by Don Johnson
Today is a travel day for your correspondent, so we will have no ‘Around the Web’ feature this week. Instead, I’d like to offer you two highlights from my recent trip to London, England. At the moment this article posts (1 AM Eastern Time) I should be heading for Heathrow on my journey home.
A major highlight of our last two days ‘touristing’ around London was last night’s Wednesday night Bible Study at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Baptist Church. Peter Masters preached a very fine message on Ephesians 3.19 and knowing the love of Christ. It really capped our week. Pastor Masters graciously took our group up to his study to show us the famous portraits of Spurgeon, Gill, and other pastors of the church and some handwritten notes of Spurgeon’s sermons. The night before we had attended Evensong at Westminster Abbey. The contrast between the two services was remarkable. One was art, the other was Spirit. One, the officiants left you wondering if they believed what they were saying, the other… well, you could tell the pastor believed every word he said. What a blessing. The people of the church were kind and gracious and the spiritual bond was instantaneous.
Our visit to Metropolitan Tabernacle is connected to the Archaeology and Biblical Evidences of our title by pastor Master’s little book, Heritage of Evidence in the British Museum. This little book highlights many of the finds in the ancient civilizations galleries that confirm the accuracy of Biblical passages and descriptions. Pastor Masters called our attention to something we had noticed – a few of the exhibits have been moved around in the rooms from where he describes them in the book, but most of them are in the same room and if you compare pictures with artifacts you can find most of them.
And all of that brings me to a few of the pictures I took while at the British Museum on Tuesday. One of the men in our church said, “Oh, you can look at all that stuff in text books.” Well, that is true. But there is something about being there. If you ever get a chance to come to Britain, get pastor Masters’ book and go to the Museum!
Here are a few pictorial highlights and their significance:
What young man doesn’t know one line from this verse? “And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.” 2 Kings 9:20
The kneeling figure in this black obelisk from Assyria is Jehu who is named in the writing on the stone. The stone memorializes the greatness of Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria. Here, in the first year of Jehu’s reign, he pays homage and tribute to Shalmaneser to secure the northern borders of his kingdom. Having just overthrown the line of Ahab, he wants no trouble with his northern neighbors.
In 2 Ki 18.13-15, Sennacherib came against Judah, taking the fortified cities on a route from the southwest of Jerusalem. The last city on this road, Lachish, was only thirty miles from Jerusalem. Sennacherib thought so much of this victory that he had wall reliefs made describing the battle for Lachish and his ultimate victory there. In the scene to the left you see captives from Lachish being taken away.
In the second scene, you see more of the same.
These pictures make much of the victory over Lachish. Another object in the museum, the Taylor Prism, describes the same battle. (It is the prism shaped stone object on the right in the photo below):
One of the interesting things about Sennacherib’s record keeping is that he doesn’t appear to want to say anything about Jerusalem:
2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
Ahab and Jezebel:
These ivory pieces come from the palace of this notorious king and his infamous queen. It is fascinating to think of these people while standing a foot or so away from things they handled themselves.
Last, but not least, is this cylinder from Cyrus the Persian, who overthrew the Babylonians and became the ruler of the world.
This barrel shaped piece of clay is a copy of a decree issued by Cyrus soon after his reign began. It is an important piece confirming the historical accuracy of the biblical record. Critics used to attack the idea expressed in Ezra 1.1-3, where Cyrus sends the children of Israel home to rebuild an house to the Lord in Jerusalem. It was thought that a king of his era would lack the political sophistication to issue such a decree of toleration and religious liberty. This inscription puts to rest that criticism. Peter Masters quotes the cylinder on p. 93 of his book:
As to the inhabitants of Babylon … I abolished the unpaid labour and denial of social standing … I brought relief to their derelict dwellings … I returned to the sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris (the sanctuaries of which had long been in ruins) the images which once lived in them and established for them [the images] permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered their former inhabitantI s and returned them …
There are many more interesting objects in the British museum. It is really impossible to absorb their significance in one visit. A return visit is certainly in order.
I hope you will excuse my poor photography, but perhaps the pictures and article might stimulate you to learning more about the archaeological confirmations of biblical statements.
Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria and serves on the FBFI board as chair of the Communications Committee which is responsible for this blog.