The historical documentation of a Land in Between being a chess pawn in the game of a “One” Empire establishment brings the cause to awaken to the strife and struggle of a people that seemingly want to live in peace—yet one from the past. Is the march to change inherently bad? I guess when we ask the right question of what is being changed, or who is in charge of the change process, opens my eyes to the fact that I am “western” (however you want to define that) and have been brought up in an autonomous society. There are serious issues at play when one tramples on the “rights” of a collective group or pushes their way in to “lead” the whole to a “new” way of life, be it cultural influence or practical changes to daily living.

Today’s excursion through the City of David got me to wonder if there is a way to move forward while remaining connected to the “heart” of one’s moral compass that rests in generations gone by? Is there a way as Dale Carnegie states, “to win friends and influence people,” in order to make life better while maintaining the beliefs of the people? I see the church of today as a rearview mirror onto the struggles of the 1st Century Jewish population in Jerusalem, they are very much at the crossroads in the west trying to hold onto “biblical” foundations (defined as moral absolutes in God’s truth) while moving toward a more relevant church. This is possibly the only way I can process the lecture and field study without coming to a concrete conclusion that one side was wrong and the other was right.

Maybe it takes a crisis in order to dream? We were presented with an account in the Old Testament that I never thought about it as a questioning of; is there more than this? It was 1 Kings 4:25 “During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beer-Sheba, all of them under their vines and fig trees.” We all like to be safe, I love safety, but when is the moment that God spoke to say that it is about comfort rather than His wide-spread love for all nations? I view this verse a bit differently after the field-study in a way that maybe I need to dream bigger, not of past things (although we ought not to forget where God has brought us out of) but into a future of blessing. Could it be that the exilic nature of Herod’s reign was brought about to make God’s people dream bigger and farther than their tents and fields? Could it be that our viewpoint is only as wide as seeing the tip of our nose?

Jeremiah speaks of a “hope and a future” in God’s trusted competence that He knows what He is doing in and through His People. Herod’s reign with his ruthlessness towards the Jews in Galilee were applauded by Rome and soon the Empire would be able to “control” all of Judea but would it come through confrontation or accommodation. I’ve always ascribed the thought to obtain followers one can “catch more bees with honey.” I am certain Herod thought of every political phrase that would capture the ears of the Jewish population in order to spread the gospel of Rome. By offering to “fix” up the place, Herod was the only foreseeable way to temple “freedom.” So, Rome moved in with their thinking which was far from the thinking of the Jewish population.

I sensed when seeing the temple and reading the material that Herod was a maverick, someone who could get things done and accomplish much. This is leadership. However, the means and action of his leadership would take on a dictatorial path rather than the path of a “true” Messiah—one of a suffering servant. No matter how close Herod tried to maneuver his position to be in the Monarch legacy line, he would not measure up to receive full power. The later destruction of the temple, for me, is a foreshadowing of God telling His people that He will build the next mighty and everlasting kingdom. There will be a return to Shalom— God, People, Land— yet maybe not how we think it ought to be, but in how God will restore it in His way, His time.