thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Tuesday of the 12th week in Ordinary
Readings may be found here
Whether in the school yard or in the rise and fall of empires and nations, those who embrace violence and threat to pursue their own interests over others will always try to convince their intended victims of their overwhelming power.
The land promised to the people of Israel falls on a geographic “highway” between regions where empires arose over the millennia: the Nile Valley, the Fertile Crescent, and Anatolia (modern day Turkey), etc. Israel found itself regularly menaced by those empires with demands for submission and tribute. We hear such menace today in the threats of the Assyrian king as he approaches Jerusalem after conquering the Northern Tribes. In that time, the Assyrians were particularly brutal in their methods and very much feared. You can imagine that those around King Hezekiah in Jerusalem pleaded with him to submit. Hezekiah, whose name means “the Lord strengthens,” made the choice to trust in the Lord. He did not believe the threats, held firm, and the Lord delivered Jerusalem that day.
The arrogant Assyrians went on to see their empire overwhelmed by the Babylonians. In Judah, later and lesser kings than Hezekiah forgot his faith in the strength of the Lord. They played politics and suffered conquest and exile. Yet the Lord did not abandon His people, He accompanied them into exile and continued to be their strength.
Its curious that those seemingly invincible empires are now artifacts and ruins, yet the children of Abraham are a living people thousands of years on. That little people, so vulnerable to conquest and so oft oppressed, has endured while their oppressors have crumbled. That people, expanded now to include the children of Abraham by faith as well as those by birth, continues to call upon the Lord who is our strength.
Bullies trust in violence and fear, but that false faith will ever plant the seeds of their oblivion. Recall that we believe in the Lord Who was violently killed by men of empire and that His “defeat” is our victory. Don’t believe the bullies, trust in the love, the grace, and the strength of the Lord.