Showing posts with label Empires. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Empires. Show all posts

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Mining the Minors: Zechariah (4)

The prophet Zedekiah once forged a pair of animal horns out of iron as an object lesson for the kings of Israel and Judah, who were contemplating going up to Ramoth-gilead to fight the king of Syria. It must have been quite a dramatic moment when he trotted out his artistic creation in front of the two Hebrew kings on their thrones before a gathering of 400 prophets, crying out, “With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.” Too bad Zedekiah was actually a false prophet regurgitating what he thought King Ahab wanted to hear.

All the same, his literal “forgery” gives us a little bit of insight into the meaning of the imagery in Zechariah’s second vision.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (7)

History shows us empires never last.

People groups do. Israel, for example, has been around as a distinguishable national and genetic entity for something very close to four thousand years notwithstanding its lack of a country to call home for most of that time; the Chinese have been almost completely ethnically homogenous even longer. In this respect at least, China holds a tremendous advantage in our present day should the US opt to go to war with them over Taiwan. Ideologically divided right down the middle, some say the US is on the brink of civil war; though occasionally experiencing internal unrest, the Chinese are comparatively unified.

But that’s the problem with multi-ethnic empires: they don’t have the kind of cohesion and staying power that kinship produces. The modus operandi of empire building is perpetual expansion and absorption of new people groups, whether through conquest or immigration. At some point, those so absorbed inevitably begin to influence the empire in favor of their own ethnicity and agendas.

Historically speaking, diversity is the opposite of strength. Biblically too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Fifth Empire

Daniel 2 is a fascinating trip through the history of human accomplishment. A panoply of the greatest and most powerful Gentile empires in world history, most of them then-future, is revealed by God to the king of the Chaldeans in a dream.

Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a great image in the form of a man. We would probably be better to call it a statue than an image because it had substance as well as appearance. The head of the statue was gold, the chest and arms were silver, the belly and thighs were bronze, the legs were of iron, and the feet and toes a mixture of iron and clay.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Mining the Minors: Amos (20)

“Teachers told us
the Romans built this place.
They built a wall and a temple on
an edge-of-the-empire garrison town.
They lived and they died.
They prayed to their gods
but the stone gods did not make a sound.
And their empire crumbled
’til all that was left were
stones the workmen found.”

— Sting, All This Time

One of my favorite songs ever recorded by the ex-singer of The Police makes the point that empires rise and fall while the natural world goes about its business. “All this time, the river flowed endlessly to the sea,” goes the chorus. Being English, Sting singles out the Roman Empire, but he could as easily have written about those of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medo-Persians or Greeks.

Or, frankly, the Americans.