Daily Thoughts – The Olympics in the Bible?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Good Morning!

Whew!  What a week!  One of my college kids posted on Facebook that this had been the L.O.N.G.E.S.T. week and she was right!  We accomplished a lot but, boy, it seemed more like three weeks instead of just one!  Thank you, Lord, for making so many good things happen! (But could we spread it out a little bit next time)?


Run the Race!

Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we’d better get on with it.  Strip down, start running – and never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way:  Cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through.  That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1-3



The Olympic Games, which will officially begin tonight (for us) have their origins in ancient Greece.  The ancient Olympic Games were originally held in Olympia from the 8th Century BC to the 4th Century AD – before they restarted in modern times in 1894.  They were a celebration or festival of and for the Greek god, Zeus.  Only Greeks were allowed to participate and all animosities between cities/villages were set aside for the competition.  Of course, if your representative won, your community held political advantage over the others and, thus, the games became a political tool.  The individual prize was a crown of olive branches.


Women were the first competitors running a foot race to become the priestess for the goddess, Hera; and a second race was added to choose a consort for the priestess.  The first race was 620 meters, measured after Zeus’ feet (I wonder how they knew his shoe size). The games were as much about religion as they were athletics. In the middle of the games, 100 oxen would be sacrificed to Zeus.  Sculptors, poets, painters and other artisans would come to the games to display their works in what became an artistic competition.  Although originally created as a foot-race to choose the priestess, the program gradually increased to twenty-three contests, although no more than twenty were featured at any one Olympiad.  Participation in most events was limited to male athletes except for women who were allowed to take part by entering horses in the equestrian events.  Youth events are recorded starting in 632 BC.


They were, therefore, a huge part of the ancient world and, as such, are used in Scriptures to illustrate Biblical principles in a way that readers of the time could understand and associate with.  We would be foolish not to consider the very serious lessons which come home to us.


olympic villageAn artist’s impression of ancient Olympia



Do You Know These Sports References and Amazing Feats from the Bible? (from Bible Gateway)

In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul compares a life of faith & service to what athletic activity?

o   Running a race

o   Fighting a duel

o   Climbing a mountain

1 Corinthians 9:24 reads, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

 2 Timothy 2:5 says that an athlete is not crowned unless he…

  • Competes according to the rules
  • Shows grace to his opponents
  • Crosses the finish line first
  • Trains every day for victory

The apostle Paul often challenged Christians to keep their focus on the important thing:  Jesus Christ.  In 2 Timothy 2, he uses several metaphors to describe the importance of pursuing a life of obedience and faith.


In 1 Kings 18, the power of God enables the prophet Elijah to perform what feat?

o   Sprint up Mount Carmel barefooted

o   Throw a huge boulder at the priests of Baal

o   Outrun the king’s chariot

o   Swim across the Sea of Galilee

Elijah experienced God’s miraculous power many times during his life as a prophet.  As impressive as it is, his outrunning of a chariot gets only a brief mention in 1 Kings 18.


What was Samson’s final act of strength?

o   Defeating a giant in combat

o   Wrestling a lion

o   Running around the city of Jericho seven times

o   Collapsing a temple

Samson performed many incredible feats of strength throughout his life, but his final and most spectacular was bringing a Philistine temple crashing down on both him and his enemies.  You can read about it in Judges 16.


What feat of endurance did Moses perform to ensure victory over the Amalekites in battle?

o   Recited Scripture all day until the battle was won

o   Held his hands up during the entire battle

o   Waited in ambush for three days before striking

o   Refused to eat or drink anything until the enemy fled

Moses’ arms got so tired that he eventually needed two assistants to help him hold them up long enough for the battle to be won.  You can read about this in Exodus 17.


Who wrestled with God in Genesis 32?

o   Jacob

o   Isaac

o   Abraham

o   Esau


Jacob wrestled with God!  God deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint during the wrestling match.  This is why Israelites to this day don’t eat the hip muscle because Jacob’s hip was thrown out of joint.  Read the story here:  Genesis 32:22-32


In 2 Timothy 4, Paul compares his long life of faith to what athletic activity?

o   Setting down a heavy weight

o   Finishing a race

o   Climbing to the summit of a mountain

o   Handing off the baton to the next runner


For Paul, reaching the end of his life and career felt like completing a long and difficult race.  You can read his words in 2 Timothy 4.


What athletic virtue does Paul tell Christians to embody in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27?

o   Speed

o   Strength

o   Courage

o   Training and self-control


Self-control and discipline were important virtues to the apostle Paul.  In 1 Corinthians 9, he encourages Christians to mimic an athlete’s disciplined training regimen in their spiritual lives.

So, how’d you do? 

7-8 Correct – You’re a GOLD medal winner!

5-6 Correct – You’re a SILVER medal winner!

3-4 Correct – You’re a BRONZE medal winner!

See, the Bible even tells stories about athletics!  A.L.L. of life is studied and shared in that little book, if we’ll just open it and read it.  Now here’s what I tell the kids, if you don’t understand your Bible, open up your phone or your tablet or your computer, find a Bible site or app (I use Bible Gateway), and choose a scripture passage (you can pick anything).  Now try different translations until you reach the one that best speaks to you.  It’s free!  And, oh so easy to use! 


I’m all for anything that helps people open their Bibles more often and spend a little time there.


Give it a try and see!


And tonight at 7:00 you can watch the opening ceremonies and remember those very first games and the young ladies running the race to be priestess for Zeus.




Make it a GREAT weekend!


See you in Worship on Sunday!



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