Category Archives: Gospel

Tough Love

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)

I may be wrong, but I sense that every Christian experiences this dilemma to one degree or another. We have experienced God’s love and grace in a very real sense. We know the Gospel is true, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). We know that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone, “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

We know that all other paths lead to an eternal hell, “for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13). We know all of this, and we rest secured in the knowledge “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

 That is good for us! However, not everyone we know shares that knowledge and that assurance. In fact, most of the people we know – friends, co-workers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, other relatives – travel that “broad way” of life that “leads to destruction.” Sadly, most of them are, by worldly standards, very nice and good people. They do not know about the “tight door” and the “narrow way, which leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:14). They could find out from us, but we love them too much to tell them! If we tell them, they could be offended, and our relationship with them will suffer. They may stop talking to us. They may hate us and never want to have anything to do with us. In the case of a co-worker, we could lose our job over it. What a terrible loss that would be for us! Instead, we would rather love them right into hell! Does that sound like love to you?

Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). So, why do we hesitate to share the Gospel with those whom we love the most? Is it because we love them too much? If that is the case, then according to Jesus, we are not worthy of Him (see our leading verse above). Telling your loved ones about Jesus takes tough love, but guess what? Jesus loves them more than you do. He died to save them too.

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Happy Chanukah!

Hanukkah

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.   (John 1:4-5)

Today, December 12, 2017 (at sundown), begins the Jewish Festival of Lights otherwise known as Chanukah (pronounced (with a guttural “H”) hah-noo-kah). The festival is observed for eight days, and while it is not one of the “Feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23) nor is it recorded anywhere in the Old Testament, it is nonetheless an important commemoration of God’s provision. Most Gentiles are vaguely aware of the celebration in that it takes place around Christmastime, but besides that, they really do not know much about it.

Chanukah originated in the second century B.C. during the “silent” period of the Bible – between the Old and New Testaments. It came about as a result of a Jewish rebellion against the Greek (Syrian) ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes for his desecration of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C. This act was prehistorically recorded by the prophet Daniel: “Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land … And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” (Daniel 11:28, 31, emphasis mine). Antiochus IV defiled the temple by erecting a statue of Zeus in the sanctuary and sacrificing a pig on the altar. This incited the Maccabean Revolt, and, as prophesied by Daniel: “the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days” (Daniel 11:32-33, emphasis mine).  Two years later, 164 B.C. the Jews managed to expel the Syrians out of Jerusalem and take back their temple.

With the Greeks out of the way, the Temple had to be cleansed and rededicated. Part of the consecration required that the menorah, the “candlestick” or “lampstand,” that stood on the south wall of the Holy Place (Exodus 26:35), remain constantly lighted (Exodus 27:20). The problem was that there was only enough pure oil, i.e. oil that was undefiled, to last for only one day. So, they lit the menorah, and miraculously, the lamp continued to burn for eight days until sufficient oil was produced to replenish the supply from then on. And so, the Temple was dedicated. “Chanukah” means “dedication.”

Jesus celebrated Chanukah. We see in John’s Gospel “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch” (John 10:22-23, emphasis mine). Just before this, He made the claim “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). This He said after forgiving the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Not long after, He healed a man who was blind from birth (John 9) saying, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5, emphasis mine). That light would soon be extinguished, but not for long. In the spring following that Chanukah, Jesus would be nailed to a cross, and for three long days the world would be without the Light. The Sunday before His crucifixion, Jesus prepared His disciples (and us), “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light” (John 12:35-36).

The menorah in the Temple was permanently extinguished in 70 A.D. when the Romans razed Jerusalem. Now it is only remembered on Chanukah. The Light of the World was temporarily extinguished, but He rose again, and His glory fills the heavenly Temple. Yet on Earth, His light still shines in those who are “the children of light.” “[Y]e are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11, emphasis mine). Since you are “sanctified,” that means you are “dedicated,” and Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16, emphasis mine). So, shine!

Happy Chanukah!

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What A Thing!

Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

… Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:5-7)

The Christmas season is upon us once again, and once more, I sense the dilemma of mixing the commercialization of the season by the world with the celebration of the First Advent. Any Christian well taught in Scripture recognizes that Jesus was not born on December 25, but thanks to the Catholics, we are stuck with that date. Regardless of how one feels about that, it is appropriate to set aside a special time to contemplate the magnitude of the miracle that is the Incarnation[1] – God becoming a man.

Consider our leading verse. No other religion[2] in the world makes the claim that their gods willingly depose themselves of all divine powers to assume the life of a human. Then, to top it off, offer themselves as a blood sacrifice in order to save the lowly human race. However, contemplate seriously the significance of these words of Scripture.

“Christ Jesus” – the anointed Savior (meaning of the name) – “who being in the form of God.” The Greek word translated “form” is morphē, and it means “shape” or “nature.” The Apostle John calls Jesus “the Word.” He wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: (John 1:1, emphasis mine). In the Greek, the phrase “the Word was God” literally reads, “God was the Word” — θεος ην ο λογος. What a thing!

Though He was in every way, in very nature, God, He “Thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Verse 8 clarifies this phrase when it explains that Jesus “humbled Himself.” He did not regard it robbery to lay aside His Divine nature and assume human form in order to redeem fallen humanity. What a Thing!

“He made Himself of no reputation.” This entire phrase is summed up in one Greek word, εκενωσεν (hekenoōsen), which means, “He emptied Himself” without any sense of deprivation. In exchange, “He took upon Himself the morphē (see above) of a servant” – doulos – a “slave.” He “was made in the likeness of men.” The Greek word translated “likeness” is homoiōma meaning “resemblance.” So, not only did He take on the “nature” of man, He “looked” like any other man. There was no halo around Him to distinguish Him from any other man. Of Him Isaiah the prophet said, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “comeliness” is hâdâr meaning “magnificence,” and “beauty” is the Hebrew word mar-eh’ meaning a “handsome appearance.” So much for those soft-faced images of Jesus, we are so used to seeing! It was not enough that He condescended from His Divine nature to assume the nature of an ordinary, common-looking man, but He took the form of the lowliest kind of man – a slave. Not only did He come as a slave, but He chose a peasant girl for a mother and a stable for His birthplace.[3] What a THING!

The passage goes on to say, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8, emphasis mine). “Fashion” is the Greek word, schēma and it means the “mode, circumstance, or external condition.” The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Man must die eternally to pay the penalty for sin. Unless some sinless one can be found to serve as a suitable sacrifice for all of mankind, every one of us must pay “the wages of sin.”[4] Who could qualify as a suitable sacrifice? “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). Therefore, God clad Himself in human flesh and took the penalty for universal sin upon Himself. However, His death was not enough. He conquered death when He rose from the grave on the third day. He paid the sin debt that we owe and broke the curse of death[5] with His resurrection. WHAT A THING!

This Christmas, regardless of the commercialization of the season and regardless of the fact that Jesus was not born on December 25, God’s gift of salvation freely offered to all who will accept it, is worthy of commemoration and celebration. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15, emphasis mine). WHAT A THING!!

Merry Christmas!

Notes:


[1] “Miracle of the Incarnation” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/12/24/miracle-of-the-incarnation/

[2]  “False Religion” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/07/27/false-religion/

[3]  “Extreme Measures” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/12/11/extreme-measures/

[4]  “Eternal Sacrifice” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/09/30/eternal-sacrifice/

[5]  “Why Jesus?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/12/13/why-jesus/

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Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Christmas, Evangelism, Gospel, Holidays, Religion, Theology

Creation Ex Nihilo

A Picture of Nothing

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

It seems strange to me when people readily accept the origin of the universe from a Big Bang, yet balk at the suggestion that God created the universe out of nothing – ex nihilo – simply by speaking it into existence. Even Christians who claim to believe that every word of the Bible as inerrant and infallible fall prey to the notion that God somehow initiated and used the Big Bang to create over billions of years of time.

Recently the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) published an article,[1] which raised questions in one reader’s mind. He wrote:

Since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, doesn’t it make more sense to think that either…

  • God first created nothingness?
  • He created time at the same time as nothingness?
  • As He was everything, from within Himself He created everything?

Another question I have regards the space/time/matter continuum. While our human minds at present can’t conceive of the three dimensions going on into infinity in both directions, doesn’t it stand to reason to think that the universe and its three dimensions is endless in both directions?

I am not sure what he meant by his last question. He affirms (at least by our understanding) a three-dimensional universe, but then he questions the three-dimensional universe being infinite (endless) in “both directions.” That suggests only two dimensions. He seems confused, as often happens when we “over think” things that are beyond our understanding.

Our problem in a question like this is that we tend to think of God from our limited human perspective. As theologians like to describe God, He is totally “other,” i.e., He is nothing like us, and we have nothing outside of His Word with which to compare Him. This is why His second commandment prohibits that we make an image of Him (Exodus 20:4). It would be impossible for any image to accurately depict God in His fullness.

When we say God is eternal,[2] we sometimes view “eternity”[3] with some kind of cosmic clock[4] in mind, but that would confine God to time. God is timeless. He has no past, present or future; He simply “is.” That is why when Moses asked His name, He responded, “I AM” (Exodus 3:11). He is the All-Existent One. His omnipresence means more than He is everywhere at all times; it means that He exists IN all times, i.e., He is in our past, present and future all at once. This explains why He knows the future before it happens. This is also why our sin bears eternal consequences. Our sin is an infinite offense to God.

When we understand that, we can look at Genesis 1:1 and see that “In the beginning (time) God created (bara – only used in reference to God creating) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter/energy),” ergo, the universe. God created time. There would be no universe without time – i.e., the space-time continuum to which the writer referred. The universe, like God, is a trinity; time, space and matter/energy must all exist simultaneously for the universe to exist. Remove any one of the three components, and the universe ceases. God created time “in the beginning.”

The Bible does not specifically say that God created out of nothing (“ex nihilo” is the theological term we use to describe God’s creation), but the implication that there was nothing before verse 1 of Genesis is certainly there. When God confronts Job’s questions, He responds, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding” (Job 38:4). What are “the foundations of the earth,” if not the basic elements of the universe? Obviously, we have no way of knowing precisely “how” God did it. The Bible encourages us to rest in the fact that God brought it all about “In the beginning.” “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

On the final question, the universe is not infinite for the very reason that it was created. Nothing that is created can be infinite. Only God is infinite; everything else is finite.

When we think on that, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4). Yes, as immeasurably great as God is, He took on human form and condescended to us, His creation, to dwell among us, take on the eternal offense of our sin, and pay for it with His death on the cross so that we might share eternity with Him. After all He has done for us, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? Thank God for His infinite love!

Notes:


[1]  “The Universe Out of Nothing” – https://www.icr.org/article/10286

[2]  “The Eternality of God” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/06/04/the-eternality-of-god/

[3]  “Time Confusion” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/07/31/time-confusion/

[4]  “No Time Like the Present” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/01/18/no-time-like-the-present/

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Pre-Flood Fish Food

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30)

Our lead verse above often leads to questions about the diet of carnivores prior to the Fall recorded in Genesis 3. Those who raise the question point out that some animals’ teeth are designed for eating plants and others are designed for eating meat. I can answer that question by simply pointing out that my dogs (and probably yours) eat grass, carrots, apples, potatoes, green beans, watermelon, etc. Not only that, but their kibble is made mostly of vegetable products; they do not have to eat meat to survive. In addition, many animals existing today survive on a purely vegetarian diet even though they have sharp meat-eating teeth;[1] for example, panda bears are strict vegetarians, even though they have a mouth full of sharp meat-grinding teeth! Likewise, dinosaurs were all vegetarians before the Fall[2] for the same reason.

Someone recently asked, “What about the sea creatures? Can we assume that there are plants in the oceans? How would that make any sense? What were the sea creatures feeding on if not one another according to the food chain? Doesn’t that represent some kind of death already existing before the fall?”

That is a very good question. The Bible says that when God finished creation, He said it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Since the Bible calls death “the enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26), death cannot be a part of a “very good” creation. Both humans and animals were vegetarian, as pointed out in our verse above. (Genesis 1:29-30); therefore we can safely conclude that applied to sea creatures as well.

We must first define what “life” is. The Bible says that “life is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). Therefore, anything that has blood has life. “Life,” according to God’s Word, is not the same as defined by modern science. Modern scientists define life as anything that grows and reproduces, so to modern scientists, plants are “alive,” but that is not what the Bible says. Many creatures grow, reproduce and move freely in the oceans, like plankton. These are considered “motile organisms.” However, they have no blood; therefore, according to the Bible, they do not really have “life.” Whales eat tons of plankton every day and so do other sea creatures. Besides that, many kinds of plants grow in the shallows where sunlight for photosynthesis can still penetrate. Therefore, it should not be difficult to conclude that all sea creatures were vegetarian before the Fall (Genesis 3).

Consider also that the Fall took place probably less than a month after creation – perhaps even within the following week. I say that because Adam and Eve were perfect human specimens, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). They had absolutely no physical flaws. God gave them instruction to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and [fill] the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Eve did not conceive until after the Fall (Genesis 4:1). Considering that a woman’s menstrual cycle is about 28 days and that Eve was the most beautiful woman in the world – literally – Adam, I am certain, would have gotten busy right away to keep God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.” Eve, being the perfect example of femininity and physical health should have gotten pregnant right away. Since that did not happen until after the Fall, we must conclude that the Fall occurred before she became pregnant, and therefore less than one month after creation. That should not be too long to survive a vegetarian diet. I could even do that for a month, although, I might not be too much fun to be around!

Aside from the academic exercise of a pre-Fall animal diet is the question of death before sin.[3] If death existed before Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree, then how can death be the logical consequence of sin? Death before sin destroys the whole premise of the Gospel. Therefore, biblical compromises like the Gap Theory,[4] the Day-Age Theory,[5] and Theistic Evolution[6] must be rejected. With all of that, we can conclude that all creatures were vegetarian prior to the Fall.

Notes:


[1]  “Why God Created Large, Sharp Teeth?” – http://www.icr.org/article/why-god-created-large-sharp-teeth

[2]  “How Do the Dinosaurs Fit In?” – http://www.icr.org/article/how-do-dinosaurs-fit-in

[3]  “The Curse of Death” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/06/14/the-curse-of-death/

[4]  “No Gap” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/18/no-gap/

[5]  “A Day Is A Day” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/25/a-day-is-a-day/

[6]  “The Bible Says” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/04/03/the-bible-says/

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Creation, Death, Gospel, Origins, Random Musings, Science

Jerusalem

Modern Jerusalem viewed from the Mount of Olives

And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. (1 Kings 11:36)

Emerging from the tunnel cut through the mountain from Jericho, I caught my first glimpse of the “Eternal City,” Jerusalem. I was completely unprepared for the overwhelming emotional “rush” I would get upon my first view of the city – God’s city. Although Jerusalem is in every way a modern city – nothing like it was in Jesus’ day – building codes imposed on new construction maintain the “old” appearance of the city. That probably contributed to my emotional response.

There are cities in the Middle East more ancient than Jerusalem. Damascus, Syria, for example, is first mentioned in Genesis 14:15.  In this account, a confederation of four kings from the area around Damascus came against the kings of the south, in the area around the Dead Sea. One of those cities was Sodom where Abram’s nephew Lot was living. The invading kings sacked the five cities including Sodom and carried off captives of which Lot was one. Abram mustered up a small army of his own servants, pursued the four kings, rescued Lot, and the other captives, and took back the booty taken by the marauding kings. On his return, he encountered Melchizedek, king of Salem (Genesis 14:17-20). Some have supposed that Salem was the same as Jerusalem, but I disagree for several reasons.[1]

Jerusalem[2] is built on the mountains in the land of Moriah. It was “upon one of the mountains” (Genesis 22:2) there that God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. It is noteworthy that God did not instruct Abraham to go to Salem, Jerusalem, or Jebus (Judges 19:10-11; 1 Chronicles 11:4-5). Jebus was the “city of the Jebusites” and the Jebusites were in the land when Abram first arrived (Genesis 15:21), and it seems it would have been an excellent landmark if it existed at the time of Abraham. Instead, God instructed Abraham to go the “land of Moriah” and sacrifice Isaac on one of the mountains there. A normal reading of the text leads one to see this place as isolated and uninhabited. However, this would later become the site of Jerusalem, and the particular mountain on which Isaac was offered would become the site of the Temple “in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.” (2 Chronicles 3:1). Eventually, God would sacrifice His own Son, on the mountains of Moriah.

This alone makes Jerusalem a special place. Geographically, Jerusalem is located near the center of earth’s total landmass.[3] More than this, God stamped His name on Jerusalem.[4] Jews associate the Hebrew letter “Shin” (ש) with the name of God. They derive this from the “Shama” (meaning “hear”) in Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” Jerusalem – the “Old City” is situated on the mountains of Moriah, which are flanked by two valleys – the Kidron, and Tyropean – with a third, the Hinnom (Gehenna), that runs down the center to join the other two. The topography forms the letter “Shin” the symbol of God’s name. The land of Israel has a similar stamp where the three headwaters of the Jordon River join together to form the letter “Shin.”

The mountains of Moriah are made up of three mountain heads: Ophel, Moriah, and Zion. “Ophel” means “My Fortress” and represents God the Father. “Moriah” means “to see God” or “to be seen of God” and represents God the Son. “Zion” means “the Mark” and represents God the Holy Spirit who is the “seal” or the “mark” of all believers. One mountain range with three heads representing one God in three persons.

Jerusalem, as stated earlier, is the “Eternal City.” When Jesus returns to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He will come to Jerusalem. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4, emphasis mine). Jesus will physically reign from His Temple in Jerusalem. A river will flow from his throne here and will run to the east and into the Dead Sea, which will be healed (Ezekiel 47:8-9).

At the end of the 1000-year reign of Christ on earth, God will create a “new heaven and a new earth,” and a “New Jerusalem” will descend from heaven to a recreated earth (Revelation 21:1-2) where those of us who are His children will reign forever with Him. As beautiful as Jerusalem is today, it will not compare to the New Jerusalem where not just God’s name will dwell, but God Himself will dwell with us!

Reader, if you are unsure where you will spend eternity, read my page on Heaven.

Notes:


[1]  “Is Salem Jerusalem?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/08/16/is-salem-jerusalem/

[2]  “Hebrew Word Study – Jerusalem – Part I” – http://livingwordin3d.com/discovery/2016/12/18/hebrew-word-study-jerusalem-part-i/

[3]  “The Center of the Earth” – http://www.icr.org/article/50

[4]  “Jerusalem – I Will Put My Name There – Amazing Revelations” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZO_eRmR2ho

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, End Times, Gospel, Heaven, Religion, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

Pressed Three Times

First-century olive press in Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (Matthew 26:36)

We recently returned from our first “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land. If I never check off another item on my “bucket list,” this is enough. To walk in the land where God stamped His name defies description, so I will not even try. God assumed human form and traversed this land from Jerusalem to the Galilee; we also set foot on many of the same places.

On one of those stops, we visited the ruins of the city of Capernaum. Jesus made this city His “headquarters” as He ministered around the Sea of Galilee. Peter made his home here as did Andrew, his brother, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Here He called Levi (Matthew) away from the customs table to follow Him (Mark 2:1, 14). Capernaum was the site of many of Jesus’ miracles, yet the people did not believe (John 6:26-29); therefore Jesus cursed the city (Matthew 11:23-24). The city came to ruin from an earthquake the leveled it in 749 A.D.

In 1838, American explorer Edward Robinson discovered the ruins of ancient Capernaum,[1] and excavations at the site continue to the present. One of the more interesting finds uncovered at the site is an ancient olive press dating back to the first century. This olive press would have been used in Capernaum when Jesus lived there.

Olives growing on an olive tree on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel

Olives, besides being good to eat, produce oil useful for many purposes. Extracting the oil from the olives required three pressings.[2] The first pressing extracted the purest “virgin” olive oil used for lighting the menorah and other lamps in the Temple. It was also for ceremonial anointing of special servants of God such as priests (Exodus 28:41; 29:4-7), kings (1 Samuel 15:1; 16:12-13), and also for the implements used in the Temple (Exodus 40:9). After extracting the virgin olive oil, the crushed olives were placed into burlap sacks, which were placed in the mortar table for a second pressing. A heavy weight was then added to the pestle wheel. The second pressing produced less pure oil suitable for common use such as cooking, medicine, and fuel for lamps. More weight was then added to the wheel for the third and final pressing, which extracted lye for making soap. At this point, the olives had nothing left to give.

In Jerusalem to the east of the Temple, across the Kidron Valley, rises a hill that has large olive groves aptly named the Mount of Olives or Olivet.

The Dome of the Rock stands where the Temple used to be in Jesus’ day. Across the Kidron Valley is the Mount of Olives where the Garden of Gethsemane was located.

In Jesus’ day, amongst the olive trees, there was a garden that had an olive press. The name of the garden was Gethsemane, which means oil press. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus went there to pray with His disciples. He left eight of His disciples further down the hill, but His inner circle, Peter, James, and John, He took up to the place of pressing. “Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38, emphasis mine). He knew way lay ahead for Him. The physical pain and agony He knew awaited Him would make any man seek to escape, but that was not what pressed on Him. He was God in the flesh. He was sinless. Soon, the sin of all mankind would fall on Him. Soon that sin would sever His relationship with the Father. “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39, emphasis mine). He returned to His closest disciples only to find them sleeping (Matthew 26:40-41). The first press was done. “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42, emphasis mine.). “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43). “And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy” (Matthew 26:43). The second press was complete. “And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matthew 26:44, emphasis mine). “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44, emphasis mine). “Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Matthew 26:45). He gave all He had to give. With the final press completed, He said, “Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” (Matthew 26:46, emphasis mine). He did not wait for His accusers to find Him. He went out to meet them!

There in the Garden of the Olive Press, He was pressed three times, and He gave His all. He gave up His anointing as King. He gave up His human body – the only suitable sacrifice for sin. He gave the last dregs of His being to cleanse us from our sins, and open the way to eternal life with Him, if we will only accept His sacrifice.

Reader, if you do not know Jesus who gave His all for you, do not delay any longer. Soon He will return, or you may otherwise meet your end. Either way, it will be too late. “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, …” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Read my page on Heaven.

Notes:


[1]  “Capernaum” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capernaum

[2]  “Oil Presses in the Holy Land” – http://www.biblewalks.com/Info/OilPresses.html

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