Posts Tagged ‘Solomon’

RICH PREACHER POOR PREACHER

November 2, 2014

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Jesus said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Prosperity Preacher Joel Osteen lays his head down in great comfort in his $10,500,000 mansion in the richest neighborhood in America, River Oaks in Houston.

Paul the Apostle wrote: when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it. Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Paul worked as a tent maker to support himself, sometimes night and day, as he preached the Gospel.

King Solomon called himself “The Preacher.” He was the wisest and richest man who ever lived denying himself nothing and keeping scores of wives and concubines.

The Catholic Church’s global holdings including huge amounts of real estate, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Vatican City, and some of the world’s greatest art add up to immeasurable wealth.

I am writing this blog not to judge but to inform; keeping in mind that we are all sinners and fall short of the Kingdom of God without the way, the truth and the life.

Television has been a great multiplier allowing preachers to spread the Gospel to the masses. It has also proved to be a tool to obtain great wealth.

Jesus and Paul amassed no earthly wealth. Solomon and many other preachers are so wealthy they make Joel Osteen look like a pauper.

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The founder of Modern Prosperity Theology, Bishop Edir Macedo of Brazil has a net worth estimated by Brazilian authorities at two billion dollars. He is continuously involved in scandals, mostly due to allegations that his organization had siphoned off billions of dollars of donations intended for charity. There have also been official charges of fraud and money laundering. Macedo even spent eleven days in jail in 1992 due to charges of charlatanism. He has denied all the accusations against him in Brazil, but he is still under prosecution by US authorities as well as Venezuelan authorities. Yet Macedo has managed to keep his flock of followers throughout the years.

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Jesus rode on a donkey; Bishop Macedo owns a $45 million jet.

Jesus and Paul ran afoul with Roman and Jewish authorities but never for money laundering or taking money intended for charity. Their crime was preaching the gospel.

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Bishop T. D Jakes enjoys a net worth of $150 million and resides in a $1,700,000 mansion. He has been called America’s best preacher and has been featured on the cover of TIME magazine. He is a writer, preacher and movie producer. Thomas Dexter Jakes, Sr. is the bishop and chief pastor of The Potter’s House, a non-denominational American mega church, with 30,000 members, located in Dallas, Texas. T.D Jakes wears custom made suits and sports a diamond ring the size of a coin.

Bishop David Oyedepo is a Nigerian Preacher, Christian Author, Founder and Presiding Bishop of Winners Chapel known as Living Faith Church World Wide. Has been hailed as the wealthiest preacher in Nigeria with a total net worth of $150 million and properties like 4 private jets and homes in the United States and England. After the foundation of the Living Faith Outreach Ministry in 1981, it has evolved to be one of the largest congregations in Africa and has a flourishing mission in Nairobi. This is just one of Bishop Oyendepo’s jets.

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Bishop Oyedepo claims that in 1998 he was instructed by God to build a new base for the Commission to accommodate the increasing number of worshipers. This resulted in Bishop Oyedepo’s church’s acquisition of the initial 530-acre facility, known as Canaanland, which serves as his headquarters. It is the home of the 50,000-seat capacity auditorium, the ‘Faith Tabernacle’, which is reputed to be the largest church auditorium in the world. This was a feat also recorded by the Guinness Book of Records.

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Canaanland campus also has for profit establishments operated by the church such as a bakery, a bottled water processing plant, a gas station, various restaurants and shopping stores, several residential houses that provide for the over 2,000 church employees, and guest houses. Four banks are also present on this Estate, three of which are branches of external commercial banks and one which is a community and micro-finance Bank and operated by the Church. The whole of Canaanland which includes a proposed 15,000 housing division known as Canaan City had increased to 17,000 acres as at 2012

It is not easy to figure out just how much some Bishops, Preachers or modern day Apostles are worth.

Kenneth Copeland runs Kenneth Copeland Ministries and was one of several televangelists whose finances were investigated from 2007 to 2011 by Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa. According to an article by the Associated Press that ran in 2008, “His ministry’s 1,500-acre campus, behind an iron gate a half-hour drive from Fort Worth includes a church, a private airstrip, a hangar for the ministry’s $17.5 million jet and other aircraft, and a $6 million church owned lakefront mansion. The article later added that while Copeland has not released up-to-date salary statements, the church disclosed in a property-tax exemption application that his wages were $364,577 twenty years ago; Copeland’s wife, Gloria, earned $292,593. It’s not clear whether those figures include other earnings, such as special offerings for guest preaching or book royalties. Here is the Copeland home:

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As of 2012, Prosperity Theology Preacher Joel Osteen had amassed a fortune of $56,508,500 and lives in a $10,500,000 mansion in River Oaks. River Oaks is the wealthiest and most expensive community in Texas and occupies 1,100 acres in Houston. Strolling through River Oaks one might see a professional basketball player, the primary figure of the Enron scandal, a Saudi Arabian oil figure or maybe a preacher? Not bad for a young man with no college degree and only a brief stint at Oral Roberts University. Joel’s brother Paul is a surgeon with lots of education but after 17 years Paul moved back to Houston and works for Joel. Don’t cry for Joel, he is still a young man with time to make some real money. Here is Joel’s home and guest house:

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Pat Robertson is an American businessman and Christian preacher. He attended college at Washington and Lee University, and then served in the Marine Corps. After attending Yale Law School, and failing to pass the bar exam, he chose to attend New York Theological Seminary. Four years after graduating, he launched the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia, and the network is now broadcast in 180 countries. In the late 80s, he ran for President, but was unsuccessful. He runs a number of large companies. Some estimates put his net worth at 1 billion. He lives on the top of a Virginia mountain, in a huge mansion with a private airstrip. He owns the Ice Capades, a small hotel, diamond mines, and until recently, International Family Entertainment, parent company of the Family Channel.  This mountain top home is just one of many Robertson residents:

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Israeli televangelist Toufik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn has an estimated net worth of $42 million. He is best known for his regular “Miracle Crusades” – revival meeting and faith healing summits that are usually held in large stadiums in major cities, which are later broadcast worldwide on his television program, “This Is Your Day”. The estimate of $42 million may be low for Benny who owns this Malibu mansion:

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Chris Oyakhilome is the man behind Believers’ Loveworld Ministries, a.k.a Christ Embassy. Hard to estimate the net worth of this New Age Preacher but is possibly between $30 million and $50 million. The charismatic preacher was at the center of a $35 million money laundering case in which he was accused of siphoning funds from his church to foreign banks.

Creflo Dollar: American Bible teacher, pastor, and the founder of World Changers Church International has an estimated net worth of $27 million. As his name suggests, this preacher’s “manna” comes in form of the green buck.  Here is Reverend Dollar’s Fayetteville, Georgia mansion under construction with an inset image of his jet.

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Rick Warren is an American author and evangelical Christian pastor who has a net worth of $25 million dollars. Rick Warren founded his high school’s first Christian club and earned several degrees. He founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California; it is now the country’s eighth-largest church. Saddleback Church and Warren attracted national attention when they hosted Barack Obama and John McCain for the Civil Forum on The Presidency in 2008.

American evangelical Christian evangelist, William Franklin “Billy” Graham, Jr., has a net worth of $25 million. The Southern Baptist evangelist rose to celebrity status as his sermons started getting broadcast on radio and television. Graham was born on a dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina in 1918; he has conducted many evangelistic crusades since 1948. Billy is many people’s favorite preacher who had access to presidents and kings.

Becoming an evangelical preacher in Brazil is the dream of many young people across the country. Contrary to more traditional protestant churches that require their pastors to have at least a masters degree, the neo-Pentecostal churches such as the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God offer intensive courses to “create” pastors for as little as $350 for a few days of classes. It’s not only about money, the most talented young members of a pastor’s crew can earn up to $132,000 a year, but it is also about power.

Many Brazilian pastors have been given diplomatic passports in the past few years. Some, especially those who lead big churches, are courted by politicians at election time. I mentioned Modern Prosperity Theology Bishop Edir Macedo earlier in this post. Here are some of Brazil’s other Pastor Superstars:

Valdemiro Santiago is a former preacher within the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, he was reportedly expelled from the institution after some misunderstandings with its boss, of whom he was a protégé. That was enough for him to found his own church, the World Church of the Power of God, which has more than 900,000 followers and over 4,000 temples, many of which are adorned with images of him on billboards. He made headlines last year after reportedly spending $45 million for a private jet. Several Brazilian business magazines estimate his net worth at $220 million.

Silas Malafaia, the former leader of the Brazilian arm of the Assembly of God, Brazil’s biggest Pentecostal church. The most outspoken of his colleagues, Malafaia parted ways with the institution in the late 1990s to start his own spin-off denomination, the Assembly of God-Victory In Christ Church. Malafaia is also a prominent figure on Twitter, where he is followed by more than 440,000 users. In 2011, Malafaia–who’s worth an estimated $150 million according to several Brazilian business publications–launched a campaign called “The One Million Souls Club,” that aims to raise $500 million for his church in order to create a global television network that would be broadcast in 137 countries. Malafaia also owns one of the four biggest record companies in Brazil’s gospel segment, according to Billboard Brazil, and the country’s second largest gospel publishing company, Central Gospel, with sales of a reported $25 million per year.

Romildo Ribeiro Soares, simply known as R.R. Soares. As the founder of the International Church of the Grace of God, Soares is one of the most regular faces on Brazilian TV. Another former member of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, he is the brother-in-law of Macedo. The self-entitled “missionary” Soares is said to be the humblest among his peers. His private jet, a King Air 350, is worth a “modest” $5 million. Soares’ estimated net worth is $125 million.

Estevam Hernandes Filho and his wife, “Bishop” Sonia, oversee more than 1,000 churches in Brazil and abroad, including several in Florida. With a combined net worth estimated at $65 million, the couple made international headlines in 2007 when they were arrested in Miami, accused of carrying more than $56,000 in undeclared cash. Some of the money had been stuffed between the pages of their Bibles, according to U.S. customs agents who detained the couple at the Miami Airport. They were returned to Brazil a year later. They are also still under prosecution in Brazil for a number of other crimes.

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Back in the U.S. American civil rights activist and Baptist Minister Jesse Jackson has an estimated net worth of $10 million.

Another civil rights activist, Baptist minister and radio show host, Al Sharpton has an estimated net worth of $5 million. He earned his net worth through radio and television. I didn’t know Reverend Sharpton had a radio show?

John Hagee was my mother’s favorite preacher when she died in 2000. He is a founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational Charismatic megachurch with more than 20,000 active members. He is also the chief executive officer of his non-profit corporation, Global Evangelism Television (GETV). Hagee is the President and CEO of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his national radio and television ministry carried in the United States on ten television networks, including 62 high-power stations aired to more than 150 million households. He is shown on networks around the globe, including Africa, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Hagee is the founder and National Chairman of the Christian-Zionist organization Christians United for Israel, incorporated on February 7, 2006. Hagee’s support for Israel has brought him death threats. He also speaks openly on religious beliefs regarding Islam, Catholicism, and homosexuality. I know of no other person with responsibilities approaching John Hagee’s with a net worth of only $5 million. If your retirement nest egg was that much and was invested in ten year US treasury notes, your income would be $114,000 a year.

John Hagee and well known Pastor and Author John Piper are not poor but both chose not to be fabulously wealthy. “”Out of the freedom from worry that God’s generosity provides comes an impulse toward simplicity rather than accumulation.” John Piper

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WHERE SOLOMON’S TEMPLE WAS NOT

August 19, 2014

Below is the Temple Mount as viewed from the Mount of Olives, note the graves in the foreground. 

 

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Abraham was directed by God to take his son Isaac, to the land of Moriah, and there to offer him for a burnt offering upon a mountain which God would show him. This land is mentioned only here, and there is little to guide us in trying to identify it. Much later the name of Moriah is affixed to the mount on which Solomon’s Temple was built, possibly associating it with the sacrifice of Isaac. Abraham journeyed from the land of the Philistines, and on the 3rd day he saw the place afar off. This naturally suggests some prominent mountain farther North than Jerusalem. The description could hardly apply to Jerusalem in any case, as it could not be seen “afar off” by one approaching either from the South or the West.

The mountains associated with Jerusalem today are Mount Ophen, Mount Zion and Mount Moriah. I believe Mount Ophen is actually part of Mount Moriah which rises to 2,549 feet. The Temple Mount sets at 2,428 feet. I believe the entire City of David was built on the lowest part of Mount Moriah. Mount Zion stands at 2,533 feet and to the east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley lies the Mount of Olives rising 2,739 feet. Most translations say the Temple was built “on” Mount Moriah. The King James Version says “in” Mount Moriah. Mount or “har” in Hebrew can mean mountain, hill or hill country.

Jesus ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives. Even before Solomon the Mount of Olives was used as a Jewish burial place. There are more than 150,000 graves there today. When King David wrote about the Shadow of the Valley of Death he was writing about the Kidron Valley. Below is a photo of the Kidron Valley looking south with the Temple mount on the right and the Mount of Olives on the left. The tomb in the valley with the pointed top is the tomb of Absalom, David’s third son.

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It was Mount Zion where the Tabernacle rested and David in times of stress would look up from the City of David and see the place where the Ark rested. Seeing the Tabernacle would give David the peace to compose and sing inspiring psalms of faith. “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy Tabernacle forever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” Psalm 61:2-4

A hundred and fifty years ago, Mount Zion was believed to be the location of the City of David. Even 100 years ago it was still debated. I think there is no argument today that the City of David was located to the south of the Temple Mount. There are various claims that David’s Palace has been found but this is disputed. When Jesus spoke of the Temple and said that not one stone would be left upon another, He gave an accurate description. So complete was the destruction of the Temple and the City of David that not one piece of evidence was found to prove that David ever existed until The Tel Dan Tablet was discovered in Northern Israel in 1994. It is pictured below and mentions “The House of David.”

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The Roman Fort built by King Herod around 19 BC but not completely finished until long after his death was named for Mark Anthony, Herod’s friend and Cleopatra’s boyfriend. Fort Antonia was described by Josephus as being like a city with large areas for troop parades. A legion of troops and support personnel totaling 10,000 personnel were housed there. Like all major fortresses, Josephus describes Fort Antonia as being built over a “rock” the highest point of the area. We are to believe that this mighty fortress occupied a tiny space on the Temple Mount next to the Jewish Temple?  I believe the image below fairly accurately depicts the Antonio Fort.

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Over a thousand years after Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac, Solomon built the Temple on the spot that had been the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. A threshing floor was a hard surface where sheaves where placed and then tread by oxen and cattle to loosen the edible part of cereal grain from the inedible chaff that surrounds it. Then winnowing forks were used to throw the mixture into the air so the wind could blow away the chaff, leaving only the good grain on the floor.

Both the Old and New Testaments refer to the threshing floor as a symbol of judgment. Hosea prophesied that because Israel had repeatedly turned from God to false idols, His judgment upon them would scatter them to the winds as the chaff from the threshing floor. “Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window” (Hosea 9:2). As you know, Israel ceased to exist in 586 BC even though there were Jews living in the land later under Greek and Roman rule. It was 2,534 years later when the Jews reclaimed the Promised Land in 1948.

King Solomon built the Temple on the site of the threshing floor of Ornan which was in the City of David. The Temple Mount was never in the City of David. Josephus also tells us that the Antonia Fortress was built on a rock 25 meters above the Temple Mount floor platform. In simple terms, that means the fort floor was 82 feet higher than the Temple floor. That’s eight stories higher. The height of the Western Wall is 19 meters or 62 feet. That would put the floor of the Temple 20 feet lower than the bottom of the Western Wall once referred to as the Wailing Wall. It makes sense to me that Ornan would pick a low spot for his threshing floor. The workers would not have to carry wheat up the hill and the oxen would not have to climb the equivalent of eight stories to trample the wheat. An additional clue that the Temple was lower than the Fort is the fact that the Commander of Antonia came down to the Temple when Paul caused turmoil there.

American archaeologist and author, the late Professor Dr. Ernest L. Martin, conducted archaeology work in East Jerusalem before writing his book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot,” published in 1999 Dr. Martin claimed that Muslim sacred places, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of Rock are not built on top of the Temple Mount ruins. Several other historians in the past have reached similar conclusions that the 45-acre landmass known as Haram al-Sharif to the Muslim world since 638 AD – is in fact a Roman fortress built by King Herod. Furthermore, the Jewish holy Wailing Wall (the Western Wall) had never been part of the first or second Temples. In the early 1970s, Professor Benjamin Mazar, former President of Hebrew University, confirmed that Haram al-Sharif was indeed a Roman fortress.

According to Dr. Martin, the Hebrew Temples were built south of the fort over Gihon Spring. Martin also explained how Haram al-Sharif was comparable in size and water supply to other Roman fortresses built to guard Roman occupied cities.  I like the aerial photo below.  Just above the center of the bottom of the photo the lower part of Mount Moriah begins.  This area along the Kidron Valley was the City of David reaching almost to the Temple Mount.  You can judge that much of this part of the Mount is about 80 feet or eight stories below the floor of the Temple Mount.  The topography has surely changed some since David’s time 3,000 years ago.

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Josephus in his book ‘The War of Jews’ quoted Jewish rebel commander at Masada in 73 AD saying: “Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing left but that monument of it preserved; I mean the camp of those that hath destroyed it, which still dwells upon its ruins”.

Professor George Wesley Buchanan, a United Methodist minister, wrote a research article entitled Misunderstanding about Temple Mount, published by the Washington Report (August 2011). “In biblical times the Haram was not a sacred place. Instead it was the place that Orthodox Jews considered defiled and the most despised place in the world. Within these walls were found no remnants of any of the earlier Temples but rather an image of Mars, the Roman god of war,” wrote Buchanan.

“After two violent wars with Rome, the City of David was so completely destroyed that it could not be recognized as a city. The Roman emperor Hadrian decreed that it would be used as an area where the Upper City could dump trash and garbage. It continued in that condition for hundreds of years,” wrote Buchanan. The Muslim Arab army, which took control of Jerusalem in 638, observed the City of David being used as a city garbage dump.

I am pleased that serious scholars are researching facts rather than perpetuating old wives’ tales. For all of my life people have believed that the Mosque would have to be destroyed before the Hebrew Temple could be rebuilt. What does it say when Christians and Jews don’t even know where the Holy Temple was? If Josephus was correct, I would look for the site 25 meters or 82 feet below the so-called Temple Mount. Perhaps even lower depending on the height of the foundation. Josephus was meticulous in his research and writing.

Most Christians and Jews also don’t know where Abraham came from. I am absolutely positive It was not the Ur halfway between Baghdâd and the Persian Gulf, but that is a story for another time.