Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Shechem is the Holy City - not Jerusalem

The one time Jesus calls himself the messiah, is not when he is speaking to a Jew, but a Samaritan woman - hence he is saying he is the SAMARITAN MESSIAH not the Jewish Messiah.

Note that he also says that he has come to change the Samaritan worship, which was on Mount Gerizim and also Jewish worship which was in Jerusaalem.

Jesus says that a new place of worship is going to be established, not on the mountain or in Jerusalem - this also explains why he broke the laws of the Torah and hence broke the Samaritan and Jewish laws of the time - Jesus was truly a revolutionary seeking to create a new unified religion that united the Samaritans and the Jews into a new religion - which we call Christianity.

John 4:21-26

King James Version (KJV)

21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

25The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

26Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

So where was Jesus referring too when he said a new place would be found where the Jesus Jews would worship The Father - for that we need to look at the Samaritan teachings on the Samaritan Messiah - and here we find the answer - Shechem, the ancient seat of power.

Another thing was asked of the High Priest, namely, what would be the attitude of the Messiah toward Christians and other nations. He answers:

"The Messiah will be a prophet, as I have told you, and will no doubt work signs to prove his mission. There will be unusual signs and wonders, which I described in the little book. But he is to be a king, and rule the earth from Shechem, the ancient seat of power, and from his holy mountain, Gerizim. He will call all the world to acknowledge him, and they will do so. He will bring blessings to all nations that acknowledge him."

So Jesus did not intend Jerusalem to be his seat where he would rule as king of the Jews - it would be Shechem.

Shechem is Nablus.

Nablus (Arabic: نابلس‎ Nāblus [næːblʊs] ( listen), Hebrew: שכם‎ Šəḵem, is Biblical Shechem (ISO 259-3 Škem).

It is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately 63 kilometers (39 mi) north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132.[1] Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.

So the Holy city of the Jesus Jews would not have been Jeruslaem it would have been Shechem / Nablus.

Here is some information on Shechem -

The true Christians worship Christ in Nablus, not in Jerusalem.

What is so important about Shechem ?

Here are some excerpts from an article on the place ;

Located in the Hill Country of Ephraim, the city of Shechem played a vital role in the history of Israel. This location, in the middle of the nation, provided the most important crossroads in central Israel. The city lay along the northern end of “The Way of the Patriarchs.” This road, also called the “Ridge Route” (because it followed a key mountain ridge stretching 50 miles south), traveled from Shechem through Shiloh, Bethel/Ai, Ramah, Gibeah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron. This route appears continuously in the Biblical text.

Shechem first steps on the pages of Scripture as Abram enters the land of Canaan. From Ur, across the Fertile Crescent and down into Canaan, the Bible mentions Shechem as the first city to which Abram came (Gen. 12:6). Here Abram built an altar to the Lord, and here God confirmed His promise to give the land to Abram. The old man could have easily seen much of the Promised Land if he scaled Mount Ebal and scanned the horizon.

The areas in Canaan which Abram spent most of his life were along the Route of the Patriarchs, namely in Shechem (Gen 12:6), Bethel and Ai (12:8; 13:2), Hebron (13:18; 14:13), and in the Negev (13:1; 20:1, notably Gerar).

Abram’s grandson, Jacob, came to Shechem after he returned from Padan-Aram, undoubtedly tracing the traditional same steps of his grandfather. He and his family traveled through the Jabbok Valley, crossed the Jordan, camped at Succoth, and ascended through the Wadis Faria and Beidan to Shechem.

Here Jacob (re-named “Israel”) built an altar and named it “El-elohe-israel,” meaning “God, the God of Israel” (Gen. 33:17-20).

After the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, “went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king” (1 Kings 12:1). But because Rehoboam followed the foolish and harsh advice of the youths with whom he grew up, the nation divided at Shechem. Jeroboam shouted: “To your tents, O Israel” and separated the ten northern tribes from the southern kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 12:1,16).

Samaria became significant in Shechem’s history because the people who later worshipped on Mount Gerizim came to be known as “Samaritans” (named after the capital Omri had chosen). After the Assyrians dragged the Northern Kingdom into exile in 722 BC, the Assyrians repopulated the area with a mixed breed—partly Jewish, partly Assyrian. These people did not know the Lord (2 Kings 17:24-41) and thus they continually struggled with idolatry.

When Judah returned from exile to the southern portion of the nation, the Samaritans requested to help rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. However Zerubbabel refused, and the Samaritans developed almost a cult—devoted only to the Pentateuch. They built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, which was immediately by Shechem. In 107 BC, John Hyrcanus further widened the rift between the Jews and Samaritans by destroying the Samaritan’s temple on Mount Gerizim.

By the time Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, near Shechem, the racial hatred between Jews and Samaritans was paramount. And the ensuing argument about the true place of worship—Gerizim or Jerusalem—was in full force (John 4:20).

For a spiritual lesson from Shechem’s history, we look back at Joshua’s challenge to the nation in Joshua 24. “Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers; and they presented themselves before God” (Josh. 24:1).

Joshua called the nation to Shechem because significant things occurred there before. As mentioned before, it was here that Abram, the father of the Jewish nation, first came when he came to the land. And here God promised him the land was to be his. It was also here that Abram’s grandson, Jacob, settled, and here he buried all his idols—which will be significant we will see later. Moreover, Joshua called all Israel to Shechem at the end of the conquest, because Joshua and the same group came to Shechem at the beginning of the conquest to shout the blessings and curses.

Joshua called them together again to this historically significant site, because what he had to tell them preached louder in Shechem that it could anywhere else: “And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, from ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods’“ (v 2). He starts to review their history by reminding them that Abram, the father of the Jewish nation, was an idolater prior to becoming the father of the Jewish nation. That is a pretty humble beginning.

Twice in this verse Joshua gives the command: “serve the LORD.” In fact it is the main command of the whole chapter. “Therefore,” he says, in light of the fact that every inch of success has been God’s grace to you, “fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity.” The Hebrew word for sincerity suggests “fullness or completeness;” it is the idea that one is on the inside what he is on the outside. Joshua says to serve the Lord in sincerity, not in hypocrisy. Joshua also says to serve the Lord in “truth;” the Hebrew word for truth is `Emet, which refers to a truth that has proven itself reliable. You could translate it “faithfulness” or even “reliability.” `Emet is a word that describes God; He is a God of truth, so our relationship to God must be according to truth.

Interestingly, Jesus said the same thing in this same spot when He told the woman at Jacob’s well that the worshippers God seeks are those who worship Him in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24)—worship with one’s inside, the spirit, not just the outside. Jesus said: “in spirit and in truth;” Joshua said: “in sincerity and truth.” I cannot help but wonder if Jesus had Joshua’s words in mind as Jesus sat near Shechem where Joshua spoke.

Joshua also tells them to “put away the gods which your fathers served.” He calls them together at Shechem as if to say: “Remember how Abram put away his idols and came here, and remember God’s promise to Abram in this spot? Remember how Jacob put away his idols in this spot? Remember how you yourselves shouted the blessings and the curses in this spot? Do you want God’s blessing in the land? Then you too put away your idols in this spot.” We should put away what is wrong and embrace what is right—or better, who is right, because Joshua says again at the end of v 14: “serve the LORD.”

Then comes the most famous verse in the whole book of Joshua: “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (24:15).

Almost every plaque I have seen which quotes this verse says: “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” It always leaves off the part about: “whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.” I think omitting the lines lessens the punch and the point of the statement.

First Joshua says: “the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River.” You can choose to follow the perhaps bad example of your parents and make the same mistakes they have made by being loyal to the things they were loyal to. Then he says: “or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.” You can choose to follow the culture you live in and be loyal to their priorities.

But Joshua’s point is choose for yourselves; in fact, those are his very words. Do not do something just because mommy and daddy did it; mommy and daddy could have been wrong. Do not take as your own the values of our entertainers or actors just because they are good performers; think for yourself. Choose for yourself.

And I think the principle should also apply even to those who grew up under parents who did a good job—parents who taught about Jesus and how He died for our sins. We still need to choose for ourselves. We still need to come to a place where Jesus is our God, not just the God of our parents. The Bible speaks of the importance of having a personal relationship with Christ, not a surrogate relationship through our parents, peers, or pastor. God wants to know us personally. We have to take a personal ownership and responsibility with our relationship with God.

We should not think that because Joshua speaks of idols, and because we do not have wooden statues in our culture, that this text does not apply. I think that is the mistake made when the plaques quote this verse. Augustine once said: “Idolatry is worshipping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshiped.”

Jonathan Edwards resolved: “that all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: That whether others do or not, I will.” Joshua says that regardless of what they chose, “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Look at the people’s response:

And the people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. And the LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God” (vv. 16-18).

The people say that not only will Joshua and his house serve the Lord but “we also will serve the LORD.” Not because He was the God of their parents, but because He is, they say, “our God.”

“So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem... Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance” (vv. 25, 28).

As they left Shechem they were to remember the past and live in light of it. We too, as we live the lives God has given us, should remember from where God, in His grace, took us—from a down-hill slide to destruction into a relationship with His Son. We should remember how God, in His grace, has taken care of us since then in spite of our continued disobedience. And in light of God’s faithful past in our own lives, we should personally renew a whole-hearted commitment to the Lord today. That was Joshua’s challenge to Israel at Shechem, and it is a good one for us to heed as well.

So here we see why Jesus chose Shechem for his seat as King of the Samaritans.

Jesus aimed to unite the Samaritans and Jews and chose his seat as king of both (not a messiah of the Jews) in Shechem.

The Lion of the Samaritans - Jesus - would lay down with the 'lost sheep of Israel' - the Jews.

Under his reign the schism that occured when the Judaens were taken into capitivity by the Assyrians would end.

The place he chose to rule from, Shechem, was deeply symbolic for here the Abram was given the land by God and also Joshua gathered all the Jews to Shechem to present them to God.

There also Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, split the Israelites into two camps - and so in this place Jesus would reunite them.

Here also Joshua said ' put away the gods your father served' and so Jesus was saying the same thing to them - put away your differences, unite with me to form a new Jewish religion - Christianity which united Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles.

This is why Jesus was crucified, for his new religion would have removed the power of the Pharisees and formed a new united Jewish religion under Jesus Christ.

For this Jesus had to die.

The Romans and the Pharisees did not want a united Jewish people under a new king Jesus, so each wanted him dead.

The Romans to stop them uniting and kicking the Romans out of the region and the Pharisses to retain their power over the Jews.

For this reason, the Pharisees and Romans killed Jesus.

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