Hard Questions About the Bible

My sources are the book, ‘Ancient Civilizations’, published 2006 by McGraw Hill and National Geographic, and Hinduwebsite.com

Hinduism originated with the Aryans, northern people who migrated to and conquered India about 1500 B.C. The Aryans believed in many gods and goddesses who controlled the forces of nature.  We know about Aryan religion from ancient hymns and poetry, especially epics, or long poems.  For centuries, the priests, or Brahmins, recited these works, and they were eventually written down in Sanskrit. Over the centuries, the Aryans borrowed religious ideas from the Indians, and this mix of beliefs eventually became Hinduism.

The Aryans also developed the caste system. A caste is a social group that someone is born into and cannot leave.  The Aryans were light skinned and it is believed that they developed the caste system to control the darker skinned Indians.  The Aryans were outnumbered by Indians, and the caste system kept them separate and set rules for everyone’s behavior.

The caste system was also justified by religious beliefs about purity.  It was easy to justify avoiding unclean or socially unacceptable people for the reason of maintaining spiritual purity, but this evolved into stigmatizing people simply because of their birth and family lineage, and believing it was the will of God.

I’m Glad That Works for You

I’ve heard people who don’t want to hear about Christianity say, “I’m glad that works for you”, meaning the Christian shouldn’t impose their ideas on them, that they’re fine the way they are.  In my life, I knew that most of the time I took God for granted, but when things went wrong, when a family member got sick, for example, I suddenly started praying to God.

When things are ok, people usually don’t need God, but when things go wrong, they suddenly turn to God.  When life is good, when people are prosperous, it’s easy to think that they are in control, that they worked for it and deserve it, they find strength within themselves, and they don’t need God to help them.  But the reality is that life is not always controllable, sometimes you are in a situation where you are at the end of your rope, then what do you do?

I’ve heard that people in poorer Christian countries are more likely to believe in God, in miracles, the work of the devil, etc. Someone that I know from the Philippines told me that the reason people in America don’t experience as many miracles, is because Americans don’t believe as much in miracles, I thought that was interesting.

Christians believe that God is in control of everything.  That may be a scary thought, or it may be comforting.  Christians also believe that you can know God better by reading the Bible.  They can gain strength from God because they know that their own strength has limits, and that if you accept Jesus as savior,  you’re assured of your future in heaven.

Are Bible Prophecies True?

There are many prophecies in the Bible which Christians believe came true.  Many completed prophecies have historical facts to prove their validity.

Genesis 16 in the Bible tells of the Jews and the Arabs.  Abraham and his wife Sarah could not have children, so Sarah convinced Abraham to conceive with her maid servant Hagar.  Hagar gave birth to a son named Ishmael.  Abraham and Sarah later had another son named Isaac.

Genesis 16:12 says “He (Ishmael) will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Ishmael is widely accepted by Arabs as their ancestor, and Isaac is accepted by the Jews to be their ancestor. This is partly why there is animosity between the Arabs and Jews in the Middle East to this day, because both believe that their ancestor is the chosen one by God.

There are many other prophecies in the Bible, some Bible scholars suggest that there are over 300 prophecies about Jesus that came true.  Many are small details, like his birthplace, lineage, and death.

Matthew 1:1–17 gives the geneology (family lineage) of Jesus. It starts with Abraham. Other passages in the Bible detail the lineage from Adam to Abraham. Matthew 1 lists the genealogy of Jesus through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, then through David, then finally Jesus.

Genesis 49:10 says that “The scepter will not depart from Judah.”, meaning that Jesus is descended from Jacob’s son Judah, originator of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

2 Samuel 7:12-13 says (talking about King David) “I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”

My source is the book, ‘Ancient Civilizations’, published 2006 by McGraw Hill and National Geographic.

The ancient Greeks believed that oracles were able to give prophecies, or predictions of the future. An oracle was a priest or priestess who claimed to receive advice or prophecies from the gods.

The most famous was the oracle of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.  The oracle chamber was deep inside the temple, and the room had an opening in the floor where volcanic smoke hissed from a crack in the earth.  A priestess sat and listened to questions and the priests translated her answers.

The priestess often gave her answers in riddles.  When one king, named Croesus, sent messengers to the Oracle at Delphi, they asked if the king should go to war with the Persians. The oracle replied that if Croesus attacked the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire. Overjoyed to hear these words, Croesus declared war on the Persians, but the Persian army crushed his army. The mighty empire that King Croesus destroyed was his own!

 

Greek Mythology

My sources are http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/greek-mythology, http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Mythology/ and the book, ‘Ancient Civilizations’, published 2006 by McGraw Hill and National Geographic.

The ancient Greeks worshiped twelve gods and goddesses, Zeus, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Aphrodite, among others. Multiple gods were common in ancient religions, dating back from the Mesopotamians and Egyptians. Each god was thought to control an aspect of nature or people’s lives.

Zeus ruled the sky and threw lightning bolts, the goddess Demeter made the crops grow, and Poseidon caused earthquakes. The Greeks sought the god’s favor and good fortune by performing rituals and building temples.

The mythology of the Greek gods started from oral traditions, but the first well-known origin story came from the poem Theogony written by Hesiod.  The mythology of the gods became a religion and also as entertainment in stories and plays.  The gods were essentially characters in drama, art and literature like Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey, and stories of Hercules, Achilles, Perseus and more.

My sources are https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization and the book, ‘Ancient Civilizations’, published 2006 by McGraw Hill and National Geographic.

The Mayan empire in Mexico (250 – 950 A.D.) was governed by military rulers who believed they were god-kings who were descended from the sun.  The Mayan king Jasaw Chan K’awiil I built a great pyramid at Tikal to honor himself.

As god-kings, Mayan rulers taught their subjects how to please the gods, one way was human sacrifice.  When the Mayans waged war, they wanted captives more than land.  This is because most of the human sacrifices came from the ruling groups of conquered peoples.  The lower class captives were kept as slaves.

During times of drought, Mayan priests sacrificed captives to Chac, the god of rain and sunlight.  The Mayans believed that the gods controlled everything.  The priests, who claimed to know what the gods wanted, set up a strict class system for the people.

My sources are http://www.ancient.eu/religion/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Mesopotamian_religion,  and the book, ‘Ancient Civilizations’, published 2006 by McGraw Hill and National Geographic.

The earliest forms of religion were borne out of people’s need to explain natural phenomena and to bring some sense of order to their lives.  For example, the Sumerians (beginning around 4500 B.C) believed in many gods, each was thought to have power over a natural force or a human activity.  In ancient Egypt, the main god was Re, the sun god, who was worshiped for the hope of good harvests.  Other gods were Hapi (ruler of the Nile river),  Osiris (ruler of the dead) and the goddess Isis (representing the loyal wife and mother).

In China, during the Shang dynasty, (1750 B.C), people worshiped gods and spirits.  Spirits were believed to live in the mountains, rivers and seas.  The people believed they had to make the gods happy by making offerings of food and other goods.  They believed that angry spirits might cause farmers to have a poor harvest or armies to lose a battle.  Spirits of ancestors were honored, and offerings were made in the hope that the ancestors would help in times of need  and bring good luck.