Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Nicene Creed (Box 2b)

The Box

Let’s take a long look at these two historical events that took place. Point (a) “My nature will become evident from my actions,” clearly Yahweh brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, and the rest is recorded history! Yahweh was not identified with nature, Yahweh transcended nature; and Yahweh wasn’t known through nature or natural phenomena. Yahweh was known through history, events and a particular relationship with a man, which Yahweh formed from the dust of the earth. Need I say more about point (a)?

Point (b) The servant is Israel herself! The punishment that Israel suffered, even if excessive-that punishment isn’t meaningless, it will lead to redemption. Israel will be healed by her wounds. Israel’s suffering is serving a purpose in the divine plan, it’s necessary. Israel needs purification and redemption and that will prepare her for a new role in world history.

The fall of Jerusalem shattered the national and territorial basis of Israel’s culture and religion. The Babylonians had burned the temple to the ground, they carried away most of the people to exile, to life in exile in Babylon, leaving behind mostly members of the lower classes to eke out a living as best they could. And it was the completion of the tragedy that had begun centuries earlier, and it was interpreted as a fulfillment of the covenant curses. 

It was the end of the Davidic monarchy, although the son of Jeholakim was alive and living in Babylon, kind of holding out hope that the line hadn’t actually been killed out, hadn’t been completely wiped out. But the institution seemed to have come to an end for now. It was the end of the temple, the end of the priesthood, the end of Israel as a nation; as an autonomous nation, the Israelites were confronted with a great test. One could see in these events a signal that Yahweh had abandoned Israel to, or had been defeated by the god of the Babylonians, and Marduk would replace Yahweh, as the Israelites assimilated themselves into their new home. 

And certainly there were Israelites who went that route, but others who were firmly rooted in exclusive Yahwism did not. Yahweh hadn’t been defeated, the nations’s calamities were not disproof of Yahweh’s power and covenant, they were proof of it. Yahweh’s desire for morality as expressed in the ancient covenant, the prophets had spoken truly when they had said that destruction would follow, if the people didn’t turn from their moral and religious violations of Yahweh’s law. The defeat and the exile had the potential to convince Israelites of the need to show absolute and undivided devotion to Yahweh and his commandments.

The traditions of gods abandoning their cities in anger, leaving them to destruction by another god. The primary difference here is that Yahweh, rather than another god, is Yahweh himself also bringing the destruction. Yahweh doesn’t retire to heaven, nor abandons his people. Yahweh doesn’t remain behind with those left in Judah, but Yahweh moves into exile; those left behind are guilty. Yahweh does not stay with them; Yahweh moves east with the righteous exiles. Need I say more about point (b)?

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