The Mystery of the Mayas

The strength of a nation in its future depends upon the strength of the father-son relationships within that nation. Through a message that the Wilkes family told us about from Doug Phillips, I saw this illustrated once again. It is an impressive lesson from history and I would like to share it with you.

Mayan WorldOf all the Native American people groups, the Maya (MAH-yah) are some of the most well known. With the Aztecs and Toltecs, they settled Central America far before the time of Christ but the climax of their civilization was not until about 800 A.D. At that time their achievements included a mature written language, pyramids similar to those of the Egyptians, a precise calendar and the establishment of ninety cities.

At this point however there was a revolution. Evidently the peasants wiped out their own leadership, dispersed to their individual farms and let the cities, along with much of their culture and accumulation of knowledge, all but disappear into the overgrowth of the neotropic jungle. Wow. Add to that the fact that so much of the population disappeared that it is only recently recovering1, and you have a very interesting mystery indeed.

This is generally described in the Encyclopedia Britannica: “From A.D. 800 to 950, one after another of the centres of this civilization were abandoned and fell into ruin. Then the central Maya seem to have reverted to a pattern of peasant communities. There are only scanty archaeological data for the following period.”2This does create a mystery and prompts us to ask ‘Why?’


First some background: Before Christ came, Malachi predicted: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).

This was the message of John the Baptist who was greatly used to awaken the nation of Israel to the coming of One Who would fulfill the laws and the prophecies of the preceding generations. Simultaneously, those who believed Christ would have their hearts emboldened to transfer the news of the Messiah to their succeeding generations. Under Adam, every person in every nation bears the curse of sin and, except the message of Christ be carried from generation to generation (in other words, unless the generational bonds be strengthened), there is no hope of families or nations escaping the curse of their own sin.


Even the mystery of the Mayas can become both exciting and easy to understand when viewed from this perspective. For the Maya, there was peace and incredible academic progress in math, linguistics and agriculture that ended in an abrupt downfall when the people as a whole chose to oppose the Creator. What could convey more dishonor to God than the dishonor of human life? The priests were entrusted with most of the formal education and they used their power and scientific knowledge to manipulate the common people, persuading them to give up their own sons and daughters for human sacrifice. While the people at first participated willingly they eventually realized that their culture was bound for self-destruction and overthrew those who misled them.

How fearful to see an advanced people group devolve to the point of giving up their own children. But the trend brought out by this message in the World History Conference is obvious: cultures turn from truth to fable; from fable to fantasy and entertainment; from fantasy and entertainment to athletics; from athletics then to ungodly violence; from violence to preoccupation with death (abortion, suicide, euthanasia, etc.); and from a preoccupation with death to blood sport.

Now, reversing the trend is not a matter of back-tracking the way that we came, but rather a clean re-emphasis of the duty of fathers and sons to understand and teach the truth of the Word of God at their point in history. Teachings abound, but our responsibility to do and teach what Christ has commanded alone guarantees our lasting stability. There cannot be too great a revival of the bond between fathers and their sons! As His ambassadors, the world awaits our witness that Christ is the only begotten son of God, that His blood sacrifice is all-sufficient, and that He offers life to those who choose to follow Him.

” My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).

“And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

In conjunction with this article I would also recommend not only The History of the World Mega-Conference 2006 DVD Collection by Vision Forum but a book on discipleship by Dr. Bill Gothard that has meant a lot to me: How to Fulfill Seven Basic Needs.


1JSTOR: Demography: Vol. 11, No. 1 (Feb., 1974), pp. 105-117

2Encyclopedia Britannica (1957), Vol. II, pp.259Za



  1. Daniel February 9, 2007 at 5:57 pm #

    How true, Donald! It especially hit me how much the future depends on our present father-son relationships. It is especially exciting to see how this was reinforced at the Dad’s conference Dad recently attended with Mr. Wilkes. Keep building those relationships, everyone!

  2. Robert February 9, 2007 at 10:29 pm #

    Great article, Donald! Considering the legalized abortions in our nation today, this was very powerful: “How fearful to see an advanced people group devolve to the point of giving up their own children”. And what a great conclusion! “Reversing the trend is not a matter of back-tracking the way that we came, but rather a clean re-emphasis of the duty of fathers and sons to understand and teach the truth of the Word of God”. I couldn’t agree more!

  3. Jonathan February 11, 2007 at 7:16 pm #

    Wow, what a lesson to learn. I really learned a lot from Doug Phillips. He is a very interesting person. I’m sure glad, Donald, that you shared that with us.

  4. Joshua February 12, 2007 at 4:20 am #

    Very humbling and disturbing as we look at our very own ‘advanced’ culture. Yet at the same time I see great hope, for there is a generation rising, though small in numbers, who are grasping hold of this truth and are seeking that proper relationship with their parents. Praise God!
    Your comment in par. 6 that, “those who believed Christ would have their hearts emboldened to transfer the news of the Messiah to their succeeding generations,” exhorts me to disciple. Failure to do so, shows a lack of faith in Christ. Thank you Donald!

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