“He seals up the hand of every man; that all men may know His work.”
Job 37:7 (NKJV)
While on a recent international fact-finding mission (OK…actually just a trip to Toronto for a family wedding), Marion and I visited the Royal Ontario Museum. Imagine the Sydney Opera House crash landing on the Smithsonian and you’ve pretty much got the setting. (Canadians do have a sense of humor.)
We walked up from the subway having no idea what we were going to see. The cashier asked if we wanted tickets to the Mesopotamia exhibit (featuring artifacts on loan from the British Museum), so we were treated to a couple of hours of a really, really good history lesson.
While we were buying our tickets, the cashier at the counter position next to us (his name was Rex) made some impious statement to a visiting couple about how glad he was that his parents hadn’t imposed any religious beliefs on him. (Rex apparently hasn’t thought much about atheism as a religion.) I mention Rex’s sound bite because it followed me around the museum for quite a while; a sad reminder of how people can bristle right past the evidence.
The Mesopotamia exhibit was spectacular. This is the kind of stuff that was printed in my junior high history text, but went right over my head due to my lack of effort and interest. It turns out I missed a lot. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on atheists.
The exhibit had way too much content to summarize in a blog post, but there I was staring at 4,500-year-old cuneiform records, spectacular relief sculptures depicting epic battles that were interpreted with digital animation displays overhead, and a whole section related to the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the king during the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrew people. There was a striding lion relief sculpture from the Ishtar gate to Nebuchadnezzar’s palace—that Daniel, Esther and Mordecai would have no doubt laid eyes upon. There was also a chunk of the Enuma Elish (the Babylonian creation myth), referenced by Hugh Ross in his Cosmic Fingerprints DVD.
But the single most impressive artifact was a cuneiform tablet documenting the capture of Jerusalem on 15/16th March 597 BC, and the removal of King Jehoiachin to Babylon. Why is this so impressive? Here is conclusive, extra-biblical evidence that corroborates the Old Testament—specifically in 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Esther, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Jehoiachin even gets mentioned in the genealogy in Matthew 1. That’s a lot of corroboration! And by the way, Jehoiachin turns up on more than one Babylonian cuneiform tablet. (Click here to see all the Bible verses involving Jehoiachin and his Babylonian captivity.)
When we started this blog, I thought we would do a lot more archaeology than we have posted to date (although we have reported on several compelling archaeological finds). For whatever reasons, we tend to favor apologetics and topical material, but there is a tremendous amount of support for the Christian faith in the field of archaeology. Sometimes it takes more work to appreciate the archaeological significance, and maybe that’s why people tend to overlook the evidence.
An Atheist’s Conversion Through Archaeology
If you are interested in archaeological support for the Bible and the Christian faith, meet Mark McGee, a former atheist and self-admitted “faith bully.” Mark is currently producing a series entitled “Convince Me There’s a God” where he documents some of the substantial archeological discoveries that convinced him to become a Christian, including (to date):
The Cyrus Cylinder
The Moabite Stone (also known as the Mesha Inscription or Stele)
The Taylor Prism and Sennacherib’s Wall
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Discovery of the Hittite Nation
The Philistines Capturing the Ark of the Covenant at Shiloh
There are many, many archaeological discoveries that support what we find written in the Bible. If you want more resources try the Biblical Archaeology Society and Ferrell’s Travel Blog. Christians aren’t making this up—the Bible is coming out of the ground continually, and the evidence strongly supports the Christian faith.
That All Men May Know His Work
Back to the Royal Ontario Museum and our friend Rex. While wandering through the museum, we came upon a magnificent mosaic with Job 37:7 at its focal point: “That all men may know His work.” The mosaic was designed in 1933 by Charles Currelly, an archaeologist who was trained as a Methodist minister.
Today, there’s precious little throughout Toronto to link any type of Judeo-Christian history to the culture of this extremely diverse city. But there are signs of God’s handiwork everywhere—if you are willing to look objectively at the evidence.
So what would I say to someone like Rex? Something like this. I’m sorry, but you can’t credit your parents for not imposing beliefs upon you, religious or otherwise. You’re a grown-up. Faith is not something that is passed down from parent to child like an object or inheritance. It’s not something that can be ‘imposed’ at all. It is something that can be modeled, and it is something that can—and should—be arrived at through a careful study of the evidence. Kierkegaard understood faith in the proper context, prescribed by the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12 as something that we are to work out individually. So take a walk down the hall, and look up into that golden rotunda, and be inspired “that all men may know His work.” The evidence is all around us.
To celebrate this, my 100th, Veracity post here’s an attempt to one-up our previous dinosaur photo. Futalognkosaurus is large by any standard, and the only place you can see one in Canada is in the Royal Ontario Museum lobby.
HT: Mark McGee, Elli Davis, Alan English