Paradise

The garden of Eden, the place where God dwells with his divine council, is known in Greek translation as Paradise.  The word Paradise is a Persian loan word to Greek which refers to a particular type of walled garden.  Likely the most high profile example of a paradise garden in the world today is the Taj Mahal, built according to Persian custom.  An aerial photo of the Taj Mahal reveals even four waterways in parallel to the Biblical description.  Modern literalism has sought to locate this garden somewhere on the planet earth, with the assumption that at some point, usually the flood of Noah, it was destroyed.  While a ‘this worldly’ interpretation of Eden is attractive to many, it fails…

Pentecost, Birthday of the Church

In previous posts, the formation and renewal of Israel through Pascha and Pentecost have been discussed.  Israel as a people came into being through a mixed ethnic group around a core of descendants of Jacob being marked out by the blood of the Passover lamb, delivered from Egypt through the sea, culminating in the reception of God’s covenant at Sinai with the sprinkling of blood.  Subsequent generations were integrated ritually into Israel through the celebration of the Passover and Pentecost within the yearly ritual cycle.  After most of Israel had been dispersed to the nations, she was resurrected with Christ at the second Pascha by the reintegration of the nations around a core of the remnant of Judah.  The culmination…

Renewed Israel

In the previous post, the brief history of Israel as God’s people in the Old Testament was outlined, from its creation to its ultimate dissolution.  Despite that dissolution, the prophets promised that God would one day restore and redeem not only the remnant of Judea, but the entirety of Israel.  This had been made seemingly impossible by the fact that the ten northern tribes had been ‘lost’.  They had not been lost to history.  There is clear historical record of the cities and regions in Assyria to which the Israelites had been deported.  Rather, over generations of intermarriage and assimilation, the people of the northern tribes became indistinguishable as a particular people.  Their identity as a people had been dissolved…

God’s People Israel

Though it is the name used for the people of God in both Old and New Testaments, ‘Israel’ as the name for God’s people had only a limited historical span.  As a united people freed from Egypt, depending on one’s dating of the Exodus, Israel existed for between 300 and 500 years.  Only the last century of this period represented an actual kingdom under a human king.  Following the fracturing of the tribes at the end of Solomon’s reign, it was the northern ten tribes that existed under the name ‘Israel’ for very roughly 200 years before its complete destruction at the hands of the Assyrian Empire.  Even during those two centuries, the northern kingdom was better known as ‘Ephraimite’…