In Sudbury

July 30, 2011

Our meeting for biblical studies in Sudbury, Canada got off to a good start last night. We are dealing with the theme, “Challenges Faced by the Early Church,” and making application to the church of the 21st century.

After last night’s meeting we gathered at the home of Denis and Danny Veilleux.

Sudbury, Canada. Gathering at home after meeting. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

John and Lisa Hains are the “bookends” in the photo. They drove up from Jordan. I asked John how long of a drive that was. His answer: “6 1/2 or 7 hours, not bad.”

I consider every such teaching opportunity to be a genuine privilege.

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Priests of the Imperial Cult

July 28, 2011

There is much evidence that the Imperial Cult of Caesar Worship was thriving by the end of the 1st century and in the years following. This was the case with many of the cities mentioned in Rev. 2-3, cities where the Seven Churches of Asia were located. (By churches we do not mean church buildings, but seven congregations of Christians in the Roman province of Asia).

Priest of Imperial Cult. Izmir Museum (Smyrna). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

 William Barclay, in his Letters to the Seven Churches said,

Emperor worship had begun as spontaneous demonstration of gratitude to Rome; but toward the end of the first century, in the days of Domitian, the final step was taken and Caesar worship became compulsory. Once a year the Roman citizen must burn a pinch of incense on the altar to the godhead of Caesar; and having done so, he was given a certificate to guarantee that he had performed his religious duty” (Barclay.29).

For the Christian, there was (is) but one Lord, and that is Jesus Christ. But there was tremendous pressure to say that Caesar was Lord, and there were many consequences if one failed to do so.

On a personal note: I enjoyed teaching at Sewell Hall’s Young Men’s Leadership Camp Mon-Wed, surveying the Seven Churches (Rev. 2-3) and making use of lots of photos of the biblical sites.

Tonight my wife and I are in Toronto en route to Sudbury to do a series of Bible lessons there.

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The Victor’s Crown

July 25, 2011

In the letter to the church at Smyrna, a church which only received commendation from the Lord, Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10, NKJV).

The word rendered crown is the Greek term stephanos. W. E. Vine observes that this word

denotes (a) “the victor’s crown,” the symbol of triumph in the games or some such contest; hence, by metonymy, a reward or prize; (b) “a token of public honor” for distinguished service, military prowess, etc., or of nuptial joy, or festal gladness, especially at the parousia of kings. It was woven as a garland of oak, ivy, parsley, myrtle, or olive, or in imitation of these in gold. In some passages the reference to the games is clear, 1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:8 (“crown of righteousness”); it may be so in 1 Pet. 5:4, where the fadeless character of “the crown of glory” is set in contrast to the garlands of earth. In other passages it stands as an emblem of life, joy, reward and glory, Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:19; Jas. 1:12 (“crown of life “); Rev. 2:10 (ditto); 3:11; 4:4, 10: of triumph, 6:2; 9:7; 12:1; 14:14.

Greek athlete wearing the victor's wreath. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Vine continues:

It is used of “the crown of thorns” which the soldiers plaited and put on Christ’s head, Matt. 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2, 5. At first sight this might be taken as an alternative for diadema, “a kingly crown” (see below), but considering the blasphemous character of that masquerade, and the materials used, obviously diadema would be quite unfitting and the only alternative was stephanos (see Trench Syn. Sec.xxxii).¶

Our photo features a close up of the head of a running athlete and dates back to the late Hellenistic period. This statue was retrieved from the Agean Sea off the coast of Kyme, and is displayed at the Izmir Museum (biblical Smyrna).

Sometimes the question is raised as to whether Jesus meant to be faithful as long as you live or to be faithful to the point of death. The answer is, “Yes.” Yes to both.

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Jaffa Gate

July 21, 2011

The Jaffa Gate is located on the western side of Jerusalem, thusly named because of its leading out to Joppa to the west.

Jaffa Gate, located on Jerusalem's Western Wall. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Jaffa Gate is located on your left in this photo. states

This gate is the principal entrance to the Old City. Its name in Arabic is Bab-el-Khalil, the gate of Hebron, as the main road to Hebron started here. It was also called Jaffa Gate because the road to the port city of Jaffa (Joppa) – the coast also started from it. This gate is the only one on the western side of the Old City. A low part of the city wall was torn down and the Crusader moat of the Citadel filled in 1898 for the visit of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. This gate was also the famous scene of the English General Allenby’s entrance in 1917.

You can see some of our previous posts for a map showing Jerusalem’s gates to help with orientation.

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Behind the Golden Gate

July 19, 2011

Today’s featured photo takes us behind Jerusalem’s Golden Gate.

Behind Jerusalem's Golden Gate. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

You will remember that the Golden Gate is on the eastern wall. Our photo give you a perspective from atop the temple mount viewing the west side of the Golden Gate area.

Currently this is the location of a Muslim girl’s school.

Some make the suggestion that this would be the site of the Gate Beautiful mentioned in Acts 3:2:

And a man lame from birth was being carried up, who was placed at the temple gate called “the Beautiful Gate” every day so he could beg for money from those going into the temple courts (NET Bible).

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On a personal note, this week I am privileged to be part of Gary Fisher’s Indiana Bible Camp, Students range from age 13 to 19. I’m teaching a Visualized Survey of the Bible, its history and geography, from Genesis to Revelation, making use of photos of Bible places as we narrate the text.

Below is a photo from tonight’s assembly, with Jon Babcock speaking.

Shakamak Camp near Jasonville, IN.



Citadel of David

July 16, 2011

The Citadel of David is located near the Jaffa Gate on Jerusalem’s western wall.

Citadel of David, located at Jerusalem's Western Wall near Jaffa Gate. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The site, has this helpful info:

The citadel of Jerusalem, known as the “Tower of David,” has been a landmark of the city since ancient times. . .Its location was chosen for topographic reasons – this is the highest point of the southwestern hill of Jerusalem, higher than any other point in the ancient city, including the Temple Mount. A series of fortifications built here in the course of more than twenty centuries, protected Jerusalem from the west and also overlooked and controlled the entire city.

A first archeological survey of the citadel, and excavations, were conducted between 1934 and 1947. Renewed excavations were undertaken after the reunification of the city, between the years 1968 and 1988, preparing the opening of the site to visitors.

Every period has left its mark and has been identified in the assemblage of architectural remains. In the citadel’s foundations are buried the remains of Jerusalem’s fortifications from the end of the monarchic period (8th to 6th centuries BCE) through the early Arab period (seventh to eleventh centuries). The outline of the citadel known today is from the Crusader period; the citadel itself was built in the mid-16th century by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and incorporates the remains of earlier citadels dating from Ayyubid and  Mamluk times.

The Citadel is protected by a high wall and large towers, and it is surrounded by a wide, deep moat, part of which was blocked in modern times. The entrance is from the east, via an outer gate, a bridge over the moat and a fortified inner gate house.

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Huldah Gate in Jerusalem

July 14, 2011

There was a pair of gates located on the south side of the temple mount, known as the Huldah gates. The gate to the west was a double arched gate; the one to the east was triple-arched. The double-arch gate is mostly hidden by a medieval structure. Traces of the eastern gate are still visible. The gates were previously adorned with grand decorated capitols.

Triple-arched Huldah Gate at southern wall of temple mount. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Each of the two gates served as a passage way to the temple, entering from the south. The Huldah gates were excavated in the ’70s by Meir Ben-Dov among other Israeli archaeologists. This area is currently a portion of the Southern Wall Archaeological Park.

In our photo above you can see how the triple-arched gate has been blocked and assimilated into the wall.

The name Huldah comes from the Old Testament prophetess, who lived during the days of Judah’s good king Josiah, when the lost book of the law of the LORD was found: “So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shullam son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, the supervisor of the wardrobe. (She lived in Jerusalem in the Second District)” (2 Kings 22:14, NET).

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Zion Gate in Jerusalem

July 12, 2011

We continue to explore some of the gates of Jerusalem. The present walls of the city were constructed by in AD 1537-1540. The walls were built upon previous foundations, at times utilizing portions of the older walls. Average height is 34-38 feet.

Zion Gate may be seen in our map below designated by number 7:

Old City Map. Wikimedia Commons.

Our photo below shows the Zion Gate:

Zion Gate. Located on SW wall of Jerusalem. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The gate serves as entrance to the Armenian as well as Jewish Quarters. Below and to the east of the walls at this point is situated the ancient city of David, Mt. Zion. The gate is also called David’s Gate.

The hundreds of pock-marks were made by bullets in the 1948 Jewish War of Independence.

Zion's Gate. Bullet marks left from Jewish War of Independence 1948. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

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St. Stephen’s Gate/The Lion Gate

July 11, 2011

We continue to look at some of Jerusalem’s gates. Our two previous posts have featured the Golden Gate, and Herod’s Gate. On the eastern wall, just north of the Golden Gate, is St. Stephen’s Gate. It is so named because of the tradition that Stephen, the first martyr of the church (Acts 6-7), was stoned to death at this location just outside the city walls.

St. Stephen's Gate. Traditional location of Stephen's Martyrdom. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This gate is also called the Lion’s Gate because of the four lions, two on each side, that adorn the gate.

Closer view of lions adorning the gate. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This past March someone made the suggestion to take a group photo of the men in my tour group.

Men in March '11 Bibleland's Tour in front of gate. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

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Herod’s Gate/Flower Gate

July 8, 2011

Yesterday our post showed Jerusalem’s Golden Gate, located on the eastern wall of the city. I recently came across a helpful sketch which shows the present walls and gates of Jerusalem.

Old City Map from Wikimedia Commons. Shows Jerusalem's Walls and Gates.

Herod’s Gate is located on the north side of the city (see #3 above).

Herod's Gate in Jerusalem. Located on north wall. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The designation “Herod’s Gate” is based on the erroneous notion that just inside the walls was the palace of Herod Antipas. That view has no historical basis.

The gate is also called “Flowers Gate.” You can see the floral design at top center.

Floral Design on Herod's Gate.. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This gate leads into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City from the northern city walls.

Herod’s gate was built in 1539, and has recently been renovated. Hebrew term is Sha’ar HaPerachim. The Mazor Guide states:

Sha’ar HaPerachim is situated east of the Damascus gate and adjoins the Moslem Quarter of the old city. Archeological excavations show that the wall between the Damascus Gate and Herod’s Gate has irregular channels reflecting that sections of the walls were built on top of structures dating back to the time when emperor Hadrian built Aela Capitolina on the site of Jerusalem.

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