The ultimate sacrifice


Twice a day, every day, a lamb was sacrificed for the sins of the Jewish people at the Temple in Jerusalem. The morning sacrifice took place at 9 a.m. The evening sacrifice took place at 3 p.m.

When either of the sacrifices took place, a great blast from a shofar was trumpeted from the southwest corner of the Temple Mount. We actually have archaeological evidence of where the trumpeter stood. From his vantage point, everyone in the ancient city and those near its ancient walls would have heard the eerie sound of the ram’s horn reminding them that God demands a very high price for sin. It happened every morning. It happened again every afternoon. If nothing else, the rituals at the Temple were punctual.

It’s never too late to listen to wisdom

Wisdom, Jesus once said, “is proved right by all her children.”

In its context (Luke 7:35), Jesus was responding to some criticism he and John the Baptizer had been taking from the local Rule Monitors.

But it hit me today. It takes a long time for a child to grow up. Like watching a child grow up, Wisdom arrives in an agonizingly slow process.

Think about it. It’s a full year before that brand-new little girl of yours will know just a word or two. Give her one more year and she’ll have all the vocabulary she needs to throw a tantrum worthy of the US Senate. It’s still another few years before she can finally shut the bathroom door, lock it securely, drain every last drop of hot water through a shower head and take care of whatever else needs to be done before emerging with an announcement that she doesn’t like her hair.

Of all the biblical holidays, one stands alone as the least-known among Christians.

That’s too bad, because hidden in the leafy branches of Sukkot are some incredible images.

“Sukkot” means “tabernacles,” “shelters” or “booths,” but you might relate more to the concept of camping in the back yard with your kids. In fact, some Jewish families will, indeed, spend the night in their lean-to shelters over the next few days, making the holiday especially memorable for young children. Many, many more families and groups of friends will have meals in their temporary “booths.”

It’s all a part of Sukkot, the “Feast of Tabernacles” that begins at sunset today and continues through next Sunday.

When Moses led the people out of Egypt, they lived in temporary shelters for 40 years. Thus, part of Sukkot is simply remembering that chapter of Bible history. The shelters are simply a way of remembering the story.

It’s also the end of the year, and Sukkot serves as something of the Jewish version of “Thanksgiving.” Only thing, instead of feasting for only one day, they eat like kings for seven straight days, even eight!

And since the rainy season is due to come every winter, the fall-seasoned Sukkot provides an opportunity for the people to pray for rain. If you’d lived in the days of the Temple, you’d have heard a lot of “Lord save us!” songs on the Temple Mount. In our language, it would have sounded like “Hosanna!”

Ready for some cool connections to Jesus?

Today is Yom Kippur, the most sacred and solemn day of the year in Jewish synagogues around the world. This is the “Day of Atonement,” one of the seven biblical holidays commanded by God when Moses led his people out of Egypt.

Here are some things about the Day of Atonement I find most interesting.

Israel’s modern-day, water-into-water miracle

Extended docks show how far the Sea of Galilee is below its former fill line. See the row of houses in the distance? Twenty years ago, the lake reached them!

Visit the Sea of Galilee today and you’ll certainly want to ride one of the “ancient boats” that take tourists out on the famous lake.

But to get there, you’ll have to walk on docks that have been extended … and extended … and extended.

The reason? After a 20-year drought, the Sea of Galilee is 38 feet below its old fill mark!

Important information? In biblical times and in our own day, water is a matter of life and death in the Middle East.

This current drought has helped create the horrendous civil war in Syria. When Syrian farmers were left to deal with the drought on their own, they ran out of water and money in only a few years. Farmland turned to dust and 1 million people became refugees in their own country. This was the beginning of the civil unrest in Syria a decade ago.

In the meantime, Israel faced the same crisis. Yet today, Israel has an excess of fresh water because of its determination to turn ocean water into fresh water.

The modern-day miracle of Israel’s desalination technology is making an impact around the world, including in water-starved California.

This week’s EIN Photos of the Day will tell the story of this modern-day miracle. If you’re already getting this free resource, watch for five new photos this week, starting today.

Want to sign up? It’s free and takes seconds. Use the sign-up form you’ll find right here on our web site!

Obviously, no one was praying …

A bystander looks at the boulder that fell out of its place in the Western Wall on Sunday.

It’s a little strange being thankful that no one was praying at a particular place on a Sunday morning, but for once, it makes sense.

It doesn’t happen often at the Western Wall (thank God!), but on Sunday, a 220-pound stone shot out from the wall and crashed to the platform below.

The area in question has recently been declared an area where men and women have been allowed to pray together.

This, of course, led to a great deal of anguish among some of the Orthodox Jews, who have begged the Almighty to never let such a thing happen. They’ve been quick to interpret the stone falling on the new area as being an answer to their own prayer, and a warning to the rest of us to pay attention. Men and women, you see, should not be praying together!

I don’t think my wife is going to be pleased with this development.

Ten who made an incredible difference

For the next two weeks, we’re telling the stories of ten amazing individuals through our free Photo of the Day. Want to sign up? Check out the form on the right side of any page on our web site!

More than 1,200 people already get our EIN Photo of the day five days a week. Join us … and learn something new about the land – and the people – of the Bible!

He’s small, furry … and in the Bible!

In Proverbs 30, one collection of small creatures takes the spotlight as a lesson for us.

Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces. – Proverbs 30:24-28

Feeling a little small and insignificant today? Take this lesson to heart.

Ants are small, but they work together and thrive like few other living things. There are millions of them just a few steps away from where you are, right now. Their homes around your home are incredible!

The hyrax (coney) is a small creature who would be easy prey for most of the meat-eating world. But because it makes its home in the crags of rocky mountains and canyons, he’s safe.

Locusts get amazing things done despite having no political party affiliation. Hmmm … maybe we should pay closer attention, no?

Lizards are quick, a little creepy and definitely hard to catch. Just last week I was assigned the task of trapping the one that had found its way to one of our bathrooms. When I finally caught it, I flushed it down the king’s throne.

Flushed lizards aren’t the lesson of this passage. Instead, it is this: No matter who you are, where you live, how small you might feel or how vulnerable your existence, you can still do great things. Just be the person God designed you to be, live where He wants you to live, and follow His ways.

That’s the message of the ant, lizard, locust … and that chilled-out coney, hiding in the crags.