TOMB OF ZECHARIAH FOUND?
The Associated Press reported on July 6, 2003, that the tomb of Zachariah, father of John the Baptist, might have been found. On the tomb, an inscription of 47 Greek letters was found. “This is the tomb of Zachariah, martyr, very pious priest, father of John,” the inscription reads.
Some scholars say the words were probably written several hundred years after Zachariah’s death – and after the tomb’s construction – by Byzantine Christians.
The article points out that “The inscription is carved into the facade of what is known as Absalom’s Tomb, one of three large funerary monuments in the Kidron Valley, between Jerusalem’s Old City and the Mount of Olives. The monuments were apparently built for Jerusalem’s aristocracy around the time of Jesus. It’s unlikely Absalom, son of King David, lies buried in the tomb, which was built hundreds of years after his death. Medieval Jewish tradition, however, held that the monument was his tomb, and – based on that tradition – Jews, Christians and Muslims stoned the monument for centuries to curse Absalom for his deeds: murdering his half brother Amnon for raping their sister Tamar, and later inciting a rebellion against his father.”
The article continues: “The Gospel of Luke describes [Zachariah] as an elderly man from the priestly caste of Abijah who, while burning incense in the Temple one day, was told by an angel that his wife Elizabeth, also advanced in years, would bear a son, who was later to become John the Baptist. Jewish historian Josephus writes that a priest named Zachariah was slain by Zealots in the Temple and thrown into the Kidron Valley below – which would explain the “martyr” reference in the Greek text.”
It concludes, “The inscription suggests that local Christians believed Zachariah was buried at the site of the tomb.”
JUDICIAL SYSTEMS IN NEED OF REFORM…
California’s current jury instructions may serve as an example as to how much our legal system needs drastic revision and improvement. As the “California Bar Journal” for July 2003 reported, eight hundred brand new jury instructions for use by California lawyers and judges in civil trials are reviewed by the Judicial Council. However, even if approved, the “new instructions” are not “the final word; the Judicial Council likely will appoint an advisory committee to monitor and maintain them in the future,” according to the California Bar Journal. It is anticipated that the instructions will be constantly changed.
Jury instructions are meant to be understood by a tenth grade audience. Current jury instructions, however, can be understood, perhaps, if at all, and at the most, by people in legal business. They were written in the language of appellate opinions. No wonder, then, that we have been faced with so many ridiculous and blatantly false jury decisions.
Just to give a few examples:
A current jury instruction reads, “Failure of recollection is common. Innocent misrecollection is not common.” The proposed new instruction says, instead, “People often forget things or make mistakes in what they remember.”
Another current jury instruction reads, “‘Preponderance of the evidence’ means evidence that has more convincing force than that opposed to it. If the evidence is so evenly balanced that you are unable to say that the evidence on either side of an issue preponderates, your finding on that issue must be against the party who had the burden of proving it.” The proposed new jury instruction reads, instead, “When I tell you that a party must prove something, I mean that the party must persuade you, by the evidence presented in court, that what he or she is trying to prove is more likely to be true than not true. This is sometimes referred to as ‘burden of proof.'”
To quote one more example, a current jury instruction reads, “Circumstantial evidence is evidence that, if found to be true, proves a fact from which an inference of the existence of another fact may be drawn. A factual inference is a deduction that may logically and reasonably be drawn from one or more facts established by the evidence.”
How this convoluted instruction could have survived so long in our legal system is beyond comprehension. The proposed new instruction, although still not as clear as one would wish, reads as follows, “Some evidence proves a fact directly, such as testimony of a witness who saw a jet plane flying across the sky. Some evidence proves a fact indirectly, such as testimony of a witness who saw only the white trail that jet planes often leave. This indirect evidence is sometimes referred to as ‘circumstantial evidence.’ In either instance, the witness’ testimony is evidence that a jet plane flew across the sky.”
Of course, in a trial involving “circumstantial evidence” based on fiber, DNA, blood, and convoluted and contradictory expert testimony regarding the same, this simple “explanation” of “circumstantial evidence” will not be of too much help to a tenth grader, who is supposed to understand and apply those instructions.
The proposed changes of the current jury instructions are a step in the right direction. One must wonder, however, why it took so long to make such necessary changes. At the same time, serious problems remain with the current jury system in California and elsewhere, for those who want to follow Biblical injunctions. For an in-depth discussion, please read the Q&A in our Update #66.
WHERE IS GOD IN TIMES OF TROUBLE?
At this time in human history, God is NOT intervening in this society held under the governance of Satan except for the very few who are called to be Christians, and when it is necessary to bring about prophesied events. The good news is that God has promised a time in which He will send His Son back to the earth to set up the Kingdom of God. At that time, the world will experience peace, and people will have access to God to find healing as well as fulfillment of the ultimate purpose of human life–a purpose that can only be fulfilled through obedience to the true God.
Yet, God does know what is happening on this earth. In a time setting that is yet future, this promise is made: ” ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’ ” (Revelation 21:4).
God is working out a great master plan for His children. Along the way, mankind has made choices that have cut themselves off from God, but even then, God has so loved the world, that He sent His Son as its Savior. As we consider the horrible plight of millions in today’s world, let’s stay focused on the truth of God’s Word with hope even in the face of the temporary suffering of this age.
ATTACK ON IRAQ
Was It the Truth – and Nothing But the Truth?
As Associated Press reported on July 7, “a parliamentary committee on Monday sharply criticized the [British] government’s handling of intelligence on Iraqi weapons but narrowly cleared Prime Minister Tony Blair’s communications chief of ‘improper influence’ on drafting a controversial intelligence dossier. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the dossier, published in September, gave undue prominence to a claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of Saddam Hussein’s giving the order… The cross-party committee also said Blair misrepresented to lawmakers the status of the second dossier, published in January, which included material copied from a graduate thesis posted on the Internet… By telling lawmakers that the document represented ‘further intelligence,’ Blair ‘misrepresented its status.'”
DISCONTENT REGARDING IRAQ AND GERMANY
USA Today reported on July 9 that only 23% of Americans feel that the military effort in Iraq is going well. In mid-April, 61% felt that way. On the other hand, two-thirds said that the United States made the right decision to use military force against Iraq, in spite of the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found so far, and that some statements made about Saddam by the US and British governments were incorrect. In addition, 72% feel that a strong enough effort is not being made to deal with the health care problems. At the same time, only 38% feel that the Democrats could do a better job than the Republicans.
U.S. STATES’ DEFICIT HIGHEST SINCE WORLD WAR II
As Der Stern Online reported on Wednesday, most of the U.S. states are facing the most serious financial crisis since World War II. California (the largest state with 35.3 million people) is on top of the list, with a deficit of 38 billion dollars. Combined with other U.S. states, the entire deficit is estimated at 53.5 billion dollars. As a consequence, Massachusetts has canceled health benefits for 50,000 poor people. Kentucky has released prematurely 1,000 prisoners. Oregon has prematurely closed schools to save on cleaning costs. The Community Colleges in Los Angeles have only enough money until August. The chancellor of the district said that after that, students might have to be told to just go home.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the highest paid actor in history, told Stern that it is a nightmare to see how California is going down the drain. There have been quite a few speculations whether or not he will run for governor of California. “Now leadership is asked for, and I know the ABC,” he said. He continued, “I can lead and I will bring order.”
Many states ask for federal aid, but, as the article points out, “with a record federal deficit of 400 billion dollars this year and the massive expenses in Iraq and other placed worldwide set aside to fight terrorism, nothing can be expected from Washington.”
AMERICA’S SPENDING FRENZY
As Washingtonpost. com reported on July 9, “the House approved a $369.1 billion Pentagon spending bill for 2004” for defense. At the same time, Congress was asked for “1.9 billion dollars to help fight forest fires, provide emergency relief to areas hit by tropical storms, and investigate the space shuttle Columbia’s disintegration,” according to the article.
What a world we will have after Christ has returned. We read that people will not learn war anymore (Isaiah. 2:4). We will no longer hear about astronomical figures set aside for “national defense.” We will no longer hear that governments are willing to spend money that they don’t have. Governmental debts, inevitably leading to the suffering of the poor, as in Massachusetts (see, “US States Deficit Highest Since World War II”) will be a thing of the past. May God grant that this time will come soon.