Archaeologist Finds in Jerusalem

When the Lord brought back
the captives of Zion,
we were like men who
dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with
laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the
nations,
“The Lord has done great
things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

I got all giddy when I read the headlines stating new artifacts were found in Jerusalem. I even called my husband to share the news. Of course, he didn’t get my excitement. But then I suppose he never tried to dig his way to China when he was a kid in search of cool artifacts from the ancient days. And I suppose he’s never dreamed of attending an archaeological dig in Israel.

Yeah, I should have been an archaeologist, but that’s all right, God had greater things in store for my life.

Anyway, the items found were a Roman sword, which I have yet to see a picture of, and a stone with the Menorah carved into it. You can find the articles at CNN.com and Haaretz. Both items are exciting and I can’t wait to see what more the specialists have to say about these items. But given that the stone is believed to be a carving from an actual eye-witness to the Temple Menorah before it’s destruction I’m most excited about the stone.

I won’t pretend to understand the whys and hows, but I find it a little ironic that the Roman sword, a symbol of Jerusalem’s destruction and a carving of the Menorah, a symbol of creation looking to the Light of God, have been found together and so closely to the Temple Mount. Whatever the God’s reasoning, I’m sure it’s been a reminder to the Hebrew people of what happens when God’s people harden their hearts toward Him. But I can’t help wonder if it’s a sign, a sign that God will restore Jerusalem fully and completely if they’ll only call upon the One true God.  

For more information on the beginnings of the Menorah read Exodus 25:31-40

May My Right Hand Wither

I have been thinking about all of this digging deeper and the whole idea of prayer, repentance, taking care of the poor and fasting. I’ve also been thinking about the forty days Jesus spent in the desert and the forty days Moses spent on the mountain and how those forty days tie into Lent.

As I began to pray over what I should blog about today, God very clearly told me to urge His church to pray for Jerusalem.

But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel. 2 Chronicles 6:6 (NIV

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” Psalm 122:6-7

Many of you know that the Hebrew word for peace is shalom, but do you know that the word shalom means nothing missing, nothing broken?

I love Psalms 137:5-6 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. (NIV) The Jewish Study Bible says, “let my right hand wither . . . if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory even at my happiest hour.”

On a side, according to the commentary in the JSB, the breaking of glass at the end of wedding ceremonies is to remember Jerusalem at their happiest moments.

The commentary also suggests that if the right hand is useless and the tongue sticks to the roof of the mouth, then it is near impossible to play music or sing praises.

Are the prayers for Jerusalem an Old Testament edict only? I don’t think so.

As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

There is that word peace again~nothing missing, nothing broken. But more importantly, this incident occurred right after the triumphal entry.

And Paul’s letter to the Romans says, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

During the preparation for this Easter season, please remember to pray for Jerusalem, especially with the escalation of violence in the Middle East.

Insignificant Tree, What A Blessing

Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the Lord, the Eternal God.

Genesis 21:33

I had intended today’s blog to be on names, but during my morning devotions I came across the word tamarisk. Due to my curious nature, I couldn’t allow the word to pass by without a quick google. What I found quite surprised me. I had expected something exotic, maybe a palm tree, or a large flowering hibiscus.

Yes, a large flowering hibiscus is definitely what my mind’s eye conjured. Imagine lounging beneath the beauty of such a plant. Although not typically scented, the bright green leaves and delicate colored blooms would be enough to entice any weary to stop and rest in the heat of the day. Cut me a hole in a coconut and I’m in paradise.

Ha! My imaginings were far from reality.

There are so many different kinds of tamarisks that it is hard to pinpoint which one Abraham might have planted at Beersheba, although I’d like to think it looked something like this.

*photo came from here.

If you’re curious you can google tamarisk or eshel trees. Most of the visual images are no different than wayward dry looking shrubs that have a tendency to dot farm lands. They aren’t the prettiest site. Definitely not some place a weary traveler would seek to find shelter from the heat of the day. So, I’ll continue on with my belief that Abraham planted one like what you see here.  It’s still a little ferny looking, and you don’t see any blooms. The gnarly branches add character. It also looks like it provides decent shade.

But there is so much more to the tamarisk. Check out the following links. They are well worth the read. The first delves into some Hebrew giving some awesome insight into this God-given tree.

The Hebrew word for tamarisk is eshel, whose three letters (aleph, shin, and lamed) stand for food (ochel), drink (shtiyah), and lodging or escort (lina or levaya). The ultimate host not only satisfies guests� physical needs but also personally escorts them until they are safely on their way.

The author paints a picture of God meeting the needs of traveler in the middle of the desert. How awesome is God! Please, take a moment to read Propagating Kindness.

This second link comes from Jewish Heritage Online Magazine and pretty much reiterates the first article. It’s well worth the reading time. http://jhom.com/topics/trees/eshel.htm

Isn’t it absolutely amazing how God gives us something as insignificant looking as the tamerisk to provide our needs? But I’ve come to learn that nothing mentioned in God’s word is insignificant.