Category Archives: Religion

SEVEN SLEEPERS

Yedi Uyurlar Mağarası (Cave of the Seven Sleepers)

Seven early Christians were sealed into a cave where legend has it they slept unharmed for centuries.

EDIT PLACE

What started as a political protest against Roman paganism became the stuff of religious legend.

In January of 250, the Roman Emperor Decius issued an edict that everyone under his reign must perform a sacrifice dedicating themselves to the empire and to the Roman gods. Understandably, this caused an uproar among young Christian communities, who, though persecuted, had previously been free to worship. Refusal to submit came at the price of death. All the same, many Christians refused to deny their faiths.

Seven young men in Ephesus refused to make the sacrifice and hid in a cave on the outskirts of the city. Tired from fleeing, they fell asleep. The Roman sentries came upon the Seven slumbering peacefully in the cave. Rather than killing them outright, they sealed them in, perhaps in a mockery of Christians’ reverence for Jesus’ entombment. That was the last their families and friends ever heard of them.

Sometime much later, the myth continues, the farmer who owned the land thought to open the cave, perhaps to use as an animal pen. He was shocked to find seven young men inside, still asleep. When the light hit their faces, they awoke. Feeling hungry, they pooled their money and sent one of them to the village to buy food. They warned him to watch out for Romans, but, believing they had slept for a full day, they thought the coast was clear. When the young man reached the market and tried to buy bread, vendors were dismayed to see that he carried Decian coins—which were at least 150 years old by then. The bishop was called in (in the century they slept Christianity had resurfaced full force) to interview the Seven Sleepers, and they all died peacefully just a few hours after.

The cave outside Ephesus was excavated in the 1920s, revealing a number of 5th and 6th century Christian graves. An ancient Church sits atop the cave as well. Religious pilgrims still pay visits to the holy Cave of the Seven Sleepers.

The details of the myth are hotly disputed among the various cultures that tell it. Christians believe that the Seven slept for between 128 and 200 years, but the Qur’an states that they slept for around 300 years. Even the location is unclear. Though this cave in Ephesus is the most commonly visited by religious pilgrims, caves in Jordan, China, Tunisia, and Algeria lay claim to the myth of the Seven Sleepers.

Whatever the truth of story is, its lore has seeped into common culture. For example, in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, a sysover (“seven-sleeper”) is someone who sleeps long and hard. Seven Sleepers Day is June 27th, and is the German equivalent of American Groundhog Day.

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HOMELAND

All of these people died in faith without receiving the promises, but they saw the promises from a distance and welcomed them. They confessed that they were strangers and immigrants on earth.  

People who say this kind of thing make it clear that they are looking for a homeland.

 

If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return to it.  But at this point in time, they are longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one.

Therefore, God isn’t ashamed to be called their God—he has prepared a habitation for them.

YOUR CHOICE

Now once Solomon finished building the Lord’s temple, the royal palace, and everything else he wanted to accomplish,  the Lord appeared to him a second time in the same way he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your cry to me. I have set apart this temple that you built, to put my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.  

solomon-temple

As for you, if you walk before me just as your father David did, with complete dedication and honesty, and if you do all that I have commanded, and keep my regulations and case laws,  then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

However, if you or your sons turn away from following me and don’t observe the commands and regulations that I gave you, and go to serve other gods, and worship them,  then I will remove Israel from the land I gave them and I will reject the temple that I dedicated for my name. Israel will become a joke, insulted by everyone.  

Everyone who passes by this temple, so lofty now, will be shocked and will whistle, wondering, Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and this temple?

The answer will come: Because they deserted the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt’s land. They embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them. That is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them.”

STILL TO COME

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

 For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth?

But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

THE SUN STAYED

Then spake Joshua to Jehovah in the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel,

Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon;
And thou, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,
Until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies.

Is not this written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.  And there was no day like that before it or after it, that Jehovah hearkened unto the voice of a man: for Jehovah fought for Israel.

POWER OVER THE WORLD OF DEATH

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, 
“Fear not; I am the First and the Last,  and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the Keys of Death and power over the World of Death.
 Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter…”

THE DREAM AND THE FEARLESS

But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”  So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.  During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.  If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah  and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.  The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”