Bible and Archaeology Site

January 25, 2012

Todd Bolen called attention to Bible and Archaeology-Online Museum, a site that features fifty items in chronological order, beginning with the oldest artifacts first. Images are high resolution, and helpful explanations are included. I recommend it as a handy and helpful resource. Visit the site here.

Among the items listed was Hezekiah’s tunnel, dug (701 BC) in anticipation of the Assyrian threat under King Sennacherib. The tunnel brought water from the source, the Gihon Spring, which was outside Jerusalem’s wall, to a pool within the city. Thus the Assyrians would have no water, while the Jewish inhabitants inside Jerusalem would have a ready supply.

Hezekiah's Tunnel in Jerusalem, City of David. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I previously posted an article on the tunnel here, entitled “The Siloam Inscription.”

Todd’s article may be seen here.

The Continuity of God’s Plan

January 23, 2012

During most of the decade of the ’80’s we lived and preached in Lexington, AL., a small town in northwest Alabama just below the Tennessee state line. When we moved there we soon heard of a church member, Mr. Beavers (already deceased), whose “gift for gab” was legendary. It was about a 40 minute ride from Lexington to Florence. A company van provided transportation so he and other area workers rode back and forth every day.

It was said that when Mr. Beavers got in the van he started talking. And he talked all the way to work. Then nine hours later at the end of the workday when they loaded up to return home, he start talking again–without fail taking up at the very point he left off that morning! I always thought that was amazing. If my train of thought is interrupted I might have to ask, “Now what was I saying?” But Mr. Beavers could remember consistently, with the passing of nine hours.

But then I think of God’s redemptive plan, which in His eternal wisdom he formulated before the foundation of the earth. He began to reveal that plan in Gen. 3:15, with the first promise of Christ, when sin first entered the world. Little by little through the Old Testament there is the unfolding of God’s plan. Then we come to the book of Malachi, the final prophet in our Old Testament. Malachi prophesied ca. 432 BC. There would be more than 400 years of biblical silence, that is, where there would be no more revelation from God, until that silence is broken as the Gospel records report. But God never forgot His plan. Note the connection between Malachi and Luke (Luke goes back the farthest in his record re: the birth of John), when the angel Gabriel told the aged priest Zacharias that he and his barren wife Elizabeth were to have a son:

The Continuity of God's Plan. Chart by Leon Mauldin.

The Old Testament concluded with a prophecy of John’s birth, figuratively referenced here as Elijah the prophet. He would be the forerunner to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming. But although 400+ passed after Malachi’s prophecy, when God renewed revelation, He took up right where He left off, thus continuing the unfolding of His plan to bring Christ into the world. Amazing!

Lava Fields at Tendurek Gecidi, Turkey

January 18, 2012

As one continues from Lake Van toward Mt. Ararat in Turkey, you pass through Tendurek Gecidi. This area has over the years been prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Tendurek Gecidi, near Ararat, Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This was for me the first opportunity to see lava fields like this.

Lava Fields at Tendurek Gecidi, Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on images for larger view.

Muradiye Falls, in Van District in Turkey

January 17, 2012

Yesterday we posted a sunset photo of Lake Van. As one passes by the lake en route to the Ararat Mountains he can enjoy the Muradiye Falls.

Muradiye Falls, in Van District of Eastern Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I took the above photo from this swinging bridge.

Swinging bridge below Muradiye Falls. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

You are not far from the Iranian border in this part of the world.

Muradiye Falls, much of which comes from snow melt. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

A little store is conveniently located on site.

Store at Muradiye Falls. Friendly people. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on photos for larger view.

Sunset at Lake Van, Turkey

January 16, 2012

Lake Van is the largest lake in Turkey. It is located in Eastern Turkey in the Van District. This site is not far from the Ararat mountain range, where the ark came to rest (Gen. 8:4).

Lake Van at Sunset, Eastern Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on photo for larger view.


Dietary Restrictions in Leviticus: The Stork

January 11, 2012

In a previous post we looked at some dietary restrictions in Leviticus, observing that God’s purpose was to shape and mold a people (Israel) into His own special possession.

Leviticus 11 includes a list of birds that were unclean for food, including the stork:

and the stork, the heron in its kinds, and the hoopoe, and the bat (v.19, NASB).

In Eastern Turkey near Mt. Ararat we photographed this stork.

Stork, listed among unclean animals in Leviticus 11. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

It is not uncommon for the stork to build its nest atop electrical poles.

The stork is mentioned in a few other biblical texts. The Lord sadly stated through the prophet Jeremiah,

Even the stork knows when it is time to move on. The turtledove, swallow, and crane recognize the normal times for their migration. But my people pay no attention to what I, the LORD, require of them (8:7, NET).

Migratory birds journey from Turkey to Africa taking the route of the “land bridge” of Israel. The Lord is saying that the birds (including the stork) obey Him, but His covenant people paid no attention.

Click on image for larger view.

Running the Race

January 4, 2012

Hebrews 12:1 states, “Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us” (CSB).

David McClister comments,

The idea of a race with a finish line in the distance before us suits well the picture of a faith that is forward-looking and that requires determination. Josephus spoke of ‘those who have a prize before them’ and how, when they are zealous about it, they do not stop working for it. Races in Greco-Roman times were held in a public venue called a stadium, of which several ancient examples survive (Olympia, Athens, Rome, Tyre, Laodicea, Pergamum, Ephesus, Priene, Miletus, Aphrodisias, Perge, Sardis, etc.). On each side of the race course was seating for spectators. The shortest races were about 210 yards, the longest were about 5,000 yards (2.8 miles), so stamina was needed for any one of them. The point of the imagery here is not about speed or who crosses first, but about endurance and running in the best possible way so as to finish what was started (A Commentary on Hebrews, p.441).

One of the best preserved Roman stadiums is at Aphrodisias (western Turkey), included in those mentioned above. This helps us understand the imagery used in the biblical text.

Roman Stadium at Aphrodisias Illustrates the text of Hebrews 12:1. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In running this spiritual race, the inspired writer goes on to say, “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne” (v.2, CSB).

Click on image for larger view.

Dietary Restrictions in Leviticus

January 2, 2012

We recently referenced the book of Leviticus and its theme of holiness here. Chapter 11 lists the dietary restrictions which Israel was to follow. The basic rule of thumb was this: an animal must have a divided hoof and chew the cud; both were required.

3 Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 4 Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 5 And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you (ESV).

Two examples of animals which met one requirement, but not both, were the camel and the rock badger.

Camel, forbidden in Israel's diet. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This camel which I photographed in Bethany earlier this year would have been forbidden as food under Mosaic law because though it chews the cud it does not have a divided hoof.

The rock badger was also forbidden.

Rock Badgers at Ein Gedi. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

These rock badgers were at Ein Gedi, where such are commonly seen. Again, such was forbidden in ancient Israel’s diet. Like the camel, it chews the cud, but does not have a parted hoof.

On the other hand, the pig has the parted hoof, but does not chew the cud, so it was unclean also (Lev. 11:7). It occurs to me that I have not photographed any pigs in Israel.

Two observations:

1. God employed such means as these dietary restrictions to mold and shape a special people for His own possession. Such were not the end but the means to an end.

2. In the New Testament such distinctions have been removed.  Jesus said,

Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.) (Mark 7:18-19, ESV).

Click on images for larger view.

A Workable Bible Reading Schedule

January 1, 2012

I’ve tried different Bible reading schedules, but the last 2 or 3 years I’ve used the one by Mark Roberts. I’ve found it to be the most practical, and I like the arrangement Mark has worked out. He made this post earlier:

As we come to the close of 2011 many will be making plans to read the Bible regularly in 2012. I hope you will consider using the Five Day Bible Reading Schedule to help you reach your goal. The Five Day Schedule allows you to read through the entire Bible or the NT in one year by reading only five days a week. This allows time for you to catch up if you get behind, or do other reading for Bible class etc.

Many Christians have successfully read the Bible with the Five Day Schedule and you can too.

The Five Day Schedule is a FREE download and is available absolutely free for individuals and churches to use and to make copies.

Get yours here:

Note: we have a Kindle edition available from this year but it is not free (as Amazon charges to process materials). Search “Five Day Reading Schedule” or use the links at to get this Schedule on your Kindle!

A schedule of this nature disciplines the reader. You will read passages that you might otherwise neglect. I recommend this good resource.


2011 in Review–Thank You to our Readers

January 1, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 49,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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