The Battle Over Biblical Archaeology

One of the great resources available to those interested in learning from the past is the Biblical Archaeology Review magazine.

The BAR, as it is affectionately known, provides current information on historical and archaeological finds which impact the Biblical lands. But the BAR is not the sedate scholarly magazine you might expect. Instead, interspersed between discoveries, the religious and political fault lines of the Holy Land are played out in the scholarly and legal controversies covered in the BAR.

One of the major fault lines comes between the religious and the secular world views of scholars. The secular scholars are constantly attacking the work of earlier Christian and Jewish archaeologists, with a “Minimalist” school which argues that such Biblical giants as David are mythological. Another line of attack comes from Palestinians who, for political reasons, want to deny Jewish history and try to prevent archaeologists from digging up the Jewish past. There is also an occasional conflict between Jewish and Christian acceptance of findings.

While the BAR is a secular, not religious, publication, they do try to fairly present the issues. They gleefully reported an artifact which substantiated the existence of the “House of David”, to the chagrin of the Minimalists. In their January/February 2014 issue, they published an article which proves that the site of David’s palace in Jerusalem has been found. Some years back the BAR demolished Palestinian political arguments by proving that the very name of Palestine was derived from the Greek word for “wrestler”, which translates into the national Hebrew name of “Israel”. In their January/February 2016 issue they exposed a New York Times article which falsely cast doubt on the historicity of the Jewish temples, a favorite technique of Palestinian propaganda. Now, in the May/ June 2017 issue, eminent archeologist William G. Dever expose the fallacies of the “Minimalist” view in his article entitled “Whom Do You Believe – the Bible or Archeology.”

Our prayer is that secular, political, and religious attacks on Biblical archaeology will not be allowed to obscure the truth of God’s word. We pray for the BAR and Biblical archaeologists who will fearlessly stand up to those who want to rewrite history to suit their agendas.

 

And we thank the Lord that He has left us plenty of evidence to confirm the veracity of the Bible as the solid rock on which our faith can rely.

Scientists Warn of Global Cooling

               Astronomers have reported an alarming drop in sunspot activity and are warning of the possibility of the return of the Maunder Minimum leading to Global cooling.

 

                The last period of low sunspot activity was known as the Maunder Minimum and coincided with the coldest period of the Little Ice Age, from 1645 to 1715. The river Thames and Boston Harbor froze over in the winters, and snow covered England for 20-30 days per year, compared to the current 2-10 days. Agricultural production was seriously impacted, as for example, the English growing season which became 5 weeks shorter than it is today.

 

                As we reported in our recent “Earth Day” Blog, sunspots reflect the energy output of the Sun. Scientists have proven that sunspots are closely correlated to temperature fluctuations on Earth. The last half of the 20th century had the highest level of sunspot activity in 300 years, accounting for the increased global temperatures we have experienced. However, this warming trend seems to have stopped in the last few years.

 

                Now astronomers have made the bombshell announcement that there were 4 weeks with no sunspots during early 2017. Coming on the heels of the weakest sunspot showing in 100 years during the peak of the 11 year cycle in 2013, many astronomers believe that the sunspot numbers will continue to decline. If, in fact, we are in the early stages of period like the Maunder Minimum, historical data suggests that global cooling could occur within a generation, or possibly in even less than a decade.

 

                During the last period of global cooling, known as the Little Ice Age to historians, climate change began in 1315 with heavy rains and flooding, destroying crops and leading to famine. Agricultural production suffered as the growing season shortened and some crops could no longer be cultivated. War, hunger and disease caused population declines. Many believed it was a Judgment from God. (See Job 37:5-13). If this pattern happens in our time, we must remember that “When Your judgments come upon the Earth the people learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9). Let us resolve to work with God’s redemptive purpose to reach a lost world.     

 

                Only God knows what the future holds for us, and that is the cause of our problem. God controls climate, not us. Yet many believe that we must make extreme efforts to fight climate change. Some would even have us rollback modern economic gains which are based on affordable energy, leaving millions unemployed in the developed world and billions in poverty in the third world.

 

                We believe that a little humility is in order given our lack of knowledge. We should adopt a policy of doing no harm, allowing the poor to benefit from the modern energy driven society as we adapt to climate change. Let us pray for wisdom from our leaders as the climate change drama unfolds.

 

                Let us also pray that God will moderate the changes in climate and help us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked in His name. 

 

                Blessed be the name of the Lord.        

The Lesson of May Day

            Next week, on May 1, we mark a pagan holiday which has been celebrated from the most ancient of times until the present.

            The European Druids celebrated May 1 as “Beltane”, a holiday named after their god “Bel” and the word for fire, “Tane.” On Beltane all fires were extinguished except for the sacred fires of the Druids, which were then used to start new fires. The ritual actually traces back to Babylon, as does the name of the pagan god “Bel.”

            Another ritual of Beltane was celebrated by gathering around the “May Pole.” The pole actually represented the Cosmic Axis, or North Pole, and this type of celebration has been found as far away as the North American Indians. The pole is also a Phallic symbol, similar to the Egyptian obelisk, echoing the pagan claim that their god is the “Seed of Woman” (See Gen 3:15), a title which belongs only to Jesus Christ.

            Another feature of the May 1 celebration is its position 52 days, or one seventh of a year, from the Summer Solstice, an important pagan worship date and the focal point of the ancient Stonehenge monument. The day 52 days after the Summer Solstice, August 15, is also a Druid holiday known as Lughnasa. Interestingly, these dates are also celebrated by the Mayans, and form the structure of their 260 day, or five sevenths of a year, calendar. The Egyptians also built a 52 day period into the Great Pyramid, although their periods are tied to the Winter, not summer, Solstice.

            These amazing connections between Babylon, Egypt, the Druids, and the American Indians are merely one of many examples worldwide of common cultural practices. For those who understand that the Bible presents an accurate history of humanity, it is a simple matter to trace those beliefs back to the time when all humanity was gathered into one place: Babylon. It was the event we call the Tower of Babel, actually a civil war, which scattered the people and their practices across the earth. And it was God who sent Jesus to save humanity from the false religion born in Babylon.

            Next week we can celebrate a Christian May Day where we recognize the goodness and mercy of God as He has poured out his grace on our societies. The National Day of Prayer, May 4, gives us the opportunity to thank God for His mercies and humble ourselves to pray for our nation.

 

            The lesson of May Day is the provable reality of God’s word. Let us learn our lesson and pray that our nation will not go the way of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Druids, and Mayans who turned away from God on May Day.        

Changing the Atmosphere for Earth Day

 

This week, on April 22, we recognize “Earth Day”. You will hear a lot of talk about climate change and how its horrible consequences must be avoided at all costs. Here are some things you won’t hear:

 

1.       The Earth was warmer by about 1.5 degrees 1,000 years ago, a time known as the Medieval Warm Period. Instead of causing damage, the Medieval Warm Period brought about a flowering of European culture. The population boomed and people led more prosperous and better likes, just live in the current warm period.

 

2.       Despite the warnings about increased deaths from Global Warming alarmists, in the U.S. 16 people die from cold for every 1 who dies from heat.     

 

3.       The only source of warming for the Earth is the sun, which heats the Earth about 500 degrees (F) above absolute zero. Energy output from the sun varies about 0.5 percent, accounting for at least 2.5 degree (F) temperature variations on the Earth over the past several thousand years.

 

4.       The Sun’s energy output is tied to the number of sun spots, which are darker areas on the sun’s surface caused by intense magnetic activity. Sun spots occur in 11 year cycles with climate warming during the maxima and cooling during the minima. Sunspot numbers also vary over longer periods, creating centuries of warming and cooling.

 

5.       Since 1700, there have been eight periods of extreme sunspot activity, with over 150 sunspots per year. Seven of these eight occurred in the last 50 years of the 20th century when global temperatures had their greatest recent increase. It should be no surprise that “Global Warning” is caused by the source of all warming, the sun.

 

6.       There has been a period of slight global cooling since 2000 which corresponds to a decrease in sun spot activity.

 

7.       There are no practical means to lower global temperatures, even though global warming alarmists would drive up the cost of energy and impoverish billions in a futile effort to control the climate.

 

 

Surely God is bemused by our proud and foolish efforts. To those who would impoverish a whole world He would say like He did to Job “Who is this that darkness my counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) or “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?” (Job 38:34). Let us pray that God will protect us from the arrogant schemes of the climate extremists and the crony capitalists and politicians who profit from the fear they promote.

 

Let us change the atmosphere this “Earth Day” by humbly acknowledging that God controls our weather and praying for God’s wisdom to steward the Earth He has given us.

 

And let us offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the bounty of the Earth and God’s climate control that makes it possible.            

Celebrating Indestructible Life

 

            This year as we come up to Resurrection Sunday, April 16, we will once again celebrate the power of indestructible life.

 

            Our first parents, Adam and Eve, brought death into the human family by following Satan into rebellion against God. People became slaves to Satan because of their fear of death, and Satan ruled the world by the time Jesus came. But Jesus came to destroy Satan and death itself, and bring abundant life to His followers. Satan thought he could kill Jesus, but the empty tomb of Easter morning proved the life of Jesus to be indestructible. Jesus is alive!

 

            And not only Jesus. The indestructible life He had, He passed on to His followers. Infused with that life, they turned from quivering cowards into bold evangelists, turning the world upside down. Satan could kill their bodies, but the fear of death was gone, as the indestructible life given by Jesus continues forever. The indestructible life made an indestructible army to advance the Kingdom of God. And, from Roman Emperor Constantine’s surrender to Christ to the survival of the Church in Communist China, the power of indestructible life has prevailed over God’s enemies.

 

            Satan’s only successes have come when he lured Christians into forgetting their indestructible life by focusing on the destructible fleshly life and the corresponding fear of death. Such Christians find themselves trapped in a joyless existence. Often they are tempted into joining Satan’s rebellion, believing that the world can bring back the life they have abandoned. History is littered with failed Kings, clerics, nations, and people who have lost their way.

 

            And yet, despite the many failures, the Church still stands as a testimony to their indestructible life of Jesus and the indestructible life He gave to His people.

 

            This Easter, let us give thanks for the indestructible life of Jesus who bought indestructible life for us. God knows our genetic code. He knows our thoughts and memories. When this fleshly body ceases to function, He has prepared an indestructible body for us.

 

            Thank you Lord, for our indestructible life.

           

            And may we not forget to bless others by helping them find God and join us in our indestructible life.

The Terror Tactic

        Another week of terrorist attacks reminds us that terrorism continues to be a tactic of choice for Islamic extremists. 

                The terror tactic has a long and tragic history. Military historians tell us that the worst terrorist of all time was Genghis Khan, whose armies destroyed the agricultural hinterlands of their enemies, drove the peasants into the cities, and then destroyed the cities without mercy. Second to the Mongolians were the Romans, who merely destroyed the cities without mercy. Modern examples abound, from the London Blitz to the 9/11 attack.

                As a military tactic, however, terrorism is a double edged sword. More often than not, it backfires on to the terrorists. Thus, the London Blitz steeled British resolve and in the end it was the cities of Germany that were reduced to rubble. Palestinian terrorist intifada attacks brought swift retribution and isolation behind the Israeli wall. The 9/11 perpetrators were tracked down and their Afghan sanctuary was overrun by Americans. It turns out, according to military historians, that terrorism only works for militarily dominant powers like Genghis Khan and Rome. For weaker opponents the terror tactic only leads to destruction.

                Even so, terrorists inflict much suffering from their self destructive path. There is also a spiritual battle, as terrorists hope to paralyze their enemies with fear and goad them into overreacting in order to create more terrorists. This is truly spiritual warfare, and we must use our spiritual weapons to defeat the terror tactic of the ultimate terrorist, Satan.

                We must first learn to pray blessings on our enemies. Not blessings for their violence, but blessings that their eyes be opened and that they will be satisfied with good things and desire to live in peace. Judgment still belongs to God, and it is for Him to avenge, not us. At the same time, God wants our enemies to come into His Kingdom, and we must not let bitterness or unforgiveness set us against God’s purposes. Instead we must deploy the powerful spiritual weapon of love to stay in step with God.

                We must also turn back the spirit of fear which has been sent against us. We know from the famous 91st Psalm that our protection comes only from God, and that He will be with us in our trouble. Yet we also know that we can overcome the evil one if we do not love this life more than the next (See Rev. 12:11). Let us live fearlessly in faith as God intended, looking forward to the day when we will be called home to Heaven.

                Yes, we mourn for the victims of these cowardly terrorist attacks, and pray that God will comfort them. But we will not quit loving our enemies and living by faith.        

                And, just as the terror tactic is a losing strategy for weaker opponents in the natural world, so is the terror tactic futile against the most powerful kingdom on Earth, the Kingdom of God.        

 

                                  

Happy Birthday Jesus

This week on March 23rd will mark the 2021st anniversary of the birth of Jesus.

That’s right. We believe that we can put together the prophecies, historical data, astronomical data, and scripture to pinpoint the birth of Jesus to March 23, 5 BC.

We know from Luke 3:23 that Jesus was about 30 when He began His ministry. The prophet Daniels tells us the year of Christ’s anointing would come 69 7’s, or 483 years, after the decree which sent Ezra to Jerusalem in 458 BC. (Daniel 9:25) Doing the math, and remembering that there is no year “0”, Daniel’s prophecy says Jesus would begin His ministry in 26 A.D. This year is backed up by two dates from Scripture. John the Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius, 25 AD, (Luke 3:1) and Jesus cleared the Temple the first time 46 years after Herod began renovating it (John 2:20) in 20 BC (According to Josephus), or 27 AD. Thus, many Bible scholars believe that 26 AD is the year Jesus began his ministry. If He was 30 years old, remembering again that there is no year “0”, He would have been born in 5 BC.

Jesus would have been born either in the Spring or Fall of the year according to the Scripture surrounding the birth of John the Baptist. John’s father, Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah (Luke 1:5) which, according to Rabbinical sources, ministered at the Temple in May and November. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the Temple, and Zechariah would have gone home and probably conceived John the Baptist in June or December, who would have been born 9 months later in March or September. We know from Scripture that John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus (Luke 1:26) so Jesus would have been born in September or March of 5 BC.

To find the exact time of year we look to Astronomy and Archaeology. We know that there was a star which appeared when Jesus was born and that Magi from the East, possibly following the prophetic teachings of Daniel the Magi (Daniel 2:48), came looking for Him (Mathew 2:1,2). The Chinese also saw the Star, identifying it as a Nova which appeared in the Spring of 5 BC and burned for 70 days. Thus, John the Baptist was conceived in December of 7 BC, Jesus was conceived in June of 6 BC, John the Baptist was born in September of 6 BC, and Jesus was born in March of 5 BC.

King Herod, the tyrannical ruler of Judea, had interviewed the Magi when they arrived in Jerusalem. According to our research, described in The Stars of His Coming, there were signs in the Sun, Moon, and Stars surrounding the birth of Jesus beginning with Zechariah in 7 BC. The Magi would have testified to the same date, and for that reason Herod ordered all of the Children under 2 years old in Bethlehem to be killed. Josephus tells us that there was a Lunar Eclipse on Passover and that Herold died later that year. This lunar Eclipse, or Blood Moon, occurred on March 23, 5 BC. The Blood Moon occurred in the Spring of 5 BC, concurrent with the Star of Bethlehem, but one additional piece of evidence is needed to suggest that this is the day Jesus was born.

We find it in Revelation 12:1, 2, which describes a sign in the Heavens, a woman clothed in the Sun with the Moon at her feet, at the moment of Christ’s birth. The woman clothed in the Sun is the Zodiacal constellation Virgo (The Virgin), which promises that God will send a savior through Virgin birth. Astronomical research shows that the Blood Moon of March 23, 5 BC occurred while the Moon was in the feet of Virgo. Thus, Revelation 12:12 presents us with a picture of the night sky when Jesus was born, and that night was March 23, 5 BC.

Of course we know that the whole world will continue to celebrate the birthday of Jesus on December 25. In its way, it is fitting to celebrate the advent on the old Roman winter solstice, when it all began with the conception of John the Baptist around the winter solstice of 7 BC and signs in the Sun, Moon, and Stars begin to appear.

Even so, it is nice to know His real birthday so we in His family can honor Him on His actual birthday.

Happy Birthday Jesus!