The accuracy of the Bible is continually confirmed. Recent excavations in the Tel Lachish National Park in Israel have revealed a 'gate-shrine,' dated to the period of the First Temple, about the eighth century B.C.
"The size of the gate is consistent with the historical and archaeological knowledge we possess, whereby Lachish was a major city and the most important one after Jerusalem," said excavation director Sa'ar Ganor.
In her ChristianHeadlines.com article editor Veronica Neffinger observed: "King Hezekiah really did destroy idols, consistent with the Bible account.' Some like to doubt and debate the historic value of the Old Testament but this evidence is conclusive.
2 Kings chapter 18, verse 4 says that King Hezekiah "removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles," Veronica observed. (Israel: New Discovery Confirms King Hezekiah Really Did Destroy Idols – ChristianHeadlines.com, September 28, 2016)
Archaeologists found evidence of the destruction of pagan artifacts. Included in the discovery were horns on the pagan altar which had been "intentionally truncated."
A latrine was also found at the site. It was built as a purely symbolic statement. It was a desecration. Even this warped practice was reported in the Bible. "And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day." (2 Kings chapter 10, verse 27) How brilliantly and accurately detailed?
Are we as fastidious as King Hezekiah? Has idolatry simply become a way of life for most of us? It seems appropriate to take a long hard look at the way we embrace celebrations at Christmas, for instance.
At the risk of being tagged a wowser, I am concerned at the serious debt some suffer to buy expensive gifts in what amounts to pure and simple materialism. It flies in the face of Jesus lowly birth in a manger.
I am amazed by statistics that show how many are paying off credit card debts from last year as many overspend on stuff. Stop to think a minute. The very name Christmas means 'mass of Christ.' It was a heathen celebration on the birthday of Sol, the Sun God, December 25. It is, actually, an ancient rite of BAALISM, which the Bible condemns as the most abominable of all idolatrous worship! King Hezekiah did not fool around with Baal and neither should we. ("You should have no other gods before me", comes to mind)
I am not against a joy-filled Christmas celebration but I am concerned about the materialism, which has taken Jesus off the throne. It is also a curse when people who cannot afford with the mounting costs of 'keeping up', carry a huge burden into the New Year. Jesus came to set us free not to make life a bondage.
In a sermon on idolatry Rev John Piper said, "The only light in the universe that can bring light to the heart is the glory of God. If we exchange it for other things, we will live in darkness, no matter how brilliant we are or how many fires we may build or candles we may light." (The First Dark Exchange, Idolatry, Romans 1: 21-23)
At Christmas we can often be like little children. I delight to watch a baby play with the wrapping paper, while the expensive gift is left unattended. Many of us display great joy over some gift on Christmas Day and hardly remember where we put it a few weeks later.
The gift to be thoroughly embraced is Jesus and frankly we should be aware of the enormity of His grace and blessing every day.
The Apostle Paul wrote: "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." (Romans chapter 1, verse 21)
No one enjoys Christmas more than little children. I look forward to enjoying my grandchildren right throughout the holiday season. But let us plan for Christmas this year with children in mind.
Throughout the first letter of the Apostle John, there are two words that he often repeated – paidia and teknia, both can be translated 'little children.' Paidia correctly refers to 'babes in Christ", new believers. Teknia more accurately means 'beloved children.'
An ancient historian relates, that when the Apostle (Paul) was so enfeebled by age as not to be able to preach, he was frequently brought into the congregation in his chair, and just uttered, Beloved children, love one another. He could not have given a more important advice. And equally important is this which lies before us; equally necessary for every part of the Church of Christ. Beloved children, keep yourselves from idols." (John Wesley, Sermon 78, Spiritual Idolatry)
Author and preacher Max Lucado invites each of us to embrace Christmas with a Christ-centred focus. "Off to one side sits a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him–and so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds."
It is appropriate to remember our most wonderfully wrapped gaudy and expensive gifts will never save us. Christ is the reason for the season and we can enjoy His gift right now.
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: email@example.com)
Ron Ross' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html