Pro and Con 995

Posted 1-27-03

Incoming email from MichaEL Erik Rickles

My reply

Thanks. I am fitting more puzzle pieces into the picture of this Messianic Seal of the Church of Jerusalem that was used by the Nazarene Jerusalem Church from 30 to 70 AD. The Star of David/Seal of Solomon was also the Sign of the city of Jerusalem. This piece of a 4th century BC jar handle has the seal and YRSLM on it.

The meeting place of the Messianic first Nazarene Church of Jerusalem was actually established by Jesus himself. Remember when he had the apostles prepare the Last Supper in the Upper Room? In Mark 14:13-15, Jesus said, "Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us." That room became their sanctuary. They congregated there after the Crucifixion. That's where they were when Jesus came to them through the walls. They were still assembling there at Pentecost. They kept right on assembling there.

The church organization seems to have been overseen by James the Just and the apostles, including James the Less, and headed up by James the Just, the half-brother of Yeshua; the first bishop of Jerusalem (Jerome, Commentary on Galatians, 396:1:19). Jude, also half-brother of Yeshua, was part of this too.

Appropriately, the Nazarene Church was located in the Upper Room on Mount Zion (suggesting the heavenly Mt. Zion). Adjacent is the baptismal grotto where at least 70 artifacts belonging to the first Church have been found. They are marked with the Seal of the Church of Jerusalem, the menorah-Star of David-fish symbol.

Of great symbolic import and definitely arranged by Jesus, the location of the Upper Room is near, or astride the tomb of King David, who was buried in Jerusalem by Solomon. Later, Solomon was buried with David. How can we help but make the proper connections? The Magen David was also the Seal of Solomon.

Josephus told an interesting story about this tomb. He said, "As for Herod, he had spent vast sums about the cities, both without and within his own kingdom; and as he had before heard that Hyrcanus, who had been king before him, had opened David's sepulcher, and taken out of it three thousand talents of silver, and that there was a much greater number left behind, and indeed enough to suffice all his wants, he had a great while an intention to make the attempt; and at this time he opened that sepulcher by night, and went into it, and endeavored that it should not be at all known in the city, but took only his most faithful friends with him. As for any money, he found none, as Hyrcanus had done, but that furniture of gold, and those precious goods that were laid up there; all which he took away. However, he had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go farther in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; where two of his guards were slain, by a flame that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was. So he was terribly affrighted, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in; and this of white stone, at the mouth of the sepulcher, and that at great expense also'' (Antiquities 16.7.1).

Among the artifacts found in the baptismal grotto was a marble block and a storage jar for anointing oil. Both have the Messianic Seal of the Church of Jerusalem on them.

The oil jar must have been set on the block. The marble has an archaic Aramaic inscription on it saying, "La Shemen Ruehon,"For the oil of the Spirit. This particular Seal of the Church of Jerusalem on the block has a tiny etched cross in the fish's eye, another thing to make sure we understand the symbol. Since Christ is our Rock and the source of the oil of the Holy Spirit, I am not surprised that the oil jar was set on the fine grained marble rock.

The anointing oil reminds me of James 5:14-16. He said, "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church (which included Peter [I Peter 5:1] and John [II John 1:1] ); and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord (i.e., Yeshua): And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Chances are good that James and the other apostles designed this menorah-Star of David-fish symbol of the new church under the inspiration of God. The story of this symbol is so appropriate for our age, it seems to me that the Lord influenced its design. James wrote a book in the Bible under the Lord's inspiration. So did other apostles in that first church. They all probably collaborated on the Seal. I feel like this symbol's message is inspired. For it to surface just prior to the appearance of the Sign of the End of the age in 1967 seems part of God's perfect plan too.

I can see the Lord's finger arranging for us to be able to see both James' ossuary and the Messianic Seal of his first century church in Jerusalem in these latter days of this age too. This symbol was found etched in the baptismal grotto itself as well as on artifacts found there. If the artifacts were carried off, the symbol was still on the wall of the grotto.

Just as the Messianic Seal connected two parts of the Body of Christ, Jacob/Israel had two wives. Gen 29:16 says, "the elder was Leah (meaning languid), and the name of the younger was Rachel" (meaning ewe, a female sheep). In the Messianic Seal, Leah, the elder (i.e., the Old Testament saints), corresponds with the menorah. Rachel (i.e., the New Testament saints) corresponds with the fish. The menorah and the fish intertwined make up the true Israel. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel (Rom. 9:6).

Only believers in the Messiah are the true Israel. The Old Testament saints believed that he would come. The New Testament saints believe that he did come, and that he is Yeshua HaMashiach/Jesus Christ.

When the two, the Old Testament saints and the New Testament saints, are intertwined, the Magen (shield of) David appears at the juncture. The true shield, protector, of David is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David. If the Seal is laid on its side, we can easily see that the First Advent of the Son of David connects the Old Testament saints (mostly Jews) to the New Testament saints (both Jews and Gentiles). When Jesus returns at the Second Advent, He will be King over both groups that have been joined into one Body of Christ. As the Magen David star in this sign depicts, Yeshu HaMashiach/Jesus Christ will rule over the two groups that have become one.

Act 2:34 says, "David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD (Yahweh, the Father) said unto my Lord (Yahweh of hosts, the Son of David, the Redeemer, Jesus Christ), Sit thou on my right hand." Similar, Luke 20:42 says, "David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD (Yahweh) said unto my Lord (Yahweh of hosts, the Redeemer, Isa. 44:6), Sit thou on my right hand." Verse 44 says, "David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?"

Yeshua/Jesus is the Son of Yahweh. 2Co 5:18,19 makes it clear that "all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." Reconciliation fits the bringing together into one body both Jewish and Gentile believers too, as the Messianic Sign depicts.

The new Nazarene Church of Jerusalem was made up of both Jews and Gentiles, who have been grafted in. Eph 2:11-16 says, "remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."

Mat 2:6 says, "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. This Governor is the King of kings and Lord of lords represented by the Star of David made up of two intertwined triangles. The King of kings is actually God and man, as the two triangles in the Star of David are intertwined. The true church is actually Jews and Gentiles, also represented by the two triangles intertwined.

1Ti 6:15 says, "in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords." Of the Second Advent, Rev 19:16 says, "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

Out of Israel, represented by the menorah, comes the Son of David that brings the New Testament church into the Body of Christ (represented by the fish) headed up by the Son of David portrayed by the Star of David. To me, the Star of David belongs on the banner of the true Israel. I could see Christ ruling under that banner too.

Nu. 24:17 says, "There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel. Jesus is both the "Star" and the "Scepter," i.e., the King. Heaven is his throne and Earth is his footstool. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

He tied things together for us when he said, "I am the root AND the offspring of David, the bright and morning star" (Rev. 22:16). The eastern light of the menorah represents Saturn (Josephus, Ant. III.VI.7), which I think is Christ's heavenly throne. The middle lamp represents Earth, which goes down to the base, where The fish representing Christ and his Body at his first coming, is intertwined in the middle to form the Star of David. We could say that the "Scepter" will rule on Earth as the "Star of David" at his Second Advent.

I find it interesting that the Sign used by the "fishers of men" (Mt. 4:19) in the first Messianic Church has a fish in it.

Archeology and The Bible: Together Again?

The closing of 2002 and first few days of 2003 brought some of arguably greatest finds in Biblical Archeology to date.

The first was the discovery of the Ossuary of James....

James is perhaps the most neglected figures of the early church. Although he was not one of the original twelve apostles, soon after the church began, he is recorded as being the "bishop" or overseer of that church. The Book of Acts, for example, depicts James as issuing the important ruling as to the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church. (Acts 15:13-21). Likewise, in the Book of Galatians, Paul recounts how he had gone up to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles, and records his observations as seeing "James, Cephas (Peter) and John, those who seemed to be pillars" (Galatians 2:9). Interestingly enough, most of the earliest writings from the post-apostolic period have James as the visible head of the church, not Peter. Eusebius', commenting on Clement of Alexandria says that:

Now Clement, writing in the sixth book of Hypotyposes, makes this statement. For he says that Peter, James and John, after the savior’s ascension, though preeminently honored by the Lord, did not contend for glory, but made James the Just, bishop of Jerusalem.

Furthermore, it was accepted quite readily that James the Just, as well as Jude (sometimes referred to as "Judas"), were half-brothers of Jesus. The Apostolic Constitutions, although not written in their final form until perhaps the 4th century, still conclude the entire book with the personal benediction from James of Jerusalem. He says,

I, James, the brother of Christ according to the flesh, but his servant as the only begotten God, and one appointed bishop of Jerusalem by the Lord Himself, do ordain thus.

This is also repeated nearly verbatim by Eusebius, saying in the twenty-third chapter of his Ecclesiastical History that "James the Just succeeded to the government of the church, in conjunction with the apostles"....

For the oil of the Spirit

FOUND: The First Century baptismal grotto of James and the Apostles on Mount Zion, Jerusalem. James, the brother of Jesus, was the leader of the first Nazarene (Messianic) church located in the Upper Room on Mount Zion.

Our story begins in 1963, when a small ceremonial silver lamina (a thin plate) was found in the Judean Desert near Jerusalem, dating back to the first century. A Catholic priest and archeologist named Emanuel Testa deciphered the Aramaic text of this artifact, the first line of which reads: "For the Oil of the Spirit." Testa was amazed to find that the text was nearly identical to James 5: 14-16. This tiny lamina (3"x1") is a sort of pass card or certificate of belief in Jesus, used in early Jewish- Christian baptism to confirm the forgiveness of sins and "right of passage" into the Kingdom of Heaven.

This text from the Book of James clearly indicates that the earliest Jewish Christians anointed believers with oil. What has not been clearly understood until now is how this anointing was connected with baptism and the entry into the faith. This is no longer a mystery.

In 1990, Ludwig Schneider, editor in chief of the magazine Israel Update, struck up a friendship with an old Greek Orthodox monk who lived as a hermit in the Old City of Jerusalem. On one occasion, the monk showed Schneider a cache of artifacts that he had secretly excavated on Mount Zion before the Six Day War in 1967. Schneider was taken aback. Many of these pottery shards, oil lamps and stone pieces were engraved with an unknown symbol, This symbol consisted of a menorah on top, a Star of David in the center and a fish at the bottom. Schneider was immediately convinced that this must have been a symbol of the first Jewish-Christian church (assembly).

The monk then led Schneider to a cavity in the rock adjacent to the Tomb of David and the Upper Room on Mount Zion, and told him that this is where he found the artifacts. Today, the cave is dark and musty and sealed off with iron bars. As legend has it, some great secrets are hidden there. Some say according to the Dead Sea Scrolls, it is a cache of Second Temple treasures. The most popular legend is the deep within this cave lies the long lost Ark of the Covenant.

As it turns out, this is the sacred baptismal grotto of the first Nazarene (Messianic) church, and the treasure hidden there was the First and Second Century artifacts (about 60 in all) found by the monk. Among these artifacts is a brick-shaped piece of local marble inscribed with the Messianic Seal and the words in ancient Aramaic: "For the Oil of the Spirit." This seems to have been the base for a vial of anointing oil. A small pottery flask with a Messianic Seal found nearby supports this theory.

In the author's opinion, this piece of marble came into use in the earliest Nazarene times at this baptismal site, below the church in the Upper Room established by James the Just and the Apostles. This was, of course, a perfect place for the church, because the Upper Room is where the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples at Pentecost. The church was located in the heart of the Essene (a strict, contemplative Jewish sect) Quarter, and was probably a Qumran-like Essene community. According to the Book of Acts, there was strict discipline and a hierarchy. It stands to reason that this group would have immediately established Nazarene ritual, including a ceremonial healing and baptismal center where conversions were sealed by immersion in water and anointing with oil. Judging from the inscription "For the Oil of the Spirit," the anointing was symbolic of baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts records 3,000 conversions here on the day of Pentecost alone.

The author believes that James and the Apostles administered the "Oil of the Spirit" from this very stone base. That would make this piece, if the author's suspicions are correct, the earliest known Christian artifact. The author believes that the previously discovered lamina with the same inscription was also used by this congregation....

The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church

by Raymond Robert Fischer

...Within moments we were holding the first of the eight awesome relics in our hands—a brick size rectangle of local marble, adorned with an etched version of the ancient symbol, and words in archaic Aramaic letters proclaiming: "For the oil of the Spirit." An interesting difference in this piece from the others: a tiny etched cross formed the fish’s eye.

One of the other remarkable pieces was a small ceramic vial, appearing like it could well have been used to hold anointing oil, and originally have been placed upon the “stand for anointing oil.” Both of these, like all of the artifacts, were found in the same place, in a grotto adjacent to the upper room, which is located directly astride the ancient and revered tomb of King David.

Another piece is the remains of a small marble pillar, and the others, a small ceremonial oil lamp and an assortment of various size pottery shards with painted versions of the symbol. All of these artifacts are etched, embossed or painted with renditions of the same three-part symbol of menorah, star of David and fish.

“One day,” Ludwig continued, “ I believe it was on my third visit, Tech Oteeoos showed me, to my absolute amazement, several ancient artifacts which he had excavated at a site on Mount Zion, in the vicinity of the building traditionally known as the original church FOUNDED by James the Just, the brother of Jesus....

I saw for the first time his collection of about 30 to 40 beautiful and varied pieces, all bearing the three-part symbol. As I stared at this treasure in wonder, my host carefully selected eight of the pieces which he later, during a subsequent visit, presented to me as a gift. On this occasion, I excitedly photographed the eight artifacts which had been set aside for me.

“But an even greater gift from this dear messenger of God lay in store for me. During a subsequent visit, after he had, as usual, devoured my chocolate bar gift, he took me by the hand and led me to the nearby site where he had personally excavated his entire collection. This special place was an obviously very old Jewish mikva located near the Tomb of David.

“After we had climbed over an unimposing fence, the old man led me down the traditional seven cosmic stairs leading to the place used for ceremonial cleansing. We proceeded past this place, and entered a catacomb that continued on into the quickly fading light. After what seemed like a short distance, just before the first bend, my ancient monk friend and benefactor was excitedly pointing out his special gift to me on one of the walls, a perfect rendition of the three-part symbol etched into the stone....

Note: This is the first time I have seen mention of "the traditional seven cosmic stairs." If anyone knows more about this tradition, I'd appreciate it if you would share it with me.

What does this symbol of faith represent?

Each of the three symbols, The Menorah, The Star of David, and The Fish have their own individual meaning. The Menorah represents the House of Israel and The Fish represents those that believe Y'shua is the Messiah and have put their trust in Him. When the base of the Menorah and the bottom of the Fish are placed together they create The Star of David. The entire symbol represents a unified congregation- the Jew and the Gentile together as one body in the Messiah Y'shua.

History of the faith symbol:
In the 1960's a Greek Orthodox monk excavated an ancient relic from a site on Mount Zion with the Aramaic inscription, "For the Oil of the Spirit". This piece also contained the symbol: "Seven branched Candelabra, Star of David, and Fish, also known as the Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church. There was also a small cross in the body of the fish portion.

This symbol, validated by an Israeli Professor of Archeology from the University of Dortmund, Germany and by an Israeli Professor of Archeology, is said to have been originated in the late first to early second centuries. The authenticity of the artifacts is further established by an earlier discovery by Bedouins in the Judean Desert south of Jerusalem in 1963. They discovered a small silver artifact on which was found the same inscription as the other artifact, "For the Oil of the Spirit." This tiny piece (6cm x 2cm) is separately dated to the first century. This Aramaic text, similar to that of James 5:14-16, was commonly etched in anointing oil vessels. The text of James clearly indicates that the earliest Jewish Christians anointed believers with oil. The symbol was also used by Jewish-Christians to denote their belief in Y'shua. The brother of Jesus, James, was the leader of the first Nazarene (Messianic) Church located in the Upper Room on Mount Zion. This symbol is also found etched in the first century baptismal grotto of that congregation.

A Piece of the Puzzle

By Ben Zimmerman

...Carved on the box (the James ossuary) are the words "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," in a cursive form of Aramaic used only from about 10 to 70 A.D...

Re: The Death of James

Biblical Archaeology and the James Ossuary, Part I
Charles Page

...The second century Christian writer Hegesippus offers a detailed account of the martyrdom of James. He writes,

"The aforesaid scribes and Pharisees accordingly set James on the summit of the temple, and cried aloud to him, and said: ‘O just one, whom we are all bound to obey, forasmuch as the people is in error, and follows Jesus the crucified, do thou tell us what is the door of Jesus, the crucified’. And he answered with a loud voice: ‘Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven.’

‘And, when many were fully convinced by these words, and offered praise for the testimony of James, and said, ‘Hosanna to the son of David,’ then again the said Pharisees and scribes said to one another, ‘We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him.’ And they cried aloud, and said: ‘Oh! oh! The just man himself is in error.’ Thus they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah: ‘Let us away with the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore shall they eat the fruit of their doings.’ So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to one another: ‘Let us stone James the Just.’ And they began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: ‘I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’

And, while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying: ‘Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us.’ But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man.

‘And so he suffered martyrdom; and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple. This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ.’ "

Re: the Sudarium of Oviedo; the face cloth, accepted as genuine, matches up with the Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin
Eric W. Francke

...The Sudarium of Oviedo is reportedly the other linen cloth found in the tomb of Christ, as described in the Gospel of John....

Verses 5-8 of the 20th chapter of "The Gospel According to St. John" records, "... he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths, but rolled up in a separate place."...

Unlike the Shroud, the Sudarium, which covered the face of Christ for a short time before the body was wrapped in the longer burial cloth, does not carry an image of a man. Instead, the cloth, held against a face of a man who had been beaten about the head, shows a distinct facial impression and pattern of stains.

The cloth is impregnated with blood and lymph stains that match the blood type on the Shroud of Turin. The pattern and measurements of stains indicate the placement of the cloth over the face....

The composition of the stains, say the Investigation Team from the Spanish Centre for Sindology, who began the first sudarium studies in 1989, is one part blood -- type AB -- and six parts pulmonary oedema fluid.

This fluid is significant, say researchers, because it indicates that the man died from asphyxiation, the cause of death for victims of crucifixion....

Dr. Alan Whanger, professor emeritus of Duke University, employed his Polarized Image Overlay Technique to study correlations between the Shroud and the Sudarium. Dr. Whanger found 70 points of correlation on the front of the sudarium and 50 on the back.

"The only reasonable conclusion," says Mark Guscin, author of "The Oviedo Cloth," "is that the Sudarium of Oviedo covered the same head as that found on the Shroud of Turin." Guscin, a British scholar whose study is the only English language book on the Sudarium, told WorldNetDaily, "This can be uncomfortable for scientists with a predetermined viewpoint; I mean, the evidence grows that this cloth and the Shroud covered the same tortured man."

Specific pollens from Palestine are found in both relics, while the Sudarium has pollen from Egypt and Spain that is not found on the Shroud.

Conversely, pollen grains from plant species indigenous to Turkey are imbedded in the Shroud, but not the Sudarium, supporting the theory of their different histories after leaving Jerusalem.

The significance of the Sudarium to the Shroud, in addition to the forensic evidence, is that the history of the Sudarium is undisputed. While the history of the Shroud is veiled in the mists of the Middle Ages, the Sudarium was a revered relic preserved from the days of the crucifixion.

A simple cloth of little value, other than that it contained the Blood of Christ, the Sudarium accompanied a presbyter named Philip and other Christians fleeing Palestine in 616 A.D. ahead of the Persian invasion....

Both cloths also carry type AB blood stains in similar patterns...

Note: This blood type disagrees with Ron Wyatt's claims. In my mind, neither Ron's claim that Mt. Sinai is in Saudi Arabia nor that he found the blood of Christ dripped down on the Ark of the Covenant is valid.

Archeology and The Bible: Together Again?

The inscription on the ossuary simply says "James, son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus".

...Together, the Ossuary of James and the Temple Tablet mark two of the greatest archeological finds of all time.

Temple Inscription found on Tablet

...It is becoming more difficult for non-Christians to refute biblical accounts when archeologists keep uncovering inscriptions that confirm them. In 1994 a stone inscription at the ancient city of Dan was found to refer to the "House of David." Another important find was the House of Yahweh Ostracon, which is a pottery shard dated to about 800 BC that contains a written receipt for a donation of silver shekels to Solomon's Temple. Written approximately 130 years after the completion of the Temple, this appears to be the earliest mention of Solomon's Temple outside the Bible....

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