“Conviction Versus Mercy” by Gardner Hall

May 27, 2013

I’d  like to make our readers aware of a new resource by my friend Gardner Hall, a new book entitled Conviction Versus Mercy.

Gardner writes:

Conviction or Mercy? Which characteristic should most exemplify those who want to follow Christ? Many Christians tend to emphasize one or the other but not both. This book (144 pages) emphasizes the importance of merging the two to be truly like Christ. Though combining mercy and conviction has been a challenge throughout history, it is especially difficult now as our culture is increasingly affected by a Postmodern worldview and the backlash against it.

 

Three formats available
 
Paperback ($8.85) – Click here to order from Amazon.com. (Also, ask for this book in any bookstore you know that is operated by brethren. I’ve found that they respond more to requests from customers than to me!)
 
Kindle (99 cents) – Click here for kindle version
 
Audio (free) – Click here for free audio. Free audio available on same page for Foy Short biography.
 
I purchased mine on Kindle Fire, and am looking forward to reading it.

 

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Yodfat, cont’d

May 24, 2013

Yodfat, site of Josephus’ surrender to Vespasian’s Roman forces, was unoccupied after its destruction in AD 67. This Jewish Galilean city was considered to be very significant archaeologically, as it gives a glimpse of Jewish life just ca. 37 years after the death of Jesus. Beginning in 1993 Yodfat was excavated by a team of archaeologists led by the University of Rochester and the IAA. W.S. Green, educational director of the archaeological team, described Yodfat as a “pristine site.”

Yodfat info sign, in Hebrew. The University of Rochester led in the excavation. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Yodfat info sign, in Hebrew. The University of Rochester led in the excavation. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

On the site is a memorial to the defenders of Yodfat.

Onsite Memorial to Defenders of Yodfat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Onsite Memorial to Defenders of Yodfat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

There were numerous caves at Yodfat. Inhabitants hid in locations such as these when the Romans advanced.

Natural Caves at Yodfat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Natural Caves at Yodfat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The picture emerging at Yodfat is of a devout community that clung to Jewish observance despite its poverty and distance from the center of Jewish worship, the Temple in Jerusalem, says University of Rochester religion professor William Scott Green, educational director of the archaeological team (Bible and Spade Volume 10. 1997, p.66).

This is interesting in view of the fact that many of the Jewish Galilean cities were an admixture of Judaism and paganism.

Excavations have unearthed numerous stoneware pots and mikvaot, or ritual baths. Both items indicate that the Galilee Jews of Yodfat observed stringent laws regarding ritual purity, a dominant concern of Temple Judaism. Stoneware, unlike the more porous earthen pottery, was used by devout Jews for eating because they believed it did not transmit ritual impurity, notes Green. Ritual baths, while expensive and difficult to build, were constructed inside a number of Yodfat homes, even though the town was not particularly wealthy and other architectural embellishments were lacking.

The use of Jewish coins bereft of Roman idols, evident in the types of money unearthed at Yodfat, was another symbol of ordinary piety (ibid.67).

Click on images for higher resolution.

Yodfat of the Galilee

May 22, 2013

Yodfat (also Jotapata, Iotapata, Yodefat) was the site of a 47 day siege in AD 67 by Roman forces led by General Vespasian and his son Titus (both of whom would later be emperors). It is said that this was the second bloodiest battle of the Jewish revolt. The historian Josephus chronicled the siege. He was at that time the commander of the Jewish forces. (See The Wars of the Jews, III.7-8). The Jewish forces were killed, some died of suicide; the Romans sold the women and children into slavery.

Site of ancient Yodfat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Site of ancient Yodfat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This site gave archaeologists what can be a rare opportunity; it was never resettled or built over after its destruction in AD 67.

Click on image for higher resolution.


“I Am the Door of the Sheep” (John 10:7)

May 17, 2013

One of Jesus “I Am” statements in the gospel of John is found in John 10:7: “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep'” and again in v.9: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” Because of verses such as these I am intrigued to see sheepfolds in biblical lands.

Sheepfold near Yodfat in Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sheepfold near Yodfat in Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Of course a door provides access. Inside is safety. Jesus is our access to the Father (John 14:6). In Him are all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). The reference to going “in and out” is suggestive of going out for pasturage, and at the end of the day going in for rest. All of our spiritual needs are met in Christ.

With this in mind note John 10:1-9:

‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. 7 Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’ (NKJV).

Sheep within the sheepfold. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sheep within the sheepfold. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

These sheep within the sheepfold were photographed near Yodfat in Galilee. From this site one can see Cana in the distance.

Wikipedia has this info regarding 1st century Yodfat, a city referenced by the Jewish historian Josephus:

By the first century CE Yodfat had expanded to encompass an area of 50 dunams (13 acres). Its siege and subsequent destruction in 67 CE are described in Josephus Flavius’ The Wars of the Jews, his chronicle of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans. Led by future emperor Vespasian, three Roman legions — Legio V Macedonica, X Fretensis, and XV Apollinaris — besieged Yodfat, meeting strong Jewish resistance. After 47 days the city fell by treachery, and Josephus describes the death of 40,000 Jews and the enslavement of 1,200 women and children. Yodfat was razed and burnt on the first of the Hebrew month of Tammuz. While a few dozen remaining fighters committed suicide, Josephus managed to survive this pact and was captured by the Romans.

Click on images for higher resolution.


Pool of Bethesda

May 14, 2013

As follow-up on yesterday’s post I wanted to include a photo of the pool of Bethesda. There were actually two adjacent pools. Our photo shows excavations of the southern pool.

Southern Pool of Bethesda. Setting of John 5. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Southern Pool of Bethesda. Setting of John 5. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

These pools date back to about 200 BC, and furnished water for the temple. As noted yesterday, this is the setting of the miracle of John 5, when Jesus healed the man who had been lame for 38 years.

Click on image for higher resolution.


St. Anne’s Church at Pool of Bethesda

May 13, 2013

John 5 records Jesus’ miraculous healing of a man lame from birth at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. He had been in this condition for 38 years. Such miracles show who Jesus is: He has power over disease. He has power over time; the fact that the man had been in that condition for 38 years did not in any way lessen Jesus’ power to heal. Jesus came to deliver and redeem man from sin. The Good News of the Gospel is that though one may have been in the bondage of sin for many years, Jesus has power to save.

It is possible to see the pools of Bethesda today in the NE section of the Old City in the Muslim Quarter (comprised of 76 acres). St. Anne’s church is located there, dating back to AD 1138. Jerome Murphy-O’Conner describes it as the “loveliest church in the city” (The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700).

In 2011 my group went inside St. Anne’s and sang spiritual songs, such as “Amazing Grace,” “Alleluia,” and many others. The acoustics are marvelous.

Singing at St. Anne's Church near Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Singing at St. Anne’s Church near Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on photo for larger view.


On the Steps of the Pool of Siloam

May 11, 2013

One of the most exciting of recent archaeological discoveries in Israel has been that of the pool of Siloam. I first saw this site in fall of 2005, when it was still “freshly” excavated. This photo illuminated the text of John 9, where Jesus healed the man born blind. Jesus spat upon the ground, made clay of the spittle, anointed the man’s eyes and told him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. He did so, and received his sight (John 9:1-7).

On Steps of Siloam. Mauldin Group 2011

On Steps of Siloam. Mauldin Group 2011

All manner of pressure was brought to bear upon him by Jewish authorities to renounce Jesus as a sinner, but he refused to cave in. “One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).

This is one of Jesus’ seven miraculous signs recorded in the gospel of John:

Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).

There is great value in on-site biblical study.

I previously posted on the Hezekiah’s tunnel which emptied into the pool of Siloam here and here.

My friend Ferrell Jenkins has recently return from conducting a tour in Israel, and then staying on several days to take more photos. I’m looking to seeing those in the near future here.