The twelfth chapter of the book of Zechariah is timid about neither the Zion-centered nationalism that it celebrates nor the corresponding defanging of the nations that besiege Jerusalem ‘in that day’. To the contrary, the Lord announces through his prophet that he will make Jerusalem ‘a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling’. Then, via the extravagant mixing of metaphors that is characteristic of the genre, the Lord ‘will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.’
The harassed Judahite city will become the Archimedean point that cannot be shifted while its attackers are levered violently this way and that, their former belligerence reduced suddenly to drunken impotence. (more…)
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The biblical witness privileges the anxiety that we resist.
Taking up a motif that is common to the Old Testament prophets, the Book of Revelation celebrates the demise of ‘Babylon’ by mocking the ease in which she had luxuriated.
Give her (that is, to Babylon) as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn. (Revelation 18:7 NIV)
It is often this way when a privileged class of human beings or an erstwhile superpower comes under YHWH’s judgment. Sarcastic irony is deployed against the certainty with which the fallen victim once assumed that his wealth and safety would endure forever. When one gathers such statements together, it appears almost as though presumption itself stands as an indictment again the one who deploys it to ward off the fear of fragility that lesser mortals endure as a feature of everyday life. (more…)
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