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The Myth of Conquest 020312
In Deuteronomy 12 we read advice given to the conquering nation of Israel, lest the ‘winner’ become as evil as the ‘loser’.
On first reading, I thought of the American experience, of coming to a land that was not ours and conquering the Indians that were here, although we did have much conquering to do since smallpox, typhoid, the plague and other European diseases had conquered in advance of the sword. Sometimes the European invaders used blankets to help spread the biological germs that did the actual killing and conquering.
Do these verses apply to conquering Israeli’s or also to conquering Europeans (and there are few nations that have escaped being conquered by Europeans at one time or another? As for rejecting the religion and customs of the Indians that ‘owned’ America before Europeans arrived, I recall the efforts of William Penn, who sought to establish a peaceful kingdom in the woods of America, and negotiated a peaceful land sharing agreement with the Indians. In this way the original Quakers, Mennonites, and other pacifist churches could farm, raise families and worship in peace without spilling blood to get the land.
As for us, here in Missouri, the land was gained by blood and death for Indians. The last 12 Missouri Indians were moved to South Dakota with another tribe with a similar language. They did not survive the move and died, leaving no Missouri Indians on earth. They are extinct on this earth.
Maybe these Bible verses work well with the Canaanites and others who were in the Jordan Valley when God gave it to them, but those peoples were not strangers to the Hebrews, and there was a real danger because culturally and racially the conquered and the conqueror were much alike. (One writer has observed that the Jews were not even a race at all, but a group of poor dispossessed local peoples who banded together).
We need to understand Deuteronomy, and so far we do not. But we can learn the religions and spirituality of those we have displaced here. Maybe we need to offer a prayer for those poor natives who lost their land and homes.
Pray for peace
1Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.
3Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
4He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
6He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
7The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
8They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.
10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.
28Be careful to obey all these words that I command you today, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, because you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God. 29When the Lord your God has cut off before you the nations whom you are about to enter to dispossess them, when you have dispossessed them and live in their land, 30take care that you are not snared into imitating them, after they have been destroyed before you: do not inquire concerning their gods, saying, “How did these nations worship their gods? I also want to do the same.” 31You must not do the same for the Lord your God, because every abhorrent thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods. They would even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. 32You must diligently observe everything that I command you; do not add to it or take anything from it.
12“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13“I know where you are living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan lives. 14But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practice fornication. 15So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.
- Sunday January 29th Reflection (friarbobjohn.wordpress.com)
- A Voice Cries Out in the Desert (deaconjohnspace.wordpress.com)
- A Voice Cries Out in the Desert (deaconforlife.blogspot.com)
- Anabaptists and Mennonites (beautifulunion.wordpress.com)
- Black kids in Mennonite families bridge 2 worlds (goerie.com)