Who tells you the truth?

Who tells you the truth? (on Deuteronomy 18:9-19)

Worship , , , automatically translated , Evangelical Free Church congregation Leichlingen

Introduction

Today I would like to start with a fighting term that has been circulating a bit in the media lately: "lying press".

You have probably heard this word several times in recent months. On the one hand, it is often used by Pegida activists, who feel that who feel misrepresented by the press.

But this term is already very old. It was used sporadically in politicians' speeches even before 1848, sometimes also by newspapers that used it to criticise other newspapers. used to criticise other newspapers. From 1848 onwards, "lying press" was used as a fighting term by Catholic-conservative circles against the liberal and democratic newspaper system. and democratic newspapers. Other variations were "shame press" and "bad press". In the end, it was already a matter of about the sovereignty of opinion. Before that, in the Catholic areas, the Catholic Church and its publications had the sole definition of what was true. definition of what is true. A press that was independent of the Catholic Church was naturally a problem.

There is something about this in the "Allgemeine Realencyclopädie oder Conversationslexicon für das katholische Deutschland" from 1849. First some Catholic newspapers are listed and then comes the following quotation:

To support and promote this Catholic press by eager participation is the sacred duty of German Catholics! But unfortunately we must blush with shame when we consider how this duty has been fulfilled by us since then. The lying press we have supported from our coffers, not the press that fights for our interests.

I think that is a fascinating quote and also a very topical quote: A press that fights for interests!

The term "lying press" has not disappeared since. In the First World War, the press of the opponents of the war was called the as the lying press. In connection with anti-Semitic ideas, there was also repeated talk of the Jewish lying press, which was carried to a climax in the Third Reich. to its climax in the Third Reich. Interestingly, Hitler did not use this term at all in "Mein Kampf", but merely He only spoke at great length about the value of propaganda in general and criticised German propaganda in World War I as being too bad, compared to the propaganda of the opponents. And the Nazis were real experts in propaganda.

At that time, the truth in the public and in the press was really at the bottom. It was just propaganda, a press that didn't care about the truth... and only fought for the interests of those in power.

After the war, the word "lying press" continued to be used in the Cold War, so back and forth. The 68ers also demonstrated against Springer with the slogan with the slogan "Bild lügen" ("Picture lies"), which is somehow understandable.

Nowadays the word is used more in right-wing circles, but the press in general has a credibility problem, not only the press but also other media such as the press. not only the press but also other media such as public broadcasting.

Last December, the newspaper "Die Zeit" had a survey done. The main question was: "Do you have the impression that the media in Germany report one-sidedly and are steered by politics?

And the distrust increases with the level of educational attainment and income.

And I share this distrust. Most of the time, when I read an article about a free church event, organisation, or so, I get the impression that the reporting is at least one-sided... events and organisations in a negative light. For example, the strange people who naturally exist in our circles are always brought in front of the cameras. in our circles.

I know my way around such events and know what they are like, and that's why the press and the public broadcasters don't seem objective to me. Why should I then trust them with other reports? Whose interests do they actually represent?

In the middle of last year, a satirical programme the organisational links of various publishers with various translational organisations and pointed out possible conflicts of interest. and pointed out possible conflicts of interest as far as objectivity was concerned. The publisher of Die Zeit took legal action against this and lost.

I could go on for a long time about this, but this topic of "truth" is ancient, and so let's take a look at an ancient text. ancient text.

Strange truths

The following passage is part of God's instructions to Israel on how to behave in the new land (Deut. 18:9-14;NL)

9 When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you must by no means adopt the the detestable customs of the peoples who live there. 10 No one of your people may make his son or daughter pass through the fire, practise divination or sorcery, interpret omens, practice witchcraft, 11 cast a spell on others, act as a medium, or summon and consult the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is an abomination to the Lord. Because of these detestable deeds, he will drive out the other nations from before you. 13 You, on the other hand, shall live as it pleases the Lord your God. 14 The nations you will drive out listen to sorcerers and soothsayers. But this the Lord your God has forbidden you.

This is already about truth. What is true, who is right? The magicians? The truth-tellers?

Let's take a closer look at this text. Several questions jump out at you.

  1. What are these customs and why are they detestable?
  2. Why do the initiators, i.e. the magicians and fortune-tellers, practice these customs?
  3. Why do so many people engage in them? Why is it necessary to warn against them at all?
  4. How do you deal with people who practise such things?

So, what are these customs? The first thing mentioned is "making your son or daughter walk through the fire". I actually researched this on the I did some research on the internet, because I wasn't quite sure what was meant by it. It could also be a kind of initiation rite of growing up, so that the young of growing up, so that the young people have to jump through a fire, or something like that. But the internet search engine led me to an ancient book, which then led me back to the Bible. In Deut. 12:31; NL it is quite clear where the gods of the other peoples in Canaan were addressed. were addressed:

You must not worship the Lord your God in this way. These peoples have done things in the name of their gods, which the Lord abhors. Yes, they have even burned their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.

OK, now I also find that, without thinking, despicable, criminal, criminal, I can't even think of any more words for it.

But what about the other things? Divination, sorcery, interpreting omens, witchcraft, casting a spell on someone, acting as a medium or conjuring the dead, what's wrong with that? What's wrong with that?

Of course, we have to distinguish illusionists, i.e. artists who create the illusion of magic through skill. magic. I find these tricks very exciting, and years ago there was a television series years ago there was a TV series where these tricks were shown and explained. I found it very interesting to see how sophisticated such tricks often are. but that has nothing to do with the people in our text.

But what is it that these people do? We know from the Bible that there is supernatural evil. There are, for example, the sorcerers Pharaoh's sorcerers who defied Moses and had such supernatural powers. Or even Jesus himself had to deal with demons here and there. But I don't think it's important at all, whether these people were using real demonic powers or just pretending to. The demand for such services certainly arose from the fear of the uncontrollable. People made sacrifices for the harvest, they tried to know what the future would bring. And overpowering enemies were cursed.

It is similar today. According to Wikipedia, surveys in some western countries have found that about a quarter of the population believe that astrology makes accurate statements about personality and events in the world, that astrology can give accurate information about a person's personality and events in their life.

Fortune-telling also still exists today. And many people use it, including educated people, business leaders and politicians. Some people say that modern economic forecasts are also a kind of fortune-telling, because they are often not accurate enough. But there But at least they try to make predictions on the basis of facts, but perhaps only on the basis of interests, which unfortunately cannot always be seen through. see through.

Yes, what does the future hold for us? I have to know what's coming beforehand so that I can make the right decisions. I can't just walk blindly blindly into the future. What does Matthew 6:31-34 say?

31 So do not worry! Do not ask: What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear? 32 For these things are the concern of the Gentiles 'who do not know God'. But your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 Let God's kingdom and God's righteousness be your first concern, and then all the rest will be given to you. 34 Do not worry about the next day. The next day will take care of itself. It is enough that each day brings its own burden.

In some situations, we already have to plan and be guided by forecasts, but if we belong to Jesus, we can already rely on this on this promise from him. Fortune-telling, astrology, interpreting omens, consulting the dead, we don't need that. On the contrary, it does not work, because otherwise otherwise the most powerful nations would have to be those where such practices are widespread, because they would then know everything beforehand.

When will the enemy come? How will the harvest be? Where are the natural resources? How will share prices develop? What are the next lottery numbers?

Maybe this is too naïve, but fortune-tellers should be filthy rich, shouldn't they?

Trusting in such nonsense makes one unfree. Back then, fear of the future drove people so far that they even sacrificed their children. even sacrificed their children. Thank God we don't have that any more.

But it was not only about knowing the future. People wanted to be able to shape the future according to their wishes. Magic, witchcraft... Put a spell on someone. There were people and circumstances that one could no longer cope with oneself. So they turned to such people, who could surely surely they could do something about it. And then you believed that sometimes it worked and you clung to that straw and gave your last money for it. Here, too, you notice the lack of freedom that comes with this kind of thinking and the fear is increased. After all, it only helps as much just as well as if one did not commission magic. And if then by chance the situation gets better, then one goes on saying: "Well, the magician helped me. Sometimes my horoscope is right. Etc."

Perhaps people were also afraid of such magicians and paid them not to do anything to them. Maybe there were powerful priests who were believed to have great powers. It was better to be on good terms with them.

Or some general drivel like: There are things between heaven and earth ... and then fear reigns again.

There are widespread superstitions in our society, I am always amazed. The other day, my wife and I had a talk with two ladies two ladies from the city administration and we had almost crossed our hands in greeting. The woman pulled her hand back and said and said, "Cross, that's bad luck." I almost yelped at the woman, "It's not bad luck!" Such a harsh reaction was probably not quite right, but our girls were there and I didn't want them to learn such crap.

We could do an experiment as a congregation. Half of us shake hands crosswise as we say goodbye and the other half don't. And next Sunday, let's talk about who's had more bad luck. I also volunteer for the crossover group. You don't believe that cross-handshakes have any effect on good or bad luck.

But you can't give the superstitious such arguments. For example, there have been extensive studies on astrology, e.g. astrological twins, i.e. people born at the same time, were compared with each other in large numbers. According to astrology, they should somehow similar, but they were not.

Or when I think of the wellness section of the beauty fair in Düsseldorf, which is in part more of an esoteric section, and I see how great the female demand for it is, and I see how much female demand there is for it, then I briefly have doubts about women in general. But probably the men are no better in that respect.

Well, and the perpetrators? The fortune tellers, sorcerers, mediums, voodoo priests, whatnot, what about them? For one thing, they profit from power and prestige. And some of them claim a monopoly on truth. Our knowledge, our teaching is right. It's all good for the ego. Some certainly mean well, but for many it will just be business.

We find this also in the New Testament, in Acts 19, 23-27;NGÜ

23 During this time there were serious disturbances 'in Ephesus' because of the new faith (faith in Jesus Christ). 24 They were triggered by the following: A silversmith named Demetrius was in charge of the production of silver replicas of the temple of the goddess Arian. of the temple of the goddess Artemis, thus bringing considerable profits to the artisans of 'the city'. 25 Now one day Demetrius organised a meeting of the craftsmen 'whom he himself employed,` and all others, who were engaged in this trade. "My friends," he said, "you know that we owe our prosperity to the manufacture of temple replicas. temple replicas. 26 But now you have surely witnessed or learned through others that this Paul, not only here in Ephesus, but almost everywhere in the province of Asia, this Paul is turning the heads of multitudes and leading them astray. For he claims that gods made by men are not gods at all. 27 This not only threatens to discredit our profession, no, there is also the danger that all respect for the temple of the great gods will be lost, of losing all respect for the temple of the great goddess Artemis! In the end, it will come to this, ...that the goddess herself will lose her prestige.., by all the inhabitants of the earth for her majestic greatness."

Scandalous, someone claims that lucky charms do nothing. Dream catchers don't catch dreams and energetically charged water doesn't quench thirst any better than normal water. thirst any better than normal water. Energetically charged rock crystal does not make the skin more beautiful either.

One has to be careful, of course. Some esoteric things may have a kernel of truth. For example, acupuncture seems to help in many cases, but it is not acupuncture seems to help in many cases, but it is no more effective than so-called sham acupuncture, which ignores the qi meridians that classical acupuncture takes into account. which classical acupuncture takes into account.

But one could already make quite a bit of money in this field if one were not held back by ethical concerns. There are, for example, providers who sell precious stones to give drinking water an intensive and energetic vibration (this was the first hit when searching for energetic water on the internet). search for energetic water on the internet). I could fill Wupper water, irradiate it with high-power LEDs and sell it as energetically charged. energetically charged. I haven't checked this now, but I don't think it's illegal.

As I said, I'm a bit ethically inhibited...


How do we actually deal with something like this as Christians?

In films set in the Middle Ages, the persecution of witches by the Inquisition is always portrayed in a rather simple-minded stereotype. I always find that creepy and I am sure that such behaviour does not correspond to the Bible.

In the Bible, however, it is already said that God considers these practices mentioned earlier to be abhorrent, that he therefore expels them and that Israel should therefore also expel these peoples. Here and there in the Old Testament there are quite brutal descriptions of how Israel dealt with its enemies. dealt with its enemies.

I think that God's command to Israel to expel the seven original peoples in Canaan was a special case, that only happened in this time of the time. Actually, God usually says that he drives out the nations and judges them. Israel was a tool here and there in this special time, or rather, God allowed such warlike behaviour because through Israel he wants to make spiritual matters clear to us today. All this happened at that time for us Christians today.

But I also want to substantiate my claim (Romans 12:13-21; NGÜ):

13 Help believers who are in distress; do not leave them alone with their distress. Make it your business to be hospitable. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless them, do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 In your dealings with one another, be governed by the fact that you have a common purpose. Do not be arrogant, but seek fellowship with those who are insignificant and unimportant. Do not think yourselves wise. 17 Do not repay evil with evil. Make every effort to behave in an exemplary manner towards everyone. 18 If it is possible and as far as it is up to you, live in peace with all people. 19 Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but leave vengeance to the wrath of 'God'. For it is said in the Scriptures, "'To avenge the wrong` is my business, says the Lord; I will retaliate." 20 Even more, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Such behaviour will deeply shame him." 21 Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.

When you read that, you can no longer justify the Inquisition. I find it interesting to ask whether this biblical text can also be lived as a state or where the limits are. You need a police force, a judiciary and the weak must certainly also be protected. There probably also has to be a military.

How does such a text fit in with dealing with terrorists? Or: Has the hard way, like in Guantanamo, provided more security in the world? Would things perhaps be better without torture? Of course, these questions go beyond the scope of today's sermon, so we will leave them for now. leave them.

So, to put it bluntly: be nice to people who engage in such "despicable" practices as fortune-telling, conjuring up the dead, etc, but be quite loving in word but also clear. Let us speak the truth on occasion. It is not true that shaking hands crosswise brings brings misfortune.

The real truth

But it is even better to continue saying what is true, i.e. not only to address the negative, but to continue saying the positive.

The Bible text goes further (Deut. 18:15-19;NL)

15 The Lord your God will appoint a prophet like me, whom he will choose from among your people. Listen carefully to everything he says to you. 16 This is exactly why you asked the Lord your God when you gathered at Sinai1: `We will no longer hear the voice of the Lord, our God, and not to have to see this mighty fire any more, so that we will not die'. 17 Then the Lord said to me, `You are right. 18 I will appoint a prophet like you, whom I will choose from among their people. To this prophet I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell the people everything I tell him to say. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words, which this prophet will proclaim in my name.

This prophet is of course Jesus Christ and he is the real truth. He also expresses this in John 14:6; NGÜ:

"I am the way," Jesus answered, "I am the truth, and I am the life. One can only come to the Father through me.

This truth is the main crux of the question of what the problem is with these superstitious practices from our Bible text in Deuteronomy 18:9-14. is. It is not primarily about the fact that some dark forces may be involved, but it is about the fact that the truth, where there is real help, that the truth where there is real help, namely in Jesus Christ, this truth is suppressed by superstition. People prefer to put their trust uselessly in knocking on wood instead of in the living God. And that is what is really tragic and terrible.

And here we can make the connection with the word "lying press". The judgement as to whether a newspaper or a broadcaster is telling the truth is not yours to make, you have to find out for yourself. But in my opinion, the term "lying press" is appropriate for a newspaper that appropriate for a newspaper when it is primarily driven by interests and puts the truth second.

And as for the suppression of Jesus Christ through superstitious practices, in my opinion there is also a deliberate evil interest behind it. interest behind it, from the father of lies.

But this need not frighten us, for we can trust in Jesus Christ, for he is the way, the truth and the life.

Summary

I come to the conclusion: