As I taught our very earnest group of 20 Indian Christians today, I led off with a scripture meditation on Ecclesiastes 3:11 which says: “He has maP1080488de everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” We discussed this amazing verse together for 20 minutes. These folks, most of them converted from Hinduism, understood mP1080467e well when I explained that God has put a hunger for Him in the hearts of all men. I encouraged them to be confident that when they go out to share Christ with their neighbors and with the villagers who do not have a Christian church within many miles of their home that God’s Spirit will bear witness to their good news about Jesus. When they share the plan of salvation, they can be bold because He has put eternity in the hearts of each one of these people and they already hunger for Him, though they may be searching for Him among many gods.

We agreed that when a person first hears the gospel, they react to it, some with gladness because now they know the very thing they have been searching for, and it is as if their spirits recognize the name of Jesus when it is first spoken to them. Others react with fear because they recognize that if they embrace this Name which resounds in their spirits, they will have to abandon their traditional worship of the million gods of India. But each of these Christians hP1080482as arrived in this class in this very manner, so they are familiar with this process of hearing the name of God spoken for the first time.

We are surrounded by Hindu temples as we travel around India. There are large temples and small temples, each to a different god, many representing the god who rules that local region (Eph. 6:10-13). We pass by well-kept temples that are decorated with intricate carvings or lavish paintings of these gods. Sometimes the idol of the god stands out in the yard of the temple area for all to see, other times it is hidden inside the structure of the temple building, inviting the worshiper to bring the sacrifices inside to the altar. There are food, flower, drink, and sometimes blood offerings. The variety of gods available is surprising – we have seen temples to the lion-faced god with the human body, the monkey god (very popular in this region), the four-faced god, the ten armed god flying down to attack a man witP1080481h a sword in one hand and a cobra in another, the cobra god himself – nearly every creature here and every legend or ancient tale spawns a different god that someone worships.

We pass by many ruins also. These are temples that look ancient and which have fallen into ruin and disuse, grown over by plants, and look very much like something from an Indiana Jones movie. These temples fall into disuse because the families that originally built them have all died out or moved away, or the historical kingP1080480 of the area who built it was deposed or conquered and replaced by another with a different god, etc. Now India is a united “democracy,” and the forces who built many of these small, older temples have completely disappeared into antiquity. We also still see new temples being constructed in the villages as the cycle continues.

Our Indian hosts tell us that there are still treasures buried in many of these old temples by the original worshipers, but that no one bothers them because they are sacred places, and many of them are supposedly guarded by cobras which are plentiful here and which like to live in the old stonework. There is one large and famous temple in the state to the west of here that is very famous because within its ruins are buried enough treasures of gold and jewels to pay off the national debt of India. But it has been sealed until recently, and the governme2013-03-18 11.00.59nt is still deciding what to do with the treasure that has now been discovered within the temple walls, floors and hidden chambers. And even though our Christian hosts don’t believe the treasure was really guarded by a giant cobra, there is a hint of doubt in their voice as they repeat the famous story (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13994351).

Visiting this land makes the idol-worship so frequently referenced in the Old Testament very real. I have attached pictures of some of the temples we have seen so you can see what I am describing.

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