The late Prof. Benjamin Mazar was sometimes called the “dean of biblical archaeologists.” When he visited an archaeological excavation in Israel, he carried a Bible with him and referenced the scriptures that related to that site. His granddaughter, the late Dr. Eilat Mazar, also became an archaeologist. She fondly recalled how he would ask her, “What’s new in the excavation?” If she said there was nothing new, he would ask the same question again, prodding her to engage in fresh, new thinking every single day. She learned from him to excavate, think; excavate, think.
Neither she nor her grandfather were particularly religious, but they respected the Bible as the accurate historical text that it is. It helped them locate artifacts and understand them.
“I’m interested in history, not just stones,” Dr. Mazar said. “I’m interested in stones that can speak. I don’t care about stones that have nothing to talk about. Those that are speechless. Who cares about speechless stones?” She often said, Let the stones speak.
This attitude led the granddaughter of Benjamin Mazar to incredible biblical archaeological discoveries that even she never imagined she would make. “Indeed, reality surpassed all imagination,” she once wrote.
Those discoveries reclaimed biblical Jerusalem, as one writer put it. They brought the Bible and King David back to life!
Over 16 years ago, when we heard what Dr. Mazar had discovered, we sent volunteers from Herbert W. Armstrong College to assist on her next excavation season. We remained to help in all six of her seasons thereafter. Our 60 or so diggers were continuing the legacy of Herbert W. Armstrong, who sent Ambassador College students to work with Professor Mazar for a decade starting in 1968, reclaiming biblical Jerusalem. I was an Ambassador College student at the time, and I still remember the excitement.
I have traveled to Jerusalem several times, most recently in March. We have been working to bring the history of the Bible alive as much as we can, especially the life of King David. But our goal is much grander than that. We are delivering the message of the God of King David! God wants us to proclaim His message and show what He is doing in Judah today!
Jerusalem is the central focus of much of the Bible. It is about to become the central focus of the whole world!
Preparing for the Lord
Isaiah prophesied that the preparations for the return of Jesus Christ would center in Jerusalem: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). John the Baptist fulfilled this in type before Christ’s first coming (John 1:23). But Jesus Christ is returning, in our lifetimes, and the man who was this “voice” in this end time was Herbert Armstrong. Preparing for Christ’s return includes this commission: “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, Get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, Lift up thy voice with strength; Lift it up, be not afraid; Say unto the cities of Judah: ‘Behold your God!’” (Isaiah 40:9; jps Tanakh).
“A message (Isaiah 40:9-10) is yet to go by a servant of God to the cities of Judah,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “In whatever way God wills, it shall go” (Plain Truth, October-November 1980). He thought God would use him to fulfill this prophecy, knowing that a servant of God had to do it in this end time. He had a gigantic impact in Jerusalem, but he was unable to finish this commission to Judah before he died in 1986. That commission must be fulfilled by those who continue the legacy of the work God started through Mr. Armstrong.
The small but powerful work of the Philadelphia Church of God, publisher of the Trumpet, sponsor of Herbert W. Armstrong College, the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology and other initiatives, is backed by the great God. Good tidings are reaching Zion and Jerusalem, and today—right now—the cities of Judah can hear God’s “Behold your God” message. But there is more to do to fulfill this commission entirely.
We have maintained an office in Jerusalem for more than a decade now. We have started the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology, with news and archaeology articles aimed at the people of Judah, and it has a growing audience in that nation. We have reached some areas around Jerusalem with our television program, which Mr. Armstrong was never able to do.
We have also followed in Mr. Armstrong’s footsteps and continued digging in Jerusalem. We revived the Armstrong-Mazar partnership and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. Most of the laborers and all of the funding for Dr. Mazar’s last excavation in 2018 was provided by our organization.
During this time, Dr. Mazar discovered some of the most stunning and important artifacts I believe have ever been uncovered anywhere. After she unearthed evidence of King David’s palace, she found King Solomon’s royal quarters, the governor Nehemiah’s wall, the seals of two Judean princes mentioned in Jeremiah 38, and a gold menorah medallion and bronze coins. In 2015, she discovered the seals of King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet.
Isaiah 40:9 is being fulfilled now! This prophecy shows Christ’s return is imminent. As we continue fulfilling the commission given to Mr. Armstrong, we are already announcing the coming of the Messiah to the cities of Judah!
Why do we send students to Jerusalem to dig in the dirt? Because the Eternal has chosen Jerusalem! (Zechariah 2:12). The God of King David is the only hope for Jerusalem—and for all mankind! Isaiah does more than just call it “good tidings.” He says, “Behold your God!”
God is grieved by the tragedies constantly befalling this special city, but He has chosen Jerusalem! He is going to fulfill all the great prophecies and promises He has made.
Our projects in Jerusalem are directly connected to God’s exciting future plans for this city.
This is spectacular knowledge, and when we understand it as we need to, we will be even more thrilled about this city and these extremely special projects occurring there.
“Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isaiah 40:10). God has a mind-staggering reward for those who do His work and who choose Jerusalem.