• Old Testament

    Calendar, the Bible, and Ancient Israel

    A calendar is a cultural convention of tracking extended time. It is internalized without much thought by a culture, but it is interesting (and important) to note that calendars have changed significantly over time. In fact, it may come as a surprise to some readers that the current method for date reckoning that Western nations use is called the Gregorian calendar, which was recently (1582 AD) put into place by Pope Gregory XIII to improve the former Julian calendar, which had been used utilized since the time of domination by the Roman Empire. The Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar (40s BC), was largely accurate but was off by about 1 day per 100 years. Thus, Pope Gregory instituted a new calendar that would align even more precisely with the times and seasons, and would avoid having a regression (however slight it may be). So, the present calendar we use…

  • Old Testament

    The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls and the Antiquity of Scripture

    Discovered in 1979 by Gabriel Barkay, the Ketef Hinnom scrolls made news because they contained the text of Numbers 6:24-26 and thus represent the oldest testimony of an Old Testament text that we know about. Funny enough, the discovery of the scrolls took place because the lead archaeologist, Gabriel Barkay, an archaeology professor at Tel Aviv University, told a young boy to go clean up a cave. This young boy ended up hitting the floor of the cave with a hammer (as young boys are wont to do), causing the false floor to collapse and reveal a trove of bones beneath. This hidden tomb, within walking distance of Jerusalem, had been preserved from tomb raiders and so revealed its treasures to the archaeologists working the scene. The tomb complex found at Ketef Hinnom followed the Old Testament burial practices (basically from Abraham’s time to around 522 B.C.). The procedure of…

  • Old Testament,  Theology

    When did Israel Stop Being God’s People?

    No one can deny that Israel had a unique role as God’s chosen people in the past. They received a privilege no other nation had ever experienced! They were his firstborn son (Exod 4:22) and his treasured possession (Exod 19:5; Deut 7:6). When Moses was reminding the people of their special role as God’s people, he noted the uniqueness of God speaking to them “out of the midst of the fire” and taking “a nation for himself from the midst of another nation by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war…” (Deut 4:33–34). We read one of the most descriptive statements about Israel’s unique status as God’s people in Deuteronomy 7:6. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the…

  • Old Testament

    Was Caleb the Son of Jephunneh an Israelite?

    Caleb the son of Jephunneh is a very interesting character in Scripture. Caleb is most well known for being one of the 12 spies who explored the land of Canaan after the Exodus (Num 13:1-16). Out of the 12 spies who entered Canaan, only Caleb and Joshua trusted in God’s power to deliver the land to Israel (Num 14:6-10). Caleb is well known for a variety of other reasons as well. Because of Caleb’s devotion to Yahweh, God promised to bring him (and Joshua) into the promise land, while the rest of Caleb’s generation perished (Num 14:24, 30). Furthermore, when Israel was conquering the land of Canaan, Caleb (who was 85 years old at that time) aggressively led his family in the conquest of the hill country, conquering Hebron (cf. Joshua 14:6-15). Caleb is one of those men in Scripture we associate with heroism. He trusted his God against all…

  • Hermeneutics,  Old Testament

    Is Jeremiah 29:11 a Promise for Christians?

    It is that time of year—graduations left and right! This time of year often brings about encouraging notes and cards. Sometimes, well-meaning Christians will pencil in Jeremiah 29:11 with a note that says, “I know God has great things in store for you!” This message is not limited to graduations. Growing up, I knew many people who memorized Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise for themselves that God would bless them and give them good things: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. I do not want to play the role of Debbie Downer, but I do want to point out how we are often guilty of misusing verses like this. The first thing I want to point out is that this verse was written specifically to the nation of Israel. Although it may…

  • Old Testament

    Where Did Ahab Die?

    While in Israel, overlooking the Jezreel valley, our group talked about how Ahab stole Naboth’s vineyard in an act of horrendous treachery. After that despicable act, God promised Ahab: In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours (1 Kings 21:19). In addition to the retribution promised to Ahab, God also promised that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs. After three years (1 Kgs 22:1), Ahab (from Israel) and Jehoshaphat (from Judah) went together for war against Aram. Although Micaiah, a prophet of the Lord, told them they would face defeat and that Ahab would not come back in peace (1 Kgs 22:28), they persisted in going out to battle. The armies of Israel and Judah did meet defeat, and 1 Kings 22:37-38 says, So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king…

  • New Testament

    Israel’s Future Kingdom

    Studying the end times is important to do for a variety of reasons. First, it gives you an eager expectation and longing to see God’s will accomplished. Second, it provides the stimulation to live in a difficult life now as you wait for your hope to be fulfilled in the future. Third, it gives a sense of peace to the believer, knowing that Jesus is in fact in control of all of history, and He will return. A significant subject in discussing the future is the role of Israel. What awaits them in the future? As the title indicates, I believe the Bible clearly teaches a special kingdom for Israel in the future that coincides with the promises of the Old Testament. Acts 3:19-21 speaks to this issue clearly: