There seems to be no end to the evil we see, and it just keeps growing. We begin to feel as if this evil is just the natural order of mankind and that we will always have wickedness in our world. “That’s just the way people are” is an idea we’ve all given in to.
An understanding of Jesus’ Jewishness and the Jewish context in which he lived has the potential to help resolve that conflict and illuminate the Gospels and Epistles so that their meaning can finally be understood.
Unless you have visited Israel, you may not be aware of the nation’s vastly diverse landscape. Israel is a land of beauty, full of mountains, hills, valleys, deserts, canyons, rocks, trees, plants, and foliage of all kinds. The earliest Zionist pioneers in the 1800’s participated in preparing Israel for her future children.
The eight-day festival of Hanukkah is celebrated in Jewish homes each year. The eight-branched candelabra (called a chanukkiah or Hanukkah menorah) is lit. Friends and family gather for festive meals of delicious potato pancakes and pastries. There are entertaining games for children, storytelling, songs, and prayers. Most of all, there is gladness, joy, and light.
Have you ever wondered what the Feast of Dedication is? Have you ever just assumed that it was merely some archaic festival in ancient Judaea that has been antiquated and is no longer celebrated? Have you ever noticed the verse in John and its subtle reference to this unknown Jewish winter feast?
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Israel’s War for Independence had concluded with a ceasefire that had left Jerusalem divided in two. For nearly two decades afterward, Jews were not allowed to enter Jerusalem’s walls or pray inside the city. All that changed in June 1967, when God unleashed a miracle of biblical proportions in the form of the Six-Day War.
I watched in awe as this young woman who had complained so bitterly stated with tears that leaving the army was one of the hardest things that she had ever had do to. We knew beyond any doubt that this army experience had been a life-changing event—and a metaphor for us all.
According to the teaching about Psalm 82, if the people of Israel had not sinned, they would have retained the status of “gods” and “sons of God.” How much more so should the one without sin deserve to assume those same titles?
Under the moonlit sky of May 30, 1948, three soldiers of the new Jewish state scouted the wadis and imposing slopes that climb up into the Judean hills southwest of Latrun. Following a footpath worn by centuries of shepherds, their jeep barely crawled up the steep side of a ravine; they had to get out and push it up the last few yards.
As they circled the settlement, she dropped a special parcel to the men who once served under her husband. The parcel contained her late husband’s Bible. The men of Ramot Naftali retrieved the parcel, opened it up, and recognized the Bible. It was the same Bible they had seen their late commander so often consult before leading them into battle.