Judah will exist forever

Judah will exist forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
JOEL (4:20)
וִיהוּדָה לְעוֹלָם תֵּשֵׁב וִירוּשָׁלִַם לְדוֹר וָדוֹר
יואל ד:כ

ve-ye-hoo-DAH le-oh-LOHM tay-SHEV vee-roo-sha-la-YEEM le-DOR va-DOR

Today’s Bible Lesson: Guest Post
by Sondra Baras, Director of CFOIC

Judah was Jacob’s fourth son and when the land was divided amongst the Tribes of Israel, Judah received the vast area of land south of Jerusalem extending from the Dead Sea in the east to the Mediterranean in the west. For centuries, this area was known as the Region of Judah, or Judea. Today, many people seek to sever the Jewish people from Judea, the Biblical Heartland of the Jewish People.  But God promised through His prophet Joel, that Judah would exist forever.  “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).

About Today’s Photograph
Photograph of a father and son walking through the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City by Vladi Alon. Today’s verse and much of Jewish literature connect Jerusalem with eternity.  “While pondering the creation of the world, the sages asked: ‘From where did He create it? And the answer is ‘From Zion.’ And when the Holy One, blessed is He, shall renew the world, He shall renew it out of Zion.” From “Legends of Jerusalem” by Zev Vilnay.

Titus Arch – Arc de Triumph

 

When the Romans defeated the Jews in 70 C.E., they built this “Titus Arch” in Rome to commemorate their victory.

The sculpture depicts the booty the Romans took when they ransacked and destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

The Roman victors named the conquered Jewish region “Palestine.”

 

Info from Israel 101

 

Jerusalem in Depth

A fascinating millennia-old subterranean world of tunnels, caves, aqueducts, plazas, and even a church are exciting evidence from an iota of the city of eternity’s history
Shahar Shilo, allaboutJerusalem.com

You won’t believe what’s hidden under Jerusalem. A fascinating millennia-old subterranean world of tunnels, caves, aqueducts, plazas, and even a church are exciting evidence from an iota of the city of eternity’s history. Come on a tour through the depths of the earth, under 21st century Jerusalem

Many cities in the world boast mysterious and interesting subterranean complexes that attract adventure seekers and history buffs. Jerusalem, being an ancient city, has also been blessed with an abundance of subterranean sites, some better known than others.
The Entrance to the Warren Shaft System

Photo By: Ron Peled

Jerusalem’s subterranean world is comprised of two types of sites: those that were quarried or intentionally built underground, and others that used to be at ground level but are now deep under the modern city due to the repeated ruin and destruction throughout history that the city endured. This article offers an in-depth tour, pun intended, of worlds hidden deep under the surface of modern-day Jerusalem.

The ancient water system in the City of David: This is a hidden and sheltered subterranean water system under the holy city of Jerusalem, within the City of David National Park. This monumental system, excavated about 3,800 years ago by the Canaanites-Jebusites residing in Jerusalem, was used to connect the fortressed city with the Gihon Spring, which was the only source of water available around Jerusalem.

One thousand years later, at the height of the Kingdom of Judah’s Israelite Period, King Hezekiah’s laborers dug a 582-yard long tunnel that channeled the Gihon Spring waters to the Pool of Siloam, which was built within the walls in the ancient city’s central ravine. You can now visit the entire water system and enjoy a unique experience – walking through flowing water, in Hezekiah’s Tunnel, by flashlight.

Following in the steps of the Second Temple Period pilgrims: After the Israelite Period, in the time of the Second Temple, Jerusalem grew a great deal, and according to historical sources, it became one of the most resplendent cities in the ancient world.

Thousands of pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem on holy days, the Second Temple as their destination. An exciting subterranean path connecting the Pool of Siloam with the Western Wall, at the foot of the Temple Mount, was recently exposed in Jerusalem. You can now walk through the Jerusalem of the Second Temple era on a 765-yard long underground path – from the Pool of Siloam in the southern City of David to the Davidson Center Archeological Park and to the Western Wall plaza. See up close the city’s prestige and grandeur during King Herod’s reign in the Roman period, about 2,000 years ago.
Facing the Holy of Holies in the Western Wall Tunnel

Photo By: Ron Peled

The Western Wall Tunnels: A remarkable and awe-inspiring subterranean world that also belongs to the Second Temple era has recently been revealed to visitors, in the northern corner of the Western Wall plaza, under the houses of the Moslem Quarter. Years of destruction and construction next to the Temple Mount buried the city deep beneath the present. Subterranean guided tours will take you along the length of the Western Wall, but including the underneathunderground part of it. The several hundred yard long path exits onto the Via Dolorosa, and will introduce visitors to an ancient and magnificent world of palatial construction, coupled with engaging explanations about the customs of ancient Jerusalem residents and the city’s character during the days of the Second Temple.

Hasmonean Aqueduct Tunnel on the ridge of Armon Hanatziv (Government Governor House): An unforgettable subterranean adventure. During Jerusalem’s heyday, it required a lot of water, which could not be found in the city. To meet this vital need, aqueducts were built to channel water to Jerusalem from large natural springs south of the city, around Bethlehem.

The lower aqueduct, which led water to the Temple Mount, crossed the highest ridge of Armon Hanatziv through an excavated 437-yard long tunnel. You can tour the entire length of the excavated tunnel by flashlight and be dazzled by the superb construction quality and the original plaster that has survived here for more than 2,000 years.
The Hasmonean Aqueduct in Armon Hanatziv

Photo By: Ron Peled

Zedekiah’s Cave (also known as Solomon’s Quarries): A small and unassuming opening can be found at the northern part of the Old City, next to Nablus Gate, and whoever enters it is surprised to find themselves in an enormous cave, more than 2.2 acres large.

Some of the most important Jerusalem researchers searched for this mysterious and picturesque place, until it was accidentally discovered in 1854 by Dr. James Turner Barclay, who went looking for his lost dog. The gigantic cave sparked the imagination of researchers, and it was quickly named Zedekiah’s Cave, since it is associated with the tragic story of King Zedekiah, the last king of Judah.

Music at the Tzidkiyau cave during Hamshushalaim Festival

Photo By: Ron Peled

Accoridng to tradition, the king tried to escape the Babylonian conquerors through the tunnel, but they caught him as he emerged from the cave, blinded him, and led him to Babylon, where he was imprisoned for life. But the truth is that the cave is actually a huge quarry for Jerusalem building stones, which masons used throughout most of the city’s historical periods. Captain Charles Warren, Jerusalem’s famous archeologist, conducted the founding gathering of the Freemasons movement in the Holy Land in this cave, in 1868. Additional areas and galleries totaling an area of almost 1.2 acres were recently discovered inside the cave.

The End of the Western Wall Tunnel – Lithostrotos and the Strouthion Pool

Photo By: Ron Peled

: 0n the northern end of the Via Dolorosa, near the first station, lies the Ecce Homo Convent of the Sisters of Zion. The modest opening, visible from the side of the street, does not allude to the rich subterranean world that lies beneath.

Through the small convent, you enter an ancient Roman Jerusalem site from the second century C.E. The path crosses the large Roman floor tiles (a style called Lithostrotos, meaning “pavement”) and along ancient water pools, one of which is the Strouthion Pool, found in the northern area of the Western Wall Tunnels, right next to the street exit. To wrap up a fascinating tour of life during the Roman Period in Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem’s Roman name) don’t miss the impressive Roman Square under Nablus Gate.

The Church of the Ascension of Mary

Photo By: Ron Peled

Mary’s Tomb at the Church of the Assumption: Located in the Kidron Valley, next to Gethsemane, lies one of the oldest, most beautiful and impeccable churches in Jerusalem. This Crusader church, which according to Christian tradition is where St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, is buried.

The church is resplendently built from Jerusalem stone and lies in its full glory in the ancient level of the Kidron Stream, found deep under modern-day street level. To reach the church’s outdoor plaza, you need to go down a large stairwell, from which a dim and mysterious stairwell descends into the belly of the earth – to Mary’s Tomb and to the dark galleries infused with the fragrance of frankincense.

This does not conclude Jerusalem’s subterranean wonders. Other great destinations include Nicanor Cave, an ancient cave in the botanical garden at Mount Scopus, the Well of Souls, a natural cave located under the Foundation Stone inside the Dome of the Rock at the top of the Temple Mount, the Burnt House and Herodian Quarter under the Jewish Quarter, and more. See these sites during an extended and leisurely visit to Jerusalem.

The Old City of Jerusalem

The Old City of Jerusalem is one of the most intense places on Earth! At the heart of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian religions, this walled one kilometer area in the center of Jerusalem is beyond words and cannot be missed.

The Old City of Jerusalem as seen from David's TowerThe Old City of Jerusalem as seen from Tower of David Museum by Brian Negin, on Flickr

The Old City is home to the Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall and in Hebrew Kotel). This is the last remaining wall of what was the Jewish Temple, and is today the holiest site in the world for Jews.

Above the Western Wall lies the Dome of the Rock important for Muslims as the site where the prophet Muhammad is said to have risen to heaven.

Dome Of The RockDome Of The Rock by mockstar, on Flickr

And, just a few minutes walk away, lies the Church of the Sepulcher, where some believe  Jesus was crucified and buried.

The Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters; The Jewish Quarter, The Armenian Quarter, The Christian Quarter, and The Muslim Quarter. The walled city is entered by one of seven entry gates, although the busiest for tourists is the Jaffa Gate next to which is the Tower of David Museum, providing the history of Jerusalem within the Old City Walls. Each quarter has its own unique atmosphere and observations, sites and smells, and experiences.

Going to prayJewish men going to pray in the Old City of Jerusalem by chany14, on Flickr

In the Jewish Quarter, for instance, the narrow alleyways are lined by the homes of Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jewish families, and Yeshivas (schools for Torah study). Walking and observing the residents of the Jewish quarter rush about on their daily life, whether teenage students in the Yeshivas who are often here from around the world for extended periods of time, children as they walk with school between lessons, or the men, as they rush around between places of worship, and the Western Wall. The houses of the Old City, and the Jewish quarter in particular, are for good reason, hotly contested real estate, and command spectacular prices when they rarely trade hands.

The Jewish Quarter’s narrow alleyways open up as you reach the Western Wall Plaza and the wall itself. At times of Jewish festival the wall can be crowded, and observing the tourists brushing alongside daily prayers here is an interesting site. Anybody can go up to the wall, although men and women have separate areas, and men should cover their heads (there are paper kuppels available), and women wear modest clothing. It is customary to place a small prayer on a piece of paper within a crack on the wall. Amazingly the vast Western Wall represents just a tiny percentage of this elevation of the Temple, and the Western Wall Tunnels accessed via the plaza, allow visitors to see even more of the wall underground. Also interestingly, within the Muslim Quarter is whats known as the Little Western Wall where the wall is once again exposed and visible. This is argued to be holier than the iconic section of wall because it is closer to the ‘Holy of Holies’ – the holiest part of the Temple.

Old City of JerusalemOld City ‘Shuk’ by RonAlmog, on Flickr

The Muslim Quarter is a huge contrast to the Jewish Quarter its streets are busier, more crowded, with vendors, especially within the famous Shuk selling all varieties of products. In contrast to the other quarters where shops are generally selling religious or tourist-appealing products, here the Shuk is literally an ancient shopping mall in the 21st century where one can practicing their bartering skills and buy almost anything imaginable. As in the Jewish Quarter, and the rest of the Old City, tourists wondering the streets of the Muslim Quarter find it hard to imagine how the locals go about their everyday business so normally in what is such an intense and looked upon place. Kids play in the street, and men sit out in cafes smoking nargila (hookah or shisha).

Old City of JerusalemOld City of Jerusalem by RonAlmog, on Flickr

The Dome of the Rock sits above the Western Wall Plaza and whilst non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the building itself, tourists are able to tour the compound and nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Moving into the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, there is yet another change. Home to about 40 holy sites to Christians, in the streets here you will see priests and pilgrims from around the world. This quarter was constructed around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried. Within this hot patch of real estate, even the Church is divided, with different parts controlled by different Christian sects, meaning that there are often disputes over maintenance and some parts are in poor condition.

Behind the doorBehind a door in the Armenian Quarter by chany14, on Flickr

The smallest quarter of the Old City is the Armenian Quarter. This area is home to some 2,500 Armenians, an ancient community who have resided here for over 2,000 years.

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea known in Hebrew as Yam Ha-Melah (the Sea of Salt) is the lowest point on earth, surrounded by the stunning landscape of the Negev Desert. The shores of the Dead Sea are the lowest point on the surface of the earth, and the saline water of the lake give lead to the name ‘Dead Sea’ because no fish can survive in the salty waters. The other result of the salty water of the Dead Sea are their renowned health and healing properties and the unique feature that one can float naturally in them.

Really just a lake, the Dead Sea is part of the long border between Israel and Jordan whose towering mountains can be seen from the Israeli side, part of the Judean and Negev deserts. Just a one-hour drive from Jerusalem, the Dead Sea is a place popular with Israeli’s wanting a few days relaxation, people taking advantage of the medical properties of the water, as well as tourists staying for a short time to experience the unique Sea and surroundings.

The salty waters of the Dead Sea by bachmont, on FlickrThe salty waters of the Dead Sea by bachmont, on Flickr

Masada, is, aside from the Dead Sea itself, the great attraction of the area. Atop a mountain to the side of the Sea lies this ancient fortress. With a steep history, and ascent, Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is traditionally climbed early in the morning by tourists wishing to see the ruins at the top. Today it is not necessary to climb, as a cable car has been built.

Muddy face - Dead Sea mud by Babi_Santander, on FlickrMuddy face – Dead Sea mud by Babi_Santander, on Flickr

Further North near the Dead Sea is Ein Gedi National Park. Situated in the famous Kibbutz, this park contains a range of cool water hiking trails which allow you to cool off in the heat. The higher you go, the quieter it will be and the more likely you will be able to find your own little oasis. Ein Gedi also has a public beach and spa which is much closer to Jerusalem than the majority of the beaches, if you have less time.

Hotels at the Dead Sea come in all shapes and sizes. In Ein Bokek is the main hotel area at the Dead Sea, and here there are around 15 large resort-style hotels catering to all types of budget. For those in search of a more unique experience, there are also some zimmers and more boutique hotels at the Dead Sea. More information about Dead Sea Hotels.

 

THE LORD IS SHAKING THE NATIONS PHYSICALLY, SPIRITUALLY, FINANCIALLY: Why, and how should we respond?

Posted: July 27, 2011 by joelcrosenberg in Uncategorized

(Jerusalem, Israel) The nations are being shaken – physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, politically and in so many other ways.

The people of Norway have been shaken this week by seeing sheer evil unleashed against precious, innocent children.

Japan has been shaken this year by the enormous earthquake, the resulting tsunami, and the horrific nuclear meltdown.

The people of Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen have been shaken this year by dramatic and largely unexpected revolutions underway there and throughout the Arab world.

Iran has been shaken by the enormous pro-democracy movement that took to the streets but was then nearly crushed by the tyrannical government in Tehran.

The people of Israel are being shaken by fears that Iran is rapidly closing in on building nuclear weapons and the world is not doing nearly enough to stop them in time.

Greece has been shaken by its unprecedented debt crisis and resultant riots and social unrest.

Americans, too, are being shaken. We face arguably the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Nearly half of all Americans believe we are heading towards another Great Depression. Unemployment is over 9%. Housing foreclosures are sky high. People have lost enormous sums of money due to depressed housing prices and stock market volatility. The federal government is trying to spend our way to prosperity but is making things worse. Our annual federal budget deficit topped $1.3 trillion last year. This year, it looks like the feds will spend more than $1.5 trillion beyond what they are taking in revenue. Our debt is skyrocketing. The U.S. is now on the verge of financial default, and hampered further by political ineptitude in Washington that threatens to comp0und an already precarious situation.

What if these events are not all random? What if the God of the Bible is allowing these to happen to shake us, to wake us, to get our attention, that we might turn to Him and ask Him to have mercy on us and help us?

The Lord said through the ancient Hebrew Prophet Haggai that the nations would be shaken in the future. “For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations….I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations.” (Haggai 2:6, 7, 21, 22)

In the New Testament, the Lord reinforced that theme. “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven’….Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)

Bible prophecy is clear: the Lord shakes individuals and nations that we might let go of all the flawed political, philosophical, intellectual and religions notions that we cling to that won’t give us true peace, that don’t give us real hope, that can’t bring us any security, that can’t provide forgiveness from our sins much less eternal life for our souls. The God of the Bible wants to shake us loose of such things that we might turn to Him, and to the life He offers through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord isn’t letting us be shaken because He hates us. He’s letting us be shaken precisely because He loves us and wants us to repent and turn to Him and call out to Him, as individuals, as families, and as nations. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

IS A PALESTINIAN STATE INEVITABLE?

Posted: July 22, 2011 by joelcrosenberg in Uncategorized

(Jerusalem, Israel) — While traveling through Israel this month, I’ve been asked by many people if a Palestinian state inevitable, and will it happen this fall? It’s a controversial topic, to be sure, and an increasingly relevant one given the upcoming vote in the U.N. General Assembly this fall. Here’s what I’ve been sharing with people here:

  1. The Bible doesn’t speak specifically to the issue of whether a sovereign Palestinian state will be created or not.
  2. That said, I tend to believe the geopolitical and prophetic evidence suggests there will probably be a Palestinian state in the not-too-distant future.
  3. International pressure on Israel to cut a deal, divide the Land, and create a Palestinian state is overwhelming, relentless, and intensifying.
  4. Currently, the Palestinian leadership refuses to negotiate directly with Israel. Rather, they hope to unilaterally declare a state by getting the vast majority of countries at the U.N. to vote for the creation of state at the General Assembly session in New York in September.
  5. The Palestinians have more than enough votes to pass such a U.N. resolution in the General Assembly (though the U.S. has suggested it would veto a unilateral declaration if it came to the Security Council).
  6. The most intense international pressure for a Palestinian state is coming from Western Europe, which has grown anti-Israel and increasingly anti-Semitic.
  7. A majority of Israelis have become exhausted with the Arab-Israeli conflict and now would support a Palestinian state under certain conditions.
  8. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the leader of the center-right Likud Party (which has historically opposed creating a Palestinian state) — has offered to divide the Land and help create one, so long as it is demilitarized and doesn’t divide Jerusalem.
  9. However, the Bible strongly warns the nations not to divide the Land of Israel and states that all nations who do so will face God’s judgment. The Lord said to the Hebrew Prophet Joel, “And I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.” (Joel 3:2) 
  10. Despite this warning, the nations have repeatedly divided the Land of Israel over the centuries.
  11. Bible prophecy suggests the Land will be divided again in the last days. The Hebrew prophet wrote in Daniel 9:26-27 that in the last days “the prince who is to come” (the Antichrist) “will make a firm covenant” (a peace treaty) “with the many” (neighbors of Israel) for seven years, but will then break that treaty after  three and a half years. This strongly — though not definitively — suggests a state will be created or reaffirmed through this treaty.
  12. Eventually, after breaking the peace treaty, the Antichrist will invade and conquer Israel and rule the world with great evil and tyranny from the “Beautiful Land.” The Prophet Daniel wrote, “He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall….and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain [Jerusalem]” before being destroyed and judged by the Lord Himself. (Daniel 11:41, 44, 45)
  13. On the basis of these and other Scriptures, I suspect a sovereign Palestinian state will be created, though it would likely be temporary in duration. The outlines of a geopolitical deal are already done. Israeli and Palestinian officials have been negotiating on and off for decades. 
  14. So we should expect European pressure to continue to build and eventually a European leader to take the lead and get a deal done — to many, it will look like a wonderful peace deal, at first, but the Bible makes clear it will turn disastrous for Israel, and the Palestinians, and the world.
  15. I do not support the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state because I believe this would violate the Biblical admonition not to divide to the Land. I do support Palestinian autonomy, the right of Palestinians to run their daily lives and their local governments. I believe Israel should always work on doing a better job of treating Arabs with love, compassion and justice. What’s more, I believe the Church should do a much better job loving and caring for Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs, and sharing with them the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ that they might find forgiveness for their sins, peace in their hearts, hope for their future, and salvation for their souls (John 3:16)
  16. The Scriptures are crystal clear: the Lord loves the Palestinian people as much as He loves the Jewish people, and He told Moses to tell the children of Israel to care for non-Jews in the Land and bless them and treat them honestly and fairly and with justice and compassion. (See Deuteronomy 14:29, 23:7, 24:14-15, 24:19-22, 26:12-13)
  17. Jesus modeled love for the Jewish people (Matthew 15:32, Mark 6:34, Mark 8:1-3, Luke 10:3-9, Luke 23:34), and their neighbors (Matthew 19:19, Luke 10:27-37), and their enemies (Matthew 5:43-44) and told His followers to do the same.
  18. Let us continue to pray for the Prince of Peace — Jesus the Messiah — to draw more and more people in the epicenter to Himself. This is the only true and lasting hope for peace.