Weekly Devotional: A Life Worthy of Christ

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you” (Philippians 1:27-28 NIV).

What does your life say about your relationship with the Lord? Do you live each day in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ?

Paul wrote to the Philippians one of his most joyous letters. After being run out of Philippi, unable to fully establish the community there, he heard that the Christians there were thriving. This news precipitated his joyous letter. He knew of the struggles that they faced from their opponents, but he encouraged them in the midst of hardships to live their lives worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

It’s interesting that while Paul enjoins them to live their lives in a manner worthy of Christ’s Gospel, he immediately transitions to his desire for the Christian community of Philippi: “I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”

We can easily focus on the individual injunction—live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ—and because we are so individualistic in our society, that’s where we leave it. But Paul called upon each individual person to live in such a way that the community might stand firm in one spirit, striving side by side.

Our individualism often separates us from the worldview of the Bible, in which the “we” is always more important than the “me.” The “we” is composed of individuals called upon to do their duty, but that duty serves the “we,” the group.

Paul reflects this idea. He expected the individuals within the community of Philippi to live their lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that the community could stand in one spirit and not be intimidated by their opponents.

Do I see my lifestyle of discipleship as significant to my Christian community? We should not separate Paul’s call upon the individual in how they live their life as separate from the testimony of the believing community. One makes up the other. So, how are you living?


Father, let us daily live our lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Through our lives and obedience, may Your community be unified in one spirit. Amen.

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Biblical Israel: Arbel

By Marc Turnage

Arbel sits high upon the sheer limestone cliffs along the northwest corner of the lake of Galilee, northwest of Tiberias, overlooking the fertile plain of Gennesar. The Arbel Cliffs form the southern boundary of the plain of Gennesar and provide a striking visual landmark along the northwest shores of the lake. From here, visitors can see the geography on the northern shores of the lake of Galilee where 95% of Jesus’ ministry recorded in the Gospels took place.

Arbel could be identified with Beth-Arbel mentioned in the prophecy of Hosea (10:14). The current site of Arbel, however, began at the end of the second century B.C. The settlement most likely started as part of Hasmonean settlement of the Galilee when Jewish immigrants from Judea moved into the region. Rabbinic tradition identifies a Sage, Nittai, who lived in the second half of the second century B.C., as from Arbel (m. Avot 1:6-7). He served as the head of the Sanhedrin (m. Hagigah 2:2). His prominent position within Jewish society indicates a significant Jewish religious presence in Galilee at the end of the second century B.C.  

After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70, the priestly division of Yeshua, the ninth priestly division, settled at Arbel. Arbel was principally known for the growing of flax from which the inhabitants produced linen (Genesis Rabbah 19:1). The Arbel Valley was also known for its agricultural fertility, especially the production of grain (y. Peah 7, 4, 20a). Excavations uncovered wine and olive presses, as well as large pools, probably used for the processing of flax.

Arbel was the location of a clash between the Hasmonean forces of Antigonus and Herod (c. 39-38 B.C.). After Herod gained control of Sepphoris, he sent his force “to the village of Arbela,” and after 40 days, Herod’s forces fought the supporters of Antigonus (Josephus, War 1:305-313). Herod’s forces won the battle, and Antigonus’ supporters fled some taking refuge in caves “very near the village” of Arbel (Antiquities 14:415). There are three groups of caves in the cliffs of Mount Arbel, and most likely the rebels sought refuge in the western group of caves, which are the closest to the village of Arbel (approximately 400 meters). 

Herod eventually dealt with the rebels held-up in the caves. His forces could not make a direct assault on the caves due to the sheerness of the cliffs. His engineers constructed baskets to lower soldiers down the cliff face by machines anchored to the summit of the hill. The soldiers, armed with grappling hooks, fished the brigands out of the caves hurling them to the rocks below. Soldiers hurled fire into the caves to force the rebels out of them. Some of the rebels threw themselves along with their families down the cliffs while Herod watched from a fortified position on an opposite hill.

During the First Jewish revolt against Rome, Josephus fortified the “cave of Arbel” (Life 188; see Life 311; and War 2:573). Josephus likely fortified the eastern group of caves on the Arbel Cliffs where there are remains of actual fortifications. He also quite possibly utilized the western group of caves previously used by the supporters of Antigonus against Herod.

Today visitors can hike to the overlook from the cliffs of the Gennesar Valley and the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. They can also see the remains of a limestone synagogue built in the fourth century A.D., which continued in use until the eighth century A.D. Renovations were made in the late sixth or early seventh century A.D. 

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Israel’s National Holocaust Memorial Day

The Holocaust is etched in Israel’s national memory. Each year, its victims are honored on one special national holiday called Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day). All places of entertainment are closed. In the morning, a siren sounds across the country—and everything stops for two minutes of silence, in memory of the 6 million Jewish men, women, and children whose lives were tragically lost.

Their fight for survival was shaped within the shadows and ashes of Europe’s extermination camps. And it gave those who lived the determination to firmly declare, “Never Again.”

That is why today, thanks to caring friends like you, CBN Israel honors their commitment. We are helping to expose and stem the tide of rising global anti-Semitism, with CBN’s broad international media platform. Through CBN News, we are sharing a biblical perspective on headlines in the Holy Land—and fighting hatred and misinformation with the truth. Plus, we are producing award-winning films that share the riveting stories of Israel’s past and present.

We are also serving Israel’s last generation of Holocaust survivors, most of whom are in their 90s. Today, there are approximately 150,000 survivors left in Israel; sadly, many are isolated, lonely, and struggle to make ends meet. But you can help by providing essential food and care to these elderly people. Through our efficient network of ministry partners and volunteers, you can deliver food, medical assistance, home visits, and—most of all—hope to those in great need.

As you share God’s love with these poor and lonely survivors, you can help fulfill the promise of Psalm 107:9, “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

Please join us in blessing Holocaust survivors and others in desperate need!


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Weekly Devotional: Rain In Its Season

“If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the Lord your God and worship Him with all your heart and all your soul, I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine, and oil. I will provide grass in your fields for your livestock. You will eat and be satisfied” (Deuteronomy 11:13-15 HCSB).

Timing is everything. Farmers especially know this. Rains that come too early or too late do not provide the nourishment needed for crops to grow and produce their fruit. In some cases, rains arriving too early or late can actually destroy the crops and harvest. The agricultural cycle is very delicate, especially in the ancient world where they had to make do without the advantages of modern agricultural technology.

As the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, God promised them that if they would obey, love and serve Him, He would send the rains in their season. This was particularly important because the land God was giving them depended upon the rains from heaven for its agricultural needs. The rains had to come at the right time, or the crops would fail, animals would die, and the people would starve to death.

God called upon the people to trust Him that He would send rain in its season. They plowed their fields and planted them, trusting that God would provide the necessary rains. Can you imagine the anxiety of the farmer who just sowed his field with seed waiting for the rains to come? 

But there was a condition: “If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the Lord your God and worship Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Failure to do so would have negative consequences, as we go on to read: “Be careful that you are not enticed to turn aside, worship, and bow down to other gods. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you. He will close the sky, and there will be no rain; the land will not yield its produce” (Deuteronomy 11:16-17 HCSB).

One of the draws the children of Israel experienced in worshipping other gods pertained to the agricultural cycle. Many of these foreign gods, like Ba’al and Asherah, were rain and fertility gods and goddesses. Worshipping them offered insurance in the event God did not come through. It was a way for the Israelites to ensure that the rains would come so they could survive.

We also find ourselves frustrated with God’s timing, wondering if He will truly come through. We even seek, at times, to help Him along. His promise remains: If we obey Him and love and serve Him, He will provide the things we need for our daily survival. We don’t need to seek any other source of provision.


Father, thank You for Your love and care for us. You are the sole source of our provision, and we trust You to send rain in its season. Amen.

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Weekly Devotional: The Resurrection

“Why are you seeking the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise from the dead” (Luke 24:5-7 NASB).

The Romans crucified thousands of Jews in the first century; Jesus was one of them. His death on a cross was not unique. It proved to be a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23). The difference: the resurrection.

The resurrection became the cornerstone of the New Testament message that Jesus was God’s Messiah. He “was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4 NKJV).

When Paul was addressing the pagan Athenians, he sought common ground to proclaim his message—an altar to an unknown god, quoting their poets, not quoting the Jewish Scripture—yet the one thing he could not equivocate on was the resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus served as God’s promise to those who are faithful that they too will participate in the resurrection at the end of the Age (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15). It also provided a powerful reversal. The crucifixion and death of Jesus left the hopes of many shattered (Luke 24:21). While Jesus died fully trusting His good and loving Father, His followers did not share the faith of their master. But God specializes in turning the dark into light, making the impossible possible, and bringing life from death.

In the resurrection of Jesus, God triumphed over the grave. He brought life from death; He turned darkness into light. He gave hope. This is why in the midst of our deepest despair, we do not lose faith.

No matter how dark the night, how devastating the diagnosis, how impossible the situation, God will triumph. He will transform death into life and darkness into light; and so, we have hope. Why? Because Jesus walked out of the tomb. 

The Apostle Peter firmly declares the hope we have because of the resurrection: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB).

Even when we come to the end our lives and face our own death, we have nothing to fear. We have extraordinary hope, for ourselves and our loved ones. Why? Because Jesus walked out of the tomb. 


Father, You are our hope. Even in our darkest moments, You bring us light and life, and therefore we trust You. Thank you for the hope we have in the resurrection. Amen.

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Passover: The Feast of Unleavened Bread

By Julie Stahl

“The LORD’s Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the next day, the fifteenth day of the month, you must begin celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This festival to the LORD continues for seven days, and during that time the bread you eat must be made without yeast. On the first day of the festival, all the people must stop their ordinary work and observe an official day for holy assembly. For seven days you must present special gifts to the LORD. On the seventh day the people must again stop all their ordinary work to observe an official day for holy assembly” (Leviticus 23:5-8).

It was the night before freedom. All of the Israelites were huddled in their homes. They had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Moses had conveyed God’s instructions to kill a lamb for each household and then put the blood on the door posts of their homes. The Israelites were also commanded to roast the lamb and eat it—not leaving their homes until morning. That night, they waited in anticipation to see what would happen.

God struck the firstborn of every Egyptian home all the way up to Pharoh’s household that first Passover night, as the angel of death “passed over” the homes of the Israelites. The cry must have been agonizing, but the next day after 10 plagues and 400 years of slavery, the Israelites were finally free to leave Egypt under the leadership of Moses!

That’s the Biblical story of the Exodus, which is commemorated each year during Passover. In Exodus 13:8, God commanded the Jewish people to recount the story to their children year after year and to eat unleavened bread or what the Bible calls the bread of affliction for seven days.

That’s what we call matzah (“unleavened bread”) today. Even though it’s made with flour (and no leavening agents), it must be mixed, rolled and shaped, and baked within 18 minutes to inhibit the rising.

For thousands of years, the Jewish people have told the story from the book of Exodus on the eve of Passover, “the fourteenth day of the first month” (Leviticus 23:5) in a special meal with symbolic food called a Seder, which means “order” in Hebrew. There are many traditions from all over the world, but the basic story is the same—God’s miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people against all odds.

Rabbi Levi Welton said that Passover, like all Jewish holidays, has a spiritual theme with applications for each person at any time.

“On Passover, the theme is freeing oneself from ‘personal slavery’ or self-limiting beliefs and transmitting a Jewish identity to the next generation. As the Talmud states in Tractate Pesachim 116b, ‘In each and every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as though he actually left Egypt,’” says Welton.

Prior to Passover, Jewish people around the world remove all leaven from their homes. Varying traditions define leaven differently, but in general, it means that all bread, crackers, cake, cookies, noodles, and anything made with a leavening agent or flour are removed from the house. Many Jewish people even search every nook and cranny to make sure that not even a crumb remains.

At the Seder, certain foods are placed on a Seder plate to symbolize parts of the story. A shank bone represents the sacrifice of the Passover lamb; an egg represents the cycle of life; maror (usually horseradish) symbolizes the bitterness of slavery; haroset (a sweet paste made of apples or dates) symbolizes the straw/mortar used to make the bricks in Egypt; and karpas (parsley or a vegetable) symbolize springtime and is dipped in salt water to symbolize the tears of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt; and matzah (“unleavened bread”) is also included on the table in a pouch or napkin.

Christians find deep meaning in celebrating the Passover Seder. Jesus’ Last Supper was actually a Passover meal, and the bread that He blessed and broke saying, “take this and eat it, for this is my body” was unleavened bread (Matthew 26:26).

Because of Jesus’ words during the Last Supper, many Christians to this day take communion with matzah bread. Some even say that its designs, with stripes and piercings, are symbolic of the suffering God’s Messiah, Jesus, endured when He was beaten and crucified. The fact that matzah is unleavened also represents His sinlessness.

Christians believe that Jesus was our Passover Lamb, sacrificed for the sins of the world. Many say that the cup Jesus raised was actually the third of four cups of wine that were drunk during Passover meals. The third cup is known as the Cup of Redemption, which fits perfectly with Jesus’ words: Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:27-28). 

Passover and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) often occur the same time in March or April. Passover is celebrated for eight days, though only the first and last days are full holidays. In Israel, the Seder meal takes place on the first eve only and elsewhere in the world, Jewish people celebrate two consecutive Seder nights.

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism at Regent University; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. She is also an integral part of CBN News’ award-winning show, Jerusalem Dateline, a weekly news program providing a biblical and prophetic perspective to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East.

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Biblical Israel: Garden of Gethsemane

By Marc Turnage

Mark and Matthew identify Gethsemane as the place Jesus went with His disciples after eating the Passover within the city of Jerusalem, prior to His arrest (Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32). These two Gospels provide the only mention of this place within ancient sources; thus, pinpointing its location proves difficult. 

The Gospel of Luke describes Jesus going to the Mount of Olives (22:39), which sits to the east, across the Kidron Valley (see John 18:1), from the city of Jerusalem. Passover pilgrims would consume their Passover meal, which was the lamb offered in the Temple, within the walled city of Jerusalem, but they stayed outside of the city on the surrounding hillsides. 

The name Gethsemane comes from the Hebrew, gat and shemen. A gat typically refers to a “wine press,” but it can refer, as a more generic term, to any pressing installation. Shemen refers to olive oil, which the olive groves on the mountain gave it the name, Mount of Olives. Thus, Gethsemane most likely refers to an olive oil pressing installation. 

Pilgrims to Jerusalem today can visit four different sites, which Christian traditions (Roman Catholic, Russian, Armenian, and Greek Orthodox) have identified as Gethsemane. All reside on the Mount of Olives. The traditions of these sites only date back at the earliest to the fourth century A.D. The most popular is the Roman Catholic site, maintained by the Franciscans. 

This site contains a church built by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi and a grove of olive trees. Some of these trees are several hundred years old, but they do not, as some claim, date back to the time of Jesus. The first century Jewish historian Josephus relates how the Roman army that laid siege to Jerusalem cut down all the trees in the vicinity to build their siege engines (War 6:1). 

While we do not know the precise location of Gethsemane, its location on the Mount of Olives offers an important geographic window into Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. The Mount of Olives sits on the eastern watershed of the Jerusalem hill country. Beyond the mountain’s ridge, the land drastically falls away toward the Jordan River Valley and the area of Jericho and the Dead Sea. This wilderness served bandits and refugees for centuries as it provided natural concealment to those hiding from authorities. 

When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, He physically stood at the door of escape. He could have walked less than an hour and disappeared from Caiaphas and Pilate. This heightens the tension of His prayer, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). In that moment, He turned His back on the door of escape to face God’s will that lay in front of Him, the cross. 

This is something that can only be truly appreciated when one stands in this geography and realizes the choices that lay in front of Jesus: how easily He could have saved Himself, yet He submitted to His Father’s will.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: Blessed Is the King

“Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:37-38 NKJV).

Jesus came to Jerusalem riding a wave of popularity and redemptive expectations. As He ascended toward Jerusalem, Luke tells us that those traveling with Him were anticipating that the kingdom of God would appear immediately. We hear in the voices of the disciples on the road to Emmaus the redemptive hopes many had pinned on Jesus: “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (24:21 NKJV). 

Their hopes were not misguided. After the resurrection, the disciples asked Jesus about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6), but Jesus did not rebuke them for failing to understand God’s redemptive plans and purposes. Rather, He affirmed their hopes but said that now is not the time. When He came to Jerusalem, the time of redemption for the nation of Israel had not yet come. Instead, God had other immediate plans for Jesus—a path of suffering, the path of the cross.

Jesus came to Jerusalem riding on a donkey, surrounded by the rejoicing of His loyal disciples. Their song of praise, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest,” echoes the angelic proclamation at Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14 NKJV). The jubilation of Jesus’ disciples during His entry into the city and the announcement of the angels both herald God’s redemption through Jesus. At His birth, it referred to the hopes carried by the newborn baby; as He rode into Jerusalem, it pertained to hopes deferred. Jesus had things to accomplish.

We do not always understand what God is doing and where He is taking us. Yet do we have the confidence to trust that He will get us there? We want to know the future, understand the signs of the times, but Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7 NKJV). Can we trust God even when the times of His plans and redemption are not fully known to us? 

The New Testament affirms and declares God’s faithfulness to His promised redemption; it has dawned and has come near. But can we remain faithful knowing that the loving Father who promised redemption, who led Jesus to the cross knowing that the empty tomb stood on the other side, stands with us, and He will accomplish what He promised? 

May we echo the jubilation of Jesus’ disciples as they entered Jerusalem, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”


Father, our lives are in Your hands. We trust in You. Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven. Amen.

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Biblical Israel: Masada

By Marc Turnage

Masada, a palace-fortress built by Herod the Great (Matthew 2), sits on the south-western shore of the Dead Sea, fifteen and a half miles south of Ein Gedi. The fortress sits atop an isolated rock plateau that overlooks the Dead Sea Valley below. This naturally fortified rock was first built on by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (ruled from 103-76 B.C.). Herod the Great made it into a palace fortress that could provide protection if he needed to flee Jerusalem, as well as protecting the balsam industry at Ein Gedi, which provided the cash crop for Herod’s kingdom. 

Herod built two palace complexes on top of Masada, one on the western side (the oldest), and one on the north, which boasted three levels cascading down the northern slope of the rock scarp. Both had functioning Roman style baths, living quarters, storerooms, and decorations fitting for a king. Herod also had a pool on top of Masada, as well as gardens. 

Masada receives on average only an inch to an inch and a half of rainfall annually. The need for water of Herod’s luxuries on Masada required an ingenious water catchment system using gutters, the natural slope of the plateau; he also captured the rainwater that fell to the west of Masada diverting it into channels, which flowed into cisterns along the slopes of Masada. The cisterns on Masada held millions of cubic liters of water ensuring that the residents of Masada could survive along the arid shores of the Dead Sea, as well as enjoying the luxuries of the pool and bathhouses. 

Masada’s popularity derives from the story told by Josephus about the defenders of Masada during the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-73). According to Josephus, a group of Jewish rebels, Sicarii, led by Elezar ben Yair held up in Masada through most of the revolt. A couple of years prior to the fall of Masada, which took place on Passover of A.D. 73, this group of rebels slaughtered the Jewish community at Ein Gedi. 

Josephus tells a tale how the Tenth Roman Legion laid siege to Masada, built a ramp up its western slope (the remains of which visitors can still see), yet when they stormed the mountain, they found that the defenders had killed their families and then themselves instead of facing slavery at the hands of the Romans. Josephus provides our only account of this story, and while it offers a daring and captivating tale, it most likely did not happen in exactly that manner. Nevertheless, visitors to Masada see evidence of the lives of the Jewish rebels. 

Not needing the luxury of Herod’s royal palace-fortress, the rebels converted portions of the palaces into more serviceable and functional purposes. The room that served as the stables for the donkeys used to bring water from the cisterns below, the rebels converted into a synagogue. Archaeologists found ancient scrolls fragments from the remains of the Jewish rebels. Some fragments preserved portions of biblical books, like Ezekiel; other fragments contained portions of other ancient Jewish literature, like Ben Sira. 

Masada offers a fascinating window into the changing political landscape of the land of Israel in the first century. In this way, it enables us to understand themes and trends that we find within the New Testament.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: Move Forward

“Then they said to Moses, ‘Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.’ Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. … And the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land’” Exodus 14:11, 13-16 NASB).

God and Moses had an interesting relationship. They went back and forth at each other as they led the children of Israel out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land. At times, Moses called God to account, and God changed His mind. The Bible indicates that God even encouraged such a back-and-forth. One of the only times, however, where God gave Moses a strong rebuke was at the shore of the Red Sea. 

The children of Israel find themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the sea, and Moses tells them to stand by and watch God deliver them. In other words, we are in an impossible situation, so take a seat and see what God does. Moses’ response sounds pretty spiritual. When the people of God are at the end of their rope, He will show up to deliver them. Just have faith. Stand by and see His deliverance!

God, however, responded to Moses’ passivity with a harsh rebuke: “Why are you crying to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward!” They had to act. Their deliverance depended upon it. The Hebrew of this passage indicates that they had to step into the midst of the sea before God divided the waters: “And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea.” 

We often identify faith as believing. Within the Bible, faith is action. They had to step into the sea, the barrier that stood in front of them before God miraculously acted. They had to act—before they saw His provision. That is true faith. 

Faith is not willing ourselves to believe. Rather, faith is acting when we don’t see. And usually, God calls upon us to act as part of our deliverance. He doesn’t swoop in to save the day. He calls us to step forward, even into the absurd. Then He acts. Then He delivers. 

Are you sitting around waiting for God to deliver you? Do you sound like Moses telling yourself to stand and see God’s deliverance? Perhaps God asks you, “Why are you crying to me? Move forward!” Moving forward into what seems impossible is the greatest act of faith.


Father, may we partner with You in our deliverance. May we daily step into the impossible moving forward to see You work miracles in our world and lives. Amen.

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