10 Dec 2018

Pilate Rings True

Well, the guy was real.

As we head into the Christmas season, it is especially cool that a new archaeological discovery in Israel confirms yet again the accuracy of the Bible.

The backstory is also amazing.

A half-century ago, as the Six Day War enabled Israelis to really explore their ancestral land, an archaeological dig near Bethlehem yielded thousands of finds. Among them, a copper-alloy ring bearing the name…Pilate.

Yep, that Pilate. According to CBN:

“Archaeologists in Israel have found new evidence that an ancient finger ring could have belonged to the man who judged Jesus prior to his crucifixion, pointing to the authenticity of the biblical record.

The Times of Israel reports the 2,000-year-old copper alloy ring was dug up 50 years ago. It bears the inscription ‘of Pilatus,’ and it may be the second artifact proving that Pilate actually existed. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate was the Roman prefect who washed his hands before condemning Jesus to death.

“When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.’” 
–Matthew 27:24

Pilate ruled Judea for 10 years; Jesus was crucified in the middle of this reign.

He famously asked Jesus, “What is truth?”

Historians tell us that Pilate actually allowed his soldiers to enter Jerusalem with images of the Roman emperor, which caused outrage among the Jews. It led to a confrontation, and Pilate backed down. His brief encounter with the Messiah is one of the most famous stories in history, and I find it fascinating that his ring was found near Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus!

The ring was found in 1968(!) at the Herodium, and the excavation was led by Gideon Foerster. As usual, skeptics claim the ring is too plain to have been worn by a Roman governor. Yet, hear experts in this type of archaeology believe it is more than plausible that it did indeed belong to Pilate:

“’Because of the rarity of the name Pilatus, which appears in full, and because only one Pontius Pilatus was ever the Roman governor of Judea, this identification should be regarded as completely certain,’ Mykytiuk wrote.”

I just think it’s really neat that this find has been made public for the first time, and it ties together Jesus’s birth with His resurrection, in the Greatest Story Ever Told.

It is also sobering for all of us, and should remind us to “use” this holiday celebration to share the Gospel with all we come in contact with, this month especially.

One wonders how and when Pilate himself discovered the true identity of the Galilean who stood in front of him, condemned, so long ago.

For God so loved the world…


3 Dec 2018

Make It Count 

Warning: unconventional “Israel Watch” column straight ahead.

In a dozen years, I’ve recommended resources from time to time. Not often. My background in publishing still compels me to make suggestions from time to time for those who are pro Israel. I do believe one of our weaknesses is lack of education.

I just noticed this week—if I can be frank—that another pro Israel confab by Christian leadership was held…to the waste of everyone’s time.

For 25 years I’ve advocated for Israel in one form or another. In my opinion, much of Christian Zionist leadership mismanages money and resources in almost obscene ways. In this way, they run parallel to the more openly outlandish and useless ministries, such as faith healers and personal brand builders like Andy Stanley.

My experience tells me that worthy beneficiaries of the rank-and-file’s hard-earned donation money are few and far between. The lion’s share is obtained by either outright scammers, or those who waste resources.

In other words, those who are doing the best work advocating for Israel are doing so on an old, rotting, threadbare shoestring.

It makes me angry.

I know too many organizations and big names that work to simply perpetuate their own brand. Sort of like a politician that cares nothing for constituents, but everything about salary, pension, benefits.

There are heads of pro Israel ministries that jet set around the world, blog, host conferences, and generally tread water. They are as valuable to the cause as a tireless getaway car is to a bank-robber.

Yet they continue with their large annual budgets and at the end of the year, their genuine accomplishments for Israel would fit into the front pocket of an old work shirt.

Then there are individuals like Brian Schrauger. Brian is a friend, an American who now lives in Israel. His Jerusalem Journal and Chaim Report are superb. Brian actually reports what’s happening on the ground. He is right there. No support staff, no $100K website. No lunches with evangelical bigs who just want to be seen.

But he is the best Israel correspondent I know about, seriously. In short, he thinks like us and keeps us informed.

One of my favorite moments came last year when we lunched at Mamilla Mall, overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City.

If you’d like to donate to Brian’s critically important work, email him directly at Brian@JerusalemJournal.net. Or, you can send support online at https://www.jerusalemjournal.net/donate.

He explains what he’s doing with the Chaim Report:

“Inspired by the Drudge Report, the Chaim Report (a publication of the Jerusalem Journal) is a 24/7 aggregation of Israel-related news from publications here in Israel — and from around the world.

“The Chaim Report is the only website dedicated to bringing viewers the best selection of news from the best sources of news—and all from Israeli perspectives.

“The idea is to give you an up-to-date and top-quality collection of stories every day of the year.”

This will be the only resource I recommend for at least the next year. I believe in it that much, and I’m mindful of your resources, believe me. We’re all in this together.

As you look forward to Christmas and time with your family, and focusing on our Savior, if you are also looking for a place to send monthly support that will bless Israel and you, remember Brian.

Thank you!