Category Archives: Ancient History

Christmas 2017

Luke 2:6-7

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

It seems to me that this time of year brings out the best, and paradoxically the worst, in people. It can bring out the best because it is a time of year when many people perform acts of kindness and generosity they might not otherwise do. Of course we celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to our friends and families, but often we also give to those we don’t know, either through charities or churches or just giving something to the homeless guy on the streetcorner. It is a time when many families come together, hopefully lay aside the usual petty differences that can arise within families, and celebrate Christmas together. But it can also be a time when tempers flare in the malls or in traffic, when rudeness and impatience and greed take over. A time when some people get judgemental when seeing how their family member has set the table or the neighbor has decorated their house. And it can be a time when a lot of well meaning people argue over what Christmas is and what it should be, and even whether it should be celebrated at all.

There are so many arguments out there online over this and that aspect of Christmas that I’m not going to rehash it here. Yes, it is primarily a religious holiday, and to many people who are atheists or Muslims or whatever they repudiate it as something religious being forced upon them; if seeing a manger scene in someone’s yard offends you, then don’t look, go home and shut your eyes for a month. But it seems to me that most of the harshest arguments are between two people or groups who both claim Christ and can’t resist the temptation to argue over various aspects of Christmas. Yes, no one really knows on what date Jesus Christ was born, no matter how brilliant a case they can make in support of one date or another. Yes, there have been a lot of pagan influences from Northern Europe that have been incorporated in the celebration of the birth of the Savior; so do what I do, don’t practice them. Yes, in the last century especially there has been a great deal of commercialism and avarice and materialism come into what should be a humble and peaceful time. But should we reject the holiday completely because there are flaws in how or when it is celebrated? No.

The entire, sole reason why people began to celebrate this as a holiday was to commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In that manger 2,000 years ago lay the perfect union of God and man, who came into our dirty, wicked world to pay the penalty of our sins so that we imperfect, sinful mortals could receive the gift of eternal life through Him. That’s all, but then it was more than enough. Another name given to Christ in the Bible is Immanuel, which translates as “God Among Us”. He entered our world because He loved us too much to allow us to march blindly to our destruction without an exit ramp. Personally, I believe that the more important event was the death of Jesus on the cross, for that is when He atoned for our sins. His resurrection was a close second, for it is the sign to all of us that He had defeated sin and death for good. But for Him to have led a sinless life to pay for our sins at Calvary He first had to be born, and that is why we celebrate Christmas.

So let’s stop arguing over this point and that point and just celebrate the birth of our Savior. The date doesn’t matter; the fact of His birth does. Stop tearing each other down and start building each other up. And if you don’t believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, please resist the temptation to revile those of us who do. Love one another, as Jesus told us to do. Be kinder and more patient. Be a bit more restrained in how much load you dump onto your credit cards. Argue less. And consider, even if only for a moment, the reality that on what was possibly a cold winter night in Bethlehem during the reign of Caesar Augustus, a child was born that was the union of the mortal with the immortal, of the created with the Creator. Consider the possibility that was true and not a myth. Try not to remove Christ from Christmas, for without Christ, what difference would it all make?

Merry Christmas to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


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Jerusalem the Capital of Israel? Yes!

2nd Samuel 5:6-10

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, ‘You will not get in here, even the blind and the lame can ward you off.’ They thought, ‘David cannot get in here’. Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David. On that day, David said, ‘Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water water shaft to reach those “lame and blind” who are David’s enemies. That is why they say “the blind and lame will not enter the palace.”‘ David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.”

King David captured the ancient city of Jerusalem around 1000 BC, and that city remained the Jewish capital until the Roman sack in 70 AD and, in a sense, beyond. The Israelites were in possession of Jerusalem for slightly more than 1000 years before the Roman sack; since then the city has been at the heart of the Jewish religion and an important city for the Christians. From the time of the Muslim conquest in 638 AD until the end of World War I the city remained under Islamic control by various caliphates and then the empire of the Ottoman Turks. From World War I until the creation of the modern Jewish state of Israel in 1948, the city was governed by the British authorities. Since the war declared by her Muslim neighbors immediately after Israel’s independence, the Israelis took possession of West Jerusalem and then in 1967 they captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six Day War.

Today President Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans to begin the process of moving the American embassy there. Making a rare political statement of my own, I fully support this move. For almost 2,000 years the Jewish people have longed to return to Jerusalem, and now the city is once again recognized as the capital of Israel, at least by the American government. Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is 3,000 years old, while Christianity has revered the city as the location of where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God Among Us, suffered and died for our sins, for 2,000 years. Islam has revered Jerusalem as one of their holy sites for 1400 years. The Jewish people have a definite historical precedence in claiming the city. The Palestinian Authority has for decades seen East Jerusalem as their capital; now, thanks to their intransigence in refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace, East Jerusalem is lost to them. So be it. In the 69 years since Israel has controlled the city (at least the western part), they have peacefully given Christians and Muslims full access – in a peaceful manner – to their holy sites within the city, to the extent of even restricting Jewish activity, including prayers, on the Temple Mount in deference to their Muslim population. They will continue to do so; can the Palestinian Authority state honestly that they would do the same if they had full control of the city? Very doubtful. I fear that given the chance they would follow the example of the Taliban and ISIS and destroy all non-Muslim sites.

So in short, hurrah for Israel and well done to President Trump for making a difficult and unpopular decision that was long overdue. Of course the Jew-haters of the world will condemn this move, they are already starting to. But perhaps the apparently now permanent loss of even East Jerusalem will wake up the Palestinian Authority and the PLO to the fact that Israel is there to stay and that further refusal to come to the table and negotiate in good faith with the Israelis will just cost them more in the future. And since Islam claims at least parts of the Old Testament as valid (the parts they agree with), perhaps they would do well to remember what was said in Numbers 24:9, “May those who bless you be blessed, and those who curse you be cursed!” Jerusalem will forever be the Holy City, the center of the Kingdom of God and the seat of a returned Jesus Christ, ruling the nations with an iron scepter.

To borrow a phrase from the fictional Borg, “resistance is futile”.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. And to all my Jewish friends, a heartfelt shalom!

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Josephus was a Jewish historian of the 1st Century. He was born in Jerusalem in 37 AD and lived until about the year 100 AD. He was born into a well to do family; his father was a priest and his mother was descended from the royal Hasmonean Dynasty that ruled Judea until the Romans moved in in the middle of the first century before Christ. Josephus was highly educated and while in his 20s was part of a diplomatic mission to the Emperor Nero to secure the release of some Jewish priests being held by the Romans.

When the Jews launched their ill-fated rebellion against Roman occupation in the mid-60s AD, the ruling Sanhedrin in Jerusalem appointed Josephus military governor of Galilee, where he led a spirited and innovative campaign against both Jewish rivals and the invading Roman army of future emperor Vespasian until he surrendered himself after a six week city at the Galilean city of Jotapata in 67 AD. He then served as interpreter for Vespasian until word arrived that the emperor had died and Vespasian was elevated to the throne by his army. Josephus then served as interpreter to Vespasian’s son Titus during his campaign in Judea proper that culminated in the capture and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Josephus then went to Rome and was made a citizen, and began writing his histories.

Josephus’ primary writings that survive include:
The Jewish War, published around 75 AD and detailing the history of Judea leading up to the failed rebellion against the Romans and the sack of Jerusalem;
The Antiquities of the Jews, published around 94 AD and covering Jewish history from the Creation to the middle of the first century;
Against Apion, published late in Josephus’ life and which served as a defense of the history and antiquity of the Jewish people;
and My Life, which is his autobiography, of course.

Josephus was most likely a member of the party of the Pharisees, and it is through his writings that we possess most of our knowledge about the three major sects in Judea at the time, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the monkish Essenes who left us the Dead Sea Scrolls. Josephus also provides us a great deal of historical information regarding Israel from the building of the second temple until 70 AD, including the long years ruled by the Macedonian heirs of Alexander the Great, the successful rebellion led by the Maccabees and the rule of the Hasmonean dynasty, and the ascension of the Idumean Herod the Great to the throne and the tumultuous rule of his dynasty. In his “Antiquities”, Josephus gives us non-Biblical references to John the Baptist, James the Just (brother of Jesus), and Jesus Himself, although in fairness I must point out that most modern scholars believe those references were added by later, Christian writers. (These, however, are the same scholars who dispute nearly everything about the Bible in an attempt to discredit it.) It is widely believed that Josephus became an Ebionite Christian late in his life, although Josephus himself does not state so in his writings. I’ve read translator William Whiston’s notes on that possibility and he builds a strong case based on what Josephus and others wrote in the early Christian period.

Josephus was an important writer for the Christian faith (even though he did not plan it that way and in fact wrote largely for the Romans) simply because he preserved for us a wealth of information concerning the history of the Jewish people that our Savior came out of that we otherwise would not have. He includes much information that was not included in our Old Testament but which corroborates it. He gives us most of our available information about the years between the building of the second temple in Jerusalem and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, an event which he saw as Divine punishment for many sins, especially the murder of James the Just. Whiston was convinced that Josephus drew from the library of sacred writings gathered in Jerusalem by Nehemiah at the time of the return from Babylon. Without Josephus we would know next to nothing of the Pharisees and the Sadducees other than what the Gospels state. His works provide a treasure trove of background information regarding the Judea and Jerusalem and Galilee that Jesus knew and loved. His writings may not qualify as light reading for anyone, but if you have an interest in the history of ancient Israel up to and through the time of Christ and the apostles, Josephus is well worth spending time with.

“And now, ‘O most wretched city, what misery so great as this didst thou suffer from the Romans, when they came to purify thee from thy intestine hatred! For thou couldst be no longer a place fit for God, nor couldst thou longer continue in being, after thou hadst been a sepulchre for the bodies of thine own people, and hadst made the holy house itself a burying place in this civil war of thine!'” Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book V, Chapter 1 Section 3.

Grace and peace to you all from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Regarding the Prophecies of “Mother Shipton”

Earlier today I found myself in a rather contentious debate with a fellow Christian over the prophecies written by the woman known as Mother Shipton, and so I’ve decided to go ahead and write the piece about her I’ve considering for a while. I do not expect to make any converts in either direction, but instead I wish to put her words, which are very pertinent to today, out there and firmly establish regarding her and her writings.

Mother Shipton was born Ursula Sontheil in 1488 in a cave near a village in north Yorkshire, England. From her birth quite a few of the locals believed that she was a witch and that her father was Satan. From an early age she showed pronounced prophetic ability and alleged psychic powers, which she used to help many of the poor rurals in the area where she grew up. She married a carpenter named Toby Shipton in 1612, but the marriage produced no children. She lived in the small town of Knaresborough, England and died in 1561.

First I want to address the allegations that she was a witch. She was born in a cave, and the young woman who tended her mother during the birth reported a strong smell of sulphur and a crack of thunder during the birth, and that the child was born misshapen and huge. Ursula’s mother gave her up for adoption at the age of two and then went to live in a convent for the rest of her life. Regarding the smell of sulphur, there are many caves throughout the world where you will smell that and other minerals, and the crack of thunder signifies nothing but that it was a stormy day. When her mother gave her up for adoption and entered a convent, that decision could have very easily been economic rather spiritual; remember, most people were dirt poor in those days, and since there was no known father (also not unusual) it would have been hard for a single woman to support and raise a child, and at least entering a convent would have given the mother her “three hots and a cot”. It also should be kept in mind just how superstitious people were back than (yes, worse than they are now!) and that anything out of the norm would be deemed Satanic, especially a woman who lived alone…but wait, she got married, so apparently Old Toby didn’t see too much wrong with her.

Now to get into her prophecies…

During the course of her life Mother Shipton prophesied many events that came later. She predicted the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which happened under Henry VIII between 1536 and 1541, as well as Henry’s victory over the French at the Battle of the Spurs in 1513. She predicted the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the Great Fire of London in 1666, and her own death in 1561. She also wrote many things about our modern technology and even regarding international politics in the our time. First I will reproduce her writings, and then we will take a look.

“And now a word, in uncouth rhyme Of what shall be in future time

Then upside down the world shall be And gold found at the root of tree All England’s sons that plough the land Shall oft be seen with Book in hand The poor shall now great wisdom know Great houses stand in far-flung vale All covered o’er with snow and hail

A carriage without horse will go Disaster fill the world with woe. In London, Primrose Hill shall be In centre hold a Bishop’s See

Around the world men’s thoughts will fly Quick as the twinkling of an eye. And water shall great wonders do How strange. And yet it shall come true.

Through towering hills proud men shall ride No horse or ass move by his side. Beneath the water, men shall walk Shall ride, shall sleep, shall even talk. And in the air men shall be seen In white and black and even green

A great man then, shall come and go For prophecy declares it so.

In water, iron, then shall float As easy as a wooden boat Gold shall be seen in stream and stone In land that is yet unknown.

And England shall admit a Jew You think this strange, but it is true The Jew that once was held in scorn Shall of a Christian then be born.

A house of glass shall come to pass In England. But Alas, alas A war will follow with the work Where dwells the Pagan and the Turk

These states will lock in fiercest strife And seek to take each others life. When North shall thus divide the south And Eagle build in Lions mouth Then tax and blood and cruel war Shall come to every humble door.

Three times shall lovely sunny France Be led to play a bloody dance Before the people shall be free Three tyrant rulers shall she see.

Three rulers in succession be Each springs from different dynasty. Then when the fiercest strife is done England and France shall be as one.

The British olive shall next then twine In marriage with a german vine. Men walk beneath and over streams Fulfilled shall be their wondrous dreams.

For in those wondrous far off days The women shall adopt a craze To dress like men, and trousers wear And to cut off their locks of hair They’ll ride astride with brazen brow As witches do on broomstick now.

And roaring monsters with man atop Does seem to eat the verdant crop And men shall fly as birds do now And give away the horse and plough.

There’ll be a sign for all to see Be sure that it will certain be. Then love shall die and marriage cease And nations wane as babes decrease

And wives shall fondle cats and dogs And men live much the same as hogs.

In nineteen hundred and twenty-six Build houses light of straw and sticks. For then shall mighty wars be planned And fire and sword shall sweep the land.

When pictures seem alive with movements free When boats like fishes swim beneath the sea, When men like birds shall scour the sky Then half the world, deep drenched in blood shall die.

For those who live the century through In fear and trembling this shall do. Flee to the mountains and the dens To bog and forest and wild fens.

For storms will rage and oceans roar When Gabriel stands on sea and shore And as he blows his wondrous horn Old worlds die and new be born.

A fiery dragon will cross the sky Six times before this earth shall die Mankind will tremble and frightened be for the sixth heralds in this prophecy.

For seven days and seven nights Man will watch this awesome sight. The tides will rise beyond their ken To bite away the shores and then The mountains will begin to roar And earthquakes split the plain to shore.

And flooding waters, rushing in Will flood the lands with such a din That mankind cowers in muddy fen And snarls about his fellow men.

He bares his teeth and fights and kills And secrets food in secret hills And ugly in his fear, he lies To kill marauders, thieves and spies.

Man flees in terror from the floods And kills, and rapes and lies in blood And spilling blood by mankind’s hands Will stain and bitter many lands

And when the dragon’s tail is gone, Man forgets, and smiles, and carries on To apply himself – too late, too late For mankind has earned deserved fate.

His masked smile – his false grandeur, Will serve the Gods their anger stir. And they will send the Dragon back To light the sky – his tail will crack Upon the earth and rend the earth And man shall flee, King, Lord, and serf.

But slowly they are routed out To seek diminishing water spout And men will die of thirst before The oceans rise to mount the shore.

And lands will crack and rend anew You think it strange. It will come true.

And in some far off distant land Some men – oh such a tiny band Will have to leave their solid mount And span the earth, those few to count, Who survives this (unreadable) and then Begin the human race again.

But not on land already there But on ocean beds, stark, dry and bare Not every soul on Earth will die As the Dragons tail goes sweeping by.

Not every land on earth will sink But these will wallow in stench and stink Of rotting bodies of beast and man Of vegetation crisped on land.

But the land that rises from the sea Will be dry and clean and soft and free Of mankind’s dirt and therefore be The source of man’s new dynasty.

And those that live will ever fear The dragon’s tail for many year But time erases memory You think it strange. But it will be.

And before the race is built anew A silver serpent comes to view And spew out men of like unknown To mingle with the earth now grown Cold from its heat and these men can Enlighten the minds of future man.

To intermingle and show them how To live and love and thus endow The children with the second sight. A natural thing so that they might Grow graceful, humble and when they do The Golden Age will start anew.

The dragon’s tail is but a sign For mankind’s fall and man’s decline. And before this prophecy is done I shall be burned at the stake, at one My body singed and my soul set free You think I utter blasphemy You’re wrong. These things have come to me This prophecy will come to be.

These verses were on the outer wrapping of the scrolls

I know I go – I know I’m free I know that this will come to be. Secreted this – for this will be Found by later dynastyA dairy maid, a bonny lass Shall kick this stone as she does pass And five generations she shall breed Before one male child does learn to read.

This is then held year by year Till an iron monster trembling fear eats parchment, words and quill and ink And mankind is given time to think.

And only when this comes to be Will mankind read this prophecy But one mans sweets another’s bane So I shall not have burned in vain.

This section was kept apart from the other and it appears to have been written together yet was in a separate jar…

The signs will be there for all to read When man shall do most heinous deed Man will ruin kinder lives By taking them as to their wives.And murder foul and brutal deed When man will only think of greed. And man shall walk as if asleep He does not look – he many not peep And iron men the tail shall do And iron cart and carriage too.

The kings shall false promise make And talk just for talking’s sake And nations plan horrific war The like as never seen before And taxes rise and lively down And nations wear perpetual frown.

Yet greater sign there be to see As man nears latter century Three sleeping mountains gather breath And spew out mud, and ice and death. And earthquakes swallow town and town, In lands as yet to me unknown.

And christian one fights christian two And nations sigh, yet nothing do And yellow men great power gain From mighty bear with whom they’ve lain.

These mighty tyrants will fail to do They fail to split the world in two. But from their acts a danger bred An ague – leaving many dead. And physics find no remedy For this is worse than leprosy.

Oh many signs for all to see The truth of this true prophecy.”

Now, much has been made of the fact that the first printed copies of her writing did not come out until 1641, and that in the 1680s a man named Richard Head confessed to inventing all of her writings, but that does not explain how Mr. Head knew about our modern times.

Read through he words and any objective reader will see so much that describes our present age and the conditions we live – she covered political, spiritual and economic, as well as natural disasters and wars. Much of it describes conditions right now in these End Times.

So read and think…was she right or was she a fake? To me, the evidence says she was right.

Peace and blessings to you all.


Filed under Ancient History, Faith in the 21st Century, Future Events and Prophecies

Politics versus Faith

(Authors Note: I originally wrote this in 2013 after a contentious political season, but I believe strongly that this is a s true today as when I wrote it four years ago. We have a new President now, but the political landscape in America is just as polarized and divided as it was in 2013. Ok, it is more so. But spiritual truth never changes. Think on what I repost here and remember that our faith in Jesus Christ is far more important than our politics. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.)

A few weeks ago, prior to the last election in fact, I had made the statement in one of my posts that I tried to stay out of the thick of politics since it is at best a field of verbal combat for people with opposing views. I also stated that sometimes circumstances compelled me to cover that subject. With America becoming more and more politically charged and polarized I find that I need to speak once again; in fact, anyone who has been following my recent posts on facebook and other, more conservative social media, will have seen that I’ve been pretty vocal on the subject. However, I have found that my political bent has been, or rather should have been, tempered by my faith in God and Jesus Christ as my Savior, and so tonight I want to address the inherent conflict between politics and faith.

Those two areas, politics and one’s spiritual beliefs, are not necessarily mutually exclusive but instead should ideally function in a sort of symbiosis, a mental dance of two barely compatible partners. While one’s faith should never be subjugated to one’s political beliefs, a person’s politics should always act as an outward expression of their faith. Hence when Martin Luther nailed his famed theses on the doors of the Wurttemberg cathedral, his act of faith helped to define what was a largely political endeavor, which was the abatement of the Catholic Church’s political power in Europe. But like most religious forays into politics, the Reformation which he helped start became a temporal, political movement as evidenced by all of the back room dealing that occurred within the various factions of that day, and as shown by the wars of that time which were nominally fought in the name of religion but were executed in pretty much the same way that the wars over territory and resources were fought. I see the same forces at work today in the United States.

The present and future political confrontations here in America are being waged between those who believe in our Constitution and those who wish to subvert or even abolish it as an outdated document. On the one hand we have the largely conservative part of our population who are trying to defend the rights expressed in our Constitution, and on the other are those who hold the view that our Constitutional rights can be sacrificed in the name of social change or progress with the stated aim of improving the lives of all Americans. We therefore have large segments of the population who are diametrically opposed to each other, and the rhetoric hurled into each other’s faces has become very confrontational and even hateful.

Now, I am going to avoid the entire issue of the globalists’ dream of establishing a One World Government (or at least I will try to!) and arguments over suspected false flag attacks and other conspiratorial issues. My goal here is to examine how politics should be an extension of faith, not which side has the better arguments or the more conclusive proofs. These are all issues which have been covered many times by many people; anyone who wants to dig deeper into those areas is invited to go to or to the blog of a good friend who has done a considerable amount of research into these areas, which can be found at

I have found over the last three decades that there are those who adhere to Christianity in one form or another who occupy both ends of the political spectrum, and I’ve also noticed that which political stand they take is largely based on which view of the Christian faith they adhere to. Those who adhere to the beliefs of what is commonly called the Evangelical movement in Christianity are generally more conservative in their politics, while those who practice the more “liberal” form of Christianity tend to support the more “progressive” causes. In both cases their faith is being expressed through their politics, but this does not mean that all conservatives are conservative Christians or that all members of the “liberal” movement are liberal Christians; in both cases to assume such would a grave error. I know many strongly politically conservative people who are not Christians, and I doubt if there needs to be any clarification of how many of the “progressive” movement in America are Christians of any type. In both groups there are people who do not adhere to either branch of Christianity, and that, of course, is their right.

Ever since the early 1980s, here in America the more conservative Christians have become increasingly political, and that in itself is not a bad thing – I believe that we could use a lot more godliness in our political process. But this has led to a certain degree of confusion between conservative politics and conservative Christian faith, and this has sadly given rise to such acts as the murder of doctors who perform abortions, beatings and hate crimes against homosexuals and other crimes against “progressive” elements in our society. (Since I have probably just ticked off the anti-abortion movement and those who believe that homosexuality is an abomination, let me take a moment to assure you that I support neither abortion nor homosexuality!) If I remember correctly, when the Messiah walked among us 2,000 years ago He said we should love our enemies, not kill them off. Trying to coerce the population at large to conform to a certain set of Biblical standards when we live in a decidedly un-Biblical world is not only an effort doomed to fail, but one which always turns into at least as big a problem as what it tried to change. Proof of this lies in history (you knew I had to keep bringing history up!): the Spanish missionaries in the Americas with their convert or die methods, the Crusades and their bloody efforts to liberate Jerusalem from hordes of Muslims, the Puritan dictatorship in England under Cromwell with its violence against the people of the British Isles, the list goes on and on. The “Great Commission” that Christ gave us, wherein He sent us out to make believers of as many as would accept the faith as true, did not command us to conquer the world in His name; that is a task that only Christ can fulfill.

A brief lesson from history is in order, and then I promise that I will wrap this up. In the middle of the Second Century BC the conservative elements of society of Judea rebelled against their Seleucid masters and the Hellenization of Judaism and established a dynasty in Judea commonly called the Maccabees. In a nutshell, the conservative Jews saw their people turning away from the teachings of Moses and the Prophets and embracing the much more “progressive” elements of Greek society and influence (remember that the Seleucid Empire was established by one of the generals of Alexander the Great). The Maccabees decided that they needed to take matters into their own hands, and instead of waiting on God to establish the Kingdom they took it upon themselves to do so, and they succeeded up to a point for roughly a hundred years. Did they establish God’s kingdom in Judea? No, for they still suffered from corruption and many other familiar vices, and when the Roman general Pompey came along around 63 BC their kingdom fell and became a Roman province.

Ok Dave, what’s the bloody point you’re trying to make? It’s simply this: we can try to reshape our society into what we see as God’s image, but we will always fail because it will be by our efforts, not God’s. Am I saying that we shouldn’t stand up for our rights, that we should just lie down and accept the rise of a tyrannical dictatorship in America? Of course not, we should stand up for what we believe. Is it a fight that we will win? I’m afraid not. Not only has the majority of Americans been sleeping for far too long, but the forces of globalism have gained the upper hand; besides, it wasn’t prophesied that we would prevail, it was prophesied that the dictator would rise and have his day of power before Christ would return. But we still have a moral obligation to stand up and be counted. We still, as citizens, have an obligation to have our say, to speak out in favor of the Constitution that was given to us to prevent just such a dictator from taking over. But we should also pray, and turn back to our Lord, and look to him for our deliverance and not to our own efforts.

Let us all ensure that our political words and actions are extensions of our faith, and at the same time let us resist the tendency for our political endeavors to unwittingly reshape our faith.

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Observations Taken From Plutarch’s “Lives”

I have always been an avid reader, ever since I was a child and first learned to read. While my tastes in literature have changed considerably over my lifetime, and still is rather varied, the past several years I have been reading, usually for the first time, some of literature’s classics; in particular, I have been reading quite a bit from the Classical period of the Greeks and the Romans. A lot of this has been driven by my interest in ancient history, but partly it’s because there is a lot of things that I never got around to reading for one reason or another.

For the past several weeks I have been reading with great interest The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, written by the Greek author Plutarch. The copy that I own is the complete work, which runs some 876 pages in hardback (I also own a paperback copy, but it is a much abridged version featuring only the most prominent persons), and was published as part of the Great Books of the Western World series first published by Encyclopedia Britannica in 1952. (This series of books covers most of the last 2,400 years and a wide variety of subjects; I highly recommend it if you can find them.)

Plutarch was a Greek author from the small town of Chaeronea, somewhat to the northwest of Athens, and he lived from around 46-120 AD. He studied philosophy and history at Athens and while he was reputed to be a good philosopher, his true gift was writing about history. His Lives concerns itself with the Greeks from early times to well into the period of their subjugation to Rome, and with the Romans from the founding of the city in the Ninth Century BC to the early Imperial period. Plutarch was an excellent scholar and a gifted writer with a keen insight into human nature; he utilized all of the written and verbal sources available to him, and whenever there were differences of opinion concerning certain events or people he was diligent in listing them and presenting the opposing opinions for the reader to decide upon.

Rather than writing a review of his work, which I am sure has been extensively done in the past by better scholars and writers than myself, what I want to discuss in this post are some of the observations that I have made during the course of my reading.

The first of my observations is that the ancient Greeks and Romans who were remembered the most fondly and received the most favorable treatment by Plutarch were those who were the most virtuous, not necessarily those who conquered the most territory or won the most battles. Those men (and women) who practiced kindness, justice, honesty, generosity and temperance in the way they lived were held in the highest esteem, unless of course they were surrounded by greedy, drunken debaucherers and the ruthless, in which case they were generally hated by most of the people around them. The persons who led the most virtuous lives were held up as examples to their fellow citizens in hopes that more people would emulate their virtues, but human nature being what it is, they tended to be the exceptions rather than the rule.

Secondly, I was struck by how many of these great people, Plutarch included, expressed a belief in God as being the supreme being higher in stature and power than any of the pagan gods. Whenever God was mentioned it was always with a sense of respect and reverence, which to me shows that Paul was right in Romans 1:18-20 when he said that since the earliest times God had made his presence known through Creation and nature, and then a little later in Romans 2:14-15 when he stated that humanity had God’s laws imprinted in their consciences to be followed or ignored. (Socrates in particular, though he was not included in Plutarch’s writings, had a keen sense of God and His laws, which probably has a lot to do with why he was forced to kill himself, but that is another tale entirely.)

Next, and this is something that I had discovered long ago from reading about ancient history, people were no better or worse in ancient times than they are today, and by this I mean the common people. There were many people who lived their lives temperately, justly and honestly, who were content to live simple lives in humility. There were also people who lived by avarice and greed, who would steal from anyone they could if it gave them an advantage, who would lie to cheat honest men, who allowed their greed and ambitions to lead them into all sorts of evil. Then just as now, the people wanted security and a secure source of food, and they weren’t afraid to work hard for what they got or to fight when their country called them to service. But the people were also easily inflamed and swayed by the clever words of the politicians, and often seditions and revolts against the commonwealth were demanded by the masses as a result of somebody else’s political designs.

And fourthly, Plutarch gives example after example of how factions and internal squabbling ruined cities and realms. At least part if not most of the lives of nearly every person he wrote about was spent dealing with one faction or another, each with its own agenda. Except for during times of anarchy, and even during the better times of freedom and democracy, the policies of the realm involved was always dictated by the wealthy, who used everything from gifted orators to outright bribery and pandering to further their aims. Sometimes the city or nation was blessed with a strong, just leader who was able to thwart the designs of the greedy and ambitious, but for a great deal of time the leaders were mediocre and easily swayed by riches. When great men would arise and challenge the existing power elite, they were nearly always plotted against, lied about, charged with crimes they did not commit, and often either exiled or outright murdered. And while the elite paid lip service to their religious beliefs and principles, they generally just used religion as a way to impress the populace and sway public opinion through offering games and entertainments in the name of some god or another.

In the long run, things today are no different no matter how often we are told that they are. Western society is still governed by a power elite who use rhetoric, entertainments and lies to sway public opinion to fit their aims. There is still greed, avarice, debauchery, lies, plotting and factious infighting. There are also still those who are just, kind and honest, who are content to live within their means and who find the pursuit of wealth for its own sake odious, but the past few years it seems that they are becoming the minority. In fact, when I compare the last few decades of the Roman Republic with Western society, especially here in the U.S., I see parallels that are too striking to be ignored; that bodes ill for our immediate future, but as Plutarch often said, that is a subject best left for another time.

So, for anyone with the inclination and the patience for giving Plutarch a read, I strongly recommend him. Not only is his work very informative on the two cultures that Western civilization is built upon, but one can also gain a number of insights into the present and why some things are the way they are. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this, dear reader, and as always I look forward to hearing from you.


Filed under Ancient History, Books, Faith in the 21st Century