Bible Reading: John 17
Everybody wants to tell us what to do…what to think…what to believe…how to live our life. They are smarter than us. They know better than us. They just want to help us. Right. And the sad thing is that many people are willing to twist the truth, to tell a little white lie…if that is what it takes to convince us. So, where do we turn for the truth? We turn to God’s Word, the Bible.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
You’re standing in line at the store waiting to pay for your groceries. On both sides of you there are displays filled with magazines. You read the title of the cover page article on one magazine, “LeBron James Admits He is from Mars”. Another magazine title says, “20-foot Skeleton of Giant Found Under Parking Lot in Florida.” Another says, “Woman in South America Gives Birth to 30-pound Baby.” Okay, those are just stupid. But you’re used to it. You see those kinds of stories in magazines, newspapers, and on the television all the time. In fact, they even have a name for it, “Fake News”. At first, it seemed a little funny. But now, some of the stories have gotten so serious that they have supposedly even affected elections in some countries. In Malaysia, you can get up to 6 years in prison for printing Fake News, and France is about to pass a law making Fake News illegal.
But it hasn’t always been this way. Years ago, newspapers were trusted and people expected them to print the truth. But then, in the mid-1800s, cheaper newspapers, containing more stories, and intended to attract the attention of the general population (not just the wealthy), became popular. They were called the “penny press”. And, it wasn’t long before fake news stories began to appear. Let me tell you about a funny one.
The year was 1835. The place was Capetown, South Africa. The announcement was in a series of six articles in the New York Sun newspaper written by Dr. Andrew Grant, a colleague of the famous astronomer (a scientist who studies the stars), Sir John Herschel. The event was the discovery of life on the moon. Those are the details…now here is the story.
According to the articles, the year before (January, 1834), Herschel had traveled to Capetown to set up a powerful new telescope that was 24-feet in diameter (modern telescopes of our day are only 17-feet in diameter). But, what made this telescope even more powerful was a special second lens. The new technology of the “hydro-oxygen microscope” magnified and illuminated what was seen through the telescope, and then projected that image onto a canvas screen. Because of the second lens, even the smallest and most distant object could be seen with absolute clarity.
In six articles, Grant recorded the amazing findings of Herschel that had taken place over a period of several months…
Day 1: The first article introduced Grant as a former pupil of Sir William Herschel (John Herschel’s famous uncle who had discovered the planet Uranus). Grant was now the traveling companion of John Herschel. Herschel had written a scholarly account of his discoveries for the Royal Society (of science, in England) and Grant had reprinted this account of Herschel’s discoveries for the Edinburgh Journal of Science in a form intended for the general public. It was titled:
GREAT ASTRONOMICAL DISCOVERIES
BY SIR JOHN HERSCHEL, L.L.D. F.R.S. &c.
At the Cape of Good Hope
[From Supplement of the Edinburgh Journal of Science].
Day 2 (Wednesday): On January 10, 1835, Herschel first focused his telescope on the moon and saw rocks covered by a dark red flower. As he looked further across the lunar landscape he saw herds of animals resembling a buffalo, a bluish colored goat, and some kind of creature that appeared to live in the water but rolled down the beaches. Herschel had discovered life on the moon!
Day 3 (Thursday): Herschel saw many more plants…listing 38 different kinds of trees, and twice that many plants. He also discovered 14 more different kinds of animals. But the most exciting discovery was a kind of beaver. It walked on two legs like a human, carried its baby in its arms, lived in huts, and knew how to use fire.
Day 4 (Friday): It was on this day that Herschel discovered creatures that looked like humans. With the exception of their faces (which were yellow in color like an orangutan), the bodies of these creatures were completely covered with short, copper-colored hair. They also had wings that were covered with a thin, hairless membrane that enabled them to fly. He named them the “Vespertilio-homo, or bat-man”. As he watched them he realized that they were intelligent creatures because they were carrying on conversations with one another.
Day 5 (Saturday): Herschel discovered a temple made from polished sapphire with a roof of yellow metal that gave the appearance of flames of fire rising upward.
Day 6 (Monday): On Monday, August 31, Herschel discovered a more superior form of Vespertilio-homo living near the sapphire temple. They were larger in size and lighter in color. They spent their time collecting fruit, flying around, bathing, and talking with one another.
Unfortunately, the next day when Herschel returned to his laboratory, he discovered that there had been a fire. They had accidentally left the powerful lens of the telescope focused in a position that had caught the rays of the sun. Acting like a “burning glass” it had caused a fire that had burned down a wall in the lab. Finally, after a week of repair work, they once again looked through the telescope only to find that the moon was no longer visible. Grant told his readers that they viewed the moon again one month later and had discovered an even more beautiful and superior species of Vespertilio-homo. They could read about them in the upcoming publication of “Dr. Herschel’s authenticated natural history of this planet.” With that…the story ended.
People were totally fooled. They didn’t expect a hoax to appear in a newspaper. Even a committee of scientists from Yale University were deceived. They had traveled to New York city to try and find the original article that Grant had said had been published in the Edinburgh Journal of Science. They went to the office of the New York Sun for information. The employees of the Sun, knowing that the articles were fake, sent the scientists back and forth between the printing and editorial offices, hoping to confuse and discourage them. It worked…and they finally returned to New Haven (where the university was located) without realizing that they had been duped.
Finally, on September 16, 1835, the Sun admitted that the articles had been a hoax. In fact, it was later called, “The Great Moon Hoax.” Dr. Andrew Grant was not even a real person…he was fictitious. The actual author of the articles was a reporter named Richard Adams Locke who worked for the Sun. He admitted that he wrote the articles in 1840. And, the Edinburgh Journal of Science had stopped publishing years before the articles had been printed.
So why did the Sun print the fake articles? A couple of reasons. For one, and maybe the most important…it was a new newspaper and they were trying to increase their sales. And from all reports, it worked. Sales sky-rocketed. Money, money, money, money…money! Second, they were actually making fun of some astronomical theories that had recently been made. For instance, in 1824, Franz von Paula Gruithuisen (what a name!), a professor of Astronomy at Munich University (Germany), had published a paper titled, “Discovery of Many Distinct Traces of Lunar Inhabitants, Especially of One of Their Colossal Buildings”. He claimed that he had seen a variety of different colors and geometrical shapes on the surface of the moon that convinced him that he was actually seeing buildings, and roads, and cities. And more recently, a popular science writer named Thomas Dick had computed that the solar system (that’s the planets around our sun) contained 21,891,974,404,480 (that’s about 21.9 trillion) inhabitants. The moon itself contained 4,200,000,000 inhabitants. His articles were very popular. The Sun was poking fun at these supposedly scientific, intellectual articles.
Fake News. And you thought it just started recently. Nope. So the question is, “Who do you trust?” Everybody has an agenda. Everybody is trying to convince us that they are right. And in these days…truth doesn’t seem to matter. If you have to fabricate some story, if you have to twist some facts, if you have to misrepresent some person…it doesn’t matter. All that matters is winning. Fake News.
But, back it up even further in time. The New York Sun newspaper wasn’t the first one to use Fake News. It was even being used in the days of Jesus. There were wild rumors and reports being made all of the time. Some people claimed to be the Messiah. Others claimed to have supernatural, miraculous powers. Still others claimed that they were going to conquer the Romans and free Israel. Then, there were the lies being spread by the Jewish leaders about Jesus. They claimed that He was a false prophet, that He didn’t really heal people but only deceived the crowds, that His teachings were incorrect and against Scripture, and that He was an immoral man controlled by demons and Satan. Fake News. Who are you going to believe?
Well, Jesus knew that all of this was going on…and He wasn’t going to allow it to stop Him, or to confuse His disciples. So, He appealed to the Word of God as the basis for all that He taught and all that He did. No Fake News there. Just truth. Total, eternal, and perfect truth. One day, Jesus was praying to the Father. He was praying out loud so that the people could hear. He said, “Your Word is truth.” He was making a statement, there. A declaration. A proclamation. He was saying that no matter what anyone else said, no matter what anyone else claimed…God’s Word was the standard by which it was to be judge. If it was not in keeping with what God said in His Word…it was Fake News. Don’t believe it. Not even for a minute. “Your Word is truth.” And get this…it is the same, today.
In our world there are many people and many organizations that claim to have the answers to the questions that people ask and the problems that people face. There are religions, and philosophies, and political agendas, and social programs, and cultural prejudices…and many other factors that influence people’s opinions and beliefs. But here is their problem. None of them has a total and eternal and perfect basis. They are all based on what people think and what is currently going on in their world. And the sad thing is that people are not nearly as smart as they think they are.
When Jesus said, “Your Word is truth”…He was declaring that God’s Word (the Bible) is to be the basis for our decisions concerning all of the matters in our lives. Everything. Every time we have a question…turn to the Bible. Every time we have an issue…turn to the Bible. God’s Word has the answers to them all. “Your Word is truth.”
Stop and think about it. When we trust God’s Word…when we make our decisions based on what it says, and when we live our life according to its teachings…it sure does take a lot of the guess-work out of life. Why? Because…
- God is all-wise…He knows exactly what to do.
- God is all-loving…He will only do what is the very best for us.
- And, God is all-powerful…He can do whatever needs to be done.
So, whatever God says to do…is the best and right thing to do. “Your Word is truth.” What an incredible God!
So, no more Fake News. You have the truth in God’s Word, the Bible. When you do what it says…you will be blessed.
Oh, and that story about LeBron James…I’m not so sure. Have you seen that guy jump?
Love you more than bunches and bunches,