Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rehearsals for Judgment

I'm reading through Hosea, using a commentary to help with some of the historical references and allusions. When I read in Chapter 10 verse 8 that the people of Israel would go to judgment calling to the mountains and hills, "Cover us! Fall on us!" I knew the commentary would have something good to say! Because, of course, this cry has been, and is to be repeated elsewhere in history.

But the last word on human arrogance and independence is reserved for the end of the [Hosea] verse: "They shall say to the mountains, Cover us..." - a cry which the New Testament will take up twice; first to predict the still greater horrors awaiting the Jerusalem of AD 70 as the logical outcome of its Good Friday choice, and secondly to portray the terrors of the Last Judgment, with men of every rank and nation "calling to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb'" (Luke 23:30, Revelation 6:16).

So we are not left to contemplate the downfall of Israel on its own, safely isolated in the eighth century BC. It meets us as a foretaste of still weightier events, as indeed are all the local, limited tragedies of history. Our Lord laid down for us the right and wrong reactions to such happenings when he was asked to comment on a massacre: "And he answered them, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'"

We can hardly complain that the last act of our human drama has been under-rehearsed!

(From The Message of Hosea by Derek Kidner)

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