Faith Lessons: That the World May Know

The ancient land of Israel is evidence of the greatness of what God did in that country, a testimony of the Truth of the Bible. Historian/teacher Ray Vander Laan, in co-operation with Focus on the Family, has produced an outstanding VHS video series that brings the Bible to life. Filmed on location in Israel, each of these five two-video sets give "Faith Lessons" and a wealth of interesting insights into Scripture. These videos are ideal for group Bible study and discussion.

By understanding the culture and history of the land of Israel, we gain much insight into the meaning of Scripture. The western mind is based on Greek thought and teaching, where bullet points are laid out in precise order and the meaning of words are clearly defined. Instead, the oriental mind of the land of Israel is taught by pictures and parables (metaphors).

Giving & Sharing is pleased to recommend That the World May Know videos for your Church or study group. They are available for free loan from: Sharing Library, PO Box 581, Granville, OH 43023.

Here are the contents:

V231, Promised Land: Crossroads of the World; V232, Prophets and Kings of Israel; V233, Life and Ministry of the Messiah; V234, The Death and Resurrection of the Messiah; V235, The Early Church: Conquering the Gates of Hell (covers the cities of Sardis, Pergamum, Ephesus, and Laodicea).

There are many lessons to learn from these videos. For example, Ray takes us to the ruins of Chorazin, one of the three cities in which Jesus spent most of His ministry (besides Capernaum and Bethsaida). We see a house with additional rooms attached to it. He explains that when a Jewish young man wanted to marry, he would build the prospective couple a room attached to his father's house. When it was finished, he would come and get his bride, take her to their house (attached to his father's house), and they would dwell together as husband and wife. Now I can better understand the words of Jesus, "In my Father's house are many mansions [rooms]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also," John 14:2-3.

Why are there two recorded miracles of Jesus feeding thousands of people from a few loaves of bread a few fishes? In His own country, at a desert place near the Sea of Galilee, Mark 6:1, 31-46, Jesus fed 5,000 men (plus women and children), and there were twelve baskets of fragments left over, verse 43. Ray Vander Laan takes us to the second place, Decapolis, a pagan center on the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee. Here Jesus fed 4,000, and there were seven baskets left over, in pagan country, Mark 7:31-37, 8:1-9. To the Jewish mind, the number twelve signified the twelve tribes of Israel; the number seven is also related to the seven pagan nations displaced by the Israelites in the Promised Land, Deuteronomy 7:1. The Decapolis, on the east of Jordan, was in Jesus' day the center of pagan worship. Could it be that a lesson Jesus was giving is that His salvation would be available both to the Israel and the Gentiles? Even in His miracles, Jesus taught profound lessons.

When Vander Laan, a Protestant, is wrong, I still learned something. He points out that Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem occurred on the presentation day of the Passover lamb, Nisan 10, when the lamb was set aside, Exodus 12:3-6. Vander Laan says this occurred on "Palm Sunday." Actually, if the time when the crowds waved palm branches and cried "Hosanna" (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; John 12:12-19), was the Passover lamb presentation day, Nisan 10, it could not have been on a Sunday. Passover, Nisan 14, can only fall on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and (rarely) on a Sabbath. This makes Nisan 10 on a Thursday, Sabbath, Monday, or Tuesday, respectively. Since we know that in the year Jesus was crucified, Passover fell on a Wednesday, that would put Nisan 10 on the preceding Sabbath. Instead of the traditional "Palm Sunday," we actually have "Palm Sabbath."

In his final video, Ray takes us to the city of Laodicea in Asia Minor. Nearby is the city of Colosse, which had clear, cold, refreshing, water, and Hierapolis, which had hot mineral water beneficial for healing. (See Colossians 1:2, 4:13-17.) When Jesus wishes the Laodiceans to be either hot or cold spiritually (Revelation 3:14-16), rather than lukewarm as they were, He was telling them that both hot and cold characteristics are good. We are to confront our culture by combating evil, being hot for God. Also, we are to be refreshing and cool to the tired and thirsty people seeking God's rest that satisifes. Frankly, the Laodiceans did not care to be either one!

Ray Vander Laan's "Faith Lessons" videos are a great learning tool.