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Monday, June 20 2011

Peter's Lesson In Joppa

Joppa (also variously translated as Japho, Jaffe, or Yafo), from the Hebrew word pronounced yaw-fo, meaning beautiful, is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between Caesarea and Gaza, about 57 kilometers / 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Joppa is one of the most ancient port cities of the world. It is mentioned early in Bible History, in the time of Joshua, as within the (southern) tribal inheritance of Dan i.e. as "Japho" in verse 46:

"19:40 And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families. 19:41 And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Irshemesh, 19:42 And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah, 19:43 And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron, 19:44 And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath, 19:45 And Jehud, and Beneberak, and Gathrimmon, 19:46 And Mejarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before Japho. 19:47 And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father. 19:48 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families, these cities with their villages." (Joshua 19:40-48 KJV)

Joppa is perhaps most famous as the port from which Jonah began his fateful sea voyage (see the Fact Finder question below).

"1:1 Now the word of the LORD [see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'] came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 1:2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." (Jonah 1:1-3 KJV)

Joppa was the port through which Solomon (see Israelite Monarchy - The United Kingdom) had the fine Lebanon cedar delivered for construction of the original Temple in Jerusalem (the reason that the Temple was flammable was because of all of that resinous cedar; see Jerusalem In Flames).

"2:15 Now therefore the wheat, and the barley, the oil, and the wine, which my lord hath spoken of, let him send unto his servants: 2:16 And we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need: and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem." (2 Chronicles 15:15 KJV)

Joppa was again the port through which cedar from Lebanon was delivered for the rebuilding of the Temple in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.

"3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia." (Ezra 3:7 KJV)

"When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God"

By the time of the "New Testament" letters (see Was Jesus A 'New Testament' Christian?), Joppa was still a busy commercial port. As it happened, it was at Joppa that the LORD, through Peter, restored the life of Tabitha ("restore" may be more appropriate than "resurrect" because Tabitha's ultimate resurrection is yet to happen; see Resurrections). Peter remained in the city long afterward, perhaps at least partly because Joppa was a seaport city in which Peter, the Galilee fisherman from the seaport city of Capernaum (see The Ships Of Galilee), would have felt more at home. Peter was not a man of the desert, mountains or pasturelands.


"9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works [see Works Means Obedience] and almsdeeds which she did. 9:37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 9:38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

9:39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 9:42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. 9:43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner." (Acts 9:36-43 KJV)

Joppa is unique in the history of The Gospel of The Kingdom of God because it was there that the Church was first given to understand the truth that the Gospel is for all people who are repentant and obedient to God (see What Made Abraham Righteous?). The lesson originated from a man in Joppa, who was not only a gentile, but a Roman military commander - a man that the people of Judah would have naturally resented and detested because of the brutal and arrogant Roman military occupation of their country - including their execution of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, that Roman centurion (a "centurion" is an officer in charge of 100 troops; the English words century and cent originated from the same root word) was a "devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway."

"10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord?

And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 10:8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa." (Acts 10:1-8 KJV)

It's important to keep in mind that the "birthday of the church" Pentecost was attended by Jews from many nations, not "gentiles" from many nations ("2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" Acts 2:5 KJV). Even at that time, the Church (which literally means called out ones, not slam the door shut on everyone else ones - the Gospel is not a "closed group") regarded itself as exclusive to Jews i.e. one had to become a Jew to become a Christian. It was the very same correction that the apostle Paul, the Pharisee Saul, would later also learn when Jesus Christ appointed him to be the "apostle to the Gentiles" (i.e. the "Books" of Luke and Acts were written by a gentile; see The Gospel By The Gentile) - a lesson that had already been given to Peter and all the others by the man in Joppa; so when "they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God."

"11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

11:4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: 11:13 And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11:1-18 KJV)

Fact Finder: What lesson about gentiles did Jonah learn while he was at Joppa (in Jonah's case, the Assyrians)?
See The Nineveh Prophecies

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This Day In History, June 20

451: The Battle of Chalons. Romans under Flavius Aetius' fought the forces of Attila the Hun.

1214: The University of Oxford received its charter.

1397: The Union of Kalmar united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway under one monarch.

1529: Clement VII and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V signed the Peace of Barcelona; it ended attacks on Rome by the Lutheran armies.

1567: Jews were expelled from Brazil by order of regent Don Henrique.

1624: France and the Netherlands signed a treaty of non-aggression at Compiegne.

1631: The Irish village of Baltimore was sacked by Algerian pirates.

1756: 146 British soldiers in India were captured and imprisoned in a suffocating cell reserved for petty offenders. 120 of them died in what became known as the infamous "Black Hole of Calcutta."

1837: King William IV of England died. He was succeeded by his 18 year old niece, Queen Victoria, who remained on the throne for 63 years.

1840: Samuel Morse received a patent for his "telegraph."

1877: Alexander Graham Bell installed the world's first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Bell lived for many years at the nearby city of Brantford, Ontario where the Bell Homestead is today a popular tourist attraction.

1923: Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary leader, was assassinated.

1942: A Japanese submarine shelled Estevan Point, British Columbia, one of the very few direct attacks on North America during the Second World War.

1946: Fred Rose, the only member of the communist party elected to the Canadian Parliament, was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiring to communicate wartime secrets to the USSR. He was exposed as a traitor by Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, who had defected to Canada.

1955: The longest solar eclipse in the 20th century, 7 minutes and 8 seconds. The maximum possible is 7 minutes and 31 seconds.

1963: The U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to establish a "hot line" between Washington and Moscow.

1972: President Richard Nixon's famous "Watergate" meeting with H.R. Haldeman where 18 minutes of tape were later mysteriously erased.

1979: ABC News (U.S.) correspondent Bill Stewart was shot dead by a Nicaraguan soldier; the murder was recorded and shown around the world, adding to the fall of the regime of Anastasio Somoza.

1992: Czech and Slovak leaders agreed to split Czechoslovakia into 2 separate countries. It had been formed in 1918 after the First World War caused the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire.


Copyright © Wayne Blank