Have you ever been on a technology fast? Maybe you got tired of facebook and decided to take a couple weeks off? Or maybe you felt instagram was taking too much of your time so you erased the app off of your phone?
I know I’ve been there, that’s why I wrote the book Detached. It is a 21 day retreat from your phone that allows you to go deeper into your faith while not having to sacrifice the good things your phone provides your life.
As I was writing the book, I got to thinking; What was the new media of Biblical times? What did Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, Mary and even Jesus have at their fingertips (or toes) that was said to have make their lives “better?” What were the “new technologies” of their time and, did these things benefit their mission or steer their souls toward darkness?
Here are a list of 10 times the bible mentions (or alludes to) technology use:
1. Rapid-fire Arrow Shooters
“In Jerusalem he made engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.”
-2 Chronicles 26:15
The “he” in this passage was none other than the 16 year-old King Uzziah who brought the heat to the Philistine armies. With rapid-fire arrow and stone shooting technology, you can bet who won that war (spoiler alert, Uzziah won for several years until his pride overcame his piety. It was then that he suffered the consequences of his own own folly: he was punished by God and became leper).
So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world.”
-Genesis 11: 5-9
There is no invention that has benefited, or harmed, the human race more than that of language. It is a two edged sword that is uncontrollable for most, but has the potential to build bridges amongst nations and produce peace. St. James tells us that “With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9), perhaps we should bridle its use and share in the silent speech of God through more contemplation?
“He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
Sandals had been worn for several thousands of years predating even the Egyptians. But, it has been said that the Greeks and Romans perfected the craft. According to an article on the history of sandals, “By the time of the New Testament, walking was the primary means of travel and the Disciples were encouraged to protect their feet when called upon to spread the gospel. They were cautioned against wearing anything other than humble sandals, however lest they offended potential converts.” (link)
4. Roman Road System
“Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.”
During an assassination attempt on St. Paul’s life, the commanding officials prepared their armies to guide him to Caesarea where he could be safe. To ensure a smooth passage, the Roman government had constructed a high-tech road system that made transporting their armies swifter and more efficient. These roads helped them conquer more territory for the pagan armies, but they helped St. Paul and the first missionaries of the Church to spread the Gospel just as swiftly and efficiently.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.’”
Tektons were wood and stone fashioners. They could make beautiful pieces of furniture, sculptures, and even houses. St. Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, held this title and it is likely that Jesus picked up a few of his skills as a carpenter.
5. The Ark of the Covenant
“They are to make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst. According to all that I show you regarding the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of its furnishings, so you are to make it.”
-Exodus 25: 9
The Arc of the Covenant was the most prized possession of the Old Testament. It was the manifestation of God on Earth and it even had a cloud that covered it constantly reminding the Jews who carried it toward the Promised land that God was with them. It contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s staff, and pieces of the manna that fell from heaven. It was the highest form of storage technology to have ever existed prior to the New Testament.
6. The Bronze Snake
“Accordingly Moses made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever the serpent bit someone, the person looked at the bronze serpent and recovered.”
Ok, this one is just over-the-top magical. God’s ability to manifest himself in inanimate objects is amazing. Here he provides a gateway to healing for those who have faith in him, how much more can we share in such healings if we too have faith in something as powerful as the Eucharist?
“People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
When people discovered the process of fermentation, the next step was, “how do we store it?” According to an article on the history of wine, “Wineskins, which are containers made from animal hide or bladders, are some of the earliest known vessels for storing wine. It is difficult to say when they originated, since leather degrades over time, but written references go back to Homer’s Odyssey and continue through Shakespeare’s plays.” (link)
What we do know is that wineskins were used on multiple occasions as a means to drink the fine wine of Jesus’ time. Today, we see the upgraded version in the chalice which holds the greatest substance on earth, the blood of Christ.
9. The Whip
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.”
The Gospel writer here is providing us with a grace in his lack of detail. Just “having him scourged” doesn’t even scratch the surface of the pain and suffering that Jesus went through during this bloody and gory event. He was likely beaten and whipped with the cat o’ nine tails, which according to britannica.com is, “was constructed of nine knotted cords or thongs of rawhide attached to a handle… [and] …consisting of a number of dried and hardened thongs of rawhide interwoven with wire—the wires often being hooked and sharpened so that they tore the flesh—was even more painful and deadly.” (link)
10. The Cross
“…carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.”
-John 19: 17-18
As shown with the cat o’ nine tails, the forms of weaponry and capital punishment were of advanced (and grotesque) quality. The method most loathsome, however, would eventually become the greatest symbol of hope the world has ever know.
It consisted of “upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned person perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post.” (link to source). It was the cross, which Our Lord hung upon to save us from our sins.
Even the people of biblical times had to battle with the advantages and disadvantages of new technologies of their times. Our current battle with screens and devices are wreaking havoc on our souls and we all know it. Yes, there are some huge benefits to how efficient our devices can make life, but if we are honest with ourselves, there are many pitfalls that cause us to dwell less on the things of God, and more on the things of facebook, twitter, instagram, amazon and ebay.
That’s why I wrote my latest book Detached. It is the quintessential do-it-yourself screen retreat book. In 21 days, I’ll show you how to break free from the screen use that wastes your time toward the kind that can enliven your spiritual life.
For more information, including a 5 part video series on how to balance your digital life with real life, please visit detachedlife.com