What is a Biblical Archeologist? What do you do?
Archaeologists study people’s material possessions and make conclusions about how they lived in the past. We study the physical world: houses, plates, cups, tables, chairs, etc and from them try to determine what people were thinking and how they behaved. A Biblical archaeologist studies the people associated with the Bible. Not just the Israelites, but also all the different cultures that were involved with the Bible, such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, Canaanites, Philistines etc. I dug in many places in Israel, especially at Megiddo, also known as Armageddon. At Megiddo we found more than 34 cities built on top of each other from different time periods. We found many temples and religious artefacts from different cultures.
With what you have researched historically and scientifically, do you believe that there can be many ways God?
During that time I believed there was one God, but that there were many ways to God. I thought this because we found so many different statues, temples, etc. from all different kinds of religions in different periods. I just couldn’t imagine there was only one way and I wanted to respect each culture and their belief system. I actually thought that saying only one was right, was not fair to the other religions. In essence I thought all religions were right, in the past, and in the present. I thought each was an expression of finding a way to God. I used to think that people who thought they knew the only way to God were actually selfish, ignorant and especially intolerant of other people’s beliefs. I thought these people were the cause of all the wars and violence in the world… because they excluded others. But I also had a lot of unanswered questions. For example: Is there a truth behind all spirituality in the world? Or is everyone’s spirituality truth? If we think different how can we all be right?
How has your personal belief in God changed over the past few years?
Drastically. A few years ago I had an experience in which I was confronted with the invisible world. It is a long story. But in short, we were attacked by demons through witchcraft. As a scientist and archeologist I did not believe in demons. I thought they were just mythological creatures made up in people’s stories and people in the past made them up in order to explain natural things they did not understand. Never in my wildest dreams did I think they were real. However, one day we allowed someone in our house, who we thought was teaching good things about God. When she was here it was all about love and tolerance. However we soon found out that she was actually using witchcraft against us and when she left, we were confronted by an invisible force that we did not believe in. We tried all kinds of things form all different customs to get rid of the demons. Nothing worked. Until one day someone told us to cast them out in the name of Jesus… and then they left! The demons were terrified of Jesus. They did not listen to Allah, or Buddha, or Shiva or even Jewish prayers, but they knew Jesus and he was their enemy. Then I started wondering why they listened to Jesus. We also had a lot of dreams about Jesus during that time and slowly came to realize that he was alive and that only he could set us free. It is through this experience that I realized that God could only be reached through Jesus, and that the other religions were in fact just false teachings. I don’t want to sound arrogant about it, or to diminish in anyway respect for other cultures. But Allah did not save us, neither did Buddha or Shiva. When the archaeologist was confronted by a spiritual world there was a price to be paid and only Jesus paid the price. I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior. I am thankful to him every day that I am alive.
In archaeology we study only the physical world, and not the invisible. What we know about the belief systems of people in the past comes from temples, drawings, figurines, etc. These things are the interpretations of what people in the past thought was happening in the spiritual world. But demons exist today and they also did in the past. The things we find from people’s religions are their interpretation of what they think or believe and an archaeologist interpretation of it. It says nothing about what was really happening in the invisible world. It is an interpretation of an interpretation.
In today’s society spirituality and archeology has been separated. To combine them is not scientific. However, the truth is just the opposite. Our reality is that there is an invisible world and if we do not take it into account in our study of the past, then we make the wrong conclusions. This is the context in which we live, and we should study the past from a correct context. Understanding the spiritual world and how it relates to the physical world is a key to understanding the past, and also the present.
All over the world people are having dreams about Jesus. These are very real. These are not dreams from people who have prior knowledge of him. When they experience Jesus in dreams they know without a doubt that it is him and he is the only way to God. They risk everything for him, they often lose their family, their friends, their house and country. And instead of being silent about their dreams they go and tell the world. One dream from Jesus, and you know without doubt that he is the only way and he gives you the courage for life. It saddens me when I hear Christians in the west combining their belief in Jesus with other religions. I know people who gave up everything to follow Jesus. They know he is the only way, and so do I.
It seems today that the spirit of “tolerance” is everywhere, and is being confused with “love”. People are afraid to say “NO” because they don’t want to sound like they are discriminating others. But real love is actually telling them about the freedom that only Jesus can give. We cannot tolerate everything to bring peace to the world. Only Jesus brings real peace, because he also defeated the darkness. The enemy tricks you into thinking it is about acceptance and getting peoples: “rights”. But it’s not about that. The Bible is very clear about it. Look at the story of king Hezekiah and Josiah. They had to cleanse their country and get rid of all other religions. God is love, but he does not tolerate evil. Jesus teaches us to love the people, but at the same time not to let demons into our house. If you truly love them, then tell them about Jesus, instead of integrating their religion into yours.
What are your thoughts on the Bible from an Archeologist perspective?
As a Biblical archaeologist I used to believe the Bible was just a collection of historical stories, legends and myths based on man’s interpretation of nature, the history of the Jewish people, and perhaps inspired by God. Like many other stories, I thought it was partly based on reality and mostly on man’s imagination, manipulation and political ambition. I thought the Bible was just a book written by many different authors and rewritten by others and should be studied from the context from the time period from which it was written. At Megiddo I worked for archaeologists who believe the Bible was actually written by man to enhance their own political ambitions. I meticulously studied the text and researched geographical details, correlations, inconsistencies, names of cities, uncovering the stories layer by layer. I searched for the truth behind the exodus, the walls of Jericho, the ark of the covenant, Sodom and Gomorah , etc. These studies did not get me closer to God.
Until one day everything changed. The Bible started talking back! I remember the day so well. It was in the midst of the above mentioned spiritual battle and I knew there was someone in the spiritual world helping me. On that day I cried out loud: “Who is helping me?” Then for some reason I opened a Bible I had from 30 years ago. The words practically jumped off the page. I read only one verse:
”Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20)
I was awestruck. The timing was too close to be a coincidence. It was supernatural and felt like Jesus was standing next to me, talking to me through the Bible. Later, I called my Christian sister in America and said: “That book is alive!”. “Yes it is,” she said. “Now do you understand?” But a Biblical archaeologist is hard to convince. Thankfully God did not give up on me! Every day the scriptures kept jumping out at me. Giving me direct answers to questions I had. I also learned that those same words could be used to cast out demons and that they were a sword in the invisible realm. How many coincidences must there be before we start realizing it is a miracle? Eventually God cornered the archaeologist. The very book which I used to undermine, came to life and it had character… his name was Jesus and he was still the same after 2000 years.
From the above experience I learned that the Bible can only be understood knowing you are living in a physical and an invisible world. When you read the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit, you read it differently. God starts speaking to you through his own words. God is spirit (John 4:24). He is not just any spirit… God is Lord of the Spirits. God’s spirit literally went into people and wrote the words. His words. He planned everything meticulously. So he could use them to speak to us. To teach us.
We archaeologists only consider the people, the authors of the Bible. But it is not about the who, and the when and the how. It is about reading the Bible filled with the Spirit of God so that he can speak to us and have a relationship with us. In all those years that I studied theology and exegesis, I had never experienced such a thing and laughed at people who said the Bible spoke to them directly. Until it happens to you! The Bible should not be studied as a history book only, but also as a spiritual book because it is about the invisible and visible realms. If you study it using only one method, you will get a distorted history. The main teacher of the Bible is the Holy Spirit and he can make the word come to life. Those words are like a bridge between two worlds, which can be used as a sword to cast out demons, or proclaimed as God’s promises to his children.
Do you believe that the words in the Bible transcends time? If so, how?
Absolutely. Because the words in the Bible speak to each generation in a different and yet similar way. The Bible is God’s story and our story, from the beginning to the end. Each person in all generation can learn from that. Interestingly, in Jewish thought, time is not linear but circular. Therefore there is a lot of repetition. If a story happened in the past, it does not mean it will not happen in the present. The stories repeat themselves in our own lives.
The Bible is a living book that has lasted already more than 2500 years and even though scientists, scholars and archaeologists have tried to pull it apart they have not been able to stop God’s word from spreading all over the world… just as Jesus predicted. I am honored that he showed me this secret. May all humanity know what it feels like to walk in it and follow it. “For all humanity is like grass, And all its glory like a wildflower. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the WORD of the Lord endures forever, and this is the word that was proclaimed as Good News to you.” 1 Peter 1:24. History passes away but God’s word truly endures forever.
What would you say to someone who is questioning or struggling to believe what they read in the Bible?
Start praying to God to open your eyes and ask the Holy Spirit out loud to teach you what he wants. Studying the Bible through archaeology and theology did not get me closer to God. In fact, it only brought me further away. But when the Holy Spirit makes the words come to life, those words reach deep into your heart and your spirit. Spend an worshipping God and praying, and then open your Bible to a place the Holy Spirit will show you. Let each word go into your soul as if it is Jesus speaking them to you directly. Then speak His words out loud. They can change your atmosphere.