Obadiah

The minor prophet Obadiah gives Christians today a glimpse into the past, into God’s character and His promises, and into His work in the future. Read it today!

By Mark D, Harris

Last spring, I decided to explore uncommon territory in my Sunday School class. I asked the members how many had read Nahum or Obadiah. A few hands went up, only because they had been on thru-the-bible-in-a-year programs. I then asked who knew what either of them was about. Not a hand was in sight.

I quickly realized that we would have to do a lot of back work to understand either book, so the next few Sundays we covered empires in the ancient near east, including Sumeria, Egypt, the Hyksos, the Hittites, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Greece.[1] Fortunately, I read and discuss history for fun and watch historical documentaries for entertainment, so it was no work.  Then when studied Jonah, which occurred about a century before Nahum.[2]

Obadiah is one of the neglected books in the Bible, nestled among the minor prophets of the Old Testament between Amos the Shepherd and Jonah the Reluctant Prophet. Only one chapter long, a distinction that it shares with Philemon, 2 & 3 John and Jude, Obadiah reveals the judgment of God on Edom, the descendants of Esau. Measured by how often books are read on Bible Gateway, Obadiah is the least popular book in the Bible, surpassing even Nahum in its obscurity.[3]

Continue reading “Obadiah”

Why Genealogies?

Genealogies and census data are some of the most skipped parts of the Bible. They are still important. Here’s why.

By Mark D, Harris

Every year my wife and I read through the Bible. Some sections fly by, such as the stories of Goliath, the fiery furnace, and the raising of Lazarus. Other parts crawl, like the sacrificial system in Leviticus. The slowest portions of all are the genealogies and the census data. “How?” we ask ourselves, “does knowing that Mikloth became the father of Shimeam, and that they lived with relatives in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 9:38) impact my life as a Christian?”  Likewise, we struggle to care that “The priests, the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, (numbered) 973 (Nehemiah 7:39)?” Isn’t this a waste of space in a book that calls itself the word of the Almighty God?

Continue reading “Why Genealogies?”

David and Bathsheba – the Inside Story

The story behind one of the most infamous crimes in history, and committed by one of the most virtuous men in history.

By Mark D, Harris

In the pantheon of world leaders, King David stands at the pinnacle of faithfulness, courage, and honor. Jews, Muslims, and Christians revere David as a warrior, a poet, a prophet, and a man after God’s own heart. God Himself honored King David uniquely among the kings of Israel.

Yet the Bible is clear that David was not a perfect man. In fact, his powerful character was marred by equally powerful iniquities. As recorded in the Bible, 2 Samuel 11, the New American Standard Version:

Continue reading “David and Bathsheba – the Inside Story”

Smashing Statues

Statues are coming down all over America, some in a raging mob amidst political pandering, and others with government-directed construction crews. Few memorials are coming down after calm debates and reasoned decisions. Why do we have such statues in the first place? Which ones is it appropriate to remove? Which not?

By Mark D. Harris

The mass killing of Jews and other “undesirables” by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust (1939-1945) was one of the worst crimes in modern history.[1] The Holocaust spilled oceans of blood, and its cruelty was beyond imagination. Concentration camps like Auschwitz in Poland and memorials and museums in places like Berlin and Washington DC educate current and future generations on what happened in the hopes that such an atrocity will never occur again.

Continue reading “Smashing Statues”

Historical Sites Destroyed

Regardless of religion, nationality, culture, or theme, historical sites are a precious and irreplaceable legacy of man. They must be preserved when possible and rebuilt when necessary.

By Mark D. Harris

History is the story of man, who we are and where we came from. More importantly it is the story of God’s work with and for man. As such every part of it is important, even parts that don’t please us or fit our world view. Not every historical location can be saved because man today needs space just as man yesterday did. However, we need to save as much as we can. Sometimes we ruin irreplaceable artefacts through ignorance. Worst of all is the intentional destruction of historical sites by those who disagree with what they represent.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is notorious for destroying irreplaceable historical sites in Iraq and Syria, especially Christian and Muslim. The Afghani Taliban has done the same in Afghanistan, notably the Buddhas of Bamiyan (March 2001). However, some sites are shattered by other powers, often in times of war. Christians in ancient Rome devastated pagan temples. Ottomans badly damaged Christian churches and artifacts, including the Hagia Sophia, when they conquered Constantinople in 1453. Allied bombing leveled the 6th century monastery at Monte Cassino in Italy in World War II (1944). American-led forces fighting ISIS have devastated Mesopotamian historical sites, and Russian bombing has done the same.[1]

Below is a list of historical sites that have been destroyed. We should discover what we have lost, repair what we can, and help prevent losing more in the future. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) tracks World Heritage sites, including those at risk.

Site Who did it When Source
Palmyra, Syria Islamic State Sep 2015 ISIS Destroys Another Monument at Palmyra Ruins in Syria

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/05/world/middleeast/isis-destroys-another-palmyra-ruins-monument-in-syria.html?_r=0

10th-century Chaldean Catholic St Markourkas Church in Mosul, Northern Iraq Islamic State Jul 2015 ISIL destroys historical church in Mosul

http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/156360/isil-destroys-historical-church-in-mosul

Citadel of the Ancient City of Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat), Northern Iraq Islamic State May 2015 Iraq: Isis ‘blows up UNESCO world heritage Assyrian site of Ashur’ near Tikrit http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-blows-unesco-world-heritage-assyrian-site-ashur-near-tikrit-1503367
Many ancient sites in Kathmandu and surroundings, Nepal Earth

quake

Apr 2015 Nepal’s Kathmandu valley treasures: Before and after

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32472307

Ruins of the City of Nimrud, Northern Iraq Islamic State Mar 2015 ISIS Attacks Nimrud, a Major Archaeological Site in Iraq

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/world/middleeast/isis-attacks-iraqi-archaeological-site-at-nimrud.html?_r=0

Hatra Northern Iraq Islamic State Mar 2015 Islamic State ‘demolishes’ ancient Hatra site in Iraq

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31779484

Assyrian Palace at Khorsabad North-eastern Iraq Islamic State Mar 2015 Tracking a trail of historical obliteration: ISIS trumpets destruction of Nimrud

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/09/world/iraq-isis-heritage/index.html

Mosul Museum Northern Iraq Islamic State Feb 2015 Tracking a trail of historical obliteration: ISIS trumpets destruction of Nimrud

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/09/world/iraq-isis-heritage/index.html

Mosul Library Northern Iraq Islamic State Feb 2015 Tracking a trail of historical obliteration: ISIS trumpets destruction of Nimrud

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/09/world/iraq-isis-heritage/index.html

Al-Arba’een Mosque in Tikrit, Central Iraq Islamic State Sep 2014 URGENT: ISIS destroys historical Al-Arbain mosque in Tikrit

http://www.iraqinews.com/features/urgent-isis-destroys-historical-al-arbain-mosque-tikrit/

St. Elijah’s Monastery, oldest Christian monastery in Mosul, Iraq ISIS Aug-Sep

2014

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/01/20/isis-destroys-iraqs-oldest-christian-monastery-satellite-photos-confirm.html?intcmp=hpbt1
Jonah’s Tomb outside Mosul Northern Iraq Islamic State Jul 2014 Tracking a trail of historical obliteration: ISIS trumpets destruction of Nimrud

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/09/world/iraq-isis-heritage/index.html

13th-century shrine of Imam Awn al-Din Northern Iraq Islamic State Jul 2014 The Destruction of the Middle East

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4973/destruction-middle-east-antiquities

Buddhas of Bamiyan Central Afghanistan Taliban Mar 2001 Ancient Buddhas Will Not Be Rebuilt – UNESCO

http://www.ipsnews.net/2011/03/ancient-buddhas-will-not-be-rebuilt-ndash-unesco/

References

[1] https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21726750-jihadists-are-not-only-ones-blame-war-arab-world-has-devastated