27th May 2020

Judean Dates

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

Have you heard about the Judean date palm seeds that were found in Masada? They were discovered in a pottery jar during an excavation and were dated to between 155 BC and 64 AD. This type of palm was valued for shelter and food, and its likeness was even engraved on coins. Unfortunately it became extinct around 800 years ago.

The seeds sat in a professor’s drawer doing nothing for years, until Elaine Soloway, the Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel decided to see if she could grow them. So she took them and soaked them in water, gave them fertilizer and planted three of the seeds. Only one germinated and is now over 9ft tall—a male date palm which flowers and produces pollen; it is affectionately called Methuselah. The pollen has been used to pollinate a modern female date tree and has produced fruit. Elaine is now trying to work out how to make an ancient date grove from other seeds she has also grown from other archaeological sites in Israel.

As we approach Pentecost, the seeds of the church were planted in the original disciples by the work of the Holy Spirit in them. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven after the Resurrection, he told the Disciples, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The apostles spread the seeds of the gospel far and wide, in various places along the way as they went out to all the world. Those seeds that they planted took root and the church was built up over time with the gospel spreading in many and various ways.

Those same seeds used to declare the gospel nearly 2 millennia ago, are the same seeds we use today. They still take root and they still grow. Some grow straight away and some take time. Salvation in Jesus is the gospel message the apostles preached—He is the message of salvation we preach today, and He is the message we will be preaching tomorrow. That enduring gospel message is the same as it ever was: the seeds of 2000 years ago still grow and bring forth fruit.

Father, thank you that the gospel message, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, is enduring and always productive. Help us as we go on our way, to plant those seeds wherever we have opportunity.

Study by Rosemary Gent


About the Author:
Rosemary Gent attends Nottingham Grace Communion.

Local Congregation:
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
Attenborough Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Richard White
Email: nottingham@gracecom.church

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