Zeus Or The True God
Springtime is wild flower time in Texas. A couple of weeks ago Mary came in from taking a walk in our front field and asked, “Do you know what that plant is that’s sprouting up everywhere? If it’s not a flower, we’re in deep trouble.”
Then one of them did flower, and now we have a sea of orange and red, depending on how the sunlight hits the petals at different hours of the day. Indian Blanket is the winner of this year’s wild flower extravaganza in the Wyrtzen field, and their beauty demonstrates my Heavenly Father’s goodness.
In Greek mythology, Zeus, the sky and thunder god who ruled from Mount Olympus, was the supreme god and the one who supposedly brought the rain that generated fertility; however, he was not so fond of man. Prometheus, another god, created man and gave him fire and the right to walk upright like the gods. Zeus wasn’t happy and in his anger took the fire away and demanded animal sacrifices.
When Prometheus tricked Zeus and gave fire back to man, Zeus retaliated by having Hephaestus, another god, create a human with dazzling beauty and then the god Hermes gave this gorgeous creature a deceptive heart and a lying tongue. Her name was Pandora, the first woman, and she was given a jar filled with a mysterious gift. When she opened her jar (Pandora’s box), evil and all its plagues poured out into the world.
When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Lystra, the people believed in gods like Zeus and Hermes, but the apostles wanted to point them to the true God—the living God, the source of beautiful flowers in the spring and abundant harvests in the fall. When they demonstrated God’s love by giving healthy strong feet to a man who had never walked and the country folk tried to worship them as the incarnation of Zeus and Hermes, note how Paul and Barnabas respond.
“In Lystra there was a man with disabled feet who continually just sat. Lame from the womb he had never walked. He was listening to Paul and while speaking, Paul looked directly at him. When he saw that the man had faith to be healed (cf. Lk. 7:50, 8:12, 48, 50; 17:19; 18;42; Acts 4:9-12; 16:31), he said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet!’ He sprang to his feet and began to walk.
When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ They were calling Barnabas Zeus, and Paul Hermes because he was the lead speaker. The priest of Zeus whose temple was located in front of the city brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates. With the crowd he wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas.
But when they heard what was going on, Paul and Barnabas tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, ‘Men, why are you doing these things? We are men, just like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn away from these powerless empty things to the living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In past generations He let all the nations go their own way, yet He did not leave Himself without a witness demonstrating His goodness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons to satisfy your hunger and fill your hearts with joy’ (cf. Gen. 8:22, Ecccles. 9:7, Lk. 12:22-34) . After saying these things with difficulty they were able to dissuade the crowd from sacrificing to them. Acts 14:8-18
LORD, thanks that you’re not like Zeus, filled with jealousy, immorality, and hatred toward us. Thanks for proving again your goodness through the beauty right in my yard this spring and help me join Paul and Barnabas in pointing others away from worthless idols, including the latest stars in pop culture. Help me learn from Paul and Barnabas how to begin where people are and then lead them to the good news of Jesus.
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