[Babylon 5]

Nathan Mates' Christian Pages

31.7665N, 35.2338E

By Nathan Mates

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. [Genesis 14:18-19]

Before Abraham had his name changed by God, he was known as Abram, and Lot (same guy as in the Sodom & Germorrah destruction) was his nephew. Lot managed to get kidnapped in a small, local war, and so Abram set out to rescue him. He succeeded quite well, rescuing Lot, and recovering all the loot taken by the previous winners of the battle. [My summary of Genesis 14:8-17] And so, a priest/king of a local town came out to meet Abram, fed him bread and wine, and blessed him.

Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." [Genesis 22:2]

Some time later, Abraham (note spiffy new name) had finally had a son, Isaac, someone through whom Abraham's descendants could be as numerous as the stars in the sky. [Genesis 15:5] And yet, God tested Abraham by calling him to sacrifice his one and only son, through whom any descendants would have to come. And yet, this action was not to take place right were Abraham and Isaac lived, it was to take place some three days trip away. Reading on in Genesis 22, we see that a substitute sacrifice was provided just before Abraham was about to kill his son.

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, "You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off." They thought, "David cannot get in here." Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David. [2 Samuel 5:8]

The Jebusites were a set of Canaanites living on the land God had promised to Israel, so, roughly a thousand years before Jesus, David kicked them out of a small mountain fortress and established that as his city, where he would rule over Israel, where a line of kings would rule, and a city that exists to this day: Jerusalem.

On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." [2 Samuel 24:18]

This verse takes place some time later in David's life, after which David had done something uncharacteristic-- he didn't trust in God to provide him with an army, but demanded a census of troops so that he could see how strong his army was-- David's army, not God's. And so God punished them according to Deuteronomy 28:15-25 -- the curses that had been laid down centuries before as to what would happen when Israel turned from the Lord. A plague swept the nation, yet God's destroying angel was held back over this threshing floor. As noted above, David was commanded to buy it (note that it was owned by a Jebusite-- the ones that David should have kicked out from the land of Israel), and build an altar to God on it. That happened, and burnt offerings were given there.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. [1 Corinthians 11:23-26]

This quote by Paul refers to the Last (Lord's) Supper, where Jesus took two common elements of a Passover seder (ceremonial meal), bread and wine, and made them symbolic reminders of the sacrifice that he would go through over the next 18 or so hours on the cross.

"They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him." [Mark 15:22-24]

This should be a familiar passage-- Jesus was crucified.

"A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations [...] the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, [...] and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south." [Zechariah 14:1-4]

While this message is in the Old Testament, it looks forward to an event that has not yet happened: Jesus's dramatic return to Earth to rescue a conquered city, splitting mountains under his feet as he returns. Some have said (but I've not confirmed this) that there's a fault line under the Mount of Olives ready to split the mountain in two, but last I checked, Jesus didn't quite need preexisting geological conditions to do some impromptu terraforming. [In fact, I'd almost venture to guess that using fault lines be one of the things an Antichrist will do to "prove" validity, but that's off topic.]

The above are seven short passages from the Bible, with some commentary, but what are we to make of them? And also, what of my rather cryptic title, "31.7665N, 35.2338E"? Simple: that's the latitude and longitude (within a mile or few) of the one place where all of these passages refer to in "ICBM coordinates". My ellipses in the Zechariah passage were used to hide the identity of that conquered city: Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives resides just east of Jerusalem, and was where Jesus ascended into heaven [Acts 1:6-12], and where the garden of Gethsemane was also located. Golgotha also resided just outside Jerusalem as well.

What is the connection between the threshing floor that David had bought and Jerusalem? It's spelled out quite clearly for us: "Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David." [2 Chronicles 3:1]

Beyond the temple, the author of Chronicles ties back into the second Abraham passage: this floor is on Mount Moriah-- the region where Abraham's sacrifice was to take place. Re-read Genesis 22:2 -- God said he'd point out precisely where the sacrifice would take place, near Moriah. Jesus, God's only son, was killed just a little bit away from Mount Moriah. This is pure speculation on my part, but I wouldn't put it past God to use that hill, Golgotha, twice. God knew what would happen when an only son would be lost, and he knew the exact spot, down to the millimeter, where both sacrifices would happen. So, I see it as entirely possible that not just the same region, or even ballpark, but the same spot of land was used for the sacrifices.

So, most of of the passages above have been tied to the same city, Jerusalem, and hills immediately around it. But, what of that first passage with Abram and a king of Salem? Well, in the centuries between Abram and David, that city's name grew slightly: Jerusalem. The author of a psalm also spells this out for us: "In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion." [Psalm 76:1-2]

The author of Hebrews has this to say about Melchizedek from the Genesis 14 passage: "This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever."

Hmmm. A priest-king of God, better than the line of priests descended from Aaron, who knew God independently of Abram, hanging out in [Jeru]Salem, and handing out bread and wine. [And, not heard of after this passage, except Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5-7] Once again, this not backed up by hard Biblical facts, but this Melchizedek guy has some strong resemblances to Christ. Some would say that this is Jesus, hanging out on Earth prior to being born to Mary, some say there isn't enough evidence for that. In any case, it's just another detail of the Bible that falls into place when studying a few apparently random geographical details.

See more Christian writings by Nathan Mates at http://www.matesfamily.org/xtian/index.html