Monday, 18 February 2008

Yay for Yahwistic imperialism

Here's a lovely Old Testament song from Micah 4:1-5

Mic. 4:1    It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,

2 and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

3 He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide for strong nations afar off;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;

4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

5 For all the peoples walk
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.

Loveliness and upbeatness notwithstanding, Kanishka Raffel reminded us at Men's Katoomba Christian Convention (MKC) that this song is a piece of Yahwistic imperialism that makes the American desire to teach democracy to the Middle East seem positively benign by comparison.

Notice how the mountain of the LORD (that's English for 'Yahweh') is the greatest and best mountain of all. That's because your piddling local mountain, where your piddling local deity has set up his, her or its altar, is no mountain at all. Just as Mt Kosciusko is a speed hump when compared to Everest; so the god of your nation, tribe or culture is and will be nothing but roadkill when faced with the towering majesty of the God who revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And the reason for the outbreak of peace that the song declares is that the nations have given up the fight, and come instead to learn from the God of the people of Israel.

In fact, the only way you might mistake this for a lovely tune would be if you'd been distracted by the music.

Which, I hasten to add, we weren't.

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