The Lord being willing, we will be visiting the land of Jordan for the
upcoming Holy Land Pilgrimage. During our stay there, we hope to
survey the ancient city of Petra. This is a magnificent city that is carved
out of stone. Its importance to antiquity led UNESCO to designate it as a
World Heritage Site in 1985. Dean Burgon described it as the “rose red
city half as old as time.”

Petra was originally founded by the Edomites. Due to its proximity with
Bozrah, the two places are often regarded as synonymous. Thus, the Bible
uses the name Bozrah in referring to the region (Genesis 36:33; I
Chronicles 1:44; Micah 2:12-13; Isaiah 34:5-7; 63:1-6; Jeremiah 49:13;
22; Amos 1:12). It was extensively occupied for 1000 years, from 500
B.C. to 500 A.D. Under the Edomites, the city was famous for its sheep
(Mic. 2:12-13; Isa. 34:6).

While the city may have begun under the Edomites, little traces of their
occupation remains at the site today. In fact, “the only Edomite ruins are
found at Umm el-Biyyara, a fortress built on top of a high and nearly
inaccessible mountain standing independently toward the northern part of
the basin (Judges 1:36; 2 Kings 14:7; Isaiah 16:1; 42:11)” (Zondervan
Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible). Why so? This is due to the
judgement of God condemning this place of the Edomites to be a place of
perpetual wasteland as mentioned in books of Jeremiah and Amos (Jer.
49:13;22; Amos 1:12).

Through this, we learn that God is faithful to all His judgments. The
Edomites were proud of their city, thinking that its defence would never
be breached. Nevertheless, it was overtaken by the Nabateans (an Arab
tribe) from 312 B.C. – A.D. 106. The ruins we see today are largely
Nabatean. At its height, it is estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 people lived
here. It was attacked by the Seleucids under Antigonus in 312 B.C. but
they were repelled by only a few Nabateans in the Siq. It withstood
Pompey’s attack in 63 B.C. and another Roman attack in 25 B.C. Those
who will be attending the pilgrimage will get to witness the engineering
brilliance of the Nabateans, seeing how a city can be carved from rock
without the use of modern technology.

Petra is also indirectly mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:32, where Paul
declared that in Damascus, the governor under king Aretas was desirous
to apprehend him. This Aretas is Aretas IV, the ruler of Petra. From this,
we can see that the influence of the Nabateans was so great that it held
great sway over the government affairs in Damascus. Those who will
view the ruins will in no doubt be convinced that this was entirely the
case during the time of Paul.

Alas, just as how God allowed the Edomites to be judged by the
Nabateans, so the Nabateans themselves could not resist the power of the
Roman empire. This city was later incorporated as a Roman territory, as
evidenced by the many Roman baths and the large theatre at the
archaeological site. With time, the city became neglected, and the once
magnificent place became a wasteland as prophesied, “Behold, the
nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of
the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.(Isaiah

Judging Others
The Weekly Wisdom of Reverend Timothy Tow
The Burning Bush 28 (January/July 2022)

It is the sinful nature within us that causes us to hypocritically judge
others. However, the Bible clearly states that there is none who is
righteous and all are sinners, unworthy to pass judgments (1 Cor 6:1-
8). Rev Tow commented that it is even worse to judge from the pulpit.
When we gossip or cast judgment, we break the ninth commandment.
Instead of speaking “horizontally” of others, it is better to speak
“vertically”, praising the Lord. Proverbs 10:19-20 gives wisdom: “In
the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth
his lips is wise. The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of
the wicked is little worth.” Also, King Solomon warns against a
bitter and hateful spirit towards our enemies, “Rejoice not when
thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he
stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn
away His wrath from him” (Prov 24:17,18). Oftentimes, a judgmental
spirit arises from a heart that lacks charity and is full of pride.
Therefore, one should never pass judgments according to appearance
without first examining the matter thoroughly. It is better to keep our
words few.

However, the Bible teaches is to judge righteous judgment. Believers
are to beware of “wolves-in-sheep-skin” who tries to lead the flock of
God away from the truth. In light of this potential danger, the Apostle
Paul instructed the Ephesian elders of their duty to teach “all the
counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) including warning against “grievous
wolves” who speak perversity to draw believers away. To discern
between a true or false preacher requires judging righteously against
the measure of Scripture alone.