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Anise and Cummin

Anise and Cummin


In my last post, I presented a picture of frankincense and myrrh that that I took while walking around the Old City of Jerusalem. Today, I want to show you the seeds of two more spices from that same store. 

In Matthew 23 we read:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
— Matthew 23:23

Anise and cummin were used as spices for the flavoring of foods. This practice is still common today. 

Appian Media Videos - Following the Messiah has been a long time since I have posted. I apologize for that. I will try to do better. But, for the past several months, I have been busy working on another project.

About a year ago, I was contacted by a couple of Christians in the Indianapolis area. They wanted my help in creating some Biblically-accurate videos about the life of Jesus. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. Last June, six of us traveled to Israel and recorded the video for the first five episodes of a series entitled "Following the Messiah". These episodes cover Jesus' life from His birth to the selection of his apostles.

After many months of hard work, the videos were officially released on Saturday. To celebrate the occasion, we had a public showing of two of the episodes at a wonderful theatre in Indianapolis.

I encourage you to view the videos. As I said, they were shot on location in Israel. They can be used in Bible classes, family devotionals, or any number of ways. They are all about 25 minutes in length are free to download. They can be accessed via the Appian Media website.

Please watch the videos and give us feedback! We would love to know what you think and what else you would be interested in seeing.

Rare View of Mount Hermon

dsc_2564 I have been lucky enough to travel to Israel several times. But last June, when I was traveling with the team from Appian Media, I was able to see something that I have never seen before. While we were staying in Tiberias, it was clear enough so that I could see Mount Hermon from the lake. The picture at the top of this post was one (of many) that I captured. Most of the time, there is too much haze in the Hula Valley to see the mountain from this distance.

The above picture was taken late one afternoon. You can clearly see Mount Hermon and the location where the Hula Valley (with the Jordan River at its base) empties into the Sea of Galilee.

Mount Hermon sits about 60 miles north of the Sea of Galilee on the modern-day borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon. It rises over 9,000 feet in elevation. Since the Sea of Galilee sits approximately 700 feet below sea level, the top of the mountain is nearly 10,000 feet above the location of this photograph. The Old Testament city of Dan and the New Testament city of Caesarea Philippi sit near the base of the mountain.

In the 4th century, Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem suggested that since many of the activities in the lifetime of Jesus happened around Mount Tabor, therefore he preferred that site as the probable location of the Transfiguration. Consequently, that site has been recognized as the traditional location of the event since that time.

However, many recent scholars prefer the location of Mount Hermon for the Transfiguration. Just prior to the Transfiguration, Jesus and His disciples were at Caesarea Philippi. This is told to us in Matthew 16:13, when Jesus discusses who they believe He is. Peter responds by saying that "Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God." Then, six days later (Matthew 17:1), Jesus took Peter, James, and John onto a "high mountain". While it would have been possible to travel from Caesarea Philippi to Mount Tabor (a distance of about 70 miles) in six days, it seems more logical that the "high mountain" that was mentioned in Matthew is referring to Mount Hermon, especially since they were already in the area. I agree with this assessment.

Walking Like Jesus (Ascent to Adummim)


NOTE: This is the final article in a series of posts as we have looked at places where Jesus walked. If you would like to go back and look and some of the previous posts, they covered the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount, the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a Roman Road in Galilee, the hills of Samaria, and on the Sea of Galilee.

Luke tells us:

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. - Luke 19:28

This verse comes toward the end of Jesus' life here on earth. After visiting the city of Jericho, Luke tells us that Jesus left the city and went up to Jerusalem. The picture at the top of this post is of the hills west of the city of Jericho. A road known as the Ascent of Adummim goes up these hills.

Jesus walked here.

As the crow flies, the distance between Jericho and Jerusalem is about 12 miles. However, over that 12 miles, there is an elevation gain of about 3500 feet. The road is desolate, barren, and travelers are totally exposed to the sun.

I have hiked a good bit in the Smoky Mountains. One of the things that you quickly learn while hiking is that it is very difficult to talk and walk at the same time. You need to use as much energy as you can to keep walking. So, you end up doing a lot of thinking.

Jesus probably did the same. He probably spent a good deal of time thinking. What did He think about? Honestly, I do not know. But, I can guess. He probably thought about:

1) How hot and dry it was. It would not have been an easy walk. 2) The week that was ahead of him. He knew what He was going to have to go through. 3) He was probably thinking about you...and me. He knew that if He did not walk up that road and go through the trials of the next week, we would have no hope.

So, what lesson can we learn from Jesus walking up this road? We can learn that we need to be willing to make sacrifices for others. What Jesus did for all of us is the single, most important sacrifice that has ever been made.

Do you want to walk like Jesus? Then walk up the Ascent to Adummim and be willing to make true sacrifices for others.

How would you like to travel with me to Israel and see many of these places that I have mentioned? I am leading a tour next June and I would love to have you join me. For more information, see my website. Do not let this opportunity pass you by!

Walking Like Jesus (On the Sea of Galilee)

Walking Like Jesus (On the Sea of Galilee)


NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of posts about Walking Like Jesus. The previous posts were about the southern steps of the Temple Mount, the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a Roman road to Capernaum, and the hills of Samaria.

Matthew tells us...

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” - Matthew 14:22-33

The picture at the top of this post is of the sun rising over the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus walked here.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "Barry is going to tell me to go walk on water!" No, not really. But, I do want us to consider what lesson we can learn from what Jesus did here. The lesson we can learn is this: We need to try the impossible.

Satan has many weapons in his arsenal. One of his most powerful lessons is doubt. How often have you said, "I can't do that!"

As soldiers of the cross, we should be willing to do whatever we needed to do to tell others about Jesus.

Perhaps you do not think that you could ever teach a Bible class. Give it a try!

Perhaps you do not think that you lead a prayer in public. Give it a try!

Perhaps you do not think that you would know what to say to someone who is struggling. Give it a try!

You may think that those things are impossible. But, you never know, you might find out that they are really possible. And, not only that, you might actually find that you are good at them. Consequently, people will learn more about Jesus.

Do you want to walk like Jesus? Then do the impossible and try to walk on the Sea of Galilee. In doing so, you might find that the things you thought were impossible are actually possible.

Walking Like Jesus (Hills of Samaria)

samaria John tells us...

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” he woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” - John 4:1-15

The picture at the top of this post is of the hills in the region of Samaria.

Jesus walked here.

What lesson can we learn from Jesus as He walked through Samaria? We can learn that we should spend time with people who are different than we are.

Walking through Samaria is not easy. The seemingly unending hills and valleys would have been very tiring. If I were to walk through this region, I know how I would react. I would get thirsty. And, I would be looking for someone to give me some water.

As Jesus nears Sychar, He is thirsty and approaches a Samaritan woman and asks her for some water. She even questions Jesus' actions as she knows that Jesus (being a Jew) normally would not associate with her (being a Samaritan). But, Jesus was willing to overlook those cultural differences because He had more in mind than water. He wanted to talk with her about God.

Do you want to walk like Jesus? Then walk through the hills of Samaria and find someone who is different than you. Once you have found them, talk to them about Jesus.

Walking like Jesus (Road through Galilee)

roman_road (NOTE: This is the third in a series of posts on "Walking like Jesus". In previous posts, I discussed the locations of the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount and the Shores of the Sea of Galilee.)

Luke tells us:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. - Luke 4:16-31

The picture at the top of this post is of the remains of a road built by the Romans in the first century. The Romans were known for many things. One of which was their impressive system of roads. Many of their roads ran through this area of the world. This road runs between lower Galilee and the lake.

Jesus walked here.

What lesson can we learn about Jesus walking here? We can learn that we should not let spiritual discouragement get you down.

Jesus had just visited his hometown, the town that he grew up in. He entered the synagogue and spoke the truth. As a result, the people rebuked Him and threatened to kill Him. These people were His friends and His neighbors. Surely, this would have been very discouraging to Jesus. But He did not let it get Him down. He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum to continue the work that His Father had given Him to do.

Being a Christian is not always easy. Many things that happen that can cause us to be discouraged. Sometimes even other Christians can get us down. How do you handle those type of situations? It is easy to just throw up your arms and say, "Forget it...I am not doing this any more!" But that is not the right response. We need to be willing to put those times behind us and keep focused on what we need to do for God.

Do you want to walk like Jesus? Then walk down this road in Galilee and do not let spiritual discouragement get you down.

Walking Like Jesus (Along the Shore of the Sea of Galilee)

DSC_2522 (NOTE: This is the second in a series of posts on "Walking like Jesus". In the first post, I discussed the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount.)

Matthew tells us:

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. - Matthew 4:18-22

The picture at the top of the post is of the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus walked here.

What lesson can we learn from Jesus at this location? We can learn that we should look for potential in others.

Fishing is a noble profession. Every time I pick up some fish from the meat market, I am glad that there are professional fisherman in this world.

As Jesus walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and saw these four men, he recognized the potential in them. Even though they had a wonderful profession, there was even more that they could do.

It is not enough, however, to just recognize the potential. Jesus also had to reach out to them and encourage them to do the work that He had for them to do.

How do you look at others? When you look at others, do you look for potential in them? I believe that everyone has the potential to help spread God's Word. Maybe everyone is not a public speaker. That is okay. There are plenty of other jobs that need to be done. Maybe we need to be looking for people that can say a comforting word to someone who needs it. So, look for potential in others to help spread God's Word. Then, just like Jesus did, ask them to get involved.

If you do this, you will be walking like Jesus.

Walking Like Jesus (Southern Steps of Temple Mount)

Walking Like Jesus (Southern Steps of Temple Mount)


Recently, I was asked to speak on the topic of "Walking Like Jesus". I thought that I would share some of my thoughts from that presentation in a series of blog posts. Since Jesus was raised by a good Jewish family, he undoubtedly made many trips to Jerusalem during His childhood. We read in Luke 2 of one particular trip that His family made.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. - Luke 2:41-51

The picture at the top of this post is of the southern steps leading up to the Temple Mount.

Jesus walked here.

During the first century, King Herod remodeled the temple. It was (and still is) a monumental structure. The entire Temple Mount area covers 39 acres. No doubt, it would have been awe-inspiring to a 12-year old boy from a small village in Galilee.

What can we learn about Jesus' visit here? We can learn that when Jesus walked up those steps, He already knew what His purpose in life was to be. He was here to fulfill His Father's will. Recognizing this, it begs the question: Do you know what your purpose in life is?

We have many distractions in life. Jobs, family, friends, entertainment, etc are all things that occupy our time. And, they often impact the decisions that we need to make. Jesus once said:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. - Matthew 6:33.

Notice that Jesus did not tell us not to see other things in life. But, we are to seek God first.

Do you want to walk like Jesus? Then take a walk up the southern steps of the Temple Mount and remember that our purpose in life is to serve God.

Bonus information:

Recently, I have been involved with Appian Media to film videos about the early life of Jesus. While we were in Israel, we filmed some videos on the steps to the Temple Mount that I mentioned above. One of our photographers, Craig Dehut, recorded a small recap video from that day and the personal impact visiting this location had on him.


How would you like to join me next summer on a Bible study tour of Israel? Next June, I will be leading another tour group and I would love for you to join me! Reservations and deposits are already coming in, but we still have plenty of room. This is a first-class tour with every moment filled with something to remember.

We will be visiting Caesarea, Nazareth, Megiddo, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Hazor, Dan, Jezreel, Megiddo, Jericho, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and dozens of other places. This tour is perfect for husbands/wives, parents/children, grandparents/grandchildren, and anyone who is a student of God's Word.

If you are interested, please contact me and go to my website to find out more information!

A Visit to the Biblical History Center

A Visit to the Biblical History Center


A few years ago, my family made a trip to the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia. Having grown up studying our Bible and learning all of the lessons contained therein, we found the center very interesting. The items that they had on display gave more context to the Bible. Since that trip, I have had the opportunity to travel to Israel five times. Consequently, I appreciate even more what they are trying to do at this wonderful museum, now renamed to the Biblical History Center (BHC). IMG_1713BHC has a number of options of things to do and see. Among them are: 1) Garden Tour - In the garden, they have a number of reconstructed items from the land of Israel like a wine press, olive press, alters, grave stones, houses, wells, etc. 2) Shepherd's Bread - Be invited into a tent and make bread and butter from the simple ingredients that you have in the ancient times. 3) Kid's Archaeological Dig - Kids can dig in archaeological squares and find items of interest. 4) Biblical Meal - Recline at the table and eat many foods found in the Bible. 5) Biblical Life Artifacts Gallery - BHC is one of only six places in the world in which the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) allows some of its contents to be displayed. BHC has a very impressive collection.

About three months ago, I was approached by a couple at the congregation where I attend about organizing a trip to the Biblical History Center. We began making inquiries with other members of our congregation and before we knew it, we had over 60 people interested in going. We collected money from everyone, rented a tour bus and obtained our tickets.

DSC_3014Our group's experience was fantastic. We learned all about different things that helps provide context to the Bible. It is appropriate for all ages. If you have any interest in going, I highly recommend it. You can obtain information on their website and then contact them for more information. (Ask for Morgan. She was very helpful.)

Two ironic things happened with regards to this visit:

1) The night before we left, my friend Ferrell Jenkins posted a long blog post about the BHC. As far as I know, he had no knowledge our group's intention on traveling there the next day. He provides some great information about the history of BHC.

DSC_30352) BHC was founded by Dr. James (Jim) Fleming, who is well known for his teaching and writings of the land of Israel. As many of my readers know, I have been in Israel this month working with Appian Media. We were there to film some videos that can be used in teaching others about Jesus. While we were visiting Caesarea Philippi, we decided to travel a couple of miles to the west and visit Tel Dan. As we were walking through the tel, we crossed paths with a gentleman and his group of about 20 people. That gentleman was Jim Fleming. He was spotted by my friend and Israeli guide, Gus. Years ago, Gus was enrolled in one of Dr. Fleming's classes at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Jim was very kind as we all exchanged greetings before going on our way.

If you know me, you know that I am always trying to encourage Bible students to travel to Israel to learn more about the Bible. However, I know that it is not possible or many people. If you live in the southeastern United States, I encourage you to take a day and visit the Biblical History Center. You won't be disappointed.

Catching Up On Things...

image I apologize to everyone out there that keeps up with my posts. I have been very busy of the past couple of months and have not had time to post updates. So, let me catch up on a few things of interest.....

Appian Media - I have started working part-time with a small company that is traveling to Israel this week! We will be making some videos that will follow the life of Jesus. The first five videos will feature Jesus' birth, His temptations, and His early ministry. You can read all about what we are doing on the Appian Media website. In addition, you will be able to keep up with all of our efforts on the trip on the site as well.

Upcoming Tour of Israel - I am excited to officially announce my next tour of Israel. It will be June 5-16, 2017. There have been a number of people ask me about it, so I am pleased to share that information with you. You can read details about the tour on my website. From that page, you will be able to download a registration form and view frequently asked questions. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Satellite Bible Atlas Videos - Todd Bolen and Ferrell Jenkins have mentioned on their websites about the new videos from Bill Schlegel and the Satellite Bible Atlas. These videos (and the atlas that goes with them) are a great source of information. I highly recommend watching them.

Southern Tribes Allotment - Chris McKinny has a very interesting post on the allotment of the southern tribes. I encourage you to read it. Very interesting stuff if you are a geographical junkie. (I loved it.)

Understanding the Land

7_1_Hazor_FullTel_small A couple of years ago, some friends of mine (Trent & Rebekah Dutton) had the opportunity to spend six weeks traveling across the land of Israel on their own. This allowed them the chance to see the land from different perspectives that people on a normal tour do not get to see.

One of my favorite pictures in their collection is one taken from the hills west of the Hula Valley and north of the Sea of Galilee. The picture is directed toward the east and shows the Hula Valley spreading across the foreground and the Golan Heights rising in the distance. In the floor of the valley is the tel of Hazor. (In the picture, the tel is located in the bottom right hand corner just above where the road crosses the small ravine.) This picture is a perfect example of the importance of understanding the land and having pictures and videos to study by.

As I have mentioned before, I love maps. But even the best maps represent the city of Hazor as a simple dot. It is hard to appreciate the importance of the position of the city of Hazor unless you see the city from the perspective of this picture.

That is one of the many reasons why I am so excited about the Appian Media Kickstarter project. We are going to be making five 20-minute videos about the early life of Jesus. To do this, we are going to travel to Israel and capture video from the places where these events took place. By seeing video of these places, Bible students can better appreciate the writings in the Gospels and the narrative of Jesus. Our goal is to create these videos and give them away for free for Bible students all over the world. We have already reached our primary goal, so the videos will be made. But, we have a number of stretch goals that we would love to hit to provide additional resources for all of the users.

Will you help us?

Visit our Kickstarter page and please forward this link to anyone who you might feel would be interested. And please pray for our efforts and that God's Word will be spread.

Appian Media: Following the Messiah

Appian Media: Following the Messiah


A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a couple of Christians living in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are both video producers and had spent a great deal of time looking for Biblically-based videos to be used in their classrooms for teaching. While there are a number of videos available, none of them fit their need exactly, or were not as Biblically accurate as desired. Tired of looking, they made the decision to make a series of videos themselves. They contacted me to learn more about traveling to Israel. After a number of email and phone conversations, they asked me to join their team and assist them with the logistics of the trip and helping to arrange the locations to go. I could not be more thrilled.

The plan is to produce five 20-minute videos covering the early life of Jesus. We will visit Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the Galilee. Our goal is to make this trip during the month of June. When we are completely finished, we will set up a website and allow everyone to download the videos for free.

The four of us on the team have agreed to use our vacation time from work to make this happen. Earlier today, we started a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the funds in order to do this. To this end, I would like to ask a couple of favors from everyone.

First, go and like our Facebook page. That is the easiest way to keep up with what we are doing.

Second, pray for the success of our efforts. Our goal is that we can produce these videos in such a way that they will be useful in spreading the Gospel and teaching others about Jesus. We need your prayers to help us do this.

Third, please spread the word about this campaign. The more people that know about it, the better chance we have at success. With Kickstarter, it is an "all or nothing" campaign. So, if we do not raise the full amount, the videos will not be made.

Finally, if you are inclined, we would appreciate your financial support. Go to the Kickstarter page, watch the video and look at the different levels of support. Regardless of the level you choose, you will be able to view and download the videos two weeks before they are formally released to the public. Higher tier donations will be able to request that members of the team come to your congregation to talk to your group about the videos and how they can be used in teaching.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me and I will be happy to answer them.

God's Promises Always Come True

God's Promises Always Come True


IntroductionThroughout the ministry of Jesus, He often spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem. Most, if not all, did not understand what He was trying to tell them. In their eyes, the city of the Jerusalem was a magnificent city. In Mark 13, there is a discussion between Jesus and His disciples:

And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” - Mark 13:1-2

Why did the disciples not believe Jesus? Probably because what Jesus said just did not make sense to them. They could not imagine a scenario in which these “wonderful stones and buildings” could be destroyed.

They also did not truly believe in the promises of God.

A Quick Tour During the period of the United Kingdom, Solomon expanded the city of Jerusalem to the north and built a beautiful temple on the top of the Eastern Hill. It was constructed with lumber from Lebanon and precious metals from other places in the world. It was the pride and joy of the Israelite nation.

This temple was used (and misused) by the people for hundreds of years. Then, in 586BC, the Babylonians captured the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. After the captivity ended, under the direction of brave men of God, the temple was rebuilt, but not to the former glory it once had.

When the Romans captured the land in the first century BC, King Herod started massive building projects across the land. In an attempt to appease the Jewish people, King Herod decided to enlarge the temple complex in Jerusalem. He chiseled away at the bedrock on the northern part of the Eastern Hill and used that rubble to fill in the area around the southern part of the hill. He then constructed a massive retaining wall around the entire area. The end result was a 36-acre raised platform containing an enlarged and renovated temple complex on the top. At that time, it was one of the largest building projects in the world. The Temple Mount was the centerpiece in the Roman-renovated city of Jerusalem. From anywhere in the city, the temple could be seen. And, within the city, all roads led toward the temple. It is no wonder why the disciples of Jesus were impressed (and perhaps even proud) of what they had in their own city.

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, many parts of the city were buried in rubble and debris. Centuries of wind, rain and dust contributed to the burial process until there was almost no visible evidence of the destruction remaining.

In 1967, after Israel captured a portion of Jerusalem, archaeologists were able to begin the work of digging around the Temple Mount. Adjacent to the southwest corner, they found a first century Roman road. The pavement stones were almost entirely intact as they had been buried for centuries and protected. Along with this Roman road, there were also found shops, houses and mikvahs.

However, what interested Bible scholars was not necessarily the road itself, but what was found on the road. Scattered and piled along the road were huge hewn cut pieces of stone. Stones that obviously were used in the construction of something. The road area underneath these stones had been damaged by the stones as they were dropped upon them. These stones were from the Temple Mount platform area. They were either from part of the retaining walls or one of the other structures built on top. As the Romans destroyed the city and burned the temple, these stones were thrown down onto the road below.

Just like Jesus said would happen.

Lesson: God’s promises always come true. Throughout history, God has made promises. In fact, the first recorded words of God to Adam and Eve was a command, followed by a promise.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” - Genesis 2:15-17

Later, after man disobeyed God’s command, He offers all of mankind hope in another promise to the serpent, Eve and Adam.

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” - Genesis 3:14-17

Of course, all of these promises came true.

In our lifetime, we meet thousands of people. Consequently, we will have many promises made to us. Some of these promises are ones with small consequences (“I’ll make my bed later this morning”, or “I’ll take the trash out before it rains”). But others have much larger consequences (“I promise to love, honor and obey you, until death do us part”, or “I promise to raise you up as a child of God.”).

If we surround ourselves with good people, very often these promises are kept. But sometimes, through no fault of our own, people break the promises that they made to us. In these times, we feel disappointed, sad and rejected. It is easy to think that the promise was broken because something came about that was deemed to be more important than yourself.

Luckily, we have a God that is loving, patient and true. He promised Noah salvation from the flood. He promised Abraham a large family and a land. And He promised the prophets of the impending destruction of the nation. All of those promises came true.

God has made promises to all of us. And as we have discussed, God’s promises always come true. If we forget, all we need to do is to remember this Roman road in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem The Movie - Rental and Purchase

Jerusalem The Movie - Rental and Purchase


In the past, I have discussed "Jerusalem The Movie" several times. Here are some of the links:

Jerusalem The Movie Trailer Details of Jerusalem The Movie Trailer I Finally Saw Jerusalem The Movie I Finally Saw Jerusalem The Movie (At Home)!

Now, I am glad to say that the movie is available for rental or purchase via iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, etc. Last night, my family rented it and watched it again. Of course, it is not as impressive as watching it on the huge IMAX screen, but enjoyable nonetheless. I encourage you to watch it and learn a little bit about this amazing city.

An Opportunity to Travel to Israel

An Opportunity to Travel to Israel


In 2010, I made my first tour to the country of Israel. As a Bible student and as one who loves geography, this tour helped me to better understand many parts of the Bible. Until this tour, I understood WHAT the writers were saying, but in many ways I didn't understand WHY they said it the way that they did. The tour caused me to go back and restudy many passages that I had taken for granted. That tour was one led by Ferrell Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins has been leading tours to Israel since 1967. (For those of you who are familiar with history, his first tour was just a couple of weeks before the Six-Days War.) Soon after this tour, I decided that I wanted to try to lead tours to Israel as well. I spoke with Ferrell many times about it. He offered me guidance and patiently answered all of my tedious questions. I returned to Israel with him in 2012 to learn more about the land as well as leading tours.

Since that time, I have successfully led two tours in June 2014 and October 2015. There is an unspoken thrill in helping people to understand the geography of the Bible and watching it all "click" in their minds.

Next year, Mr. Jenkins will be leading another tour in which he will be celebrating 50 years of leading tours. If you have ever had an interest in going, I encourage you to contact him and let him know of your interest.

Recently, he published a short article answering many questions that he (and others that lead tours over there) receive concerning the safety of travel in Israel. In that article, he references myself and my recent tour. To that end, I wanted to lend my words in confirmation of what he states in the article.

My most recent tour was last month. If you paid any attention during that time, there were items in the news concerning physical confrontations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Many of these confrontations resulted in injuries and deaths. Sadly, these reports are true. But, they were very isolated and failed to tell the complete story.

One morning that we were in Jerusalem, I was watching FOXNews and there was a headline on the bottom of the screen stating "Israel in Chaos". I immediately turned and looked out my window. I could see cars on the streets, people riding bikes to work and children (with their Superman and Barbie backpacks) walking to school. The situation on the ground was nothing like what was being portrayed on the television.

While there were problems, this was limited to an extremely small minority of the population. While we were over there, we never saw any problems. We were greeted by warm, loving people who were glad to see us and welcomed us with open arms.

Each day, my tour group rested comfortably in the hotels, ate delicious food in the restaurants and visited dozens of Biblical sites. We shopped in the Old City. We spoke with the shop owners. And we experienced the culture of the people. On nearly every day, someone from my tour group mentioned to me how safe they felt in Israel. Since we have returned, many have privately mentioned to me that "they never had a single concern as we traveled".

Our world is a world who does not look to God. For the most part, the people of this world seek their own self interests over the interest of God. When that happens, bad things occur. They always have and they always will. Occasionally, bad things happen in Israel. I will not deny that. But, you know what? Bad things happen in your hometown as well. Do you need proof? Watch your local news tonight. I don't care where you live, within the first ten minutes of the news, you will hear a story of someone being assaulted or perhaps even killed. It is sad, but it is true.

Yet, without thinking about it, you will head into your local hometown where those bad things happened. Do not let your perception of the situation in Israel keep you from enjoying the thrill of a lifetime and growing as a student of the Bible.

Next spring, Ferrell Jenkins will lead a tour to Israel. If you are a student of the Bible, I encourage you to consider going and celebrate 50 years of touring with him. You will be able to watch the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee. You will see the Valley of Elah where David defeated Goliath. And you will be able to stand on the Mount of Olives and look over Jerusalem. It is a great opportunity. Don't miss it.

(NOTE: If you have any specific questions about security, please feel free to contact me. I'll be more than happy to answer any question that you may have.)

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee


For many years, I read the words "Sea of Galilee" without thinking about it very much. It was just a name of a body of water. That changed when I finally saw this "sea". In reality, it is not a sea at all (at least the way that we think about it). It is really just a small lake. For instance, "Lake" Okeechobee in Florida is about 730 square miles in size. The "Sea" of Galilee is only 64 square miles in size. The Sea of Galilee is less than 10% of the size of Lake Okeechobee, yet one is called a sea and the other is called a lake.

So, why is it called a sea? To answer this question, you need to think about the body of water in antiquity and consider other bodies of water in the area. The other two main bodies of water in this area are the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea.

In the Bible, the Mediterranean Sea is called "the great sea" (Numbers 34:6-7, Joshua 1:4, Joshua 9:1, Joshua 23:4, Ezekiel 47:10, Ezekiel 48:28, etc). The Dead Sea is called by a variety of names in the Bible. It is called the Salt Sea (Genesis 14:3, Numbers 34:3, Joshua 3:16, etc), the Sea of Arabah (Deuteronomy 3:17, Joshua 12:3, etc), and the Eastern Sea (Zechariah 14:8).

Incidentally, the Sea of Galilee is also known by a few names. It is called the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1, 21:1) and the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1).

Did you notice anything interesting about all of these names? They are not necessarily names as they are descriptions. Think about the names again. The Salt Sea. The Great Sea. Do you see it? They are really descriptions of the bodies of water.

With that in mind look back at the name "Sea of Galilee". The Galilee is an area of land in northern Israel punctuated by wide flat valleys and numerous hills and mountains. Over any given year, it receives a lot of rain and the rich soil is very good for agriculture. There is also a body of water in the Galilee. This body of water is about 8 miles wide and 12 miles long and is the largest body of water within the Galilee. During Biblical times, the people described this body of water as a sea. It is the "sea" in Galilee, or the Sea of Galilee.

This helps explain why this relatively small lake is called a sea. Think about it.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts


Our final day in Israel started with a visit to the Garden Tomb, sometimes referred to as Gordon's Calvary. This site is often offered as an alternative site to Golgotha from the Church of the Holy Sepulture. In my opinion, it is probably not the site of Golgotha, but it is a nice place to visit anyway. Afterwards, we visited the Israel Museum. Seeing the large, outdoor mode of Jerusalem during the first century helps to bring everything we have learned together. This model is a powerful teaching tool and I always encourage my tours to take many pictures. We were also able to view many of the Dead Sea Scrolls and many items in the Archaeological wing of the museum.

We drove out to the coast and walked around ancient Joppa. This stop in the late afternoon offers some panoramic views of the coastal area of Tel Aviv. I am always reminded of how Jonah came here and unsuccessfully tried to run away from God.

After dinner, we headed to the airport and flew home. It is hard to believe that this tour is already over. I always encourage my travelers to use this tour as a jumping off place to learn more about Biblical geography. If you understand the land of Israel, many of the Biblical stories become clearer and will enhance your understanding of the scriptures.

Before the nation of Israel entered into the promised land, Moses described the land to them. He said:

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. - Deuteronomy 8:7-10

Until next time, shalom.

Note: The photo at the top of this post is our group shot from the Mount of Olives.

The Shephelah

The Shephelah


One of the most interesting parts of the land of Israel is a part of the land that we rarely study. That area is called the Shephelah. In our English Bibles, this is usually translated as "lowlands". It is a small area of land between the Coastal Plain and the Central Mountain Range. During. The period of the United And Divided Kingdom, this area played a major role in many of the Biblical stories. Our first stop was at he Sorek Valley, commonly known as the stomping grounds of Samson. From the tel at Bet-Shemesh, you can see Zoar (where Samson grew up), Timnah (where Samson went to find a wife) and the overall valley (where Samson burned the fields find a wife) and the overall valley (where Samson burned the fields by using a number of foxes).

About a ten minute drive away is the Valley of Elah, the site of the famous battle between David and Goliath. By standing in this valley, and reading the passage, this story takes on a very personal and richer meaning.

After making a brief stop at Lachish, we made our way down to Beer-Sheva, the home of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. From the top of the tel, you make the transition to the Negev.

It was a wonderful day and we look forward to more adventures tomorrow.

Two Days of Touring

Two Days of Touring


Shalom everyone! I apologize for not posting anything last night. When you lead a tour, sometimes there are things that you need to do to make sure everything is set up and ready to go.

We started yesterday morning at the top of the Mount of Olives. After taking our group picture, we were able to view this beautiful city and discuss many of the Biblical events that happened within the view. We then walked down the Mount of Olives to the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane.

The City of David was next on our agenda. After viewing the possible remains of the palace of King David, we walked down to the Gihon Spring. Most of our group then walked through Hezekiah's Tunnel, which still has water flowing through it 2700 years after it was built.

After lunch at Ramat Rachel Kibbutz, we drove to Bethlehem. We stopped by Kando's Store and viewed the largest Dead Sea Scroll jar that has been preserved. From here, we went to the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site of the birth of Jesus.

This morning, we started at the Western Wall. This Jewish holy site is always a highlight of the tour. Everyone had the opportunity to touch the wall and have their picture made in front of it.

We then went through the Western Wall Tunnels to view some of the huge stones that comprise this massive building effort by King Herod.

After a stop by the Pools of Bethesda, we walked the Via Dolorosa to the Church of he Holy Sepulture. Tourism is very high here in Israel, and the church was no exception. I estimate that the queue to see inside the crypt was at least three hours.

It was now lunchtime and I wanted to visit one of my favorite places, Jacob's Pizza near the Jaffa Gate. I mentioned it to the group, and before I knew it, nearly all of the group was following me to taste this homemade pizza. It was delicious and I'm glad that everyone enjoyed it.

After eating, we walked through the Spice Market and saw different sites in the Jewish Quarter. We ended the day by touring the Davidson Archeological Museum and sitting on original temple steps from the first century. A great way to end the day.

Tomorrow, we will head to one of my favorite places in the land, the Shephelah.

Until then, shalom.


To read other blogs about the tour, here are a couple of links:

Jeremy Dehut -

Jane Britnell -