How can we tell if someone is going to be toxic before they have had enough time to wreak lives? How can we prevent bad things happening, particularly in the church? We know that there are those who preach a strange God, or that we should accept this world as it is, and become part of the new imperial narrative. In the time of the Assyrians, we should not trust in God, and surrender, knowing that our worship will be expunged and we will be exiled and enslaved.
Rabshakeh, like all those who tell a nation to move, was lying. The land you get in exile is poor, and if exiled again poorer still.
There will be some application of the texts, but a bit of explanation. I’m in Hong Kong, trying to manage jetlag 5 zones, so we have been walking. It is the a public holiday, so most of the maids were sitting under the roofs on public walkways and the homeless were slumped on the pavement in a stupor. When we went to the peak area (It is Ronyn’s first trip there) about half of Hong Kong had the same idea, and the queues were… long.
So I’m blogging the lectionary and a bit of what has been happening. Most of the other posts will decrease over this month.
28Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. 30Do not let Hezekiah make you rely on the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ 31Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me; then every one of you will eat from your own vine and your own fig tree, and drink water from your own cistern, 32until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive oil and honey, that you may live and not die. Do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, The LORD will deliver us. 33Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered its land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 34Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 35Who among all the gods of the countries have delivered their countries out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”
36But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.” 37Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
22“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
24“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!”
28Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
What we need to do is not as much talk about the faith — though it is important that correct teaching is given — as obey the dictates of our faith. Consider the knight crying out as he prepares for battle. The postmodern mincing about this being a metaphor is of no earthly or heavenly use: the knight could be dead tomorrow and he needs to know his cause is right and just and his actions proper.
The very idea of getting on your knees is repugnant to the current set of bureaucrats who run our postmodern society.
But the do not matters. What matters is that we hear the words of Christ and do them: for that gives us a certainty that remains during the periods of political turmoil and war the failing polity of this time causes. Even hardcore neoconservatives can see it.
The first response of the rest of Europe, to be sure, will be to ask the Catalans as well as the Rajoy government to put the genie back into the bottle. We are well past that point. After demonstrating that mass civil disobedience could defeat the heavy-handed efforts of the national government to suppress them, the Catalans will not turn back. Nor should they. Europe’s infertility leaves the more productive regions of Europe with the choice of impugning their own future by picking up the retirement bill for the continent’s dead beats, or going their own way.
The Catalan movement is a singularity in modern politics. But an important motive for the independence movement is the order of consumption in the European lifeboat. As I wrote on Sept. 30, the unifying theme in Germany’s Sept. 24 election was voter repudiation of bailouts of Germany’s neighbors. That was the brunt of Brexit, whose supporters rallied support by declaring that they would rather give more money to Britain’s National Health Service than to the EC budget.
Ernest Hemingway’s leftwing account of the Spanish Civil War was titled “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” In this case, do not ask for whom the bell tolls: It tolls for Europe.
But note this: the Assyrians, with all their boasting, are no longer a great power. They are one with the Soviet. It will be soon with Europe. The only question is if they bring back blasphemy laws first: the move towards hate speech suggests that they will double down until they are dust and the nation whose duty they had to lead is ashes.