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D L Bray
Oct 06, 2022
In Reflections
To read and truly understand the Bible, it is first necessary to consider what is the central theme of the Bible. Too many students tend to read the Scriptures in bits and pieces, here a little, there a little, a passage in this book or some verses in that book, and very often the old saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees” becomes an unfortunate reality. But the Bible itself tells us not only what the Bible is really all about, but even why “in the beginning” God created everything, why this world and everything in it even exists … and it was all for Jesus. One of the most enlightening passages in all the Bible says that Jesus Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature, for by Jesus were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Jesus and for Jesus …” 1 Colossians 1:15-16 Jesus Christ is the not just the reason for the season, Jesus Christ is the reason for literally everything. Everything that exists was made by him, and for him, and everything that has happened throughout the history of the world, from the beginning to the end, is all because of and for the glory of this one divine man … Jesus Christ. When we become entangled in all the minutia of the Levitical ordinances and historical events and the times and lives of people spread out over thousands of years, it can be difficult to piece it all together into a coherent whole, to see the big picture. But if we consider the goal and purpose of it all, Jesus Christ, and seek to hear the message of all these many books spread out over thousands of years, what they are telling us about Jesus, then we begin to catch a glimpse into the heart and soul of the Bible, and consequently get a taste of the heart and soul of God. Again, the Scripture tells us that the great message the Bible is speaking forth is to testify of Jesus, who he is, and what he has accomplished. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 In The Beginning … Consider the Old Testament to be the "blueprint" of God's plan of salvation. Scripture even says that the things of the Old Covenant were "patterned" after the things of Heaven, so those earthly things and people and events that fill the Old Testament canon, and particularly the land of Israel and the Mosaic temple and its services, are in truth a "model" given to teach us about heavenly things. And as with any blueprint, we can study the Old Testament to learn about all the details of God's plan, what all the various parts are and how they join together and how they each function. It is a very detailed blueprint, and one can truly spend a lifetime studying it. The Word Became Flesh … But it is in the New Testament that we see the plan, the blueprint, being fashioned, into "a marvelous work and a wonder."Isaiah 29:14 And in the Gospel of Jesus, we see the hand of the Master, crafting a work of art unrivaled in heaven or earth. And all those jots and tittles of the blueprint begin to come together, and we see the profound significance of even the least of them. Exalted to Heaven … And then the final piece. The Revelation of Jesus Christ. The "unveiling" of the finished work, the masterpiece of everything God has said and done. And when that veil is lifted, and we are given a glimpse into the Holy of Holies of Heaven itself, the very throne room of God, as we see that Humble Shepherd, the Crucified Savior, the Risen Ever-Living Son of God seated there in a glory that is beyond imagination, only then do we begin to comprehend why from the very beginning to the very end it has always been about Jesus, the plan and purpose from the foundation of the world, the goal and end of every type and shadow, the message and testimony of every prophecy, the sum total of all the Bible, it all speaks of Jesus ... God, wrapped in flesh, and revealed, for all the world to see. Jesus is “the big picture," and if we miss how every prophecy, every type and every shadow and every word ultimately speaks of Jesus, and through him shows us God, then we miss the whole point. And after a lifetime of study of God's Word and the fellowship of the Spirit, I can truly testify that of all the sublime expressions of God that we see in the person and work of Jesus, this one truth is the single greatest revelation of who God is ... "God is love." 1 John 4:16
How to Read the Bible content media
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D L Bray
Oct 02, 2022
In Reflections
Many years ago, as a young Christian just beginning to study the Bible, this word spoke to me, and I took it to heart: "Every student of the Law who is instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like a man that is a householder, which brings forth out of his treasure things new and old." Matthew 13:52 The Gospel is my first love, and those doctrines concerning the person and work of Jesus; who he is, what his life, death, and resurrection accomplished, and what it means to be saved and reconciled with God and to follow Christ ... not only is Jesus the cornerstone of the Bible, but he is the very heart and soul of our faith and the foundation stone of our relationship with God. But second would have to be my love of God's Law, and what it speaks to us about Jesus and about this salvation that we have been so mercifully graced with, and about the heavenly Kingdom of God. This branch of Bible study is called “Typology” – 1. “the doctrine or study of types or prefigurative symbols, especially in scriptural literature.” And the ultimate source of prefigurative types and symbols in all the Bible is God’s Law, often referred to as the Law of Moses, that law which was given to Moses and which he recorded in the “Torah,” the first five books of the Old Testament. What I love so dearly about the Law is that it gives us visible, earthly images we can, at least in our mind's eye, see and hear and touch and experience that teach us about invisible, heavenly things that we can also see and hear and touch and experience but in a way that is so far above and beyond this world of dust and ashes that they can sometimes be difficult to understand. But through these earthly types and shadows we can learn so very much about spiritual things, and indeed, that was the very purpose for which the Law was ordained, to prepare the way for, to bring us to, and to teach us about Jesus, to be our schoolmaster, “to bring us to Christ.” (Galatians 3:24) And having once come to Jesus, to learn and grow and mature in faith so that little by little we become more Christlike, "conformed to the image of God's Son," as the scripture expresses it. (Romans 8:29) I have learned so very much about spiritual things through these earthly things. And of course first and foremost is the Tabernacle/Temple with its walls and courts and gates, its altars and furnishings and vessels, quite literally a clay model of the very courts of Heaven and why Moses was admonished by God to see to it that "the tabernacle and all the instruments thereof should be made according to the pattern shown thee in the mount," (Exodus 25:9). Moses quite literally was given a vision of the very courts of Heaven, right into the throne room of God, and the things he saw were so glorious that Moses' face was lit up from having seen such wonders! (Exodus 34:29-35) And then there is the ministry of the Temple, with its sacrifices and offerings and priestly services, all testify of the manifold mysteries and abundance of provision of that once, for all, forever sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus. There is an aura that surrounds this holy ground, and when we set our feet in this holy place, and gaze in wonder at the things we see here, we are lifted up to the very heights of Heaven, and nothing will ever be the same. But I must confess that of all those types and figures of the Old Testament, and even with the clouds of glory that enshrine the Temple and all that pertains to it, the things that most tenderly speak joy and peace into my heart are the times and seasons of that blessed land. Perhaps it is because I come from a farming family, or maybe it's because I am a mother and grandmother and family and home hold such a special place in my heart, or maybe it's even the gardener in me that cherishes the changing seasons, each with its own blessings. Whatever the reason, these homey messages from the land and it’s times and seasons speak such a comforting message of hearth and home, of family and fellowship, of labor and rest, of peace and plenty, and they open a window for my eyes to see that "heavenly country," that sweet Beulah land to which I journey through this life and this world as a stranger and a pilgrim in a dry and thirsty land. Those humble lessons are the most precious things God has taught me about His Kingdom ... is this sweet sense of Home. And wonder of wonders, the medium through which we have presented before our mind's eye these glorious images of heaven ... why, it is these simple pieces of paper and ink, bound together with string and glue. But oh! The power of the words written in this God-breathed book, they can give life to the dead, give sight to the blind, open the ears of the deaf, and through these words we find God. For those who are encouraged to study the shadow of Christ and the Kingdom of God in the Law of Moses, I pray that God’s Spirit will fill you, and abide with you, and will richly bless you, and that your studies will always and forever serve to draw you closer to Him, to better know Him, to more faithfully serve Him, and to more dearly love Him. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen~
The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses content media
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D L Bray
Sep 19, 2022
In The Ancient Paths
Perhaps one of the busiest street corners in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus was the intersection of the Tyropean Avenue which ran north/south (left to right in the reconstruction below) along the foot of the western wall of the Temple Mount and intersected at the southwest corner of the Temple Mount with the Hulda Street which ran east/west along the southern wall. At this corner stood a massive stairway that led from the streets of the lower city up to the Tyropean Gate that opened into the Royal Porch and gave access to the Temple for the thousands of worshipers from the lower city. Note the small portion of the wall just under the arch that I've highlighted in yellow Let's take a closer look at the Tyropean Stairs below. Note the area again highlighted in yellow. The stones that protruded from the wall supported the “spring stones,” the stones which formed the beginning of the arch support. And below is what remains of the tremendous wall and stairway today, with the protruding support stones and above them the row of spring stones which formed the beginning of the arch. The rows of larger size stones to the left and right of this section are original Herodian ashlars. Everything above this row of stones was added to the retaining wall after the Temple buildings and courts on the top of the mount and these retaining walls down to this level were razed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Let's take a look at the section of the street beneath this section of the wall. This is the street below where the Tyropean Stairway once passed over the street. On the right, along the bottom of the Temple Mount wall and inside the curb stones, there once stood small shops lining the street. The blackened stains at the base of the wall is due to the shops being set on fire and destroyed by the Romans. To the left, the stone structure formed the foundation for the other end of the monumental stairway, and the door openings led into more shops. The streets of the old city were paved with large paving stones, many of which were broken and damaged when the Temple was dismantled by the Romans and the massive stones and rubble from the Temple and it's buildings and courts were demolished and pushed off the wall above into the streets below, breaking the street’s paving stones and creating indentations in the street from the massive weight of the stones. Many of the stones have been removed to allow access to the area, but piles of the rubble have been left to show the immense size of the broken stones. There was so much rubble from the temple and it's buildings and courts that the area was buried beneath 30 feet of rubble. The current street level can be seen in the background and beyond the fence is the section of the western wall that is the site of the "wailing wall" venerated by Jews today. These broad paved streets and the shops that lined them would have been thronged with visitors to the city and the tens of thousands of worshipers who came to the Temple. Any one of these paving stones could have been trodden by the sandaled feet of Jesus.
The Streets of Old Jerusalem content media
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D L Bray
Apr 10, 2021
In The Promise - Christmas
The internet and social media are seeing a growing host of articles, blogs, videos, and social media posts roundly condemning Christianity's Christmas observance as a "pagan" invention, usually ascribing the innovation to the Roman Catholic Church, the "hated source of all things pagan." One of the points of contention is the Christmas tree. A passage from Jeremiah 10 is invariably cited as evidence that the Christmas tree is a pagan symbol, denounced by God, and those who participate in the use and decoration of a Christmas tree are often ridiculed and even subjected to harassment as guilty of idolatry in defiance of God's commandments against the use of these "pagan symbols." But invariably these claims are always lacking in any actual historical or archaeological research into these idols Jeremiah and other books of the Bible refer to, and there is a wealth of information that is available to help us make a more informed and honest evaluation of these claims. The Asherim Jeremiah is speaking of an idol or image that was frequently used throughout the ancient land of Canaan and is referred to by archaeologists and the foremost scholars on ancient Judean/Sumerian religions as “Judean pillar-figurines,” or “Asherah poles,” but the specific Hebrew term used in Scripture is the plural form “Asherim.” They are mentioned in several Old Testament books, in Exodus, Deuteronomy, Judges, the Kings, the Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah, and played a rather large role in the religious practices of the region. These "Asherim" are translated in the King James Version as “groves” giving an erroneous impression of a grove or stand of trees, but other versions translate them more accurately as "Asherah poles, "Asherim," and "wooden images" (see here for example), rightly conveying the idea that these images were in fact Mediterranean style totem poles, objects carved from a solid length of tree trunk, or a “stock," which is the word used in Jeremiah 10:8. They varied in length and size, depending on the type and size of the tree used, and were variously decorated depending upon the wealth and artistic ability of the manufacturer. They contained images carved into the wood, faces and bodies of the local deities. In the case of the ancient Canaanite lands it was the goddess Asherah, and they could be decorated with silver and gold hammered plates or sheeting that wrapped the figure, and even adorned with "fine purple clothing" indicating that they were painted. Where wood was less available and wealth more abundant, they could also be made from stone pillars of various sizes and lengths, ergo the archaeological reference to "pillar figurines." Asherah totem poles made of wood have not survived, but there is ample evidence from ancient writings as well as archaeological artifacts to give us a clear example of what form they actually took. A carving on a stone sarcophagus from the period depicts a pillar-figurine of the god Dionysus, shown being raised up to be dropped into a stand that was fashioned to make it stand upright, exactly as described in Jeremiah. Very often in the Old Testament Scriptures the prophets of God mocked these "gods" who had eyes but could not see, ears but could not hear, a mouth that could not speak, and feet but had to be carried everywhere they went and fastened in a stand so they could stand upright . . . “The customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be carried, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither can they do good.” Well and truly did the prophet Jeremiah say of these false gods made by artisans and "cunning workmen": "They are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men ... thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens." Jeremiah 10:8-11 To this day, not one splinter remains of these "gods" which once towered above and lorded it over the heads of the people who, after fashioning them with their own hands, foolishly bowed down to worship as gods something they themselves had made. But hundreds of smaller replicas of these idols have been discovered in recent decades, the personal and household version of the larger images that stood near the altars of the various gods they represented. These smaller household versions were made of gold and, unlike their larger wooden counterparts which rotted and turned to dust, these smaller Asherim have withstood the ravages of time. Photo from archives of Dr. Bryant Wood, Ph.D in Syro-Palestinian archaeology (curriculum vitae for Dr. Wood here) Throughout the Jewish history of this period these images presented a real stumbling block to the Jewish people, and the Hebrew Scriptures are replete with condemnation and warnings against this practice and the inclusion of smaller versions of these icons in the homes of the people. And yet, even having seen visible proof of the reality of "I Am," the Jews at times turned from worshipping Him and took up with these man-made gods. In fact, they were so prone to it that God specifically commanded them not to make any carved images of anything . . . to point out the folly of man fashioning his own gods which he can see rather than worshipping the Creator whom he cannot see. God repeatedly warned the Jews not to take part in this idolatry, even going so far as to instruct Gideon in Judges 6 to cut down the Asherah poles that stood beside the altar of Baal and to burn them for a burnt offering! For the most thorough archaeological research on these Asherah poles, please see the important work by Raz Kletter of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the foremost archaeologist and scholar on Bronze and Iron Age archaeology here (excerpt from published work). The Christmas Tree The Asherah poles, or Judean pillar-figurines, have no historical connection to Christmas trees. The first record of the use of a tree of any kind by Christians during the Christmas season only dates back 400 years from our time, in late 1600's Germany, well over 2200 years after the worship of Asherah and her Asherah poles had returned to the dust and were lost and forgotten. The Origins of the Christmas Tree During the Medieval period throughout Europe the common people generally had no formal education and could neither read nor write. But they could not have read the Bible in any event because the church, believing the common man could not understand the Scriptures and would misuse or abuse the sacred texts, only allowed the Bible to be recorded in Latin while the native tongue spoken by the people was German and English. Even the rites and ceremonial of the church were all performed in Latin leaving the people woefully ignorant of the Scriptures. So many of the common people actually gained their knowledge of Bible stories from the entertainment media of the day, the traveling troupes of minstrels and actors who traversed the countryside near and far performing plays and skits. Many of the plays and skits they performed were Bible stories and by all accounts from history, the most popular of them all was the "Paradise Play" about the creation and the fall, and the subsequent Gospel of redemption, performed at the Christmas season. According to the history of these plays, traveling the countryside in donkey carts these minstrels had to keep props to a minimum, so for this particular play an evergreen tree was cut down and used as a prop in the play. In the first scene the tree represented the Tree of Knowledge in the garden of Eden, and it's branches were hung with apples which were readily available at this time of year. This is where the idea of the apple being the "forbidden fruit" comes from as well as the association between apples and scholarly pursuits. And later, in the final scene in which the Passion was acted out, the same tree represented the Tree of Life and was hung with wafers and sweets representing the gifts of salvation. In the years that followed, Christians began to erect their own “Paradise Tree” during the Christmas season to teach children about the fall and redemption of man. Eventually other items were added to the tree to further symbolize the doctrines of the faith, such as lights to represent that the birth of Jesus is a "light come into the world," and topped with either a star or an angel representing the star of Bethlehem and the angelic choir which heralded Jesus' birth. For a thorough treatment on the history of the Paradise Play please refer to "Medieval Germany: An Encyclopedia (Routeledge Encyclopedias of the Middle Ages) by John M. Jeep available here . Or see the Wiki article here for general information about these Medieval plays. The History of the Christmas Tree The first historical record of the mention of a “Christmas tree” (as the Paradise Tree came to be called) comes from the 1419 records of the Freiburg Fraternity Baker's Apprentices of the Germany city of Alsace who set up a Christmas tree in the local hospital and decorated it with sweets which they allowed the village children to eat on Christmas day. Then from 1605 we have a letter that was written by a resident of Strasbourg who describes the established custom: "At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlors at Strasbourg and hang thereon roses cut of many-colored paper, apples, wafers, gold-foil, sweet." In a short time the Christmas tree had rapidly spread throughout Germany and beyond. In the Colonia era, German migrants brought the custom to America. But it wasn't until Queen Victoria and her husband, the German Prince Albert, put up a Christmas tree in Great Britain in 1841 that the Christmas tree's popularity became a fixture of the Christmas season. A wood carving was produced depicting the royal family around their Christmas tree and a copy was published, the first historic instance of a Christmas "greeting" and the origins of the modern custom of exchanging Christmas Cards. This wood carving was copied in America and the reproduction was published in "Godey’s Lady’s Book," the “Good Housekeeping” magazine of the 1800’s. Within a few years, and with only minimal objections, Americans took to the Christmas tree with alacrity and today it has become a prominent feature of the Christmas season in American culture not only among Christians, but even among those who otherwise do not celebrate the religious aspects of the holiday. Coupled with the gift giving (derived from the practice of the wise men who gave gifts to the Christ Child), carols (derived from the worship in song by the angelic choir and until the late 19th to 20th Century consisted entirely of hymns which formed part of the church's Christmas worship services) and feasting (the Biblical mode of religious celebration), Christmas has become a holiday which is celebrated around the world, even by cultures and people of other religions. From an historical perspective, the Christmas tree is a modern invention of Christians only within the past six hundred years. Prior to that time there is no mention of the use of tree in this manner in any historical or archaeological source, not in the annals of Christianity or any other religion, and no links or ties in any historical sources to any pagan idols of the ancient past.
The Christmas Tree - A Study on it's Origins and History content media
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D L Bray
Mar 31, 2021
In The Sacrifice - Easter
Easter Week Chronology 6 days before Passover Friday – Nisan 8 – late afternoon - Jesus arrives in Bethany from Jericho Friday – Nisan 9 – sunset – Sabbath supper at home of Simon 5 days before Passover Saturday – Nisan 9 – Sabbath - Jesus rests in Bethany; multitudes come from all over to see Jesus and Lazarus; chief priests and Pharisees plot to arrest both Jesus and Lazarus 4 days before Passover Sunday – Nisan 10 – Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem; lambs selected for Passover; Jesus cleanses Temple for the 2nd time 3 days before Passover Monday – Nisan 11 – Jesus teaches the multitudes 2 days before Passover Tuesday – Nisan 12 – Jesus’ denunciation of Jerusalem; Mt. Olivet discourse 1 day before Passover Wednesday – Nisan 13 - no record in Gospels how Jesus spent the day; possibly in Bethany and last night spent there Wednesday – Nisan 14 – at sunset Jews begin to search their homes with candles for leaven Passover Thursday – Nisan 14 – morning – no leaven eaten after 10:00 a.m. Thursday – Nisan 14 –noon– leaven ceremonially destroyed by burning or by dispersing to the winds; Regular evening sacrifice moved up to just past noon to allow for time for multitude of paschal Sacrifices through the afternoon Thursday – Nisan 14 – afternoon – lambs sacrificed from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Seder prepared 1st Day of Unleavened Bread Thursday – Nisan 15 – evening – Seder eaten (roasted Passover lamb and 1st Passover Chagigah eaten {breast and shoulder of voluntary thank-offering}); the Lord's Supper instituted Thursday – Nisan 15 – night – Jesus arrested, brought before priests and elders Friday – Nisan 15 – morning – Jesus brought before Pilate Friday – Nisan 15 – 9:00 in the morning – Jesus crucified Friday – Nisan 15 – 12:00 noon– darkness Friday – Nisan 15 – 3:00 in the afternoon – Jesus dies Friday – Nisan 15 – late afternoon – Jesus' body placed in tomb Friday - Nisan 15 - before sunset women purchase and prepare spices for Jesus' burial (festival sabbaths allowed certain work necessary for preparation for the feasts, shops were allowed to be open to provide pilgrims with necessary items to keep the feast); High Sabbath preparations were made as no work could be done on the regular weekly Sabbath, not even work necessary to prepare for a feast, thus a High Day in that the weekly Sabbath commandments superceded festival commandments) Sabbath 7th Day of Week (a "High Day") 2nd Day of Unleavened Bread Friday – Nisan 16 – sunset – High Sabbath begins (2nd feast at which mandatory 2nd Passover Chagigah (voluntary thank-offering) is eaten which Pharisees would have been excluded from eating had they become defiled that morning) Friday – Nisan 16 – night – women rest Saturday – Nisan 16 – Sabbath – women rest Saturday - Nisan 17 - night - Rabbinic Law required that work not be resumed during night following Shabbat 1st Day of the Week (1st Day of Feast of Weeks-concludes on Pentecost) Sunday – Nisan 17 – morning early – women come to tomb, Jesus is risen Primary Sources: The New Testament; Talmudic Tractate "Pesachim," Josephus "Antiquities." Secondary Sources: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim; The Temple and It's Services, Alfred Edersheim; Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, Joachim Jeremias; Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Alfred Edersheim; Daily Life in Bible Times, Packer/Tenney/White; Manner and Customs of Bible Times, Ralph Gower, Jesus and His Word, John J. Rousseau and Rami Arav; Excavating Jesus, John Dominic Crossan & Jonathan L. Reed; In the Steps of Jesus, Peter Walker; The Archeology of the New Testament, Jack Finegan; The Trial of Jesus, Walter M Chandler; and many more
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D L Bray
Feb 08, 2021
In Reflections
I was excited when my new book arrived in the mail, "A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ" by the imminent historian and theologian Emil Schurer, D.D., M.A. His work is a primary source for New Testament research, and I have seen his writings cited time and time again by all the most prominent historians, so I was eager to get my hands on my own copy to study. But in the very first paragraph of the introduction I was disappointed. I had to take exception to something he said. I have encountered this same spirit in other scholars and it always disheartens me, especially when it comes from someone whose learning I so greatly respect. Dr. Schurer said: "No incident in the gospel story, no word in the preaching of Jesus Christ, is intelligible apart from its setting in Jewish history." Now it seems to me the good Dr. Schurer is saying that without knowing the Jewish history in which the Gospel is set, one cannot really understand the Gospel, it's not really “intelligible” to the average person. But my question then would be .... if that is true, then how can anyone be saved without first having a knowledge of Jewish history? How many people actually have a knowledge of the Jewish history of the New Testament period before they are saved? And how many countless millions have been saved without having such knowledge? One must have some understanding of what the Gospel means in order to even recognize their need for a Savior, let alone that Jesus is that Savior. I think perhaps there is a bit of an arrogant spirit that seems to haunt the halls of academia, that perpetuates this idea, and Christians are not exempt from it. Through the years that I have been engaged on public Christian discussion forums I have seen it mostly in those who have studied Greek and especially those who have studied Hebrew. They have this same attitude. That you can't really understand the Gospel unless you can read it in the original languages. THEN you understand what the words mean. Don't misunderstand. I certainly believe that knowledge of Jewish history and of Hebrew and Greek can most certainly add to our understanding of the Gospel, can flesh out the form and figure so to speak. However, NONE of these scholarly pursuits are necessary to understand the Gospel. Indeed, God has intentionally made the Gospel of Jesus Christ so simple that even a child can comprehend it. I have studied New Testament history and archaeology as well as Greek and Hebrew for over 40 years and my studies have served to build up, strengthen, and give me a better understanding of things pertaining to the Gospel. But I also know that it was the simple message of the Gospel, that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that won my heart and saved my soul. And that simple message is "intelligible" to anyone and everyone, even without an education in Jewish history or Hebrew. However, I will enjoy studying the work of the good Dr. Schurer and no doubt will learn much about Jewish history ... but I pray God will give me the wisdom and humility to always keep in mind that it is His Spirit that opens the eyes of my understanding and makes the Gospel not only intelligible, but enlightening, and most importantly … transforming. Study to show yourself approved, The Storyteller
Haunted Halls content media
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D L Bray
Jan 29, 2021
In Reflections
Shepherd with his flock overlooking shepherd's field, Christmas Day, Bethlehem, c. 1890 The internet today is increasingly filled with posts, articles, and even whole websites dedicated to challenging the historical accuracy of the Bible. Of course, there have always been those outside the faith who have questioned, disputed, denied, and rejected the record of the Scripture, but in recent years, the criticisms are more and more coming from within the faith, and by sincere, mainstream Christians. The debate currently raging within the faith is not over the historical accuracy of the Scriptures themselves, but of the historical basis of Christendom’s two most important and universal observances of the life of Jesus … Christmas– the birth of Jesus … and Easter– the death and resurrection of Jesus. The arguments against the traditional holidays celebrated by Christians worldwide invariably relate particularly to the dating of these events, but also to the manner in which they have come to be celebrated, the customs and traditions associated with them. Website articles and books have proliferated in recent years and they consistently present the same arguments – that Christmas and Easter are not in fact “Christian” at all, that they are in reality pagan holidays that were adopted by Christians in ancient times, to make Christianity more acceptable to pagans. And they offer very reasonable sounding arguments, citing Scripture and facts to support the claims that Christmas and Easter, and all their customs and traditions, derive from ancient pagan sources. And almost universally, we are instructed to return to the “Biblical holidays,” and not be found guilty of idolatry by celebrating pagan holidays that have replaced those ancient festivals ordained by God. For many, perhaps even for some reading this, it doesn’t really matter, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus whether it actually occurred on December 25 or not and they are unconcerned with the criticisms. But for others, it does matter, and for some it matters greatly. The Judeo/Christian faith is not based on myths or legends or philosophical theories. It is rooted squarely in actual historical events, intimately drawn in the lives of real people, etched in the ancient stones of past civilizations, and forever engraved in the words of those who laid down their lives to bear witness to the things they saw and heard. The Bible then, unlike other religious texts, is a record of history, and of the hand of God at work in the world, from the creation to the revelation. And that record can be tested, against other ancient manuscripts and histories, against geophysical and astronomical data and records, and in modern times by digging up the past and reading in the remains and relics of civilizations of long ago the evidence that time and time again proves that the God of the Bible is God, that He is present in this world, and that His Hand continues to guide and shape the history of the world. For Christianity … history matters. And through the stories and studies shared here, we will blow away the dust of accumulated ages and open a portal into the past, examine, explore, investigate, question, research and weigh all the evidence, thoroughly, honestly, and fairly. And there is a mountain of evidence to consider that will take us into every corner of the Roman/Jewish world where all these events took place, and in the course of these studies we will explore the history and background of the New Testament and everything that pertains to it. And with our studies, we will grow in the knowledge and understanding of those precious times and seasons of the life of Jesus so that we might know the truth of the history of our faith and of our observance of “those things most surely believed among us, even as they were delivered unto us, by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses …” Luke 1:1 May God the Father bless our studies through Jesus Christ our Lord, may His Spirit guide our minds and hearts to be open to the truth, that we may grow in the knowledge and understanding of the times and seasons of the life of the Master, may we be encouraged, edified, and inspired so that day by day we might be transformed in spirit into the image of Jesus Christ. Amen~
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