Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dog Verses God

Tonight I read Exodus 11 to my daughters. This is the chapter where Moses warns Pharaoh about the upcoming death of every firstborn son in Egypt.  (This was one of the many times in the Bible where it would have been preferable to be female.)  As I was reading, verse 7 popped out to me.  "But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal. Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel."
I understood the meaning.  God was going to treat the Israelites differently than the Egyptians and kill neither them nor their animals.  But what was up with the talk of dogs?  Then the picture of various Egyptian deities popped into my head.  I wondered, “Wasn’t there a dog-god or something like that.” I did a little research.
It turns out I was right.  There was a dog-headed god.  He was called Anubis.  Anubis was the god of the underworld, protector of the dead, and god of embalming.
The ancient Egyptians were very interested in death and embalming. Mummies are elaborately embalmed corpses, and the pyramids are nothing more that massive tombs.  Death was a big deal to Pharaoh and the people of Egypt, and death was represented by a dog-headed god.
In essence, it appears that what Moses was saying was, “My God is going to pass through your land and kill every first-born son.  Not everyone will be killed, just this specific subset of your people.  However, your dog-headed god will not be able to so much as bark in the presence of God’s people.  The LORD will triumph over your great god Anubis.  All of those fancy pyramids you build and the elaborate embalming processes you go through are nothing to Him.”
To this day in Egypt, the pyramids are a big deal.  Regardless of the fact that most Egyptians today are Sunni Muslims, these remnants of a pantheon gone by remain the central tourist site in their country.  Yet the dog-god that inspired their construction could not even bark that terrible night thousands of years ago.  Even death bows to God.
When you read the Bible, ask questions, and then look for the answers.  Go deeper. Doing so is like watching color TV rather than black and white.  There is so much more to see if we open our eyes and look.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Third Evil

Evil takes many forms in the world.  Most evil remains below the surface.  It can be destroyed simply by being brought to light.  For example, child pornography thankfully remains taboo in western culture (though sadly not the whole world).  It exists, but those who participate in it are considered among the vilest creatures.  Simply by being found out, such evil people can be stopped.

Other forms of evil are forced on the masses by a minority.  For example, mob violence, cruel dictators, and forms of criminal activity (both illegal and sanctioned by governments) that allow a few to get what they want on the backs of others.  There are examples of this around the world.  Such evil is more difficult to eradicate.  In some cases it can be destroyed through peaceful means as Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated in the United States in the 1960’s.  In other cases it can only be defeated by fighting back.  The good thing about such forms of evil is that they are widely recognized as wrong, and thus they do not often remain in place.

Hidden evil is done in private.  Criminal evil is done publicly but is generally not approved by the majority.  Yet there is a third kind of evil that is even more insidious.  It is when the majority adopts an evil and embraces it as a cultural norm that evil is most destructive.

During the United States’ first century slavery was considered the norm by the majority population in the southern states.  It was upheld as a virtue and the natural order of things.  The prosperity of society was believed to depended on it, and when the value of slavery was threatened, hundreds of thousands of people died defending the enslavement of their fellow man.  Those who wanted to free the slaves were considered criminals and had to operate underground.

When good has to hide, you know that you are living in a corrupt culture.  If we have to hide living righteously, speaking righteously, or even thinking righteously, we can be certain that at least part of the society we live in has been seriously corrupted by evil.

Are there things that you know to be true and right that you are afraid to talk about for fear of what others will think about you, say about you, or do to you?  If so, then you are living in a place that has so thoroughly succumbed to evil that it now hates that which is good.

There is hope.  The corruption need not continue.

Before refrigeration, decay was slowed or even halted by salt.  Meat was kept from rotting by being packed in salt.  As a kid, when I had a sore throat I was told to gargle salt water.  Salt can help cure infections.  What the world needs is spiritual salt to fight against the decay and corruption of evil.

“You are the salt of the world.” -Jesus of Nazareth

You are the tool to fight decay and corruption.  You are the one who can preserve your culture from evil and purify it from unrighteousness.

You have a choice.  You can be salt and face the wrath of a corrupt world, or you can give up your saltiness.  Yet be careful.  If salt loses its saltiness “it is no longer good for anything.”

Make your choice today.  Stand up for what is right even when it is unpopular and be the salt of the world, or give up your saltiness and be useless.