Tag Archives: Jesus

The Holy Land and Covenants

“On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land…”‘

– Genesis 15:18

These posts are not an attempt to convert anyone. It is my efforts to understand my relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope that you find them entertaining, engaging and informative.

I have been trying to learn about the Bible. I have read a lot of books in my life, but I have never read the Bible until a month ago.

What is the Holy Land?

The Holy Land is at the far eastern end of the blue Mediterranean. It’s the cradle of civilization and where the Christian faith was founded. The Holy Land has been called the Fifth Gospel because like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John it’s where Christians believe events occurred that changed world history.

From Abraham to the Apostles and beyond the Holy Land has had a significant impact on history. The people of the Holy Land have been some of the most studied, pondered and argued over in all of history.

The world’s three main religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all consider the Holy Land, and especially the city of Jerusalem, to be the holiest place on earth. The Holy Land is where the Bible comes dramatically alive.

Who are the Patriarchs?

First, we have to start at the beginning. We have to go back to the Middle Bronze Age to the Era of the Patriarchs.  The Patriarchs were Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob.

We will start with “Father Abraham,” as he is referred to by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  When we first met this semi-nomadic shepherd named Abram, later named Abraham, is in Genesis Chapter 11.

Up to this point, the Biblical narrative has been downcast and uncertainty. The tragic events of the Garden of Eden have resulted in a broken relationship between God and humankind. After the chaos of the Tower of Babel, we are introduced to Abram, the man who God has chosen to unite and bless humanity.

God tells Abram, “and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me,” (Genesis 22:18). Abraham believed God’s promises and a covenant was established between them concerning Abraham’s offspring and the land they would inherit.

The beginning of God’s people was established, at least in theory. First Abraham’s wife Sarah, who was barren and aging, would need a son. At God’s request, Abraham lived for a while in various locations: Shechem, Bethel, Hebron and the Negev Desert to name a few.

God did give Abraham a son, several in fact. The first was his son Ishmael. Ishmael was conceived with Hagar, Sarah’s servant, and handmaiden. Later both Ishmael and Hagar were cast out by Abraham by God’s command. Ishmael would go on to become the father of Arab nations.

Abraham’s heir was Isaac. Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age by supernatural intervention by God. Abraham confirmed his devotion to God by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac.

On Mount Moriah, God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, provided a substitute. A ram was sacrificed instead to God. The second Patriarch Isaac would go on to become the son that God’s chosen people, the Hebrew nation, would come into existence through.

The third Patriarch was Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob’s name would literally change to “Israel.” Jacob was a truly fascinating Biblical figure. He was a man worthy of a Greek play. Jacob was a man of great strengths and weaknesses. He was a man of great faith but also, at times, of great fear.

Jacob famously wrestles with God. He has a dream of a ladder where angels descend and ascend heaven. God’s promise of making Abraham’s descendants a great nation would be further fulfilled when Jacob had twelve sons. One of his son, Joseph, would rise to great power in Egypt. Eventually, the families of Jacob’s sons would become the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Hebrews would end up in Egypt because of famine. Over the next 400 years, the Hebrew nation would grow larger and larger while living in Egypt. They eventually became slaves to the rulers of Egypt. They would need God to deliver them out of bondage.

What is Biblical Archeology?

One of the stunning things about Biblical archeology is the scientific discipline didn’t exist until about a 150 years ago. In fact, archeology was even a soft science before the 19th century. Archeology started as treasure hunting for wealthy, self-seeking opportunists.

Due to these half-hearted efforts by these opportunists, many excavations were botched. Many discoveries were lost. When you remove a historical object from its context and surroundings, you lose that information forever.

Something recovered from in a modern, controlled dig has much higher value than something sold by a treasure hunter. Indiana Jones adventures are not what modern archeology is about. Rising academic interests, the invention of new technological tools and systematic approach has changed archeology in the last century. We have learned a lot about the ancient world. Now that the Israelites are back in the Holy Land after 1900 years, many new sites and discoveries have enhanced knowledge of the Bible. Especially from Tels.

What is a “Tel”?

A Tel, also spelled tell, is a mound. In Arabic “tel” means tall. Inside a raised mound are the ancient remains of a city. Ancient cities often experienced natural or cultural disasters. Some of these misfortunes were fires, earthquakes, and assaults from enemy armies.

If an ancient city was destroyed, there was no way to remove all the demolished rubble. So people just built right on top of the ruins. Therefore over the centuries debris and layer would form. For example, the Biblical city of Tel Megiddo, the prophesied site of the Battle of Armageddon, has 26 layers of ruins.

Tels present an exciting challenge for archeologists who literally get to dig through layers of history. They go back in time the deeper they go. The biggest tel in Israel is Tel Hazor. Tel Hazor is barely excavated after three decades. There are ancient layers of history waiting to be discovered.

Tel Beersheba is just a few miles north of the Negev Desert. Tel Beersheba is the ancient southern boundary of the Hebrew people. The phrase, “From Dan to Beersheba” is a Biblical phrase used nine times in the Hebrew Bible to refer to the settled areas of the Tribes of Israel between Dan in the North and Beersheba in the South. This was the boundaries of the Biblical promise land.

Beersheba is a backdrop for many Old Testaments events. Beersheba was occupied as early as 4,000 B.C. The early settlement of Tel Beersheba dates back to 12th Century B.C. during the Judges period in the Bible.

The central theme of Judges is the settlement in the land of Canaan, a period before the monarchy. Beersheba is where two of Samuel’s son judged from. During the reign of King Ahab, the prophet Elijah fled to Beersheba to escape Ahab and Jezebel.

The fortifications of Beersheba date to the 10th century B.C. They are likely the result of Solomon’s building projects. Beersheba has a casemate wall, like those found in other cities which Solomon is known to have built. The city has a chambered gate similar to that in Megiddo.

When we first encounter Beersheba in the Bible, it is the place that Hagar, where Sarah’s servant was sent after she gave birth to Ismael. Despite being banished to Beersheba, God never abandons Hagar. God spoke to and helped Hagar. Her son became quite successful and eventually was the father of the Arab nations.

Beersheba is first mentioned in Genesis 21. Here Beersheba is given its name, meaning “Well of the Oaths.” It’s also called the “Well of the Seven.” It stands for the seven lambs sacrificed for the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech. Abraham is given water rights in Beersheba. Water is a super big deal in this extremely arid part of Israel. A covenant is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with humanity. In ancient Biblical times lambs were sacrificed or cut, and the parties walked between the dead lambs. This was a promise if the covenant was broken, they will be killed and cut apart like the sacrificed lamb.

A covenant more or less defines what it means to be in a relationship with God. Without a covenant no relationship is possible. The covenant that God makes with Abraham is a solemn agreement that God initiates that contains specific promises and demands.

God makes a covenant with Abraham. God appears to Abraham in Genesis 15 as a smoking flame. God (as the flame) passes through the dead animals alone to seal the covenant. Typically both parties pass between the animals. This time only God does. This covenant would not fail because it depended on God alone. The covenant would never be broken.

Covenants are found throughout the Old Testament. God makes one with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Then eventually the Prophet Jeremiah pointed towards a new covenant in the future.

Christians believe that the blood of Jesus, in His own words, “the blood of the new covenant.” That Jesus, with His death and resurrection, makes a better and more lasting covenant than all the other covenants made with Abraham and Moses. The new covenant is available to all people, both Jews, and Gentiles.

Grace is favor, or “unmerited favor.” Grace gives salvation. Grace is, God’s unmerited favor sealed through the covenant by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Grace is God’s goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. The principal manifestation of God’s grace is in the form of a gift in the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for reading my post, God bless you.

 

 

The Holy Land and Covenants

These posts are not an attempt to convert anyone. These posts are my efforts to understand my relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope that you find them entertaining, engaging and informative.

I have been trying to learn about the Bible. I have read a lot of books in my life, but I have never read the Bible until two months ago.

What is the Holy Land?

The Holy Land is at the far eastern end of the blue Mediterranean. It’s the cradle of civilization and where the Christian faith was founded. The Holy Land has been called the Fifth Gospel because like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John it’s where Christians believe events occurred that changed world history.

From Abraham to the Apostles and beyond the Holy Land has had a significant impact on history. The people of the Holy Land have been some of the most studied, pondered and argued over in all of history.

The world’s three main religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all consider the Holy Land, and especially the city of Jerusalem, to be the holiest place on earth. The Holy Land is where the Bible comes dramatically alive.

Who are the Patriarchs?

First, we have to start at the beginning. We have to go back to the Middle Bronze Age to the Era of the Patriarchs.  The Patriarchs were Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob.

We will start with “Father Abraham,” as he is referred to by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  When we first met this semi-nomadic shepherd named Abram, later named Abraham, is in Genesis Chapter 11.

Up to this point, the Biblical narrative has been downcast and uncertainty. The tragic events of the Garden of Eden have resulted in a broken relationship between God and humankind. After the chaos of the Tower of Babel, we are introduced to Abram, the man who God has chosen to unite and bless humanity.

God tells Abram, “and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me,” (Genesis 22:18). Abraham believed God’s promises and a covenant was established between them concerning Abraham’s offspring and the land they would inherit.

The beginning of God’s people was established, at least in theory. First Abraham’s wife Sarah, who was barren and aging, would need a son. At God’s request, Abraham lived for a while in various locations: Shechem, Bethel, Hebron and the Negev Desert to name a few.

God did give Abraham a son, several in fact. The first was his son Ishmael. Ishmael was conceived with Hagar, Sarah’s servant, and handmaiden. Later both Ishmael and Hagar were cast out by Abraham by God’s command. Ishmael would go on to become the father of Arab nations.

Abraham’s heir was Isaac. Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age by supernatural intervention by God. Abraham confirmed his devotion to God by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac.

On Mount Moriah, God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, provided a substitute. A ram was sacrificed instead to God. The second Patriarch Isaac would go on to become the son that God’s chosen people, the Hebrew nation, would come into existence through.

The third Patriarch was Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob’s name would literally change to “Israel.” Jacob was a truly fascinating Biblical figure. He was a man worthy of a Greek play. Jacob was a man of great strengths and weaknesses. He was a man of great faith but also, at times, of great fear.

Jacob famously wrestles with God. He has a dream of a ladder where angels descend and ascend heaven. God’s promise of making Abraham’s descendants a great nation would be further fulfilled when Jacob had twelve sons. One of his son, Joseph, would rise to great power in Egypt. Eventually, the families of Jacob’s sons would become the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Hebrews would end up in Egypt because of a famine. Over the next 400 years, the Hebrew nation would grow larger and larger while living in Egypt. They eventually became slaves to the rulers of Egypt. They would need God to deliver them out of bondage.

What is Biblical Archeology?

One of the stunning things about Biblical archeology is the scientific discipline didn’t exist until about a 150 years ago. In fact, archeology was even a soft science before the 19th century. Archeology started as treasure hunting for wealthy, self-seeking opportunists.

Due to these half-hearted efforts by these opportunists, many excavations were botched. Many discoveries were lost. When you remove a historical object from its context and surroundings, you lose that information forever.

Something recovered from in a modern, controlled dig has much higher value than something sold by a treasure hunter. Indiana Jones adventures are not what modern archeology is about. Rising academic interests, the invention of new technological tools and systematic approach has changed archeology in the last century. We have learned a lot about the ancient world. Now that the Israelites are back in the Holy Land after 1900 years, many new sites and discoveries have enhanced knowledge of the Bible. Especially from Tels.

What is a “Tel”?

A Tel, also spelled tell, is a mound. In Arabic “tel” means tall. Inside a raised mound are the ancient remains of a city. Ancient cities often experienced natural or cultural disasters. Some of these misfortunes were fires, earthquakes, and assaults from enemy armies.

If an ancient city was destroyed, there was no way to remove all the demolished rubble. So people just built right on top of the ruins. Therefore over the centuries debris and layer would form. For example, the Biblical city of Tel Megiddo, the prophesied site of the Battle of Armageddon, has 26 layers of ruins.

Tels present an exciting challenge for archeologists who literally get to dig through layers of history. They go back in time the deeper they go. The biggest tel in Israel is Tel Hazor. Tel Hazor is barely excavated after three decades. There are ancient layers of history waiting to be discovered.

Tel Beersheba is just a few miles north of the Negev Desert. Tel Beersheba is the ancient southern boundary of the Hebrew people. The phrase, “From Dan to Beersheba” is a Biblical phrase used nine times in the Hebrew Bible to refer to the settled areas of the Tribes of Israel between Dan in the North and Beersheba in the South. This was the boundaries of the Biblical promise land.

Beersheba is a backdrop for many Old Testaments events. Beersheba was occupied as early as 4,000 B.C. The early settlement of Tel Beersheba dates back to 12th Century B.C. during the Judges period in the Bible.

The central theme of Judges is the settlement in the land of Canaan, a period before the monarchy. Beersheba is where two of Samuel’s son judged from. During the reign of King Ahab, the prophet Elijah fled to Beersheba to escape Ahab and Jezebel.

The fortifications of Beersheba date to the 10th century B.C. They are likely the result of Solomon’s building projects. Beersheba has a casemate wall, like those found in other cities which Solomon is known to have built. The city has a chambered gate similar to that in Megiddo.

When we first encounter Beersheba in the Bible, it is the place that Hagar, where Sarah’s servant was sent after she gave birth to Ismael. Despite being banished to Beersheba, God never abandons Hagar. God spoke to and helped Hagar. Her son became quite successful and eventually was the father of the Arab nations.

Beersheba is first mentioned in Genesis 21. Here Beersheba is given its name, meaning “Well of the Oaths.” It’s also called the “Well of the Seven.” It stands for the seven lambs sacrificed for the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech. Abraham is given water rights in Beersheba. Water is a super big deal in this extremely arid part of Israel. A covenant is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with humanity. In ancient Biblical times lambs were sacrificed or cut, and the parties walked between the dead lambs. This was a promise if the covenant was broken, they will be killed and cut apart like the sacrificed lamb.

A covenant more or less defines what it means to be in a relationship with God. Without a covenant no relationship is possible. The covenant that God makes with Abraham is a solemn agreement that God initiates that contains specific promises and demands.

God makes a covenant with Abraham. God appears to Abraham in Genesis 15 as a smoking flame. God (as the flame) passes through the dead animals alone to seal the covenant. Typically both parties pass between the animals. This time only God does. This covenant would not fail because it depended on God alone. The covenant would never be broken.

Covenants are found throughout the Old Testament. God makes one with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Then eventually the Prophet Jeremiah pointed towards a new covenant in the future.

Christians believe that the blood of Jesus, in His own words, “the blood of the new covenant.” That Jesus, with His death and resurrection, makes a better and more lasting covenant than all the other covenants made with Abraham and Moses. The new covenant is available to all people, both Jews, and Gentiles.

Grace is favor, or “unmerited favor.” Grace gives salvation. Grace is, God’s unmerited favor sealed through the covenant by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Grace is God’s goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. The principal manifestation of God’s grace is in the form of a gift in the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for reading my post, God bless you.

A Confession of a Struggling Christian

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15 (NIV)

I am a writer. My job is to tell stories. What follows is the best story I will ever write and my favorite story to tell.

Source:pixabay

A Thank You

Thank you, mom and dad, for being excellent parents and letting me always know I was loved. Thank you, Muna. You are my wife and my life. My love for you grows daily. You led me to the Lord every day by your example of faith and love.

This past year has been the most wonderful of my life- and the best is yet to come. Thank you, Steve Bruhn, for leading me to Christ and providing the best example of what a Christian man can be. Thank you Jerry Glesmann for being the best big brother, I could ever have. Our daily talks provide encouragement, love, and faith. You truly are the bravest and kindest man I have ever known.

Thank you to all my friends and family who read my daily diatribes. These posts are an expression of appreciation, gratitude, and meaningfulness. You have shared your spiritual insights, faith, and good advice. God bless you and thank you for letting me share my story.

Why?

This post started trying to explain my faith. I wanted to share a few simple thoughts on my life and how turning it over to Jesus has helped me. I did my best to capture the message God laid on my heart.

I hope to share three messages with you. Number one is my love and joy for God and the hope and inspiration I found in accepting the salvation of Jesus Christ. Number two, I wanted to share the excitement and benefits following Jesus Christ has done for my life. Number three, I want to tell you how my walk with God has helped me through some very difficult times, even as my memory and health seem to be getting worse and not better.

This post is really about how God has eased my journey through life. I am not a Bible scholar or even a good Bible student, but I did want to share with you a story I felt is my best story. I believe God wants me to share this story. I have felt His Presence as I have written.

There are times as I write I felt the total love of Jesus, my eyes filled with tears and I had to stop writing. Other times I was overcome with sadness, shame, guilt and I lost my bearings, and I had to stop writing. The only thing that was constant and consistent as I wrote was my feeling of God’s presence, love, and understanding. This is how I feel every day of my life after giving it to Jesus Christ.

A Declaration of Dependence

On July 4, 2016, I am part of a tour group visiting Normandy. We are here 72 years after D-Day. Our tour guide today is Rudy. He is a local Frenchman who spent a decade living in Minnesota. His English is better than mine.

Normandy looks like the coast of Oregon. It has ancient trees, mossy growth, a rocky coastline with craggy cliffs, with a constant rain that makes everything damp all the time. Rudy takes us to the Normandy D-Day Museum.

It’s the beginning of July the weather, and the weather is miserable. It’s cold with clouds, drizzle and sometimes hard rain. By mid-morning, we are all rain-soaked.

The Americans had a tough mission on D-Day. The Germans are an experienced army. They’ve conquered have of Europe and won battles against the Allies in Africa, Italy, and Russia between 1942 and 1944. The Germans are dug-in. They’ve been preparing months.

On Omaha Beach, there is a 100-foot bluff overlooking the beach at Pointe du Hoc. The Germans placed concrete gun emplacements on the hilltops. These fortifications make it tough for American naval gunfire to reach the German defenders. The Germans plotted every square inch of the beach. They cover every square foot with obstacles, mines, artillery and machine gun fire.

Conversion

On that windswept beach, on July 4, 2016, I was “born again.” Unlike most spiritual conversions, mine was not dramatic. The change in me was quiet, almost boring. To me, it was a simple thing. I had found God. And, most important, God had found me.

There was no flashing lights or clanging of bells. Something was missing in my life and now had been replaced with the Lord. This was not an earth-shattering moment of ecstasy just a warm, solid feeling of complete confidence that God was in my life.

That by trusting God and accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, my life would be better and fuller. My life changed for the better that day. I have strived every day since to be worthy of that great gift.

Happiness

I don’t know much, but what I learned that day changed my life. I was sorry for the things I had done and sorry enough to do something about it. I feel God gave me a “new start.” My past was forgiven, my present secured and my future guaranteed.

I try to pray three times a day. In the morning, at night, and once somewhere in the middle of the day. The middle one is my saying thanks for all the great things in my life and for help with all the things I don’t understand. There’s a lot of that.

When I really need the Lord in a hurry, I use a little mantra I learned to get me in touch with God, “Lord, please see in me, and be in me.”

I pray this prayer before I write something. I clasp my hands and say, “Lord, make me useful to myself and help me to remember that until I am, I can’t be helpful to others. Help me to remember that you are my creator. I am what you made- sometimes the thumb on your hand, sometimes the tongue in your mouth. Make me a vessel which is dedicated to your service. Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings. Amen.”

Praying- Source: thoughtco.com

Easing my Burden

Even in the tragedy, God has given me hope and love. His love has given me a promise of a better tomorrow, eternal peace, and everlasting life. Faith has given me a reason to stay up late at night and get up early in the morning.

I still feel grief and sorrow. Occasionally I still suffer from depression. But now my pain and feelings of sadness are different, lighter and far less devastating. A void existed in my life that God has filled. I’m not talking about joining a church or finding religion. I’m talking about living a life filled with peace and happiness.

Muna and I joined a great, Bible-based church and we try to keep God first place in our lives. I still struggle in my personal life, but prayer, faith, and love for God have made my life better. I am the best version of myself I have ever been because of Jesus Christ.

Thank you for letting me share my story. God bless you, all.