Today I am going to wrap up my week posting on the chapter of Paul Little’s book “Does Archaeology Help?”
It has been a challenge. I have always been interested in history and somewhat interested in archaeology but as I have thought about this topic this week, I think I know why Biblical archaeology is not a passion. It is from a distant culture in a distant land far away…the culture and land of Jesus.
What has been a big help to me this week?
Here comes the shameless plug: Right Now Media.
Some of you have used this free learning tool at our church at St. John; some of you have not. For me, it was unbelievably helpful as I tried to understand the land of the Bible.
How to access this source? Have Pastor Janet or me send you an invitation and then take that invite to log on to the site and then create a username and password. That should get you to the site where you have lots of video lessons available. The ones this week that were so helpful were from the History tab on the left side of the site. Click that and you will see many topics but the ones I wanted were Lands of the Bible [Old Testament and New Testament]. There are so many opportunities to take a video journey to the land of Jesus. Folks it helps to understand the culture if you can see the culture.
From “Underground Jerusalem” by Jimmy DeYoung
Here is the description of the video: “Beneath the ancient city of Jerusalem sleep historic treasures that are being awakened by archaeologists at an ever-increasing rate. These treasures shed new light on both the history of Jerusalem and its effect on the entire world—both politically and spiritually. Travel to ‘Underground Jerusalem’ with Mideast journalist Jimmy DeYoung and some of Israel’s leading archaeologists. From the steps of Herod’s temple to the pool of Siloam, there are new journeys to be taken and stories to be told”
As I watched DeYoung go to various archaeological sites in Jerusalem I got some idea of the importance of archaeology for the study of the Bible. I also began to understand a famous city, what it looks like and what treasures it holds.
DeYoung and his archaeological hosts literally went down underneath Jerusalem and traveled back 2,000 years in going down twenty steps. An archaeologist tells him “Wherever you go in Jerusalem, there is a story, and underneath that location is another story and underneath that layer is yet another story.”
DeYoung is a Christian and we have discussed all week the idea of archaeology helping us believe the Bible. He asks pointed questions of his hosts and they have answers that reflect their professional commitment to their academic study.
When asked what archaeological finds can tell us about the Bible, one scholar says “We try to excavate and find whatever there is and the Biblical connections are part of the interpretation rather than the discovery itself.” When pressed about what he means by this the archaeologist says “What do you do to the mute stone? Do you force interpretation on the stone?” He is merely trying to be rigorous in his findings; letting the evidence speak for itself. He realizes that historians have an agenda, politicians have an agenda and even Christians have an agenda. He is very aware of the bias. Yet, when you think he is presenting his hard line position, he says this: “But when you find a phrase like “‘The Lord bless thee and keep thee’ on a stone, you can’t help but wonder about the use of this wording in Numbers” [Numbers 6:24].
Jerusalem is such a complex place; the epicenter of three religions as it holds special significance for the Jewish people, Christians and Muslims. A recent count lists 1204 synagogues, 158 churches, and 73 mosques within the city. Jerusalem has been sacred to the Jews since King David proclaimed it his capital in the 10th century BCE. Christianity reveres Jerusalem not only for its Old Testament history but also for its significance in the life of Jesus. And, Jerusalem is considered the third-holiest city in Islam.
I particularly like the way Mr. DeYoung ends his video as he talks of the way that men over the years have tried to control Jerusalem and make it what they want to make it. He refers to the cornerstone as the most important stone in any structure. He refers to the need we all have for a strong foundation as we weather the trials of life that we all face. The he refers to Luke 20: 17 and his Christian faith, the faith that has made all the difference in his life, the fact that he has accepted Jesus as his Savior.
He believes it is a mistake to not accept the “capstone”; “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed”
DeYoung does not directly state that the Christian has the most important claim on this holy city but when it comes to Jesus and the temple, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.”
Maybe that is what he implies, if not for the city, then certainly for his life. He realizes the most important stone in the “building of his life” is Jesus Christ.
Next week: “Are Miracles Possible?”