Easter at the Garden Tomb

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4 am Easter morning: I have been looking at the clock every ten minutes or so for the last hour, I may as well just drag myself out of bed now so I can have time to shower and make … Continue reading

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Tombs of the Kings

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In previous posts, we have mentioned how we can step out of our door and into 3000 year old history here in Jerusalem. One of my favorite retreats is the Tombs of the Kings here in the City of David. … Continue reading

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Night Music in the Old City

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The C.O.D. team enjoyed a night out together in the Old City of Jerusalem last night, to participate in a music walk through the alleyways and courtyards where a number of stages had been set up.   First stop in … Continue reading

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Esther and Purim, one more time

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As we wind down the days of Purim here in Jerusalem, the meaning of Purim sinks in and takes on added significance.  I wanted to share a couple of addendum’s to my last blog of a few days ago… 1) … Continue reading

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Esther and the season of Purim

It is the time of “Purim” right now for the Jews, not a holiday exactly, but a time of remembrance. Remembering the story of Esther and how with God’s sovereign power and a willing Esther (and her father by adoption Mordecai), the Jewish people were saved from annihilation.

ImageEsther is a beautiful story of the Old Testament that takes place about 475 BC.  Many would claim that it is all legend, with little or no basis in truth.  But recent archaeological discoveries again seem to confirm the time and the places mentioned in the book of Esther.  A cuneiform tablet found near Babylon mentions a scribe by the name of Mardukaya; possibly the Hebrew name for the Gentile word “Mordecai”.  The time and place and person fit the story perfectly.

Esther is quite simply a story of good and evil and miraculous deliverance in the face of impossible odds.  Mordecai will not bow down before the evil, proud, and power hungry Haman, because Mordecai bows only before the Lord. An outraged Haman is second in command to only King Xerxes, and plots to win Xerxes approval to murder not only Mordecai, but the entire Jewish race within Xerxes’ considerable borders: from Ethiopia clear through the Middle East to India.

ImageQueen Vashti is deposed, King Xerxes needs a new queen, and Esther is chosen from among all the beautiful maidens in the kingdom to find favor with the King. No one knows that Esther is Jewish, not even evil Haman.  Mordecai tells Esther that she has been put in this position in order to be used of God to rescue her people.  She is reluctant at first, maybe just plain scared out of her wits!  But Mordecai speaks to her and tells her that it is “for such a time as this” that God has placed her in a position of influence. And Esther receives the courage to say I’ll do it even though it’s forbidden to approach the king with this, and “If I die, I die”…

ImageWith her fellow Jews fasting and praying for her, Esther approaches the king and is offered the golden scepter of mercy and acceptance and favor. The King tells her to ask for anything, up to half his kingdom, and it will be given to her.  She asks the King to attend a banquet that she will give, only for him and for Haman.  The king happily agrees.  At the banquet, the king again tells Esther to ask for anything she wants… but she again asks for another private meeting with just the King and with evil Haman.  All this time Haman is plotting against the Jews, and has a gallows built 75′ tall on which to hang Mordecai.

ImageThe night before the second meeting, the King can’t sleep.  He asks to be read to from the official records of the kingdom, and hears the story of how Mordecai himself saved the King’s life by reporting a plot to assassinate the King. He decides to reward Mordecai the next day and a mortified Haman becomes the very vehicle through which Mordecai is honored.  In the meantime, the three come together again, and again the King tells Esther to ask for whatever she might ask.  Esther replies “give me my life, me and my people…for we’ve been sold to be massacred, eliminated by an enemy, an adversary: this evil Haman!”

And what the evil one intended is turned back on himself.  He is hung on his own gallows, the Jews are rescued and Mordecai and Esther are given places of honor and power second only to the King himself, even given evil Haman’s own estate. Mordecai and Esther proclaim that the Jews will forever celebrate the Purim on this date to remember their deliverance.  “Mordecai worked hard for the good of his people; he cared for the peace and prosperity of his race”…

Elsewhere in Old Testament, in the book of Numbers, chapter 24, Balaam prophesies these words, saying this is the “decree of a man with 20/20 vision… a man who hears godly speech, who knows whats going on with the High God, who sees what The Strong God reveals… and sees what is real.  I see him, but not right now, I perceive him, but not right here; A star rises from Jacob, a SCEPTER from Israel…”

The scepter has been provided, been offered and extended to us… why not grab hold with both hands and enter in to the story He has for your life… “for such a time as this”…

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Back in “The Land”

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Julee and I arrived in Israel last Wednesday after some relatively easy travel from the U.S. We are figuring this travel thing out! Seattle to LA, LA to Paris on Air France, Paris to Madrid and a good nights sleep … Continue reading

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Israel goodbyes, Christmas 2011

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We return home in a few days, here are some photos from the past week of saying goodbyes to friends, colleagues, and the land.  Click on the Youtube link to see a slideshow with music… http://youtu.be/1Iz2eL45yOw More or less in … Continue reading

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Merry Christmas from Jerusalem

Family and friends, We feel so richly blessed this Christmas season to count you as priceless gifts.  God bless you from Jerusalem during this Christmas time and all through the New Year. All our love, Art and Julee Please enjoy our … Continue reading

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FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

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Question #1, “Why Israel”? We will finish the second of two, 3 month stays in Jerusalem on December 24th.  Adding in our original one month visit to “scout out the land” last December/January, and we will have been here a … Continue reading

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The Golden Gate

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“Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east.  His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his … Continue reading

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