Friday, September 23, 2011

Food for Thought

     The weeks go by so unbelievable fast here.  This past week we had a Benjamin field trip on Monday, which was amazing.  We drove from Yad Hashmonah (where we are staying), to Kiriat-jearim, to Emmaus (the administrative centor of the Aijalon Valley in N. T. times), to Gezer (the administrative center of the Aijalon Valley in O.T. times, it was also given to Solomon a part of a dowry with Pharaoh's daughter), to Beth Horon and the Valley of Aijalon (Josh 10 - the Amorites fled from the Israelites while God threw hailstones down and took them out), to Nebi Samwil (I Ki 3 and 2 Chron 1:1-13 - possibly the "High Place of Gibeon" where Solomon asked God for wisdom), to Gibeon (Joshua 9 - the Canaanite/Hivite inhabitants tricked Joshua into a peace treaty), to Gibeah of Saul (1 Sam 15:34 - Saul makes Gibeah the capital of the monarchy), to Ramah (home and burial of Samuel) to Geba - Michmash, The Pass (where Joshua crossed on his all night journey from Gilgal to Gibeon, Jonathan crawled across to fight the Philistines, and the Assyrian threat during Hezekiah's reign occurred), through the Judean Wilderness, and lastly to Jericho (Joshua 6 - the walls come down).  While we traveled to each location we drove on the main ridge routes  that Jesus and others would have taken.  I loved seeing the layout of the land and how close in proximity everything is to Jerusalem.  My favorite part continues to be reading the Bible and picturing the land that the event is actually taking place at - everything is coming together in the Bible and it only becomes more exciting everyday as I continue to understand and know more about the people, places, and events of the Bible.
     Well that was only Monday, luckily the rest of the week we just had classes; however my brain does feel overloaded with all the new material covered.  I thought I would share some things I learned in a few of the classes.  In History of Ancient Israel we were going over the Covenant God made with his people in Deuteronomy.  At the end we discussed the key ideas that are still applicable and makes you think.  1. Remember what God has done (Deut 6:10).  Remember what God has done in the past to give you confidence for the future.  Remember so that you don't abandon God (Deut 8).  This seems like a very basic, no brainer point but then I thought to myself how often do I abandon God?  2.  Tell others what God has done for you, specifically your children (Deut 6:20).  3. Serve the Lord according to His Rules!  This is the key theme in Deuteronomy and The 10 Commandments.  4. Heart - Obedience requires the right heart (Deut 6:5).  There are many things you can do for God or for others, but you must examine yourself and the motive behind doing it, do you have the right heart the right attitude. 5. Separate - how do you distinguish/separate yourselves from others.  Do you set an example and lead not only by your words, but your actions as well (Deut shall be holy because I am holy). 6. Divine initiative (Deut 7) God chose them, God chose you.  7/8.  Obedience brings blessings while disobedience brings consequences.   The following day we were discussing the Conquest and why scholars advocate different stories then what the Bible says.   Benj said something that really struck me, he said "Without the eyes of faith you should not expect somebody to adhere to the Bible."  So often I look at those that are lost and think how do you not know, it is so simple.  I have to remind myself that God has opened my eyes to the truth so I see that it is black and white.  Those that are lost couldn't be more blind to the faith.  I am reminded of how God has blessed me and the compassion I should show to the lost.  I pray that God would continue to open the eyes of the lost to see the truth as He has done for me.  On a different note, in my Israel in the Second Temple Period class we were discussing the Jew's return and going over the reflection and application.  We can learn several things from them:  1. The Jews were sensitive to God's leading.  The Lord talks to us today through the Bible, prayer, teaching, the Holy Spirit, and people.  The question is are you sensitive to God's leading?  The Lord can lead us in different ways, but the bottom line is are you sensitive to his leading?  2. The Jews were willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to accomplish God's will/purposes.  James 4:17 says "whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."  Do you feel God leading you one way, but you are hesitant to follow - Don't, trust him and take a leap of faith.  Is our God not big enough to handle all the minor and major details of our lives?  3. The Jews got distracted from serving the Lord and buried themselves with their own activities rather than Gods.  This one definitely hit me as I feel like I am so consumed with school, friends, the future, and life in general that God gets lost somewhere in the middle.  I must be careful not to get distracted and continually remind myself what is most important and that is my relationship with God.   4.  Lastly in the end the Jews obeyed God joyfully.  Do you serve God joyfully?  Well I wanted to share those with you as these are a few things God has been challenging me with.  I pray that He is challenging you daily and you continue to get to know your Lord.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Benjamin, Jerusalem, the Mediterranean....

In the last week I have been to Jerusalem twice, had classes, celebrated Shabbat (The Sabbath), went to the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv, gone on our Benjamin field trip, and had more classes.  The days seem to be flying by and all mixed together.  It is nonstop here.  I absolutely love it and still can't believe I am where Jesus was and will return to.  My absolute favorite part has been going to different locations, opening the Bible, and reading passages that talk about the location we are at.  Sometimes I don't fully grasp it till I get back on the bus and think oh my word, I was just at the spot where the Israelites conquered the Amorites, where the wall of Jericho fell, where Jesus was the night He prayed to the father let this cup pass over me, where Abraham Isaac and Jacob walked along the Road of the Patriarchs, where Jesus will one day split the Mount of Olives in two when he returns.  I feel like I am reading the Bible for the first time and it is amazing.  One huge thing I have been realizing is how huge the world is.  There are so many different ethnicities, cultures, and religions represented in Israel.  Sometimes I feel like Americans are so into themselves, especially in Las Angeles (Hollywood).  I don't think I fully realized how much is out there and how much I truly take for granted.  On Saturday while at the Mediterranean I and three others were able to witness to an Israeli named Ido.  His view on life was that we are gonna die eventually so while alive live life to its fullest.  He said if there is a heaven and a hell I will definitely go to hell, but I am fine with that.  There are so many who are lost because their eyes are closed to the truth.  Here I am continually reminded of how blessed I am that God chose me and opened my eyes to his truth.

Saturday we went to the beach - The Mediterranean Sea!  It was a wonderful day and very needed (we didn't do any homework)  I learned that the Mediterranean Sea is warm and salty.  

On Sunday we had a free day so we went exploring in New Jerusalem

At the top of this hill we looked out over Lower Beth Horon, the Beth Horon Ridge Route, and the Valley of Aijalon.  
 From the top we could see where the Amorites fled from the Israelites.  Large hailstones fell at the Ascent of Beth Horon and the moon stood still over the Valley of Aijalon - Joshua 10

On our way to look at the Wadi Suwenit and The Pass.  The Wadi Suwenit is a very steep canyon, there is only one way to cross and that is The Pass.  It is between the cities of Mickmash and Geba.  Joshua 10:1-5, 1 Sam 13:16-14:23, Isa 10:28-32, and 1 King 15:22 all mention The Pass. 

This is Rebecca and I and behind us is the city of Michmash.

The Wilderness

Behind us is the believed location of Jericho due to archaeology findings. (Joshua 6)

The Wadi Qilt

On our way back we stopped at a spring!  It was very refreshing as the day was very hot. 

Bus Buddies!

The following seven photos are photos that a fellow bio major took (Richard Dewey).  I have to say he is a really good photographer.  This photo is at the Southern end of Jerusalem overlooking the Hinom Valley and was where the Potsurd Gate was (Jeremiah 19).

In the Cemetery where Oscar Schindler was buried. 

This is a cave across from the Moshav (where we are staying in Yad Hashmona).  We hiked there during our first week in between classes.  I don't think we realized what we were in for.  We walked down a steep hill then up the other side.  The only problem was there was no trail and lots of thorny bushes.  Our legs were definitely scratched up after, but it was really fun. 

After class on Tuesday Kayla, Rebecca, and I decided to go try the winepress.  We picked some very old grapes and smashed them with our feet.  Isaiah 5:1-8, Matthew 21:33, Joel 3:13, Isaiah 63, and Rev 14:17 all mention winepresses.  Normally the winepress is a time of joy, but places in scripture use the winepress as a metaphor of the wrath that God will bring in the end times. 

Yeah for laundry!  Kayla and I did laundry for the first hang everything up to dry, so fun!

The following five photos Dewey took as well!  This photo we were overlooking Gibeah of Saul.

At the Pools of Bethesda in the Old City of Jerusalem

The City of David

Looking at Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

Friday, September 16, 2011

NT Model & Shrine of the Book & Jerusalem Walk -NT

           Tuesday late afternoon we headed off in towards Jerusalem to go to the Israel Museum.  When we first arrived we went to look at the model of Jerusalem as it was during the time of Jesus.  The model was laid out according to Josephus’s description.  I finally feel like I am understanding the lay out of Jerusalem with the Hinnom, Kidron, Central, and Transversal Valleys.  The model was extremely helpful as you could see the entirety of Jerusalem including the additions, such as Herods.   What was interesting was noting the monuments that existed back then and the ones that exist now.  For instance, near the Temple Mount Herod had built a fortress known as the Antonia fortress in honor of Mark Antony.  During the Roman conquest the Antonia fortress was completely destroyed in order to prevent further revolts from occurring.   Today the Omariya School is in its place.  After viewing the monument we went to see the Shrine of the book, which is the section in the Israel Museum that contains the history and artifacts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  In 1948 some Bedouins, who were most likely antiquity finders, discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Qumran caves.  Archaeologists came and excavated the caves.  They found over 800 different manuscripts in eleven caves.  The discovery was monumental.  Within the findings were the oldest Biblical Manuscripts that we have today, some dating back to 250BC to the Roman Conquest.  There were books from three different categories:  the Apocrypha, Sectarian, and ¼ Biblical.  It was an incredible/significant find since the oldest book on record only dated back to 1000AD.  All of the sudden there were Biblical texts before Jesus’ time. Every book of the Bible was represented except Esther. The fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and survived over thousands of years is only because of God. 
            Early Wednesday morning we once again headed to the Old City of Jerusalem.  Our first stop was The Temple Mount.  The Bible mentions the temple often.  In John 2 God comes and cleanses the temple.  The Sanhedrin asked him by what authority do you do this.  His response was destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it; the people were confused by this statement, but as events unfolded it was clear that Jesus was referring to the Temple of His body.  The purpose of coming to earth was not political but was to die.  He knew he came to die and without his death and resurrection the power of death would not have been broken.  Once on the Temple Mount the Dome of the Rock is clearly seen in its entirety.  It is covering some bedrock, which may be the place of the Holy of Holies.  The structures were originally built in 70 AD because of Islamic tension and have been refurbished over the years.  The Temple Mount used to be the place where God dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant.  Today God does not make himself known in a physical structure as he lives in us now.   From the Temple Mount we went and viewed the Western Wall, this is the closest the Jews can get to the temple.  After that we went to the Pools of Bethesda.  I really enjoyed seeing the Pools of Bethesda, as they were nothing I had imagined.  I feel like many of the places we have visited are different than what I thought.  I always picture the flannel board stories that I was taught in Sunday school.  One main reason I have loved being in Israel is that the Bible is coming to life; I can actually picture what I am reading about.  The Pools of Bethesda were quite impressive.  John 5:1-15 talks about the Pools as this is where Jesus healed a man, who had been lame for thirty-eight years, on the Sabbath.  From the Pools of Bethesda we walked along the eastern wall, down the Kidron Valley, and then up the Mount of Olives.  I am sure we were all glad to be to the top as it was quite the hill.  The view was incredible as we were able to look out over the Kidron Valley, the City of David, and Jerusalem.  While walking up the Mount of Olives I was picturing different events in the Bible that took place here as well as when Jesus comes back and splits the Mount in half.  Words cannot express what I am trying to say or felt.  All I know is it will be a moment like none other.  We then descended the Mount of Olives and headed to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Gethsemane means pressing the olives.  Hear Jesus was pressed while he prayed in the garden the night he was betrayed (Matthew 26).  The location today may not be the exact location, but extremely close.  While in the Garden scenes from the Bible just kept running through my head and I realized how little I made them when they are monumental. Being here, the place where Jesus prayed to his father for the cup to pass over him, the place where he was betrayed, the place where he healed the man’s ear; it brings me to my knees in aw of Jesus and all he did for me.  I am continually moved and must re-examine my heart and the respect I have actually given my God over the years.  Our last stop was the Garden Tomb.  Many believe this to be the place Jesus was crucified and buried; however it is most likely not.  In any case it doesn’t matter where it happened, but that it happened.   Jesus was led out of the city to a place called Golgotha, also known as Calvary. Here he was crucified, took my punishment, broke the power of sin, died, and rose again (Matthew 27-28).  We had some free time so I took the opportunity to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Johns’ accounts of the death/resurrection of Jesus.  Each day I am falling more in love with my Savior and am realizing the significance of who He is and how much he loves me. 

Photos from the last week

Our flight was delayed for 10hrs in Newark so we spent the night in the airport!

This is Amanda, she was my travel buddy from Newark to Tel Aviv!  It was really fun bonding time.

This is one of the churchs in Abu Gosh

The Market

I am on top of the Tower of David and looking Southwest

This is in a cave across from the Moshav we hiked to.

Rebecca and I, she is one all around girl!

This is at the traditional site of the Last Super

We were standing on the south steps of the Old Wall.  We were reading the Psalms of Ascent

The Kidron Valley and City of David

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Threshing Floor

A diagram of what Jerusalem would have looked like during Jesus's time.  

Our first meal outside of the Moshav at the Mevasseret Mall

Pools of Bethesda

My really good friend Kayla!  We are both bio-majors and are hoping to become PAs!

Garden of Gethsemane