The Third Temple

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”    Matthew 24:1

Welcome to my Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious! Inertia and tradition are incredibly powerful to the point where we can find ourselves completely oblivious to what we see before us.

Case in point? The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The first problem is that it’s there and Jesus predicted that all of the buildings of the temple would be completely destroyed. Furthermore, Josephus Flavius recorded that this indeed happened about 70 A.D.

Second problem? That wall is not in Jerusalem! Zion, The City of David did not actually include the current Temple Mount. That designation referred to the area immediately south of said Wailing Wall on lower ground. If you read the Bible carefully – and if you’re much smarter than I am – you can see it clearly describes where Jerusalem is and where it ain’t.

CLUES THAT I MISSED AND HAVE BEEN SCHOOLED ON:

Davids JerusalemThe Spring of Gihon. This is the spring that supplied 100% of Jerusalem’s water, It is the only water source in that entire area. It was the spring that fed the pool of Siloam, that provided the priests with water for ritual washing, that provided the water needed, if you’re slaughtering very large numbers of animals for sacrifices. That spring is more than 3 football fields south of the Temple Mount. Depending upon where the Temple might have been located on said mount, you’re talking a hike of a quarter to a half mile from Gihon. That’s pretty unlikely for a priest who needs to be ritually clean for the Temple.

Roman Fort

Example of Roman Fort

The Roman Garrison. Where was it? How many soldiers? How big would it have to be? Rome kept a legion of troops to maintain order in Jerusalem. It was located outside of Jerusalem. A legion is estimated at 6000 soldiers and 4000 support personnel. Successful armies don’t make a habit of opting for the low ground. The Romans would have taken the Temple Mount, which is almost exactly the size and shape of an average Roman fort. We even know the name given at that time: Ft. Antonio after Marc Antony.

 

The Dome of the Rock. The rock itself, to be specific. The current tradition is that Solomon’s temple was built over the rock such that the Holy of Holies contained it. The problem is that it’s too big to big contained the Holy of Holies at about 50 feet across at one point.

And he made the Most Holy Place. Its length was according to the width of the house, twenty cubits, and its width twenty cubits.  2 Chronicles 3:8

That’s 29.5 feet square.

Why is this important? The Jews – and not a few Christians – believe that a third temple will be built, heralding the coming of Christ; the first time according to Jews, the second time according to Christians. If the proper site for the first and second temples is on the Temple Mount, The Dome of the Rock presents a problem. Muslims are bound to get a little upset if anyone tries to raze one of their most venerated sites for over 1000 years.

But, if the correct site is in The City of David 600 feet south, it can get built without inciting World War III. Indeed, archeological excavations are in process, and all indications so far is that this is the place!!

There are two videos on YouTube; ALERT! Is the 3rd Temple Under Construction?? and The Coming Temple – Full Documentary.

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Quote for 1/10/2018

…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”    1 Peter 1:15-16 NKJV

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 “It” is written in Leviticus chapters 11, 19 and 20. Chapter 20, verse 7 is especially helpful:

Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.

Consecrate means to “dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose.”

Likewise, “holy” means “dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.”

Think of your life as something separate from yourself, an item to be handled, to be managed as a precious resource. Think of it as something that has been dedicated to God alone, because it has. It has been set aside through the suffering and blood of Jesus.

Given that special nature, how should we use our lives? How should we conduct our lives? It would be great if we could do so perfectly, but we should make every effort to do so.

Remember that this is Peter talking. This is the guy who betrayed Jesus, denying Him three times outside where Jesus was being held. It wasn’t his finest hour. He certainly wasn’t managing his life as something consecrated or holy.

Except for one, significant detail. He asked for forgiveness when he erred! Judas betrayed Jesus too, but he didn’t value his life enough toward God’s purpose to have Jesus redeem it. He handled his situation on his own.

Do you manage your life as one consecrated to God, including taking it to His “repair shop” when you damage it? You should, because…

“…He who called you is holy, (so)you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Quote for 1/9/2018

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.    Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV

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A member of your family has a car accident.  What’s your first concern; person or car?

How do you spend your time?  Do you read God’s Word?  Do you talk to other people about it?  Do you seek knowledge or do you sit in your nest like a hungry fledgling bird, mouth open, waiting for someone to feed you?  Are maybe a grown bird sitting there like a chick, looking ridiculous?

Are you taking an active part in your own relationship with God, your own salvation or is an hour or two once a week all you devote to a heavenly treasure?

Are you working toward retirement?  No, not that retirement…THAT retirement!!  What do your savings look like?  Where are they stored?

Quote for 1/8/2018

Seek good and not evil, That you may live; So the Lord God of hosts will be with you, As you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.    Amos 5:14-15

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Do we seek good or evil?  Our knee-jerk response is that of course we seek good! As a society, the correct answer is far more obvious.

People dabble in the occult with Ouija boards and séance’s.  I saw a documentary by a film producer who was looking for someone to sell their soul to Satan so he could document the process.  There was no shortage of takers.

God tells us that homosexuality is wrong, but our country and others affirm it, including Barak Obama making blasphemous use of God’s rainbow to light the White House with those colors in celebration.

Even self-professed Christians who hate sinners instead of loving them and hating only the sin as Jesus Himself does.  Amos prophesies against us in our prosperity as well as Israel in theirs as we worship God by the numbers and not by our hearts.

Being Judgmental

“I looked down into that carriage and I swear that baby was judging me.”   American Sweethearts Gwen (Catherine Zeta-Jones)

Things have gotten to the point where, not only can’t you talk about religion and politics, you can’t talk about much of anything without stirring controversy.

Christians have been cornered into trying so hard to be nice to other people we seem to have made it OK to not be nice to us. And being nice often takes the form of relaxing God’s standards. Christians will even have their own scriptures thrown in their faces in condemnation. “Judge not lest ye be judged!” So there! Ha!

In Romans 14 St. Paul writes to the church there to stop judging each other. In Matthew 7 Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Well, shucks! There seems to be biblical evidence that maybe we should not be judgmental. Maybe we are supposed to keep our mouths shut and let others live their lives. But wait! Read the following from Proverbs:

“My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion.”

“Good judgment wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.”

So am I supposed to be judgmental or not? The first thing about interpreting bible passages – or any written word – is to be sure to read around the passage. Get the context. It’s a basic technique which is apparently no longer taught in journalism school. But I digress.

The first verse of Romans 14 reads “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” Paul then goes on to write about how one individual eats only vegetables and is judgmental toward the ones who eat meat. There were other, non-scriptural disputes over what they thought was good, Christian behavior. There were doubtless any number of issues that the Roman church was fracturing over, with plenty of opportunities to be judgmental. It was apparently getting personal and people’s faith was being damaged.

In Matthew 7 Jesus sounds pretty adamant against being judgmental. If you read the whole thing, you realize He is advising us to be very careful about putting ourselves in the crosshairs by calling other people out on their behavior. Now read the rest of that section:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Jesus is telling us to not be hypocritical by judging others for a behavior that we ourselves practice. It’s stupid, a bad witness, and we put ourselves in jeopardy. He does indicate that, once we’ve cleared up our own vision, we will then be able to see clearly to, ahem, be judgmental. Now let’s go a step further and look more closely at the analogy. Jesus talks about removing a speck from our brother’s eye, clearly an act of kindness.

AN ACT OF KINDNESS!

Think about what you’ve read so far, and you’ll see that there are two types of being judgmental on display here. In Romans, Paul was trying to stop people from being judgmental in a way that was one-upmanship and personal. In Matthew, Jesus was talking against hypocrisy and also warning us to be very careful and kind with being judgmental.

I was on an international flight some years ago. My seat mate from Detroit to Amsterdam was a nice, young Scandinavian lass. As our discussions ranged, we got to the topic of religion. After some talk, she asked me if I thought she was going to hell. I thought I detected a bit of a challenge and realized I was in a very precarious position. I was a Christian potentially being set up by an unbeliever to be judgmental. My mind raced. God gave me the words to say.

“You must realize it gives me no pleasure to tell you this,” I said with heartfelt sadness, “but I do. And it isn’t me passing judgment on you. I’m simply answering your question based on what God tells us in the bible. If you don’t believe in Jesus as your savior, yes, you will go to hell.”

I was given the clarity to let her know that God is her judge, not me. I’m just the messenger holding up the yardstick God has given us all to use.

Sometimes I think about that young girl on the plane. Did that tiny seed of God’s Word ever take root or not? Did hearing Truth and my sorrow for her plight get her thinking…and seeking? Does telling anyone of any age the difference between right and wrong in love and sincerity do any good? I think it must. Certainly it does not every time, as many people’s hearts have been hardened. I do believe that society needs to know right and wrong.

C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, that human beings are something akin to the product of a factory. The bible is the instruction manual. It tells us how to operate the human “machine” without damaging it.

Go ahead. Be judgmental, but in a good way.

The Children of Washington

Chuck as MosesBehold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.    Deuteronomy 11:26-28

Many people, me included, feel like this country’s best days are behind us. When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I would never have foreseen the day where you would expect a backlash from admitting you are a Christian. When I was in high school, there was a separate public high school downtown for girls who had “gotten in trouble.” It was shameful. Homosexuals did not parade around, flaunting themselves, let alone trying to get married.

And, while those and other issues didn’t always get handled in the best ways, people knew the difference between right and wrong. God meant families to be made up of a man and a woman and their children. He did not intend that we intentionally leave one of those out or change their natural relationships. How did we know?

Choices14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.   Romans 2:14-16

Crime and PunishmentGod wrote His law on our hearts that we should have a conscience and know the difference between right and wrong. If you stole, you knew it was wrong. Ever read “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky? OK, me neither. I mean I tried when it was assigned in high school, but it just went ON for freakin’ ever! I just couldn’t finish it.

But think of it. This is a novel by a Russian about a guy who commits a crime and ends up eaten up by guilt.  He was writing from the human perspective that inevitably includes God’s input. In this case, conscience.

So what have we, The United States of America, done in the last few decades? We’ve done our damndest – literally – to stamp out conscience, to eradicate right and wrong, to put down those nasty, judgmental Christians, and to serve “other gods.” Namely ourselves and our own passions. It truly seems as though our best days are behind us.

I’m sure the Children of Israel figured at more than one point in time that their best days were behind them. They thought that they would listen to the fearful reports of the spies sent in to scout Canaan instead of going in confidently per God’s instructions. Result: every adult dies in the desert during a forty year trek through the sand.

Babylonian ExileOr how about the time the Syrians came to Jerusalem for a little R & R (razing and ruining)? They stuck meat hooks through the Israelites’ bottom jaws and back out through their mouths, chained them together, and took them on a little stroll back home. And, by the way, given today’s news, what is with those Syrians, anyway?

Both of those instances, and more, led to national repentance and resurgence. After the Syrian relocation, we had Daniel, the lion’s den, and the three guys in the fiery.

Despite the fact that God told them very clearly what would happen if they misbehaved, they went their own way anyway. In Deuteronomy, He even foretold that they would screw up and just how badly He was going to spank them for it. And they STILL went awry!

But then they repented and went back to the old ways, which are, after all, the best ways, God’s ways. They flourished once again under God’s good graces. Then they fell again! Let’s hear it for The Children of Israel, folks.

Back to us. Are the USA’s best days behind us? Maybe not. Maybe The Children of Washington are on the downhill slide for now, but we’ll recover after a good spanking. My fear is that our best days may well be behind this generation, if not the country. Remember the timelines spanning generations that made up the cycles of the Children of Israel. Those who did wrong didn’t usually see redemption. They got theirs and died before the resurgence.

George Washington Praying

sacredfire

Great Bio!!

My fear for the Children of Washington is that we are way too much like the Children of Israel. We’re only going to get the spanking when our time is full just like they did. Maybe the best we can hope for is that we’ll be gone before the real spanking comes. Maybe the best we can do is try to start pushing the pendulum back the way it came and shorten the cycle for our children. If nothing else, maybe that’ll count for something.

 

You know – in your hearts – what’s right and wrong. You know where you can get your hands on a bible.  And choose wisely.

Quote for 1/6/2018

[ Living Before God Our Father ] Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;    1 Peter 1:13 NKJV

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This letter we call “1 Peter” was written to the churches in Asia Minor, Paul’s stomping grounds.  These churches are experiencing their first tastes of persecution; ridicule and accusations of disloyalty to the state.

This is not at all different from the “persecution light” we currently see in America.  Christians are mocked and accused of hate crimes for which they are persecuted and even prosecuted, having their lives destroyed.

Just ask any baker who refuses to produce a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Peter is telling the churches of Asia Minor – and us – that, while we don’t have to literally gird up our loins to flee for our lives as early Christians had to in Rome, but we do need to gird up the loins of (our) mind(s) and be strong in Jesus’ strength and mercy to resist persecution and maintain our faith.

1 Peter is rightly called The Letter of Hope, and was on Martin Luther’s list of “prime books” of the New Testament.  It is a key letter in unlocking the meaning of the entire New Testament.

Quote for 1/5/2018

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.    Isaiah 1:16-17 NKJV

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I recently related an experience many years ago at a Panera where a man was mercilessly berating his young son, saying that he was embarrassing them in front of everyone.  The young lad’s fault?  He couldn’t think of anything he wanted to eat that morning.  That’s it.

I quietly told him he was embarrassing himself.  The boy had nothing to do with his display.  He put his nose on mine and screamed at me point blank for the better part of a minute, which seemed much longer.  I just stared him down, never blinking.  He left with his tail between his legs, a beaten man.

A grade school teacher there praised me, saying the boy needed to have someone stand up for him, to hear someone say he was OK.  I also got a lot of stink eyes and side comments I was meant to hear about sticking my nose where it didn’t belong.

I still think I did the right thing, although a smaller voice sometimes raises doubts.

Then I read today’s verse, and I feel washed clean from that doubt.  I Rebuked the oppressor; Defended the fatherless.  Maybe that’s not what the world wants to see, but it IS what God wants to see.

I encourage you to do what’s right in the eyes of God, not man.  Even if it means disapproval on earth.  Fight the fights that need fighting!  For your reward will be great in heaven!

Quote for 1/4/2018

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?    Micah 6:8 NKJV

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This hearkens back to the Garden of Eden to me.  I like to think of God talking to Adam and Eve something like this:

“I made this garden and all of the plants and animals for you.  I made the world for it to be on and the entire universe, sun, moon, and stars for the world to be in.  Then I made you with great care and give all of this to you.  I’m just asking for a small token of love in return, something to say ‘Thank You.’  See that tree over there?  Leave it alone.  That’s it.  Nothing else.  Just that little favor from you to Me.”

Micah recalls how God brought Israel out of Egypt and performed many great feats for them.  Please stop being such jerks!  Just be nice to each other and give Him a little credit.  Be humble and walk with Him.  He’ll do everything else.

How hard is that?