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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Sovereignty’

Isaiah_Spanish Square_Rome

The Prophet Isaiah, from a monument in Rome.

“How do you know when a politician’s lying,” runs the set up to an old joke. The answer? “When his lips are moving.”

Ouch.

Now granted, that’s funny joke. But it’s funny only because it highlights vast chasm most of us have seen between most political rhetoric from most political reality.

George H.W. Bush wont the 1988 presidential election in part on his famous promise, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Not long after his election he conspired with Congress to, wait for it…raise taxes.

More recently, Barak Obama told the nation in no uncertain terms that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

And this wasn’t the only lie that was told with respect to Obama Care. After the passage of the bill, a video of Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and one of the chief architects of the Affordable (sic) Care Act, surfaced that made clear that Obama Care always was a hustle, and that those behind the bill knew it all along. Gruber’s words were, “(L)ack of transparency is a huge political advantage and basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting this thing (Obamacare) to pass.”

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zedekiah_is_chained_and_brought_before_nebuchadnezzar

Zedekiah is chained and brought before Nebuchadnezzar, from Petrus Comestor’s “Bible Historiale.”  

Traditionally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, Lamentations recounts the author’s reflections on the ruins of Jerusalem in the aftermath of the city’s fall to the Babylonians.

 

When a city, when a nation, falls, it is natural for people to ask why it happened. Chapter One of Lamentations provides the following succinct summary of the sorry state of Jerusalem.

Her uncleanness is in her skirts;

She did not consider her destiny;

Therefore her collapse was awesome.

Now that’s what I call getting right to the point. Jerusalem, which was really a part standing for the whole of Judah, had become morally unclean. God sent prophets to warn the people, but they did not heed, they, they did not consider their end, therefore judgment befell them.

Now I’ve always been a history buff. And, in particular, I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of civilizational collapse. That sounds pretty depressing, I know. But I don’t say that, because I’m rooting to see a contemporary collapse myself.

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jehoiakim-burns-the-scroll

Jehoiakim Burns the Scroll, Caspar Luiken 1672-1708.

What to write?  That’s the question all bloggers must face.  Sometimes the answer comes quickly.  Sometimes it doesn’t. 

With campaign season hitting its big crescendo last week, my mind’s been focused on the election. But now that it has passed, where do I go from here? There’s the series on immigration I’ve been writing. I haven’t forgotten about it. Lord willing, I plan to finish it sometime later this month. But today didn’t strike me as a day to write about immigration.

So back to the question of what to write about. Perhaps due in part to the recently concluded election, the specter of national and civilizational decline is often at the forefront of my thoughts.

Perhaps another reason for this is my Scripture reading. Recently, I’ve been focused on the prophets, Jeremiah in particular. And I never get very far in the prophets before I find myself saying “This could have been written yesterday about America!”

And it’s true, too. Edward Gibbons’ masterpiece of history The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is often cited by writers who want to advance some reason or another for the obvious, ongoing collapse of Western Civilization in our own time.

But there is a far better text to use if we want to gain insight on the problems we face in 21st century America. Of course, I’m referring to the Bible. And in particular the historical books of I and II Samuel,
I and II Kings,
I and II Chronicles and the prophets. Taken together, they could almost be subtitled The Decline and Fall of the Hebrew Republic.

Samuel was the last of the judges and the anointer of the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David. It was during Samuel’s judgeship that Israel made the critical error in asking for a king (big government) in place of the limited, constitutional republic set up by God in the law of Moses.

If we were to summarize the history of Israel under the kings, we could say that the kingdom rapidly grew in power under the rule of David, hit its peak under his son Solomon, then split in two – the northern and southern kingdoms – under Solomon’s son Rehoboam. From there, the two kingdoms followed a centuries long trajectory of decline with the northern kingdom falling to Assyrian in 722 BC, and the southern kingdom to Babylon in 586 BC.

What makes the history of this decline and fall so relevant today is that the reader is not, as he is with secular history, left to decide for himself the reasons behind the disasters that befell Israel and Judah. The Word of God tells him explicitly: the people of Israel refused to heed the Lord and suffered the covenant curses pronounced in Deuteronomy 28.

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