Mice or Angels

“Your Word is truth.” John 17:17

“Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of…the Bible as a source of history.” William F. Albright

Lies of the kings

FAITH & INSPIRATION | Time exposes ancient falsehoods and vindicates truth

By WORLD Magazine, Feb. 20, 2016
seupeterson_84It may surprise you that there was no extrabiblical corroboration for the existence of King David until 1993. That year fragments were discovered containing the boast of 9th-century-B.C. Aramaean King Hazael that he had whupped his enemy northern Israel—and its ally to the south, “the house of David.” David’s name was never seen outside the Bible until the finding of the Tel Dan Stele.

There are many people who do not like that the existence of the Davidic dynasty is no longer debatable, and who have insisted on debating it anyway. If your Aramaic is up to it, you may judge for yourself by going to see the broken bit of basalt at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

As for the main content of the monument, with regard to the victory claims of old Hazael, it must be cautioned that what the ancient monarchs had inscribed on their stones “ain’t necessarily so,” to turn George Gershwin’s lyric back at him. The Bible says (2 Kings 9) it was a future king named Jehu, not Hazael, who gets the credit for disposing of both Israelite kings.

As long as you’re traveling, you might take in the Louvre in Paris and see the Mesha Stele (aka Moabite Stone) where you will read the lofty claims of King Mesha of Moab (840 B.C.). It references an incident familiar to you in 2 Kings 3, but you will hardly recognize it. On its losses to Israel it treads lightly; on its building projects it waxes proudly. Altogether absent from the record is the wonderful miracle of the “bloody” puddles that fooled the Moabites into thinking the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom had turned the weapons on themselves.

There is a principle built into the universe itself that eventually outs lies and vindicates truth.

Then puddle-jump to Britain where one of Assyrian King Sennacherib’s hexagonal prisms resides, in which he boasts, “I have shut up [Judah’s King] Hezekiah like a caged bird.” Heck, it isn’t worth the clay it’s baked on. To listen to this guy you’d think he never lost a battle: Eight military campaigns are recorded, and he claims to be the victor in all eight. What the record neglects to mention is that his “caged bird” flies the coop when, inexplicably, Sennacherib leaves his prey and goes back home, only to be assassinated by his own sons (2 Kings 19:37). The Bible gives the victory to an angel, who slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. (Egyptian sources credit field mice sent by one of their gods to eat the bowstrings of the Assyrian bows. Sigh.)

The late seminary history professor Ray Dillard told us that renowned archaeologist William F. Albright started out as a Scripture debunker in the radical German historical criticism school, and ended up carrying a Bible around with him just for convenience because things always turned out to be where the Bible says they are. He wrote:

“The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history” (William F. Albright, The Archaeology of Palestine).

Before 1871 they would have laughed you out of the academy for believing Scripture’s passing statement in 2 Chronicles 32:30 that King “Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the city of David.” Where was the evidence, they said? Today you can visit the tunnel yourself.

All of which is to say: If you are concerned about the lies, obfuscations, twisted truths, prevarications, overblown accomplishments, and other dirty tricks abounding in this present presidential campaign season, just wait awhile. There is a principle built into the universe itself that eventually outs lies and vindicates truth. Just as it was not possible for death to hold Jesus down (Acts 2:24), so the truth cannot be suppressed in the long run but eventually outs itself. Knock yourself out to the contrary but “we cannot do anything against the truth but only for the truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8).

“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Proverbs 12:19).

 

 

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