Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Biblical Ashes of Empires past

Bringing to you more in the way of historical evidence of collapses past:  In this case Biblical.  In this particular passage, you do not need to be particularly religious to see the representation of a coming collapse.  It has the advantage of stories of collapsed civilizations found through archeology in that it is a spoken witness told with emotion.

Joel is referred to as one of the twelve minor profits in the bible.  It is somewhat of a standalone book, because it does not reference enough specifics to precisely date when it was written.  Thus it has a somewhat timeless quality.

As we don’t know the specific history, the locust that start of the tale of woe can be taken to be allegorical, as the generic ravaging enemy that is always waiting to pounce.

Joel 1 (New American Standard Bible (NASB))

4 What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten;
And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten;
And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.
5 Awake, drunkards, and weep;
And wail, all you wine drinkers,
On account of the sweet wine
That is cut off from your mouth.
6 For a nation has invaded my land,
Mighty and without number;
Its teeth are the teeth of a lion,
And it has the fangs of a lioness.
7 It has made my vine a waste
And my fig tree splinters.
It has stripped them bare and cast them away;
Their branches have become white.

8 Wail like a virgin girded with sackcloth
For the bridegroom of her youth.
9 The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
From the house of the LORD.
The priests mourn,
The ministers of the LORD.
10 The field is ruined,
The land mourns;
For the grain is ruined,
The new wine dries up,
Fresh oil fails.
11 Be ashamed, O farmers,
Wail, O vinedressers,
For the wheat and the barley;
Because the harvest of the field is destroyed.
12 The vine dries up
And the fig tree fils;
The pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree,
All the trees of the field dry up.
Indeed, rejoicing dries up
From the sons of men…….

15 Alas for the day!
For the day of the LORD is near,
And it will come as destruction from the Almighty.
16 Has not food been cut off before our eyes,
Gladness and joy from the house of our God?
17 The seeds shrivel under their clods;
The storehouses are desolate,
The barns are torn down,
For the grain is dried up.
18 How the beasts groan!
The herds of cattle wander aimlessly
Because there is no pasture for them;
Even the flocks of sheep suffer.
19 To You, O LORD, I cry;
For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness
And the flame has burned up all the trees of the field.
20 Even the beasts of the field pant for You;
For the water brooks are dried up
And fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Joel takes up with a message of repentance and forgiveness after these passages.   The follow up of Joel 2:1-12, 12-17 are very much appropriate to Ash Wednesday.  Juxtaposed with 1 Corinthians 21-22 and you have the nutshell example of what some would call the change in dispensations from the Age of the Law, to the Age of the Church.

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Pandemic week will start tomorrow.  Oddly enough, as we shall, pandemics are often a favorite choice for authors, who want to remake/rebirth the world in a novelistic setting.

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