Wednesday, September 06, 2017

National Pride Comes Before Fall

Okay, I’ve had it. This is for my nationalistic, Bible-waving friends: a world history and Bible lesson:

No automatic alt text available. Pride comes before fall

Babylonian Emperor Nebuchadnezzar's North Palace Ruins
Notice the great empires of the world--Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, Rome, Abyssinia, Egypt, Aztec, Inca, etc—all were known for their nationalism, believing themselves divinely favored, supreme above other nations, thinking they would last forever.

Yet they all either ended up backwater countries or vanished, except for ruins.  Can you believe Portugal, for example, was once the wealthy world-dominating empire?

Empire vs the Barbarians of Northern Europe
Ludovisi Battle Sarcophagus
Many ancient empires existed long before my northern European ancestors were considered "civilized", calling them "Barbarians" (from their “bar bar” talk, thinking the hairy northern Europeans were so backward they had no real language).

Now, check out the Bible:

The rise and fall of nationalist empires is the Bible’s central theme. Over and over, Old Testament prophets preached against nationalist empires and their leaders’ arrogant, bragging supremacism, extravagant wealth, world commerce, and world domination.

This included, and especially included, Israel.

National pride comes before fall, they kept warning.

And lipservice to God is what made their national pride and wealth most abhorrent to the prophets.
How art thou fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, Son of the Morning!
how art thou cut down to the ground,
which didst weaken the nations!
--Isaiah 14:12 

Note another irony: pious nationalists are often obsessed with the Devil, looking for demonic conspiracy around every corner. But let’s sit down and look at the famous, traditional depiction of the Devil in the Bible:

In Christian and Jewish tradition, the famous story of Lucifer and his fall from Heaven comes from Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Lo and behold, you find this Lucifer is none other than the personification of nationalist, wealthy, commercial, world-dominating Empires and their arrogant, boasting, extravagantly rich leaders.

Sodom & Gomorrah
by John Martin

"Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom:
She and her daughter had pride,
fullness of food, and abundance of idleness;
neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."
--Ezekiel 16:49

All the Old Testament prophets, not just Isaiah and Ezekiel, warn against nationalism, greed, commerce, arrogant leaders, and, especially above all, disregard for the poor, which doom empires to fall, especially when masked under religious piety.  Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isaiah chapters 1, 3, 13, Ezekiel 16) even interpret the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah being due to nationalism, extravagant wealth, commerce, arrogance, and, especially, disregard for the poor and oppressed, with not a single mention of sex.

The very last book in the Christian Bible, Revelation, reiterates this theme: the Fall of Babylon and its arrogant antichrist leader.

Go ahead. Wave around your Bible and flag; brag how your religion and culture and nation is the greatest and divinely favored. See what happens.

Okay, it’s already happening.