Okay, so it's not really new, but it is new to me. From time to time I happen upon some new bit of evidence that supports the veracity of the Bible. Today, what I discovered has to do with the final decades of the nation of Israel (8th c. BC).
In 2 Kings, we are told of a gradual domination of Israel by the Assyrians. Phase 1 called for King Menahem of Israel to pay tribute to Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria. Scripturally, it is described in this way:
Then Pul [aka, Tiglath-Pileser] king of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver to gain his support and strengthen his own hold on the kingdom. Menahem exacted this money from Israel. Every wealthy person had to contribute fifty shekels of silver to be given to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria withdrew and stayed in the land no longer. (2 Kings 15:19-21, NIV)
Not long after, when King Menahem died and his son was killed, King Pekah of Israel was confronted once again by the Assyrians. This time the invaders took captives and Hoshea conspired to take over Israel. Here is how that is described:
In the time of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maakah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor. He took Gilead and Galilee, including all the land of Naphtali, and deported the people to Assyria. Then Hoshea son of Elah conspired against Pekah son of Remaliah. He attacked and assassinated him, and then succeeded him as king in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah. (2 Kings 15:29-30, NIV)
Finally, because Hoshea did not fulfill his role as a puppet king, Shalmanesar V, who took over the Assyrian throne from his father Tiglath-Pileser, invaded Israel and dismantled it. The biblical record remembers it this way:
Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser’s vassal and had paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison. The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:3-6, NIV)
So, what we have is a three-phase destruction of Israel. Phase 1: Tribute Only. Phase 2: Puppet King. Phase 3: Destruction and Mass Deportation. The question one might ask, however, is: "Did this really happen?" This is where my "discovery" comes in. And it has to do with what is preserved on stone tablets and ancient walls left by Assyrian leaders which speak of these same three phases. In other words, it is from these ancient sources that we find confirmation of the Bible's account.
Read for yourself how Tiglath-Pileser described Phase 1:
I received tribute from Kushtashpi of Commagene, Rezon of Damascus, Menahem of Samaria [the capital of Israel] . . . gold, silver, tin, iron, elephant-hides, ivory linen garments with multi-colored trimmings, blue-dyed wool, ebony-wood, boxwood-wood, whatever was precious (enough for a) royal treasure. (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, J.B. Pritchard, 2011, pp. 264-265)
Tiglath-Pileser later goes on to describe Phase 2 -- the installation of Hoshea as the puppet king and the continued tribute:
Israel . . . overthrew their king Pekah and I placed Hosea as king over them. I received from them 10 talents of gold, 1,000 talents of silver as their [tri]bute and brought them to Assyria. (ANET, p. 265)
Finally, came Phase 3, which though initiated by Shalmaneser was claimed by Sargon II who deposed Shalmaneser in the year of Israel's fall. Sargon II recorded it this way:
I besieged and conquered Samaria, led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it. (ANET, p. 266)
So, again what is described is a three-phase dismantling of the sovereignty of Israel by Assyria. It is what the Bible says. It is what the record of the Assyrians tells us.
Okay, I admit I can be bit of a Bible nerd at times, but it seems to me that information like this is rather significant. There's a good chance that at some point you have heard the claim that the Bible is just a made-up book of stories. It may have even caused a few doubts to enter your mind. But there is no need for that. "Discoveries" like this are just waiting to be found. If you are willing to look.
To make your own discoveries, check out The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by James M. Holden & Norman Geisler.
It's been a good bit since I last posted here. Mostly because I have been engaged in other writing projects. But since my last post was "On the Eve of the Election," it seems fitting to add something on the eve of the inauguration. As I look back on what I wrote in November, I find myself with little fresh to say. It's not that my creative juices have run dry, but only that what I wrote then seems to apply just the same now. So, with the risk of being repetitive, I offer what I said in November with a few tweaks for tomorrow's passing of the leadership baton.
1. No one gets into power apart from God. We can say that so and so is God’s man or woman for the job, but ultimately that is an estimation that is left up to God. I can buck that idea by saying, “God would never want that person in authority,” but according to Scripture, I would be wrong. That means that Joe's Biden is the one God has established for this season of our country. That might excite you or concern you, but in either case proper honor is due. | For there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God (Romans 13:1). Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor (1 Peter 2:17).
2. Fear God, not man. About half of you are greatly disappointed by the election results. The person you voted for did not win, and with that loss may have come a great deal of fear. Some of your fears might even come to fruition, yet Jesus made it clear that man is never who we should fear. Fear should be reserved for God and God alone. He is the one who will care for us even if earthly authorities do not. He is the only one worthy of our trust. That is true whether you supported Trump or Biden. | Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:28-31). Put not your trust in princes, in mortal man, who cannot save. . . . Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God (Psalm 146:3,5).
3. Pray for those in authority. Today I spoke a prayer for both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. I prayed that Mr. Trump's heart would not become retractably embittered, but that he would find wisdom and solace and peace in God. I prayed that Mr. Biden would know the voice of God as he has never known before, and that regardless of those yelling at him from both sides of the aisle, he would do what is right and good. But even if he doesn't, I have no less reason to pray. If the Apostle Paul urged Christians to pray for the demented and wicked Emperor Nero, how can I not do the same when a president of either party makes a call with which I do not agree? | I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4). But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
4. God will win. Evil will lose. If you’re like most Americans, you believed that one candidate or the other was evil, maybe even both! So here is a good reminder if the “evil” candidate you didn’t vote for won, you need not fret or bear arms; if he really is evil, God will have the final say. And, amazingly, those who find their refuge in Christ will ultimately be on the winning side. | They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers (Revelation 17:14).
5. Nothing alters the two great commandments. I hope that President Biden ushers in a new era of goodness, justice, and compassion. But let’s suppose instead that he ushers in a new era of evil, injustice, and persecution like we have never seen. What shall we do? We should remember that there are two great commandments: Love God and love others. And nothing, I mean nothing, should keep us from doing that. | One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:28-31).
As I said, there isn't much new here from November. But that's one of the real advantages of anchoring one's life on the enduring truth of Scripture--it does not change even when the social and political winds do. Today, as in November, I encourage you to set your eyes on the God who is over it all and dwell on all He says is worthy of our attention. | Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
John likes to help people wrestle with the big questions of life in his work with Search Ministries. He served as a pastor in Houston for 16 years, earned his doctorate at Biola University, and is a contributing author of Reasons to Believe: Thoughtful Responses to Life’s Toughest Questions.