Refusing to Learn (Jeremiah 44)

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Worship… this?

This is a rather chilling passage in the Bible.

To set the stage, Jerusalem has been destroyed by the Babylonians, they’ve burned the Temple to the ground. a good chunk of the population has been carried into captivity in a foreign country–and the prophet who warned them of all these things, and accurately foretold what would happen, is still trying to get these blockheads to hear God’s word.

And here’s how they answer him. This is the wives speaking.

“As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not harken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then we had plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.

“And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” (Jer. 44: 16-18)

And the men stand there like cigar store Indians. Well, what lame excuse could they make?

God through His prophet told these people He would punish them for their sins–which included the worship of idols like the “queen of heaven”–He told them how and when and why He would punish them: and when the smoke clears, the survivors have learned absolutely nothing. They want their idols back.

Makes you wonder why God bothers to speak to us at all. His love for us is perhaps the most mysterious thing about Him.

Well, as Jesus so often said, He who has ears, let him hear. And as we used to sing in Sunday school, with more good sense than we suspected, “Wise up, O men of God.”

Sorry–I Believe the Bible

I had occasion yesterday to consult “Biblical scholars.” But as usual, I found their company to be annoying–because most of them seem not to believe hardly a single word the Bible says. They (most of them) would have us believe that virtually the whole Old Testament is fiction, cooked up by Jewish priests looking to wile away the years of captivity in Babylon by spinning tall tales.

I like to think that I know something about writing fiction. I’ve been doing it for almost all my life. And reading a lot of it, too. Not to mention history produced by Greeks and Romans, Britons, Scandinavian peoples, and others.

The great medieval Icelandic historian, Snorri Sturlusson, said he trusted his sources–royal poets, most of them–because, had they praised the kings who employed them with stories and boasts that people knew were not true, they would only win for their kings mockery, not praise. I take that to be always true. People have always laughed at empty boasts.

So not only would those fictioneering Jewish priests have exposed themselves to ridicule–but why would they take their two greatest kings, David and Solomon, and describe how those kings fell into sin and folly, and brought evil on their country? No Roman historian–and Roman historians, like Livy, are always, always accused to making their subjects look much better than they were–would have dreamed of writing such a thing.

The practice of tearing down the great and famous men of the past never came into general use until late in the 19th century. There could have been no reason whatsoever for Biblical chroniclers to show Solomon, wise King Solomon, indulging in foolish behavior that ruined his kingdom.

They would not have written that unless it were true and everyone knew it to be true. Ditto David and some of his more egregious mis-steps.

This, of course, is a vast subject and I have only scraped its surface here. But if scholars are going to accuse the Bible writers of spinning yarns, they would do well to acquire some slight understanding of fiction.