Posted tagged ‘Israel’

An Ancient Near East View of Israel

October 18, 2018

Gehenna (Hinnom) Valley near the Old City in Jerusalem

I am grateful for the religion classes I had in college. I wasn’t a religion major, but I took all the classes to be one, including the thesis class. I took them because I was hungry for the truth that was contained in the ancient scriptures. That hunger began as a hunger for truth, and I searched for it in history, literature, art, philosophy and wherever I could find it, including religion.

I searched for whatever truth I could find in the various religions of the world, but the religion classes at Cornell College where I did my undergraduate work were largely the Judeo-Christian scriptures. There I got a solid academic foundation for Old Testament and New Testament, with an emphasis on the Pentateuch (Books of Moses), writings and the Prophets, because one of the two religion professors was Jewish.

I appreciate the sense of the sweep of biblical history that this education gave me. I wasn’t taught in the context of a particular Christian denomination, but from a Jewish perspective. So, I appreciate what James Michael Smith is doing in his ministry, the DiscipleDojo, who presents an authentic Ancient Near East perspective of Deuteronomy in the podcast that is embedded below. I encourage you to listen to the whole thing (and listen to the other installments if your interest is piqued).

To get an accurate and nuanced understanding of God’s interaction in history with His covenant people that became the backdrop and springboard for His plan of universal redemption, it helps to understand the Ancient Near East that formed the historical context for this interaction. The Abrahamic people were very much people of the Ancient Near East. God’s interaction connects with them where they were in the cultural understandings that informed them.

It’s amazing to me to think about how this very intimate and familiar interaction in an Ancient Near East culture with an Bronze Age people (as skeptics like to point out) has become a timeless, ongoing and ever relevant message for us through the Scripture that was inspired and written down in the process. How could such a Bronze Age perspective carry forward such a universal and timeless message?

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Israel, the Promised Land

August 26, 2014

Panorama of Jerusalem, Israel


Israel is the only nation in the world that is living under the same name, speaking the same language, observing the same religion and located in the same place that they were 4000 years ago.

After a lapse of nearly 2000 years during which the Israeli people were scattered and often persecuted in the various places to which they were dispersed, the UN declared the reestablishment of the nation of Israel on May 5, 1948. The nation of Israel was ousted from their native land in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, 1878 years earlier. That UN decree brought 3.6 million Jews back to the historic land of Jews from over 90 nations in 1948, an unprecedented event.

This history is as remarkable as it is unprecedented.  (more…)

Whatever We Fix Our Eyes On We Reflect

August 16, 2014

Flagstaff Mountain Flowers Philippians 4 8 by Chris Fraley jpeg


The world seems to be coming unglued! Militant, radical Muslims in Iraq are killing Christians, minority religious groups and even other Muslims. Hamas bombards Israel, and Israel responds with shelling that is killing women and children. At home, police decked out in military gear in a Missouri town are confronting an angry mob looting in the street and threatening to kill policemen.

Daily posts on Facebook and other social media demonize Barack Obama and “liberal Democrats”, or greedy corporations and capitalists, or Israelis or Hamas. The air is filled with ranting on both sides and all sides decrying every conceivable evil in the world. The cacophony seems to be reaching new heights. The many forms of social media make ranting as easy as shouting out the window to a world that is right within earshot.

I have found myself caught up in the torrent, reacting and re-reacting to the various comments, news clips and videos, like waves of offensives and sieges, until I began to realize something was happening to me…. (more…)


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