BIBLE STUDY SERIES #614, 615 and 616

31 August, 2003

TIME FOR A FEW QUESTIONS - PART III

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In the first two parts of this series, we delved into some aspects of history concerning the spread of Christianity in the early centuries of the Christian era. We did this because the manner in which the Apostles approached the carrying out of Christ's commands concerning their intended objectives reveals something supportive of our contention regarding the location of the true genealogical descendants of ancient Israel of the Bible. Christ had told His disciples, and commissioned His Apostles, that they must, as their first priority, take the news of that which they had learned about Himself, and about the progression of the advancement of His Kingdom, to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." The actual quotations which appear to be most pertinent in this regard have been briefly noted in Part I and Part II of this Series, but it might be needful, for new listeners that we repeat what was quoted in this regard. Matthew 10:1-7 says:

1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
2. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3. Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4. Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
5. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Thus, the Apostles could have been in no doubt as to the geographical location of those, often termed "The Lost Tribes." They knew perfectly well who they were and where they were living at the time of Christ's command. They knew that their commission from The Lord was to journey across the sea or to walk through the intervening lands to speak to these descendants of Israel of old time. Lest it be said that Christ had no commission to speak to non-Israel peoples at all, we ought to point out that, while He had been sent to the two houses of Israel, in his capacity as Redeemer of Israel, He was not totally against certain relationships under suitable terms of respect as we see in Matthew 15:21-28:

21. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
28. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Now that particular incident is recorded for our instruction. It has relevance to a most important prophetic theme which had been placed within Psalm 22 centuries before. While Christ was correctly to be addressed as "Son of David", by descendants of Israel, His kinsmen after the flesh, and over whom He was designated to rule as King, (Luke 1:32-33), this form of address was a presumption when uttered by a non-Israelite. This is so as the claim for her daughter was incorrectly addressed, as though she was a descendant of Israel. However, when she corrected the wording of her approach to "Lord" there was within that designation a wider recognition of Himself as representing the Lord of all the earth. Further, she used a most prophetic allusion to her position as one of the "dogs" under the table.

Psalm 22 was set to be quoted by Our Lord while hanging on the Cross, and within it He was to designate those who compassed him about at that time, and who were putting Him to death. He came into the world in order to be so treated, as the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8), as the substitute for those for whose rebel sins this death-payment was judicially required. These, by the heraldic symbolism of certain animals are designated in that Psalm 22. One such is not of Israel. It is the "dogs" in Psalm 22, (verses 16 and 20) which are the exception. All the other animal symbols, the "bulls" (verse 12), "they... as... a roaring lion", (verse 13), and the "lion" and "unicorn"(verse 21) mentioned in that Psalm are the Tribal symbols of Israel's Tribes, to which the men ("they" of verses 13 and 16) can be added. Thus, while He was dying in order to become the Redeemer of Israel, His blood was also available for the non-Israel peoples in this same voluntary commitment.

When we therefore come to John 20: 19-21, we read:

19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
20. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
21. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

His Father had sent him, as we have just been reading, to "the lost sheep of the House of Israel" and so it again affirmed that the Apostles were thus to go to these Tribes, "into all the world" where those tribes had gone from Palestine. (Incidentally that should lay to rest any question of the supposed merging of all the Tribes into the Jewry of the Babylonian return, prior to Christ's First Advent!) The preaching of "repentance" (Luke 24:47) "among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" presupposed those who were to hear would receive knowledge of the law which their ancestors had knowingly broken, and for which sin they required a Saviour to substitute His death for their deaths. With so much said about their designated mission field, is it any wonder that their final question at the Ascension was "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel" (Acts 1:6), in the answer to which, only the time element was to be withheld from them at that time.

As we hear these days about the great public acceptance of a certain set of books which tell our young children much theory concerning the occult, and teach about that which speaks of good and evil spells and what might be termed the light and dark side of life's experience, and the acquisition of certain aspects of personal powers in the realm of witchcraft, both imaginary and, yet perhaps all too real, I think that it will not be out of place for me to mention certain books which, while constructed perforce out of part history and part legend, (albeit where legends intrude, legends which are devoutly believed to be true), were written concerning the early history of the spread of the Christian Gospel, particularly towards the North and the West from their Biblical centre in Palestine, and so spread swiftly across the world of the first centuries of New Testament times.

"THE COMING OF THE SAINTS - Imaginations and studies in early church history and tradition" is one of three such books which we have supplied in the past. I am not sure if they remain in print. However, I thought it appropriate, following Part I and Part II of this Series, that I should give you some sense of the contents of such books. This first one was written by John W. Taylor, and first published by Methuen & Co. Ltd. In 1906, and Second and Third Editions printed in 1911 and 1923. I am reading from a New Edition, published by Covenant Publishing Co. Ltd. in 1969. Thus, you can understand that these words come from a day nearly a century out of the past. I would like to read to you The First Edition Introduction (of 1906), by the author. It says:

"By easy walking stages on land and by sailing-ships or strong sailing and rowing-boats at sea - such as you may pass today as you steam down the Mediterranean - the Saints came journeying from Palestine in the first days of the Christian era.
Strangers and pilgrims, with few or none to notice and keep record of their wanderings, they came to distant countries and to strange peoples. They wandered about, being often 'destitute, afflicted and tormented (of whom the world was not worthy). They wandered in deserts and in mountains', and they sheltered 'in dens and caves of the earth'. We know this because something like it has been the almost invariable experience of missionary pioneers through all the succeeding ages.
We know it because even now the caves and rock shelters along the borders of the Mediterranean, immemorially associated with Christian missionaries and Christian rites, speak eloquently of the hardship and the suffering of the way.
Of genuine history regarding them we have but scant outlines. They were altogether beneath the notice of those who, like Tacitus, deserved the title of historian in their day; yet records of their doings, their successes and their failures must have been handed down through many generations, and these form the very texture and the fabric out of which the legends of the saints have been elaborated."

We shall have to pick up further of this account on our next Study.

7 September, 2003

TIME FOR A FEW QUESTIONS - PART IV

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In the first two parts of this series, we delved into some aspects of history concerning the spread of Christianity in the early centuries of the Christian era. We did this because the manner in which the Apostles approached the carrying out of Christ's commands concerning their intended objectives reveals something supportive of our contention regarding the location of the true genealogical descendants of ancient Israel of the Bible.

On our last Study, I had introduced one of a set of three books which have, as their general subject matter, a generally related approach to the recounting of the theme which was placed before us in Part I and Part II of this set of Studies. That is, namely, how Christianity came very early to The British Isles, and other lands wherein live some large numbers of descendants of ancient Israel of all twelve Tribes, who are now known by the names Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples.

By way of introducing the book by John W. Taylor, published in 1906, called The Coming Of The Saints", I had read part of his Introduction to that work, but we had broken off in the middle of it. Today, I will continue with the reading of the author's Introduction herewith:

"Sometimes we can trace with considerable certainty the hidden underlying basis of true history. Who, for instance, reading in our own chronicles of Gildas and William of Malmesbury of the caution and tardiness of the British in accepting the Christian faith, can doubt that the quaint and curious admission of this rests upon some definite sort of information which, though now unknown, is still reliable?
How much is true and how much is false in the old legends it is impossible to say. Those who have altogether rejected them have done so, I am convinced, at the expense of much that is worthy of preservation; for there is a certain harmony not only connecting the various narratives themselves, but connecting these with the voices and the silences of history, that decidedly points to some marked substratum of fact.
As one who has been familiar with these legends for many years, who has always loved them and has occasionally lived in the environment and very atmosphere of their acceptance (as you can do today in the Rhone Valley and at Glastonbury), I have written the following pages. I may have but little that is new to bring to a well-worn controversy. Indeed, I come to no controversy at all. 'The bloom of the rose-petal belongs to the heart of the perfume-seller', and I will not risk its beauty and fragrance in the handling and appraising necessary for controversy.
I simply take you halfway back - to the ages of faith, to the belief of a thousand years ago, and re-imagine the remoter past in the light of the traditions of our forefathers. Only the broad distinction is necessary as we use the old traditions. I write of at least two comings of the Saints. The first is of Hebrew missionaries whose coming is probable but problematical, and whose identity is solely a matter of tradition or of legend or of inference. The second is a later coming - the coming of the Greek; the chief example of this being the coming of Trophimus, the friend and disciple of St. Paul, whose identity as the first missionary priest of Arles is fairly well established.
His coming is confirmed by documents going back as far as the beginning of the fifth century, and is therefore partly traditional and partly historical.
I have not taken upon myself to disentangle history from legend. The modern critic is by no means infallible, and in rooting out the tares, is apt to destroy the wheat also. 'Let both grow together until the harvest.'"

Now, herewith Miss Gladys Taylor's Foreword to the 1969 Edition:

"It is with great pleasure that I introduce this new edition of a work written some sixty years ago but full of such original information concerning the Church of the first century that it comes with renewed interest to each generation of readers.
The history of this period is often criticized because it is compounded both of written records and local legends. This book shows with absolute clarity that legends and records dovetail in together, each being substantiated by the other. Of particular interest are the references culled from Churches founded by the saints who were companions of our Lord during his ministry. Such evidences can only be obtained in the places concerned, and the pilgrimage made by the author to the churches of France and nearby countries have produced most impressive proof of the antiquity of the church planted among the Celts of Western Europe and Britain.
It is a long time since my namesake, John W. Taylor, carried out these researches, and little had been added to his findings by any subsequent writer. We should have been pleased to meet a person so full of knowledge and understanding of a subject of profound importance to students of early Church history, particularly as the facts that he presents completely endorse the findings of those who believe in the historical primacy of the Celtic Church."

Perhaps, now, we can read a few excerpts from the text to further enlarge our appreciation of this book. After a beautiful poem, "St. John" by Mary Beal, the author, John W. Taylor, proceeds "The main theory that I propose to consider and develop in the following pages is one of Hebrew or Hebrew-Phoenician missions extending from Palestine to all the old Phoenician colonies in the very earliest years of Christendom. [Here a footnote explains: "From the earliest times, the ships of Israel sailed with the ships of Tyre, with the result that all, regardless of nationality, became known as Phoenicians. (Ed.)"]. It is based on the records of Holy Scripture; it is supported by many old writings and traditions.
But it is more than this. It is a theory of missions conducted by the inner circle of disciples who were brought into immediate contact with Jesus at Capernaum and Jerusalem; men and women who were well known to have been the followers of Jesus, and who therefore, in common with Lazarus (John 12: 10, 11) and with Saul (Acts 9:23), went about in danger of their lives, and were forced to escape from Jerusalem at the earliest opportunity.
It was the mission of a fugitive people to a disappearing race, and therefore but scant records, and these mostly traditional, are all that can be found of its beginning and history. But the results were unmistakable; for before St. Paul had fully set forth upon his later labours all the main Phoenician colonies and trading ports appear to have possessed their nucleus of Christians.
At Tyre, Antioch, and Tarsus, in Cyprus and Crete, at Cyrene and in Sicily, all over the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, we see the Phoenician colonies, where Jews and Phoenicians and their descendants had been working together for centuries, singled out as the initial outposts of Christian effort. And, without any recognition of this association, we find, in tradition, that at all the more distant Phoenician trading ports or colonies - at Marseilles, in Sardinia, in Spain and in Cornwall - traces may be found of Hebrew missionary effort long antecedent to anything which bears the stamp of actual history.
The power of Phoenicia as a nation had been waning for centuries before the coming of Christ, but from 65 B.C., when Phoenicia came under the definite protection of Rome, its commercial sea-power appears to have received a considerable access of vitality. From the date the ships of Tyre and Sidon could trade from port to port all over the Mediterranean, and even beyond it, with less danger than at any time, perhaps, since the acme of Phoenician prosperity. Undoubtedly the old colonies had lost much of their strict Phoenician character. Greeks and Romans, as well as Syrians and Canaanites, crowded the large towns and cities, but the Phoenicians still held a strong if not predominant position at all the main seaport towns, and these formed the first bridges by which the gospel of Galilee and Jerusalem passed from the Hebrew to the Pagan world."

Here, after quoting some ancient authorities regarding the continuing wealth and prosperity of Tyre and Sidon, the author proceeds to tell us: "In Galilee, on the very borders of Syro-Phoenicia, the Saviour lived during the greater part of His ministry. Many of the people from the sea-coasts of Tyre and Sidon listened to His teaching (Luke 6:17; Mark 3:8), and were healed of their diseases; and once, at least, He made a journey from Galilee into Phoenicia (Mark 7), healing there the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman who forced her way into His presence. Phoenicians appear to have been found in all the chief towns of Palestine about this date and, together with Arabians and Egyptians, are described by Strabo as regular inhabitants (bk. xvi, c.ii, par. 34). The commercial influence of Tyre and Sidon formed one of the four great factors which moulded the special civilization of the epoch. The first in importance, perhaps, was the religious patriotism of the Hebrew, inseparable from the land and its associations; the second was the supremacy and occupation of Rome; the third was the learning of the Greek; and the fourth was the commerce of Tyre. All of these factors seem to have been strongly marked throughout the whole of Galilee.

I shall not read further just at present. Enough has been recounted to show our listeners the calibre of approach which the author brings to his insight-filled work. I will close by mentioning that following the setting of this wider scene, the author draws the reader into the family relationships and the inter-actions of the wider family into which Jesus was born, and how all worked together in forming the remarkable Christian missionary endeavours of that age. It is a wonderful book, and I hope our listeners can somehow obtain a copy, or at least find one in their library, to continue the story as it unfolds from this point forward. We might still have a few copies in the book room at our Headquarters.

14 September, 2003

TIME FOR A FEW QUESTIONS - PART V

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In the first four parts of this series, we delved into some aspects of history concerning the spread of Christianity in the early centuries of the Christian era. We did this because the manner in which the Apostles approached the carrying out of Christ's commands concerning their intended objectives reveals something supportive of our contention regarding the location of the true genealogical descendants of ancient Israel of the Bible.

On our last two Studies, I had introduced one of a set of three books which have, as their general subject matter, a generally related approach to the recounting of the theme which was placed before us in Part I and Part II of this set of Studies. That is, namely, how Christianity came very early to The British Isles, and other lands wherein live some large numbers of descendants of ancient Israel of all twelve Tribes, who are now known by the names Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples.

By way of introducing the book by John W. Taylor, published in 1906, called "The Coming Of The Saints", I had read from his Introduction to that work, and I have since ascertained that our book room does still have some copies of this work.

Today, I would like to introduce our listeners to another book which has been sold for many years, and which has, in its own right, earned the position of a classic in its field. This book, which I want to describe for you today is titled "The Drama Of The Lost Disciples", and its author was George F. Jowett, and it was published by Covenant Publishing Co. Ltd. in London England in 1961.

As with other such works, the cover makes us aware of the contents in these words: "Familiarity with the Gospel record often blinds peoples' minds to the terrific drama of the events surrounding the life, death and resurrection of our Lord. No less impressive are the events following soon after His resurrection when Joseph of Arimathea and his fellow-Christians made their journey westward to plant the Faith among the people of dispersed Israel. The wealth of evidence collected by Mr. Jowett, and presented in a racy and readable style in this new volume, throws into high relief the dramatic struggle between the forces of good and evil during that crucial first century of the Christian era.

In case you would like to know something of the author of this work before we go inside, we ought to read the jacket notes which tell of his background. This is what it says, (and we must keep in mind as we read that it pertains to a work which was published in 1961): "G. F. Jowett, born at Bradford, Yorkshire, went to Canada when quite young and has since, though travelling extensively, spent his adult life in Canada and the U.S.A. After service in the Canadian Army in the First World War, he moved to the United States where he built up a large publishing business with headquarters in New York and Philadelphia. Founder of the Jowett Institute in New York, he has been prominent in teaching health and physical fitness, and has himself been well known in world athletics. Mr. Jowett comes from a prominent literary family, and has written several books and numerous articles for magazines and newspapers. A communicant of the Anglican faith, he is well known in Christian work, and in civic affairs he has held eminent positions, his most recent being Chairman of the Board of Planning and Development of the St. Lawrence Seaway project, which was opened by H.M. The Queen."

Inside the cover, there are two black and white photographs of quite ancient buildings which figure prominently in the book. The first is of the facade of the Basilica Di S. Pudenziana at Rome. The second photograph is titled "Exterior of the Mary Oratorium."

The Introduction is written by The Rev. Ansley Rash, and it says: It was Edmund Burke who wrote, 'People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors', and it is certainly true to say that only a very real knowledge of what God has done for and through the British race in the days that are past can give confidence and courage with which to face the unknown in this era of crisis and tragedy. This is one of the major reasons for my satisfaction and pleasure in the privilege accorded to me of introducing this most interesting and instructive book to all those who are concerned with facts, not fancies.

So much rubbish has been written concerning Britain's pagan past and so many attempts have been made to destroy our justifiable pride in the very real achievement of our race that we welcome unreservedly one more book devoted to the purpose of informing our people of the glorious Christian heritage that was bequeathed to us in the first four centuries. Here the faith of Christ was firmly founded soon after the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord and here also the first Christian Church in all the world outside of Jerusalem was erected by the original disciple and followers of the Incarnate Word.

It is fashionable in these days for our leaders in Church and state to make the pilgrimage to Rome to seek economic security and ecclesiastical unity, but this book reminds us very forcibly that in those early days while the Roman Empire was still pagan, men braved the fury of the elements and the peril of the sword to journey to the Britannic Isles in order to proclaim the Gospel of love, light and liberty, and then as the Heralds of the Cross to bear it from Glastonbury and Iona, Bangor and Lindisfarne, to the far places of the earth, for Britain, not Rome, was then the Lighthouse of Europe.

The Author of this book, a Canadian of British birth, a man of many parts and varied talents, has put us in his debt by reminding us once again of our glorious privilege and solemn responsibility as God's servants and witnesses. He has obviously spent a great deal of time in travel and research in order to collect and collate the wealth of valuable material here presented to the reader. With a well-arranged bibliography the book contains treasures both new and old and should without doubt appeal to all those who love and value the truth concerning our illustrious past. Observing all that God has wrought in the generations long ago, the reader will find faith strengthened and hope renewed for the future."

Perhaps it might serve to whet our appetite for reading more if we scan down the Contents picking off the Chapters with their headings. After "Introduction", we find:

"I. The Scandal Of The Cross, II. The Noblis Decurio, III. Who Moved The Stone At The Tomb?, IV. The Saulian Gestapo And The Exodus A.D. 36, V. Let There Be Light, VI. The Glory In The Name, VII. Gallic Testimony, VIII. St. Philip Consecrates Joseph of Arimathea In France, IX. Joseph Becomes The Apostle Of Britain, Arrives On The Sacred Isle Of Avalon, X. Edict Of Emperor Claudius, A.D. 42: 'Exterminate Christian Britain', XI. Jesus Or Jupiter?, XII. The Royal British Founders Of the First Christian Church At Rome, A.D. 58, XIII. Did The Virgin Mary Live And Die In Britain?, XIV. Simon Zelotes Martyred In Britain During The Boadicean War, XV. The Glorious Cavalcade, XVI. St. Paul's Mission In Britain, XVII. Good King Lucius Nationalizes The Faith, XVIII. The Emperor Of Christendom: Constantine The Great, XIX. The Mystery Of The Cup Of The Last Supper, XX. The End Of The Golden Trail."

This list of Chapter Titles ends with "Comparative Bibliography For Further Reference And Study."

Perhaps we might just have a few words, in the time remaining to us, to start to read the first chapter. It is "The Scandal Of The Cross" and it begins: "Nineteen hundred and twenty-nine years ago last April, in the year A.D. 32, the most power-packed drama in the history of mankind was enacted when the Roman soldiery nailed Christ to the Cross, on the Hill of Golgotha. With this ignominious death specially reserved for the meanest criminals by the Romans, the powerful, fanatical Sadducean leaders of the Sanhedrin and the Roman Procurator of the Province of Palestine hoped they had rid themselves of the great disturbing religious influence which, by their acts, clearly indicated they recognized as a dangerous challenge to their ruling authority.

From a material point of view the supreme sacrifice of Jesus might have been the grand finale of His mission, ending in a futile gesture if one particular man had not existed. This man, but fleetingly mentioned in the tragedy of the cross, passed out of scriptural mention under a mantle of mystery in the fateful year of A.D. 36. From that year onward secular history takes up the theme.

Ancient documents carefully preserved, and others recently recovered from the dusty, long-forgotten archives referring to that epochal year, record him as having been cast upon the seas with a few faithful companions by their remorseless enemies, in an open, oarless boat without sails, on an ebbing tide over which they drifted far from the shores of their shadowed Judean homeland, to which they were never to return. In order to grasp the significant, historical importance of this particular person, and the enormous power he wielded, we must retrace our footsteps and examine more closely the soul-stirring events that began with the accursed kiss of Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the aftermath of the Crucifixion."

Perhaps the reading of that first part of the first chapter of this book, "The Drama Of The Lost Disciples" will encourage some listeners to seek out a copy, of which I understand a few remain on the shelves of our Book Room at our Headquarters in Toronto. We shall continue this Series next week.

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