Menorah Cross at Laodicia
A Jewish-Christian putting their faith on display by carving an anchor-cross into the menorah etched into this marble column. The column was found in the ancient city of Laodicia. The menorah reflects a traditional Jewish depiction with the candelabra flanked by a shofar (upper right) and a lulav (palm frond) (lower right).
The owner of the marble marble column - to a shop? or house? - put their faith on display for the world to see. How much more should we do the same today.
What makes this particular Menorah-Cross so special is that the flames of the candelabra are still burning bright!
"He will be like an Arar in the desert" Jeremiah 17:6
Who will be like an Arar in the desert? The one who "trusts in man" Jeremiah 17:5
The desert "wasteland" east of Jerusalem is brutal. Very little if any rain falls. It's hot and dry year round. The Dead Sea - pictured above in the background - is at an elevation of -1400 feet. Needless to say, not much grows.
It is easy to imagine walking in the heat of the day - no water, no food, and the sun beating down. Suddenly you notice something green ahead of you. It looks so lush!! The leaves are huge and green!! How can it be? In the midst of nothing but rocks and sand is an amazing green plant.
Is there fruit on it? It looks as though you can see some...
You move closer. You see a fruit like object hanging from below the wide green leaves.
You're thirsty and hungry. Your mouth waters thinking about taking a bite of this juicy fruit.
You pick it off the plant. It feels plump!
You squeeze it to break through the skin to get to the watery fruit inside!!
Pffft...nothing but air and dust.
That feeling of plumpness was only the air.
What's on the inside? No nourishing, life-giving pulp - just strands of nothing and a seed.
It looks so good on the outside, but when you got close enough you realized it is an empty shell.
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD. "
"He will be like a bush (arar) in the wastelands"
Jeremiah's metaphor suddenly becomes clear: the person who "trusts in man" may look "full of life" on the outside - like this arar growing near Massada.
They may appear to bear delightful fruit.
But when you get closer - that fruit that looked so good from a distance - turns out to be emptiness and a mirage.
Maybe you recognize these qualities in yourself.
Maybe you know someone in your life who is an arar. On the outside they appear to be life giving - but after you got close to them you realize they are an empty shell.
After teaching this lesson in a large church class a young man - mid-twenties - approached me. He appeared to be quite moved. He said, "That was me. I was an arar. On the outside I was put together. People thought I was successful. I selfishly used this appearance to take advantage of people, particularly girls my age that I manipulated into a sexual relationship. They placed their trust in me quickly."
"But in the end - I was a destructive force. I would manipulate and then move on to the next victim. In the end - I brought death, not life."
"The good news though," he said, "is that an arar is not beyond the power of God to restore. When I turned to God I was deeply convicted and began to see - like God sees - how destructive my behavior was. I repented. I am being transformed on the inside. I see others - particularly women I am friends with - as full human beings, with wants and needs and emotions and desires. Not as an object to be used. I have hope that God can restore me further in the future."
He was correct. Jeremiah continues...
"But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him,
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."
Scott Broberg - I have a Masters of Divinity (MDiv) from Bethel Seminary - San Diego - Biblical Studies with and emphasis on the Old Testament.
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