I am very interested in Biblical archaeology. I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to old scrolls, pieces of pottery and ancient ruins. While in Israel I am often left standing alone in front of a dig while others are heading to the bus or souvenir shop. I love what these old artifacts tell us about the world of Moses, Isaiah or Jesus.
One of the most fascinating relics to me is the ossuary (bone box) with the inscription of the occupying bones as "James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus." This 2,000 year old burial box is a possible link to our Savior. Of course we cannot prove it is the "Jesus" of our Bible. It was a popular name in those days. But the fact that he was also the son of Joseph is fascinating. That coupled with the fact that the brother is mentioned at all is compelling. Usually, siblings were not mentioned, especially if there were several and only one is mentioned. In that case, the brother mentioned would have to be important.
Recently I came across another great find. About 10 years ago an oil lamp dated in the 1st century surfaced that is just now being published for the public to see. It is unusual in several respects. First, it is carved from stone and not molded from clay. This is very rare and uually indicates it is for ritual use since clay is given to impurities. You might remember that we are regarded as clay in the potters hands and that Jesus is the "rock" that the builders rejected. Simon was renamed Peter, that is rock, by Jesus when he showed signs that he was becoming sensitive to the voice of God. Second, it is large. It is about 9 inches acrosses and weighs 4 pounds. That is huge for an ancient artifact. Thirdly, and I find this the most fascinating, it has seven spouts where flames would be lit. Most oil lamps have one. Rare lamps have two. This is incredibly rare.
My mind immediately raced to the opening chapters of Revelation. Jesus is said to be in the midst of seven golden lampstands. You may note that the opening where the oil would be placed in this ancient lamp is in the middle of the lamp between the seven spouts. Oil in the Bible stands for the presence of God's Holy Spirit. In Revelation 1:14 John declares "His eyes were like a flame of fire." Flames of fire would have surrounded this oil lamp when lit. The text goes on to emphasize the importance of the number 7. There are seven stars, seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls and seven angels.
Could it be that this rare and ancient article, most probably used in Temple worship in Jerusalem, was the basis for the symbolism of God's revelations to John. Could it be that it has been found in the last days to remind us that He is coming soon? I believe God leaves us breadcrumbs so that we may not lose our way. Maybe, these two recent finds in Israel are God's breadcrumbs!