So often, we think of the Ten Commandments given to Moses around 1400 B.C. as the beginning of God’s involvement in teaching mankind how to live according to His edicts.  However, in a document called “The Babylonian Counsels of Wisdom,” which consisted of oral laws finally written down around 100 years earlier, we find some ancient teachings that serve as an example of the wisdom of the ages that preceded the writings of the Old Testament.  It is highly thought that these teachings were actually the “Instructions of Shuruppak,” which was an ancient Sumerian city situated about 35 miles south of Nippur on the banks of the Euphrates River at the site of modern Tel Fara in Iraq‘s Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate. This is the land where Abraham came from. These teachings include:

► Every day worship your god.

► Sacrifice and benediction are the proper accompaniment of incense burning.

► Present your free-will offering to your god, for this is proper toward the gods.

► Prayer, supplication, is done while prostrated.

► Bring Him a daily offering, and your reward will result in having full communion with your god.

► In your wisdom study, the tablet.

► Reverence begets favor, sacrifice prolongs life, and prayer atones for guilt.

► Do not utter libel, speak what is of good report.

► Do not say evil things, speak well of people.

► One who utters libel and speaks evil, men will confront him about his debit account to god.

► Beware of careless talk, guard your lips; do not utter solemn oaths while alone, for what you say in a moment will follow you afterward.

► Exert yourself to restrain your speech.

Other essential teachings in this codex are:

■   Avoidance of bad companions.

■   Improper speech.

■   Avoidance of altercations and pacification of enemies.

■   Kindness to those in need.

■   The duties and benefits of religious faith.

■   Inappropriate deception of friends.

The first question some people ask is whether or not the Law of Moses was a replication of these earlier codes and standards of conduct. The answer is no for two reasons: First, some of these virtues were given to Noah who passed them on to his generation and then on to their generations.[1] And second, there are no references to their having no other god before the Living God. That everything that follows is subject to God for judgment. Furthermore, the previous laws and codes were meant to teach people moral consciousness in order to save themselves from man’s punishment. But God’s Law was intended to show people how sinful they were and their need for someone to save them from God’s punishment.

Isn’t it sad that an ancient culture that some would call pagan had a better grasp of ethics and virtues than many modern-day societies that are called civilized?  That’s why the role of Christianity is becoming more and more critical and vital as a light of consciousness and conviction in today’s world. There is nothing about being old-fashioned in our attitudes and virtues that anyone should be ashamed of. Especially when we find their origin to be the Word of God, not some recent psychological or social conclusion. Don’t be ashamed to tell anyone who questions your righteous and holy standard of living, calling it out-of-date. Just tell them that they are based on God’s Word, and since your living God is not obsolete, neither are His rules – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Genesis 9:4-7

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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