Monday, July 19, 2010

IDF General Ashkenazi at Arch of Titus in Rome Today

The General of Staff for the Israeli Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, gave a short speech at the Arch of Titus in Rome this evening (today, Iowa time), on the eve of Tisha B’av, the day marking the destruction of the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem by Babylon in 586 BC and by Rome in 70 AD.

The Arch of Titus was built in 70 AD with engravings of the Temple treasures being taken from Jerusalem into Rome. Ezekiel 37 and the vision of the dry bones coming back to life is reaching full swing.

The General says in the above video clip,
"It is touching to come here as the head of the Israel Defense Forces and to say here . . . "Am Yisrael Hai" ("The Nation of Israel is Alive.")
Public support from Israel for the rebuilding of the Temple is growing. See article here

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Framework" Book in Ghana Bible Schools

I just received this photo from a Bible school in Ghana. Notice the "Framework" book on their desks. These students are the core teachers trained with the "Framework" book and sent out to teach pastors. They distribute the "Framework" book throughout Ghana, including lead pastors in Tamale, the capital town of Ghana's Muslim North. They just emailed and want more books.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nea Church of Justinian, 543 AD

Remains of the southeast corner of the Justinian's 543 Nea Church. The above photo shows the back right corner of the Nea Church in the illustration below.

Emperor Justinian (527-565) had the Nea Church (“nea” is Greek for “new”) built on the east side of the Cardo Street in the south part of Jerusalem. The Nea Church can be clearly seen on the Madaba Map. This 375 foot by 185 foot basilica, the largest church in Israel, was dedicated in 543. Justinian’s Roman court historian, Procopius, describes this massive church as not being built over a traditional holy site. It was built for some other purpose. It included a library, a monastery, a hospital and a hospice. Procopius says the structure was built with enormous cut stones on a huge platform which was supported by large underground vaults. The roof was built of very tall cedars and many large pillars filled the Nea Church, or basilica. For several reasons it appears Justinian believed he was building a new Temple to replace Solomon’s and Herod's. Every year on August 3 the whole Book of Kings was read. It is considered highly probably that the Nea Church was built to hold the Temple treasures taken from Herod’s Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. It is clear from the images on the Arch of Titus built in Rome after the 70 AD Roman victory to commemorate the Roman victory over Jerusalem that the candle stand and the trumpets from the Temple were carried into Rome. Josephus himself testifies to this fact in his book Wars of the Jews, book 7, chapter 5:
After these triumphs were over, and after the affairs of the Romans were settled on the surest foundations, Vespasian resolved to build a Temple to Peace, which was finished in so short a time, and in so glorious a manner, as was beyond all human expectation and opinion: for he having now by Providence a vast quantity of wealth, besides what he had formerly gained in his other exploits, he had this temple adorned with pictures and statues; for in this temple were collected and deposited all such rarities as men aforetime used to wander all over the habitable world to see, when they had a desire to see one of them after another; he also laid up therein those golden vessels and instruments that were taken out of the Jewish temple, as ensigns of his glory. But still he gave order that they should lay up their Law, and the purple veils of the holy place, in the royal palace itself, and keep them there.
They were kept in Rome until Rome fell to the Vandals. The Vandals were in turn defeated by the Byzantine Empire which recovered the Temple treasures and brought them to Constantinople. At this time, during Byzantine’s triumphal procession through Constantinople with the captives and booty taken from the Vandals, the Jewish Temple treasures where seen among the booty. Procopius, the Roman court historian for Justinian, records these events of his own day in History of the Wars, book IV, chapter 9:6-9:
. . . among these were the treasures of the Jews, which Titus, the son of Vespasian, together with certain others, had brought to Rome after the capture of Jerusalem. And one of the Jews, seeing these things, approached one of those known to the emperor and said: "These treasures I think it inexpedient to carry into the palace in Byzantium. Indeed, it is not possible for them to be elsewhere than in the place where Solomon, the king of the Jews, formerly placed them. For it is because of these that Gizeric captured the palace of the Romans, and that now the Roman army has captured that the Vandals." When this had been brought to the ears of the Emperor (Justinian), he became afraid and quickly sent everything to the sanctuaries of the Christians in Jerusalem.
This is a photo of the southern apse of the Nea Church. The location of this apse can be seen in the floor plan of the church below.
Forty-nine years after the death of Justinian and seventy years after the dedication of the Nea Church the Persians captured Jerusalem help from their Jewish allies. The Nea Church was plundered in 614 by the Jews and Persians. History records that all churches in Israel at this time, with the exception of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, were burnt by the Persian invaders and their Jewish allies. The fact that these churches were plundered is confirmed by the fact that the Persians captured from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher what the Christians thought was the “True Cross.” It would appear then that the Temple treasures taken to Rome by Titus in 70 AD and returned to Jerusalem by Justinian in 534 would have been taken by the Jews in 614 from the Nea Church. After the fall of Jerusalem to the Persians in 614 we lose track of the Temple treasures. What happened to them? Were the Jews silent about their re-discovered Temple treasure? Were the Temple treasures carried away by the Persians? Maybe melted down? Or, were the Temple treasures never located nor removed from their hidden compartments in the lower regions of the Nea Church? Are they still here today? By 617, only three years after their victory, the Persians betrayed their Jewish allies by expelling them from Jerusalem and returning Jerusalem to Christian control under the Byzantine Empire. Although plundered and burnt, the remains of the Nea Church continued to stand for several centuries since it is mentioned by pilgrim writers as still being in use in 634 and 808. In 870 a monk stayed there in what is called Charlemagne’s rebuilt Nea Church. (Realize the Persian invasion of 614 was not associated with Islam since it was in 622 Mohammed began to spread his new religion and had just entered Medina to convert the Jews. By 626 Mohammed began slaughtering the Jews and the Muslim “faith” was beginning to spread. Muslim war and conquest would arrive in Jerusalem in 638, a mere 21 years after the Persians restored Jerusalem to the Christians.)
There are six huge vaulted halls over 30 feet high under the remains of this church. Charles Warren entered and drew these vaults in 1867. Today an inscription has been found that reads:
And this is the work which was carried out by the generosity of our most gracious Emperor Flavius Justinian, under the care and devotion of the most holy Constatinos, priest and in the year 534/35.

Today's Old City wall is found built over the top of the remains of the southeast corner of what once was the enormous Nea Church.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A House of Prayer for all Nations

In my studies I came across Dore Gold's book The Fight for Jerusalem and found the following section so refreshing that I stopped my study, my research, my typing and my writing to capture this moment in this blog. In the midst of strife and polarization I want to try to share the joy I experienced when I read these words. If you haven't figured it out yet it is clear that Islam has advanced by the sword from day one. Islam is not a "faith" it is a "subjugation." It does not take much knowledge of history to realize that contemporary Muslim events and behavior is not so contemporary after all, but just more of the same o' same o' we have seen since 622 AD. Christianity has its dark side as seen in the Crusades and the Inquisition. This could easily reappear if we fail to understand and embrace the Truth of the written Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But, listen to Dore Gold's words and remember this verse from Isaiah 56:7-8 (focus on "a house of prayer for all nations"):
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Sovereign Lord declares - he who gathers the exiles of Israel: 'I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.'
This verse and the words below explain why the Jews that I spoke with at the Western Wall a few weeks ago shared with me the message and the attitude that they did. Dore Gold writes on page 60 of The Fight for Jerusalem:
The Jews were not supposed to proselytize or spread their faith through military campaigns or by subjugating smaller nations. Their religion envisioned the ultimate redemption of all mankind through the observance by Jews of their commandments in a free Jerusalem that would serve both as their temple of prayer and as a welcoming site for members of other faiths seeking to direct their own prayers to the Almighty.

This vision was articulated by Philo, the great Greek-speaking Jewish philosopher toward the end of the Second Temple period. He made two insightful points about Judaism's relationship to other peoples. First, he noted that "throughout the world of Greeks and barbarians, there is practically no State which honours the institutions of any other." He continued,"We may fairly say that mankind from East to West, every country and nation and State, show aversion to foreign institutions, and they think they will enhance the respect for their own by showing disrespect for those of other nations. It is not so with ours."

Secondly, Philo observed that Jewish practices at the time had a broader universalistic purpose. In fact, Philo expressed bewilderment at the widespread accusations he heard of Jewish exclusiveness: "And there-fore it astonishes me to see that some people venture to accuse of inhumanity the nation which has shown so profound a sense of fellowship and goodwill to all men everywhere, by using its prayers and festivals and first-fruit offerings as a means of supplication for the human race in general." Philo was explaining that the Temple service in Jerusalem was not just for the benefit for the Jewish people, but also for the salvation of mankind as a whole.

This idea was captured in Jewish eschatology by the prophet Micah (4:1-5). He envisioned that "in the days to come," Jerusalem will no longer be destroyed but rather "the Mount of the Lord's House shall stand firm among the mountains." There is no foreign subjugation of Jerusalem so that "instruction (Torah) shall come forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Divine peace will be extended to all the nations of the earth: "Nation shall not take up sword against nation."
Jesus himself chewed the Jews out in his day when they corrupted the Temple worship for profit and legalistic religious purposes. After Jesus finished dumping their tables, scattering their coins and driving out the merchants and the shoppers he said:
Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.' - Mark 11:17
The written word of God is consistent. The Old Testament prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ understood the mission and the transforming power of the Truth. There was no need for the sword to be used to advance the Truth. The Truth is in itself its own sword!
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword., it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12
So, if you have the Truth, be confident and keep that "sword" sharp!

But, if you are propagating a worthless lie, then you better bring along a weapon to make us submit because we will not be convinced any other way.

Sometimes issues are so clear that we can feel the rare breeze of wisdom moving through our soul. This Truth is like a cool drink of water that refreshes the soul.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bordeaux Pilgrim's 333 AD Account

A Christian pilgrim who traveled to Jerusalem in the year 333 from Bordeaux, located in southwest France, gives us a few interesting details concerning Jerusalem and the Temple Mount during the reign of Emperor Constantine. Below is what the Bordeaux Pilgrim wrote in 333 concerning what he saw in Jerusalem at that time. Remember this is what he understood he saw and what these location were called in 333. His descriptions include his understanding of theology, history and scripture which were obviously influenced by what the local residence, the Byzantine “tour guides” and religious leaders in Jerusalem told him. Yet, it is what it is and it is what he saw – a very rare recording of a first hand eye-witness description of Jerusalem during the reign of Constantine at the beginning of the Byzantine Empire – it is priceless. (My comments are in parenthesis and are not italicized. The writing of the Bordeaux Pilgrim is bold italic. The map below attempts to follow his description through the city. Click on the map below for a larger image.)

There are in Jerusalem two large pools at the side of the Temple, that is, one upon the right hand, and one upon the left, which were made by Solomon (Outside the NE corner of Temple Mount would be the Pool of Israel. Outside the NW corner of Temple Mount would be cisterns or pools found in today’s Western Wall tunnels.); and further in the city are twin pools with five porticoes, which are called Bethsaida (Bethsesda, John 5:2-18). There persons who have been sick for many years are cured; the pools contain water which is red when it is disturbed. There is also here a crypt (cave, or underground chamber; this cave is under the Dome of the Rock today and is undoubtedly connected to the network of 45 other cisterns, chambers, tunnels and caves that exist under the Temple Mount. It may also provide access to the legendary Well of Souls), in which Solomon used to torture devils (At this time King Solomon, due to his wisdom and legends of the Jews, was known to be a great magician and fighter of demons. Displayed in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were jars believed to have been used by Solomon to hold demons.)

(Click map for a larger image.)

Here is also the corner of an exceeding high tower (SE corner of Temple Mount), where our Lord ascended and the tempter said to Him, 'If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.' . And the Lord answered, 'Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God, but him only shall thou serve.' (Matthew 4:1-11). There is a great corner-stone, of which it was said, 'The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner.' (Matthew 21:42; Ps 118:22) Under the pinnacle of the tower are many rooms, and here was Solomon's palace (Herod had built Solomon's Colonnade on the south side of the Temple Mount.)

There also is the chamber in which he sat and wrote the (Book of) Wisdom (called Solomon’s Stables by Crusaders and yet today); this chamber is covered with a single stone. There are also large subterranean reservoirs for water and pools constructed with great labor. And in the building itself, where stood the temple which Solomon built, they say that the blood of Zacharias (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51) which was shed upon the stone pavement before the altar remains to this day. There are also to be seen the marks of the nails in the shoes of the soldiers who slew him, throughout the whole enclosure, so plain that you would think they were impressed upon wax. There are two statues of Hadrian (One of Hadrian and the other of Antoninus Pius. The inscription stone of Antoninus’ statue can still be seen today in the Southern Temple Mount Wall above the Double Gate), and not far from the statues there is a perforated stone (Which is the bedrock of Mt. Moriah where the Ark of the Covenant sat in the Most Holy Place in the Temple of Solomon. This perforation, or carved out and leveled depression, can be seen inside the Dome of the Rock and is the same size as the Ark of the Covenant) to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart. There also is the house of Hezekiah King of Judah. Also as you come out of Jerusalem to go up Mount Sion (after leaving the Temple Mount and heading south out of the city on the main road, the Cardo Maximus), on the left hand, below in the valley, beside the wall, is a pool which is called Siloe (Pool of Siloam, John 9:1-11) and has four porticoes (the Church of Siloam who’s pillar bases can still be seen today in the water when exiting Hezekiah’s Tunnel); and there is another large pool outside it. This spring runs for six days and nights, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, it does not run at all, either by day or by night (This Pool called Siloe, or Siloam, was still being fed water from the Gihon Springs located on the eastside through Hezekaih’s Tunnel. The flow of water from the Gihon Springs has been known for gushing water intermittently. In fact, “gihon” means “to gush forth.”) , On this side one goes up Sion (walking outside the city walls around the Westside along the Hinnom Valley and up Mount Zion) and sees where the house of Caiaphas the priest was (just outside today’s walls and part of the extended Armenian Quarter, Matthew 26:57-68), and there still stands a column against which Christ was beaten with rods (Matthew 26:67-68 records spitting, striking and slapping at the High Priest’s Palace, but no rods). Within, however, inside the wall of Sion, is seen the place where was David's palace. (This is the Citadel which was the fortress of the Macabees, the palace of Herod and the camp of the Tenth Roman Legion. Today this Citadel and its remains sits just inside the city walls by the Joppa Gate). Of seven synagogues which once were there, one alone remains; the rest are ploughed over and sown upon, as said Isaiah the prophet ( Is 1:2.4-8; Micah 3:9-12).

From thence as you go out of the wall of Sion, as you walk towards the gate of Neapolis (This would be in the location of today’s Damascus Gate and was the grand new, or “nea”, entrance to the Cardo), towards the right, below in the valley (Kidron Valley), are walls, where was the house or praetorium of Pontius Pilate (Fort Antonia, Matthew 27:11-31). Here our Lord was tried before His passion (By Pontius Pilate.) On the left hand is the little hill of Golgotha where the Lord was crucified (As the Pilgrim walked up the Cardo towards the Neapolis Gate the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was on his left, and the remains of Fort Antonia further on his right, Matthew 27:33-37). About a stone's throw from thence is a vault wherein His body was laid, and rose again on the third day (The tomb and Calvary were in the same garden in the gospels and are located in the same Church of the Holy Sepulcher today and in 333 AD, Matthew 27:57-60; 28:1-10). There, at present, by the command of the Emperor Constantine, has been built a basilica, that is to say, a church of wondrous beauty, having at the side reservoirs (cisterns were cut into the abandoned quarry, the remains of cisterns are found in the lower parts of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) from which water is raised (holes in the arched ceiling used to lower buckets on ropes from homes above can still be seen in the ceilings of these cisterns today), and a bath behind in which infants are washed (or, baptized).

Also as one goes from Jerusalem to the gate which is to the eastward (Stephen's Gate, where the Lion's Gate is today), in order to ascend the Mount of Olives, is the valley called that of Josaphat (Kidron Valley). Towards the left, where are vineyards, is a stone at the place where Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ (Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Matthew 26,36-50); on the right is a palm-tree, branches of which the children carried off and strewed in the way when Christ came (Matthew 31:8). Not far from thence, about a stone's-throw, are two notable tombs of wondrous beauty (The tombs in the Kidron known today as the tombs of Absolom and Zechariah, but yet they are not since they were built in a Greek style with Egyptian and Syrian influence probably around 100-20 BC); in the one, which is a true monolith, lies Isaiah the prophet, and in the other Hezekiah, King of the Jews (The tombs can still be seen today, but although the identification was believed to be true, it was not.).

From thence you ascend to the Mount of Olives, where before the Passion, the Lord taught His disciples (Matthew 24-25). There by the orders of Constantine a basilica of wondrous beauty has been built. Not far from thence is the little hill which the Lord ascended to pray, when he took Peter and John with Him, and Moses and Elias were beheld (This event occurred in Caesarea Philippi, the Ascension of Jesus occurred, Matthew 17:1-8).