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A Reflection on the Valley of Elah

The stage was set long before a shepherd boy set foot in this valley with a sling, a staff, and five smooth stones from the stream bed (1 Sam 17). Israel stood before an enemy that defied the people of God and thereby defied God himself. It was Israel’s disobedience that brought them to this place – their lack of faith when it came to driving out the inhabitants of the land during the period of the conquest. However, the disobedience did not start with Israel. It was a result of a heart stained by iniquity that has plagued man since the time of Genesis 3.

The Philistines were a thorn in Israel’s side. Saul failed in his attempts to subdue this enemy just as Adam and Eve failed in their encounter with the Serpent. However, at the battle in this valley, David would have victory over the external enemy. Though the success would lead to victory over the Philistines, iniquity would still reign in the heart of man – sinfulness as seen in David’s adulterous pursuit of Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.

As the Israelites stood listening to the condemnation and blasphemy of Goliath, there was one who would battle for their freedom. However, this battle was not the end. This fight was not the moment when the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. The shepherd boy born in Bethlehem that would become king was but a foreshadow of the Eternal King that would become flesh as a baby in the town of Bethlehem.

It was Jesus, God incarnate, that would not only crush the head of the serpent, but also remove the iniquity of his people through the blood he shed on the cross. Christ would defeat death through death, and grant his people freedom from guilt and condemnation.

The battle at Elah was not the beginning of the fight, and it was not the end of the war. The account of David and Goliath point forward to the victory of Jesus Christ.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2019 in Israel 2019, Just a Thought

 

8th Day in Israel

It has been a great trip. I am sitting at the gate of the airport, waiting to board the plane. Here are some pictures from today, before we traveled to the airport.

This picture is the Valley of Elah; the site of the battle between David and Goliath (1 Sam 17).
The picture above is the Garden Tomb. Two places in Jerusalem are believed to be the tomb of Jesus. This picutre is one of the sites.
After Jesus’ arrest and before he stood before Pontius Pilate, he was kept through the night in this dungeon beneath the house of Caiaphas.
These are the southern steps leading up to the Temple Mount. Common people used this entrance. It would have been the place where Jesus taught and the entrance he would have used.

The next stop on our journey is Miami, Florida.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2019 in Israel 2019

 

7th Day in Israel

Yesterday was cloudy and cold, but today was a beautiful day. We spent the entire day in the region of Samaria and had a delicious meal on the mountain of Ahab and Jezebel’s palace. I enjoy the food in Israel, and there has been no deficiency in the amounts we are given to eat. There has only been one dish that I did not enjoy. It was a small dessert at the hotel. I do not know the name of the dessert, but there are plenty of choices to help me avoid it.

On a fun trek through the City of David, we walked down to Hezekiah’s tunnel that was dug to secure water before the Assyrian invasion. You can walk through this tunnel, but we walked through the Canaanite tunnel instead. The picture above is of the entrance where the water tunnel begins, directing the waters of the Gihon Spring. (2 Chronicles 32:30).
I had the privilege of reading Scripture at this location today, John 9:1-25. Jesus healed a blind man in this location, the Pool of Siloam.
Visiting Shiloh was my favorite part of the day. After the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they established the Tabernacle at this location. It was here that Hannah prayed for a child and God blessed here. At this site, Samuel was raised by the High Priest, Eli.
Jesus was tired and sent his disciples into Sychar, in Samaria, to get food. While they were away, a woman came to the well to draw water. (John 4) This picture is of Jacob’s well which sits beneath the altar of Jacob’s Well Church.

Tomorrow, we open the day touring in Jerusalem and then we will travel to Tel Aviv for a late flight. This trip is fantastic, and I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2019 in Israel 2019

 

6th Day in Israel

It is hard to believe that six days have passed. Each night I have difficulty deciding which pictures to post. It would be nice if I could post each one, but as of this evening, I have taken 800 pictures. Today was a pretty taxing day as we visited the Temple Mount. The journey was not physically taxing, but it was emotionally exhausting. The vast amount of people that are lost is overwhelming. I wrote about this subject earlier; so I will not repeat it here. You can read it by clicking here. Seeing a mosque on the Temple Mount and listening to the call to prayer heightened the heartache.

There is a little box on the right-hand side of the door frame leading into the hotel room. It is called a Mezuzah. This little box, or tube, contains a small parchment called a klaf. The inscription on the klaf is a selection from the Torah, and its positioning is believed to accomplish the obedience required by Deuteronomy 6:9.
The Garden of Gethsemane contains many olive trees. Most of the trees are too young to coincide with the time of Christ. However, tests and people that know more about plants than I do, suggest this olive tree is 2000 years old. In the building to the right, there is a rock in front of the altar that is traditionally believed to be the rock at which Jesus prayed the night of his betrayal.
Where were the shepherds the night they received a visit from the angels that announced the birth of Jesus? This cave is a natural sheepfold that traditionally marks the location of the announcement.
The Church of the Nativity is the oldest church in the word. Beneath the altar of the church, there is a cave. As you enter the cave area, this place of commemoration is on the right, and it is believed to be the location of Jesus’ birth.

As I am here in Israel, Amy is at home with the kids. (Yes, she is superwoman!) I also want you to know what a fantastic church family we have at Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Marietta. The people of the church have brought her meals, helped her with car problems, put together Levi’s birthday present, helped with the kids amid multiple practices, and made sure she has everything she needs. I am thankful for their love and concern. Oak Ridge is a wonderful church that loves and serves well. They are a blessing to our family – they are family.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2019 in Israel 2019

 

5th Day in Israel

We made it to Jerusalem yesterday and spent today touring the area of Masada, En Gedi, the site of Qumran, the Dead Sea, and Jericho. It has been very difficult to upload these pictures because the internet connection has been very weak. Today was a wonderful day filled with rich history that surrounds Scripture and its preservation.

This is the view of Jerusalem we saw as we entered the city. The gold dome is the mosque that sits on top of the Temple Mount.
Ein Gedi is an oasis in the desert of Judaea. In 1 Samuel 23:29, David hid from Saul in the caves that surround this waterfall. In one of the encounters, David cuts the corner of Saul’s robe (1 Samuel 24:1-22).
Yes, those are my feet. I am standing on the edge of the Dead Sea. The white that you see is the buildup of salt and minerals. Though the ground looks hard, it actually feels like you are standing on an anti-fatigue mat. It was an interesting experience.
Do you see the camel in the left side of the picture? The mountain in the background is the traditional site of the temptation of Jesus. There are many “traditional” sites in Israel. This term simply means they believe the event happened here, but there is no way to prove it. (At least not yet)

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2019 in Uncategorized