POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Ultimate God Fighting

There are many common myths that have floated around the human consciousness since the dawn of time.  One is that bad things should only happen to bad people and that good people should only have good things happen in their lives.  The biblical story line is not one that tells us “we” are the good people and “they” are the bad people; it is much more equitable than this.  Scripture teaches us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 6:23).  The bottom line is that we all have our share of the bad and God is good to us by his grace.  Furthermore, he allows some things in our lives that are painful for he is concerned more about transforming our lives than simply propping us up with pillows. 

Another myth that is commonly believed in many cultures is that “Might makes right.”  In other words, if your army beat someone's army, then your god sort of beats up their god.  It is amazing that this sort of thinking even makes it into football games.  In the ancient world and even throughout history (think religious wars) people thought that if a battle went in a certain direction that it showed that a certain god was giving them favor.  This thinking can permeate all of us where we can even think of our country or a certain political party as having a most favored status with the most high.  Now, Scripture does teach us that Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. (Proverbs 14:34) Furthermore, we also know that there are consequences for our folly and God is a judge of both people and nations.  But we cannot universalize the idea that if an army has success that God must be playing favorites.

In Daniel chapter 1 we see very evidently that this is NOT the case.  The Babylonians were clearly victors in their conquest of Judah and their people would have given credit to their god Marduk for their might and success.  Yet we learn something interesting in Daniel 1:1-2.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…
The truth of the matter was that the Babylonian king and his armies were being employed by an even higher power to bring short term, temporal judgment Judah for its sin.  While the Babylonians would have declared Marduk the victor in the ultimate god fighting championship, they were clearly mistaken.  Daniel wants it to be absolutely clear; the LORD is the one in control of the circumstances of his people.  In fact, he even uses the Hebrew name adonai here6 meaning the Sovereign and powerful master,  declaring that he is the true ruler in this story.  Though there are kings involved in the rise and fall of empires, it is God who is acting through all these affairs.  So when the captives were taken from Jerusalem to the city of Babylon, they most likely entered through the massive Ishtar gate of an imposing city.  The gate and its thoroughfare would have been decorated with animals that were sacred to venerated Babylonian deities. 

Daniel wants his reader to know that God was not absent from the scene, nor was he defeated by an imaginary idol named Marduk.  God was working through these circumstances to bring about his purposes in the end.

As we face various circumstances, trials, difficulties, blessings and successes in our lives we must remember that God is with us, he is our loving leader and King.  This is truth; circumstances be what they may.