2002-04-17 - The Church of the Nativity
Jeremiah 41:17 And they went and stayed in Geruth Chimham, which is beside Bethlehem, in order to proceed into Egypt.
If you follow news in the Middle East, you might know that there are currently about 200 Palestinians held up in Bethlehem in a building called The Church of the Nativity. I found it next to impossible to find any information on this church in the several Biblical encyclopedias I have, but I did find some information and I thought I would share some of it with you so that we can be more informed in respect to how events going on now have a relation to the Christian faith in the past.
If you remember, Bethlehem was the home of David (1 Samuel 16:1-18) and is located about five miles south of Jerusalem. The church is located on the East end of the town and has a monastery attached to it. It is possible that this church is the oldest Christian church in existence. The history of the church can be traced as far back as 330 AD. The Cave of the Nativity was noted in the 2nd century by Justin Martyr, to be the "inn" where Christ was born. It is this "inn" that is apparently referenced in the verse in Jeremiah we began with.
Certainly this church has significance for the history of the Christian faith. Sure it is just a building, but how sad it is that a place which holds so much history for Christians is being shot up and damaged so greatly. It is also interesting that you will never hear anything being reported about this on the news. Growth in grace is certainly more important than a smelly old building. However, things like The Church of the Nativity help confirm the authenticity and historic nature of our faith.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
This verse follows a section where the history of Israel has been reviewed. Then we hear that these things had been written down for our instruction. This is why we review the history of our faith. It has been given to us for our instruction. To study the history of our faith is, I know, not the joy of every Christian. God has given us each different strengths and gifts, but we all ought to strive to have a basic working understanding of the history of our faith. The old saying really is true, that those who don't know history are bound to repeat it.
Soli Deo Gloria,