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Friday, September 26, 2014

“The Apple of My Eye”: 8 Facts on the History & Meaning of the Phrase

Do you ever wonder what “The apple of my eye” means? Or where on earth it came from? Wonder no more as we look at 8 fascinating facts on the history and meaning of this unique and poetic phrase.

“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 17:8 

1) The English definition: According to the Oxford English Dictionary the phrase, “The apple of my eye”, means "the particular object of a person's affection or regard; a greatly cherished person or occasionally thing." defines it as “Originally meaning the central aperture of the eye. Figuratively it is something, or more usually someone, cherished above all others.”

2) The Bible:  This term has its roots in the Hebrew Bible and is thus translated five times in the English King James Version of 1611. The references in the Bible are: Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalm 17:8 (above), Proverbs 7:2, Lamentations 2:18 and Zechariah 2:8. Psalm 17:8 is quoted above and the rest are quoted at the end of this article.

3) Aelfred the Great:  The first reference in Old English is attributed to the great unifying King of early England– Aelfred the Great of Wessex. As a devout Christian and an advocate of education, Aelfred would have been familiar with the Bible and this specific term. It was he who first rendered it as “apple” in the English in his 889 A.D. work Gregory’s Pastoral Care.

4) Shakespeare: The next widely known use is in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1590 in which he writes: “Flower of this purple dye, / Hit with Cupid’s archery,/ Sink in apple of his eye”.

5) Sir Walter Scott: The first appearance of this phrase in Modern English is the use of it by Sir Walter Scott in his Old Mortality in 1816. He writes: “Poor Richard was to me as an eldest son, the apple of my eye.”

6) The Hebrew:  Here is where things become truly interesting. In 4 of the 5 mentions of this phrase, the Hebrew is ‘iyshown ‘ayin. The first word refers to the pupil of the eye but can be literally translated “The Little Man” – thus describing the tiny image one sees of oneself in the pupil of another person. Gesenius’ Hebrew Chaldean Lexicon defines it as “ A little man, i.e. pupil, in which as in a glass ( mirror) a little image of a man (woman or child) is seen.”

This is indeed the root meaning of the phrase in all cultures as stated in the American Heritage Idioms Dictionary “ This term… rests on the ancients’ idea that the eye’s pupil is apple shaped and that the eyes are particularly precious…”

7) The Latin:  Very similar to the Hebrew, the Latin word is pupilla , meaning a little doll. The root word is pupus ( boy) or pupa (girl) and also referred to the dark central aperture of the eye ( the pupil) because of the minute image a person sees of them self in another’s eye. This is also the word from which we get the English meaning for a student (child in school).

8) Zechariah 2:8: “…For he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.” The fifth mention of this idiom in the Bible uses a different word for apple than the others. Instead of ‘iyshown it is bava. The meaning of this word, bava, is disputed. Some believe it literally means apple while others like Gesenius says it has the meaning of a cavity or aperture and can be translated as gate – “The gate of the eye” (Not unlike the English reference to the eyes as the windows of the soul). Psalm 17:8 uses both ‘iyshown and bath, a Hebrew word meaning daughter. Lamentations 2:18 does not use ‘iyshown but bath only.

The meaning of the second word in the phrase ( which is the same in all 5 mentions) should also be noted. ‘Ayin can be the physical eye and also refer to the mental and spiritual faculties. Metaphorically it is translated as spring or fountain as well.

Photo credit: Squalor to Scholar

When we read the Biblical passages of this phrase, we soon realize that it is often used to refer to His children as the very apple of God’s eye. We are all God's creation but when, by the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus, we enter the family of God it is then that we become his children.

He protects and cares for us as the very midst of the pupil of His own eye! Can you imagine that love and intimacy? Just as we have a natural reflex to close our eyelids and protect our pupils when someone would touch them so it seems that it is in the very nature of God to protect and care for us.

Spurgeon writes: "No part of the body is more precious, more tender, and more carefully guarded than the eye; and of the eye, no portion more peculiarly to be protected than the central apple, the pupil, or as the Hebrew calls it, 'the daughter of the eye.' The all wise Creator has placed the eye in a well protected position; it stands surrounded by projecting bones like Jerusalem encircled by mountains. Moreover, its great Author has surrounded it with many tunics of inward covering, besides the hedge of the eyebrows, the curtain of the eyelids, and the fence of the eyelashes; and, in addition to this, he has given to every man so high a value for his eyes, and so quick an apprehension of danger, that no member of the body is more faithfully cared for than the organ of sight."

The Bible also refers to the apple of our own eyes. Proverbs for example exhorts us that the Word of God should be cherished as the apple of our eye. And so we see that what we look at the most – what is reflected in the pupil of our eye – is what we cherish the most. This is re-iterated in the New Testament when Jesus says “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.” Luke 11:34

The human eye is both a window to see into and a mirror to reflect. A fountain, gate or lamp allowing good or evil to flow in and to shine out.  The apple of the eye is indeed what we focus on and what we  cherish above all else so let us consider what that apple is for each us.

Deuteronomy 32:10

“He found him in a desert land
And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness;
He encircled him, He instructed him,
He kept him as the apple of His eye.

Psalm 17:8

“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”

Proverbs 7:2

Keep my commands and live,
And my law as the apple of your eye.

Lamentations 2:18

Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease.

Zechariah 2:8

For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Joshua and the Tribe of Benjamin: Part 2 of the 7 Eras of Jerusalem

1)    Joshua and the Tribe of Benjamin

Jerusalem was called “Jebus” (Joshua 18:28) prior to this and referred to its inhabitants at the time, as the Jebusites. These people were a Canaanite tribe ( from Ham and Canaan – Genesis 10:15-18)
The first mention in the Bible of the full name “Jerusalem” is in Joshua 10 where a Canaanite (Jebusite) king named “Adoni-Zedek” rules the city and, upon hearing of Joshua’s conquests, leads an attack against him. Joshua defeats him and his fellow kings with the help of Jehovah and Jerusalem is eventually given to the tribe of Benjamin ( Joshua 15:8, 18:28) c. 1405 B.C.

It is worth noting the following verse as it sets us up for the next “era” :

Moses Appoints Joshua: Henry Davenport Northrop

“As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.” Joshua 15:63

The next article here: Era 3 - King David and King Solomon

Phyllis Munday: The First Woman To Summit Mt. Robson

Phyllis Munday ( nee James) was the daughter of a Lipton’s Tea manager and was born in Sri Lanka in 1894. She was also the first woman to reach the peak of Mt. Robson. Her family moved to B.C. in 1901 and she eventually met and married Don Munday in 1920. Together they formed perhaps the most renowned  “power couple” of the mountaineering world.

Phyllis, Edith & Don Munday: Royal B.C. Musuem
Phyllis Munday National Stamp

If Don wasn’t smitten with her already, then it surely happened when she rescued him from nearly falling into a glacial crevasse while on a climb. While saving him, she lost her own balance and he in turn held on to her. As Don says “it lent itself readily to being given a romantic aspect”. Then there was the incident in which Phyllis chased a grizzly bear who was chasing Don.  A swiss mountain guide once said of Phyllis that she was “…a strong woman; as strong as any man”. Perhaps even stronger. 

In 1924, on only the third expedition of its kind, Conrad Kain led a group with two women in it to the peak of Mt. Robson. Phyllis was deservedly the first to stand on the peak and in the dialogue of Kathryn Bridge’s book about Phyllis, Conrad clasped her hand in his and said “There, Lady! Here is the top of Mount Robson! You are the first woman on this peak – the highest of the (Canadian) Rocky Mountains.”

Phyllis and her husband are also credited with discovering Mt. Waddington of the Coastal Mountains (The highest peak in British Columbia). In their second year of marriage Phyllis gave birth to their daughter, Edith, and at 11 months carried her to the top of Crown Mountain. In 1972 she received The Order of Canada for her pioneering work in the girl guides, St. John’s ambulance and mountaineering in general. She passed away in 1990, a female legend. 

Phyllis Munday, Blaeberry Alpine Camp 1957

“A lovely woodsy trail, a beautiful lake, an alpine meadow, a ridge and a peak, for all this had been heaven to me while on earth. They are all God’s great gifts to man.” Phyllis Munday


"Phyllis Munday" Dundern 2002 by Kathryn Bridge


Sunday, September 7, 2014

The New Testament Until Now: Part 6 of the 7 Eras of Jerusalem

After Jesus’ resurrection  c. A.D. 30-33, The Bible tells us of many significant events in Christian history including ( in order from c. A.D. 33-50)  the Ascension, Pentecost, Conversion of Paul, Conversion of Cornelius (and thus the Gentiles) and The First Christian Council at Jerusalem.

After this we read of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by Titus in A.D. 70 and then more of the tumultuous history of this Holy City that has rarely, in earthly form, lived up to its name of “Peace” .

It is important to note that during these centuries many atrocities were committed by many differing peoples – including those who called themselves Christians. We rely solely on the actions and teachings of Jesus Christ Himself , as revealed in Scripture, to be their judge.

Many mercies were given as well by many peoples including the Arabs and Muslims.

As we come closer to the present age we see it is quite evident that a large contingent of people within Arab countries would see Israel and all its people destroyed. This is not an assumption but comes from their own mouths.

We also acknowledge that while Israel has every right to exist and defend themselves, they are not in and of themselves perfect nor are all the Arab people neighbouring them “terrorists”.

We continue to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you”  Psalm 122:6.
The 16th century Presbyterian Minister and Bible Commentator, Matthew Henry reflects on this verse:

“Those that can do nothing else for the peace of Jerusalem can pray for it, which is something more than showing their good-will; it is the appointed way of fetching in mercy. The peace and welfare of the gospel church, particularly in our land, is to be earnestly desired and prayed for by every one of us…..  We must pray for Jerusalem, not out of custom, nor for fashion's sake, but out of a principle of love to God's government of man and man's worship of God.”

Present-day Pastor and Bible commentator Dr Warren Weirsbe adds this :

“The name “Jerusalem” means “foundation of peace”, and yet the city has been a centre of conflict for centuries. If we understand Biblical prophecy correctly, there can be no peace in Jerusalem or on earth until the Prince of Peace reigns on David’s throne ( Is. 9:6-7, Luke 1:26-33). So when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we are actually praying, “Thy Kingdom come (Matt 6:10) and “Even so, come Lord Jesus ( Rev22:20) .”


132 AD Jewish Rebels retake the city.  Second Jewish Revolt led by Simon Bar Kochba whom an influential Rabbi Akiva proclaimed to be a Messiah.

  136AD City is razed; Hadrian establishes Aelia Capitolina

  335AD Byzantine Empire  (formerly the Eastern Roman empire)  :     Constantine and his Mother Helena convert the city to Christianity
  Church of the Holy Sepulcher is erected

  614AD Persians take the city from Byzantine Empire  for a brief time

  638AD Arabs conquer the city; later build the Dome of the Rock mosque (691) and Al-Aksa mosque (705).

  1099AD Crusaders take the city; hold it until 1187.

 1187AD Saladin recaptures the city

1189 Pope Gregory the VII orders another  crusade to recapture Jerusalem. Richard the Lionhart and king Phillip II of France lead the 3rd crusade, but Saladin is able to defend the city. Richard comes near enough to see Jerusalem but has to turn back without ever entering it

  1267AD Mamelukes take the city; hold it until 1517AD

  1517AD Turks take the city; later (1538) Suleiman "the Magnificent"  builds the current walls

  1832AD General Ibrahim Pasha, General of Egypt,  conquers  the city (until 1841)

  1867AD Charles warren starts the archaeological digs

1899AD  First Zionist congress held in Basel, Switzerland in the  aftermath of the Dreyfus affair in France. Theodore Herzl and some other Jewish leaders come to realization of impending catastrophe for Jews of Europe and are looking for a place to resettle. Eventually Palestine, the historical homeland, is chosen as such place

  1917AD British rule until 1948

British under the command of General Allenby capture Jerusalem from Turks. Mayor of Jerusalem Salim al-Husaini borrows a white flag and surrenders the city to couple of British scouts. Allenby promises to protect the religious freedom for all three faiths. Balfour Declaration is issued in which the British Government "views with favor an establishment in Palestine of a national home for Jewish people"

1947AD  On November 29th the United Nations votes in favor of partition of Palestine into autonomous Arab and Jewish states. A special committee is formed to work out a special status given to Jerusalem as an international entity. Jews agree to the resolution. Arabs reject it. Almost immediately after UN resolution, Arabs break through the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem and attack Jewish commercial center on Ben-Yehuda street. Jewish defense force called Haganah retaliates

  1948-9AD Israel's Independence war; Jordan occupies old city; Jerusalem made Israel's capital

  1967AD East Jerusalem is reunited with West Jerusalem after 6 day war
President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser moves 100.000 troops into Sinai and kicks out UN peacekeepers. He also blockades the Strait of Tiran effectively paralyzing Israeli shipping. King Hussain of Jordan joins Nasser and signs a military agreement with Egypt. Israel expecting the worst initiates a preemptive strike and Six Day War begins. Israel captures Sinai, West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. For the first time since 1948, Jews can pray at the Western Wall. Free access to all religions to all holy sites is allowed.

“Today those walls ( *built by Suleiman) define the Old City, which has been traditionally divided into four quarters—known since the early 19th century as the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters. The Old City became a World Heritage site in 1981, and is on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Wikipedia

The above timeline was sourced from Wikipedia,

The next article is here:  Era 7 - The New Jerusalem

Jesus and His Disciples: Part 5 of the 7 Eras of Jerusalem

With the appointment of Herod the Great ( or Herod I ) as a client king of Judea for Rome, the Hasmonean Empire now gave way to the Herodian.  The Romans, in fact, gave him the title “The King of the Jews”.

Although he considered himself a follower of Judaism,  He was murderous and brutal in his ambitions. Among his many building projects ( including pagan temples) he replaced the ruins of Zerubbabel’s temple with a new one. The priestly offerings continued during construction and the Temple itself was constructed by Jewish priests.  Herod also built the Antonia Fortress ( on the south peak of Moriah) which he named for Marc Antony.

It was in this historical period of Jerusalem and the Temple that the Lord Jesus was born.  In fact, upon returning from a trip to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover Mary and Joseph noticed their 12 year old Son was missing. Luke 2: 46-47 recounts:

“Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Luke 2:46-47

It is integral to understand that the Jews of that day believed that the promised Messiah ( Daniel 9:25 etc) was coming to institute an earthly Jewish Kingdom. Even Jesus’ own disciples believed this ( Acts 1:6) , thinking that He would put an end to the Roman rule of Jerusalem and the Judean lands. Upon His public entrance into Jerusalem the people were ready to crown Him King:

“Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David That comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:10

Note the reference to King David and his “earthly” kingdom.   With this cultural context we understand why Jesus took time to explain to His disciples what was really going to happen before hand.

“Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” Matthew 20:17-19

Later, when Jesus stood before Pilate, He reiterates what His Kingdom is really about:

Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”…. Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” John 18:33. 36

It is important to note that Jesus made two unique predictions concerning the destruction of the Temple. The first prediction was a figurative one that had the Pharisees up in arms:

“So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said” John 2:18-21

The second was much more literal and concerned Herod’s Temple specifically. Herod’s Temple was a magnificent structure renowned throughout Rome and even by the disciples:

"Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:1-2

This prophecy was fulfilled through the Roman General ( and future Emperor) Titus in 70 A.D. about 49 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The secular Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us that 1,100,000 people were killed during this “Siege of Jerusalem” and that another 97,000 were enslaved. He describes the end of the siege as a ‘slaughter” and “ indiscriminate carnage“.

Despite this terrible end, God’s loving passion for Jerusalem and what it represented was exemplified when Jesus made this impassioned lament:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”  Matthew 23:37

It is clear from further Scripture reading that God still indeed loves the Jews and Jerusalem and that there is a future for them in His economy.

Before we leave this “era” we must, of course, focus on the single most important and significant event that ever happened at Jerusalem – that is the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ through Whom both Jew and Gentile may be reconciled to God.

There has been much debate as to the precise location where the Crucifixion took place; the two most prominent places being the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and a hill outside the old city gates referred to now as “Gordon’s Calvary”.

It was Constantine I ‘s mother ,Helena, who had the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built in the 4th century A.D. after she claimed to have found the “True Cross” there. However there were many doubts as to that location – especially in the 19th century when “The Garden Tomb” was discovered in 1867. Gordon’s Calvary is a rocky hill adjacent to the Garden Tomb and has been considered a much more plausible place by many Protestants.

Although he favours Gordon’s Calvary, J.B. Nicholson Jr. writes in “Behold the Land”:  “ It would seem that the Lord, knowing the tendency of the human heart to adore just about anything but what it should rightly adore, has kept its location uncertain.”

He then continues:

“The geographical spot may be uncertain, but there is one thing that is sure. Calvary is man’s only hope. And God has seen to it that no pilgrimage is needed to this place; it is as close as a prayer, a heart’s breadth away. Evangeline Booth wrote, ‘I have seen men find Him where the shepherd’s did – in a barn; where Paul did – on a journey; where Mary of Magdala did – in a garden; where the jailer did – in a prison. I have seen men find Him on the seas, in the forests, down in the mines, and in the most evil places outside of Hell…. There is no spot on earth where Christ will not come to meet us if we will only seek Him with a heart that so thirsts it will go to any length to find Him.’

“Where is Calvary? Wherever a sinner meets his Saviour; wherever a believer meets his Beloved. The places may be forgotten; it is the Person we need.”

The next article here: Era 6 - The New Testament Until Now

A View of Gordon’s Calvary, now at the edge of a bus station. There is a picture in the foreground of what it looked like in 1880. It is not too difficult  to see the inset of a skull shape within the rock. Many believe that this is another reason to believe this is indeed “Golgotha” (i.e. Calvary)  , the Place of the Skull , a traditional Jewish place of execution and burial.

A View of Gordon’s Calvary, now at the edge of a bus station. There is a picture in the foreground of what it looked like in 1880. It is not too difficult  to see the inset of a skull shape within the rock. Many believe that this is another reason to believe this is indeed “Golgotha” (i.e. Calvary)  , the Place of the Skull , a traditional Jewish place of execution and burial.

Inside the Garden TombInside the Garden Tomb

Inside the Garden Tomb

Ezra, Nehemiah & the Maccabees: Part 4 of the 7 Eras of Jerusalem

Ezra, Nehemiah and the Maccabees

Here we see 3 returns from Babylon ( present day Iraq) led by 3 men of God and later the revolt of the Maccabees during the inter-testament period ( the 400 years between the end of the OT and the beginning the NT) .

Our Biblical text comes from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah ( which were actually treated as one book in the Tanakh and Septuagint) and take place between c. 538 B.C. and c. 420 B.C. during the reign of the Persian kings Cyrus and Artaxerxes 1. For some more historical context it is of note that this was the same general time period when Gautama Buddha was in India, Confucius in China and Socrates in Greece.

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.”  Ezra 1:2-4

The first six chapters of the Book of Ezra record the return of Zerubbabel to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple which he eventually did.  The last four chapters record Ezra’s return which was more to rebuild the spiritual condition of the people.

Nehemiah, a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, led the third return in order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem for in those times and culture a city was no real city without walls. Nehemiah was twice appointed governor of Judah ( the region surrounding Jerusalem) and focused on political restoration as well as spiritual. He inspired the people to “Rise up and Build” - something we as the Church can challenge ourselves to do today:

“Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”  And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.” Nehemiah 2:17-18

Zerubbabel’s temple was later desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire ( part of the former empire of Alexander the Great),  c. 169 B.C.  According to Josephus, he built an altar to Zeus in the Temple and had pigs sacrificed on the Temple’s altar – a blatant and insidious insult to the Levitical Law.

This set the stage for the revolt of the Maccabees ( a small Jewish army)  around 166 B.C. Instigated at first by a Jewish priest, Mattathias the Hasmonean , and later carried out fully by his son, a warrior named Judas Maccabee, the revolt  succeeded and led to the rededication of the Temple. It is this rededication, and the story of the one-day supply of oil to light the Menorah lasting eight days, which is celebrated  during Hanukkah.

The reign of the Hasmonean Dynasty lasted until the Roman Emperor, Pompey, captured Jerusalem in 63 B.C.

The next article here: Era 5 - Jesus and His Disciples

Gustave Doré, Nehemiah Views the Ruins of Jerusalem's Walls, 1866.Gustave Doré, Nehemiah Views the Ruins of Jerusalem's Walls, 1866.
Gustave Doré, Nehemiah Views the Ruins of Jerusalem's Walls, 1866.

Judah from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum"

Judah from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum"

The 7 Eras of Jerusalem ( A Biblical and Historical Study of the Holy City): Intro and Part 1 - Abraham, Melchizedek & Moriah

7 Eras of Jerusalem ( A Biblical and Historical Study of the Holy City)

The purpose of this article is to look at the  history of one of the oldest cities in the world and to study more deeply the Biblical account and symbolism of it.  By no means is this an exhaustive history of the city and the “7 eras” I utilize in this article are somewhat arbitrary and simply a way of summarizing the history and meaning of the city in a practical and easy to read way.

Jerusalem, also known to history as “Jebus” and “Salem” , is situated in the Judean mountains between the Mediterranean and Dead seas.  It is thought to be the city of  “Rusalim” mentioned in ancient Egyptian texts dated from the 19th century B.C.  and is mentioned specifically as “Jerusalem” in some of the extra-biblical documents discovered in 1961 in Khirbet Beit Lei . These date back to the 6th or 7th century B.C.

You can find each article by clicking on the links below. Enjoy and God bless!

 The 7 Eras will include:
Abraham, Melchizedek and Moriah ( posted below)

Joshua and the Tribe of Benjamin

King David and King Solomon

Ezra, Nehemiah and the Maccabees

Jesus and His Disciples

From the NT till Modern Times

The New Jerusalem, Heaven's city

Era 1 -     Abraham, Melchizedek and Moriah

In Genesis 14 we see Abraham meeting with a somewhat mysterious figure named Melchizedek who is called a priest of El Elyon ( The Most High God) and “The King of Salem” . This is long before the Aaronic priesthood was initiated so, not unlike Job, he seems to be a man who , though outside of the line of Abraham, was in close communion with God.

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.”

Melchizedek literally means “King of Righteousness” and he is, here, also given the title King of Salem. Salem, of course means peace in Hebrew. However it is understood that this is more than a metaphorical title as “Salem” , both historically and Biblically, refers to the city of Jerusalem (See  Psalm 76:2).

There is some debate as to whether Melchizedek refers to a literal historical figure or to an occurrence of “Christophany” ( where there is a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament). However most Christians ( including Evangelicals) believe this was a historical figure from the context of Scripture appearances and the fact that he is named as such by Josephus, the secular Jewish historian.

At the very least, Melchizedek was a magnificent antitype of Jesus Christ ( see Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews chapters 5 through 7) and is related to the first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible – apparently a place of righteousness and peace.

We also read the story of the testing of Abraham’s faith and the near offering of Isaac, his son.
“Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:2

We see that Abraham knew God had a bigger plan afoot and Isaac would live  – even if it meant the resurrection of his son ( Gen 22:5). However, it is important – as it often is in Scripture – to understand the geography of the story.  In his book ‘Behold the Land”, J.B. Nicholson Jr. gives us tremendous insight into the place called “Moriah” – one that will be foundational to our understanding of Jerusalem’s significance.

 “In fact, Moriah is a ridge with three peaks: The southern peak ( the threshing floor of Ornan)   where the temple was built for the Jews (*by Solomon, ** II Chronicles 3:1) , and where the Dome of the Rock now stands; the central peak , where the Antonia fortress was built for the Romans; and the northern peak, where the Jews and the Romans united to execute the Son of God.”    

Nicholson speculates that the northern peak makes the most sense as the location of where Abraham offered Isaac. Other commentators on the topic believe the term "Moriah" was used of Solomon's Temple Mount to symbolically, rather than literally, associate it with Abraham's trial (IVP Bible Background Commentary).                                  

A Sketch Map of Jerusalem and area

* The term Zion is also used of the Temple Mount and, while we do not know all the details for certain, there is obviously some cross over between the terms "Moriah" and "Zion". states the following:

"The first mention of Zion in the Bible is 2 Samuel 5:7: “David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.” Zion was originally an ancient Jebusite fortress in the city of Jerusalem. After David’s conquest of the fortress, Jerusalem became a possession of Israel. The royal palace was built there, and Zion/Jerusalem became the seat of power in Israel’s kingdom..

When Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, the meaning of Zion expanded further to include the temple area (Psalm 2:6; 48:2, 11–12; 132:13). This is the meaning found in the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:6, “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.” In the Old Testament Zion is used as a name for the city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 40:9), the land of Judah (Jeremiah 31:12), and the nation of Israel as a whole (Zechariah 9:13)."

Wikipedia reminds us that: "The term Mount Zion has been historically associated with the Temple Mount, but its meaning has shifted and it is now used as the name of ancient Jerusalem's so-called western hill. In a wider sense, the term is also used for the entire Land of Israel."

King David and King Solomon: Part 3 of the 7 Eras of Jerusalem

3)     King David and King Solomon

Now we skip ahead to the days of King David and his son, Solomon.  Jerusalem is often referred to as “The City of David” (II Samuel 5:9 etc.). To avoid confusion we should understand that Bethlehem Ephrathah was also sometimes  referred to as the City of David ( see Micah 5:2, Luke 2:4)  because it was here that he was born and was anointed by Samuel (I Samuel 1). However, Jerusalem is most often the intended city when this this title is given.

We read in I Chronicles  11 how the city was recaptured from the Jebusites and came to be known as “The City of David” – This was c. 1005 B.C.:

“And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You shall not come in here!” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). Now David said, “Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.” And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief. Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David And he built the city around it, from the Millo to the surrounding area. Joab repaired the rest of the city.” I Chronicles 11:4-8

It is interesting to note that earlier David had brought the head of the giant Goliath to Jerusalem (I Samuel 17:54). Some traditions say he buried it at the hill of Golgotha  (Calvary)where Jesus died.

David also brought The Ark of the Covenant there ( II Samuel 6) and later purchased the threshing floor of Ornan ( Araunah) because that is where the Angel of the LORD was restrained by Jehovah. David proceeded to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings there ( II Samuel 24).

Because David had shed much blood, the LORD would not allow him to build the Temple. His son, Solomon, was however chosen to build it after becoming King – and guess where he built it?

“Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” II Chronicles 3:1

Apparently geography is very important to God. What a wonderful picture is beginning to take shape here.

Solomon proceeded to Build the First Temple in 966 B.C. ( fashioned after the Tabernacle in the wilderness), his own house and a wall all around Jerusalem. After finishing the Temple he solemnly brought the Ark of the Covenant ( a symbol of the presence of God that looked ahead to the atonement of the Cross) into the Holy of Holies within the Temple.

Solomon’s temple stood strong for nearly 400 years until King Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, destroyed it in 586 B.C. After this the Ark of the Covenant was lost.

The next article here: Era 4 - Ezra, Nehemiah and the Maccabees

Depiction of Ornan's Threshing Floor by Balage

George Kinney, Curly Philips & the Most Amazing Ascent of Mt. Robson

George Kinney, namesake of Kinney Lake on the Berg Lake Trail, was a Methodist preacher who first saw, in awe and wonderment, the peak of Mt. Robson in 1907. To scale this mountain became a bit of an obsession with Kinney and in 1909 he headed out on his own to claim the peak before a rumoured group of foreigners could reach it. Along the way he met Donald “Curly” Phillips, a young outfitter with no mountaineering experience – or even an ice axe, and decided he would be his climbing companion.

Donald "Curly" Phillips: Whyte Musuem

Eventually the two men, on what would be Kinney’s 12th attempt at the apex, climbed for the top. Amidst a snow storm the two reached what Kinney thought to be the peak and, baring his head,  claimed it in the name of “Almighty God…my own country and for the Alpine Club of Canada”.  The controversy as to whether they had indeed reached the peak simmers to this day although the consensus seems to be that they mistakenly stopped just 60 vertical feet short of it. Much of this controversy is owing to Curly Phillips himself who is said to have confessed it after Conrad Kain’s ascent. Some say he was pressured to say it though. At any rate George Kinney was sincere in his belief that he had reached the summit and the two men had accomplished a truly amazing feat:

“No ascent in the history of the Canadian Rockies demanded more sheer guts and determination in the face of hair-raising brushes with death by avalanche, exposure and starvation.” ( Hart 1979)

This was a statement that Conrad Kain, who had great respect for Kinney and Philips, echoed himself. Curly Philips went on to become a renowned outfitter and received the government contract to build the now famous Berg Lake Trail up the side of Mt. Robson and George Kinney continued his ministry, often going to the most remote places where others did not want to go  to care for the people there. At one point he even donated a skin graft to a young girl in Keremeos who had suffered severe burns. He sat next to the girl and comforted her while the doctor removed 24 square inches of skin from his leg with no anesthetic.

Rev. George Kinney: Whyte Musuem

“He was a man of God who never pushed religion down anyone’s throat but gently slipped it into conversations. His love of the outdoors, which he referred to as God’s Cathedral, lent itself well to the role of backwoods preacher…he never forgot his Mt. Robson days and always kept an ice axe and climbing boots hanging in his house.” ( Emerson Sanford). 


Historic Hikes Around Mount Robson and the Snake Indian River ( Sanford & Sanford Beck)


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What the Bible Says about Religion

Sometimes I think the biggest stumbling block to a person seeking God – is religion.

Let me try and explain what I mean.

First of all what I do not mean – this is not about an excuse to not go to a healthy church, practice a life of integrity or hold to sound Theology.

But as God said to Samuel when he was choosing the next King of Israel  ( 1 Samuel 16:7) -

“For the LORD does not see as man sees;  for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

What may surprise you is that the word “religion” is rarely used in the Bible – but when it is the Greek word used is :  


It means:

1) religious worship
a) esp. external, that which consists of ceremonies
1) religious discipline, religion

(Note: The word rendered “Worshipping”    in Col 2:18 is the same Greek word - see the passage below for context)

From Vine’s Greek Dictionary:

Religion  thrēskeia:

signifies "religion" in its external aspect (akin to threskos, see below), "religious worship," especially the ceremonial service of "religion;" it is used of the "religion" of the Jews, Act 26:5; of the "worshiping" of angels, Col 2:18, which they themselves repudiate (Rev 22:8,9); "there was an officious parade of humility in selecting these lower beings as intercessors rather than appealing directly to the Throne of Grace" (Lightfoot);

in Jam 1:2627 the writer purposely uses the word to set in contrast that which is unreal and deceptive, and the "pure religion" which consists in visiting "the fatherless and widows in their affliction," and in keeping oneself "unspotted from the world." He is "not herein affirming . . . these offices to be the sum total, nor yet the great essentials, of true religion, but declares them to be the body, the threskeia, of which godliness, or the love of God, is the informing soul" (Trench).
The 2 key words here are:

Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with something being external or ceremonial – but if it is has not first penetrated the heart – if it is empty of pure love motivation, humility, integrity and sincerity ( not to mention some rationality) then it is of no value and you’re missing the point ( see 1 Corinthians 13 etc) .

Note what the Bible says about true religion:

Jam 1:26 If anyone among you  thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. 

Description: 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world

The 3 things pointed out?

Bridling one’s tongue – or controlling it. No hateful speech, gossip etc..

Visiting orphans and widows in their trouble

Keeping oneself unspotted from the world  - pure, holy, just… a clean life.

Another variation of the Greek word is ethelothrēskia translated as “self-imposed religion

1) voluntary, arbitrary worship
a) worship which one prescribes and devises for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of faith which ought to be directed to Christ
b) said of the misdirected zeal and the practice of ascetics

The former and latter Greek words are both found in the following text:

Col 2:16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival 
or a new moon or sabbaths, 

Description: 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 
Description: 2:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not  seen, 
vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 
Description: 2:19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. 
Description: 2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-- 
Description: 2:21 "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," 
Description: 2:22 which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 
Description: 2:23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of 
no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Now we acknowledge the English definition of religion contains elements of Christianity -
Definition of RELIGION

: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

However - though the English Dictionary meaning of Religion may describe parts and forms of Christianity – the real thing  - the substance of it - is so much more than that. 

Unfortunately  the term “Christianity” can cover many things and there have been gross misuses of the name. 

I’ve met many people who have seen some of the history of religion, including nominal “Christianity” (not sincere or understood – only outward) , or have grown up in a household of hypocrisy and rules only – and have been hurt or turned off.

I ask these people to just  look at Jesus Himself – read about Him, read what He has said and how He acted…. ( you know – Matthew, Mark , Luke and John.. and the rest of the New Testament)

True Christianity is about a relationship ( with Jesus Christ) not religion.

That is not just a cliché statement – it is real and true, a summation of what you will discover upon a reading the Bible.

This “True”, “Relational” Christianity -

 is not binding, but rather freeing.

It is not the closing of the mind, but the opening of it.

It is not superstition but well thought out, well placed , experienced faith.

Although it can be beyond our reasoning ( as one would expect God to be), it is by no means Unreasonable.

As one put it:

“Religion is man reaching out to God. The Gospel is God reaching out to man.”

What is the Gospel?    Enter John 3:16 … and 17

Jhn 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

Description: 3:17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

And as the picture says:   Jesus is my Saviour – not my religion.

Now, if I may , let me suggest that you consider finding a Bible, wiping off the dust, opening it to somewhere like the Gospel of John – and read about Jesus for a while.
Forget the system for a while – discover the Person.