What can a 2700 year old stone used for measuring weights in Israel teach us about deception? A lot it seems.
The stone is not special. It is not shiny smooth like honed marble or sparkly like crystal. It is not full of glowing color like a gemstone. It is a polished red limestone pebble about a half inch in diameter. It is not made to standout. Its purpose is to blend in.
On its surface are two lines, deeply engraved by someone to mark this stone as a two gerah weight, in English 0.033 ounces. Gerah was a measurement for weight and currency used in the Bible. Exodus 30:13 informs us that a shekel was worth twenty gerahs which makes a gerah 1/20th of a shekel. (Which is about two and a half pennies, according to the ATS Bible Dictionary.)
Gerah in Hebrew refers to the cud ruminating animals chew, and more specifically, the smallest bits of it like a berry. (Numbers 3:47, for example.) I've never seen the actual cud an animal chews close-up, so I'll just take them at their word. A gerah was also associated with our idea of a rounded kernel like a grain. The point is, it is small. The smallest.
This unassuming stone was used on a balance scale to determine weight which then corresponded to payment. It is a rare find. Only one other stone like it has been discovered. You can imagine the surprise then when those studying the stone discovered it weighed three times more than what it was marked as weighing. Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient weight and unveiled a cheat.
Some ancient merchant or trader had intentionally carved the stone to indicate a weight of two gerahs when they knew it was three times heavier. It was done on purpose to favor the merchant or trader and deceive the other party. The cheat padded his financial pocket with this unassuming small stone, and probably many like it. God warned against using these kind of weights. (Leviticus 19:35-36)
So what have we learned? Deception can be subtle.
Merriam-Webster defines deception as "the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid." Jesus' disciples asked about things that were going to happen in the future, and He began by warning them not to be deceived. (Matthew 24:4) The word in Greek is planaō, to roam from safety, truth or virtue; to go astray. The implication here is not to wander from truth because that is where safety is.
What more have we learned? Deception has a willing author.
It is hard for some to accept today there is a hand behind the deception that knows exactly what it is doing: carving false truths into the little things we take for granted. Just like the unwary person watching the cheat measure out the stones, we have enemies we don't even know about. And it can be in such little things. But Jesus made it clear, "... he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." (Luke 16:10)
There is a need then to guard ourselves against deceit. The only way to do that is to be educated in the truth to read God's words and become very familiar with His character, principles and purposes. We need to know we have enemies of our souls we don't even know about.
Our last lesson from the stone? We need help understanding what we think we see.
Jesus tells us it is possible not to be deceived. How? We should not wander from the truth. Jesus is the Truth.
So, we guard our hearts. We guard them by reading God's word to us, and then we think about those words. We keep thinking on them all day. We repeat them out loud, and read some more. We ask the Holy Spirit to teach us about the words we read.
Then we make prayer an ongoing conversation. We ask God what to do in all the details of life, even the small things because we can't rely on our knowledge to know what's real and what isn't. We have to rely on Him to reveal truth to us. We've written a book on this called How To Walk In The Spirit.
Let this be our practice, Christians: living in the Spirit. Then we can inform the Governor of New York we are not her apostles. Her speech last Sunday at Brooklyn's Cultural Christian Center turned to preaching, but it was not exactly biblical. You can listen to Tucker Carlson talk about her sermon here if you'd like. Or, read about it here. (I tried to give you a link to her full message, but I couldn't find it anymore.)
Wandering begins with a small step in a different direction. Drifting is easy; just let the current take you where it will. But guarding takes effort. It requires discernment and wisdom, two things God gives as we follow Him. Jesus warned us to make this effort because there are worse cheats out there than shady merchants with mismarked rocks.
And one more thing about that speech–
- (no comments)