Yesterday, a man drove a delivery truck over a crowd of people celebrating France’s Bastille Day. 84 people are dead.
As I write this, the New York Times digital edition screams
A neighbor intercepted me for a pleasant chat as Rhea and I trudged back just now from our evening run. A pleasant woman, a decent soul, a salt-of-the-earth neighbor, no wide-eyed fanatic, she. ‘We are spinning down incredibly fast’, she commented.
Entropy is about. Order and the too easily assumed blessing that comes with it, is everywhere in peril. Even certified non-conspiracy-theorists like this blogger know that something is afoot. And it ain’t good.
And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.
Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 20:5–21:1 ESV)
The biblical witness presses in on us who are uncomfortable with its instruction—as on people throughout the world who find it a merely reasonable description of what they know to be true—that there is enmity. And it’s personal.
It is also opportunistic, unrelenting, and savage.
When the not-so-long-ago-crowned David comes to rest for a bit over his increasingly formidable kingdom, Satan—not so openly named in the Hebrew Bible—seized his moment. He ‘incited’. The word is carefully chosen, both in the Hebrew text and in the English translation quoted here, which seeks to pass on to us something of the sinister nature of this seldom acknowledged sinister power.
The biblical witness does not train us to fear this reality, this force, this enemy. But it calls us a fool if we deny its reality. In polite company, we choose to believe almost anything before this.
‘Believe it’, the ancient voice speaks into our suburban calm, our entitled sense of order, our bare-bones, pragmatic secularism. Or be fooled. Badly, savagely fooled.