Connecting the Dots of the Exodus – Episode 3

Evidence of The Israelites

This week (Oct 28) on Shabbat Night Live, stories abound of Mt. Sinai’s true location — but there can only be one. Is there new evidence of the mountain itself? Are there other clues that help us solidify its veracity?

Dr. Miles Jones brings a mountain of new evidence and scriptural backing from both Old and New Testaments that forever solidifies the Israelites’ place in history.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 14:00) How does Isaiah 65:11 illuminate the contemporary controversy over the location of Mount Sinai? How does YeHoVaH’s equation of those “[w]ho forget my holy mountain” with “those who forsake the Lord” serve to dramatize the unfolding prophecy detailed in the Book of the Revelation for today’s post-Christian world?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 18:00) How do the Israeli explorations of the Sinai peninsula following the Six-Day War of 1967 underscore the importance to the world at large of this near-forgotten event within its tumultuous decade? How might the eventual return of this massive tract of land to Egypt be viewed as yet another facet of a divine plan for our salvation through discovery and analysis?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 22:00) How does the prospect of Mount Sinai’s identification with the mountain described in Genesis 22:14 serve to reorient today’s believers to this location as a source of YeHoVaH’s direct communication with his creation? How does Abraham’s designation of “The Lord Will Provide” as its place-name continue to resonate in both scriptural history and our contemporary world?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 25:00) How does Elijah’s sojourn at Mount Horeb in 1 Kings 19 further develop this view of YeHoVaH’s profound presence and instruction to his chosen subjects? Why is this an appropriate and resonant location for the extended demonstration of divine power in verses 11 – 13 as an admonition to the prophet against faltering in his mission, one which can arguably apply to all believers?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How do the words of YeHoVaH to Moses in Exodus 3:12 serve to emphasize the importance of sacred places for today’s seekers of salvation? How does today’s casual contempt toward places of worship or adoration, whether displayed by rogue terrorists or radicalized demonstrators, reveal a profound level of blasphemy in light of the demarcation that is presented here?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 33:00) As has been mentioned elsewhere in this forum, naturalistic explanations continue to recur in debates about biblical miracles. How might today’s faithful reconcile such explanations with their own cherished beliefs instead of viewing them as diametrical opposites?  How might science serve to enhance rather than undermine their own private apostolates?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 37:00) Similarly, how can skeptical viewpoints regarding possible discoveries of chariot wheels in the depths of the Red Sea ironically serve to bolster the arguments of believers against those who seek to disprove biblical history or deny the relevance of belief altogether? How might continued participation in these issues be viewed as fulfillment of the exhortation in Proverbs 4:7 to obtain wisdom?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) How have the stylistics of Bible illustrations from the past served to overemphasize the supernatural aspect of particular miracles and thus encourage skepticism or even disbelief among young learners? How might photographic evidence from latter-day explorers of such sites as the split rock of Horeb and the cave of Elijah become a potentially greater source of curiosity and belief for those doubters, even though they remain controversial?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How does the prospect of Mount Sinai as the place of Abraham’s would-be sacrifice of Isaac not only emphasize the importance of burnt offerings to YeHoVaH but also the significance of this earlier juncture in the Hebrew narrative? How has neglect in popular culture of this son of the patriarch, along with the anomalous position of his half-brother Ishmael, contributed to pervasive ignorance regarding the concept of the Jews as a great nation?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) Why has the figure of the bull, originating from the Egyptian god Apis, continued to resonate in Western culture to the present day? Despite its condemnation as an idol by Moses and the denunciation of bullfighting as a heretical sacrifice by religious leaders through the early modern period, how can its pagan ethos possibly be discerned in contemporary activism against factory farming or radical lifestyle choices like veganism?

The Potter and the Vessel

The way the Creator helps us grow spiritually is through the suffering of the flesh.

Isaiah 64:8 tells us:

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Our father is YeHoVaH, and in this verse, Isaiah tells us that it was He who formed us. Don’t be deceived that He is talking solely about Adam, who was the first man who was “literally” formed from the dust of the earth!  He is talking about all of us.

He who formed us, He who works with the clay, is The Potter. The word for “potter” in Hebrew is yotzer (יוצר), and it is related to the root of the verb “to form” (yatzar, יצר) in the verse from Isaiah above. The Father is The Potter, and it is He who forms us. But what does “form” mean in this context?

A clue to this meaning is provided by a striking prophetic image in Jeremiah chapter 18:1-6:

“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from YeHoVaH: ‘Go down to the potter’s house [yotzer], and there I will give you my message.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of YeHoVaH came to me. He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares YeHoVaH. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel’.”

Here we see how the potter works on his creation in the same way that YeHoVaH works with us – it is the very same idea that Isaiah mentions.

Returning to the question posed earlier, what does it mean that He forms us, that He works in us? Obviously, our body is already formed from the womb of our mother. But throughout our lives, we experience all kinds of situations that make us grow spiritually. The end product that the Creator wants to make of us is not about physical beauty or perfection but about spiritual identity.

But how do you grow spiritually?

This is an aspect that will probably displease our earthly natures. For remember, the spirit is at enmity with the flesh (Rom 8:7).

The way the Creator helps us grow spiritually is through the suffering of the flesh. How do we know? As the Hebrew makes clear, we can find the same linguistic root for the words “form” and “potter” in many words that we associate with suffering.

For example, the word “tribulation,” translated as “anguish” in Jeremiah 30:7, is tzara (צרה). The word for “Egypt” in Hebrew is Mitzraim (מצרים), understood as “a narrow and suffering place.” The “narrow path” that Yeshúa speaks of is the tzar (narrow, suffered) path.

And this is where we can associate suffering with the heavenly potter working on us all. Each of these examples has to do with our suffering, but at the same time, with an insatiable desire to reach out to our Creator, to call him from the midst of our tears, to surrender to his will.

In this context, we can understand how Shaul (Paul) says in Romans 5:3 that “we exult in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces patience.”

And we can also understand how Ya’akov (James) says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (1:2).

Joy within suffering is found when we realize that the Creator is working on us just as the potter works on his pot. Through the pressure of his fingers, he molds and refines his creation and removes roughness. It is when we identify with the spirit, rather than the flesh, that we can appreciate and even rejoice, in our times of trial and tribulation.

Connecting the Dots of the Exodus – Episode 2

Changing The Name of God

This week (Oct 21) on Shabbat Night Live, the Greeks needed to change a few things when Christianity came their way. They needed a Greek god, a Greek Jesus, and less of anything in the Bible that was Hebrew — including the name of YeHoVaH.

Dr. Miles Jones shares where this came from and how the Name has changed since the original inscriptions at the Exodus.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 14:30) Aside from the ongoing scholarly debate regarding the proper name of YeHoVaH which has been addressed many times in this forum, how does Psalm 138:2 speak to today’s believer who seeks an informed and sincere prayer life with his creator? How might the transcendent relationship portrayed here between name and word indicate the path to salvation?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 19:00) How do newly-discovered challenges to the Documentary Hypothesis of biblical inscription serve to support the controversial notion within the sciences of Intelligent Design, however indirectly? How might the concept of divine authorship be ironically enhanced by further discoveries of greater literacy among ancient peoples by the scientific community?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 23:00) If indeed the demarcation of “graven images” can be extended to inscriptions as well as idols or other pictorial representations, how can many otherwise conscientious individuals be credibly accused of offering obeisance to such figures in our sophisticated Western world? How have we arguably exchanged our true identities for exaggerated or misleading media profiles for personal gain rather than genuine witness to faith?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 27:00) As evidence of the ancient Hebrews’ chronicle continues to accumulate, our society ignores the importance of this people and their narrative at the peril of its own loss of salvation. How might the story of the Exodus, framed by its accounts of enslavement and entrance to the Promised Land, conceivably supplant such major Western epic tales as those of Homer or Virgil?  How has its factual evidence ironically undermined its stature among these received works?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Similarly, how might the integrity of ancient Hebrew become vindicated by a majority of scholars and students of scripture, in contrast to the longstanding academic deference to Aramaic and Greek? Furthermore, how might this initiate a paradigm shift in the enduring Eurocentric approach to Western culture in terms of intellectual history as well as language studies?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) Along with its relevance to the lineage of ancient Hebrew, the Tower of Babel continues to grow in stature as an exemplum of civilization’s need for honest and effective communication. How might this episode transcend its “folk tale” reputation in our present day through its dramatization of conflicts that can only be resolved through genuine discourse instead of euphemism and disingenuous language?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 39:00) How does the first-century distinction attributed to Hillel III between the invention of letters and the sin of idolatry serve to illuminate our contemporary weakness for similar cults of worship, such as those devoted to prominent figures in business, politics, or entertainment? How might this be viewed further as a function of illiteracy and pervasive aversion to the hard work of inquiry and research?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How could evidence of proto-Hebraic alphabetic characters from 15th century BC in Canaan conceivably impact the recurring attempt to create or synthesize a global language? How might a quixotic endeavor like Esperanto be viewed ironically as an artificial construction that bears retroactive resemblance to an organic, divinely-inspired creation like Hebrew?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How does the ongoing controversy over the identification of Joshua’s Altar serve to dramatize the importance of this figure in the annals of the Hebrews? How might counterarguments to Adam Zertal’s theory ironically lead to a rediscovery by believers of Joshua as the successor of Moses and to the conquest of Canaan as the genuine climax of the Hebrew narrative?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 53:00) As discussed in previous episodes, the advent of wet sieving in archeology has proven to be a boon to researchers who seek evidence of the Hebrew presence throughout the ancient world. How might the latter-day interest in this method of discovery be viewed as an example of divine providence that compels us to recognize our limitations and to be prepared for major redefinitions in our received wisdom?

Connecting the Dots of the Exodus – Episode 1

The Original Alphabet

This week (Oct 14) on Shabbat Night Live, educators today say the Exodus never happened — but the rocks that prove it beg to differ.

Citing new evidence that connects the dots of history, Dr. Miles Jones reveals how the Exodus not only happened but was the dawn of the world’s first alphabet, which became the model for all others, including English!

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How has the concept of a shared alphabet as a historical and cultural correlative grown over the postwar period for students of scripture? What is the likelihood of this material representative of civilizations ultimately providing support for belief in YeHoVaH, despite the fragility of its preservation and its inherent change through growth and expansion?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how has the larger subject of language and literacy been marginalized or misinterpreted as part of an educational reflex that seeks to undermine religious belief in much of our Western culture? Why have latter-day revisions of origin theory for both the English language and that of the ancient Hebrews met with such opposition and controversy?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does the discovery of pre-paleo Hebrew inscriptions on Mount Ebal both vindicate the literacy of the ancient Hebrews and redefine the dynamic between this location and Mount Gerizim for today’s believers? How does the contrast between separate demarcations for blessings and curses serve to recall the fundamental principle of obedience and rejection of paganism for those who seek salvation?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 27:00) How does a review of Exodus 24:12 serve to dramatize the inherent integrity between oral and written transmission of knowledge, which has been weakened by longstanding academic skepticism toward nonmaterial traditions? Further, how does the final reference to teaching the law underscore the necessity of preservation of learning through both oral and written means?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How do the categorical pronouncements of Deuteronomy 11:22-25 convey an unambiguous statement of justification for the presence of the Hebrews in the Promised Land, one that has been illustrated since the founding of Israel in 1948?  What are some prophetic examples of “territory” that the Jews have come to possess and the “greater and mightier nations” that they have routed in repeated conflicts?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) How do the survivals of proto-alphabetic inscriptions revealed here suggest the power of Hebrew as a potential lingua franca for the future? What is a likely scenario for its relationship with English, which has already displaced French as the Language of Diplomacy for the Western world and is currently under significant threat from the growing presence of Chinese?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) How has the defeat of Amalek in Exodus 17 been oversimplified or even trivialized in much Bible teaching, to the point of suggesting an unintentionally comic element within the narrative? How does the inscription presented here serve to justify a more discerning reading that emphasizes the identity of the Amalekites as a formidable and persistent enemy of the Hebrews?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How does the latter-day recognition of the likely spread of ancient Hebrew to the seafaring Phoenicians suggest a reassessment of this venerable language as a versatile and practicable form of discourse, however, limited its evidence of survival? How might these discoveries undermine the argument that modern Hebrew is an illegitimate Zionist contrivance from the 19th and 20th centuries?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 49:00) How do the examples of Hebraic influence in alphabetics and language growth presented here serve to draw the attention of today’s believers to the Egyptian sojourn of the Hebrews as a key point of reference in YeHoVaH’s plan for our salvation? How might their experience of slavery become an ironic vindication of their narrative, thanks to the historical literacy of this powerful civilization?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) Similarly, how might this segment of Hebrew history become reframed through the figure of Joseph as a more prominent representative in the Book of Genesis? How have his conflicts with his brothers and his status as an interpreter of dreams come to overshadow his influence upon Egyptian rulership and erudite culture, one that would echo throughout Judeo-Christian history?

The Exodus You Never Knew – Episode 4

FINAL EPISODE: Israeli Identity

This week (Oct 7) on Shabbat Night Live, Israel’s people have been divided, and today is no different. Aaron Lipkin gives us a local’s perspective on Israel’s politics, why each faction seems so resistant to change, and why it’s important to understand what’s going on.

Plus, you’ll learn of an exciting opportunity to visit the Holy Land!

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) What is the ultimate challenge for present-day believers who encounter modern communities constructed upon important ancient sites in Israel? Aside from recognizing the inevitable march of progress, how should they negotiate the dynamic between commemoration and deference to the presence of Arab citizens in this nation?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) In light of the presence of women in the harvest feast described in Judges 21:20-21, how might a contemporary recognition of the Ephraimite culture among today’s faithful serve to shed light on women’s emancipation efforts that are occurring throughout much of the Muslim world? Might the daughter of Jephthah become a new feminist icon of Western culture?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Why is it important for believers who visit Israel to recognize the perennial importance of natural springs as a source of water for this region? How does the origin of ancient villages in these locations, which have become significant sites for pilgrimage, demonstrate the providence of YeHoVaH in their longevity, despite recurrent territorial conflicts?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) What is the importance for today’s faithful of Jacob’s seclusion in a remote area while fleeing from his vengeful brother? Why is it crucial to recognize that his extraordinary vision of the ladder reaching to heaven occurs away from his destination of Haran and in a place of desolation and discomfort?  How does his act of anointing a makeshift pillar (Genesis 28: 17-18) constitute an ironic yet powerfully symbolic gesture?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Similarly, how does Josiah’s desecration of Jeroboam’s pagan temple at this presumed site reinforce both the breadth and indisputable power of YeHoVaH in Jacob’s vision and the demarcation of sacred places through the identity of his chosen servants? How should present-day believers assess this factor in their particular affinities with biblical patriarchs?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) How should seekers of salvation assess the complex and even contradictory ethos of modern Israel – vulnerable to threats from surrounding nations and riven with conflict inside of its own government and among its citizenry? How can believers throughout evangelical Christianity reconcile such instability with chapters of Hebrew history and the prophetic revelations of the future?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 43:00) Similarly, what is the likelihood of Israel’s avoidance of the personality cult syndrome that has afflicted many Western political nations in recent decades? How does its ambivalence over a figure like Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrate its maintenance of a critical perspective that is based on the fundamental consideration of the nation’s survival and future relevance?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How might the present-day equivalents in Israel of Jeshurun – largely secular, left-wing, and outward-looking in political orientation – become a crucial faction in combatting the unwelcome rise of postmillennial antisemitism? How could this fractious element ironically be viewed as a source of reconciliation for reactionary individuals who remain ignorant of Hebrew history and culture?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) Similarly, how might the divisions between the three major political alignments in Israeli politics be viewed as a seemingly intractable conflict that is actually part of a divine plan for the nation’s ultimate security and prominence on the world stage? What elements here suggest a potential for enduring peace with the hostile nations that have so frequently sought the country’s destruction?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 51:00) How does the decadence of the Roman Empire during the time of Yeshua, wherein spiritual coherence was rapidly deteriorating owing to the proliferation of pagan gods, suggest our present-day condition of spiritual malaise in the Western world, much of which is internally fragmented both politically and culturally? Who are the Jeshurun of the present day who might effect greater reconciliation?

The Exodus You Never Knew – Episode 3

The 3 Covenants

This week (Sept 30) on Shabbat Night Live, could it be that not all 12 tribes were among those who escaped Egypt? Did some leave before the Exodus? And if they were not part of the Exodus, how did those missing tribes become part of the covenant at Sinai?

Aaron Lipkin presents some eye-opening, sacred cow crushing evidence for a major revision of our assumptions about the Exodus story!

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Why is it important for today’s believers to recognize the presence of Ephraim and Manasseh in Canaan prior to the Exodus? How can they, like isolated Jewish settlers in Mandatory Palestine, be viewed as foreshadowings of the ultimate Jewish inheritance of the Promised Land in 1948?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how might the covenant of Moab become a significant juncture for many of the faithful, despite its ostensible secondary relationship to that of Mt. Sinai? How does the renewal of YeHoVaH’s original covenant suggest a divine gesture of unification that has been overlooked amid the plethora of Christian denominations and the egalitarian spirit of personal interpretation?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) As has been mentioned previously in this forum, how does this historical pattern of continual inclusion of disparate peoples also serve to direct attention to Israel as a locus of divine influence and revelation, despite its limited public identity as a controversial center of geopolitics? How does the recurrent presence of this region and its people in historical epochs serve to belie the agnostic notion of secular political economy?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How has willful ignorance of much of the Old Testament prevented many believers from recognizing the importance of tribal lineage in Hebrew culture with regard to piety or heroism? Specifically, how does “skipping over” or dismissing as irrelevant such a text as The Book of Chronicles deprive us of the larger significance of Joshua as a descendant of Ephraim or Caleb as a member of the tribe of Judah?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 31:00) Similarly, how has the latter-day popularity of the names of these two figures among Gentile families served as an ironic reflection of their function and deeds as the vanguard of the Hebrews’ entrance into the Promised Land? How has this superficial treatment served to obscure their examples of resourcefulness, stealth, and warrior spirit in the annals of Judeo-Christian culture?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) How does the recognition of the lineage of Joshua and Caleb further demonstrate the process of revealed doctrine in scripture? How has our tendency to view the Bible as a single, monolithic text kept us from perceiving progress to salvation through an accretion of narrative examples, through what T. S. Eliot described as “a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together”?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) How does the obscure feast described in Judges 21:20-21 offer insight into the Ephraimite culture of native Israelis that developed independently from that of the children of Moses? How does its connection to the harvest of grapes suggest its affinity to other major feasts and also provide further support for the Hebrews’ possession of the Promised Land?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) Similarly, how has contemporary biblical scholarship provided support for the recognition of this event as a foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah? How does this interpretation further demarcate the Bible as a divinely-inspired compilation of texts that reveal a progression of doctrinal truth that we must continually seek and explore through exegetical history?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) The historicity of our received text of the Bible – particularly its synthesis of oral and scribal traditions – is often lost in the welter of translation or paraphrase that seeks to render it more accessible to the largest possible readership. How has this resulted in the unintended consequence of loss of faith by many former believers, who find its testimonies to be implausible or even fictional by contemporary standards?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) How is the historical difficulty of the Hebrews to maintain their monotheism against the temptation of paganism – a possible result of influence from the native Canaanites – representative of the dilemma faced by today’s faithful whose convictions are threatened by a sophisticated but agnostic civilization? How have many otherwise steadfast believers incorporated the equivalents of such figures as Baal into their contemporary practices of prayer or worship?