Just suppose that the government had ordered you to do something that was against your religious beliefs? What would you do? Wait, the government would not ever do that right? The government has never done that correct? Well, maybe you ought to think about this very proposition again.
This is where things will get much more interesting. Never mind the conditions of today, I am not talking about today. Yet, for many of us, we only live in the now. There was no past, there is no future, we live like there is only today. The past is the past. It is not important. After all, is that not what we were taught in school?
Now, before you begin to think that this is about school, I will remind you this is about you, your life, and your eternal salvation. Are you interested now? Are you paying attention at this point?
Are you about to change how you look at everything from now on? If you are not, I would encourage you to read something else. This is too serious and too important.
What could this possibly be? This is simply the most important lesson you will learn today and something that will change your life from now on.
Margaret Mead explained the importance of education like this, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” This is what we have not done a very good job of in our religious education for the past several generations. How could a lack of education about our religious history make a difference in our lives today or in our future?
There are three main points to this answer.
First, we have forgotten our past or probably more importantly we never learned properly about our past. As such, we are not looking toward it for guidance and strength. There have been many times in history, whereas Margaret Mead again explained, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.” We have been taught that we are helpless individuals and we can not go against the state or its principles. What happens when things stay in the past and then we forget them or more importantly never remember? I will explain only bad things happen. We are strong and brave people. Our forefathers have gone through much worse and we are the product of their success. Let us not forget what they have done for us and let us not forget what they have done for our faith.
Second, most of us do not read the Holy Bible near enough. This can be attested to by looking at what people are saying about the Holy Bible. Look at these words from an August 01, 2018 article by David E. Briones, “ Protestant, Should Protestants Read the Apocrypha?” He explained it this way.
“The term Apocrypha literally means “hidden writings.” These writings (except 2 Esdras) first appeared in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures produced in Alexandria, Egypt, around 200 BC. It initially began as a translation of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), but, as more and more ancient Jews came to speak Greek rather than Hebrew, it became necessary later on to translate the rest of the Old Testament as well. Over time, the writings that constitute the Apocrypha made their way into the Septuagint, potentially broadening the parameters of what Protestants refer to as the Old Testament. Some scholars have argued that Jewish religious authorities in Alexandria accepted the Apocryphal books as part of the canon—as authoritative texts that define doctrine and practice—and that the Jews in Palestine rejected these books as canonical. Others have disagreed, stating that the ancient Jews were united in rejecting the Apocrypha as Scripture.”
Now, without a real historical background in this area, you might even believe the person. Does he make a great deal of sense? What, how can this possibly be? Simple, we may not know or realize that his conclusions were premised on some faulty assumptions. What sounds like the truth is not really, the truth at all. Here is where we need to have a strong religious education background. In the article, Mr. Briones makes several historical errors. First, the Jewish people at the time of Christ may have spoken Hebrew in the Temple but Jesus and His Disciples spoke Aramaic and not Hebrew or Greek. His messages were in Aramaic and his followers spoke Aramaic. Aramaic is not Hebrew nor Greek. Therefore, if we were to base truthfulness solely on whether it was written or said in Greek or Hebrew as the sole factor to see if it were true- would we just have also thrown out the entirety of Jesus' Ministry. If we throw out His Ministry, do we not throw out the New Testament as well? Second, the reason why the Septuagint does not include The Maccabees is the Maccabees was written after the Septuagint. It was not because it was not important. In fact, it was Mattathias ben Johanan, a Jewish Priest, and his family, that stood up to the Greeks when they (the Greeks) were trying to take away their faith. Mattathias (Maccabees- The Hammer in Aramaic) took on the Greek government and won. He saved the Temple and saved his religion. The Festival of Hanukkah is celebrated every year to remember what he did for his country and God. Are we willing to do the same? How could we know about this and what we can do if we do not read all of the Bible? In troubled times, we need to learn what to do and how to act. What better guide can there be other than the Holy Bible?
Third, look at 1 Maccabees 2: 27, “Then Mattathias went through the town, shouting at the top of his voice, “ Let everyone who has any zeal for the Law and takes his stand on the covenant come out and follow me.” Can you imagine, giving a speech to excite the people to action? What would happen is something like that happened today? What would happen if a person took a stand against a government that was not allowing it’s people the rights to worship freely or the right to speak freely? What would happen if someone said those same words today?
Are things truly or really different today than in the past? Look at what Fulton Sheen had to say about this in his book, The Life of Christ:
The Western post-Christian civilization has picked up the Christ without His Cross. But a Christ without a sacrifice that reconciles the world to God is a cheap, colorless, itinerant preacher who deserves to be popular for His great Sermon on the Mount but also merits unpopularity for what He said about His Divinity on the one hand, and divorce, judgment, and hell on the other. This sentimental Christ is patched together with a thousand commonplaces, sustained sometimes by academic etymologists who cannot see the Word for the letters or distorted beyond personal recognition by a dogmatic principle that anything which is Divine must necessarily be a myth. Without His Cross, He becomes nothing more than a sultry precursor of democracy or a humanitarian who taught brotherhood without tears.
Brothers and Sisters, Christianity is not a religion, it is a way of life, and now I must ask you are you living your life that way? If not, repent now because I will truly tell you you should live your life here, as your future depends on it because it does. Amen