Doing Our Jobs

church-work-day-clipart

Churches thrive when members do their jobs.

          Today is Church Vocations Sunday and Installation Sunday; we are celebrating and supporting those who give leadership to our church.  It’s wonderful to see the leaders of the church cooperating with one another to show a congregation the way Jesus wants them to go.

For example, I’m reminded of a church where the trustees took out the old paper towel dispensers and replaced them with modern hot-air hand dryers.  For their part, the deacons added signs above each dryer which read, “For a sample of this week’s sermon, push the button.”

<http://javacasa.com/humor/pastor.htm&gt;

CONTEXT: Our passage this morning is the second of two threats to the unity of the First Church.  The first, in ch. 5, was hypocrisy.  Ananias and Sapphira pretended to sell their home and give all the proceeds to the church.  In a demonstration of how much God hates hypocrisy, this lie cost both the husband and wife their lives.  As we will see, the second problem was complaining.

We will also note the selection of deacons set up the next two sections of Acts as the spotlight falls on two of the newly-elected deacons, Stephen and Philip (chs. 6-8).

  1. The problem. (vs. 1-2)

Part of the problem was the rapid growth of the Church = THE NUMBER OF DISCIPLES WAS INCREASING.  References to church growth bracket this narrative.  A great problem to have, right?  The Church added people faster than they added the leadership to take care of them.

How fast?  Note 3,000 converts were mentioned in 2:41 and the 5,000 members in 4:4, we know for certain that the Church numbered in the thousands in a city of 100,000 residents.  That’s a lot for twelve guys to administrate!

The other part of the problem was complaining = THE GRECIAN JEWS COMPLAINED AGAINST THE HEBRAIC JEWS.  At this point the Church existed only in Jerusalem and was made up only of Jews.  It was considered to be a sect of Judaism.

At that time, there were two kinds of Jews.  Luke referred to one group as GRECIAN JEWS; they were people who converted to Judaism or were born Jews, but came from other parts of the world.  HEBRAIC JEWS, on the other hand, were people who were born in the region.  The primary difference was the fact they spoke different languages.

The out-of-town Jews believed that their widows were not getting their fair share of the daily soup kitchen.  This is not a small thing: Ministry to widows, orphans, aliens, and other down-and-out types was a big focus of the early church.  It was where a lot of their money was spent.  It is no coincidence that the first complaint in church life involved widows – the Old Testament commanded care for widows (i.e., Deuteronomy 10:18).  Jesus taught neglecting the care of widows was evidence of disobeying God (Luke 7:12-14).

The result was that the Apostles’ time was being spent waiting on tables when they should have been ministering the WORD.  The same Greek word translated here as DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD appears in 1:17+25 as the MINISTRY the Apostles received from Jesus.  This linguistic connection makes two things clear.  One, the TWELVE did the work of waiting on tables.  Two, waiting tables and proclaiming the Word were both considered ministry.  Both were important work.

Why were the Twelve doing all this themselves?  Sometimes it’s easier for leaders to do things themselves than it is to recruit people to do them.

What’s more important in this case, is that the Twelve demonstrated wisdom by recognizing taking care of this problem themselves was not a good idea.  When it came down to a choice between waiting tables or ministering the WORD, they knew which was part of their calling and which was not.

Again, both these were ministries were important to the church.  But the Twelve realized they were called to minister the word, not administrate a social program.  It was not RIGHT for them to WAIT ON TABLES because that would have required them neglecting their true ministry.  Somebody needed to do it, but it needed to be somebody else.  Here is an example of a situation where spirituality and practicality both need to be heard.

  1. The proposal. (vs. 2-6)

They proposed the congregation choose seven godly men to WAIT TABLES.  The Twelve created the proposal but they left it up to the members to decide who would administrate this program.

They proposed a group of SEVEN men because seven is seen as a symbol of completeness; that’s all that was needed.  Social scientists tell us seven is just about the ideal number for any working group.

The Twelve set forth the qualification the Seven were to be KNOWN to possess: FULL OF THE SPIRIT AND WISDOM.  True wisdom comes from God through the Holy Spirit.

The DISCIPLES (the members, the congregation) chose seven men from among their own number.  The fact that they all have Greek names does not prove that all Seven were GRECIAN JEWS, but if they were, that was an extraordinary accommodation by the HEBRAIC JEWS to the GRECIAN JEWS.

Luke describes only two of the Seven in any detail.  His mention of Stephen as A MAN FULL OF FAITH AND THE HOLY SPIRIT set up the account of Stephen, the first martyr, starting in verse eight.  The other mention is Nicolas, a CONVERT TO JUDAISM.  This proves that not all of the church members were born Jews.

Delegating authority was not a new idea: in Exodus 18:13-26; Numbers 11:1-25, and Deuteronomy 1:9-18, we read about 70 Israelite men who were selected to assist Moses in settling disputes among the people and to train them in faithfulness to God.

The phrase WAIT ON TABLES is the Greek word diakonein, from which we derive our word “deacon.”     Though Luke does not refer to the Seven as “deacons” in this passage, he will by chapter 21.  It’s ironic how the church has turned this word upside down.  The original deacons were table waiters; workers in a soup kitchen that delivered daily meals to the needy.  Their jobs were practical.  In the modern American church, deacons are responsible for spiritual ministry while the practical work is given to “trustees.”  Biblically, it ought to be the other way around.

If the proposal were accepted, the Apostles would have more time to pay ATTENTION TO PRAYER AND THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD.  PRAYER is a separate ministry.  It includes public worship and private visitation.  MINISTRY OF THE WORD includes preaching and teaching; discipleship that occurs in public and private situations.

As we stated earlier, this division of labor does not imply any kind of elitism.  The Twelve and the Seven had two different kind of work but BOTH were considered ministry.  The fact that the Seven were commissioned for ministry by the laying on of hands (v. 6) is further evidence of this variety of callings without a hierarchy of callings.

  1. The product. (vs. 5+7)

For possibly the last time in recorded history, all the church folk were happy at the same time.  The Greek word for PLEASED denotes a kind of satisfaction with the actions of another.  Our objective is to aim to please God, not any individual or group in the church.  So if everyone’s happy, that’s gravy, not our goal.

Luke listed two signs of God’s approval of the way the problem had been resolved.  He wrote, THE WORD OF GOD SPREAD.  On a practical level, the Twelve had their time freed up by turning the food ministry over to the Seven.  On a spiritual level, God registered His approval by giving them more opportunities to speak the word to those outside the church.

He also wrote THE NUMBER OF DISCIPLES INCREASED.  This is the other bracket that frames this passage; the Church was growing in number before the complaint and it continued to grow after they faithfully resolved the complaint.

The text supplies two qualifiers of the growth the First Church experienced.  The word RAPIDLY implies the Church’s growth gained speed.  A LARGE NUMBER OF PRIESTS were added to the membership.  These were men who had a vested interest in the status quo and were trained in the Scriptures.  And they overcame all that to choose to follow Jesus!

Churches thrive when members do their jobs.

          That’s not important.  What is important is the example set for us by the early church. Every believer is given their individual set of spiritual Gifts and other resources they can contribute to the life of their local church.  When all the believers make their contributions, the church prospers.  We need a variety of contributions and a depth of contributors in order to be faithful to God and the mission He has given us.  Church is not a spectator sport.  Everyone’s contributions differ slightly, but everyone contributes.  With love, we assemble these offerings of various resources and expend them in ministry to our people and the people outside our walls.

Here’s their example for us to follow:

– When a problem is announced, the leaders are responsible to see if it is a problem and take reasonable steps to resolve it.

– The leadership formulates a proposal and presents it to the membership, requiring them to share responsibility for a solution.

– Working together, the leaders and followers enact the solution with prayer and good sense empowering a godly way forward.

– When we are faithful, God makes us fruitful.  It may not be immediate, but it is inevitable.

 

RESOURCES:

Message #1291

Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Eckhard J. Schnabel

Evil Spirits, Good Results

Please read Acts 19:13-20 in your preferred version of the Bible.  I used the NIV (1984) for my own research.evil vs Jesus

Evil never creates; it only confuses and perverts the truth.  When it is conquered, the word prospers.

In our house lately we’ve been enjoying TV specials titled “Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed,” originally broadcast in the 90s.  (Yes, we’re behind in watching our TV programs.)  In each show, the “Masked Magician” performed magic tricks and then showed how the illusion was made.

This show was an example of “reality TV,” two words that don’t belong together in a sentence.  Part of the gag is that this magician was masked to protect his identity from vengeful fellow magicians.  In the last of the specials, he removed the mask to reveal himself to be Val Valentino, a man who’d been a stage magician all his adult life.

This is an example of magic being simply deception and illusion.  Whether for fun or profit, to entertain or deceive, there have always been people who used the hand to trick the eye and the person.

In our passage today, we read about some con artists who attempted to incorporate the name of Jesus into their act.  They were as surprised as anyone when a genuine evil spirit exposed them as false.

God used this extraordinary event to reach the people of Ephesus and Asia Minor in a very unique way.  It’s not only a great story, but an event that reveals several things we need to learn and practice.

  1. Sceva’s sons learned the hard way. (13-16)

We learn that they were just name-droppers (13-14).  Before we go there, let’s take a brief look at “Jewish Mysticism.”  As many cultures do, Jewish people have myths and superstitions.  These have varying degrees of relatedness to Scripture.

In Paul’s day, some Jews made a living going from town to town performing magical services based on these superstitions.  (I suspect you’d have to be ITINERANT just to stay ahead of being found out!)  The Ephesians were especially superstitious.  For example, they believed if you knew the name of a spirit you could control it.  To, as the text says, EVOKE THE NAME refers to an incantation or magic formula using “power names” to make spells effective.  Though this may sound strange or our ears, there is some NT mention of this activity:

-Jesus referred to Jewish exorcists sent out by the Pharisees in Luke 11:19 (Matthew 12:27).

– In Luke 10 He sent out 72 of His disciples to cast out demons & do other kinds of ministry.

– In Acts 16:18, Paul cast a demon out of a woman in Philippi while invoking the name of Jesus.

What’s happening in our passage is some of these people heard the name of Jesus had been powerfully used by Paul (the healings in vs. 11+12), so they gave it a try.  They didn’t possess the faith that made the miracles possible, but that didn’t stop them from trying.

The text tells us all we need to know about Sceva and sons.  The name “Sceva” is neither Hebrew nor Greek; it is a misspelled Latin word that meant “left-handed” or “a good omen.”  If their father was a JEWISH CHIEF PRIEST they would be members of one of the families from whom the Romans chose to be the Jews’ chief priests.  (The Romans had politicized the office, making it no longer hereditary.  Their theory was that shuffling the high priest job would keep any one man from becoming too influential.)  The combination of a claimed Jewish nobility and a Latinate name is unlikely to have been genuine; it implies these were con men.  They probably weren’t really related!

The seven sons of Sceva failed spectacularly: ONE DAY, an evil spirit exposed their falsehood (15-16).  Evil beings that exist as spiritual beings are also called demons.  The Bible attests to the existence of these beings.  No one can deny the reality of demons and claim to believe everything else the Bible teaches.

THE EVIL SPIRIT spoke through its human host and verified the identities of Jesus and Paul but didn’t have any idea who these frauds were; “WHO ARE YOU?” it asked.  The power, then, was not in the names of Jesus and Paul.  The power to cast out demons came from Jesus’ identity as God the Son and His delegating authority to Paul as His servant.

It exposed them as frauds.  Adding injury to insult, the seven suffered public humiliation and a whuppin’.  Though outnumbered seven to one, the demon-possessed man OVERPOWERED the sons of Sceva and sent them running out of the house, embarrassed and injured.  This can hardly be accounted for by normal means, so a supernatural force is implied.  The demon gave the possessed man unusual physical strength and/or overwhelming savagery.

  1. As a result, the word grew in influence & power. (17-20)

As you would expect, news of an incident like this got around very quickly = THIS BECAME KNOWN TO THE JEWS AND GREEKS LIVING IN EPHESUS.  THEY WERE ALL SIEZED WITH FEAR = It was taken very seriously.  Our text list four effects.

The first effect is that this cured the “magic-using community” of name-dropping (17).  Instead, THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS WAS HELD IN HIGH HONOR.  People respected the name of Jesus, no longer attempting to use it merely as a “magic word.”  (Too bad that didn’t happen for Mr. Al Akazam!)  People realized that the NAME OF THE LORD JESUS held power, but it was neither the kind of power they could manipulate, nor the kind to be trifled with!  The phrase HELD IN HIGH HONOR means “glorified.”  This implies worship of Jesus by people who converted to the Christian faith; as befits verse eighteen.

The second effect: confession of EVIL DEEDS (18).  The new converts confessed to having committed EVIL DEEDS.  Our text describes conversions in general terms in verse eighteen while verse nineteen offers an example of a specific act of repentance that put a value on the depth of their repentance.

The third effect was their voluntary decision to burn “magic” scrolls  that had great material value but were spiritually worthless (19).  The Lord does not require a set procedure for repentance.  That’s a good thing, as we are saved by GRACE, not by GOOD WORKS.  We are not operating under a legal system that requires specific actions to qualify as “true repentance.”  It is also good because it shows the collection and burning of these SCROLLS was spontaneous and voluntary, which makes the act a more effective demonstration of repentance.

The actions of the converts in verse nineteen set a good example for us to follow when repenting.  Repentance is turning our back on our sin and turning our face to God.  We regret and reject our sins to seek God instead.  Getting rid of the things that tempt us to return to sin and/or things that represent affections for worldly things is a good idea, and it accomplishes three things:

– First, it removes a source of temptation.  Jesus spoke of removing one’s right eye or hand if they cause you to sin (Matthew 5:27-30).  This is a graphic way of describing a grave degree of sacrifice in order to gain separation from temptations.

– Second, when a person makes voluntary sacrifices like this, it says a lot about the depth of their commitment to Jesus.

– Third, making it public makes you accountable to everyone who sees what you are doing and will be watching in the future to see you don’t fall into that sin again.

Luke estimated the value of the destroyed texts to be 50,000 drachmas, or the wealth accumulated by a year’s work (no days off) of 137 men.  This was a sacrifice!

The long-term effect was that the word prospered (20).  People travelling out of Ephesus carried along the account of the demoniac beating the tar out of seven con artists and other testimonies to the POWER of the WORD OF THE LORD.  That’s how it SPREAD WIDELY.

As the number of new converts continued to grow and their faith deepened, the WORD also GREW IN POWER.  This also means there were more events of this type.

Evil never creates; it only confuses and perverts the truth.  When it is conquered, the word prospers.

It’s a fact that things aren’t always as they appear.  Consider what happened when two magicians went into a bakery.

One of the magicians palmed 3 donuts with one hand and put them in his pocket without anyone noticing. He whispered to his companion, “Do you see how masterful I am? I make donuts disappear at will!”

“Not bad,” the second magician said.  “I can do you one better.”  He went to the baker and asked if he wanted to see a magic trick.

The curious owner answered, “Of course!” The second magician asked him for a donut then ate it. He asked him for another one, and ate it as well. When asked for a third donut, the owner was reluctant to give it up.  “So what’s the magic trick?” he said with suspicion; “I gave you 2 donuts already!”

“Just one more,” he replied.  After eating the third donut, the magician pointed to his companion and said, “Now check his pockets.”

Our Bible passage this morning gives us a memorable example of how God turned what was intended for deception into a victory for His Church.  When we live as the people of faith we are supposed to be, God works in us and with us to turn all things into good.

While we may not do the miraculous things done in Ephesus, God will use our faith and service to draw people to salvation.  It starts with our decision to be entirely faithful, willing to trust Him in this promise.

 

RESOURCES:

More Hard Sayings of the New Testament, Peter H. Davids.

Illustrated Davis Dictionary of the Bible.

The Communicator’s Commentary, Lloyd J. Ogilive.

Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Ephesians, Clinton E. Arnold

Right from the Beginning #1 – Rightly Created

(Please read Genesis 1:1-5 in your Bible.  I have used the NIV for my remarks.)

Here’s a headline that caught my eye: “Americans Love God and the Bible, Are Fuzzy on the Details.” Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine and he wrote the article that related the results of a new survey by the Southern Baptists’ Lifeway Research division. He wrote: “Americans don’t know much about theology. Most say God wrote the Bible. But they’re not sure everything in it is true.

Six in 10 say everyone eventually goes to heaven, but half say only those who believe in Jesus will be saved. And while 7 in 10 say there’s only one true God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—two-thirds say God accepts worship of all faiths.”

While most Americans still self-identify as Christians they are confused about the details of their faith.  In this post-modern age, most people accept this kind of ambiguity without questioning it.  I’ll spare you all the gruesome numbers and share only the highlights:

– Americans think God likes all religions.

– Evangelical believers say hell is for real. Other Americans aren’t so sure.

– Many evangelical believers say everybody goes to heaven. They also believe that only those who trust Jesus as their Savior are saved.

– Everybody sins but it’s no big deal.

– The resurrection really happened. But not everything else in the Bible did.

– Americans believe in the Trinity. But they’re fuzzy on the details.

– Americans disagree about sex, abortion, homosexuality and gender. – Personal salvation takes work. – Withholding communion is frowned upon. – Most Americans don’t buy the prosperity gospel—especially if they have money.

The article concludes: “Basic Christian theology is easy to find on a church’s beliefs webpage, yet most Americans don’t understand how the pieces are related.”

<Retrieved from http://lifewayresearch.com/2016/09/27/americans-love-god-and-the-bible-are-fuzzy-on-the-details/ on 09/30/16.>

  1. Before creation: Only God existed (1:1-2)

IN THE BEGINNING, or, “on the first occasion.”  This refers to a period of time more than a point in time.  This  opening statement affirms three truths that we get right from the beginning:

– God is our Creator; we owe ALL to Him.

– All that is came to be by His power.

– All time is in His hand; past, present & future.

GOD CREATED = The Hebrew word for “created” is used 48 times and in every case, it emphasizes organization, not manufacture.  This means that the writer was concerned about God using His power to bring order out of chaos.  “Chaos” is the appropriate descriptor: it fits with the words that describe THE EARTH prior to God’s commands to put it in order.

– FORMLESS. Think of a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel.  It has potential to be all kinds of things, but at the moment it has no useful form.  It is unorganized and essentially “formless,” awaiting the hand of the potter.

– EMPTY means that it was without life. Notice that on days three, five and six, God ADDED life to the earth.  It had not been there previously because the chaos had not yet been organized to make it hospitable to life.

– DARKNESS is often a biblical symbol of uninhabitable places. Jesus warned that people who refused to honor God would be CAST INTO THE OUTER DARKNESS, WHERE THERE IS WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH (see Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).

– THE DEEP refers to the sea. For the Hebrews, the sea was the epitome of chaos.  They were not sailors and did not observe the regularity of the tides; they saw the waves rise and fall in random fashion and saw in that a symbol of chaos.

The Greek-influenced writers of the NT had a different purpose in their descriptions of creation: they added the answer to the question of the manufacture of the universe because it is a question important to Western-style thinking. They identified God as the origin of matter and said that he created all that is OUT OF NOTHING (see Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 11:3). They expressed God’s power in terms of the miraculous; none of us has the power to create something out of nothing.  God created EVERYTHING out of nothing!

The emphases of the Old Testament and New Testament authors are slightly different: How do we put the Hebrew and Greek points of view together?  By reading the text carefully, seeing the words on the page!  To review; the first line reads, IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH.  We normally take that in logical order, as a summary statement.  The author is introducing us to what will follow.  Why can’t it be taken in chronological order?  In this case, the author is telling us that God created everything first, then He organized it and gave it purpose.  This is where the four words that indicate chaos are appropriate.  Creation was a work in progress in verses one and two.  So the first statement answers the Greek question, “What is the origin of matter?”  The remainder of the chapter answers the Hebrew question, “What is God’s purpose in creation?”

THE SPIRIT OF GOD WAS HOVERING OVER THE WATERS.  In Hebrew and Greek, the word for SPIRIT also means “wind.”  This is aptly translated as Spirit, and the point is that the Spirit was ABOVE the chaos.  This statement comes at the end of verse two, at a time when the reader needed to be reassured that the four chaos words do not teach that God was not in control.  Just the opposite; God’s SPIRIT rose above the DEEP, hanging over the FORMLESS and EMPTY DARKNESS, poised to start organizing creation.  John H. Walton translated vs. 1+2: “The earth was nonfunctional; primordial, watery darkness prevailed, and a supernatural wind that was permeated with the power of God circulated over the surface of the waters.” (The New International Version Application Commentary, Genesis, p. 78)

Why is this at important? Three reasons:

First, this is the Bible answering two of the three important questions on which every worldview is based.  If we don’t get it right from the beginning, then all of what we do with the remainder is on a poor foundation.  The three questions are below.

– Where did we/I come from? The question of origin.

– Why are we/I here? The question of purpose.

– Where are we/I headed? The question of outcome.

The secular worldview of our time removes God and replaces Him with chance.  They say all that is comes from random combinations; that all this highly organized complexity came from plain doo-dah luck.  And they accuse us of blind faith!  If there is no Creator then creation has no purpose, and neither do you and I, except for the very temporary things we can achieve in our lives and our descendents.  That is a philosophy of loneliness and despair.

  1. Creation, Day One: Separating day and night (1:3-5)

Following a two-step process again, God first created LIGHT where none had previously existed; all creation was in DARKNESS, remember?  Then He organized the LIGHT by separating it into the two halves of every day: DAY and NIGHT.

Skeptics point out that the heavenly bodies, including the sun and moon, were not created until day four.  They argue that a “day” is measured by the sun, so this makes no sense to them.  Our answer to this objection is simple: God used another light source on day one, probably the radiance of His presence.  Think about it: why would our Creator have to depend on the sun to create LIGHT?  Obviously, He did not.

Their objection arises from looking at the account through the lens of their own reason and experience instead of through a theological lens, as the writer surely intended.  Their objection has no power to disprove because it simply does not apply.

Because LIGHT is the first step in organizing creation, the use of the word DAY at the end of each section makes perfect sense, even in the usual way we take that term; a “day” is a period of DARKNESS and a period of LIGHT.  Indeed, at the end of each section the writer is keen to consistently observe, THERE WAS EVENING, AND THERE WAS MORNING.  Why repeat this phrase except to emphasize the order God imposed on creation, bringing time itself into being!  Also, remember the Hebrew emphasis is on order, not on science.  His account of creation is more to form our theology than our science.  The first LIGHT was supernatural.

Why is EVENING listed first?  The Jews marked the beginning of a new day at sunset, not sunrise.  Their calendar was based on the moon, not the sun.  As the Jewish practice was likely based on this account, the two things make perfect sense.

Some well-meaning folks have tried to say that the Hebrew word for DAY can actually refer to an extended period of time.  They want to integrate the theory of evolution into the Bible by making the word DAY essentially meaningless.

– First, I would say that if the word DAY were meant to indicate any number of days, this would make the words EVENING AND MORNING absurd and puts the text at odds with itself.

– Second, a rule of Bible interpretation is that unless the Bible itself gives you good reason to do otherwise, always assume that you will take the words on the page literally.

– Third, interpreting the creation account from a scientific point of view will do violence to the text. God, not science, is the final authority.  These words were given to point to God, not to justify the current trends in science.

In fact, the words “GOD SAID” indicate the engine of creation; the word of God.  We have to observe from the beginning that He spoke and it came into being.  That is power, folks.

This emphasis on the WORD will be picked up again in the Gospel of John where Jesus is connected to this creation account: IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD.  HE WAS WITH GOD IN THE BEGINNING.  THROUGH HIM ALL THINGS WERE MADE; WITHOUT HIM NOTHING WAS MADE THAT HAS BEEN MADE.  IN HIM WAS LIFE, AND THAT LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN.  THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS, BUT THE DARKNESS HAS NOT UNDERSTOOD IT. (JHN 1:1-5)

Here’s another headline that caught my eye last week: “The wrong kind of throne: Toilet discovered at 2,800-year-old shrine reveals Biblical tale of desecration of religious sites by King Hezekiah.”  The article was published by Richard Gray for MailOnline on September 28, 2016.

“The city gate at Tel Lachish in Israel has been found to have once contained a sacred shrine with two altars. Raised corners once decorated the altars have been cut and a toilet was installed in the corner of the shrine.  Archaeologists believe this was a desecration as part of a religious crackdown on cults and idol worship.  King Hezekiah is said in the Bible to have ‘removed the high places’ and ‘smashed the sacred stones’

“It was one of the most zealous religious crackdowns in the history of Judaism and saw the numerous cults in ancient Judah smashed to pieces. Now evidence of the reforms implemented by King Hezekiah, which are described in the Old Testament, around 2,800 years ago have surfaced in a surprising form.

“Archaeologists digging at the site of an ancient gate to the ruined city of Tel Lachish in Israel have uncovered the remains of a shrine that was desecrated during the purges in the 8th century BC.

“The Lachish city gate, as it is known, consists of six chambers which contain signs of city life at the time.  In one of the chambers, however, is a shrine that once had walls covered with white plaster and two altars decorated with raised corners – known as horns.

“These, however, appear to have had their tops deliberately cut off, a sign that there had been an attempt to end the spread of religious cults and centralize worship in Jerusalem.

“But perhaps the greatest sign that the shrine had been the site of one of King Hezekiah’s crackdowns was the installation of the toilet within the inner sanctum of the shrine. This stone with a hole cut through the centre would have been the ultimate desecration of the Holy site.

“Tests at the site showed that while the toilet stone appears to have been installed to desecrate the shrine, it was never actually used.  Archaeologists instead believe it had been placed there symbolically and the inner sanctum of the shrine was sealed shut.”

“WHY INSTALL A TOILET?” you ask?

“Putting a latrine at a holy site was considered to be sacrilege as it soiled a religious location that was to be respected.  Evidence of abolishing cultic locations by installing a toilet in them is known in the Bible.

“In the case of Jehu destroying the cult of Baʽal in Samaria, the Bible states: “And they demolished the pillar of Baʽal, and demolished the house of Baʽal, and made it a latrine to this day” (II Kings 10:27).

“The discovery at Tel Lachish, however, is the first time that an archaeological find confirms this practice.”

<Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3811712/The-wrong-kind-throne-Toilet-discovered-2-800-year-old-shrine-reveals-Biblical-tale-desecration-religious-sites-King-Hezekiah.html on 09/30/16.>

So – here is yet another place where science proves the Bible to be true.  If God can use a latrine to prove His word truthful and trustworthy, then maybe He can use you and me!

(This message can be viewed on YouTube at “EBCSF.”)