Thursday, January 07, 2010

God's Judgment On Babylon

Thanks to a passage I was reading in Cyril of Alexandria's commentary on Isaiah, I noticed the following connection. Within Isaiah's pronouncement of judgment on Babylon we find the following:

Isaiah 13:16-19

Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

This prophecy was remembered in psalm during the captivity.

Psalm 137:8-9
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

It is a very violent judgment - a shocking judgment to modern sensitivities. God declared that he would bring, as part of his just judgment the death of the young children of Babylon: children who were not personally involved in the destruction of Israel or its persecution. Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled and Psalm 137 came to pass. In this way, God visited the sins of the fathers upon the children - even though the Babylonians themselves were carrying out God's chastisement on the Israelites. And in all of this, God is just and his judgments are righteous.

We ought to learn from this to fear the Lord and to serve Him only, for God is a Jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations (to them that hate Him). And in our fear we ought also to seek mercy, for God also shows mercy to thousands (of generations) to those that love Him.

-TurretinFan

17 comments:

Geoffrey Miller said...
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Geoffrey Miller said...
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Geoffrey Miller said...
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Geoffrey Miller said...

Above deleted. After prayer and discernment, your way on this is the right way. I have nothing to add or subtract.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks! :)

beowulf2k8 said...

Its a big leap from prophecying that something will happen which happens commonly in war to begin with (or did back then anyway) and exulting in it the way the Psalmist did. The Psalmist was mentally disturbed. The prophet was realistic.

Turretinfan said...

b2k8:

If you'd like to blaspheme, please do so on your own blog, not here.

-TurretinFan

Geoffrey Miller said...

You know, such psalms do seem monstrous to some modern men. But I think in rejecting their divine inspiration, we reject a part of our humanity that is good and proper.

Ironically in the context of this blog, Mark Shea wrote a great article on this matter.

http://www.mark-shea.com/hatelove.html

Geoffrey Miller said...

There are difficult issues here. Granted, I am never quite sure how to handle these sorts of things.

Geoffrey Miller said...

Actually Turretinfan, on second thought, I am going to disagree with you on this matter. I affirm the position of C.S. Cowels in the book "Show them no mercy," and I encourage anyone who reads this to check him out.

It is improper to ascribe genocidal decrees to God, especially in light of the new covenant.

http://books.google.com/books?id=7mkpPyzv0jcC&dq=c.s.+cowles&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=p8zXpUWaIM&sig=J3vatJNhwzpkm7SuA2tJOE6CK_I&hl=en&ei=2r9HS5WZK5CGNpjv9Y8J&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CBsQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Turretinfan said...

"It is improper to ascribe genocidal decrees to God, especially in light of the new covenant."

Considering that the kingdom was taken from Saul for his failure to follow a genocidal command, it's hard to reconcile that kind of statement to Scripture.

1 Samuel 15:18-19

And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?


-TurretinFan

Geoffrey Miller said...
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Geoffrey Miller said...

Stupid double post!

Anyway, well, that's pretty much C.S. Cowels' point; what he advocates, and what I almost agree with (I disagree with him in places), is definitely heresy in your book. No doubt about that.

I haven't seen a perfect answer to the present issue yet, but in my opinion, Mr. Cowels' is the most interesting and compelling.

In any case, there are many passages in Scripture that are not easily reconciled with each other, and sometimes seem impossible to reconcile, and on occasion actually are impossible to reconcile (outside of the spiritual sense, which is always consistent but only discovered after much meditation and prayer).

Here's two, for example:

2 Samuel 24:1

"Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'"

1 Chronicles 21:1

"Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel."

The most obvious explanation is that the author of 2 Samuel did not have the concept of a contradivine spirit known as Satan, and like all ancient semitic peoples attributed every action immediately to God since he lacked a developed philosophy of secondary causes.

The later post-exilic author of Chronicles attributes the action to Satan, whose activity is more clearly recognized. He has learned much concerning the basics of moral theology: God cannot instigate a moral evil as God is all good. Moreover, making someone do something and then punishing them for doing it seems to belong more to Guantanamo Bay "enhanced" interrogations than divine pedagogy.

The event and consequences of David's census are not in question (though the nature of the census and why it was viewed as so sinful remains mysterious). What differs is the interpretation of the event.

The next stage in theological development would synthesize the seemingly opposed interpretations of the census event: God is indeed in control, but he permits diabolical activity since it is an inevitability of free will, which is perhaps the highest good in the moral universe--the ability to freely choose the right thing. David failed to use his free will properly. Natural consequences ensued.

I fully expect vehement disagreement on all of the above. But that's okay.

Turretinfan said...

"Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD" doesn't seem to be harmonizable along any of the lines you've identified above.

Geoffrey Miller said...

Can you please clarify and elaborate? I'm not sure which part you're referring to above.

Turretinfan said...

First God explicitly commanded:

1 Samuel 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Then afterward, in the portion quoted above, he blamed Saul for failing to follow those instructions to the "t."

-TurretinFan

Geoffrey Miller said...

Hmmm...you do have a point. It seems Mr. Cowleys' opinion is not entirely satisfactory, as it tends to seriously compromise the integrity of the Old Testament.

You know, I really don't know about this issue. At all. I'd love to get tons of people around and discuss it more and see what they think.