THE CRYPT OF THE APOSTLES
Word for the Month & for Thurs., Nov. 1
Scripture: John 1:44
See Message: Messiah’s Course in Miracles
The Bible identifies the ancient town of Bethsaida as the home or birthplace of the disciples Peter, Andrew, and Philip and the site of Messiah’s miracles. Its name is Hebrew and can be translated as the place or house of fishing. For years (and ages) it was a mystery as to where Bethsaida was located. But an ancient ‘tel’ or archaeological hill or mound is revealing more and more secrets concerning the ancient city.
We know from the biblical context that Bethsaida had to have been located by the Sea of Galilee, particularly the northern shore, the same shore on which Messiah called the disciples. So the mound is located on the Galilee’s northern shore. As early as 1838, the biblical scholar and explorer Edward Robinson suggested that the tel might be the ancient Bethsaida. But it was only in recent years that the idea was confirmed.
In 1987, Israeli archaeologists decided to probe the area. The probe led to excavations and discovery after identifying the mound with ancient Bethsaida. One would expect that a place named for fishing would contain fishing implements. Thus, archaeologists found that the ruins contained hundreds of fishing implements, including metal and stone weights for fishing nets, iron anchors, needles, line sinkers, and fishing hooks.
But it was only recently (this year) that one of the most dramatic of discoveries took place – the uncovering of a 661 pound block of basalt. The block contained three compartments. The block was found in the house of the man who owned the land in the nineteenth century. It is believed to be a reliquary, a repository for relics. Its original location is believed to be the floor beneath the altar of a Byzantine church.
In the eighth century, a Byzantine pilgrim, St. Willibald, traveled to the Sea of Galilee and spoke of Bethsaida at a church called the Church of the Apostles. He wrote that the church stood on the ground where the home of the apostles once stood. Willibald mentioned two of the three apostles identified with Bethsaida - Philip and Andrew.
It would appear that the bones of the apostles were brought back to be laid in the place of their childhood – thus the stone block with three compartments. What this means is that after two thousand years we may have discovered the resting place of some of the most prominent apostles in the Gospel accounts.
When the leaders of Jerusalem told Yeshua/ Jesus to rebuke His disciples for proclaiming His praises, He replied that if they remained silent, the stones would cry out. So the stones of the Promised Land have cried out through archaeological discoveries bearing out the Word of God. It was only recently that the inscription of Isaiah was uncovered, and what may be the vineyard of Naboth, and the seal of King Hezekiah.
On one hand, we are witnessing the great falling away of mainstream culture. On the other hand, and at the same time, we are watching the earth literally bear witness to the truth of the Word of God. This month, no matter what is going on around you, and in the surrounding culture, hold all the more strongly to the Word of God in everything you do and live, as did the disciples of Bethsaida – and may God greatly bless you as you do!
Your brother and co-laborer
in His love and service,