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Sunday, March 19, 2017

More Calf Exercises

Is it my imagination, or do those
tags in your ears say, “Liar, liar”?
It was 722 BC, and God had taken Israel off the board.

As a political entity, the northern kingdom would no longer be active in accomplishing the purposes of Heaven. God continued his work, of course, in the lives of individual Israelites and their families dispersed throughout Assyria’s empire.

The writer of 2 Kings gives the nation this eulogy: “They went after false idols and became false.”

But this is how it goes: when you order your world on the basis of a lie, you further the lie and become a liar yourself. And liars are not much use as anything but cautionary tales.

On the Backburner

Perhaps the long-term result of this scattering of the northern kingdom is what Jacob foresaw in his dying days when he prophesied of his grandson Manasseh, “His younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” Today, Persian Jews claim Ephraimite ancestors, as do the Indian Telugu Jews. Claims (with less hard evidence to substantiate them) have even been made that many in the UK have their genetic roots in the tribe of Ephraim.

Maybe. One thing is for sure: whatever God is doing through the descendants of Ephraim today, it is very much in the background of world events. God continues to keep his promises, but the northern kingdom is still on hiatus.

Behold Your Gods — Or Not

I keep mentioning Ephraim because the character of the northern portion of the divided kingdom of Israel was epitomized in its first king Jeroboam, who was — probably not coincidentally — an Ephraimite. Thus the word “Ephraim” came to be used by both Hosea and Ezekiel as synonymous with the northern kingdom.

It was Jeroboam who introduced falsehood to the north for the express purpose of establishing his own kingdom, and ended up dooming it instead. He had two calves of gold made and placed one in Dan and one in Bethel, saying to the people, “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”

It was a monumental, catastrophic lie, displacing YHWH and his temple worship, and it stumbled Israel throughout her history. King after northern king is condemned because “he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin,” or words to that effect.

One after one, they went after false idols and became false, or else they merely tolerated false idols and ended up becoming just as phony.

And Ephraim ended up on the sidelines.

Factoring Out Liars

When lies go undetected, they wreak all kinds of havoc because people believe them and act on them. They order their lives around them. They lean on liars and get hurt for it.

But we all know the story of the boy who cried wolf once too often. A liar exposed has two choices: repent, or find his words are forever ignored.

The repentant liar may or may not be believed subsequently, but at least he has acknowledged what everyone around him already knows to be the case. In such a situation, at least there is hope that one day the liar may earn back the trust he has lost by behaving consistently and believably going forward.

The unrepentant liar, however, is toast. He keeps recycling the same old cons, blissfully unaware or perhaps mildly baffled that they no longer work for him. People may still nod at him in the street, or in his office cubicle, or on his way to his bedroom, but he is no longer a factor in their planning because they have learned he is unreliable. The party guest who promises he is coming and never comes eventually stops getting invitations. The landlord who is told the cheque is in the mail when it isn’t eventually finds himself another tenant. The man who tells his wife “she didn’t mean anything to me” one too many times finds he no longer means anything to his wife.

Unrepentant liars get factored out. That’s how it is. What cannot be depended upon … won’t be.

Trust on Decline

On to a more recent set of calf exercises. The American media has been saying “Behold your gods” to us for quite a while now. The new gods are feminism (complete with abortion-on-demand), pseudo-science, magic dirt, corporatism, globalism, political correctness … the pantheon is getting crowded. For a while, many of us thought these new “gods” offered something promising.

But you can see the media priesthood starting to get just a little bit concerned that Americans are not heading for the high places quite as often as they used to. The Washington Post’s Bill Bishop quotes reporter Jim Acosta of CNN, who addressed President Trump at a recent news conference:
“Aren’t you concerned, Sir, that you are undermining the people’s faith in the First Amendment, freedom of the press, the press in [this] country, when you call stories you don’t like fake news?”
Oh dear.

The Public Doesn’t Believe You People Anymore

This is an interesting question coming from CNN, about as demonstrably biased a major news outlet as is possible to find, an outfit that has successfully gotten away with substituting ideological posturing and identity politics for objective news reporting for as long as I’ve been watching it. I sat through hour after hour of pre-election CNN talking heads presuming to instruct Americans on what constitute “true American values” only to find early on November 9 that they were wildly out of step with the values of a majority of actual Americans.

More to the point was the president’s answer to Acosta: “The public doesn’t believe you people anymore.”

He’s correct, and I’m not sure it’s a bad thing.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fabrications

Why on earth should the public have faith in the First Amendment when they know Twitter and Facebook are shamelessly engaged in shadow-banning or outright disabling the accounts of anyone dissenting from the progressive narrative, or when the CEO of a major corporation can be pushed out of his job for privately expressing a non-PC opinion?

Why on earth should the public have faith in the freedom of the press when 232 media executives employed by a mere six corporations control 90% of the American media, or the main information sources of 277 million Americans? How exactly is that “free” anyway? Whether you get your daily dose of propaganda and wild speculation from the billionaire owner of GE, Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner or CBS, it all adds up to the same thing, and whatever it is just ain’t consonant with reality.

So thanks for the memories, CNN. You might get our attention again one day if you try consistently reporting unvarnished facts. Or maybe try digging into scandals on both sides of the political aisle so we can see you’re being even-handed about your muck-raking. There’s no guarantee, but it’s not impossible. One has faith in things and people that have proven over time to reliably reflect the world as we observe it with our own eyes. Faith in paid shills with a transparent corporatist, globalist agenda, on the other hand, is looking like a bit of a mug’s game, and it’s a game that a significant number of Americans have just decided not to play anymore.

The media went after false idols and became … er … fake.

No Help When You Need ’Em

In Israel, the golden calves that were NOT gods and had NOT brought Israel out of Egypt could do nothing to help the northern kingdom when the Assyrians attacked. Shalmaneser king of Assyria wasn’t afraid of them in any case: he besieged Samaria for three years, gathered up Israel and carried them off to the cities of the Medes and beyond.

Once they had a land to call their own, a law that was the envy of the nations, a temple in which to worship, a legacy to take to the world and a God who was able and willing to rise up and defend them from their enemies whenever they truly called on his name.

So instead they went after false idols and became false. There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.

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