Recently, I went to the Oriental Institute located at the University of Chicago. The Oriental Institute is a museum and research organization devoted to the study of the ancient Near East. It was founded in 1919 by James Henry Breasted. It is an internationally recognized pioneer in the archaeology, philology, and history of early Near Eastern civilizations. One of the features of this museum is the verification of the biblical narrative by archeology. An interesting aspect of the connection between Assyrian history and biblical history is the Sennacherib Prism. The Oriental Institute has the prism on display. On one side the account is given according to the Assyrian viewpoint. “As for Hezekiah, the Judean, who did not submit to my yoke, 46 of his strong, fortified cities, as well as the small cities in their vicinity, which were without number–I besieged and conquered…Himself, like a caged bird I shut up in Jerusalem, his royal city…the terrifying splendor of my majesty overcame him, and he sent rich tribute to me in Nineveh.” (The Story According to the Sennacherib Prism). Also on display in the museum is the Story According to the Old Testament (II Kings 19:35-37). “And that night an angel of the lord (sic) went forth, and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians: and when the men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennachereib king of Assyria departed, and went home, and dwelt at Nineveh.” Is the Sennacherib version an early example of political spin?
In a recent issue of Life Times, a publication of the Ohio Right to Life organization, the new executive director, Mike Gonidakis, informed us that in 1998 the organization introduced a new strategy to reduce the number of abortions in Ohio. Statistics show that the number of induced abortions have decreased in Ohio by 12.1 percent since that time. The total number of abortions performed in Ohio in 2006 was 32,936– down 3.5% over the previous year. To see the statistics for your state, check out the Ohio Right to Life web site at www.ohiolife.org.
Another bit of interesting information posted on this website is the Modern Day Hippocratic Oath. In 1995, a prestigious group of thirty-five US physicians, the “Value of Life Committee”, issued this restatement of the Hippocratic Oath (originally attributed to a 5th century B.C. pagan physician (Hippocrates).
I swear in the presence of the Almighty and before my family, my teachers and my peers that according to my ability and judgment I will keep this Oath and Stipulation:
To reckon all who have taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents and in the same spirit and dedication to impart a knowledge of the art of medicine to others. I will continue with diligence to keep abreast of advances in medicine. I will treat without exception any who seek my ministrations, so long as the treatment of others is not compromised thereby, and I will seek the counsel of particularly skilled physicians where indicated for the benefit of my patient.
I will follow that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment I consider for the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous. I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform act or omission with direct intent deliberately to end a human life. I will maintain the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.
With purity, holiness, and beneficence I will pass my life and practice my art. Except for the prudent correction of an imminent danger, I will neither treat any patent nor carry out any research on any human being without the valid informed consent of the subject or the appropriate legal protector thereof, understanding that research must have as its purpose the furtherance of the health of that individual. Into whatever patient setting I enter, I will go for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief or curruption and further from the seduction of any patient.
Whatever in connection with my professional practice or not in connection with it I may see or hear in the lives of my patients which ought not be spoken abroad I will not divulge, reckoning that all such should be kept secret.
While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art and science of medicine with the blessing of the Almighty and respected by my peers and society, but should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot.
David wrote, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psa. 139:13-14). The lives of the innocent, unborn, must be respected and protected.
A recent article published in the American Interest Magazine written by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, entitled, “A Nation In Debt” addressed the problem of debt in the USA. Whitehead is co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. She coined a phrase that I found interesting, “a population of debtors and bettors.” Here is the quote, “Tens of millions of working Americans who might join the class of savers and investors under more favorable circumstances are being recruited into a burgeoning population of debtors and bettors” (p. 2, www.the-american-interest.com).
The present generation seems to be consumed with debt and the desire to “get-rich-quick.” They spend and gamble their way into poverty. Is this the result of the secularizing of our society? Have we abandoned Biblical principles that kept us out of debt and bankruptcy?
First, the consumer mentality is alive and well in the USA. The “I want it now” attitude is prevalent. Have we lost the ability to put off gratification? The ability to put off gratification is a sign of maturity. We wait and we defer. We exercise self-control and self-discipline. We sacrifice in the short run in order to have more in the long run.
Second, consumer credit makes it easier to have what we want today and pay for it later. The problem is that many people simply cannot say “no” to themselves and get deeper and deeper into debt. Covetousness is the sin of desiring more and more. The Bible legislates against this sin (Col. 3:5). It is a work of the flesh. The credit card industry is “anti-thrift.” It desires consumerism and wants you to buy, buy, buy. This industry promotes long-term consumer dependency on expensive credit. Between 1989 and 2001, credit card debt almost tripled, from $238 billion to $692 billion. By the fall of 2007, the amount of consumer credit had reached $937.5 billion, a 7 percent increase over the previous year. Credit card companies benefit from such high levels of consumer debt. Could greed be at work here?
Third, the “get-rich-qick” attitude is alive and well in the USA. Have we become a nation that is anti-work? Gambling has become one of the fastest growing industries in America today. The lottery is a government agency that is anti-thrift. Here’s the most significant fact. Most of those who play the lottery can least afford to do so. Players with lower incomes tend to spend more on the lottery than those with higher incomes. Even more to the point, people with lower incomes spend a larger share of their incomes on the lottery! A household with an income under $12,400 spends 5 percent of its gross income, but a household with an income of $124,000 spends about one-third of one percent of its gross income. The poor get poorer and our own state governments actively seek to grow their markets by seducing the poor. Gambling violates several Biblical principles. It violates the nobility of work (II Thess. 3:10). It stimulates covetousness and greed (Col. 3:5, I Tim. 6:6-10). The apostle Paul warns about the love of money and the desire to be rich. Those who pursue such pierce themselves through with many sorrows. Paul gives a formula for success: “godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Here are some Biblical principles that need to be restored in America. We need to restore the principle of thrift. “A penny saved is a penny earned!” Stewardship demands that we take care of the material things that God has blessed us with. Stewardship (I Cor. 4:2) means that we do not own anything and that God owns everything. We need to be faithful in our oversight of what God has blessed us with. We need to remember that work is honorable (Eph. 4:28). We must reject gambling as a sin because of the covetousness and greed it inspires (Col. 3:5). The love of money is the root of all evil (I Tim. 6:10). Many are serving the god of mammon rather than the God of heaven. This needs to change and it can change if we are willing to love God supremely.