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Standing up for the Truth

    Today we heard an excellent sermon by Rev. Robert Stovall on standing up for the truth.  His text was II Chronicles 18 where Jehoshaphat and Ahab are both ready to go to war and 400 prophets are agreeing with the kings.  But Jehoshaphat asks if there is not a true prophet.  So Micaiah is called and he tells King Ahab that he (King Ahab) will be killed and will not succeed. 
    What a man of conviction!  Four hundred prophets all saying the same thing - group think.  Two kings decked out in their royal robes ready to go to war.  And one lone prophet standing up for the truth.
    He gets thrown into prison and is placed on a bread and water diet.  (This is the first place in the Bible where bread and water is mentioned for prisoners.)

Father, send the Holy Spirit to us that He may strengthen us and give unto us the conviction to speak out even though the rest of the world is against us.  Give us the courage to speak the truth in love, even though we may be persecuted and placed in prison and given only bread and water.  In Jesus' name, Amen

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

    Last night we went to see the silent 1925 film Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Stewart Copeland, who was the percussionist for the band Police, wrote the score and played in this premier.  An excellent film with a vivacious score made a great evening.  The film tells the story of Ben Hur who after being falsely accused of an attack was sentenced to death and whose mother and sister were condemned to prison.  He was all for revenge, and thus his chariot race against Messala.  In the end, he meets the Christ and turns his sword into a plowshare.  In the 1925 movie he had raised two legions to make Christ the king in Jerusalem.
    The story line is outstanding and this 1925 film used 125,000 people.  The music score was a little loud but overall Stewart Copeland captured the spirit of the movie with a 60 piece orchestra. So while the movie was silent, Copeland made it speak to us.
     Unfortunately at the end of the film, the director veered away from the story.  Lew Wallace was an atheist and wanted to disprove the Bible.  So he studied the Bible for inaccuracies, but he realized his error and became the convinced that Jesus Christ had in fact lived, died and been raised from the dead.  So Lew Wallace wrote Ben Hur:  A Tale of the Christ in 1880 defending the historicity of Christ and it was the best selling novel in the 19th century, beating out even Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.  In the 1925 film we see Christ being crucified and then Ben Hur saying that although Christ has died, He lives in our hearts.  Lew Wallace wrote about a physical resurrection of Christ.  The movie eliminates that and just has Christ living in our hearts.  According to the movie, Christ's spirit lives on, but he stayed dead.  This is like the musical Jesus Christ Superstar which ends with Christ on the cross.  In both the film and the musical, Christ is dead.
      But the Bible states that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead.  He bodily rose and it is not just his spirit that lives on.  Thank God that Jesus Christ physically lives on today.  His spirit lives, but so does He!!!!

Historical Sources & Christianity - Part II

     As an historian, one often sees just one side of the picture.  For example, the Romans did such a through job of destroying Carthage, that all the records written about Hannibal are from the Roman perspective.  There is no Carthaginian record to validate or verify if what was written by the Romans about their sworn enemy is true.
     With the Bible there are records written by the winners and the losers - and they match.  Some examples:  The Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III (r. 745-727 B.C.), wrote:  “I received tribute from Rezon of Damascus, Menahem of Samaria . . . gold, silver. . . As for Menahem I overwhelmed him like a snowstorm and he . . . fled like a bird, alone, and bowed to my feet.  I returned him to his place and imposed tribute upon him, to wit:  gold, silver, linen garments with multicolored trimmings.”  In the Bible (II Kings 15:19-20) we read “Then Pul king of Assyria [Hebrew & Babylonian sources called Tiglath-Pileser Pul] invaded the land, and Menahem gave a thousand talents of silver to gain his support and strengthen his own hold on the kingdom.  Menahem exacted this money from Israel.  Every wealthy man had to contribute fifty shekels of silver to be given to the king of Assyria.  So the king of Assyria withdrew and stayed in the land no longer.”
    Both sources have the Assyrian king's name, the Israelite king's name, the tribute, and that the Assyrians were victorious, and after getting tribute, they withdrew.
      In 722 B.C. the Assyrian Sargon II captured Samaria and became king in 721.  He wrote:  “I besieged and conquered Samaria, led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it.”  In the Bible (II Kings 17:9) we read “the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria.”
     Both sources acknowledge state that the Assyrians (and not the Babylonians, or Syrians, or Hittites or some other nation) conquered Samaria and they took the prisoners back to Assyria.
    And one more account.  Sennacherib - 705-681 B.C. (the son of Sargon II quoted above) destroyed all of Judah (except Jerusalem).  One of the key battles was the destruction of Lachish in 701 B.C. Sennacherib also wrote it down:  As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to his strong cities, walled forts, and countless small villages, and conquered them by means of well-stamped earth-ramps and battering-rams brought near the walls with an attack by foot soldiers, using mines, breeches as well as trenches.  I drove out 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered them slaves.”  A crushing defeat.  Does the Bible sugar coat it or hide it?  No, the Bible tells of this ugly defeat in these words:  “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them."  II Kings 18:13. 
    This siege of Lachish is also celebrated in in Assyrian art, which is now in the British Museum. Further, you can go to Lachish and see the siege ramp.  See for more information.
     So when you see the Bible and the enemy's (in this case the Assyrian) records agreeing, you realize how trustworthy the Bible really is.