course, this practice would also skew the numbers who proposed naturalistic theories of the resurrection, to which I particularly gravitated.

„The result of all these years of study is a private manuscript of more than 600 pages that simply does little more than line up the scholarly positions and details on these 140 key questions….

„[Mike] Licona begins by listing my three chief Minimal Facts regarding Jesus’ fate: (1) Jesus died due to the process of crucifixion. (2) Very soon afterwards, Jesus’ disciples had experiences that they believed were appearances of the resurrected Jesus. (3) Just a few years later, Saul of Tarsus also experienced what he thought was a post-resurrection appearance of the risen Jesus.”

Antony Flew Became a Theist

Easter 3

Shortly after the 2000 debate on the John Ankerberg show with Gary R. Habermas-leading scholar and foremost expert in world on the resurrection of Jesus (videos)-, the leading and most published atheist scholar of the 20th century Antony Flew renounced his atheism. This page recounts that debate. Antony Flew never did give his life to Christ but became a deist (a theist who rejects a personal God). He passed away April 8, 2010. This only goes to the point not whether theism is true or not but which theism, and very rarely does someone give their life to Christ at such an advanced age.

Flew said the reason he became a theist was because of the complexity of the cell. Whereas, I accepted Jesus was, is and always will be God by realizing all things sum up in Christthrough observing the unsatisfied searching of another person. It would take the equivalent of a hundred thousand encyclopedias to explain all the workings of the cell; or all the books in the entire Library of Congress, or all the knowledge we currently have about the universe.

However one may want to define life, it is hard to fathom how non-life can spontaneously turn into the simplest replicating life, let alone how unconscious processes with no mind, will, emotion, conscience, communion and intuition can produce these qualities and attributes for sentient life to exist. Can two rocks banging together for a very long time generate beings with self-consciousness and able to say, „I think, therefore I am.” If it sounds absurd it probably is. The more you think about it, the more ridiculous it seems! The 4 Step Proof for God and Minimal Facts Approach are my foundation for evidence.

Antony Flew’s more important role as a theist, from my perspective, was that he continued to agree the disciples truly believed they saw Jesus alive from the dead. Even when he was an atheist he believed this. Yet the problem remained for his faith: where was this illusive naturalistic explanation that could account for their eyewitness testimony in various group settings? What I think even I am underestimating is how solidly God intends this proof to be for us to hang our hat on as we who are Christians rise off into the sunset in glorious victory!

Jesus-Appearing-To-Two-Disciples-On-The-Road-To-Emmaus

Eyewitness Accounts (5)

The foremost contemporary philosophical, atheist scholar of the 20th century, Antony Flew agrees with these 12 facts. These facts are established in eyewitness accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, presented in the books of the NT and disclosed by some of the original twelve disciples (Matthew, Peter and John). Paul was also an eyewitness though not an original disciple. James, the brother of Jesus, also saw Jesus resurrected who wrote the book of James. Jude, also a brother of Jesus, was an eyewitness who wrote the book of Jude. Very close to the eyewitnesses who traveled with Paul were Luke and Mark. There is one verse in Mark that suggests Mark saw Jesus. Mark had close association with Peter and Barnabas. Mark and Luke wrote the other two gospel accounts. At any rate, no scholars doubts Paul’s genuine eyewitness account of the resurrected Jesus so we can begin with Pauline data.

Dates (5)

 

55 A.D., Paul wrote 1 Cor. 15, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (v.3). This is the standard documentation of the historicity of tradition being kept for an ancient text! “If Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith also vain” (v.14)? Paul is declaring sincerely the reality of his beliefs.

51 A.D., Paul preached at Corinth (his 2nd and later a 3rd missionary journey).

35 A.D., Paul met Peter and James in Jerusalem, just a few short years after the death of Jesus: “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days” (Gal. 1.18). Recall Stephen was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin council of Jews for explaining the faith (Acts 7.59). Barnabas brought Paul to see Peter and James.  What did Paul receive from Peter and James? “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15.5,6). Jesus was seen by at least 11 to 12 different groups in different settings. This is all a fairly tight network!

32 A.D., Paul was converted one and half years after the cross and Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus.

30 A.D. Jesus died on the cross. – Gary Habermas used this date for ease of reference; but, I have talked with him, and he agrees that it is quite possible Jesus died on April 1st, 33 AD, Friday (Gregorian) – April 3rd (Julian). The evidence for this date would be based on these calculations.

.

Given these dates, this was very early move!

Explanation for the Most Important Proof (5)

Antony Flew lost the debate 15 years prior to Habermas. He has had 15 years to find his better arguments. Flew’s best guess for the conversion of Paul seeing Jesus in Person is that it was either “conversion psychosis disorder” (Jack Kent coined this phrase) and the disciples experienced grief hallucination like when a 3rd person may be seen in the house who had passed away.

Habermas explains for Paul to have a Conversion Disorder (and Paul does not disclose a disorder in his words or conduct) we have multiple problems with the facts:

1. There is nothing in the diagnostic literature about hallucinations. It’s short lived and goes away. The DSM-3 and DSM-4 are the standard diagnostic tools for psychiatry.
2. You would also have to have an auditory hallucination (of hearing!).
3. You would have to have a visual hallucination (of sight!).
4. A great psychosis – often called Messiah Complex. Paul, instead, says what he receives is from God, not from himself.

Characteristics of Conversion Disorder – Does this sound like Paul to you? (5)

(Kaplan)

 

1. Up to 5 to 1 it happens to women.
2. It happens mostly to adolescents.
3. It happens mostly to people of low economic status.
4. It happens to people with low IQ.
5. It happens to military persons in battle.
These are the most common circumstances. Not a single one of them applies to Paul. This adds up to 9 items. Moreover, there is not a speck of evidence Paul ever wanted to convert from Judaism to Christianity.

Grief Hallucination (5)

There is no such thing as Grief Hallucination in the DSM-4, the most standard diagnostic tool for psychiatry…nothing. However, hallucinations do occur in someone who is alone. But in the Bible the various settings were of different group sizes seeing the resurrection of Jesus in different places; men and women; indoors and outdoors; walking, sitting, standing; and an empty tomb. Hallucinations do not come out of despair necessarily, but when you believe something so strongly, you make the image. Studies have shown that such hallucinations are talked out of eventually.

Antony Flew had nothing to say other than he felt there was an “enormous shortage of evidence”. In return, Gary cites 129 facts in 45 sources from various persuasions that agree to the 4 key historical facts (see below). Though there is a great many things we don’t know, what we do know militates these two problems cited by Kent and Flew.

Flew depends on self-declaring his stance for one of these two conditions: conversion disorder or grief hallucination. But given the evidence it is not possible. The burden of the proof lies on him. The visuals seen by the disciples Flew is convinced require no external referent. There is no question the disciples believed there was an external referent in Christ Jesus the 2nd Person of the Godhead. If the disciples are not good candidates for hallucinations and Paul is not a victim of conversion disorder, then there really is no other possibility than God’s divine providence at work in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The 4 Facts 

Though some Scholars focus on up to 20 facts in this half a week of the passion of the Christ, there is a benefit to just examining 4 of the 12 facts, from Friday to Sunday: (1) you can refute the major naturalistic theories with them, (2) you have the best evidences for the resurrection here, and (3) this is being done with a very small kernel of data, not requiring a large list of noise.

FACT 1 – Jesus died by crucifixion (1).
FACT 2 – The disciples had experiences which they believed were the appearances of the risen Lord (5).
FACT 3 – The disciples were transformed (6).
FACT 4 – Paul came to Christ (12).

Physically Touched (Fact 2)

Antony Flew tries to argue for his naturalistic theory by saying that Thomas never actually put his hand in the side of Jesus, “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20.27). However, Thomas did reply, “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God” (v.28) as though he may have done so.

Ignatius in 107 A.D., 10 years after the Gospel of John, says that Thomas did touch Jesus. Be that as it may, there is more to say: “They (the women) came to him, and took hold of his feet” (Matt. 28.9). And Jesus said to Mary Magdalene after she realized that he was not the gardener, “Stop clinging to me” (John 20.17).

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen [it], and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1.1-3) – After the gospel of John and onto the epistles, John says in 1 John, he has seen Jesus with his own eyes, heard with his own ears and touched with his own hands. Another instance is when Jesus is before the disciples in Luke, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having” (Luke 24.39). This is a straightforward account as you can get in His resurrection. It is interesting that Luke says “handle me, and see.” To “see” or to “behold” occurs after doing as Jesus said, to “handle” or “thrust into my side”. In John, he seems not to say that Thomas did touch him, for it is implied. How strange it would be that Jesus would say these words, then not to be touched.

Scholarly Agreement (Fact 2)

Gary Habermas has documented over 100 cases of scholarly work done from 1975 to 2000. His finding is that most scholars believe: (1) something really happened, (2) these were real experiences of the disciples, (3) they believe they saw the risen Jesus, and most importantly, (4) scholars believe the disciples really saw something. At the very least, critic after critic accept Paul’s eyewitness accounts.

Spiritual Body is not Spirit (Fact 2)

“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15.44). Since all scholars consider what Paul says to be crucial, first and foremost, his thought should be addressed. The Greek for spirit obviously is pneuma. But the word Paul uses here is pneumatikos soma for “spiritual body.” Paul is clearly saying the is some change here. He is not saying Jesus is a spirit, but there is a physical body.

Resurrection of the Dead (Fact 2)

Paul writes to the Philippians about himself as being “an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee” (Phil. 3.5). The Pharisees believed in a bodily resurrection which is widely understood. In Acts 23, Paul was taken by the Romans to prevent him from being killed. And Paul responds with saying: Why are you taking me, I believe in the resurrection of the dead? The Pharisees, agreeing with the resurrection of the dead, don’t have a problem with this statement. But the Sadducees don’t like it, because they don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead.

“That if possible I may attain the resurrection (ek exanastasis – the out-resurrection) from the dead” (Phil. 3.11). All Greek scholars translate this passage as the out-resurrection, for that which goes in must come out. Paul here is not concerned here with whether he is saved or not to be resurrected with the saints. He is thinking of the „out-resurrection” – the „first resurrection” (Rev. 20.4-6), connoting the „best” one, to be included in the marriage feast (see Matt. 25.1-13)-the reward given to overcomer believers to reign with Christ for 1000 years.

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body (soma), that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body (soma)” (Phil. 3.20-21). First there is the body, then it is the body plus something else to fashion a glorious body.

Paul: (1) he is a Pharisee who believes in the physical resurrection, (2) believes in a resurrection from out among the dead (and the „first resurrection” reward), and (3) believes Jesus will change his body (soma) to be like His body (soma).

Antony Flew’s response is that a “spiritual body” is not a body at all since it is immaterial as implied by the word “spiritual.” John Ankerberg responds by asking, If the Bible is a spiritual book, does that mean it is not a physical book? However, this is an ontological question, not a behavioral question.

Phil. 3 is a commentary on 1 Cor. 15. Paul is not leaving any doubt this is a physical body glorified. Any talk about Paul thinking this referring to spirits is not to do Paul’s words justice. If Paul is clear in Phil. 3 this is not some wispy spirit, then we can’t have the problem of saying that this is non-physical because he is telling us what he means by it.

Despair Not Without Hope (Fact 2)

If you go through trial or tribulation, and mourn with hope of the resurrection it makes all the difference in the world. Without this hope it makes the trial unbearable. But if you know where you are going, peace abounds because you know you will be with those that are loved by God. Habermas correctly believes that believers who have gone to rest have not received a spiritual body yet. However, he makes the common mistake of thinking that at the moment of death believers are present with the Lord. To wait for resurrection while still in the good side of Hades (Abraham’s bosom) is timeless unawares until we are raised together which does not violate this verse: “We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5.8). Between Hades and resurrection is timelessness: Abraham’s bosom or Paradise below.

There is no need to be present with the Lord without a spiritual body; moreover, you cannot come to the High Priest naked or with improper attire, that is, to say without a spiritual body which we will receive during the last „set of seven” at the consummation of this age. Not even David a man after God’s own heart is in Heaven yet (Acts 2.34). God desires to receive us to the throne (Rev. 7.9) at the first rapture if we are ready (Matt. 24.40-42, Luke 21.36, Rev. 3.10) before the trumpets (8.7ff) of the Tribulation commence, but if we are not ready we will be raptured together at the last trumpet in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15.50-52). And at the last trumpet, it gives us comfort those who are „alive” and „left” (1 Thess. 4.15-17) shall not precede them who are asleep to meet the Lord in the air. Be comforted in knowing we will ascend together and not separated by hundreds and thousands of years: „Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4.18).

A disembodied state is not present with the Lord. It is the condition of the demons who seek to inhabit and possess bodies. They prefer humans than the swine. Not until resurrection of the body of Christ and saints of old are we present with the Lord. Since no time is seen to have occurred when we are resurrected, then Hades is without time. Thus, any spirit communications with loved ones is purely emotional and imaginary as they are currently resting. Any communications with people you know have passed away is purely imaginary and can sometimes be demonic pretenders.

The Contradiction (Fact 2)

Antony Flew’s belief is that the reasons for the resurrection are valid is because the Jews were looking for the Messiah to come, and it would be equally valid for Christians. The guiding principle appears to be the previously held beliefs of the person which determine the truth of the resurrection. However, there remains the contradiction. If Jesus is saying that what He says is for all people on the planet, then He would be wrong, because Antony Flew says it doesn’t apply to himself. Jesus and the Apostles are right or Antony is right. They cannot both be right. Neither can they both be wrong since none can compare to Jesus. Jesus is God or He is not. Either there are no consequences or Antony Flew is going to Hell to be eternally separated the Creator.

Christians were first non-Christians. If what was good for non-believers to become Christians, which Flew agrees is good for them, then it would be good for him too, since he is also a non-believer. Therefore, it is not good for Flew to remain unsaved, but to his benefit to become a Christian by believing in Christ.

Is there Extra-Biblical Evidence Jesus Died on the Cross? (Fact 1) 

There is data coming in from a variety of angles: 1) medical data, 2) critical data, and 3) extra-Biblical data.

1) Medical Data (Fact 1)

The Journal of American Medical Association, and dozens of other medical associations and articles, stated that death on the cross by crucifixion is death by asphyxiation. Studies by volunteers show a cutoff by about 12 minutes. If you are hanging low for any amount of time, you are not faking it. You’re dead.

The spear on the side of Jesus is confirmed in John as well as two sources outside the Bible. One of them is Roman and the is Christian that they did these things. David Strauss says if Jesus walked off the cross then there would be no Christianity because He would not be raised.

2) Critical and 3) Extra Biblical Data (Fact 1) 

Of the 17 extra-Biblical non-Christian sources, 12 mention the cross and details of Jesus’ death within 100 or 150 years from the life of Jesus in all kinds of details.

“Christus (Christ)…suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate” (Tacitus, Roman Historian, 55-120 A.D.). Tiberius was the governor.

“Christians…worship a man to this day…who…was crucified on that account…[They] worshipped the crucified sage…” (Lucian, famous Greek Satirist). He called him a crucified sophist.

“Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teachings which he had given” (Mara Bar-Serapion, Syrian Writer). He tells his own son to emulate Jesus who gave his life.

“Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die…His disciples…reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive” (Flavius Josephus, 38-97 A.D.). Though it is disputed, the portion about the cross is believed. He also mentions Tiberius Caesar.

“Jesus…was nailed to a tree” (The Gospel of Truth, a Gnostic Source). 

“On the whole world presented there presented a most fearful darkness…” at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus (Thallus, Samaritan).

“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar..” at the time of Jesus’ death (Phlegon, 80 A.D.). There was a lunar eclipse April 3, 33 AD (Julian).

Paul’s central teaching was the cross of Christ and His resurrection. The Koran was written six and a half centuries later (7th century), so it is really beside the point. It has two passages: one says Jesus died on the cross, the other says he did not. It’s hard to believe the Koran has much to contribute to what happen six and a half centuries earlier. Even the leading atheist scholar in the world considers the idea that Jesus didn’t die on the cross absurd. He said this “swoon theory is rubbish.”

Jesus Seminars and the Empty Tomb (Fact 1) 

John Dominic Crossan, Co-Chairman of the Jesus Seminars, believes Jesus was buried in an unknown plot. Very few of his colleagues agree with him. There is not a bit of evidence Jesus was burred in an unknown plot. If there was Crossan could have presented it by now.

Antony Flew suggests that the matter of the empty tomb is entirely dependent on the gospel accounts. This is incorrect because in Acts are various creedal passages: “And though they found no cause of death [in him], yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took [him] down from the tree, and laid [him] in a TOMB. But God raised him from the dead” (Acts 13.28-30).

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that (hoti) Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was (kai hoti) buried, and that (kai hoti) he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that (kai hoti) he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve” (1 Cor. 15.3-5). Paul uses a long sentence called a triple hoti clause, three “and that” clauses. Paul is clearly onside with believing Jesus was raised from the tomb.

What Evidence Shows Jesus’ Tomb was Empty Days Later? (Fact 1) 

1. Early accounts – Acts 13, 1 Cor. 15.
2. The Jewish book – Toledoth Jesu – refers to Jesus; says his body was removed.
3. Matthew
4. Justyn Martyr
5. Tertullian

These Jews admitted the tomb was empty. Undisputedly, Jerusalem was where Christians began to preach a few days later after Jesus died. If Jesus was still in the tomb, wouldn’t there be a problem of his body still being in the tomb if He was not raised? If the body was there still, then the disciples should have preached in Galilee or Rome, not in Jerusalem. The principle of enemy attestation says what your enemy admits to is probably true. They admitted that Jesus was not in the tomb.

If the Gospels are recorded back upon what occurred 50 years prior, then you don’t pick women as witnesses. In the first century, Jewish law said women could not testify in a court of law. Jewish writings said women are liars. “And their words seemed to them as IDLE TALES, and they believed them not” (Luke 24.11). When the women came back from the tomb, the disciples did not believe them that the tomb was empty. They thought the women were spreading gossip and tales.

„A Very Impressive Piece of Testimony,” Antony Flew Concedes (Fact 1)

In The Case for Christ it is recorded the Guinness Book of Records says the most cases ever one by a lawyer in a row was 400. That lawyer said the case for Christ is the best case he has ever seen and surely would have been his 401th won case in a row. Gary Habermas asks Antony, if he finds no fault with the empty tomb (Antony agreed, „it is very difficult to get around”) then what does that say about alleged hallucinations? Hallucination requires the body be in the tomb to account for at least these 11 different group sightings of Jesus. Antony proposes, it is not possible back then to have the kinds of evidences we have today with video cameras and such. Is the determination of the proof of God really founded on video cameras? Flew did not want to give any examples of group hallucinations, but other atheists at least try to find something, but each of them are shot down in The Historical Jesus and The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas.

Even though most scholars believe Jesus died on the cross, some naturalists claim Jesus didn’t die on the cross (1). Evidence against this: (a) Medical evidence, (b) Paul’s testimony, (c) Extra-Biblical evidence, (d) Gospel writers’ testimony.

Some naturalists say the disciples lied. Antony Flew does not believe this. Flew is at least a testimony that atheism is a lie, since Flew became a deist subsequent to this information discussed here. Naturalists propose the Disciples stole the body and lied about the appearances (2). Evidence against this: (a) Disciples were transformed and (b) They died for what they believed to be true.

Flew believes the eyewitness testimony is genuine but a hallucination, and his colleagues say it is legend. They can’t agree. Naturalists say (3) Jesus’ death and resurrection is all a legend. Evidences against this: (a) Paul writes his testimony early, (b) Other eyewitnesses are cited and still living when he wrote 1 Cor. 15, in addition to the other eyewitness accounts such as John and Matthew who wrote two of the gospels. This in addition to all the writers of the NT agreed in the resurrection. The earliest known biographies of Alexander the Great are not written until 4 centuries until after his death. After that length of time mythology is a factor.

Every naturalistic theory can be shot down handedly. For Antony Flew’s theory to hold true about hallucinations, Paul has to have one kind of disorder, the disciples have another kind of hallucination, and the disciples had to have lied about the tomb all happening simultaneously. Naturalist theories are piling up, but they are getting more and more improbable. The more improbable the theories mount, the more the probable scenario bears truth.

Antony Flew concedes: „I am not responding with a naturalistic account of what happened…I don’t think it is possible to offer any satisfactory naturalistic account…I don’t offer anything to counter the empty tomb evidence.” He does believe that hallucinations are the only possibility. There is no other possibility according to Antony.

What Remains on the Table? Hallucinations (Fact 2)

Hallucinations are rare. They only occur under the following conditions: 1) Bodily depravation, 2) Someone taking drugs. These facts do not fit the descriptions of the disciples. Antony Flew says there were no group hallucinations, but perhaps 10 or 20 people are having their own individual hallucinations though without medical explanation. That’s a lot of individual hallucinations. Antony says in the last 15 years what he has learned is that there has been mass hallucinations seeing Mary at Fatima. But this is inaccurate, because ten thousand people don’t actually see Mary or Jesus, but perhaps something in the clouds („signs in the heavens”), rather than in person the risen Christ.

99.999% of them never say they actually saw Mary or Jesus. But in the case of the disciples in different settings, you have whole groups seeing Jesus as once, not as an illusion, but up close and personal. „An illusion is when you see a real thing and think it is something else. A hallucination is when there is no object referent: no real thing present” (Jack Kent). What those at Fatima are seeing is a mass illusion, not a mass hallucination. The latter is what Antony Flew is proposing for the disciples but it just doesn’t fit. Hallucinations are much more radical than an illusion.

The „Good Self” (Fact 2)

Gary Habermas considers Antony Flew the kindest, most moral and sincere atheist he has ever met, and he so happens to be the leading atheist scholar in the world at the time of their debate. Habermas has long standing, continued correspondence with several atheists and agnostics. Gary has been praying for Antony for over 15 years to give his life to Christ. Could it be that Antony is experiencing delusions with mistaken thoughts about Christ that have separated him from God by using the power of his „good self”? One so good yet still eternally separates himself from the love of the one true God! Could such a thing be possible?

The Road to Damascus (Fact 2)

What happened to Paul to convince him Jesus rose from the dead? He was killing Christians. He was not in the frame of mind to believe. He didn’t want to believe. Paul saw Jesus in Person on the road to Damascus, but the others with him did not see Him on the same road. They heard a voice and saw the light but they didn’t see Jesus. Paul lost his sight after seeing and speaking with Jesus.

Paul says he saw Jesus alive. „Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?” (1 Cor. 9.1). „And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15.8). In both cases, Paul is referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read all of Galatians chapter 1. Paul’s position is conclusive.

The facts against Kent’s theory of Paul having conversion disorder are: (1) Conversion disorder would not be convinced by a hallucination that eventually passes. Even if it could, simultaneously Paul would also need: (2) Auditory hallucination, (3) Visual Hallucination, 4) Visions of grandeur of „Messiah Complex” (Paul believed God spoke to him a message for the world common with other believers which was not exalting of himself), but (5) There was no evidence Paul wanted to change, was in the mood to change or why he would want to change. There are not only these logical problems but Biblical problems in proposing such a disorder because it doesn’t mesh with what would be reasonable under these circumstances.

Antony Flew wishes to bypass the whole conversion disorder idea by Kent, and instead wants to raise the issue, again, that Paul saw something, but the others who were present did not on the road to Damascus. He finds this entirely implausible. Yet Paul did said, „And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they did not understand the voice of him that spake to me” (Acts 22.9).

The Conversation is Getting Livid (Fact 2)

„I saw a light…blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to fight against my will” (Acts 26.13-14). „And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man” (Acts 9.7). So, we know the others (1) saw a light, (2) fell down to the ground, and (3) heard a voice. The only thing they did not experience was in seeing Jesus Christ in Person. Plainly they experience an objective effect. And, if Paul is having a conversion disorder, why are these things happening to his companions? Paul gave 3 reasons why he thought this was the physical body of Jesus Christ in Philippians 3.20-21 not a ghostly appearance.

Antony counters by saying just because Paul believed it was true, does not mean it was true. But this idea by Antony is finally relinquished when Habermas recounts what had just been said here about conversion disorder. Flew concedes, „I give up” because the conversion disorder is not plausible. But then, right around again, Antony contends, there was nothing to be seen, so how could it be a physical body of Jesus? Habermas turns it right back upon Antony again about the conversion disorder and that others experienced something also who were on the road to Damascus: „If it wasn’t a conversion disorder and it wasn’t resurrection then what was it?” Antony’s logic is that if the companions couldn’t see it then it couldn’t have been a physical body?

Philippians 3 says there is a body. Brilliantly, Habermas responds with the answer: It was not said at Paul’s conversion the companions did not see the body. We are only told what the others saw, not what they didn’t see. Straight logic does not preclude the others from seeing the body just because it is not mentioned that they didn’t see the body of Jesus. A contradiction is „two things cannot both be and not be, same time, same place, same matter”. We only have Paul’s testimony on the road to Damascus, not that of the companions. Antony concedes.

We can thus conclude: (1) Jesus died by crucifixion, (2) The disciples had experiences which they believed were appearances of the risen Jesus, (3) The disciples were transformed, and (4) Paul came to Christ. If this is not a hallucination, then where do we go further with this information?

A Very Small Group of Experiences (Fact 2)

Beyond Paul’s experience was a very small select group of others who had similar experiences seeing the risen Lord (excluding the 500). Because if this, it is too small a sample size to be credible, says Antony. Is it really so small? There is Peter, James, Thomas, the women, and all the others mentioned. What did the disciples see? The women touched Jesus resurrected in Matthew, Mary touched Jesus alone in John, and Thomas was close enough that he could have touched Jesus. Ignatius said he did, and there is no reason to think he did not. Are the candidates good candidates for hallucinations? Or did they actually touch one whom they believed to be Jesus Christ? How many times do you have to touch somebody before they are qualified to occupy time and space?

1) The women touched Jesus, 2) Mary touched Jesus, 3) Thomas is given the opportunity to touch Jesus (Gospel of John), and 4) Paul thought Jesus appeared physically (Phil. 3.21). The two horns of the dilemma remain: the disciples had hallucinations yet Kent agrees Habermas’ facts are accurate. How can you still think it is a hallucination in the Gospels after the testimony of the disciples?

Antony Flew keeps coming back to asking whether there was something to be seen by the disciples or Paul and not about the word „hallucination” or other labels. And so Antony just self-declares, „The evidence is pretty weak,” but does not indicate any such weakness specifically. Where can we go from here? Relatives and outsiders saw Jesus resurrected physically; the empty tomb is a physical scenario; they were with Jesus for three to three, and Jesus said this would haappen and it did. Therefore, the question remains, do you still fall on the hallucination idea or do you give your life to Christ?

Not Noticing Jesus Walking With Them (Fact 2)

Slight changes in the resurrection body of Jesus Christ may make him not noticeable at first, especially not ever expecting his presence there. James, the brother of Jesus, was unbelieving and sarcastic to Jesus, that he should go to Jerusalem and get himself killed then James became a leader of the Jerusalem church. What a transformation! He didn’t believe in Jesus the whole time he was living. Ankerberg asked Antony, what happened to James? Antony confounded said „I don’t know”. Antony responded, Why should he be expected to know what happened to James? Ankerberg said, That is like saying to Habermas in court, You have nothing Habermas, except those 10 witnesses. Antony then says, „I think he has got a lot”. Everyone laughed cordially. Antony conceded that James is doing something that is totally expected given no other choice if he actually saw Jesus resurrected.

Multi-Faceted Accounts and Verification (Fact 2)

Resurrection Evidence: (1) A group of women testify, (2) A woman, Mary Magdalene, testifies, (3) A group of men – the Apostles testify, (4) A lone man James testifies and no longer a skeptic, (5) Paul testifies he has seen Jesus, and (6) Jesus’ tomb was empty. One strand after another of verification! Christians say we have a lot of evidence so we ask atheists, agnostics and other religions, what do you bring to the table? Doesn’t the Burden of the Proof fall on you now? All these aspects is what an historian looks for coming in from different angles such as enemies, believers, skeptics, Jews admitting the tomb was empty, women who were not suppose to be good witnesses seeing resurrected Jesus and grabbing him. This is a lot of data. Christians are Christians because these are these key facts which no viable alternative explanation is given.

Antony Flew recalls his previous idea though turned down because of the gaping contradiction that what a person originally believes very much impacts how one perceives these events. That contradiction was whether Jesus told the truth or not that He is God which would not be dependent on another’s experience, since that person did not create the other. Either the disciples did see the risen Jesus or they didn’t. Previously held beliefs should not dictate the reality of an objective statement or occurrence. Someone who held Jewish beliefs long before in looking for the Messiah does not preclude a person in some remote area of the world who never heard of Jesus from accepting Jesus. Those who do believe in God just by observing the mountains and the stars would accept Jesus if presented the word of God in the 66 books of the Bible.

Jesus Said He is God (Fact 2)

Jack Kent says „Paul never said anywhere in the New Testament that Jesus was God” (The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth). Is that true? Show me where Jesus said He is the Son of God, the Son of Man and God? We actually have Paul saying Jesus is God and Jesus saying He is God. We even have data that predates this in Jesus’ Messianic self-consciousness.

„I kept looking…and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming and he came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him…his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7.13-14). „Son of Man” was the favorite title for Himself. His usage of this title is absolutely taken from Dan. 7.13-14. He virtually quotes this verse before the high priest. Jesus needed a valid reason to die. Why did the Romans want Him to die? „The high priest was questioning him…’Are you the Christ the Son of the Blessed One (the Son of God)? And Jesus said ‘I AM (Ego Eimi) and henceforth you will see the Son of man…coming in the clouds of heaven…” (Mark 14.61-64).

Jesus changes the question about the Son of God to the Son of Man. He is going to come in the clouds and He is going to judge you. The high priest knows right away Jesus is referring to Himself as God as the Son of Man is a claim of deity. „Coming with the clouds” occurs dozens of times in the Scriptures and is always a reference to God. Jesus says, Yes I AM to the Son of God. He is the Son of Man. And He says He is going to come in judgment. At this point the high priest condemned Jesus to death that this was „blasphemy”.

There are the Q sayings which are statements made in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark. The most ardent critics have a hard time disputing these sayings. „No one knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son and those to whom He (the Son) will reveal them” (Matt. 11.27). „But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mark 13.32). This is the principle of embarrassment. If you are claiming to be the Son of Man, then why are you saying you don’t know when You will return or that you don’t know something?

Paul clearly also claims Jesus is God. „Who being in the very nature God…” (Phil. 2.5-6). „Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2.11). „Christ, who is God overall” (Rom. 9.5). Lord in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT, is the translation of Jehovah. Paul calls Jesus Lord repeatedly. „Christ Jesus…who was declared the Son of God with power by resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1.3-4). Paul calls Jesus the Christ and that the resurrection proves all these things. The resurrection is God’s approval on who Jesus thought He himself was. Antony agrees, that if Jesus is raised from the dead, this is the best evidence that Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, since only God could raise the dead which is the reason Christians believe as we do. Antony doesn’t believe in the resurrection, only that the proof is unshakable. If God raised Jesus, then Jesus can’t be a heretic so what He says about himself must be true.

What is the Thing that Would Convince a Skeptic? (Fact 2)

Nothing would convince a skeptic because his heart is set on the mindless assumption in his subconscious that existence happens all by itself. His selfish self (can’t let go of self) can’t see past that choice and that the choice is wrong because that is the nature of selfishness which stems from the fall of Adam and Eve he prefers to be in.

At what point does a skeptic accept the pile up and pile up an pile up of evidence to be true? Antony says, my experience is I just don’t see people being raised from the dead, so why should I believe this amazing miracle of the resurrection?

This problem is called by philosophers, „antecedent probability.” Is it really possible miracles can happen? This is the single biggest issue, the issue of miracles and the resurrection miracle. There are two approaches to answer this question. First, instead of seeing the resurrection as mount Everest and where we stand with regard to this unscalable mountain, we need to adjust our position, experience, and understanding towards the mountain peak. Our rules need to be adjusted we make for ourselves. To make that adjustment, we need to talk about data for God’s existence such as the 4 Step Proof for God and near death experiences. If God exists, then the playing field rises up all the way to the peak of the mountain. Antony Flew agrees, that if we have some reasons God exists, then the resurrection becomes „enormously more likely.”

If there are miracles at present, this moves the playing field up further as well to open us up to other things and let go of self. There was a double-blind experiment done of 400 cardiac patients. Half were prayed for and the other half were not prayed for. They monitored these patients in 26 categories. The ones that were prayed for were statistically better: „A study of 400 cardiac patients found that in 21 out of 26 categories were better as a result of prayer” (Southern Journal of Medicine). Scientists and the medical community have established this is medically significant.

Antony says the ideal of a miracle is parasitical on the idea of a law of nature, because something (miracles) that are happening all the time is seen in the natural causes, therefore rendering them not miracles. However rare it occurs, it is still happening lots. So this should not change people’s religious or other beliefs. A miracle depends on the idea of natural causes because these seemingly impossible natural causes do exist that human beings can’t understand which does not dissuade their non-miraculousness. However, this does not prevent or disallow God being behind those natural causes and other supernatural influence upon the law of nature. The only justification for a resurrection is because God could do it, but man could not.

Citing examples of near death experiences or prayer studies happening all the time is not to say God is doing it but could be visions manifested from feelings and the loving care from one to another in prayers. Even so this love can be God’s grace and part of His design. There is still the 4 Step Proof for God and that God shows forth miracles in nature, e.g. the timing of the event. To distinguish what should be deemed a miracle and what is not, we should consider what could be from God if it is beyond the realm of our own undertaking. What we did not know before we may consider a miracle, but when we learn of its cause, then we no longer consider it a miracle. But a miracle based on timing does not change. For example, when Jesus fulfilled prophecies we realize these miracles are attainable by the correct antecedent cause. And the greatest antecedent is that it is God’s divine providence He predestinates by foreknowledge (Rom. 8.29) all the causes for eternity. We only lack the details of cause and effects, but we know its source, given the 4 Step Proof for God and various other proofs such as the moral argument and ontological argument.

In a word, NOTHING will convince a skeptic but God Himself, not even the 4 Step Proof or other reasons Habermas has given in agreement with the Word. The reason for this is because the evil spirit is in the non-believer’s spirit, guiding him through overassuming and planted ideas. It is a form of possession and control against his own will (only to an extent). However, God has made us all in His image to be able to be saved by grace from this control of the evil spirit that entered at the fall. This way out of the matrix is to give up and give into Christ, even if we don’t know everything, since we will never know everything. There is no other way to be delivered from this possession. And this is all according to God’s design to respond to the fallen of Satan and man with these contingencies. In fact God says just look at the mountain and the stars, and ask yourself, did you do that? If the answer is No, then you know you have yet to give up and give into the Intelligent Designer, even though you can’t quite understand it all. God sees this as vital humility He can work in that one.

How in your experience can you even make a determination about God if you have even one assumption that is false? That very assumption will forever color a picture that separates one from God so as not to be able to discern correctly God’s existence and corresponding response to His will. Therefore, the only solution is to gather a certain amount of evidences to convince you miracles can happen, accepting it is beyond your ability to understand of how God could do it. No matter how much information you gather along the continuum of knowledge and what is permitted to know at each point there is an allowance for entrance into God’s kingdom. Therefore the problem is not knowledge. The problem is CHOICE. If you can’t find one legitimate excuse that is totally solid then such reasoning cannot be justification for anything. Not even a non-choice is justifiable, because then you would be calling Jesus a liar when He said if you are not for Him, then you are against Him.

Gathering Additional Information at Wal-Mart (Fact 2)

The first way to show miracles can happen is to provide additional data that would corroborate the necessity of opening ourselves up to possibilities we were unwilling to accept before. When two things by all natural means contradict each other, the only possibility is that they don’t actually contradict. They only seem to contradict given one’s limited view of lacking information. For example, if you were in a car accident and your best friend was with you, but he died, and you went to his funeral and saw the medical report, yet the other day you saw what you thought was him in Wal-mart, you just know it can’t be. But as additional information is provided you begin to think otherwise which rises you up the mountain unto resurrection and rapture: your friend approaches you and shows you the scar on his face that caused the death, then you begin to think it is possible that somehow he was resurrected. Your friend says touch him to know that he has been raised. Then you tell others and they see him also. It is no longer just one person saying this happened in a hallucination. Others touch him in various group settings and sizes. We then have no choice to deny this truth. And, because it is so well documented, no one should doubt this truth in generations to come. There is only one case in history where something like this happened and that was the resurrection of Jesus.

The second way to accept miracles and the resurrection is once the data fits a scenario and becomes so overwhelming though beyond my realm of our experience, we have no choice but to accept the truth. We reach a point where we must give up and give into our conscience. No way is Thomas going to go into the Wal-mart to discover Jesus there. Jesus can’t make that choice for Him. So Jesus comes to Thomas and says to him, put your hand in my side to see I have been resurrected. Jesus deals with Thomas according to his ability to understand and does not forsake him for doubting. He comes right up to him and says, believe. Paul killed Christians. James said no way to Jesus that he is not the Son of God. The second way to go after this question of miracles is to see there is enough angles, even though it is not your experience, to leave one no choice but to accept the truth.There can be enough data that overrides our feelings.

„The laws of nature are statistical descriptions of what usually occurs when nature is left to herself” (C. S. Lewis). Statistics can be overridden, certainly in areas where it has not been absolutely determined the cause and effect in nature. We need to be at least open to that. Miracles in relation to prior existing beliefs is certainly a plausible suggestion by Antony Flew, because someone may have more knowledge, while another is lacking in such knowledge. However, this does not change the fact of the event in question. Even if Antony understood how God resurrected Jesus, this does not change the fact that God resurrected Jesus and man cannot resurrect himself. Even then, it would still be a miracle to Antony because though Antony could understand how God did it (which I don’t believe we will ever know), he still can’t figure out the intricacies of the ultimate cause what set off God to do it in His thinking other than to say He created out of His glory. God could reveal the why in His choice to create, but even as saved believers, we cannot know the exact details of God’s mind beneath this glory, for some things are reserved for God alone to know. This is the power the uncreated has over the created.

Antony says all of this about Jesus depends on Mosaic tradition. Certainly, Jesus plugs into this fact of proper cause and effect when God first revealed Himself to Israel. If Jesus were to enter creation, as He did, then it could happen no other way and as righteously as God did it. There first must be the antecedent causations leading up to His arrival and subsequent second coming in the future. God would need to choose a people whom would be willing to listen to Him (Israel was enslaved for 430 years) all the way back to the first God-conscious man even to the choice itself he would make for the tree of life or the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because Jesus plugs into the tradition, it shows the import of it and does not dissuade from its necessity to be brought to the world’s understanding. Hence the Bible is not just 27 books of the NT but also 39 books of the OT. Credibility is achieved by not just 8 authors over 70 years but 40 writers over 1500 years and the biblical record over 6000 years.

Final Evidence for Naturalists – A Foretaste of Resurrection (Fact 2)

The overpowering evidence of the resurrection is one way to convince. The other way is to say this world admits exceptions. Near death experiences are not miracles in and of themselves, but they would be if those experiences are reporting an after-life through various contacts made by God about certain events in the future and those future events came to pass. One would take a whole new look at the resurrection. We are not concerned with the 8 million near death experiences by Americans. We don’t care about the tunnels and the lights, other temporal lobe activity and causes do to lack of oxygen. We are concerned with those cases that can be verified. „When I wrote that book we had only near-death experiences. Now we have post-death experiences.” (Recollections of Death: A Medical Perspective, 1982, Michael Sabom). In Life and Death, his new book, Sabom mentions a women with a brain aneurysm. With 30 doctors present, because the aneurysm was deep in the brain, they had to literally kill the person first to get at it (called „operation standstill”). They cooled her body temperature down to 59 degrees, taking all the blood out of her head, stop her heart and stop her brain. All these were stopped for hours. They repaired the vessel, and she is doing fine today.

After the surgery, she testified that she had risen above her body. She gave 6 points of corroboration. When she heard the saw turn on, she was out of her body and was looking over a doctor’s shoulder. It was at this point they were close to the point of putting her to death. She said she imaged a drill that looked like a pizza cutter, but instead it was a pen with a fine point on the end. The doctor asked her, Where did you get that? She said, You had a socket wrench next to you. The doctor asked, What do you mean a socket wrench? She said, There was this box with all these interchangeable parts. He said, Draw me a picture of the drill and the socket set. She drew them.

Then she described what went on in the operating room. They couldn’t find her artery. They had to go to the other side of her brain. She identified which doctor made the decision and which doctor couldn’t find the artery. She has all these points of memory in being dead for 3 hours.

In another case, a girl who drowned for 19 minutes described what her parents did that night. She reported what her mom did for dinner, the song that was played on the radio, a toy her brother played with and a specific doll her sister played with. After 3 days she was conscious. As soon as she woke, she told the doctor these things she saw that occurred three days earlier.

Though these events are not the acts of Jesus they are a model for resurrection. These after-death experiences don’t show extenuated life after death in heaven or hell, but they are minimalistic life after death: minutes or sometimes hours after cessation of heart or brain waves. If a person is reported to have flat-lined at 3:02 and there is no brain waves by 3:15 as reported in the medical logs then after awaking the patient reports something that occurred after 3:15 even an hour after 3:15, what is the explanation? This would be quite difficult for a naturalist to explain.

Antony was asked if these things open the door for being more than naturalistic? He responded belligerently, „Not really”. This is in keeping with the fact what was said previously, nothing can convince the unregenerate. All reasoning he employs is to justify his previously held beliefs without concern for the truth. These are no outer-body experiences (OBE) according to Antony nor in-body experiences (INBE) of being close to death. However, the experience of the lady from Georgia was post-death by all standards. She shouldn’t be reporting anything! I thought it interesting that Antony used the term, „outer-body” instead after having said he read much of the literature about it, one of his most favorite subjects. His nomenclature showed he was not telling the truth when he said he delved deeply into one his favorite subjects, because he should have used the term „post-death” experience, not „outer-body” since the strongest evidence is there. He appeared to be slothful even apathetic in his response.

What is the naturalistic explanation Antony gives? He believes it was a fraud or misrepresentation, and she could not recover in this way after being put to death for 3 hours. Therefore, he presumes she was not really dead. Yet, it is medical practice to put the person to death for just such cases. She was on a lung machine; the doctors gave her less than 10% chance of living–1 in 10,000 chance of living with all her faculties. She spontaneously awoke a few days later and said to the guy who resuscitated her, You’re the guy that resuscitated me, where is the tall guy without the beard?

This doctor was an agnostic and has since become a theist. Soon after, Antony Few, partly a result of this discussion also became theist though of the deistic flavor by a Creator who doesn’t personally reveal Himself, has no interaction with us, and is completely inaccessible. What love is that? This is the kind of love that reflects the love in Antony’s own heart. Even Brahma the amoral god of Hinduism is more personal than that. One has to ask the obvious question, Why create in the first place if you are going to be an absentee landlord? Seems pointless. If I have a child I want a relationship with him. Deism is a reflection of one’s own impersonal character; projecting onto the Creator his own attributes. The fact that Antony renounced atheism at this late age has to stand for something don’t you think? What does a naturalist do to explain these things happening after-death that did happen and were explained by the patient in vivid detail after they awoke? Antony is entirely confounded and simply says, „This is a new one to me” on what is suppose to be his favorite subject. I think Antony Flew is not coming to God with an honest heart. He is being intellectually dishonest with himself. It seems to me he wants to find a naturalistic explanation yet is unable to access his imagination to fit the data.

Summary of Evidences for a Theistic World View (Fact 2)

1. Good arguments for God’s existence.
2. Evidence for God being the true author of Scripture.
3. Evidence from the Old Testament of God working in time.
4. Jesus doing miracles.
5. Then He rises from the dead.
6. Double-blind experiments on prayer where 21 out of 26 categories the person is statistically better (there are many studies on healing).
7. Documented near death experiences and by all standards, after-death experiences.

Conclusion: The resurrection is not an isolated event but part of the „big picture” theistic world view. The fact that God raised Jesus is extraordinary and one of a kind. It shows Jesus is who he says He is. He’s alive. God is working in other ways too. However, we need to be firm and honest by recognizing, atheists and agnostics have an insincerity about them, an „I don’t care anyway” attitude. Their character and true colors are reflected in their world view.

 

A Good Friday Meditation – How can the salvation of all mankind happen in this way?

by Bill Lawrence via www.bible.org  Photo via www.samuelandrade.blogspot.com/

  • A passionate prayer
  • A traitorous arrest
  • A trumped up charge
  • A false trial
  • Lying witnesses
  • A denying disciple
  • Washed hands
  • Unrighteous remorse
  • A Place called Skull
  • A remote crossroads of the world
  • Between two thieves
  • Sneering rulers
  • Scoffing bystanders
  • Abusive soldiers
  • Insensitive crucifiers
  • A repentant robber
  • A new mother and her new son
  • Weeping women
  • A worshipping Centurion
  • Three hours of darkness
  • The earth shakes
  • Some living dead
  • A criminal’s cross
  • A sealed stone
  • Salvation!

Salvation? How can the salvation of all mankind happen in this way? In this ignominious, inglorious way? How can this be? That all of the sins of all who have ever lived or are living or will live are paid for on a criminal’s cross? Aren’t criminals most in need of forgiveness? Can criminals even be forgiven? How can a Man who hung on a criminal’s cross pay for all the sin of all people?

And in Jerusalem of all places. Why not Rome, the political capital of the world? Or Athens, the cultural capital of the world? Or Alexandria, the educational capital of the world? Or Ephesus, one of the economic capitals of the world? Or Corinth, certainly one of the sin capitals of the world? Yes, that’s it, why wasn’t sin paid for in one of the greatest sin centers of history?

It just doesn’t make sense. How can this Friday be Good? And how could salvation happen in this way?

No blaring trumpets, no glorious angels, no parades of power and purity, just another Friday crucifixion in the ancient Roman empire. Amazing. Excruciatingly painful, but almost ho-hum for the Roman soldiers. Just one more criminal to throw on the trash heap of history and off we go for a few drinks and a good time of gaming.

Yet salvation did come this way. Yes, it did!

God had worked for thousands of years to provide His salvation. First there was creation, then rebellion, and then rejection, banishment, separation-we were cut off from God and Life. But that’s when God began the redemption process, first with promises, then with prophecies, and all with purpose, the purpose of demonstrating His power through His weakness as He kept His promises and fulfilled His prophecies. His Son became one of us: His Son became His Slave, His sacrifice. our Savior. And in Jerusalem.

God loves weakness because weakness is the greatest way He can show His power. How can an ordinary Man who isn’t even worthy of a second look become our Savior? But He did through the power of God’s weakness in Jerusalem.

How can Jerusalem become the place of salvation? Jerusalem was a world capital in the ancient Roman Empire. One of the greatest structures of all, Herod’s Temple, was in Jerusalem. The city was a spiritual capital in the empire, but Jerusalem was different from the other world capitals. It was . . . well, it was Jewish, quirkish, lavish in its own way, but certainly not in the Roman way. Jerusalem was really a weak world capital, crushed under the Roman heel. But God had made Jerusalem the center of His salvation purposes, the place where all His promises would be fulfilled, an unlikely place populated by some very unlikely people. How like God to do this.

This is my salvation, my deliverance, my eternal life started on earth and slated to last forever. Again, I must ask how can this be? How can a five-year old fatherless and familyless little boy get father, mother, and family in the blink of an eye? How can that little boy receive a call to serve God? How can that little boy grow up to be blessed with mentors and marriage and sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren, and faithful friends full of love for him? How can that be? Only because God glories in taking the weak and making us His vessels of glory.

It has been many years since God saved me and I still serve Him. Salvation never ends; why should service? And may I die as Jesus died: with a cross on my back, resurrection in my heart, and the interests of God on my mind.

What has your salvation been? Can you join with me in this Good Friday season and rejoice in God’s salvation for you? Think of what He has done for you and join me.

F. Passion Week – Thursday – The Last Supper in the Upper Rooom & Gethsemane

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Thursday?

With help from the ESV Study Bible, here’s an attempted harmony/chronology of the words and actions of Jesus in the final week of his pre-resurrection life.

Jesus instructs his disciples Peter and John to secure a large upper room in a house in Jerusalem and to prepare for the Passover meal

Matthew 26:17-19  Mark 14:12-16  Luke 22:7-13

In the evening Jesus eats the Passover meal with the Twelve, tells them of the coming betrayal, and institutes the Lord’s Supper

Mathew 26:20-29  Mark 14:17-23  Luke 22:14-30

After supper Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, interacts with them, and delivers the Upper Room Discourse

John 13:1-17:26  

Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn together (probably from Psalms 113–118), then depart to the Mount of OlivesMatthew 26:30    Mark 14:26  Luke 22:39

Jesus foretells Peter’s denials
Jesus gives his disciples practical commands about supplies and provisions

Jesus and the disciples go to Gethsemane, where he struggles in prayer and they struggle to stay awake late into the night

Matthew 26:36-46  Mark 14:32-42  Luke 22:40-46

The Last Supper

By Bob Deffinbaugh at Bible.org: We find Luke’s account (and, the other gospel accounts as well) of the last supper amazingly brief and unembellished. Somewhere 30 to 50 years after our Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension, the gospel of Luke was written (depending upon which conservative scholar you read). In spite of all the time which passed, and of the great significance of the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion,” neither Luke nor any other gospel writer makes a great deal out of the celebration of the last Passover, just before our Lord’s death. I am not saying this celebration was unimportant, but rather that because of its importance, I would have expected it to have been a more detailed account. This brevity is the first of several “tensions of the text.”

There are other tensions as well. Why is nearly as much space devoted to the preparation for the Passover meal as for the partaking of it? Furthermore, why was Jesus so eager to partake of the Passover, when it preceded and even anticipated His death? Finally, why is there such confusion and consternation (including a deletion of some of the text) over Luke’s account of the Lord’s Table, in which it appears that the (traditional) order of the bread and wine may have been reversed?

Events Surrounding the Last Supper

Before we begin to look more closely at the partaking of the Passover, let us pause for just a moment to remind ourselves of the broader setting in which this event is found. The Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem have already determined that Jesus must die (not to mention Lazarus, John 11:47-53; 12:9-10).After the meal at the house of Simon the Leper, at which Mary anointed the feet of Jesus, “wasting” her expensive perfume on him, Judas decided to betray the Lord, approached the chief priests, and received an advance payment (Matthew 26:14-16Luke 22:1-6). Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and after He cleansed the temple, the sparks really began to fly, with the religious leaders making every effort to discredit Him, or to get Him into trouble with the Roman authorities (Luke 20:19-20). When these efforts, as well as their attempts to penetrate the ranks of our Lord’s disciples miserably failed, the chief priests were delighted to have Judas approach them with his offer. It was only a matter now of waiting for the right chance. This could have been the Lord’s celebration of the Passover, along with His disciples.

At the meal itself, a number of events took place. It would seem that the Lord’s washing of the feet of the disciples was the first item on the agenda (John 13:1-20). During the meal, once (cf. Matthew 26:20-25Mark 14:17-21), if not more (Luke 22:21-23), the Lord spoke of His betrayer. The meal seems to have included some (perhaps most all) of the traditional Passover elements, and in addition, the commencement of the Lord’s Supper, with words that I doubt the disciples had ever heard at a Passover meal (Luke 22:19-20). John’s gospel avoids giving us yet another description of this ceremony. He, unlike the other gospel writers, includes an extensive message known as the “upper room discourse” (John 14-16), concluded by the Lord’s “high priestly prayer” of intercession for His followers, which may have been prayed during the meal time, or perhaps later on in Gethsemane (John 17). The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) report the disciples’ argument about who would be the greatest, along with our Lord’s response (cf. Luke 22:24-3), the Lord’s specific words to the over-confident Peter (Luke 22:31-34), and then His words about being prepared to face a hostile world (Luke 22:35-38). With this the party is said to have sung a hymn and to have departed to the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Lord prayed, with little help from His disciples (Luke 22:39-46). The arrest of Jesus then follows, concluding in His being handed over for crucifixion.

The point in all of this is simply to remind you that the meal was a lengthy one, during which time the Passover was memorialized, and also the Lord’s Supper was inaugurated. It was also during this time that a great deal of teaching took place, as recorded primarily by John. Click here to read the entire article at Bible.org.

Jesus and the Martyr

by Stephen Witmer – Here is an article by Stephen Witmer posted at the Gospel Coalition on Jesus in the garden of Ghetsemane and His divine nature. (Jesus and the Martyrs.)

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:41-44).

In this passage, the eternal Son of God pleads with God the Father not to make him go to the cross, requires the help of an angel, and experiences great emotional upheaval in light of his approaching death. He is profoundly shaken. Early in church history, already in the second century, critics of Christianity were pointing to Jesus’ agonized prayer as reason to doubt that he was divine. The problem is heightened when we compare Jesus’ reaction in the face of death to other martyrs, ancient and modern, who appear to be more composed and able to face death with greater dignity than Jesus showed (see Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God for an insightful treatment of this). Here I provide three such examples.

Stephen Witmer gives examples of 3 ancient and modern  cases of martyrdom where the men involved appear to face death with a calm dignity and contrasts it with Jesus’ agonizing prayer.

He concludes-

first, the Gospel writers had to be honest, to include such passages of struggling by Jesus and

second, ‘ What sets Jesus’ death apart from the death of any other person in the history of the world is the spiritual component of his suffering’.

We have an indication of that terrible spiritual reality in Luke 22:42: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” To what “cup” is Jesus referring?

We get an answer in the Old Testament. Psalm 75:6-8 uses the imagery of a cup to refer to God’s judgment upon his enemies:

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.

Isaiah 51:17 makes explicit that the “cup” is the cup of God’s wrath: “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.”

The “cup” Jesus is going to drink on the cross is far worse than the horrific physical suffering of crucifixion he faces. Jesus’ “cup” is the infinite wrath and judgment of almighty God upon human sin. The wrath of God that Jesus will experience on the cross is, very literally, hell. On the cross, he will experience separation from God the Father. He will be cut off from God. He will be considered an enemy of God because our sins will be counted as his (2 Cor. 5:21).

This is why Jesus agonizes and struggles in the Garden—because he knows he will soon be crushed under the infinite weight of the wrath of God.

click here to read the entire article…

D. Passion Week – Tuesday – Olivet Discourse

James Tissot painting Photo credit www.joyfulheart.com Jesus curses fig tree

  1. On the way back to Jerusalem in the morning the disciples see the withered fig tree.
  2. In Jerusalem there are more temple controversies, and then Jesus delivers the Olivet Discourse on the return back to Bethany.

„Olivet Discourse” is a name given to 4 special chapters in the Bible. It includes Matthew 24th-25th, Mark 13th and Luke 21st chapters. In all of these chapters Jesus speaks about the „End-Times” which will come upon humanity. Jesus gave these messages to the apostles while they were upon the Mount of Olives, hence the name: Olivet Discourse.

A study by Hampton Keathley IV at Bible.org

Introduction

You must be aware that these are probably the most debated parables in the Bible. Many of the books and journal articles and articles on the internet that I read said all the characters in these parables were believers. Instead of seeing that these are parables about salvation, they see them as parables about rewards or loss of rewards. It is the same argument that we dealt with a few weeks ago in our discussion of the marriage feast and the outer darkness.

Because of the context and because the punishment for the unfaithful is so severe, I see them as all dealing with salvation issues. But rewards are also taught.

These are extremely difficult parables to interpret. I’m tempted to just tell you what I think they mean and ignore all the other views, but I think it is good for you to hear the other interpretations and do your own wrestling with the details.

Context of Matthew 25

Olivet discourse – events of tribulation leading up to 2nd coming.

In Matt 24:36 Jesus begins to answer the question of when He will be returning.

It will be just like in Noah’s day when people didn’t believe Noah and were surprised when it started raining. In the same way, even when people are in the tribulation, experiencing the wrath of God, many are still not going to believe.

So, the when it says „two will be in the field, and one will be taken…” the one taken will be taken to judgment. And the appearance of the thief in the next section is to judge the unbelieving. They didn’t believe the thief was coming. They didn’t believe that God was coming to hold them accountable.

I think that this theme of judging the unbelieving is continued in these next four parables. Although the text doesn’t use the word believe, those that get judged all have actions that indicate they didn’t believe. And their judgment is severe: they get cut to pieces, locked outside, sent to the outer darkness, etc.

And in each parable those who are judged are contrasted to others who not only believed, but were prepared, faithful, fruitful, etc. And those got rewarded for their faithfulness.

We talked about it a couple weeks ago, but this is what some call „Matthew’s rejection imagery.” He always mixes rewards for some with eternal damnation for others, like it all happens at the same event. It sort of makes you wonder if perhaps it does? But then that would make us amillennial or something like that.

Anyway, I want to give you the plot up front. Because I’m going to be discussing other views mixed with my views (notice I didn’t say „the correct view”), I think it might be helpful to have the „Big Idea” in your heads as we study the parables.

These parables are designed to teach the immanent return of Christ. It could be real soon, or it could be a long time away. But either way, we need to go ahead and live our lives but stay prepared. We need to live and work like the master is going to be back any minute. Because we are going to be rewarded for how hard we worked while he was gone.

Wise and Evil Slaves contrasted

Matthew 24:45-51 also in Luke 12:41-48

Some say because these are slaves, they are both saved. And some say that there is only one slave in the parable. The slave starts off being faithful, but then changes later in life and becomes an unfaithful, evil slave. Dillow makes a big deal out of the word „that” in vs 48 saying that it proves that this is the same slave. And since the slave was once very faithful, he must now just be carnal. Since he was saved, he still is saved, but just carnal or unfaithful, he does not go to hell. He just loses rewards and is very sad.

But, concerning the idea that „since they are both slaves, they are both saved” – In all of Jesus’ parables he contrasts two or three people with the same social status. How else is he going to create tension and contrast? He always uses slaves and sons because God is the Master of all. Slaves and sons are the natural examples to represent this relationship between God and man. The idea behind all these parables is that humans have an equal opportunity to respond, believe, etc. Some do, and some don’t. And here’s what’s going to happen to them.

Concerning the idea that this is one slave who changes. The phrase „if that slave” does refer back to this hypothetical slave. This is not a story about a slave who later in life started backsliding. Jesus is just giving an example.

Jesus is saying: Let’s take a slave… If that slave does this… he will be rewarded. However, if that slave does this… he will be cut into pieces.

He is a wise slave if he believes and anticipates master’s return and faithfully carries out the master’s orders. If he does this, he will be rewarded.

He is an evil slave if he doesn’t believe his master will return.

If the slave takes no note of the coming return and deludes himself into thinking either it will never happen or that he will have time to reform, he will be severely punished. It says he will be cut to pieces.

I believe “cut off” may be a better translation because in Qumran literature this word is used for excommunication and being cut off from the rest of the group. And I think the idea of separation fits better with the context – the punishment that all the bad guys receive in this string of parables is separation from God. Either way, it is severe punishment. Perhaps too severe for a believer?

Application:

This represents a universal principle. If a person doesn’t really believe that there is a God who will hold them accountable when they die, they aren’t very likely to feel a need to “trust” in God or obey his commandments.

I’ve also heard of people who believed that there was a God and he would hold them accountable, but they didn’t want to change their lifestyle and figured they would just „get religion” later. This parable speaks to them too. You never know when God will return or if you will die in a car wreck tomorrow.

We also see the result is a lifestyle that is abusive (beat his fellow slaves) and destructive (eat and drink with drunkards.)

Speaking of „beating his fellow slaves.” Some say because he beat his fellow slaves then he must be saved because they were his fellow slaves. My question is „who else is a slave going to beat?” Free men? If he is going to be abusive to his fellow man, it has got to be another slave. We can’t read into this „a salvation relationship with God” because of his association with other slaves. Just like we can’t read into the passage that because we have two slaves, we have two saved people in view.

Ten Virgins

This is a much debated parable. No one can agree what anything means.

“Virgins” – Some say that they are called “virgins” to emphasize their purity and that this means all ten were Christians (Dillow). Most say they represent people in the tribulation.

“Lamps” People argue whether these were little bowl lamps or torches. Then they argue about what the lamps represent. Some think the lamps and their light represent knowledge. Stedman says the ladies each had light to start with. Which would equate to people having a certain degree of knowledge about the Lord’s return. But for five of them, that knowledge was just academic. It really hadn’t gripped them.

Others think the lamps represents works which are the believer’s „light” or testimony to the world.

The light was supplied by the oil, and therefore it was absolutely essential that they have an adequate supply of oil, otherwise their light would go out. So what does the oil represent.

“Oil” – Some say it is the Holy Spirit (Walvoord, Stedman), some say it is works, others say it is faith.

Here is an example of the type of reasoning you run across when reading the commentators.

In verse 3 we have one of the major interpretive problems of the parable. What does the olive-oil represent? There is a quick answer that suggest that the olive-oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. However that interpretation must be resisted because the Holy Spirit is a gift and cannot be bought. The instructions to go and buy some more would make no sense at all in the case of the Holy Spirit. I think the answer must be found in seeing that the oil is only important when it is set on fire. In other words when it is giving light. The symbol of light rather than oil helps us because then we realize that Jesus is talking about the good works of the believer which he/she does before men which constitutes them the light of the world. The foolish virgins had no oil therefore they had no works with which to greet the bride-groom.1

His argument against this being the Holy Spirit because you can’t buy the Holy Spirit doesn’t make any sense. You can’t buy works or faith either. So that is no argument. It is a good example of one’s conclusion driving his reasons. When I come across a paragraph like that, it makes me want to stop reading the rest of the paper because I question the validity of any of his arguments.

If you think the oil is works, then you have to decide if the five foolish ladies were saved or not. If they were not saved, then the lack of works proved that they were not saved (lordship view). And not getting into the banquet is the same as not getting into heaven.

If you think the ladies were saved, then you will say that the ladies didn’t get any rewards. And that the banquet represents rewards or reigning with Christ (Free Grace view).

Some say that the foolish virgins had oil to start with (Dillow) and so had faith and so were saved. But others argue that that is not necessarily so (Walvoord). It says they rose, trimmed their lamps and lit them. But since they did not have oil in them, they immediately went out. So, it is more probable that they didn’t have any oil to start with.

What do I think?

Because this parable starts off with “the kingdom of heaven is like…” I think it is a salvation parable. Matthew uses this phrase eleven times and in the other parables where this phrase is used, the parables are about salvation and getting into the kingdom of heaven. Maybe I should say that out of these eleven parables. They are clearly about salvation or debated. None are clearly not about salvation.

The term virgins is not significant. The idea is just that they were young unmarried ladies. The term “virgin” was often used that way. Perhaps bridesmaids would be a better term.

Five are prepared – have their own oil. Five are unprepared – couldn’t borrow oil. I think that the symbolism is that you can’t get into heaven with someone else’s faith.

Banquet imagery to an Israelite is a reference to kingdom with God and His bride, Israel. This is not the Bema and wedding feast with Christ and Church. Remember the context is judgment at the 2nd coming, not the rapture.

The five were left outside (never made it in banquet hall as in Matt 22). So if you go to Matt 22 and make a big deal about the fact that the guy without wedding clothes made it into the banquet and was therefore saved, then those that argue that the virgins are saved (to be consistent with their interpretation of Matt 22) have to reconcile the fact that here they didn’t get in.

The Lord didn’t know them – cf. Matt 7:21 which is the same statement and those clearly do not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Once the door was closed, it was too late to enter. Those who are shut out miss not simply a fine meal, but also the kingdom itself. Similar imagery to Luke 13:22–29 which talks about the narrow door, not being known by the Lord, banquet imagery and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Application:

Where the last parable taught that the Lord could return sooner than expected, this one teaches that there may be quite a delay before the Lord returns. We know that in fact there has been. It’s been almost 2,000 years so far. Both the wise and foolish virgins slept. But they are not condemned for it. Perhaps the point is that we need to go ahead and live our lives. Not sell everything and go wait on the mountain top for the Lord’s return.The main point of the parable is that even if it might be a long time before the Lord returns, don’t wait until the last minute to get prepared, because you never know when that last minute will be and you may miss out.

And I think preparation is faith.

Talents

Another Kingdom of heaven is like parable – “it is like” refers back to 25:1 – Some try to say this is different because 25:14 doesn’t say “kingdom,” but the “it” has to have an antecedent. What else are you going to link the “it” to?

Big debate is whether or not the slaves represent saved people or not. Some try to argue that since they were all slaves, they were all saved. We’ve already dealt with that assumption.

But, there is a big contrast going on between the first two slaves and the third slave. The third slave did not know the master. He thought he understood what was required of him, but he was wrong. Maybe it is like the person who thinks he will get into heaven for being mostly good.

When confronted by the master, this wicked slave argued beligerantly and attempted to make his laziness a necessity and a virtue. By defaming the master, portraying him as one who enriched himself by exploiting others, he attempted to excuse his own actions. When I read his response, my thought is this: There may be shame at the Bema seat when Christ reveals our deeds, but not defiance. Does this sound like a Christian at the Bema seat? Does it sound like he “knows” the Master? Therefore, I have difficulty thinking that this third slave is saved.

This man seems to have given in to some cunning reasoning. It is much like the thinking of Judas Iscariot when he sold his Lord. Judas reasoned, if He is really the Messiah, my betrayal will not hurt anything and I will get my money from the High Priest. If He is not the Messiah, then at least I get the money. This one-talent man reasoned somewhat the same way. His lord was going on a far journey. If the servant put the money in the bank, he would have to register it in his lord’s name. Then when his lord did not come back, his heirs could claim it. He reasoned, however, that if be buried it in the backyard, there would be no record. If his master did not come back, the servant would have it for himself. If he does come back, he could not accuse him of dishonesty because he could produce the talent. It was a cunning that was built upon uncertainty that the Lord was returning. He just did not believe that his lord was coming back. If he had, he would have handled the money differently. This is what the lord meant when be said that he was a wicked servant.2

The mixture of rewards and judgment – fits Matthew’s rejection imagery. He usually globs these together like an OT prophet did when looking at the 1st and 2nd advents of Christ. Also, the Bible talks about rewards and loss of rewards (1 Cor 3:15) at Bema, not rewards and judgment. So, I think we must be careful not to say that, because some got rewards, we are at the Bema and all were saved, and the third guy just lost rewards. I think his punishment is too severe.

The description of the servant’s attitude suggests something qualitatively different from the other two servants found faithful. There is a definite contrast going on here. The works are indicative of the relationship with the master. The third slave had no works which in the gospels is the same as having no faith.

Free grace people balk at this statement because Lordship people think the logical conclusion is that one has to have good works to prove that he is saved. In the gospels we do have statements like when Jesus says, “Why do you call me Lord and do not do what I say?” But when we read Paul we get in to issues such as carnality, getting to heaven as though through fire, etc. So we know that works don’t always follow. But when we are dealing with parables, we need to let them use their terminology.

Sheep and Goats

We see the Son of Man coming in glory with his angels. This is the second coming, not the rapture.

Judgment results in entrance to heaven or being sent to hell.

The rejection of the goats was not based on what they did, but on what they failed to do. It was a sin of omission toward “the least of these” (cf. the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31). God abhors not simply the performing of sinful acts but also the omission of deeds. Failure to do good is in fact to do evil. In addition the free gift of grace (as represented in Matt 20:1–16) has to be reconciled with the role of works (as here in 25:31–46 {Matt 25}). The works are the fruit that demonstrates the reality of the conversion of one’s heart. The love shown by these deeds of mercy springs from true faith. As Walvoord affirms, “What is presented here is not the basis or ground of salvation but the evidence of it…. Accordingly, while works are not the ground of justification for salvation, they can be the fruit or evidence of it.”

Since our section started off with judgment resulting in hell and Since it is clear from this parable that they are judged by their works and sent to hell for not having the works – which represent faith – why do people have such a difficult time believing that the parables in between say the same basic thing?

Summary

In summary several points are worth highlighting.

First, in each parable the judgment occurs at the consummation of this age. While the timing of that event is unknown, each follower is to be ready for and anticipate the coming kingdom.

Second, the essential nature of the judgment is soteriological. The judgment will render decisions that are eternal in nature, reflecting the status of each human being with regard to his or her eternal relationship to the kingdom. Phrases such as “the darkness outside,” the “fiery furnace,” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” describe eternal separation from the kingdom. They are not simply expressions of grief over a Christian life that did not count for much in the kingdom, for they are figures and phrases representing an eternal exclusion from the presence of God. With this in view, it has been suggested that salvation in these parables is viewed as a “whole,” not simply as a point of entry. The “sons of the kingdom” and the “sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38) are on opposite sides of the soteriological divide. There is no room for purgatory, universalism, or a view that some may miss the heavenly “banquet” while yet retaining a right to entry into the kingdom (i.e. “salvation,” in Pauline terms). Those who are rejected are permanently excluded.

Third, the basis for this eternal judgment is the individual’s works. In some cases the emphasis is on faithfulness to a job assigned: perhaps in a picture of preparation for an event, or a picture of the fruit of the believer. But however it was pictured, works were the key to the judgment.

What complicates the problem is that the decision for rejection or acceptance is presented as a soteriological decision based on these works. Such a judgment is highlighted by the parables of the Wheat and the Tares (perhaps along with the Narrow Door and the Virgins) in which those who appear to fit into the proper categories do not do so (even when they think they do) since they were not properly prepared for the kingdom. Perhaps the clearest example is the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, in which eternal life and eternal perdition are the options meted out based on how people treated the followers of the Son of Man.

Works are not separated from the faith one exercises for entrance to the kingdom for works are evidence of that faith. A true change of heart will be reflected in a person’s life. A lack of that change is apparently enough to prevent entrance into the eschatological kingdom (the goats are prohibited from entrance because of their actions while the sheep are given entrance because of their works); but works are never ultimately separated from the faith of the individual, for it was also shown that works are not in themselves enough to impress the Son of Man positively in His role as judge (cf. Matt 7:21–23).

Paul wrote with different emphases in mind, focusing clearly on the entrance requirements into salvation, namely, justification by faith. While the Synoptics support the role of faith in establishing one’s relationship with God (usually in phrases such as “repent and believe the gospel”), they tend to emphasize the whole life of faith for the believer. In other words the life of a follower of Jesus is to be a constant exercise of faith in order to obey and please God. Paul clearly recognized this same truth, for he knew that something started by faith cannot be perfected by works (the burden of Galatians).

Conclusion

These parables are designed to teach the immanent return of Christ. It could be real soon, or it could be a long time away. But either way, we need to be go ahead and live our lives (sleep like the virgins did) but stay prepared. We need to live and work like the master is going to be back any minute (like the faithful servant did), because we are going to be rewarded for how hard we worked while he was gone (parable of talents).

C. Passion Week – Monday – Jesus cleanses the Temple

  1. On Monday, Jesus cleanses the temple.
  2. On the way back to Jerusalem Jesus curses the fig tree.
  3. When he arrives in Jerusalem, he cleanses the temple (though it’s debated, this is likely the area of the Royal Stoa, described by Josephus in Antiquitites 15.411–415, which ran the length of the southern wall of the Temple Mount).
  4. Jesus then did miracles in the temple and received challenges from the Jewish leaders and astonishment from the crowd.
  5. In the evening Jesus and the twelve return to Bethany.

The following synopsis is from Christian Classics Ethereal Library, written by Mark A. Copeland.

„THE GOSPEL OF JOHN”

The Cleansing Of The Temple (John 2:13-25)

INTRODUCTION

1. It is common to think of Jesus as a gentle, peace-loving man…

a. He certainly presented Himself as such on most occasions – e.g.,
Mt 11:28-30
b. People felt comfortable in bringing their children to Him – e.g.,
Mt 19:13-14

2. Yet on occasion Jesus displayed strong righteous indignation…
a. Such as when He visited Jerusalem during the Passover at the
beginning of His ministry
b. As He drove the moneychangers and merchandisers out of the temple
– Jn 2:13-15

[What prompted this outburst of anger? What gave Jesus the authority to
do this? What lessons might we glean from this event? As we seek to
find the answers let’s first note…]

I. THE REBUKE OF THE LORD

A. MERCHANDISING HIS FATHER’S HOUSE…

1. The Lord’s rebuke reveals the reason for His outburst – cf. Jn 2:16
2. The sellers of oxen and sheep, along with the moneychangers,
had turned the temple into a house of merchandise
3. It was to be a house of prayer, they had turned it into a den
of thieves – cf. Mt 21:13
– The Lord was angered by the manner in which some used religion to make money

B. MIGHT WE BE GUILTY OF A SIMILAR OFFENSE…?
1. What if we attend church simply as a form of „networking”, to
make business contacts?
2. What if we take advantage of our relationship as brethren to
further a multilevel marketing business, a home-based business,
or any other financial enterprise?
– The Lord’s temple today is the church, we must be careful lest we defile it as well (cf. 1Co 3:16-17)

[The Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel be supported (1 Col 9:14). But He is angered by those who view the Lord’s temple
(people) as a way to get rich. Next, we note that His anger was
prompted by…]

II. THE ZEAL OF THE LORD

A. ZEAL FOR HIS FATHER’S HOUSE…
1. The disciples were reminded of an Old Testament prophecy – Jn 2:17; cf. Ps 69:9
2. Jesus had zeal (fervor) for God’s house, for it’s intended
purpose (a house of prayer)
– His great zeal for His Father’s house moved Him to action

B. HOW IS OUR ZEAL FOR THE LORD’S HOUSE…?
1. Remember, today the Father’s house is the church – cf. 1 Ti 3:15
2. Do we have great zeal for the church?
a. That it fulfill it’s intended purpose (to make known God’s
will)? – cf. Ep 3:10-11
b. That we are troubled when we see people try to turn it into
something else, such as social club, or a purveyor of
entertainment?
– If we have zeal for the Lord’s house, we will not rest silent when others pervert its purpose

[Of course, the action we take may not be the same as what Jesus did.
Indeed, He took up „a whip of cords.” What right did He have to use
such a display of force? That’s what the Jews wanted to know…]

III. THE AUTHORITY OF THE LORD

A. THE SIGN THAT PROVES HIS AUTHORITY…
1. They wanted to know what sign (miracle) He could offer to prove
His right to cleanse the temple – Jn 2:18
2. Jesus offered His ability to rise from the dead as the ultimate
proof – Jn 2:19-22
a. Later, He would restate His claim to have this ability – Jn 10:17-18
b. His resurrection proved that He was the Son of God – cf. Ro 1:4
– He has been given the authority to exercise such judgment as cleansing the temple – cf. Jn 5:22,26-27

B. WE DO NOT HAVE THE SAME AUTHORITY…
1. We are to judge with righteous judgment – Jn 7:24
a. At times we must distinguish between „hogs” and „dogs” – Mt 7:6
b. We can distinguish between good and bad fruit – Mt 7:15-20
2. But our authority to judge is limited – Mt 7:1-5
a. There are things we cannot judge in this life – 1Co 4:3-5
b. There are people we are not to judge – 1Co 5:11-13
c. Vengeance in particular belongs to the Lord – cf. Ro 12: 17-19
– While Jesus is our example (cf. 1Pe 2:21), there are some „steps” that He took that we cannot take

[The reason we cannot emulate the Lord in every case becomes evident as we consider…]

IV. THE POWER OF THE LORD

A. THE POWER THAT JUSTIFIES HIS ACTION…
1. John mentions how many came to believe in Him because of His
signs – Jn 2:23
2. John also makes note of His unwillingness to commit Himself to
others at this time
a. He had no need to, because he knew all – Jn 2:24
b. He had no need to, because he knew what was in man – Jn 2:25
– Jesus is revealed as one who can discern the hearts of men – cf. Mt 9:4; Re 2:23

B. WE DO NOT HAVE THE SAME POWER…
1. We cannot discern the hearts of men like the Lord can; note
these comments:
a. „Our Lord knew all men, their nature, dispositions,
affections, designs, so as we do not know any man, not even
ourselves.”
b. „He knows his crafty enemies, and all their secret projects;
his false friends, and their true characters.”
c. „He knows who are truly his, knows their uprightness, and
knows their weaknesses.”
d. „We know what is done by men; Christ knows what is in them,
he tries the heart.”
– Matthew Henry Commentary
2. Since we cannot read the hearts of men, we must be careful
a. We are unable to always know the motives of others
b. We must approach those in opposition with humility – cf.
2Ti 2:24-26
c. We must approach brethren overtaken in a fault with
gentleness – cf. Ga 6:1

CONCLUSION

1. In contending for the faith (which is a solemn duty, Jude 3)…
a. Some often use the example of Jesus cleansing the temple to
justify their behavior
b. As they lash out in anger (righteous indignation?) towards those
teaching error

2. Is it right to appeal to Jesus’ example in this case…?
a. Can we appeal to every example of Jesus?
b. If so, are we justified to use a whip of cords as well?

3. The immediate context offers reasons to answer carefully…
a. Jesus possessed unlimited authority to judge man, proven by His
resurrection from the dead
b. Jesus possessed divine power to read the hearts of men, we
sometimes cannot even discern our own hearts

4. There are times for righteous indignation…
a. But some things must be left to the Lord, the righteous Judge
b. We must avoid what might actually be „self-righteous” indignation!

While we may not always be able to emulate the Lord’s prerogative to judge, we should certainly strive to copy His zeal for His Father’s house. Is our zeal for His church what it ought to be…?

View Jesus’ path in events from Passion week with Google maps

Jesus's Passion week google mapsFor easy access to this page year round, you will always find it on the right sidebar of the blog when you click on the picture immediately to the right-

This post contains Biblical material on each day of the week, beginning with Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, featuring each day’s events as written in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It features all of the content (articles) which will also be posted daily in correspondence with the day of the week each event took place in the Bible for the Passion Week. This is material I have gathered in the last few years that comments on the blessed events of Passion Week, and I pray that you will be blessed reading and meditating on the facts that took place in the most important week in the course of human history!!! As you read it, may the desire in your heart burn to know Christ better and to love Him more!!!

Displaying content from www.esv.org, Crossway,Craig Blomberg,ESV,Justin Taylor.

Click on the red balloons to open description of day and event for that day.  You can also scroll in closer using the + key and scroll to East, West, North and South using the arrows.

If you want to move around on the map-click and hold mouse key down and drag in the direction you want to go.
If you run into trouble and lose the red balloons playing with the map, just refresh your page.

Passion Week

C. Monday- Cleansing the Temple (click for story)

On the way back to Jerusalem Jesus curses the fig tree.

When he arrives in Jerusalem, he cleanses the temple (though it’s debated, this is likely the area of the Royal Stoa, described by Josephus in Antiquitites 15.411–415, which ran the length of the southern wall of the Temple Mount).

Jesus then did miracles in the temple and received challenges from the Jewish leaders and astonishment from the crowd.

In the evening Jesus and the twelve return to Bethany.

D. Tuesday: Olivet discourse   (click here for story)

On the way back to Jerusalem in the morning the disciples see the withered fig tree.

In Jerusalem there are more temple controversies, and then Jesus delivers the Olivet Discourse on the return back to Bethany.

F. Thursday: The Last Supper (click for story here)

On Thursday evening in an upper room in Jerusalem, Jesus and his 12 disciples eat the Passover meal. They likely reclined on couches arranged in a square-shaped U, with Judas on Jesus’ left and John on his right. With four cups of wine, a part of Ex. 6:6–7a would have been recited, along with singing from Psalms 113–118.

Jesus institutes the Last Supper and indicates that Judas will betray him. Jesus washes his disciples’ feet during their time together and delivers the upper room discourse, which includes teaching them how to pray. Jesus predicts but Peter denies that he will deny Jesus.

They sing a hymn and head for the Mount of Olives.

G. Thursday: Ghetsemane

While in the Garden of Gethsemane (on the western slopes of Olivet, northeast of the temple across the Kidron Valley), the disciples sleep as Jesus prays in anguished submission to his Father about drinking the cup of his wrath.

Perhaps after midnight (hence early Friday morning), Jesus is betrayed by Judas with a kiss, and arrested by a band of soldiers, their captain, and the officers of the Jews. With his sword, Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus (servant of the high priest), but Jesus heals his ear. The disciples flee.

H.Friday: Jesus before Anas and Caiaphas, Peter denies Jesus (click for story here)

Jesus is taken for an informal hearing before Annas. (Annas served as high priest from A.D. 6–15; his son-in-law, Caiaphas, was high priest from A.D. 18–37.) Archaeologists have uncovered what would have been a two-level, 6,500 square foot mansion in the Upper City, which may have been Annas’ residence and may be the site of this initial hearing. The apostle John is able to enter the court with Jesus; Peter stays outside.

Annas binds Jesus and sends him to stand before Caiaphas and some members of the Sanhedrin Council, where he is mocked and beaten. They render him guilty of blasphemy. Then the Jewish portion of his trial concludes with Jesus bound before the full Sanhedrin, perhaps after or through sunrise.

I. Friday: Jesus before Pilate

Jesus’ Roman trial begins as he is delivered over to stand before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the province Iudaea from A.D. 26–36. Pilate normally resided in Caesarea Maritima, but was in Jerusalem for the Passover. During his stays in Jerusalem, he would reside in “Herod’s Palace,” which had been the Jerusalem home of Herod the Great from 24–4 B.C.

J. Friday: Jesus before Herod

Upon learning that Jesus was a Galilean (and hence under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas [“Herod the Tetrarch”]), Pilate sent Jesus to stand before Herod, who lived in the Hasmonean Palace during his reign from 4 B.C.–A.D. 39. Herod questioned Jesus, and the chief priests and scribes accused him, but Jesus did not answer. They therefore responded with contempt and mockery, arraying him in splendid clothing and returning him to Pilate.

K. Friday: Jesus before Pilate, flogged

The Praetorium, a raised stone pavement used for official judgments, stood outside Herod’s Palace and was the site of Jesus’ condemnation under Pilate. The crowd urged Pilate to crucify Jesus and to free the insurrectionist/terrorist Barabbas instead.

Jesus is flogged by a metal-tipped rope that caused gaping wounds in the flesh and the muscles. (For medical details on the physical sufferings of Jesus, see this 1986 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association [PDF].) Jesus was then stripped and mockingly dressed in a scarlet robe and made to wear a crown of thorns and given a reed as a scepter (with which they hit him on the head). They then stripped the robe and put his clothes back on him.

L. Friday: Simon of Cyrene caries Jesus’ cross

Probably passing through the Gennath (Garden) Gate, Jesus is unable to carry the cross, and Simon from Cyrene is recruited to carry it for him.

M. Friday: Jesus crucified

Jesus is led to the hill of Golgotha overlooking a quarry (most likely at the present-day site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre).

There, between approximately 9AM and 3PM, Jesus is crucified between two insurrectionists. He was offered (but refused to drink) wine mixed with gall. His clothes were divided among the soldiers by lot. He was mocked by the insurrectionists being crucified on either side of him, by Pilate’s sign above his head (identifying him as “King of the Jews”), by those passing by, and by the Jewish rulers.

From noon until 3 pm there was darkness over the land.

His last seven words were: (1) Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (2) [To one of the insurrectionists] Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. (3) [To the beloved disciple (John) concerning Mary] Behold, your mother! (4) “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (5) I thirst. (6) It is finished. (7) Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!

As Jesus died, an earthquake opened up tombs causing the dead to raise to life. A centurion filled with awe exclaimed that Jesus truly was the innocent Son of God.

To ensure death, the legs of the two insurrectionists were broken, but a soldier instead pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, pouring forth blood and water.

N. Friday: Tearing of the Temple curtain

As Jesus died, the massive curtain in Herod’s Temple, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (where the priest could enter only once a year on the Day of Atonement) was torn in two. An earthquake opened up tombs causing the dead to raise to life. At Golgotha, a centurion filled with awe exclaimed that Jesus truly was the innocent Son of God.

O. Friday: Jesus buried

Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin and a secret disciple of Jesus, requested and received permission from Pilate to have the body. Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus’ body in a clean linen shroud along with 75 pounds of myrrh and aloe. That evening they buried Jesus in Joseph’s newly hewn, unused rock tomb located in a garden near Golgotha. They rolled a massive stone over the entrance.

P. Saturday: Pilate orders tomb sealed

On the Sabbath, at the suggestion of the chief priests and the Pharisees, Pilate orders the tomb sealed and a guard to stand watch over the tomb until Sunday.

Q. Jesus’ resurrection (click for stories here)

(The following is based on a helpful harmonization by Craig Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels, pp. 354–355.)

Near dawn on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome head to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, with Mary Magdalene perhaps arriving first. They encounter two angels dressed in dazzling white, one of whom announces Jesus’ resurrection. Fearful and joyful, they are silent but then decide to report back to the other disciples; Mary Magdalene may have run ahead, telling Peter and John before the other women get there.

Jesus meets the other women heading back to the disciples and encourages them to tell them the others and to remind them that he’ll meet them in Galilee. Meanwhile Peter and John arrive at the tomb, discovering it to be empty. After they leave, Mary Magdalene returns to the tomb, seeing the angels and then Jesus (whom she thinks at first is a gardener).

That afternoon Jesus appears to Cleopas and another man on the road to Emmaus, and then (separately) to Peter. On Sunday evening Jesus appears to the 10 disciples (minus Judas and Thomas) behind locked doors in Jerusalem.

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B. Palm Sunday – (3/3) Jesus Declares His Kingship

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Matthew 21:1-17

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 „If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 „SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.'” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, „Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” 10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, „Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, „This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, „It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, „Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, „Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

What I would like to do this morning is help you hear Jesus’ own declaration of his kingship. I want you to see from Matthew 21:1-17 how Jesus says, „I am your king.” And I would like to do it in a way that makes sure you see the nature of his kingship now and the different nature of his kingship when he comes a second time. And I want you to see and feel the difference because the nature of Jesus’ kingship now is creating a season of salvation in world history during which you can still switch sides and be saved from his wrath and judgment. There is still time – even now this morning – when you can accept the amnesty that King Jesus holds out to you, and renounce your allegiance to self and success and money and family and physical pleasure and security – and whatever else rules you more than Jesus. And you can bow and receive Christ as your King and swear allegiance to him, and be on his side with everlasting joy.

The Kingship of Jesus Will Look Different Than It Does Now

To help you feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history – and yes I say brief, though it has lasted 2000 years; compared to how long we will exist in heaven or hell, it is very brief – to feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history consider that the day is coming, and perhaps soon, when the kingship of Jesus will very different than it is now. Here is a description of that kingship, as John saw it in the last book of the Bible:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, „KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

When the kingship of Jesus appears in the skies like that, it will be too late to switch sides. „Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation'” (2 Corinthians 6:2). I believe that is what Matthew is trying to say to us this morning in the way Jesus proclaims his kingship in Matthew 21:1-17. What he wants us to hear – what Jesus wants us to see – is that, yes, he is king, yes his kingship is not provincial or tribal or national, but international and global and universal. But it is for now meek, lowly, welcoming, seeking, forgiving, patient. He will, in a matter of days, shed his own blood to save all who will accept his free gift of amnesty and come over to his side. And until he comes again this is the wonder of his kingship. It saves sinners.

So let’s watch him make this declaration. I just want you to see him. I want you to hear him. Rivet your attention on Jesus this morning. He will win you. He will heal you. He will save you.

There are four ways that Jesus declares his kingship in this triumphal entry. All of them are Jewish. He was a Jew, and he was fulfilling Jewish promises of a coming king and Messiah. But all them are bigger than Jewish. Remember this gospel is going to end in chapter 28 with the words, „All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus knows that he is the king over all nations, not just Israel.

So let’s listen and watch as he declares himself King of the Jews and King of the nations.

1. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Riding on a Donkey (Zech. 9:9)

First, notice Matthew 21:1-5. Jesus sends two of his disciples to get a donkey. Verse 2: „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me.” Why? What is he doing? Why does he want a ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Never before has he done such a thing. Matthew tells us why in verses 4-5, „This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion [that is, to Israel], „Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”‘”

This is a quote from the prophet Zechariah (9:9). Jesus has chosen to act out the fulfillment of this prophecy and to declare his kingship in the action of riding on a donkey. This means, yes, I am king, for that’s what the prophet says it means: „Behold your king.” „But,” he is saying, „I am gentle and lowly. I am not, in my first coming, on a white war-horse with a sword and a rod of iron. I am not coming to slay you. I am coming to save you. This time. Today is the day of salvation.

But is he only coming for the „daughter of Zion,” Israel? Listen to the context in Zechariah 9:9-10 – and Jesus knew the context –

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion [his kingship] will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.

That’s declaration number one. Jesus very intentionally acts out the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 and declares his humble, gentile, saving, Jewish and global kingship. And invites you to receive it.

2. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Cleansing the Temple (Isa. 56:7)

Second, in verses 12-13 Jesus acts out another Old Testament text. It says he „entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” Don’t think that this meek, gentle, lowly Savior-King was without passion for his Father’s glory!

Then to explain what he is doing he quotes Isaiah 56:7. Verse 13: „And He said to them, ‘It is written, „My house shall be called a house of prayer;” but you are making it a robbers’ den.'” There are two things that make this action and this Old Testament quote so significant. One is that the context in Isaiah is about the coming kingdom of God, and so Jesus is putting himself in the position of the coming king. And the other is that the context is global, not just Jewish. Listen to Isaiah 56:6-8.

Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord. . . 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. . . . For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, „Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”

So when Jesus chooses a prophetic word to interpret his action in the temple, he chooses one that underlines his coming on a donkey as king and the fact that his kingship is „for all the peoples.” It’s for you this morning. He is jealous to open his Father’s house to you for prayer.

3. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Healing (Isa. 35:4-6)

Third, in verse 14 it says, „And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Imagine what an impact this must have had. We are talking about the most public place in the city – the temple. We are talking about blind people, and people who can’t walk – lame, paralyzed people. Not people with headaches and sore throats. This was a public demonstration of something. What?

We’ve already been told at least once. When John the Baptist was in jail he sent and asked Jesus, „Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” In other words, are you the coming king of Israel, the Messiah? And Jesus sent this word back to John in Matthew 11:4-5, „Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk.” In other words, „Yes. I am the coming king.”

Why? Why does the healing of the blind and the lame in the temple after coming into Jerusalem on a donkey mean: I am the coming king? Because in Isaiah 35 the prophet describes the coming kingship of the Messiah like this: ” Take courage, fear not. . . . The recompense of God will come, But He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened. And . . . Then the lame will leap like a deer” (35:4-6).

Jesus comes on a donkey, lowly and gentle and patient; he comes cleansing his Father’s house to make it a house of prayer for all the nations; he comes healing the blind and the lame – all to show what his kingship is now in part, and will be fully in the age to come. It is not just a kingship over other kings, but over disease and all nature. We will not just be safe and sick when he comes. We will be safe and whole – absolutely whole. Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Trust him. Receive his amnesty. Become his subject.

4. Jesus Declares His Kingship by His Response to Children (Psa. 8)

Finally, Jesus declares his kingship by the way he responds to what the people and the children are doing and saying. In verse 8 the crowds are spreading their cloaks on the road in front of him. This is what they did when kings were crowned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 9:13). In verse 9 the crowds were shouting, „Hosanna [salvation!] to the Son of David [the hoped for king like David]; ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (These are words from Psalm 118:25-26.)

Then in verse 15 the children were shouting the same things: „Hosanna to the Son of David.” In other words, „The king is here, the king is here!” But the chief priests became angry. So they said in verse 16, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” Now I think they could just as easily have said, „Did you hear what those crowds said? Did you see what they were doing when they put their cloaks on the ground?” They can’t believe Jesus is letting all this stand unchallenged.

Jesus answers their question with one simple word. And then an absolutely astonishing quote from Psalm 8. They say, „Do you hear what these children are saying?” And he answers in verse 16b, „Yes.” „Yes, I do. I not only hear it. I planned it. And I receive it. I would gladly receive it from you. And he would gladly receive it from us!”

Then, he ends this section by quoting Psalm 8, „Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” What is so astonishing about this is that it refers to God. „O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength [or: praise] Because of Your adversaries.” Don’t miss this. Jesus receives the praises of little children and then explains it by quoting a psalm where children are praising God.

The King Has Come and Is Coming

So here is the concluding declaration and invitation: Jesus came the first time, and he is coming again, as the king over all kings. King of Israel, king of all the nations, king of nature and the universe. Until he comes again, there is a day of amnesty and forgiveness and patience. He still rides a donkey and not yet a white war-horse with a rod of iron. He is ready to save all who receive him as Savior and Treasure and King. Come to him. Know him. Receive him. Live your life in allegiance to him.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

B. Palm Sunday – (2/3) He (Jesus) set His face to go to Jerusalem! Palm Sunday

from Desiring God. You can listen to the audio for this John Piper sermon here.

Luke 9:51-56

Luke describes the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem at the beginning of that last week of his earthly life:

As he was drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! (Luke 19:37, 38)

Palm Sunday: Today and To Come

There is no doubt what was in the disciples’ minds. This was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy given centuries earlier:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:9, 10)

The long-awaited Messiah had come, the king of Israel, and not just of Israel but of all the earth. Jerusalem would be his capital city. From here he would rule the world in peace and righteousness. What a day this was! How their hearts must have pounded in their chests! And must not their hands have been sweaty like warriors in readiness just before the bugle sounds the battle! How would he do it? Would he whip up the enthusiastic crowds and storm the Roman praetorium—a people’s revolution? Or would he call down fire from heaven to consume the enemies of God? Would any of his followers be lost in the struggle? The tension of the moment must have been tremendous!

The Pharisees had a double reason for wanting this kind of welcome silenced. On the one hand, this Jesus was a threat to their authority, and they envied his popularity (Mark 15:10). On the other hand, they feared a Roman backlash to all this seditious talk of another king (John 11:48). Therefore they say to Jesus, „‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ But he answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out!”‘ (Luke 19:39, 40). No, he will not rebuke them for this. Not now. The hour has come. The authority of the Pharisees is done for. If the Romans come, they come. He will not silence the truth any longer. To be sure the disciples’ understanding of Jesus’ kingship at this point is flawed. But hastening events will correct that soon enough. In essence they are correct. Jesus is the king of Israel, and the kingdom he is inaugurating will bring peace to all the nations and spread from sea to sea. The book of Revelation pictures the final fulfillment of Palm Sunday in the age to come like this:

I looked and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, „Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9, 10)

The entry into Jerusalem with waving palms (John 12:13) was a short-lived preview of the eternal Palm Sunday to come. It needed to be said. If the disciples hadn’t said it, the rocks would have.

I like to think of all our worship in this age as rehearsal for the age to come. One day we, who by God’s grace have been faithful to the Lord, are going to stand with innumerable millions of believers from Bangladesh, Poland, Egypt, Australia, Iceland, Cameroon, Ecuador, Burma, Borneo, Japan, and thousands of tribes and peoples and languages purified by Christ, with palms of praise in our hand. And when we raise them in salute to Christ, he will see an almost endless field of green, shimmering with life and pulsating with praise. And then like the sound of a thousand Russian choruses, we will sing our song of salvation, while the mighty Christ, with heartfelt love, looks out over those whom he bought with his own blood.

Had Jesus taken his throne on that first day of palms, none of us would ever be robed in white or waving palms of praise in the age to come. There had to be the cross, and that is what the disciples had not yet understood. Back in Luke 9, as Jesus prepared to set out for Jerusalem from Galilee, he tried to explain this to his disciples. In verse 22 he said, „The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And in verse 44 he told them, „Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” But verse 45 tells us, „They did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” Therefore, their understanding of Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem was flawed. They saw him as a king moving in to take control. And he was. But they could not grasp that the victory Jesus would win in Jerusalem over sin and Satan and death and all the enemies of righteousness and joy—that this victory would be won through his own horrible suffering and death; and that the kingdom which they thought would be established immediately (Luke 19:11) would, in fact, be thousands of years in coming. And their misunderstanding of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem results in a misunderstanding of the meaning of discipleship. This is why this is important for us to see, lest we make the same mistake.

Jesus’ Resolution to Die

In Luke 9:51–56 we learn how not to understand Palm Sunday. Let’s look at it together. „When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” To set his face towards Jerusalem meant something very different for Jesus than it did for the disciples. You can see the visions of greatness that danced in their heads in verse 46: „An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.” Jerusalem and glory were just around the corner. O what it would mean when Jesus took the throne! But Jesus had another vision in his head. One wonders how he carried it all alone and so long. Here’s what Jerusalem meant for Jesus: „I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem”(Luke 13:33). Jerusalem meant one thing for Jesus: certain death. Nor was he under any illusions of a quick and heroic death. He predicted in Luke 18:31f., „Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; they will scourge him and kill him.” When Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, he set his face to die.

Remember, when you think of Jesus’ resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do. He would have enjoyed marriage and children and grandchildren and a long life and esteem in the community. He had a mother and brothers and sisters. He had special places in the mountains. To turn his back on all this and set his face towards vicious whipping and beating and spitting and mocking and crucifixion was not easy. It was hard. O how we need to use our imagination to put ourselves back into his place and feel what he felt. I don’t know of any other way for us to begin to know how much he loved us. „Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

If we were to look at Jesus’ death merely as a result of a betrayer’s deceit and the Sanhedrin’s envy and Pilate’s spinelessness and the soldiers’ nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. And the benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe from this death might be viewed as God’s way of making a virtue out of a necessity. But once you read Luke 9:51 all such thoughts vanish. Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of his death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us and appointed a time. Jesus, who was the very embodiment of his Father’s love for sinners, saw that the time had come and set his face to fulfill his mission: to die in Jerusalem for our sake. „No one takes my life from me (he said), but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).

Jesus’ Journey Is Our Journey

So Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, and it says in the text that „he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but the people would not receive him because his face was set toward Jerusalem.” It doesn’t really matter whether this rejection is just because Jesus and his companions are Jews and Samaritans hate Jews, or whether the rejection is a more personal rejection of Jesus as the Messiah on his way to reign in Jerusalem. What matters for the story is simply that Jesus is already being rejected, and then the focus shifts to the disciples’ response, specifically the response of James and John.

James and John ask Jesus, „Lord, do you want us to bid fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (verse 54). Jesus had already named these brothers „sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). Here we get a glimpse of why. I take this passage very personally because my father named me after one of these sons of thunder. And I think I probably would have said what John did here: „Jesus, we are on the way to victory. Nothing can stop us now. Let the fire fall! Let the judgment begin! O, how Jerusalem will tremble when they see us coming!” Jesus turns, the text says, and rebuked them (verse 55). And they simply went to another town.

Now what does this mean? It means, first of all, that a mistaken view of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem can lead to a mistaken view of discipleship. If Jesus had come to execute judgment and take up an earthly rule, then it would make sense for the sons of thunder to begin the judgment when the final siege of the Holy City starts. But if Jesus had come not to judge but to save, then a radically different form of discipleship is in order. Here is a question put to every believer by this text: does discipleship mean deploying God’s missiles against the enemy in righteous indignation? Or does discipleship mean following him on the Calvary road which leads to suffering and death? The answer of the whole New Testament is this: the surprise about Jesus the Messiah is that he came to live a life of sacrificial, dying service before he comes a second time to reign in glory. And the surprise about discipleship is that it demands a life of sacrificial, dying service before we can reign with Christ in glory.

What James and John had to learn—what we all must learn—is that Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is our journey, and if he set his face to go there and die, we must set our face to die with him. One might be tempted to reason in just the opposite way: that since Jesus suffered so much and died in our place, therefore, we are free to go straight to the head of the class, as it were, and skip all the exams. He suffered so we could have comfort. He died so we could live. He bore abuse so we could be esteemed. He gave up the treasures of heaven so we could lay up treasures on earth. He brought the kingdom and paid for our entrance and now we live in it with all its earthly privileges. But all this is not biblical reasoning. It goes against the plain teaching in this very context. Luke 9:23, 24 reads: „If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” When Jesus set his face to walk the Calvary road, he was not merely taking our place; he was setting our pattern. He is substitute and pacesetter. If we seek to secure our life through returning evil for evil or surrounding ourselves with luxury in the face of human need, we will lose our life. We can save our life only if we follow Christ on the Calvary road. Jesus died to save us from the power and punishment of sin, not from the suffering and sacrifices of simplicity for love’s sake.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

B. Palm Sunday – (1/3) Tears of Sovereign Mercy

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Luke 19:28-44

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, „Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, „Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, „The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, „Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, „I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, „Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Before we get back to Romans 9 the Sunday after Easter, I wanted to preach a message that is partly an overflow of one of the books I worked on during the writing leave. (It will probably be called Don’t Waste Your Life.) Actually, this message is the overflow of more than the book.

  • It’s the overflow of conversations with John Erickson about his vision for ministry in the city.
  • It’s the overflow of conversations with my son Benjamin about what it means to be a merciful person on the street.
  • It’s the overflow of reading Timothy Keller’s book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road.
  • It’s the overflow of the seminar I did on Prayer, Meditation, and Fasting a few weeks ago, as I pondered what it really means to enjoy fellowship with Jesus and anticipate meeting him face to face very shortly and giving an account of the way I have thought, for example, about giving to people who ask for money. I remember, specifically, in one of those hours asking the class: Suppose you die and you’re standing before Jesus Christ, who surrendered his body to spitting and shame and torture and death so that undeserving sinners (like you and me) might be drawn into eternal joy, and he inquires how you handled the people who asked you for money – you know, panhandlers, beggars, street people, drunks, drifters. What would you say?I suggested to them, and I suggest to you now, you’re not going to feel very good about saying, „I never got taken advantage of. I saw through their schemes. I developed really shrewd counter-questions that would expose them. So I hardly ever had to give anything.” Do you know what I think the Lord Jesus is going to say to that – the Lord Jesus, the consummately, willingly, savingly abused and exploited Jesus? I think he is going to say, „That was an exquisite imitation of the world. Even sinners give to those who deserve to be given to. Even sinners pride themselves on not being taken advantage of.” Well this message is a spillover of some of those thoughts.
  • And it’s a spillover of a conversation that Noël and I had at Annie’s Parlor a little over a week ago as we assessed our lives how we wanted the next ten years to look – if God gives us ten – in regard to practical deeds mercy. What do we want Talitha to see in the city? What kind of Jesus do we want her to see living through us in Philips neighborhood on 11th Avenue? Do we want her to remember someday when we are gone: my folks were shrewd? Or do we want her to remember: My folks were merciful?

Palm Sunday: An Event of Insight and Misunderstanding

Well, that’s what led me to choose this text for Palm Sunday. It’s a Palm Sunday text. Palm Sunday is the day in the church year when traditionally we mark the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last week of his life. It’s an event of great insight and great misunderstanding. The great insight was that this Jesus really is „the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). He was the Messiah, the Son of David, the long-awaited Ruler of Israel, the fulfillment of all God’s promises. But the great misunderstanding was that he would enter Jerusalem and by his mighty works, take his throne and make Israel free from Rome.

It wasn’t going to be that way: he would take his throne but it would be through voluntary suffering and death and resurrection. The first sermon Peter preached after the resurrection comes to an end with the words, „This Jesus God raised up” so that he was „exalted at the right hand of God” (Acts 2:32-33). And the apostle Paul says that he is now King: „He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25; see Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1).

So Palm Sunday was a day of insight and a day of misunderstanding. The insight gave joy, and the misunderstanding brought about destruction – the murder of Jesus a few days later, and the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later. And Jesus saw it all coming.

And what I want to focus on this morning is Jesus’ response to this blindness and hostility that he was about to meet in Jerusalem. Indeed, he met it already in this very text. The crowds were crying out in verse 38, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” But in the very next verse it says, „Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples’” (Luke 19:39).

So Jesus knew what was about to happen. The Pharisees were going to get the upper hand. The people would be fickle and follow their leaders. And Jesus would be rejected and crucified. And within a generation the city would be obliterated. Look how Jesus says it in verses 43-44:

For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

God had visited them in his Son, Jesus Christ – „he came to his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). They did not know the time of their visitation. So they stumbled over the stumbling stone. The builders rejected the stone and threw it away. Jesus saw this sin and this rebellion and this blindness coming. How did he respond? Verse 41-42: „And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’” Jesus wept over the blindness and the impending misery of Jerusalem.

How would you describe these tears? You can see from the title of this message that I call them, „Palm Sunday Tears of Sovereign Mercy.” The effect that I pray this will have on us is, first, to make us admire Christ, and treasure him above all others and worship him as our merciful Sovereign; and, second, that seeing the beauty of his mercy, we become merciful with him and like him and because of him and for his glory. (Photo below via

Admiring Christ’s Merciful Sovereignty and Sovereign Mercy

First, then let’s admire Christ together. What makes Christ so admirable, and so different than all other persons – what sets him apart as unique and inimitable – matchless, peerless – is that he unites in himself so many qualities that in other people are contrary to each other. That’s why I put together the words „sovereign” and „merciful.” We can imagine supreme sovereignty, and we can imagine tenderhearted mercy. But who do we look to combine in perfect proportion merciful sovereignty and sovereign mercy? We look to Jesus. No other religious or political contender even comes close.

Look at three pointers in this text to his sovereignty. First, verse 37: „As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.” Jesus had made a name for himself as the worker of miracles, and they remembered them. He had healed leprosy with a touch; he had made the blind see and the deaf hear and the lame walk; he had commanded the unclean spirits and they obeyed him; he had stilled storms and walked on water and turned five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands. So as he entered Jerusalem, they knew nothing could stop him. He could just speak and Pilate would perish; the Romans would be scattered. He was sovereign.

Then look, secondly, at verse 38. The crowds cried out: „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Jesus was a King, and not just any king, but the one sent and appointed by the Lord God. They knew how Isaiah had described him:

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

A universal, never-ending kingdom backed by the zeal of almighty God. Here was the King of the universe, who today rules over the nations and the galaxies, and for whom America and Iraq are a grain of sand and a vapor.

Third, verse 40. When the Pharisees tell him to make the people stop blessing him as a king, he answers, „I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). Why? Because he will be praised! The whole design of the universe is that Christ be praised. And therefore, if people won’t do it, he will see to it that rocks do it. In other words, he is sovereign. He will get what he means to get. If we refuse to praise, the rocks will get the joy.

It is remarkable, therefore, that the tears of Jesus in verse 41 are so often used to deny his sovereignty. Someone will say, „Look, he weeps over Jerusalem because his design for them, his will for them, is not coming to pass. He would delight in their salvation. But they are resistant. They are going to reject him. They are going to hand him over to be crucified.” And so his purpose for them has failed. But there is something not quite right about this objection to Jesus’ sovereignty.

He can make praise come from rocks. And so he could do the same from rock-hard hearts in Jerusalem. What’s more, all this rejection and persecution and killing of Jesus is not the failure of Jesus’ plan, but the fulfillment of it. Listen to what he said in Luke 18:31-33 a short time before:

And taking the twelve, he said to them, „See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written [planned!] about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

The betrayal, the mockery, the shame, the spit, the flogging, the murder – and so much more – was planned. In other words, the resistance, the rejection, the unbelief and hostility were not a surprise to Jesus. They were, in fact, part of the plan. He says so. This is probably why it says at the end of verse 42, „But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Remember what Jesus said about his parables back in Luke 8:10: „To you [disciples] it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” God was handing them over to hardness. It was judgment.

We have seen all this in Romans 9. The mercy of God is a sovereign mercy. „I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). But here is the point I want you to see today: This sovereign Christ weeps over heard-hearted, perishing Jerusalem as they fulfilled his plan. It is unbiblical and wrong to make the tears of mercy a contradiction to the serenity of sovereignty. Jesus was serene in sorrow, and sorrowful in sovereignty. Jesus’ tears are the tears of sovereign mercy.

And therefore his sovereign power is the more admirable and the more beautiful. It’s the harmony of things that seem in tension that makes him glorious: „Merciful and Mighty,” as we sing. We admire power more when it is merciful power. And we admire mercy more when it is mighty mercy. And, as I said, my prayer is that as you see his mercy and admire his mercy, you will become like him in his mercy.

There are at least three ways that Jesus is merciful, which we can draw out of this context. And I pray that I will become like him in all of these. I pray that you will too.

Jesus’ Mercy Is Tenderly Moved

First, Jesus’ mercy is tenderly moved. He feels the sorrow of the situation. This doesn’t mean his sovereign plan has wrecked on the rocks of human autonomy. It means that Jesus is more emotionally complex than we think he is. He really feels the sorrow of a situation. No doubt there is a deep inner peace that God is in control and that God’s wise purposes will come to pass. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cry.

In fact, on the contrary, I appeal to you here: pray that God would give you tears. There is so much pain in the world. So much suffering far from you and near you. Pray that God would help you be tenderly moved. When you die and stand before the Judge, Jesus Christ, and he asks you, „How did you feel about the suffering around you?” what will you say? I promise you, you will not feel good about saying, „I saw through to how a lot of people brought their suffering upon themselves by sin or foolishness.” You know what I think the Lord will say to that? I think he will say, „I didn’t ask you what you saw through. I asked you what you felt?” Jesus felt enough compassion for Jerusalem to weep. If you haven’t shed any tears for somebody’s losses but your own, it probably means you’re pretty wrapped up in yourself. So let’s repent of our hardness and ask God to give us a heart that is tenderly moved.

Jesus’ Mercy Was Self-Denying

Second, Jesus’ mercy was self-denying – not ultimately; there was great reward in the long run, but very painfully in the short run. This text is part of the story of Jesus’ moving intentionally toward suffering and death. Jesus is entering Jerusalem to die. He said so, „We are going up to Jerusalem . . . and the Son of Man will be delivered up . . . and they will kill him” (Luke 18:31-33). This is the meaning of self-denial. This is the way we follow Jesus. We see a need – for Jesus is was seeing the sin of the world, and broken bodies, and the misery of hell – and we move with Jesus, whatever it costs, toward need. We deny ourselves the comforts and the securities and the ease of avoiding other peoples’ pain. We embrace it. Jesus’ tears were not just the tender moving of his emotions. They were the tears of a man on his way toward need.

Jesus’ Mercy Intends to Help

That leads us to the third and last way Jesus is merciful. First, he is tenderly moved, second he is self-denying and moves toward need. Now third, he intends to help. Mercy if helpful. It doesn’t just feel – though it does feel – and it doesn’t just deny itself – though it does deny itself – it actually does things that help people. Jesus was dying in our place that we might be forgiven and have eternal life with him. That’s how he helped.

What will it be for you? How are you doing in ministries of mercy? How are you and your roommate, or your housemates, doing together? How is your family doing? (That’s what Noël and I asked at Annie’s Parlor.) What is tenderly moving you these days? Is there movement toward pain or suffering or misery or loss or sadness, that means denying yourself – in the short run – and multiplying your joy in the long run? And what help are you actually giving to those in need?

Two prayers: Oh, that we would see and savor the beauty of Christ – the Palm Sunday Tears of sovereign joy. And oh, that as we admire and worship him, we would be changed by what we see and become a more tenderly-moved, self-denying, need-meeting people.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

What implements have been made for the new Temple?

It is fascinating to watch, as the Jews in Israel await the coming of the Messiah. They have produced all of the utensils needed, in order to be able to serve in the Temple, according to the qualifications God had required in the First Temple period. The harp maker is very much looking forward to seeing King David. May the Lord open their eyes to see the true Messiah, that already came, and who showed us the Father, and through whom we have eternal life.

John 12:45 – „He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.

John 14:9 – Jesus answered: „Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 6:40 – For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

What Solomon’s Temple looked like

temple esv

http://www.esvstudybible.org/sb/objects/illustration-solomons-temple.html

For more photos and Historic Bible study from II Chronicles

click here – http://www.ccmanitowoc.org/Library

Almost two thousand years ago, after nearly two years of terrible seige, the brutally efficient legions of Rome destroyed Jerusalem and burned the Temple to the ground. Led by General Titus, the son of Emperor Vespasian, the Roman army completed its mission of destruction on the ninth day of Av (August) in A.D. 70.

The glorious temple, built by King Herod, was the second of the sacred temples to stand on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The First Temple had been built by King Solomon approximately 1000 B.C. and was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.. The Second Temple that was built by the Jews who returned to Jerusalem following the Babylonian Captivity in 536 B.C. remains in ruins today. However, exciting developments are taking place in Israel that will result in a Third Temple being built again on the ancient foundations that Solomon put in place nearly three thousand years ago. You and I are part of the prophetic generation that will live to see a Temple of God once again stand in Jerusalem, the spiritual crossroads o the world.

The rebuilding of the Temple has profound prophetic significance equal to the appearance of the Antichrist or the forming of the pagan armies to invade Israel in the coming Battle of Gog and Magog. Many students of biblical prophecy have debated the role that will be played by the Third Temple in end-times developments. But the scriptures make it clear that just before Christ returns, the Third Temple of God must stand once more on its original location on the Temple Mount.

Preparations to build the Third Temple have progressed on several fronts in recent years, with detailed plans and practical preparations that go far beyond the awareness of most people.   (Grant Jeffries)

Yeshua (Jesus) Kadosh (Holy) ! from Rodica on Vimeo.

The Temple at the time of Jesus

photo (more on site) from – http://www.katapi.org.uk

12 – Court of the Israelites

17 – Holy Place

19 – slaughtering place

20 – altar

21 – laver

22 – Court of the Priests

23 – porch

Illustration adapted from: 4. „The Lion Handbook to the Bible” ed: David & Pat Alexander (page 567). Lion Publishing. 1973.
Illustrations (1, 2 & 3) are of the 1/50th scale model by the late Prof. Avi Yonah of the Hebrew University, in the Holyland Hotel, Jerusalem. (4) is a model of the sacrificial area by Alex Gerrard.
Temple area today: „Picture Archive of the Bible,” ed: C Masom & P Alexander, Lion Publishing, 1987.
Solomon’s Stables: „Jerusalem – die lebendige stadt,” Armon, Jerusalem, 1969.

See more photos and descriptions here –  http://www.katapi.org.uk

Jerusalem – the making of a city

This is a BBC production that aired in Europe, thus you will hear the narrator giving equal footing to the 3 major religions and at one point stating that although Christians believe every word is inspired, the narrator being in the ‘historical thinking mode’ says some of the Bible is mythological. Putting aside this caveat, the video is an excellent and useful tool in learning the history of the city, while looking at the actual places being discussed. There is a chronological timeline of historic events, some taken from the Bible. And  the BBC’s cinematography is of course excellent, with some  rare footage, including a clip from the underground, 90 feet under the site of the Holy of Holies part of where Solomon’s temple once stood (in video part 1).

Part 1

From Antiquity to Constantine

Part 2

From Islam’s rise to the 13th Century

Part 3

The divided city – 13 th Century to Present

Archaeologists uncover a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David

Read also – Archaeologists Uncover Proof of Pre-Jesus Bethlehem at the Christian Post

Source www.biblicalarchaeology.org and Hebrew University – http://www.huji.ac.il

The exciting finds just keep coming at Khirbet Qeiyafa. This unique, fortified Judahite city on the border with Philistia had a short-lived existence between 1020 and 980 B.C.E., according to carbon-dated remains excavated at the site, that places it at the dawn of the Israelite Monarchy, the time of King Saul and King David. In 2008, excavation director Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem revealed an ostracon with five lines of early script that had been discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa. Among the earliest examples of alphabetic writing found in Israel, the enigmatic Qeiyafa Ostracon has been the focus of several articles in Biblical Archaeology Review, including two features in the May/June 2012 issue.

 Now even more fascinating finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa are shedding light on the crucial historical period of King David. Announced today at a press conference in Jerusalem, Garfinkel shared with the public for the first time several cultic items that were recently excavated from three “shrine rooms” at the site, including two portable shrine models, two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and five standing stones. According to Garfinkel and his codirector, Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, these finds offer the first clear archaeological evidence of cultic activity in Judah during the time of King David. The shrine models also show the existence of sophisticated royal architecture styles during that period and may shed light on design elements of Solomon’s Temple as described in the Bible.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Department of Media Relations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hebrew University archaeologist finds the first evidence of a cult in Judah at the time of King David, with implications for Solomon’s Temple

Jerusalem, May 8, 2012—Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced today the discovery of objects that for the first time shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David. During recent archaeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, Garfinkel and colleagues uncovered rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects. These include three large rooms that served as cultic shrines, which in their architecture and finds correspond to the biblical description of a cult at the time of King David.

This discovery is extraordinary as it is the first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered. Because these shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years, they provide the first physical evidence of a cult in the time of King David, with significant implications for the fields of archaeology, history, biblical and religion studies.

Located approximately 30 km. southwest of Jerusalem in the valley of Elah, Khirbet Qeiyafa was a border city of the Kingdom of Judah opposite the Philistine city of Gath. The city, which was dated by 10 radiometric measurements (14C) done at Oxford University on burned olive pits, existed for a short period of time between ca. 1020 to 980 BCE, and was violently destroyed.

The biblical tradition presents the people of Israel as conducting a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and an-iconic (banning human or animal figures). However, it is not clear when these practices were formulated, if indeed during the time of the monarchy (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras.

The absence of cultic images of humans or animals in the three shrines provides evidence that the inhabitants of the place practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines, observing a ban on graven images.

The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed in the days of the early kings of Israel. These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon.

According to Prof. Garfinkel, “This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong.” Garfinkel continued, “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans—on pork and on graven images—and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.”

Description of the findings and their significance

The three shrines are part of larger building complexes. In this respect they are different from Canaanite or Philistine cults, which were practiced in temples—separate buildings dedicated only to rituals. The biblical tradition described this phenomenon in the time of King David: “He brought the ark of God from a private house in Kyriat Yearim and put it in Jerusalem in a private house” (2 Samuel 6).

The cult objects include five standing stones (Massebot), two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and two portable shrines. No human or animal figurines were found, suggesting the people of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed the biblical ban on graven images.

Two portable shrines (or “shrine models”) were found, one made of pottery (ca. 20 cm high) and the other of stone (35 cm high). These are boxes in the shape of temples, and could be closed by doors.

The clay shrine is decorated with an elaborate façade, including two guardian lions, two pillars, a main door, beams of the roof, folded textile and three birds standing on the roof. Two of these elements are described in Solomon’s Temple: the two pillars (Yachin and Boaz) and the textile (Parochet).

The stone shrine is made of soft limestone and painted red. Its façade is decorated by two elements. The first are seven groups of roof-beams, three planks in each. This architectural element, the “triglyph,” is known in Greek classical temples, like the Parthenon in Athens. Its appearance at Khirbet Qeiyafa is the earliest known example carved in stone, a landmark in world architecture.

The second decorative element is the recessed door. This type of doors or windows is known in the architecture of temples, palaces and royal graves in the ancient Near East. This was a typical symbol of divinity and royalty at the time.

The stone model helps us to understand obscure technical terms in the description of Solomon’s palace as described in 1 Kings 7, 1-6. The text uses the term “Slaot,” which were mistakenly understood as pillars and can now be understood as triglyphs. The text also uses the term “Sequfim”, which was usually understood as nine windows in the palace, and can now be understood as “triple recessed doorway.”

Similar triglyphs and recessed doors can be found in the description of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6, Verses 5, 31-33, and in the description of a temple by the prophet Ezekiel (41:6). These biblical texts are replete with obscure technical terms that have lost their original meaning over the millennia. Now, with the help of the stone model uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the biblical text is clarified. For the first time in history we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible.
Source – http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/artifacts-and-the-bible/breaking-news—evidence-of-cultic-activity-in-judah-discovered-at-khirbet-qeiyafa/

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