Adorning the Beauty of God’s Truth: Lessons from Beth Shan

My name is Patrick Neal and I live in Sanford, North Carolina. I’m currently pursuing the Master of Divinity at Shepherds and am currently serving as Associate Pastor at Turner’s Chapel in Sanford. Today we visited the ruins of a city called Beth Shan. This is the city where the Philistines hung the bodies of Saul and Jonathan on the walls, as recorded in 1 Samuel 31. But the ruins of the city that are visible are actually much later, into the Roman period of history.

Despite the fact that we didn’t get to see the ruins of the biblical time period, this site is still very important in helping to better understand the culture during the early church. We got to see the excess that the culture reveled in, but we also got to take note of a few things that we see mentioned in Scripture. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul says, “I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” Hearing this passage read aloud and staring at the lines of pillars going down the main walkway through what would have been the beautiful city of Beth Shan, and understanding what these pillars were actually doing caused this passage to make so much more sense.

We learned that the pillars here were not holding up any serious weight, but they were adorning something. They were meant to beautify the place. Seeing these pillars and hearing Dr. Bookman connect that to what Paul was saying in 1 Timothy helped me better understand the role of the local church, and how it is called to uphold the truth and make it look good. I believe that this will help me while I am currently serving and being further trained to serve as a local church pastor.

Having this picture in my mind of the local church making the truth of the Gospel look beautiful to the watching world will help me to better convey the beauty of God’s truth. When we live as we are called to live, it makes Christ look good. This not only helps me in my ministry, it also enhances my own understanding of God’s Word and my own Christian walk. It is incredibly helpful to be able to visualize the things that Paul was seeing and making allusions to in his letters—the things which he used to communicate his points more clearly.

I had always assumed that the pillar would hold up immense weight, but never considered its role in adding beauty. This challenges me in my Christian walk and leads me to ask the question, how is my daily life showing the beauty of the truth of the Gospel? How can I best lead my church to become a more beautiful pillar? By striving to model that type of living for them in servant leadership.

See a video tour of Beth Shan produced by one of our students here