"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

'Let Us Be Like the Gods' Always Conks

Every empire seeks world dominance. The Sumerians, a people living in the "land between the rivers" of the Tigris and Euphrates (a land called Mesopotamia) were the first to seek world dominion. They were eventually supplanted by a larger and more aggressive people called the Hittites. The Hittites were then conquered by the  Assyrians , who were conquered by the Babylonians, who were conquered by the Persians, who were conquered by the Greeks, who were conquered by the Romans, who were conquered by the Turks, who were conquered... well, you get the picture.

Every kingdom eventually collapses. No empire reaches or sustains its goals. In the end, emperors become liars and empires grow lame. Isaac Newton, in his brilliant work The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, reveals how kingdoms have historically exaggerated their histories and their accomplishments for the sake of national pride.

Newton, probably the greatest scientiest to ever live, spent his lifetime tearing down the lies regarding ancient civilizations, particularly the intentional deceit certain civilizations (Babylonian, Egyptian, Grecian, etc.. ) have existed for tens of thousands of years. Isaac Newton believed nothing in ancient history--when properly understood--conflicts with biblical history. The Chronology of Ancient Kingoms Amended represents his lifetime of work in the historical chronologies of empires.  Newton used his brilliant intellect and unsurpassed knowledge of science, the classical languages (Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Greek, etc...) and human logic to trace the world's earliest kingdoms from one common family.

Newton, like my dear friend George Ella, believed great human cultures and superior human languages de-evolve, never evolve. The oldest languages, like those of the ancient Sumerians and Hittites--and most importantly the language of a Shemitic tribe called Hebrews--are highly complex and inflected languages. The Greek language did not evolve from grunts and groans and cave drawings to Homer's Illiad. Neither did The Song of Solomon. Hebrew love poetry from Solomon is eloquent and extremely complex, surpassing the literature of today. Where are the Solomon's of today? Where are the Homer's of today?

They have all gone the way of ancient kingdoms. They are gone. The thorn in the side of man is the belief that man is evolving into something better, reaching higher and farther than ever before, becoming "like the gods." The truth is far more sobering. Man is devolving. Man is corrupting. Man is dying. We are devolving in our languages, our cultures, and our civilizations. You object with: "But look at our scientific advancements!" I respond: "If the ancient Egyptians had our technology, they would have flown to another universe by now." We continue to devolve as mankind.

C.S. Lewis gives the reason why mankind shoots for the gods and devolves into the dung:
"The reason why man can never succeed in in this is because God made us; He invented us as a man invents an engine. A car made to run on petrol would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no no other.
That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about Him. God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
This is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended--civilizations are built up--excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few years, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. This is what Satan has done to us humans."

Amen, Mr. Lewis. Amen.

The Apostle Paul and the Oracle of Delphi

"The greatest blessings come by way of madness, indeed of madness that is heaven sent." - Socrates on the Oracle of Delphi.

When the ancient peoples around the Mediterranean Sea basin wanted wisdom from the gods they went to oracles. An oracle was a person who spoke (orated) for the gods in various temples. During the time Israel was in Babylonian captivity (6th century B.C.), a ruler in Smyrna, Lydia (modern Turkey) named King Croesus wanted to find the best oracle in the world, one with powers to divine the future better than all others. So in 560 B.C. Croesus sent his emissaries on a 100 day journey to the seven most popular oracles in the world with a question: What is King Croesus doing today?

Croesus kept a diary during those 100 days and when his messengers returned to Smyrna, he compared notes in his diary to what the oracles said. Of the seven oracles consulted, only the Oracle at Delphi (Greece) accurately described what Croesus was doing on the day the question was asked. The Oracle of Delphi said:
"I count the grains of sand on the beach and measure the sea; I understand the speech of the dumb and hear the voiceless. The smell has come to my sense of a hard shelled tortoise boiling and bubbling with a lamb's flesh in a bronze pot: the cauldron underneath it is of bronze, and bronze is the lid." 
To eat turtle soup mixed with lamb's meat prepared in a bronze pot was exactly what Croesus was doing on that particular day. This dish was not typical cuisine for kings, especially one as rich as Croesus. Amazed at the Oracle of Delphi's prescience, Croesus sent emissaries back to Delphi with gifts of gold and silver for the oracle and they asked additional questions.

For the next one thousand years (560 B.C. to A.D. 371), the Oracle of Delphi would serve as the most prestigious and revered fortune teller in the world. Her answers guided the civilized world for the timing of wars, the establishment of new settlements, and wisdom to appease the gods.

The Spartans consulted the Oracle before the Battle of Thermopolae, a turning point in the war between the Greeks and Persians, expertly portrayed in the recent Hollywood motion picture 300. Alexander the Great traveled to Delphi to consult with the Oracle before he set off to conquer the world. Socrates often went to Delphi from Athens with his students. The Oracle once declared Socrates the wisest man among the Greeks. This led Socrates to say, "This one thing I know: I know nothing." Yet the Pythia's pronouncement made such an impression on Socrates that it propelled him into a lifetime of learning by asking questions of others, something we now call the Socratic method of learning. Every major Greek and Roman leader, soldier, or politician would either personally travel to Delphi or send emissaries to Delphi to consult the Oracle. The influence of the Oracle of Delphi only dissipated after Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and the Roman world adopted Christianity as the official religion of the state.

The Oracles at Delphi Were Women

Delphi (pronounced Delphee in Greek, not Delph eye) is a community in the mountains 100 miles northwest of Athens. Greek mythology declares that Zeus let loose two eagles to find the most beautiful location on earth. The eagles circled the lands and collided at Delphi. The Greeks believed Delphi to be the center of the world (naval), around which the universe revolved.  They built a temple to the god Apollo at Delphi, and within that temple, they placed a chamber where the Oracle of Delphi greeted guests on only one day a month - the 7th day, Apollo's favorite number.

Apollo was often called Pythian Apollo because he allegedly killed a giant python snake at Delphi and took the Oracle of Delphi as his bride own. The women who served as the Oracles at Delphi were given the title of Pythia in honor of Apollo's heroic feat. Two great stone pythons guarded the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and those who wished to have their futures foretold would enter the Temple of Apollo and go to the Oracle's room in the southwest corner of the Temple.

The Pythia were a common women from the village of Delphi who had been chosen by the priests of the Temple to serve as the Oracle. The word common defines ancestry, for some of the women from Delphi who served as Pythia were slaves. The word common, however, does not define their physical beauty. Greek and Roman historians often commented in their writings on the striking beauty of the Pythia at Delphi. This beauty seemingly was a prerequisite for being chosen as a Pythia. In her divination room would be the naval stone (omphalous) which marked the Temple as the center of the world, a golden tripod upon which the Pythia would sit as she greeted guests, and across the room from where the Pythia sat was the alleged tomb of Dionysius.

The Temple of Apollo was built on inersecting geographical fault lines at Delphi. The Pythia would sit on her golden tripod over two interesecting crevices in the earth which seeped ethelyne, ethane, and methane--a cocktail of non-addictive but highly hallucinogenic gases. Contemporary Greek historians recorded a strong, sweet smell filled the Oracle's chamber, the tell-tale sign of ethylene, one of the world's first aenesthetics.

The Pythia would removed a cap from the naval stone (see picture to the left) that sat beside her chair, releasing the hallucinogenic gases that had collected underneath the naval stone which sat on top of the X of the fault lines. As the gases released, the Pythia would enter into a conscious trance as she considered the questions presented her. Swaying back and forth, she would eventually utter her answers.  The priests did not invent answers from uncipherable utterances of the Oracle, but faithfully recorded what the Oracle said. The Oracle would give a lucid, sometimes crytpic answer, in either poetry or prose. Plutarch called the Oracles of Delphi "inspired maidens." The answers to the questions posed to Oracle would be given to the supplicants, who considered the poetic responses Apollo's direction for their lives.  Entire nations would wait with baited breath for an answer from the Oracle at Delphi. It is not an exaggeration to say that a woman's words ruled ancient civilization.

Paul and the Pythia

When the Apostle Paul visited Philippi (51 A.D.) during his second missionary journey, he and Silas were followed by a young girl for many days who kept crying out to the people of Philippi, "These men are servants of the Most High God who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17). Many Christians have a hard time understanding what Paul did next. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!'And it came out at that very moment. (Acts 16:18).

The only way you can understand why Paul did what he did is to realize the biblical description of this young girl. The English versions of the Bible say she had "a spirit of divination" (Acts 16:16). The literal Greek word used to describe this woman is Pythia. She could have served in the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, or she could have been a lesser oracle. What we do know is she had the spirit of divination. She followed Paul and Silas and spoke of them as being spokespersons of Zeus, the Most High God, and said the people should listen to their words of deliverance in the same manner they listen to the words of an oracle. Of course, the Pythia was misrepresenting Paul and Silas. She was possessed by a demonic spirit and Paul delivered her. Michaelangelo would later paint the Pythia of Delphi on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but the Apostle Paul showed no such reverence to the Pythia he met in Philippi. One should always remember that all that glitters in organized religion is not gold.

When the Pythia's masters saw their hope for profit in Philippi was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities and demanded the disciples of Christ be imprisoned. Paul and Silas were thrown in jail where they would later lead the jailor to faith in Christ (Acts 16:31). The story of the conversion of the Philippian jailor and his family is a vivid reminder that God orchestrates all events (like the Pythia's actions at Philippi) for His glory and the ultimate good of His people (like the Philippian jailor).

Nothing much has changed in the world in the last 2,000 years. People still revere what God considers evil. People still persecute those who preach the gospel. But in the end, God always wins.