We can learn a thing one of two ways. One, intellectually and the other experientially. We can learn from conduct of other nations intellectually by studying what they did and the result thereof. Or, we can engage in their conduct hoping for a better result. For a culture to change and a new culture emerge an old one has to die. Most often it is killed.

For generations Israel was basically a stable culture. Then a leader emerged who changed it dramatically. Historian Flavius Josephus gave this description of the change.

“Herod went still farther departing from the native customs, and through foreign practices he gradually corrupted the ancient way of life, which had hitherto been inviolable. As a result of this we suffered considerable harm at a later time as well, because those things were neglected which had formerly induced piety in the masses.”

Herod used “foreign practices” that “corrupted” formerly “inviolable” practices and the people “suffered” at a “later time.”

He used the tactic of providing for his base what they wanted by taxing the wealthy. What he provided was entertainment. He started the athletic contests in Caesarea to rival the Olympic and Corinthian games. To accomplish this he built large stadiums in Jerusalem and the new city he developed and named for Caesar called Caesarea Maritima (by the sea).

To attract world class athletes and induce them to favor his games over the Greeks, he offered large prizes at the expense of the populace. He added a new feature. In the Greek games each contest had a winner, only one. He started offering first, second, and third prizes and giving rewards of gold, silver, and bronze. It worked. The Greeks eventually adopted his system and three places are still used.

It took a while for the people to realize as Josephus wrote, “It seemed a further impiety to change their established ways for foreign practices.”

Oops! Too late. Capitulation to Herod’s Roman mentality compromised the customs as well as the conscience of the country.

Neglect and abandonment of virtuous foundational practices on which the culture was built resulted in deferred suffering.

Deferred payment is on what modern America has been built. A pay later mentality only postpones the result. It is the principle now being employed to garner support of a part of society at the expense of the future.

Replacing the free enterprise with socialism, a good work ethic with an entitlement mentality, abandoning known standards for a belief there are no absolutes, and giving preference to a foreign religion while restricting the foundational faith of the country will inevitably result in deferred suffering.

Let the games begin!

Current leaders prefer not to use the word “war” as related to our present conflict. It is a word that needs to be used regarding our current “cultural war.” To lose this war would mean losing our birthright of freedom and with it our blessed way of life paid for by the blood of our predecessors and current courageous countrymen and women.

We must not like ancient Israel neglect those things “which had formerly induced piety in the masses.” For God’s sake, get involved. That is not slang. Get involved for the sake of God and country — and your own welfare.

The Rev. Dr. Nelson L. Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.


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