Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy New Year and Merry Messiahmas

This was supposed to have been posted 2 weeks ago, but something happened and it was in a draft state. I am therefore reposting it now.

Tonight begins Rosh Hashanah (which literally means head of the year). It is supposedly the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and a day of judgment and coronation of God as king. It is also known as Yom Teruah, which literally means day of loud noise. It is meant to call attention to something. Because Yom Kippur occurs 10 days later, the common application is that repentance is in order and so the intervening period is known as the 10 days of awe. According to Ernest Martin who wrote the amazing book, the Star that Astonished the World, Rosh Hashanah is also the birthday of Yeshua ben Yoseph, aka Jesus. It is the birthday of the second Adam, the Son of David, the King of the Universe who was born in a manger during very troubled times. And that's worth making a loud noise.
If so, then here is a Christmas card of a different sort. Let me explain the image below. When I approached Bethlehem 15 years ago I took the picture that is shown in the bottom of the image. It’s kind of faint, but look on the horizon in the middle of the picture to see a flat topped hill. This is the remains of one of Herod’s famous garrisons called Herodium. The notorious and bloodthirsty Herod was buried here but his grave was only discovered about 10 years ago. The drawing around it is a portion of a drawing that I did showing how Herodium probably looked. It loomed on the horizon as a continuous presence and reminder of the exile that Israel endured under Rome’s cruel occupation. Such was the setting for the first Christmas.

Why were the inns all full at Bethlehem? If it were Rosh Hashanah, hundreds of pilgrims would have been staying in town because there was no room for them in Jerusalem, which was a few miles to the north. As such, it was the beginning of the Fall Feasts which people were obligated to attend. And so I extend to you a Happy Rosh Hashanah and a Merry Messiah-mas

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