Good morning, My Dear Friends,
In a more peaceful time, friends who have visited the Holy Land would always talk about spending time around the old city of Jericho. It was here that Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land, and where Jesus began his ministry following the time of temptation in the wilderness. Jericho is a wild and desolate country. There are mountains and valleys formed by centuries of exposure to the blinding desert winds. The mountains are filled with caves carved into the rocks by prehistoric upheavals and ancient floods.
About eight miles south of Jericho, there are some caves which, eighty years ago, received wide attention. A group of young shepherds were searching in those caves for lost sheep. In their quest, what they discovered were some earthen jars containing tattered and ancient leather scrolls. They took the scrolls to the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. There scholars determined the scrolls were to be among the oldest biblical texts in existence.
We hear a lot about the Dead Sea Scrolls, but along with them there were other documents believed to be sacred writings of a long-forgotten religious sect within Judaism. In one of those documents an unknown author had written this sentence: “This world embraces madness and deformity unless it is an inn for travelers and a place where birds rest in passage.”
I have often wondered what was in the mind of this poet when he wrote these words. I think it was H. G. Wells who said that reflection on immortality may well be the oldest common thought of humanity, even predating our thoughts about God. There is evidence to support this thought, from the pyramids in Egypt to the Indian mounds of North America. Blaise Pascal must have been right when he said that we were born with eternity in our hearts.
Do you ever wonder why we live with this hope of life beyond death? Someone has described the world beyond as an “undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns.” Yet we cling to the notion that this world is an “inn for travelers” and a resting place for birds in flight.
If our dreams and efforts are doomed to final and ultimate defeat, then life loses its meaning. This is why we listen so carefully to Jesus’ words about something more beyond. There is still a world to come!
Death is not the end,
Bruce Jones, Pastor Imagine Church