Monday, June 15, 2009
Classes and Machaerus
Today I had a great time teaching Amos 1–2 for over three hours! It is quite something when mentioning Bozrah, Rabbah (Amman), Gilead and a number of other places to realize that they are just a few miles away from where I am teaching! But amazingly most of the students have never been to these places or others like Machaerus where we spent the afternoon.
Machaerus is the location of one of Herod the Great's palaces and it is believed to be the place where Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29). It is Josephus, the Jewish historian, who actually identifies the place of the death of John as being at Machaerus. This hilltop fortress is about 7 miles east of the Dead Sea on a hill that would be easy to defend. We saw the remnants of the Roman siege ramp, the huge water cisterns, the foundation of the aqueduct, and some of the foundations of the walls of the palace. In the midst of this dry and barren land I noticed a large(60+) goats grazing on the hillside on what must be really tasty rocks! I took a picture from near the top of Machaerus of these goats. Can you see them in the center of the hill, just straight down from the summit? They are above and below the line of rock that you see crossing the hill.
I decided to invite a former student of mine here at JETS, Hany, to come along with us since he had never been to Machaerus. Hany is auditing my course since he has graduated now with his M.Div. He always shows up for my classes here and is a real delight. He is an Egyptian single young man who is now pastoring an Iraqi Church here in Amman. I understand from others the people of the church just love him. He preaches at least twice a week, visits his members 2 or 3 days a week, fasts every Monday and gets up to pray with some church members every morning from 5:00-6:30 am! He does all this for a salary of about $400. a month, barely enough to get by after renting an apartment, paying for bus fare, food, clothes. If I had a $1,000 available right now I'd give it to him knowing that every dollar would bring great eternal rewards through his ministry. He is busy, the church is growing (through new families who haven't been going to others churches), and many of these Iraqis will, in the future, be a witness in their own country too. But when he heard of this course that I am teaching he decided to get on the bus for an hour or so after the prayer meeting and come to school to drink in the Word! Oh that we all would have such dedication, drive and desire. What a treat to hear him share in his broken English his joy in the LORD. I was planning on taking him to Pizza Hut for what for him would be a special meal but on the way back from Machaerus he got a phone call that someone in the church needed him. We dropped him off on the street of his "apartment" with a promise to take him out for dinner before we leave Jordan. I can't wait for the blessing of hearing him share over a meal.The picture on the right are the two of us on the top of Machaerus with the Dead Sea in the distance. Can I ask you to take a moment and pray for Hany, and myself, in our service to the Lord? Thanks.