The Gabriel Stone & the Prediction of the “Messiah” Rising Again

The Gabriel Stone

I never get tired of being able to “connect the dots” between what we can read in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (e.g. the Old and New Testaments) with what is discovered in the archaeological world of the Bible. This especially is true when it comes to the life and ministry of Jesus, not only in what He did to secure a bridge between us and God the Father but also who He was as the predicted Messiah. This recent Passover/Easter Season is a special time to make these connections.

Gabriel Stone

The so-called “Gabriel Stone”

Our good Messianic friends (Jewish believers in Yeshua / Jesus) who lead a wonderful ministry called One For Israel just shared an excellent article entitled Ancient Jewish Belief the Messiah Would Rise on the Third Day. The article states that not only was there a belief based on the Hebrew Scriptures about a prediction of the Messiah rising from the dead, but that some within the 1st century Jewish community also shared this belief. The “evidence” for this is based upon an archaeological find discovered somewhere in the Dead Sea area (probably on the easter side in Transjordan) around 2000. It has been called the Gabriel Stone. 

This stone tablet is about three foot tall tablet features 87 lines (only 40% of the lines are legible) of an unknown prophetic text dated as early as the first century BC, at the time of the Second Jewish Temple. The interest in this stone peaked because of what was written on line 80 of the tablet. As originally interpreted, line 80 read, “by three days–live, I Gabriel command you, prince of princes, the dung of rocky crevices.”  To some scholars, this was of direct prediction that the Messiah would “rise from the dead in three day.”

According to a Fox News Science report (April 30, 2013), “the Gabriel Stone made a splash in 2008 when Israeli Bible scholar Israel Knohl offered a daring theory that the stone’s faded writing would revolutionize the understanding of early Christianity, claiming it included a concept of messianic resurrection that predated Jesus. He based his theory on one hazy line, translating it as “in three days you shall live.”

Gabriel StoneIn a recent Biblical Archaeology Review on-line article (by Dr. James Tabor, May 13-2013), this Gabriel Stone was discussed. The article states the following, “What is not so well known is that Professor Knohl has changed his mind about the transliteration, and thus the translation, of the key line 80 in the text that he had previously argued talked about resurrection of the dead after three days…”

Dr. Tabor explained, “In a paper given at a 2009 conference at Rice University on the Gabriel Stone, now published in the conference volume as, ‘The Apocalyptic Dimensions of the Gabriel Revelation in Their Historical Context,’ Knohl says he was mistaken in his original reading. Knohl still maintains that the text was “composed shortly after 4 B.C.E.” by ‘followers of the messianic leader Simon, who was killed in Transjordan in 4 B.C.E.’  What he now doubts is that the text speaks of ‘making the dead live after three days.’”

Knohl translates line 80 as “In three days the sign will be (given). I am Gabriel” The critical word that Knohl once read as a verb, “to make live” (חאיה) now is read as the noun “sign” (האות). On the whole, however, his overall interpretation is the same and if he is correct the text continues to have great significance for our understanding of “messianism” among late 2nd Temple Jewish groups.

Tabor continued, “Though I greatly respect Knohl’s integrity in so freely changing his mind I am not convinced that this alternative reading is necessarily correct. Unfortunately the text is faded at this point, and even after subjecting it to a battery of scientific tests designed to enhance its clarity, it may be that we will never know with certainty how it should be read.”

Line 80 of the Gabriel Stone

Line 80 of the Gabriel Stone

Hebrew scholar Ada Yardeni (an Israeli expert on ancient Semetic languages) offers a more definitive word, “After reviewing the document, I came to the conclusion that the reading suggested by Professor Knohl for the third word of line 80—HAYE “live”—seems to be the only plausible reading of that word. Thus, the first five words of this line should be translated as: “In three days live.” 

However one interprets line 80, it would be prudent for us to remember what the prophet Hosea specifically said about the Messiah and resurrection on the third day, “Come, let us return to AdonaiFor He has torn, but He will heal us. He has smitten, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us. On the third day He will raise us up, and we will live in His presence (Hosea 6:1-2).”

So can we “connect the dots” between this important archaeological discovery with what we read about resurrection of Messiah Jesus? We cannot be certain. Yet while it is an interesting connection that is contingent upon how one interprets it, one thing can be sure – our Easter hope is grounded in Christ’s resurrection on the third day.

Praise be to God for our risen Savior!

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Easter Hope

The garden tomb

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem

The centerpiece of our Christian faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We call it our Easter hope! The wonderful words of the angel at the tomb says it all – “He is not here!  He is risen! (Matthew 28:6).”  If an ossuary (a small stone box containing the bones of the deceased person) would ever been found complete with the name of Yeshua on the outside and the bones of Jesus inside as Paul said, “our faith would then be futile (1 Corinthians 15:17).”  But that wasn’t the case!  The tomb was empty, not because of the body of the Savior being stolen nor because His followers hallucinated or made up the story. The tomb was empty because Jesus was literally raised to life.

In Israel, 100s of Second Temple Tomb (tombs dating to the 1st century) have been found. About 2 dozen tombs have actually been found in and around the Holy Sepulcher Church.  In my humble opinion, this is the most likely area of Christ’s tomb, in contrast to the Garden Tomb, which although is a much nicer atmosphere to consider the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection, is not a 1st century tomb but rather a classic 1st Temple (Iron Age) tomb.  But we worship the Person, not the place.  And we honor not merely tradition, but historical truth, and reality of Christ’s resurrection.

3 Tomb Reconstruction copyThe most likely type of Second Temple Tomb Jesus was laid in on Friday afternoon was an arcasolium tomb.  The most common type of tomb during the period of the New Testament was the koch (kochim, plural) or niche tomb.  However, it seems as if they angels in the resurrection story couldn’t sit at the feet and head of Christ (John 20:12) within a narrow and elongated niche tomb. Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb was a newly-hewn tomb (Matthew 27:60), and must have been a tomb of prominence. What a dramatic event it must have been for the women at the tomb who were told by the angels of Christ’s resurrection! What an amazing experience also for Peter and John who ran to the tomb shortly after!

Flowers at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Flowers at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

So today, all the Christian world rejoices in the resurrection of Jesus! Easter lilies stand tall in celebration! Easter flowers bloom brilliantly as a sign of life!  May our lives also radiate the hope and joy of Christ’s resurrection!

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Our Redeemer Lives!

 

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Coming to Jesus Just As I Am

Crosses from Bethlehem

Olive wood crosses, Bethlehem

Just as I Am was a common invitational hymn used in the church where I grew up. It was sung frequently. I used to know the words by heart. It’s a rich song, not like some of the modern choruses (there are exceptions) we hear and sing today. This song centers upon the cross and God’s invitation to come to the cross just as I am.

Each time I walk the land of the Bible, I contemplate upon the life and ministry of Jesus. In the north (Galilee), we cover a lot of area where Jesus must have been. For instance, we dedicate one full day around the Sea of Galilee. We hike up Mt. Arbel, a mountain on the NW corner of the lake below. We visit the 1st century synagogue at Magdala where Jesus must have taught. We walk on the shoreline of Capernaum where Jesus called His first disciples. We take a boat ride on the lake, recalling the storm narratives of Mark 4 and Matthew 14. We usually end the day sitting on the Mt. of Beatitudes listening to the words of Matthew 5. Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount here. It was probably His “go-to” message because the message displays the purpose of His coming … to bring forth the kingdom of God (malchut Shamyim in Hebrew).

Nazareth crossesThe beauty of Jesus’ ministry is that He called everyone to follow Him. He invited people to come just as they were and take hold of the grace and forgiveness offered freely by Jesus. To come to Him just as we are a central theme of the Gospel. We don’t need to “clean up our lives” first before coming to God. We simply take the step to reach out to Him and receive Him as our Savior. As we grow in our new walk with God, our faith and desire to follow Him is what refines our lives unto Christ-likeness. It is a life-time pursuit.

Jesus would visit and take His ministry to those in Jerusalem on occasion as well. It would be hear where Jesus would heal the lame man (John 5) and the blind man (John 9). It would be here within the Temple Courts where Jesus would say, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink… (John 7).” It would be on the east side of the Mt. of Olives (in Bethany) where Jesus would raise to life Lazarus (John 11).

Of course at the end of His ministry it would also be here where Jesus would be heralded “King” (Luke 19). A few days later on the same slopes of the western side of the Mt. of Olives Jesus would be betrayed (Luke 22), turned over to the High Priest, and ultimately sentenced to die on a cross. He would be crucified. He would die. Three day later, He would rise again and appear to the women, His disciples, the men walking to Emmaus, as well as others.

To be in Jerusalem and retracing the last 24 hours of Jesus life is powerful. It is powerful not only because of knowing who Jesus was, but it is life-changing to think that the very Son of God is the very One who still accepts us just as we are!

This Easter weekend, enjoy this song by one of my favorite artist, Fernando Ortega. It is a slight re-make of the old hymn. As you listen, celebrate God’s grace. Come to the cross just as you are and accept Christ’s forgiveness and love for you this Easter Season!  Jesus has come to be your Shepherd.

 

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How Deep the Father’s Love

Cross

The crosses of the Holy Sepulcher

Good Friday and Easter is what the Christian faith is all about. These days are both solemn as well as joyous.

Good Friday is a day of reflection. The “good” that came out of this horrific event of Christ’s crucifixion was our forgiveness of sins. Jesus, out Pesach Lamb died for our sins.

The joy of Easter of course is a result of the resurrection. It is where hope is found. As Paul says it best, if the resurrection did not take place, our hope would be in vain (1 Corinthians 15). We are invited to live in the power of the resurrection (Philippians 3).

Cross

Marbel cross in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem

In Israel it is always moving to see various groups carry a wooden cross on the Via Dolorosa. Each station of the cross is visited. Songs are reflectively sung, Scripture is read. The last five stations are within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional place of both crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

Both Good Friday and Easter convey the depth of God’s love for us.

Video: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (warning: the video contains a graphic display of Christ’s crucifixion. It may not be appropriate for children).

 

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Gethsemane – A Challenge of the Will

Garden of Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane on the Mt. of Olive

The Garden of Gethsemane was located on the western slope of the Mt. of Olives. This mountain range rises east of Jerusalem and the Temple. On the “back side” (eastern) of the Mt. of Olives are the biblical towns of Bethany (where Jesus stayed during His Passion Week) and Bethpage. It was just a few days prior to Jesus’ Gethsemane experience that a donkey was secured from this town. Jesus was placed on this donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 and was heralded as King while he rode down the Mt. of Olives.

But it was immediately following the Last Supper (probably observing the Passover meal with His disciples in the upper part of the city of Jerusalem) that Jesus and His disciples walked across the Kidron Valley to Gethsemane. What a stark contrast to the Palm Sunday event. The word is actually a transliteration of Gat-Shemanim, an Aramaic term which means “oil press.” It was here where Jesus’ spirit is crushed beneath the weight of being betrayed by one of His disciples. Furthermore, Jesus knew what the next day would bring him… ridicule, torture, crucifixion, and ultimately death on a cross.

Olive press

Olive oil press at Shiloh

In ancient times, September through November was the time for harvesting olives. Near any ancient olive orchard was an olive press. The oil was extracted in several basic steps. This is how it has been described:

  • The farmer would grab the branches of the olive tree, and tap the branches with a stick. They would then pick up the fallen olives. Each olive is filled with oil.
  • Next, the pits are removed and the olives are gently placed in a large basin, and the pressing begins by rolling the large millstone. A large wooden stick is placed through the center of the stone to help roll over the olives. The oil would flow into a container and the crushed pulp int a basket. The first pressing was the purest oil and was used mainly for lamps, cosmetics, and holy anointing.
  • A second pressing was for the crushed pulp. The baskets themselves would be rolled (see Bible History On-line).
Olive press

Olive oil press at Shiloh

Let us take this image of the crushing of the olives and apply it to Jesus. It is within this context that we hear a remarkable statement by Jesus in the narrative of the Gethsemane event. It was here where, even in the midst of being betrayed and knowing that His death was nearing, Jesus says – “Not my will but Yours be done…!”  Gethsemane was all about the challenge of the will. And Jesus displayed a will that was both obedient and committed to the will of His Father. Jesus, the pure Son of God, was willing to pour out His life and die for the sins of the world!

Like an olive, Jesus was crushed for our iniquity. He was pierced for our transgressions (see Isaiah 53). He was betrayed, stricken, and afflicted. Yet from the Garden of Gethsemane to the hill called Calvary, Jesus exhibited a will committed to the very purpose of His coming. He came to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…(John 1:29).”

At Gethsemane, Jesus was faced with a challenge of the will. While crushed in anguish and sorrow, His will was to do the will of His Father, even if that meant death on a cross.

garden of gethsemaneThe words of the hymn, Hallelujah, What a Savior, capture the essence of Gethsemane and the Passion of Christ and the committed will of our Savior!

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!   (Philip Bliss, 1875)

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The Eve of Passover

I will never forget our experience last year in Egypt. As Passover was about to begin with the setting of the sun, our group met on the top deck of our cruise ship for devotions before dinner. We read from Exodus 12 & 13, a passage about the very first Passover that took place here in Egypt 3,500 years ago! As we were reading this in Egypt on the very evening of Passover, Jews from all over the world were recalling the same amazing story of God’s redemptive plan. It was a remarkable encounter with the God of redemption!!

sunset on Nile River Egypt

Sunset on Nile River

As fallen and depraved as our society is today, God’s redemptive purpose for the world is simple and straight-forward – God sent His Son to be the Passover Lamb for our fallen world. Jesus came “just at the right time…” (Galatians 4:4) as the answer to the world’s sin. He came to offer Himself on the cross (Isaiah 53). In fact, Passion Week is all about Christ’s sacrifice. It’s about conquering death and securing victory over death for us. And instead of blood being applied on the doorposts of the house like on that first Passover, it was Christ’s blood poured out on the cross for us that allows us the opportunity to have our sins forgiven. This is why the hymn writer has called it amazing grace! 

So as our Jewish friends celebrate Passover tonight, let us as believers in Yeshua/Jesus celebrate God’s love and grace. Celebrate the richness and truth of Romans 5:1-11.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Nazareth crossesAs you also take a look at the full moon tonight, celebrate the shining of God’s light and love into your heart. If you have not received Jesus as the answer to your sin, do so today! He died willingly on the cross for you. Accept Jesus as your Savior today!

 

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Egypt-Jordan-Israel “Granddaddy” Biblical Tour: Oct-Nov, 2017

You are invited to a “granddaddy” tour to Egypt Jordan, and Israel!

Pyramids in Cairo Egypt

Pyramids in Cairo (Giza), Egypt

Traveling to the lands of the Bible is an amazing experience!  It is life-changing! There simply are no words to describe one’s encounter with not only the physical settings of the Bible but with God Himself!  To walk in the footsteps of Jesus as well as guys like Moses, Joshua, David, Hezekiah, Elijah, Nehemiah, Peter & the disciples, and Paul goes beyond what words can describe.

Most “Holyland” tours go only to Israel. But the “lands of the Bible” extend well beyond Israel’s borders today. This is why our upcoming October-November 2017 trip to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel is going to be incredible!  Such a trip will make a life-changing impression upon you!  To see all the details of this amazing journey of a lifetime, go HERE.

Petra, Jordan treasury building

The “Treasury” Tomb at Petra

The tour begins with a breathtaking view of the Pyramids and Sphinx in Cairo, Egypt! Imagine looking up 500 feet to the top of the largest pyramids who was built hundreds of years even prior to Abraham! We will also visit Sakkara (where the oldest stepped pyramid is located) where we will walk into one!  We will also “connect the dots” between the ancient Egyptian artifacts with the Bible at the impressive Egyptian Museum. King Tut’s golden mask and coffin is also displayed here!

We then fly to Jordan where we will view the Promised Land from Mt. Nebo like Moses did (Dt. 34). We will also spend almost 7 hours in Petra one of the seven wonders of the world. The city served as the capital for the ancient Nabataeans! We will continue south to Wadi Rum for jeep rides in the desert! We will even spend the night here. The stars in the desert sky will be brilliant!

Jerusalem and Temple Mount

The Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount

From here we cross into Israel at Elat. We will have a chance to swim in the Red Sea, a beautiful experience! We then begin the amazing Israel portion of the tour. We will travel and experience many of the different regions of the Bible and about 45 biblical sites. From the Judean Desert (Masada, Engedi, Qumran), to the Galilee (Arbel, Magdala, Capernaum, Chorazim, Mt. of Beatitudes), to the Golan (Gamla, Qatzrin, Caesarea Philippi and Dan), to the Jezreel Valley (Mt. Tabor, Hill of Moreh, Megiddo, Mt Carmel Range), to the Sharon Plain (Caesarea) to the Hill Country of Judah (Jerusalem, Bethlehem), the Bible will come alive in “3-D” color!

Specifically in Jerusalem we will see the Mt. of Olives, Via Dolorosa, Holy Sepulcher Church, Pools of Bethesda and Siloam, City of David, the Temple Mount, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Israel Museum, and Yad Vashem, to name some of the highlights.

Join us for this “granddaddy” tour of the lands of the Bible! The tour will be led by Dr. John DeLancey, leader of 52 previous Israel tours to date.

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Jesus, Our Palm Sunday King!

Jerusalem and Temple Mount

The Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount

Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords! He came already once to the earth to proclaim His kingdom. He is coming again one day to establish His reign! When He does, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord!

This is the essence of God’s redemptive plan. The Apostle Paul says that “just at the right time God sent His Son…” (Galatians 4:4). Jesus came with His Father’s Redemptive purpose now in place. Jesus came announcing the reign and rule of God in the lives of those who would accept Jesus as the promised Messiah. More specifically, it was a spiritual kingdom that now would reside in the lives of followers of Christ who allowed God to become “king” of their lives.

Palm Sunday road

Today’s Palm Sunday pathway where Jesus was proclaimed King!

At the end of His ministry, Jesus would be literally heralded as King on the Sunday before His Passion would unfold later that following week. Historically, the Church has called this Palm SundayWith a few of His disciples securing a donkey in fulfillment of prophet of old (Zechariah 9:9), Jesus rode humbly down the Mt. of Olives. People proclaimed a very Messianic title for Jesus that day as they shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38, from Psalm 118:26). While this joyous moment would come to a quick end a little further down the slope of the Mt. of Olives when Jesus would weep over Jerusalem and when He would enter the Temple to address the money changers (Luke 19:41-46), His kingship was affirmed by His followers.

Temple Mount

The Temple Mount of Jerusalem

On each and every Israel tour I lead, one highlight (of many) is to view the Temple Mount from the top of the Mt. of Olives and walk down this “Palm Sunday road.” It is a special time of re-living the story of Luke 19.

But in God’s perfect timing, Jesus is coming again! And as Jesus left earth from the Mt. of Olives when he ascended into heaven (Acts 1), His feet will once again stand on the Mt. of Olives after He returns. In glorious fashion, Zechariah 14 make this quite clear. When He does come, once again “Hosanna in the highest” will be shouted with joy again! God’s redemptive plan will ultimately be fulfilled!

 

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“Physical Settings of the Bible” Church Seminar

Physical settings of Israel

Learn the “physical settings” of Israel, the land of the Bible!

Another church just hosted a “Physical Settings of the Bible” Seminar last weekend! The Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Holdrege, Nebraska just hosted a weekend seminar (March 31-April 1). The seminars are taught by Dr. John DeLancey of Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours. The purpose of these church seminars is to bring a unique, eye-opening, stimulating, and inspiring church-wide weekend experience to church congregations around the country. Each seminar makes the Bible “come alive” and opens up the world of the Bible in “3-D” color!

This recent seminar was attended by about 125.  A few who attended this past weekend offered their personal experiences:

  • Dr. DeLancey’s ‘Physical Settings of the Bible’ Seminar was so interesting and enlightening.  It covered several places I had not seen on my two trips to Israel.  The archaeological information and pictures shed so much light on Israel’s past history, proving once again that the Bible is indeed true.”  (D. Carlson)
  • Dr. DeLancey’s seminar was both educational and enjoyable.  I will long remember how geography and archaeology inform our understanding of Scripture!” (J. Clayton)

  •  “In order to attend the ‘Physical Settings of the Bible’ Seminar I gave up a little trip my husband and I have enjoyed together for many years, so I was hoping the seminar would be worth attending. It definitely was!  It truly made me feel like I have been to Israel and it opened my eyes so much more to the Bible.  The devotion on Saturday morning was greatly meaningful and helpful to me personally. The whole experience and what I learned will never be forgotten!” (L Kayton)

  • Recently Dr. DeLancey presented the ‘Physical Settings of the Bible’ Seminar at our church.  Individuals from all around our area attended, and the feedback has been amazing!  Seeing the archaeological evidence of ancient sites as they relate to the Bible, along with “touring” various places throughout Israel make this seminar a ‘must,’ especially for those who may not feel that are able to travel to the Holy Land.  Those who attend will feel as though they have had the opportunity to experience Israel in ways that will make the Bible come alive in new and exciting ways. This seminar will also provide an extensive review for those who have had the opportunity to visit the land of Israel.” (Dr. & Mrs. T. Carlson)  

  • Regarding Dr DeLancey – certainly our time invested in listening to his impactful discourse on Israel was highly valued.  Dr. DeLancey’s style, knowledge, and presentation communicated very well!  We would attend again.” (R&M Allmand)

Learning the “playing board” of the land of Israel is an important part of studying the Bible. Just like one has to first learn the “playing board” of the game of Monopoly or chess in order to know how the game is played, similarly the student of the Bible must also learn the “playing board” of the Bible (e.g. the physical land of Israel along with the land’s geography, topography, biblical archaeology, etc…). Becoming familiar with this “playing board” enables one to read between the lines and understand the stories of the Bible within the physical context of the land. This is especially true and exciting in regard to better understanding the life and ministry of Jesus!

If you and your church are interested in hosting a “Physical Settings of the Bible” for your church, it will be a wonderful discipleship “pictorial Bible Study” experience!  Each seminar is led by Bible teacher and Israel Tour Leader Dr. John DeLancey. After pastoring two evangelical / Bible-believing churches for 26 years, he now serves as the Director of Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours. Dr. DeLancey has studied historical geography and biblical archaeology in Jerusalem for one year (at Jerusalem University College), has excavated at four different biblical sites in Israel, and has led 52 study tours to Israel to date. Through multi-media Power Point & video presentations that includes a focus upon the historical, geographical, archaeological, and cultural backgrounds of the Bible, this weekend church seminar aims to do three (3) things for you and your congregation:

  • EXCITE your congregation about the Bible. It will enable your church to begin to uniquely see and understand the Bible with a 3-dimensional perspective. The Bible will indeed “come alive” in amazing ways!
  • ENGAGE your congregation in the context of the Bible. This includes becoming familiar with the “playing board” of the Bible. Often times as “western” readers of the Bible, we miss the context in which all the stories of the Bible took place. This includes understanding the Hebraic background of the life and ministry of Jesus.
  • ENCOURAGE your congregation to grow deeper in their faith and understanding of God’s Word. A weekend seminar is not just about bringing new contextual insights to God’s Word, but it will also inspire followers of Christ in their walk of faith!
Pool of Siloam

Dr. DeLancey sitting on the steps of the Pool of Siloam (John 9)

The seminar is divided into six (6) sessions:

  • Introduction: “Physical Settings of the Bible”
  • “Connecting the Dots” – Geography of Israel
  • Archaeology & the Bible
  • Jerusalem in the Old Testament
  • Jerusalem in the Days of Jesus
  • Manners & Customs of the Bible

(Dr. DeLancey has also prepared an supplemental Hebraic Background of the life and ministry of Jesus seminar as well. This can be requested.)

Roman stones Jerusalem

Fallen stones from the Herodian Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple and all of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD

Visit this WEB PAGE for further details about scheduling Dr. DeLancey for a “Physical Settings of the Bible” seminar. You can reach Pastor John at PastorJohn@ittworld.com or by calling 412-999-5697.

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Summary of the March 2017 Israel-Jordan Trip

Tel Dan

The group at the nature preserve at Tel Dan

I just returned from leading my 52nd Israel Tour. God is good! This is quite humbling when I think of all the people God has brought together for these life-changing trips to the land of the Bible. Indeed, something special happens on each and every trip. This March 2017 Israel-Jordan trip was no exception.

As I always tell my groups on the last evening of the tour, the adventure of reading the Bible in “3-D color” and within the context of the “physical settings” of the Bible (e.g. the archaeological, historical, geographical, and cultural background of the ancient world of the Bible) is about to begin for them! This is so very exciting to be part of helping this adventure become reality for followers of Christ!

There is also something else that is special about each and every tour, namely, the spiritual growth that takes place in each faith-walk of folks God brings together. Not only do peoples’ insights into the world of the Bible become enriched, but their hearts are touched too. This happens at places such as the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, the Mt. of Beatitudes, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden Tomb. Retracing the footsteps and ministry of Jesus has a lasting effect on each life, especially as folks understand where Jesus taught, how He taught, and what He shared with so many! The Gospels are filled with story after story about Jesus’ life, kingdom ministry, and His redemptive purpose.

Treasury at Petra Jordan

The “Treasury” at Petra Jordan

God brought together 72 people from around the country for this trip. Together we saw and experienced about 50-55 sites related to the Bible. The following are some (certainly not all!) of the sites and experiences we encountered together:

  • Caesarea – the life and ministry of Peter and Paul here (Acts 10 & 26)
  • Mt. Carmel – Elijah’s bold confrontation against the paganism of the day (1 Kings 18)
  • Megiddo – the city “worth 1,000 cites” (Thutmose III, Egyptian Pharaoh)
  • Sepporis – A Jewish city just 4-5 miles from where Jesus grew up
  • Nazareth Precipice – Where the Jezreel Valley unfolds below us – Mt. Tabor, Hill of Moreh, Mt. Gilboa, etc…)
  • Sea of Galilee – where Jesus primarily served (Mark 4 & 6)
  • Magdala and Gamla – 1st century synagogues where Jesus no doubt taught.
  • Capernaum – Jesus’ ministry base where He called the disciples (Mark 1, 2 & 9; Luke 7; John 6)
  • Dan – A beautiful nature preserve (Judges 18, 1 Kings 12)
  • Caesarea Philippi – the region where Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16).
  • Jerash (in Jordan) – one of the Decopolis cities
  • Mt Nebo – where Moses viewed the Promised Land (Dt. 34)
  • Petra – one of the seven wonders of the world! Indescribable beauty
  • Wadi Rum – jeep rides in the desert of Sir Lawrence of Arabia
  • Red Sea – Beholding the magnificence of the water
  • Timnah – where we walked through a full-size model of the Tabernacle
  • The Dead Sea – whee we floated effortlessly
  • Masada – one of six palace/fortresses of King Herod.
  • Engedi – where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 24)
  • Qumran – where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Some even explored “Cave 1”
  • Jericho – where we saw the retaining walls of the city on top of which was a mud-brick wall (Joshua 6)
  • Wadi Qelt – where we heard the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23
  • Bethlehem – where “just at the right time” Jesus was born (Gal. 4:4)
  • Jerusalem – Israel’s capital city where many stories form the OT and NT took place. Here we things like saw the Mt. of Olives, Temple Mount, Garden of Gethsemane, City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, Pools of Bethesda, the Western Wall, the Rabbinical Tunnel, the Garden Tomb, the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Memorial & Museum), Temple Mount Sifting Project, and much, much more!
Temple Mount and Jerusalem

The view of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives

One final thing I share with the group o the last night of the tour is a word of warning. This realistic word of warning is simply to prepare them for when they go back and try and explain their experiences of the trip. Truth is, as great of a trip as it was they won’t be able to adequately share their experiences with anyone! This is because a trip to Israel goes way, way beyond just being a site-seeing trip. Rather, a trip to Israel is a life-transforming experience!  This March 2017 Israel-Jordan trip was another life-transforming trip!  Praise God!

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem

Thank you for praying for us! God blessed us with a great time. But I also kindly ask you that you would be open to God’s leading in joining us for an upcoming trip to Israel. If you want to grow in your faith walk, an Israel trip is the perfect way to do it! Simply put, an Israel trip is a discipleship encounter like none other!

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