Friday, September 26, 2014

The Babylonians Were Not the Canaanites

You don’t have to look far to find people accusing the Bible’s account of Israel’s conquest of the Canaanites of being a warrant for genocide, whether Protestants and Catholics killing each other (e.g., the religious wars in Europe during the Reformation), or Christians of any stripe killing non-Christians (e.g., the conquest of the Plains Indians or the current attempt to conquer the Middle East). One of probably countless examples is found in this post and its comments, as is a reasonable rebuttal by an informed Christian. (I have opined that being an agent of genocide is a horrific experience here.)
I would like to add that the full story doesn’t end with the conquest of Canaan. It actually ends with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians centuries later. And to the degree the European “Christian” conquest of the American Indians and the Confederacy is indeed somehow a reflection of God’s will the same way the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan was, we need to be afraid, be very afraid, that our nation will go the way of Israel and Judah—“Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us. Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!”—as a reflection of God’s will, and for the same reason: ungodliness.
In Israel’s early days in the land, once the Canaanites had been (pretty much) annihilated, the enemies to be dealt with were the Midianites, the Amelekites, the Ammonites, and the Philistines, those who had settled the land before Israel left Egypt. As spiritual decline set in in Israel, it was these barbarians whom God raised up to chasten his people. It was to lead God’s people in battle against these people that Israel asked for a king, and by golly, the kings did indeed get rid of those enemies.
But they didn’t get rid of the real enemy: the belief in Israel that they were God’s people no matter where they ranked God in their list of priorities and no matter what they did as a result. God’s response, as so many have pointed out, was to treat the Israelites precisely the way they had treated the Canaanites (and were treating each other):
The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the world's people, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem. But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous. Now they grope through the streets like men who are blind. They are so defiled with blood that no one dares to touch their garments. (Lam 4:12-14)
By the end of the seventh century BC, Israel rightly had no fear of the Canaanites or the Philistines. But God had another enemy in mind to chasten them, one they could not have foreseen when they were conquering Canaan centuries before: the Babylonians.
A cruel and violent nation … will march across the world and conquer it.  They are notorious for their cruelty. They do as they like, and no one can stop them.  Their horses are swifter than leopards. They are a fierce people, more fierce than wolves at dusk. Their horsemen race forward from distant places. Like eagles they swoop down to pounce on their prey.  On they come, all of them bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a wind from the desert, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand. (Hab 1:6-9)
God had taken something precious to him, his reputation for goodness (Ps 25:8; 34:8; 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1, 29; 135:3; 136:1), and put it on the line by commanding his people Israel to exterminate the Canaanites. That so many people take that command as proof that the God of the Bible is not good is evidence of how great that risk was. For him then to sit back and allow the Israelites to create a society as evil as the one they had exterminated would have been further “proof” that the God of Israel is no better than any other deity people use to excuse their predatory actions.
Now I don’t happen to believe that the God of the Bible approved of the conquest of the Cherokee and other Indian tribes of the east, the Confederacy, northern Mexico, or the Plains Indians and tribes to the west of them. But he did at least let it happen, and the church of Jesus Christ in the conquered territories has prospered economically in ways that would make Paul the apostle’s, not to mention Stephen the first martyr’s, head swim. We have been taught all our lives in the movies, at school, and in Sunday school that God was on the side of right: the Indians were savages, the Confederates were slavers, the Spanish were papist imperialists, and all were evil.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say that’s all true: let’s say that just as God displaced the Canaanites to make room for Israel, God displaced the pagans and slavers to make room for evangelicals.
If this is so, what can we expect if our society becomes as evil as those it has displaced? What if outright paganism replaces biblical Christianity as the default (nominal) religion of the land? What if Christians support slavery (justifying it by calling it “conscription” or “regulation” or “taxation” or “duty”) and imperialism? Will God sit still and allow himself to become just another deity who justifies rapacity? Or is he likely to raise up new enemies?
These are no-brainer questions, and however simple the answers are, they are hard to swallow. God has already raised up the enemies, and as the Babylonians pretty much eviscerated Judah before destroying Jerusalem and dragging the people off to exile in Babylon (2 Kgs 24), so the church in the US is losing its substance to God’s enemies. Most obviously, taxes are rising: not only are the nominal tax rates increasing, but government “borrowing” continues, which means more dollars in government budgets at all levels are going to interest payments, and the Federal Reserve is devaluating our currency. By even moderate accounts, Uncle Sam has run up a quarter of a million dollars of debt and liabilities for every man, woman, and child in the country.  All this is happening faster than we can increase production, so our net income is being lowered. Our government is run by special interest groups as rapacious as the Babylonians but wise enough to know that if they provide bread and circuses their subjects, far from rebelling against them, will zealously defend them.
Then there’s ISIS, or ISIL, or just the IS. According to the media narrative, they’re just a bunch of savage terrorists, “notorious for their cruelty.” I have no evidence to the contrary. But I have every reason to believe that they recruit new members every day by playing on the legitimate anger that Muslims in the Middle East harbor toward US imperialism. And Muslims in the US with family in the old country may also harbor that anger, just as Jews living in Rome in the first century no doubt resented Rome’s treatment of the residents of Judea.
Just as Babylon was a non-entity in Joshua’s day, the banksters and the IS are both enemies Sherman and Sheridan, let alone Washington and Jefferson, could never have imagined. But we see the success the banksters have had, and if the same government who has enslaved us to the banksters were to arm Muslim murderers in the US as it has in the Middle East, the possibilities are endless.
Why couldn’t 2.6 million Muslims take over this country county by county, state by state, over the period of a few decades? They are immigrating from countries with billions to spare, and, more importantly, they are reproducing faster than neopagan European Americans. And they vote. And they care how the vote goes. And to the degree that “it’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes,” they’ll be interested in counting the votes.
Meanwhile, Evangelicals salute the flag, send their kids to tax-funded schools and cheer louder when those kids join the military than they do when they sign on as missionaries, let alone commit to be entrepreneurs and employees who will win to Christ those they interact with in the marketplace. And we lose half our kids to the world by the time they’re out of college.
The jig is up. The Babylonians are at the gates. It’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when the system will collapse. As it collapses, we can expect Uncle Sam to enact draconian measures supposedly aimed at preserving justice, liberty, and prosperity. But to the degree that the kingdoms of the world are under Satanic control—for example, a presidential election held in the US today would be won by a bloodthirsty lesbian—we can expect that the true ultimate goal of those actions will be to seduce or exterminate the Christian church.
When the Babylonians get through the walls, will we be in Zedekiah’s party, trying to escape to Egypt? Or will we stay in the city and watch our children be dashed on the rocks? Or will we be like the wise people of the land who surrendered to the Babylonians and were allowed to stay? Indeed, how do we translate these questions into our current situation?
I don’t know for sure. But I do know that Jesus said no man can serve two masters. While Jesus was warning us to make sure we don’t allow Mammon to rival God in our loyalties, it’s reasonable to at least hypothesize that the same warning applies to loyalty to Uncle Sam.

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