Got Me Thinking…
On Jan. 2, 2013, I went with a friend and her daughters to the King Tut Exhibit in Seattle. King Tutankhamun–King Tut to most of us–was an Egyptian king made famous by his tomb of hidden treasures found in the early 1900’s. Often referred to as the “boy-king,” Tut reigned from (approx.) 1336-1327 BCE and is thought to have died by the time he was nineteen years old.
We saw exquisite wealth recovered from the tomb: finely-crafted, gold and beaded jewelry; weapons; furniture (bed, chair, vases); toys and games. But more than anything else…I saw devotion to the gods of Egypt. Their gods were written on every surface, carved into metal and stone.
What Did You Say?!?
We paid a little extra to see the IMAX movie associated with the exhibit, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs. One of the first statements in the narration went something like this:
“…Ancient Egyptians believed in eternal life. Because of their strong faith in the afterlife, their kings built elaborate tombs and burial sites to provide a comfortable existence in the world beyond…”
Egyptians Believed in Eternal Life?
I couldn’t believe it. Eternal life. They actually said, “Eternal life.” I’d never heard that specific term used outside of Christianity. My naive little mind was startled by Egypt’s devotion, their utter abandon, to gods of wood, stone, and nature.
As we made our way through the exhibit, Harrison Ford’s voice narrated our self-guided audio tour, describing the myriad of Egyptian gods. Anubis, the jackal-headed god of embalming. Osiris, the god of the underworld, waited to judge the weight of every heart on his scales. Feather light, the heart is pure; but if the heart is heavy, the person is sentenced to suffer eternally.
Are Egyptian Beliefs Similar to Christianity?
Similar to Christ followers, ancient Egyptians believed their preparation before death determined their eternal condition…but that’s where the similarity ends.
Ancient Egyptians’ preparation focused on the external. Priests embalmed the bodies, placed the organs into separate canopic jars, and then chanted the appropriate spells from the Book of the Dead to ensure a favorable transition to the underworld. The pyramids and tombs were stuffed full of treasures to provide for the magically resurrected corpse in the afterlife.
Okay, A Misperceived Similarity…
The ancient secrets of embalming were lost with the last Egyptian priest, but the misperception of external preparation still exists. Many people still believe good deeds on earth adds a jewel to their heavenly crown or a second bedroom to their celestial mansion on the streets of gold.
When asked, “Do you think you would go to heaven if you died today?” many people respond based on external preparation:
- “Sure. I’m a pretty good person. I give to charity, don’t get drunk or cheat on my taxes…much.”
- “No way! They’d never let someone like me into heaven. I never go to church, and I haven’t called my mother in weeks.”
Now, these answers are opposite ends of the spectrum, right? But both are equally flawed. We all do good things now and then, but none of us are good enough when measured by a perfectly holy God. And no evil deed is unforgivable before our merciful God.
Was There Any Hope For King Tut?
As I perused King Tut’s amazing wealth, all the treasures he so carefully compiled to usher him safely and comfortably into eternal life, I felt a keen sadness for the boy-king. I found myself hoping—almost praying—that somehow, some way, he might have heard of the Hebrew God, Yahweh…and a spark of faith might have been ignited.
Hope for the Faith-Filled
Paul explained in his letter to the Romans the eternal fate of those folks who lived before Jesus Christ paid for the sins of the world. Have you ever wondered what happened to the “good” guys before Jesus came to earth, died on the cross, shed His perfect blood to atone for sin? I mean, if our holy God can’t allow sin in His presence, and if those guys (like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David) couldn’t keep God’s Law perfectly, how could they get into heaven ?
Paul speaks of Abraham as an example, a man of faith before the Law of Moses or the Savior of the World was revealed:
Romans 4:11 – “And [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.”
Faith–In the Right Thing
The King Tutankhamun Exhibit is staggering on many levels. Its wealth, splendor, ancient significance for science—all these things are impressive. But the thing that impressed me most was the Egyptians’ devotion to their false gods. They believed. I mean, they really believed! But they believed in lies.
So, what makes me think the Egyptians had it wrong? What makes me think Jesus Christ is the only way?
Faith…and some facts
I believe partially because I was taught in a Christian culture from an early age. But there came a time when I questioned that culture and tested what I’d been taught. And the facts have strengthened my faith. I believe what Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian church:
1 Corinthians 15:3-8 – “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
Faith is the INTERNAL preparation necessary for eternal life. I won’t have a tomb full of treasure to leave behind, but I’ll have an amazing eternity to share—hopefully with you.
- Have you ever questioned your faith in Jesus? Have you been convinced that Jesus is the way to eternal life? If so, what convinced you?