Leviticus 22:17-23:44, Mark 9:30-10:12, Psalms 44:1-8, Proverbs 10:19
Today is the 28th day of February, welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I’m Brian it’s great to be here with you today coming to you from the holy city of Jerusalem where we…well…we spent the entire day kind of in and around the old city and…and all of the different things to see here in Jerusalem. Today will be escaping and going down to the shephelah, which is the lowlands for the day. So, that’s exciting. It's…it's…it’s beautiful to see the green lush open land again after being more in a metropolitan, kind of large congested area. So, that will give us a breather and get us ready for our final day of this pilgrimage tomorrow. So, let's…let’s get into the Scriptures. Let’s see what the Bible has to say to us today. We’re reading from the Christian Standard Bible this week. Today Leviticus chapter 22 verse 17 through 23 verse 44
Okay. So, in the gospel of Mark today Jesus is moving around the countryside teaching, doing ministry, doing what he does, and John comes to Him with this really, really interesting situation. He’s like, “we saw somebody trying to cast out demons in your name and we tried to put a stop to it because he wasn't…he wasn’t one of us.” That is sort of the first rumblings of an issue that was…that was certainly going on among the Hebrew people but then bled its way into the early church and still continues until this very day. Even though Jesus spoke very very clearly from His own lips about how He saw it. So, like as believers, we usually kind of…we usually find a group, we might call it our church community, but we sort of find a group of friends, other believers and we…we stick together. And that’s community. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If we’re defining ourselves as believers in Jesus, we’re following the way, we are practicing our faith, knowing that we have not mastered anything, that…that we’re in process and that we’re walking with God and we’re walking together then we’re the body of Christ. It just gets weird once we decide we have to define precisely what that means. And then we get our theology books and start with our dogmas because invariably at some point we will think we have it right and someone else, some other group, some other people who don’t see things the way we see them, they have it wrong. So, the ultimate question then becomes “who gets to be in the kingdom? Who gets in? And is that something that a human being, no matter how judgmental, and no matter how much authority they seem to hole, do they have any say in it at all?” After all it is God’s kingdom. But we can get ourselves so segregated into our group that we then can’t even fathom the concept that God could use anyone to do anything that thinks differently than we do because they’re not really in. So, John was seeing somebody that they didn’t know that was not part of their group casting out demons in the name of Jesus and he tried to shut it down because he wasn’t part of the group. Same thing was going on with the Pharisees toward Jesus and now it’s in Jesus’ inner circle. And unfortunately, it’s always been with us and is still with us today. But Jesus said “don’t stop him. Anyone who is not against us is for us.” And then He went on and He had a little child and He uses the example. What He was saying was, “like anything that’s done for anyone who belongs to Christ, even something as little as like a glass of water isn’t gonna go unrecognized.” So, in our own lives may we understand that if and when we encounter God on the move, whether through a group of people or a person or something that we don’t understand, let’s quit with the labels, let’s understand that we are at a crossroads. And as we’ve been talking about in all kinds of situations, let’s understand that wisdom will be there and just the humility of knowing none of us have this all sorted out. That’s why we’re practicing our faith. That’s why we’re all undergoing the process of sanctification, the process that sets us apart and makes us holy to God. We’re all at different points in our journey. Criticizing everybody else’s journey does not further ours. It actually walls us off and it doesn’t take long before we look like the Pharisees. May we offer grace, the same kind of grace we would like to see as we love our neighbor as ourselves.
Holy Spirit we invite You into that because what freedom it would bring, what freedom it would bring. And we confess, the reason these kinds of things usually happen is truly based in fear. We do not want to get it wrong, not with You, not with You. The implications are far, far, far too dire. And, so, we live in fear that we might get it wrong when we will get it wrong. But You have offered us an open door. We can always return. We can always repent. And that is for everyone, not just for our group. So, come Holy Spirit and give us grace. May we see the kingdom at work in our world today and may we understand that we are a part of it. In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.
Okay. So, we’re like down to our last couple of days in the land of the Bible for this pilgrimage and that’s always kind of…of a mixed…mixed feeling. We’ve been in motion for so long now and it’s just our heart…heads, hearts, just bodies, everything. We’re full, empty and tired and elated. And, so, it’s just all of that. And, so, yeah, longing to be home but hating to leave all of that just kinda comes. Yesterday, ooo, it was a long day around Jerusalem. Beautiful day, thank God. It was a beautiful, beautiful day but we…we were…we were working and we saw a lot, covered a lot of ground. I’m trying to think if I can even remember it all.
We got up early, like ½ an hour early to get in the line, queue to…to be able to go on to the Temple Mount. And that’s pretty extraordinary on a clear blue-sky day. The dome just kind of stands out. It…it’s just a really…it’s a remarkable place with definitely conflicted history all over the place over all kinds of time. But that’s kind of the nature of Jerusalem. That’s been the story pretty much all along. So, yeah, you can feel the tension, you can sense…you can sense that because it’s ancient, it’s always been. And, so, there’s just a lot of jostling around. But a beautiful morning up on the Temple Mount.
And then we came down and went to the pools of Bethesda. And this is where Jesus healed a man that had been…had been suffering there by the pools on a…basically on a daily basis for 38 years. And Jesus came along and said, “do you want to be made whole?” And that’s a challenging thing. That’s a challenging thing to consider, especially here on the pilgrimage. It’s like…it’s like so much comes down to that. “Do you want to be made whole?” Not “can you” or “should you”. Like, “do you want to this and the collaboration that happens with God when we say yes to that?” And, so, yeah, spent a little bit of time, kind of pondering that and putting it in our hearts. It’s a beautiful church from the Crusader era right there with the acoustics that are really breathtaking as well. And often it’s really full, really hard to get in there but we managed to get group in there, and Jill lead us in…in a song and just could hear the echo of our voices just bouncing all around. It’s really majestic. It’s a lot of fun to do. It’s just a really, really unique experience. It’s like you’re in a huge cathedral and you are, but just being in Israel in this ancient church and singing to the Lord and just hearing the echo of it is…is wonderful.
So, we did that and then many…many of us walked on the old walls. You can kind of walk a portion of the old walls, beautiful views and you gotta climb some stairs, but beautiful views. And then coming down and also just little small sections of the city that from the Roman era as well as like the wall, a portion of the wall of Jerusalem from the time of King Hezekiah. And that is also pretty remarkable, see how wide the wall is. Even though it’s like all buried, you know, you can’t see how high. And it’s a small section but just kind of see like, “this is…the this is what a wall at this time, a fortified city at this time would’ve look like.” And their thick. I’m thinking, I don’t know, we’re like above it, I’m thinking 30 feet maybe 35. Maybe…I don’t know. I’m not so good with that and I didn’t have a tape measure, but really really thick. So, you know, it's…it’s easy enough to imagine the kind of battle the…like the kind of ongoing onslaught that it would take to breach a wall like that. And we read of those kinds of stories in the Scriptures, especially the tactic of surrounding…like starving the city basically and weakening everyone’s morale. And there’s plenty of stories that we will encounter in the Bible about that including Hezekiah’s story when we get to it.
Then there was some lunch in the Jewish quarter and then to the Jerusalem archaeological Park, which is again, it’s…I mean there’s a lot to see but it is really spectacular. Your down below the walls of the old city. So, like the southern temple steps are there. Part of the steps that what would’ve continued up to the temple when it was there. And some of them have been re-created but some of the original steps are there. And, so, that’s one of the places that you can be where…where you’re…you have just a pretty near certainty that Jesus would’ve walked there, that Jesus would’ve taught things on those steps and would’ve been there. And, so, for us to be there and not only have that touch point with Jesus, but also to open up the book of Acts and read the story of the Holy Spirit’s coming and Peter’s first message, and 3000 people following the way of Jesus after that and being baptized and considering where…where that might’ve taken place and understanding that the temple complex is really the only place that would have that kind of resource to do that many baptisms. So, that’s a likely scenario. And just having that touch point is great. Like all these things are great by themselves and you start stacking them up and it’s really great and then just kind of following all of the archaeology around the old walls and then making our way over to the Western wall and being able to go to the wall and join with brothers and sisters all over the world and…and pray, touch the wall.
I took Ezekiel to the wall this time. I mean, we prayed and that was…that was really sweet to watch his little hand reach out and touch the wall. Probably should’ve took pictures of that, probably would’ve wanted to remember that, but it just seemed like a moment that needed to live in memory. I don’t know. Sometimes you have these moments where you’re like, “I really really should video this or I really should take a picture of this”. But maybe that, you know, maybe that ruins the whole thing. Maybe this is just a moment that we have. So, that…that…that happened and was beautiful.
Then we went into the, what’s called the rabbinical tunnels. So, a lot of archaeology has been done under the ground along the walls of the old city because the temple mount itself, the second Temple era, this is during Herod’s development phase. And he was crazy. I mean you read about it. He was crazy. But he was a fantastic developer and so much of his fingerprint on this land still stands today, including…including the, you know, the Temple Mount, the whole support system to hold up the Temple Mount, like all these massive retaining walls. But they sort of disappear. You have this like one little section of that with, you know, with the western wall or the Wailing Wall as it has been known. But it continues. It’s just, you know, the cities built up. But archaeologist have for years been working beneath the ground. And, so, you can kind of go down there and see all of that, basically walk the whole length of the Temple Mount under…under the ground and see that, “yeah, these are the same. This is the same Herodian era all the way down.” Ssee some of the Roman era. There’s opportunities where they had like glass, you could look down all the way to the second Temple period, the time of Jesus, see the street down below. So, that’s pretty…pretty fantastic as well.
And then we finally…finally got back to our hotel pretty exhausted. We did a lot of walking. But it was a beautiful day and we made it…we made it and we saw a lot in Jerusalem today and we got sort of the…the full force of the city…like the change of complexion that Jerusalem brings. So, the wilderness, very different. The Galilee, very different than the wilderness. The Mediterranean coast, very different than the Galilee. Jerusalem, very different than the cost. So, we’ve kind of experienced all of that and it’s been wonderful and today we’ll be heading into the low lands and I’ll be telling you about that tomorrow.
Thank you for your continued prayers and…over all of this…and as we prepare…even though we have a couple days left…as we prepare to reenter our world as we go home and prepare for that. Thank you for your prayers over all of that.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.