The Face on Mars:
Communicating Through Deep Time

Jackson Snyder   July 29, 2001

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Graham Hancock and David Darling's books will help transport you into worlds of theological speculation.  Start with Deep Time.

Matthew 13:31-35, 43-52 - Matthew 13:34.  All these things spake Jesus in parables unto the multitudes; and without a parable spake he nothing unto them:  35.  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.

   The Face on Mars - Richard MooreToday we want to look at our parables about the Kingdom of Heaven in a different way that usual.  Have you ever buried a time capsule?  Let’s understand these parables as time capsules buried by a famous man who lived in a far away place in the distant past, who knew of us long before we were born, and who wanted to convey to us secret, personal insight veiled by mundane and simple stories.  Have you ever thought parables in this way? 

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The Nazarene Acts
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Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

Communicating Through Deep Time

    Consider how we might convey our important messages to people of the future.  How might we preserve our wisdom and insight for thousands, tens of thousands, even millions, of years.  Modern communications media like tapes, CDs and books are immediately ruled out; these devices are of a temporary nature.  Books deteriorate within 100 years.  Electronic media might last a long, long time -- but on what do you play your tape in 10,000 years?  My modern computer won’t even read the disks I made 10 years ago. 

   No, the solution to sending messages to the distant future is found in the messages we have received from the distant past -- messages that have been written in stone.  Writing in stone is a primitive art, but messages written in stone have given us the keys to vast treasure of knowledge.  Finding the Rosetta Stone in 1799 was the key that opened the door to Egyptian history -- proving that the hieroglyphics on the ancient stone are not just ancient, ornate pictures, but a very detailed language.  Translations of Egyptian writings in stone have helped us prove in our day that what the Bible says about history is true.

   Learning the meanings of messages four thousand years old is incredible enough.  But how about messages four hundred thousand years old?  The aerial photos of the Martian surface taken in 1976 revealed a human face on Mars surrounded by pyramids, all in exact geometric formation.  At the time NASA dismissed the discovery as “a trick of light and shadow,” but if there had been people on Mars 400,000 years ago and they wanted to advertise their presence for a million years, a mountain-sized face surrounded by pyramids would be the way to do it.  In 1996, top scientists confirmed that life had existed on Mars with the discovery of meteorite ALH84001, a stone from Mars that clearly displays fossilized bacteria.  Another important message conveyed in stone from eons in the past.

      The only problem in using stone to convey messages is that stone writing must be translated or interpreted.  The Egyptian language of the hieroglyphics had long since passed away. 

Oral Tradition Transmission

   However, there’s another effective method of transmitting messages through time that’s quite similar to writing in stone, except the messages end up translating themselves, no matter how language evolves.  Historians call it ‘oral tradition.’  It is like cutting simple stories into the stone of the human heart. These stories are be repeated generation after generation after generation.  Perhaps you know a story about one of your kinfolk who passed away before you were even born.  Chances are the story you were told about that person helped you to feel like you knew him or her.  Chances are you told one of your children or grandchildren the same story.  Chances are your grandchildren, when they get old, will repeat the stories to their young kin.  Scientists now tell us that they are finding stories patterns in the genetic code that they call engrams, hinting that certain stories have been passed down through the human bloodline since the beginning. 

   Oral Tradition is the method of long-term communication with the future that Jesus employed to cast his word on the currents of time and space.  Jesus was not a tombstone cutter, but he engraved the stone of his hearers’ hearts with parables.  Parables are short, simple stories that are engaging and easy to remember.  They convey a meaning that even the simplest can understand.  Yet, under the surface, Jesus knew that members of his Heavenly Kingdom in the distant future would find secret meaning in them, deep below than that which could be perceived by the simple.  In fact, parable means “something cast out beyond the present time.”


Parables in Deep Time

   Matthew (13:34) tells us that when Jesus spoke to crowds, he only used parables so folks would easily remember these stories and retell them, never perceiving the deeper meaning not meant for them.  The reason Jesus used this method is found in Psalm 78, which we read from our Psalter today.  It bears repeating now.  Listen carefully for clues as to why Jesus used parables to convey his secrets to you:

Ps 78:2.  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,  3.  Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.  4.  We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of Yahweh, And his strength, and his wondrous works that he hath done.  7.  That they might set their hope in Yahweh, And not forget the works of Yahweh, But keep his commandments.

Nobody knew how to read and write in Bible days but scribes like Matthew.  Jesus wanted the stories to be passed from generation to generation through time, whether people could read or write or not, so that the stories might be known hundreds and thousands of years later to millions of people.  But even more importantly, that those chosen for the Kingdom in our future present might feel their stony hearts embossed with the deeper meaning of these stories.

   On the surface a parable is going to mean the same thing to all people.  The fisherman sorts out fish and throws the unclean ones away.  The baker throws yeast into the dough.  A seed grows into a tree and birds flock there.  Somebody buys a field for the pearl found in it.  Everybody gets the same meaning.  The stories are so simple that they are hardly even stories.  But the secret, personal message is going to be different for every chosen Kingdom person.  That’s the beauty and mystery and miracle of Jesus’ parable preaching.  Every believer has a different history, mission and gift.  When a believer throws herself into the parable, she receives the personal, individual message from her Savior.  This is one of the supernatural ways that Jesus whispers to believers today despite the vast difference in time.  Moreover parables are incredibly anointed; but their deeper meaning is not for everybody.


The Schneider Stone and The Mustard Seed Parable

   Let me give you an example of a parable in my life of how the parable of the The Jacob Schneider Stone in rural Arlington, OHmustard seed reveals a personal message to me.  Once I took a little trip to the country -- to a tiny cemetery behind a tinier Lutheran church 15 miles south of my hometown.  There comes a time in every young person’s life when he begins to wonder about where he came from, what his ancestors were like, what they did, their stories, their history, his past.  My family didn’t convey much about family history to me.  They never shared why there were so many of us Snyders around or how or even if we were all related.  All I knew was that the first Snyders came over from somewhere in Europe, and that the family ancestors were buried in this little cemetery I was now visiting. 

   I found the earliest Schneider stone in the cemetery.  It is a very large and ornate stone, well engraved, and still legible.  The name and date on the stone is still easy to make out -- Jacob Schneider, 1792.  Unfortunately, the long inscription chiseled into the limestone is in German, and I couldn’t read any of it.  At the top of the stone was engraved a picture of a hand with the index finger pointing up to heaven.  Surrounding the stone were several others with the Schneider name, some large, ornate and inscribed.  Then I left the cemetery, thinking I might try the inscription later.

   From that trip I learned that my family went back to 1792 at least.  That fact was written in stone over a hundred years before.  It was a message from the past -- a tiny story that meant the same thing to everyone who could read it – “Jacob Schneider, 1792.”  I realized that as long as that stone stood on the earth, so would its story.  But what did the inscription have to add to the meaning of the trip?   And what had happened since 1792?  The deeper, personal message from Jacob Schneider to me had not yet been revealed; in fact, nobody could translate the story written in the stone.

   It is exactly the same with the parables of our Savior.  We read through them and understand them perfectly; they are so simple, they are ridiculous.  Everybody knows these stories -- I would venture to say that billions of people have recited them from their hearts or read them from this book and passed them down the generations.  Yet very few see through the veneer to discover the secret Kingdom.

   It was 30 years later, in 2001, when I finally translated the stone.  A high school boy, Adam Snyder, took a poor quality picture of it and emailed it to me. I tried to enhance the image.  I worked with it every way.  I contacted people who lived around there to trace some of the words with their fingers.  I don’t know any German, so I had to struggle with the language.  I did it letter by letter.  I stayed awake thinking about it; studying the words in my mind.  I checked atlases; I talked to people about obscure words; I went to the Internet for the history of his time looking for clues.  I was very frustrated, but I kept getting closer and closer to the secret story.  Interpreting the message became an intellectual struggle. But one day, I got it all.

   The inscription said that my great-great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Schneider, was born in Sohenstadten in the state of Hessen Darmstadt in western Germany near the French border.  He became a career soldier in the German army at the age of 17 and won a commendation for bravery in a battle with or against the forces of Emperor Napoleon I.  (Probably on the side of Napoleon.) He was married to Maria and they had at least three children, Hannah, Philip and George.  He immigrated to the United States to get his family out of war-torn Europe.  He settled in the county where I was to be born in the middle of the 19th century.  His eldest son, Philip, had ten children, most of them male, who all had bunches of children who then had bunches more of children.  Over the next 150 years, the Hessian soldier Jacob Schneider was responsible for the births of hundreds of people with the same last name as me, including me. 

   Inserting my own struggles with the stone into the parable, I observed that an awesome mustard tree had grown, beginning with a man’s decision to sell everything and make the perilous sea voyage in a time when the whole world was at war.  That tree is still growing, and I have been exploring its branches in the past six months.  I made two important discoveries:  many heavenly birds have come to rest in this great family mustard tree -- many saints of Yahweh are found in its branches, and even martyrs.  The other discovery was that Jacob Schneider was the great-great-great grandfather of both my mother and my father.  It is a small world after all.


Secret Personal Meaning of the Parable

   And the secret personal meaning of this simple parable?  This is it:  Jesus tells me that I will surely meet many, many of these dear people whom I have hitherto known only on paper or through old photos.  In fact, I am already with them in the beloved Kingdom about which these stories are written.  And soon I’ll meet them face to face in the presence of the Savior.  So I’m excited about the times we live in and in our work together as a church toward the revelation of this wonderful Kingdom.  Excitement grows as we consider how Matthew begins his section on the parables of Jesus:

43.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

The righteous of all ages will shine forth at the end of the age; it will be a glorious time of reunion for me, for you and for your beloved friends and family who know and love Jesus.  Now notice how the section ends:

52. Therefore every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

When Matthew says “scribe” he means an family accountant.  A disciple will be like the great grandfather or grandmother of a huge economy of people.  We will be shining hearts and guides of a loving family of the sons and daughters of Yahweh, revealing the old stories and bringing new meaning to them in the glory of a Kingdom free of evil.  Some of us are already revealing stories, both old and new.  Some of us are already living in the Kingdom of Heaven.

   Dear ones -- these parables also speak of a separation – the separation of the wheat from the tare, the fruitless tree from the orchard.  That is why you must wrestle them down.  They have been conveyed for centuries to help you decode your place in this present darkness and your destiny in the light.  They are anointed stories, but the anointing requires that you struggle until the deeper meaning shines forth.  Do not let them go until they bless you.  Become the denominator in each one and see what value arises out of each equation.  Don’t let the plainness of these stories elude you as the simplicity of the face on Mars eluded the all-knowing scientists, but let their inner secrets reveal themselves to you.  Wait upon your Savior to speak to you with great clarity through them.  May he bless you, my friends, with visions and revelations of your destiny in his glorious and holy realm.

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