Our church group at Forest Park Baptist Church held game nights in which we would play a variety of board games. During one game night, we began to wonder what board games were played in biblical times. During our visit to the Oriental Institute of Chicago I saw an actual game board that did, in fact, back date to 13th century B.C. 

The ancient game board was found in Megiddo, Israel. It was made of ivory and every fifth hole on the board was inlaid with gold. It was used to play a race game called the “Game of 58 Holes.” When I looked at this game board, it reflected three aspects of why religious institutions are important in a community like Forest Park. These aspects could be described in terms of three values. 

First is the realization that there are rules. There is a right and wrong that buttresses the order and the cohesion of a society. The upholding of moral principles is called integrity and without upholding certain moral principles, society would fall apart. It is religious institutions that study the foundations of ethics and moral behavior. In comparison, playing the “Game of 58 Holes” was only viable to the extent that a moral framework was observed and by adhering to those rules, the experience of the game play had meaning and structure.

The second value was the durability which comes with integrity. The earthly ministry of Jesus began over 2,000 years ago and yet its resonance is still strong and growing even today. This ancient integrity shows an inner strength and power overturning the modern conceit that only new things are worthwhile. What is old may not necessarily be out of date and may even be stronger than the new. I thought of this as I looked at the 3,300-year-old game board before me.

Another value is community itself. The moral integrity and faith practiced by religious institutions leads to social integration which combines and unifies. The cohesion brings solidity to a society that enables it to become stronger and more resilient when challenges arise. This coming together can also bequeath a trust and a sense of well-being. I thought of this as I looked at the game board to a game that required the coming together of at least two people.

Moral framework, inner durability and social cohesion are what religious institutions can bring to a community. These same qualities can sometimes also be seen in a 3300 year old game board.

Call 708-366-5091 or email info@forestparkbaptist.com to find out more about Family Game Night at Forest Park Baptist Church or visit https://www.facebook.com/fpbaptistchurch.

Michael J. Thomas

Forest Park Baptist Church

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