Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Indiana Jones and the… What?

Do you remember the last Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade?  Indiana and his dad find “the Holy Grail”, that was the supposed to be the cup that Jesus and the disciples used at the last supper.  In the first Indiana Jones movie he finds the Ark of the Covenant.  Those are both archeological finds that would lend some real believability to the Bible wouldn’t it?  Nobody could say that it’s just a bunch of fables and myths if we found those could he?  Or could he?

Would truly convincing physical or written articles make any difference to us when it comes to whether or not we believe that the Bible is true?  Should it?

Think about Jesus said to Thomas when He appeared to His disciples.
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace, be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 KJVR)
It’s great to have confirmation, but according to Jesus, Himself, it’s even greater when we take His word for it.  Even so, God has given us so much proof that the Bible is reliable.

You know, not too long ago, most “experts” said that there was no historical proof of the things in the Bible, but in the mid-19th century, an interest in archeology changed all that.  I went hunting on the internet and found some amazing things! Now a lot of this new information has to do with wordings and names of tribes and things that most people up, until that time, felt were either made up or experts thought were proof that the Bible was written later than it claimed to be.  There are also more concrete examples of archeology adding credence to the Bible.
According to one internet author, Mark McGee,
 “A century ago such familiar Biblical cities as Jericho, Samaria, Bethel, Shiloh, Bethshan, Gezer, Nineveh, Babylon, Ur and many otheres were shapeless mounds.  Critics scoffed at the Biblical record.  Within the last 100 years, all of these cities have been uncovered.  The importance of the discoveries is that the excavation has produced material which confirms the Scriptures point after point” Mark McGee
When archeologists, historians and scientists talked about Jericho a before, they described the account in Joshua 6 as mythical and impossible because Joshua said they walls collapsed outward making it possible for the Israelites to walk up and over the rubble into the city.  Now, according to some law of physics that I don’t understand, “walls of towns always fall inwards!”  I had no idea.  Anyway, archeologists have now proved that Joshua was absolutely right and could only have known that detail because he was there.   Bryant Wood is considered an authority on the archaeology of Jericho.  He writes about the details found in the ruins of Jericho that confirm the Bible account of the destruction of the city.  One of the most exciting is from a
 “German excavation of 1907-1909 found that on the north a short stretch of the lower city wall did not fall as everywhere else.  A portion of that mudbrick wall was still standing to a height of over two meters (eight feet).  What is more, there were houses built against the wall!  It is quite possible that this is where Rahab’s house was.” 
Isn’t that exciting?  I mean, I didn’t know that two days ago and I still believed that what the Bible said happened really happened, but it’s very, very cool to hear that the proof is there!

According to Bryant Wood,
“Jericho was once thought to be a ‘Bible problem’ because of the seeming disagreement between archaeology and the Bible.  When the archaeology is correctly interpreted, however, just the opposite is the case.  The archeology evidence supports the historical accuracy of the biblical account in every detail.  Every aspect of the story that could possibly be verified by the findings of archaeology is, in fact, verified.”
Fascinating, right?  Look what else archeologists have found:
And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. (1Kings 14:25-26 KJVR)
Well, that campaign is recorded on the walls of the Temple of Amun in Thebes, Egypt.  Other previously questioned occurrences that have now been confirmed through ancient tablets or palace walls include:  Moab’s revolt against Israel in 2 Kings 1:1; 3:4-27; the fall of Samaria to Assyria in 2 Kings 17:3-6,24; 18:9-11; Sargon II’s defeat of Ashdod in Isaiah 20:1; Sennacherib’s campaign against Judah found in 2 Kings 18:13-16; Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish (2 Kings 18:14,17); Sennacheribs’s assassination by his own sons (2 Kings 19:37); the fall of Nineveh predicted in Zephaniah 2:13-15; the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:10-14;  King Jehoiachin’s captivity in Babylon (2 Kings 24:15-16);  the Fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians found in Daniel 5:30-31; the freeing of the Babylonian captives by Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1-4; 6:3-4); the Jews being forced out of Rome by Claudius in 41-54 AD (Acts 18:2)  and, of course, the existence of Jesus Christ.

Did you know that we now have archeological proof that Abraham lived in Palestine?  Some historians thought for a while that he lived in Arabia or that he was a completely fictitious character.  But, in 918 B.C., Pharaoh Shishak (they think this was Ramses II) wrote Abraham’s name on the walls of his temple in Karnack.

Did you know that archeologists have found a tomb in Shechem that holds a mummy and an Egyptian official’s sword…could it be Joseph?  Or is it just a coincidence?

Check this out:
“Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion: the same is the city of David. And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites,…” (2Sa 5:7-8 KJVR)
Well, historians believe that Joab climbing up those drain pipes to get into Jerusalem was just part of a legend about a great soldier, king and army.  BUT! A team of archeologists has excavated the area and has found the water pipes that Joab climbed!  Very, very cool.

And then there’s this:
a British Egyptologist named David Rohl in A Test of Time (I’m not sure whether this is an article or a book) has managed to identify the “abandoned city of the Israelite slaves (called Avaris), the death pits from the tenth plague and Joseph’s original tomb and home.”
You know, since I didn’t know that all of this proof existed before this week, I’ll go on taking these events as having really happened like I always have.  But, at the same time, it’s very exciting to have such a complete, extra-Biblical (as the writers of these articles say) historical record.  It’s kind of like a, “See, I told you so” kind of moment.  Archeologists, themselves have quite a lot to say about the evidence that they have found.  Put very simply by Nelson Gluek, a Jewish scholar and archeologist:
“To date no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single, properly understood biblical statement.”  

Nice as that is, though, what if something looks like it contradicts the Bible?  Does our belief in the Bible and God crumble?  We can’t pin our entire belief system on those extra-Biblical proofs.  And, to be honest, I’m pretty sure that’s not the reason God gave us the Bible.  Ellen White reminds us that:
“These things were not written merely that we might read and wonder, but that the same faith which wrought in God's servants of old might work in us. In no less marked a manner than He wrought then will He work now wherever there are hearts of faith to be channels of His power. Read…the story of the four Hebrew children, and… [realize] …the influence for good that was exerted in Daniel's time because of strict adherence to principle.{CG 43}
We can get all wrapped up in authenticity, history, reliability and whatever else, but when it comes right down to it – if you don’t want to believe in God, then you won’t believe no matter how much proof someone shows you.  And, if you choose to believe in God, then all the proof in the world doesn’t matter.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”(Joshua 24:15 KJVR)

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