LOOKING AT THE PAST TO SEE THE FUTURE (BRITISH MUSEUM – BLOOMSBURY LONDON)


Wednesday January 1, 2020


KINGDOM ADVENTURE
By GILDA PINEDA DIONELA

British Museum in London is the first public national museum in the world. It keeps about eight million works that pertain about human history, art and culture that came from different parts of the world. It is the mother museum of Natural History Museum. The Museum has ten curatorial and research departments. I am interested in Middle East and Egypt Departments where it all began.

I believe that the Bible is the authentic written record of the history of man. For us to trace back our history we relied on things and places left behind by generations who were there before us. I am an avid follower of biblical creationists and biblical archaeologists among others and it is a great joy to discover evidences of the Bible. However, I do not regard evidence above the Word of God. For me, the Bible remains to be the highest authority even in the absence of evidence. But if evidence is available, I appreciate it even more. That is why I laud British Museum so much because hundred thousands of evidences about the Bible are there.

THE BIBLE AND MESOPOTAMIA (MIDDLE EAST DEPARTMENT)

Ancient Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers Tigris and Euphrates, was composed of; Babylonians, Sumerians and Assyrians. The scope of modern-day Mesopotamia is Iraq, parts of north and east Syria and parts of south east Turkey. Assyria was one of the ancient powerful nation, its arts and architecture were discovered in many British excavations and kept in the British Museum. During the last century of Assyria’s power and dominance, the old capital Ashur was the religious, ceremonial and cultural centre, while Nineveh was the place of royal power. Ashur region was located at the southernmost edge of rain fed farming area while the Nineveh area was one of the most fertile regions in northern Mesopotamia. In the 7th century Nineveh became the capital of Assyria. Nineveh was mentioned several times in the Bible. In the book of Jonah (793-753 BC), God sent him to Nineveh to call the people to repent. The people repented and believed God not because an ordinary foreigner like Jonah shouted out loud in the prosperous city but there were visible manifestations of God’s power. Before the Lord spoke to Nineveh through Jonah, the Lord spoke through series of events in nature, political and military; and extraordinary miracles. The cuneiform tablet called Assyrian Chronicle and the Bible recorded it accurately;

1) In nature – total sun eclipse on 15 June 763 BC, described also in Amos 8;9 under King Jeroboam II (786-746 BC); great wind and violent storm (Jonah 1:4); calmed the sea (Jonah 1:15); scorching east wind (Jonah 4:8)

2) Military/political Defeat – Revolt in the Citadel (763-762 BC); Assyria’s decline in power (2Kings 14:26-28)

3) Extraordinary Miracle– Jonah inside the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights, Jonah drowned (Jonah 2:6) and the Lord resurrected him, the big fish vomited Jonah, the Lord provided leafy plant; worm which chewed the plant to wither

When the Lord sent a prophet like Jonah, He sent the accompanying confirmation of what the prophet had spoken. Prophets are ordinary people having extraordinary calling to speak for God. But before speaking on behalf of God, the prophet must hear from God. The attributes of God displayed when the people of Nineveh repented after Jonah preached; God is merciful to His chosen people and the Gentiles alike if they feared and listened to Him even in the Old Testament times.

The repentance of Nineveh was short lived. About one hundred fifty years after Nineveh went back to their false gods and wickedness. God sent another prophets namely Nahum and Zephaniah to announce the judgement because of their cruelty, wickedness and inhumanity.

In Nahum 1:14 ESV (645-615 BC) ‘The Lord has given commandment about you: “No more shall your name be perpetuated from the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the metal image. I will make your grave, for you are vile.” and in Zephaniah 2:13 ESV (620 BC) “And he will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, and he will make Nineveh a desolation, a dry waste like the desert”. In 612 BC the Lord exercise justice and let the Babylonians destroyed Nineveh.

The Word of the Lord given in advance to Nahum and Zephaniah came to pass. Those words were not only written on pages of the Bible but a reality we witnessed and proven in modern times. Nineveh was one of the exhibits that the Bible is not mere written words but in mighty POWER! For almost 2500 years its ruins had been under the earth as prophesied by Nahum and Zephaniah until it was discovered by archaeologist Claudius Rich in 1820, Botta in 1840 and Austen Layard from 1845 to 1851. The latter discovered thousands of cuneiform writings. In 1853 Layard’s assistant Hormuzd Rassam continued the work and discovered sculptures, the Library of Ashurbanipal king of Assyria (668-627 BC) and fragments of cuneiform tablets. George Smith who was working for British Museum, a self-taught and devoted Christian was able to decipher the cuneiform tablets in 1866. He found out the similarity of cuneiform tablets to the book of Genesis. There were missing fragments on the story of the flood. The London Daily Telegraph sponsored him to expedite the missing fragments in Nineveh. In just five days out of 30,000 cuneiform tablets he found it and he completed the famous Epic of Gilgamesh and Babylonian Epic of Creation. These could only be the Holy Spirit who led George Smith. These tablets are compilation of literary texts, preserved, and kept passed from one generations to the next through disciplined, learned and well-trained scribes. Being copied and taught diligently in the palace, community and household that is why it was kept intact for two thousand five hundred years. Modern day Nineveh is in Kouyunjik, Iraq. Beside it, is another mound known as Tell Neby Yumus- the Hill of prophet Jonah. The place where Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh. The tomb of Jonah was reported to be blown up by ISIS in 2014 and retaken by Iraqi Army in 2017. An evidence and proof that Jonah was real human being and Nineveh was a real place as recorded in the Bible.

JONAH AND JESUS

The Bible is a complete book that described who God is. His mercy and grace ever present from the beginning of creation that man often ignored such as sunrise, flowers in the spring and mountains among others. If man has forgotten God sent a prophets. Among several powerful and anointed prophets, it is well to note that Jesus compared Himself to Jonah though the miracles performed by other prophets such as Moses displayed that God is the God of Creation too. A strong words Jesus has spoken, Matthew 12:39-40 ESV ‘But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. As I understood it, the greatest miracle of all that man can experience is death and resurrection (eternal life) through the death and resurrection of Son of God, Jesus Christ being the first fruit.

There are some people who do not believe in hell because God is merciful, loving and will never let man go to hell no matter who they are and what they have done. They have forgotten God is just. The meeting place of these two opposites, mercy and judgement is at the cross of Jesus Christ. When God’s only begotten Son died on the cross, Jesus took the punishment that belong to us. The message of Jonah was repentance. If man will be saved no matter who they are and what they believed, go to British Museum and looked at the fragments of what was left on once enormous, prosperous and magnificent city who ignored the Word of God. No man, woman, organization, city or nation is more powerful than the Word of God. The Lord is not weak that He cannot act on atrocity, mockery, injustice and violence but He is patient and giving everyone the opportunity, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Heaven and Hell are real places as real as Nineveh. The message of repentance is given not to terrify people but to invite people to choose everlasting joy found only in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.



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