A Question I Was Asked:

What Do You Know About Petra?

The above picture is typical of the many facias carved out of Petra's red sandstone rocks. Some of these are actually fully in use even to this day, but many others are now derelict.

The Question:

What do you know about Petra? Are you aware that certain cults and sects have built up mystic beliefs about this tiny place in the desert? Any input from you?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Petra is, indeed, a tiny place in the Jordanian desert. It was the capital of the Nabateans, who lived in the land of Edom, circa 400-350 BC, making Petra their main outpost, despite the fact that it is, by all accounts, a most hard and inhospitable place. It is most unusual in that temples, tombs and homes have been carved and hewn out of huge red sandstone cliffs. The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Volume IV, 1997), states,

'A Roman basilica and theatre are still to be seen. The place continued through Roman times and later had a Christian church and a bishop. It fell into ruins during the days of the Moslem conquest in the 7th century AD.'

So the Romans found the place of interest and so have many others, but it is a hard, rocky place of great heat during summer, yet often surprising coldness during winter.

Herbert W. Armstrong, who founded Armstrongism from 1933 onwards (of course, he referred to it as "the true church"), came to believe some of these rather odd things about Petra. He believed it would be "the place of safety" where his seventh-day group would find shelter when nuclear mayhem broke out in Europe (intially, at least, he forecasted that this would occur in 1972). He based this 'place of safety' belief purely on the second half of verse 41 of Daniel 11. However, he believed that only his armstrongist 'Worldwide Church of God' would find peace and shelter there, nobody else! I have no idea whether present-day armstrongists (now divided into numerous groups, mostly quite tiny) still hold some form of this belief but, of course, 'Grace Communion International' (as the former WCG is now called), now officially reject armstrongism.

Robin A. Brace. June 30th, 2013.