"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled..." ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands..." ~ II Tim. 1:6

Category: Topic Studies Page 1 of 5

Occupying Your God-Given Space:  Humility in a Self-Esteem World

What first comes to mind when you think of humility?

Is it a dejected stance, head hung down because you made a mistake?  Or maybe a timid attitude, avoiding eye contact and feeling inferior?

In today’s self-obsessed society, humility gets a bad rap.  And that’s partially just due to the nature of the society we live in, but it’s also because humility is deeply misunderstood.

I’d never given this topic particular thought until I landed on this devotional in my bible app, and something clicked for me.

“Have you ever been humbled by nature? Have you ever walked through a field of tulips or watched a sunset and been reminded of how incredibly awesome God is and how small you are by comparison?  It’s humbling.  The Hebrew word anavah is what we translate as “humility”, but the literal definition of anavah is to occupy your God-given space in the world—not to overestimate yourself or your abilities, and to not underestimate them either.” (quoted from the devotional on YouVersion/Bible.com)

This really brought humility to life in a way that I’d never considered before, and caused me to want to dig even further into humility in the bible.  Note, the original devotion uses “avanah”, but throughout my research I can only find it spelled “anavah” from the root anav, so that’s what I’m using throughout this study because I think it was just a typo.

There are several Hebrew words that can be translated as “humble” or “humility”.  This one comes from the root anav, which denotes a condition of character—depending on God due to internal, spiritual orientation rather than external factors.  The root of this word also indicates that relying on God is a choice, not merely because you physically have to.

Humility and meekness are closely related, but I’m not getting into meekness here because it’s a big study in its own right, and one I intend on doing.  They come from the same root word and the two are sometimes used interchangeably in the bible, but there are some nuances in meaning that are worth exploring.  To my mind, meekness is more expressed toward others, whereas humility is more inward—how you think about and see yourself.  But they’re two sides of the same coin.

Humility in the bible 

As is always the truth, we can learn a lot about the word itself and God’s attitude toward humility (and anavah in particular) by looking at how it’s used in the holy scriptures.

Anavah (H6038) is strongly associated with the fear of the Lord throughout the Old Testament, and seen as something that comes from wisdom and leads to honor.

The Analogy of Sin as a Virus…and Repentance as Radical Transformation

A while back I was reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, a non-fiction book about a particular moment in the history of medical ethics, scientific discovery, and race.  I ran across this sentence and for whatever reason it stuck in the back of my mind.

“Viruses reproduce by injecting bits of their genetic material into a living cell, essentially reprogramming the cell so it reproduces the virus instead of itself.” ~ The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

A picture of Satan trying to do exactly that came to mind, and the more I thought on it, a virus seemed to be a fairly apt analogy to sin’s effect on us.  But once I started researching it a little more, I found that the analogy of sin as a virus was way closer than I originally thought.  So this study explores some of those shared characteristics.

There are two things that probably need stated before we dig in here:  I am not a scientist, and this analogy is not perfect.  All analogies start to fall apart when you dig *too* deeply regardless, but since I’m not a scientist that may be especially true here.

The other thing that feels like it must be stated is that, unlike actual viruses which attack us through no fault of our own, we are complicit when it comes to sin.  It is our hearts that are “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 14:12).  So though Satan certainly attacks us and helps us along, we should not read this analogy as one in which we play a passive victim role.

Regardless, I think this is interesting and valuable food for thought.

The analogy of sin as a virus

“…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men” (Rom. 5:12)

It’s important to understand a few things about viruses that start to give our analogy to Satan and sin greater depth.

Viruses come in all shapes and sizes, from the common cold to HIV.  The viruses themselves are all invisible, but with some it’s easy to see and diagnose the symptoms, and with others the host is a silent carrier with no outward symptoms.

Similarly, sins and their consequences take many different forms.  Some are overt and public (murder, theft), but more often they are not readily apparent to us or the people around us.  Many are subtle…a bit of anger, some work gossip to pass the time, too much time and attention spent on material things.  But when left alone, they continue to multiply…like the “little leaven that leavens the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6).

Passover Themes: The Wine

Recently I found some of my notes from keeping the Passover as a small group a few years ago.  Rather than the very formal and consistent script that many of the corporate COGs use for Passover, the smaller groups often have a more interactive meeting where multiple people share speaking roles. 

This post is adapted from my notes when I presented the Passover wine meaning portion of the ceremony one year.  While a bit more perfunctory than many studies on the site, these are good themes to re-visit as we prepare for the Passover every year, and may be helpful for those keeping it in small, interactive groups.

If you want to download my speaking notes for your Passover night meeting, you can do so here:  Passover Night Service: The Wine

Themes of Keeping the Passover:  The Wine

We know that every single one of us has sinned, and so fall short of the glory of God.  And we know that the penalty for that sin is death (Rom. 3:23, 6:23).

God told the Israelites that the blood of the many sacrifices He required was to help make atonement for them, saying “For the life of the flesh is in the blood…for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).

Prior to Christ coming to earth and giving His life for our sins, for Israel to keep the Passover entailed the slaughter of thousands of lambs as a symbol of this need for cleansing.  But in Hebrews, Paul makes it clear that it’s not possible for the blood of animals to actually take away sins (Heb. 10:4).

Instead, Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—came as our eternal High Priest to make this atonement for us.

“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:12-15, 22)

That word translated “remission” means freedom, pardon, forgiveness, or liberty.  As our kinsman-redeemer, Christ purchased us with His blood, freeing us from the debt (death) that we owed and from our bondage to sin.

He was able to pay the price for our sins, and transfer ownership of us from Satan (the ruler of this world) to the God family ONLY because He didn’t owe the same debt.  He was perfect and blameless, never having committed even a single sin.

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:15, 18-19)

As our Passover Lamb, only Christ was qualified to make this sacrifice.  This redemption out of sin makes possible our eternal salvation, and opens the door for our future roles in God’s kingdom.

Stand Still and Wait: Worldly Solutions vs. Waiting on God (Musings on Faith Series)

“You will not need to fight in this battle.  Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you” (II Chron. 20:17)

Do you trust God?

This isn’t a trick question, and our gut response is “Yes, of course!”  But it’s actually a more complicated question (and answer) than it appears at face value, isn’t it?

We don’t have God literally talking to us every day, telling us what’s on His mind and what plans He has for us that day.  We want to involve Him in our decisions and understand His will, but it’s not always clear how involved He is in day-to-day details.

Does He want a say in every decision we make?  How much does He care about the daily “small stuff” versus the big picture?  Does He expect us to solve most of our own problems, or does He reward those who ask Him for help in every small issue?

More questions than answers, right…??  What I wanted to dig into in this study is how we approach “problem solving”, through the lens of some examples in the bible.  Do think about waiting on God and trusting that He has things under control, or do we seek out worldly, human solutions?

This is one of those studies that’s intended more to share thoughts and spur your own thinking, rather than provide a specific point of view or “how to”.  I’d consider it a combination of pointing out what can happen when we try to solve problems our own way and on our own timetable, and a meditation on the balance between relying on God and abdicating responsibility for our lives and decisions.  This is a longer one, but only because there are a number of examples provided for context.

“Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…”

A lot of these questions ultimately boil down to trusting in God’s timing and approach rather than giving in to human reasoning, impatience, and impulsivity.

But that requires us to believe that God knows each of us personally, that He is in control, knows what we want (and need), and wants the absolute best for us.

And I think that last bit (that He wants the best for us) is actually much harder than it sounds to truly grasp.  It *sounds* completely logical, but when you’re in the middle of something and don’t see a good solution or understand why it’s happening, or when you want something so badly and don’t get it, that belief is a difficult thing to maintain.

There are many parts of the bible where God’s advice is effectively “be patient”.  Many times His people were told to stand still and wait for Him to act on their behalf.  Sometimes that was a literal physical command to stand there, but sometimes it referred more to their emotional state—just stop, don’t let your emotions run around like Chicken Little screaming “the sky is falling!”.

This is a topic I’ve been musing on for some time.  It’s not clear-cut, and there is almost never an easy answer when we’re right in the middle of a situation.  When something happens, what is your first instinct?  Where do you look for solutions?  How do you go about making decisions?

So I thought it would be good to show some examples from the bible of people who didn’t trust in God and figured out their own solutions (and how that turned out).  Then because I’m not all Debby Downer, I wanted to showcase some great examples of people who did wait, and looked to God to accomplish His purpose in His time.

And of course—because it’s me—I have some thoughts on practical applications for our own modern lives at the end for us to consider.

Worldly solutions to (real or perceived) problems

First we’ll look at some examples of when people decided to find their own solutions to problems that were either real, or that they perceived to be real.

It’s kind of sad how easy it is to think of examples for both of these areas…but to be fair, the bible is written for our instruction, so it stands to reason that there are a lot of cautionary tales in there.  Most of these are well-known stories, so I’m just going to highlight the important points rather than tell you the whole story.

These examples pretty much boil down to:  Do you trust God to take care of you and help solve your problems?

FOMO:  How To Derail Your Relationship With God

Or, the key to unhappiness…

We usually put the best of ourselves and our lives out on social media.  We talk about how amazing our spouse is, how cute our kids are, personal accomplishments, a delicious meal we cooked (or ordered), stunning vacation pictures.  And none of this is necessarily wrong—most people wouldn’t like to follow people who are super negative or just plain boring all of the time.

But we also know that what we’re showing are the most exciting bits of our life, our personal “highlight reel”.  That the mundane, overwhelming, and embarrassing parts of our life aren’t public.

We rarely trumpet that we’re stuck in traffic, sitting in a meeting, vegging on the couch, rocking a colicky baby in the middle of the night, the disaster of a kitchen after cooking, seething after an argument with your spouse, having to discipline your kid in the middle of a crowded grocery store, feeling like a failure because you messed up at work.

Though this is the majority of most people’s day, most of us don’t post about these things.  And the funny thing is, we know this about ourselves.  But our brains are a mysterious thing.  Somehow we can then look at everyone else’s social media life and forget that it is also a carefully curated museum of the best of their lives as well.  And in forgetting, we allow feelings of discontent to nestle into our brains and hearts.

A couple things happen as a result of this.  First, we tend to be concerned with making our lives *appear* amazing or glamorous.  And second, we tend to look at other people’s lives from the outside and unintentionally use that as a measuring stick for ourselves.

Living that FOMO life

There’s a condition that’s endemic to today’s technology-obsessed society.  It’s been dubbed “FOMO”—the “fear of missing out”.  And while FOMO has become slang that the younger generation casually drop in conversation for fun, it’s actually a much more pervasive aspect of our human nature that’s amplified by technology, and has the potential to derail our faith.

As Far As East From the West:  The Second Atonement Goat

All of the holy days picture the steps God is taking to reconcile mankind to Himself, and the Day of Atonement is in many ways the culmination of that.  Atonement is a mirror of the Passover, when Christ’s sacrifice is applied to the entire world rather than just a select group of God’s firstfruits.

According to Jewish tradition, the Day of Atonement was when Adam and Eve, at the serpent’s urging, ate of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  If that is the case (and it makes sense), then this day marks both the exact moment that mankind was separated from God, and fittingly pictures the restoring of that connection.

One aspect of the Day of Atonement that God gave Israel was the ceremony of the two goats.  It involves a high priest made symbolically sinless by a separate sin offering, taking two unblemished young goats as a sin offering for the people.  After Aaron cast lots for the two goats, the one chosen “for the Lord” was killed and its blood used to pay the price of the nation’s sins.  The other goat had the nation’s sins laid on it and was led out into the wilderness and left there.

This is not a ceremony that is often talked about or studied in-depth.  For many decades, most of the churches of God have taught that the second goat, who is sent into the wilderness after having the sins of the congregation placed on him, symbolizes Satan.  The theory was that this represented Satan’s culpability in mankind’s downfall and the sin that permeates this world, and that the goat taken into the wilderness symbolizes Satan being bound in Revelation 20.

This interpretation, though, is not consistent with what the bible tells us in this particular passage, nor is it consistent with what we read throughout the rest of the bible regarding the sacrificial system, the role of Jesus Christ, and our personal accountability for our sins.

In this study we’re going to go through what both of the goats picture in God’s plan.  I know it seems somewhat distant and esoteric, but stay with me—I promise this is actually going somewhere real and weighty and relevant to us today.

Two goats, one unblemished sin offering

We see first that the high priest could only come into the Holy of Holies one time a year, and he first had to offer a sin offering for himself, wash himself, and put on special garments.  This was because the sin offering could only be accomplished by a sinless high priest, picturing Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9 and 10 cover this in-depth).

After the high priest had performed the sacrifice for his own sins, he then started the rest of the ceremony:

“And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering…then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the azazel [goat of departure]” (Lev. 16:5)

The first thing that Leviticus 16:5 tells us is that both goats are for a sin offering—each is a distinct necessary element and together they constituted a single sin offering.  They could not be complete or accepted separately.  This was a unique requirement since most sin offerings were only one animal, and it signals to us that God was accomplishing something additional in this ritual beyond just payment for sin.

Eyes on the Horizon:  Navigating this Life

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.  Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established” ~ Prov. 4:25-26

A while back, I had the chance to spend a few days sailing off the coast of Sweden.  It was an idyllic off-the-grid weekend, and we had the opportunity to act as first mates to the boat’s captain, Patrik.

The first time I took my turn at the wheel, he gave me a point far out on the horizon to aim for (a tiny white speck that ended up being a lighthouse) and then sat back to chill.  I steered for a while, but increasingly found myself staring intently at the small GPS screen, which had two lines—the one he’d charted and the one we were currently on.

Navigating this Life - example GPS from the boat

I was laser-focused, trying to keep our direction completely aligned with the course he had charted, making tiny adjustments, struggling to turn the right way and guess how the boat would react to the waves and wind.  The result was me zig-zagging through the water rather than smooth, straight sailing.  When he realized what I was doing, he corrected me.

“Don’t look down, look at the horizon.  That point I gave you out there, that is your goal—navigate by that.  Yes, look down every so often to check for rocks and obstacles, but down there shouldn’t be your focus.”

Perils while navigating this life

Why does this story stick with me, even a few years later?

First, it immediately brought to mind the statement in Hebrews 11 about how the faithful of God through the ages were focused on the promises they saw “afar off,” remaining intent on that vision of the future no matter what threatened them in the present.

Secondly, it made me consider the needs and impact of the immediate vs. the eternal, and how we should be balancing the two while navigating this life.  Make no mistake, we’re meant to actually live our time on this earth, which means we do have to give attention to “right now”.

But it’s also easy to get caught up in the daily grind, with all the negativity, what’s going wrong (or right), not understanding the direction of things or why things happen.  And if we spend too much time thinking about the immediate, it can cause us—ultimately—to lose sight of the eternal.  We’ll zig-zag through life, wasting energy and ending up slowly but surely off-course.

A Practical Approach to Worry & Anxiety in the Bible

Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. ~ Swedish proverb

Worry.  Anxiety.  There are a lot of different words that can describe these types of feelings.  I tend to differentiate in that worries are specific—a presentation at work going poorly, a friend being offended by what I said—while I think of anxiety as a more generalized feeling of dread or fear.  That’s not necessarily scientific, just how my brain tends to separate them.  Personally, I’m more prone to the latter.  And while I wouldn’t consider myself a worrier, I do struggle with this on occasion—pretty much everyone does at some point.

There is a famous quote that says, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”  Intuitively we know that being anxious all the time isn’t healthy, and yet often it seems like we can’t help ourselves.

I thought it would be worth digging into the topics of worry and anxiety in the bible, to see how we should approach them—are we dealing with a true innate personality trait, or something we can and should overcome?  And then we’ll dive into some practical ways to apply this in our lives.

Read next:  Eyes on the Horizon: Tips For Navigating This Life

What does the bible say about worry and anxiety?

Actually, quite a lot.

Here are a handful of verses that get right to the heart of the bible’s take on worry and anxiety:

  • “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Prov. 12:25)
  • “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul” (Ps. 94:19)
  • “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on” (Matt. 6:25-34)
  • “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27)
  • “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7)
  • “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved [shaken]” (Ps. 55:22)
  • “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:41-42)
  • “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34:4)
  • “For what has man for all his labor, and for the anxious striving for which they labor under the sun?” (Eccl. 2:22; NIV)
  • “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties” (Ps. 139:23, NIV)

And these don’t even count the 100 or so times that we are commanded to “be not afraid” or “fear not”.   God clearly sees these topics as relevant to His people and worth addressing.

Read next:  Fear & Love Can’t Coexist (Musings on Faith)

How does worry affect us?

The word typically translated as worry or anxious in the New Testament is merimnao (G3309), and it simply means “to be anxious about”.  It’s translated “worry” in the New King James mostly, while the King James tends to prefer “take no thought for” or “do not care for”.  This word is what’s used in some of the more well-known verses on this subject, such as Matthew 6 and Philippians 4.  Let’s dig into that (lengthy) passage in Matthew for starters:

Circumcision, Baptism, and the Passover:  Coming Into Covenant

[Author’s note:  I wrote this study almost 15 years ago as a means of trying to understand what God’s word said about who should partake of the bread and wine within the Passover ceremony, as that was a topic of debate in our small group at that time (specifically regarding children).  The study outlines what I concluded, though in my mind this is not a topic I would “fall on my sword” about.]

Circumcision required in God’s covenant with Abraham

Abram was a righteous man who followed and obeyed God throughout his life.  In Genesis 12, we see the Lord (who later came as Jesus Christ) come to Abram and initiate a covenant, which was later reiterated and expanded upon in Genesis 13 and 15.   More than thirteen years later, the Lord again appeared to Abram, tells him to be blameless, and instituted a new part of their covenant:

“This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you…and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” (Gen. 17:1-14)

These verses show circumcision being added as requirement of God’s covenant with Abraham and applying to his descendants as well.  Circumcision was a symbol of the faith Abraham already had, an outward symbol or action of the change already evident in Abraham’s heart.  It was also used to signify the people God had made a covenant with.

Circumcision involves the shedding of blood, a crucial component in sacrifices for the atoning of sins.  Leviticus 17:11 tells us that “the life of the flesh is in the blood…for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul”.  This is a forerunner of Christ shedding His blood for the atonement of mankind’s sins (I John 1:7).

Israel’s requirements as God’s covenant people

Fast-forward to Israel preparing to leave Egypt and to keep the Passover for the first time.  Throughout Exodus 12, God gives Moses and Aaron the instructions for the sacrifice of the lamb, the blood on the doorpost (again, the shedding of blood and coming under it), and eating the meal.  Towards the end of the chapter, God instructs them that no foreigner shall eat the Passover (the body of the lamb that has been sacrificed), and tells them:

“All of the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised…For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.” (Ex. 12:47)

The Lord is very clear that no uncircumcised person can keep the Passover, because it’s impossible to come under the blood of the lamb (Lamb) and partake of its (His) body without being circumcised—the sign of God’s covenant with His people.  In this patriarchal society where God made a covenant with the nation as a whole, circumcision for family members was ascribed to the head male family member, who stood for the whole family (and all males in the family were also circumcised).

Over the centuries, God frequently made a connection between the act of physical circumcision and an analogy of spiritual circumcision, or circumcision of the heart.  Throughout many years of wandering in the desert, Israel continually rejected God and longed with their carnal hearts to return to their old ways.  Before they finally were allowed to enter the Promised Land after the 40 years of wandering, God hammered home this connection and how He wanted His relationship with them to function.

  • “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?…Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.” (Deut. 10:12-16)
  • “Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed…And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live…And you will again obey the voice of the Lord and do all His commandments.” (Deut. 30:5-8)

Circumcision represented removing the part of a person that is resistant to God.  This never happened with physical Israel, though they were (often) physically circumcised.  The fact is that this circumcision of the heart can’t truly happen without God’s spirit at work in a person, and this was not available beyond a few specific cases until Christ’s sacrifice.

Touring the Holy Land: Jerusalem, Masada, En Gedi, & the Dead Sea

This is the final post in a series about our trip to Israel and Jordan, where we’ve been focusing particularly on the history and biblical relevance to areas we visited.  At the end of our trip, over the course of about two days, we immersed ourselves in Jerusalem’s Old City, visited the Temple Mount, and spent some time exploring the fortress of Masada, ancient oasis of En Gedi, and the Dead Sea.  

If you missed the other posts in the series, here are the links.  I’d definitely recommend starting with the maps and introduction post, which gives some helpful context to the geography, history, and politics of the region.

After spending two days in the fascinating modern-day country of Jordan (historically Moab, Ammon, and Edom in the bible),  our friends picked us up at the border in Eilat, and we drove toward Jerusalem.

Drive from Eilat to Jerusalem

We took a different route coming back from Eilat than we’d taken from Tel Aviv down there a few days earlier.  Instead, we came up along the coast of the Dead Sea.

Qumran Caves

As we drove toward Jerusalem, we could see the Qumran Caves in the distance, with their distinctive striations, points, and cave holes.  The caves are famous for being where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.  Specifically, thousands of fragments of the Old Testament scrolls dating back to between about the 1st-2nd century BCE through the first century AD.

You can visit some of the Qumran Caves but we didn’t have time for stops on this particular drive.

West Bank

I won’t even attempt to thoroughly explain the West Bank, because I’m not remotely equipped to do so.  It is an important thing to know about if you’re traveling in Israel, however.  It encompasses a large swath of modern-day Israel that is hotly contested by Palestinian Arabs, who claim it should be theirs as part of a Palestinian nation state. 

Towns such as Bethlehem (where Jesus Christ was born) and Jericho (thought to be the oldest city in the world) are here, as well as Hebron, where tradition says Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah are buried.  As such, it’s a popular place to visit despite some of the complexities.

When you are driving through Israel, you will encounter various checkpoints.  We didn’t have any issues getting through, but if you’re visiting certain areas it’s recommended to go with a day tour or you can use public transportation and then hire a Palestinian taxi driver to take you around.  The Gaza Strip, however, is basically considered off-limits (to the point that the U.S. government explicitly says they will not help you if you’re dumb enough to go on your own).  

Most of the time when we were within the West Bank, I didn’t even know it.  However, as we approached Jerusalem and then from certain viewpoints in Jerusalem, you could see it a bit more clearly.  There is a wall at certain points that delineates.

Jerusalem in the Bible

Because Jerusalem is obviously present throughout most of the bible, we’ll have to approach this section a little differently than in the previous articles, since we could list scriptures for days.  Instead, we’ll cover the highlights of specific sites in Jerusalem in the bible or history.

One of the first things we did upon arriving in Jerusalem was visit the Israel Museum, because we arrived on their Independence Day and museum entrance was free.  While I’m not a big museum person, this may be one of the best in the world (from a historical standpoint). 

One of the things you can see there are fragments of the actual Dead Sea Scrolls (which were discovered in the Qumrum Caves above).  These are housed in the Shrine of the Book, a beautiful white dome meant to look like the clay jars the scrolls were discovered in.

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