Oct 19, 2022
What was living in Judah like in the 4th century BC?
Perhaps a little strange if you were a follower of God...
A town in the Judean foothills, Maresha, listed as Mareshah in Joshua 15:42-44, had been emptied of Jews by Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century. People from neighboring Edom moved in. They stayed during the Persian Empire and the area was called Idumea. Retired Greek soldiers joined them after Alexander the Great had swept through. Maresha became a diverse mix of Greek, Edomite, Sidonian and Nabataean. And when the Jews returned, they mixed in too.
Recent excavations have unearthed the ancient practice of divination there. Actually, a lot of divination. Knuckle bones from animals were used to tell fortunes, curse enemies and worship pagan gods. Scholars call it astragalomancy. It can be found in various forms throughout the pagan world, not just in the Middle East or Europe. The "bones" could also be crafted from glass, ivory or metal. At Maresha a large supply of bones were found.
The point seems to be when the Jews left the area, what little light they may have offered through a corrupt religious system was snuffed out. And when they moved backed in, it was still pretty dark.
Which makes one wonder what our towns would be like without any Christians?
In 2008, I read a book by Dinesh D'Souza called What's So Great About Christianity? It was interesting to read the perspective of a man who grew up in India and could authoritatively compare Christianity to other thriving religions and worldviews. I remember thinking we do not know how good we have it in the U.S. But change was in the air even back then, and it has continued its momentum.
In 2007 the Evangelical Times ran a story about "The Rise of Paganism." In 2019 Big Think asked "Could neo-paganism be the new ‘religion’ of America?" In 2021 it was The New York Times, "Is the West Becoming Pagan Again?" and the hip witches of Jersey. By 2022, Jonathan Cahn decreed the gods had returned.
Many say a revival is the solution. I don't disagree, but apparently it has to begin in churches. Claire Cecewicz pointed out the rising trend in her article “‘New Age’ Beliefs Common among Both Religious and Nonreligious Americans,” over on the Pew Research Center website.
One question that bothers me is what have we done to the Gospel that makes people turn to witchcraft and ancient idols like Isis and Athena for answers?
Yes, I know deceit is a sign of the end times we live in, but still... How did the Gospel come to be regarded as ineffective?
The answers are many, but are hauntingly similar to the Jewish witness leading up to the days of Maresha. The solutions to the problems in our day vary, and we are NEVER without hope...
If we can, we'd love to help you in your effort to share Jesus with your family and your friends. Check out our Books page for material you can use to do just that, no knuckle bones required.
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