Saturday, April 14, 2012

Israel Study Trip - Day 3

Today was another outstanding day. We focused on the Sea of Galilee.

Sermon on the Mount...
We started by visiting the Synagogue of Arbel, ruined since the 4th Century AD. From there you can see Mt. Hermon (still has snow on its peak), the highest point in Israel. And we talked about the Sermon on the Mount. A few high points:

Because an Israelite was to pray the 18 Prayers daily, which was difficult for a working man, each Rabbi would often give his people an abbreviated version. This is exactly what Jesus did

- "This is how you should pray: Our Father, which art in heaven..."
He starts off by establishing God as Father (the #1 way Jesus presented God was as a good father).
- He makes three requests, which can be summed up as: May Your name be glorified.

- Give us today our daily bread. This referred to the Manna, which required faith from the Israelites... they were only allowed to gather enough for one day. They were to trust that God would provide for them tomorrow as well. In other words, don't worry... that's what the people without God do. An Israeli sage said, "Whoever has bread in his basket and worries about tomorrow's food has no faith."

- Consider the flowers, which are here today and gone tomorrow. The flowers we saw today won't be herer in three weeks because the rains are finished. If God cares for them enough to clothe them in all this beauty, how much more will He care for us!

One of three cities that Jesus cursed. What is interesting is that the Hebrew version of the interaction of Jesus with the Pharisees is incredibly different than that of what western believers understand. They see it more as an argument among family than a blood feud which is often depicted in western writings.

In Chorazin we also learned that when Jesus referred in Matthew 6 to "practicing your 'righteousness' before men", the word he used spoke of giving to the poor. This same word is used for giving to the poor today. He talked a lot about being generous with the less fortunate. It appears that He taught this was a way to love God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

He we saw the probable ruins of Peter's house. Any time oral tradition preceded thy Byzantine Empire (4th Century), it is generally considered reliable by archaeologists.

The house that is considered Peter's was a large one with many rooms... actually, some houses form the same period had a central courtyard with over 100 rooms in them. This is what Jesus was referring to when he said to His disciples in John 14, "In my Father's house are many rooms." He was saying that heaven will be a communal place like these houses, with multiple generations and extended families under one roof.

It was also in Capernaum that Jesus met Levi (Matthew), who was sort of a toll & tax collector for this border town. Matthew walked away from his lucrative job in order to follow Jesus. Before he walked away, he threw a party so his friends could meet Jesus and understand why he was leaving everything. He wanted them to get to know Jesus.

Finally, it was at this very spot that jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law. And that evening many from the surrounding area brought the sick to Him to heal them, and He did! He used miracles as a way to emphasize that God was near to them and that He was bringing redemption. Miracles still attest to God's "nearness", that Jesus is the Messiah, and that God wants to redeem us!

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