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By Pastor Jim May
The flame in the Marathon Tower in each Olympic stadium is the most recognized symbol of the Olympics, dating back to the Games of ancient Greece, when athletes competed in a relay race, passing a torch from one to another until the last runner, in a long procession of runners, would sprint to the top of the stadium and light the flame to signal the beginning of the competition among the greatest athletes in the world for the Gold Medal.
For many years the flame was extinguished due to neglect, world turmoil and other events but it was officially reignited in 1928, The idea of the marathon relay, where runners would once again carry the torch, was revived in 1936 for the Berlin Games. The relay began at the location of ancient Olympia and ended in Berlin, Germany after passing through seven countries and covering a total of 3,050 km. The journey of the torch took 12 days and 13 nights, and 3,331 torchbearers each took a turn at carrying it along the way.
From then on, the Olympic Torch Relay has remained an important part of the Olympic tradition and the torchbearer is the person who is honored by carrying the Olympic Flame. The flame carries a message as it passes through each town, city and village. It announces that the games are about to begin; it embodies and spreads the ideals of the Olympics and speaks of the union and peace amongst the people, the allegiance, the courage, the fraternity and solidarity of all of the competitors.
God has handed to each of us a torch to bear for him. That torch is the light of the Gospel, the knowledge of God and His ways, and the Word of God. It is put into our hands and our hearts by the Holy Ghost and the fire is ignited so that we may burn as lights in a sin darkened world. Each of us are to let our light shine that all men can see Jesus in us and then we are told to run with it and to pass it on to the next generation so that we will not forget God.
God gave Israel a torch to bear too.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
If only Israel had heard these words and kept them, how much suffering and death could have been prevented just by simple obedience and passing the torch to the next generation. But it just didnít happen. As a result, each new generation had to suffer, and many would die, in the process of learning that Godís commandments never changed. Each generation was forced to walk in darkness until somehow Godís light would be ignited once again.
I want us to examine an incident in the journey of Israel to see why they were unable to pass the torch the way that they were supposed to. Why was it that each passing generation had to so suffer so much? All of the suffering, dying and wandering into idolatry can be traced back to Israelís
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