Saturday, April 10, 2010

217: Angels Are Stealth Assassins

Isaiah 36-41
Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! - Isaiah 37:36

We actually have some story in today's section, rather than long winded prophecy. Unfortunately I'm fairly certain we've already seen this story in Kings.

The story starts with Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, threatening to destroy Jerusalem. Sennacherib claims that God himself has sent him to destroy the city. This would be consistent with the prophecies in the earlier parts of Isaiah. God pretty clearly says that he is going to send Assyria to destroy Israel.

As soon as Sennacherib says that God sent him, the Israeli leaders beg him to speak in Aramaic so that the common people of Jerusalem can't understand him. Way to try to cover that one up, Israel. Anyway, long story short, Sennacherib says no and proceeds to tell the people on the wall of Jerusalem to surrender to the Assyrians. The people on the wall remain silent because the king of Israel told them not to speak to the Assyrians.

When the current king of Israel (Hezekiah) hears about what the Assyrians said, he goes to God's temple and tells God that the Assyrians have blasphemed against him (which isn't really true if God did send them to destroy Jerusalem). This is where Isaiah comes into this story. Hezekiah's officials send people around to all of the prophets to see what they think. Isaiah says that the prophecies of the Assyrians are blasphemous, and that Isaiah is going to send a spirit into the king of Assyria so he will flee back to Assyria. Once the king is back in his homeland, Isaiah is somehow going to have him killed with swords. But wait, didn't Isaiah predict earlier in this chapter that God was going to use the Assyrians to destroy Israel?

Hezekiah then prays to God that they will be delivered from the Assyrians. He says God should do this so that all of the kingdoms on earth will know that God is the real God. Well, I think we all know how this one is going to turn out. All you have to tell God is that people of all the nations will think he's awesome and he's sure to do whatever you ask him to (in ancient times anyway).

As I predicted, the rest of the chapter is about how God is going to deliver the Israelites from Sennacherib. God says that he's heard Sennacherib's blaspheming and he is not going to allow him to step foot in Israel.

God, being a man of his word (for the most part), sends an angel down to kill the Assyrians. The final death toll from one angel was 185,000 men. When Sennacherib's men wake up the next morning, they find all these dead men and immediately retreat. Wait a minute. This angel killed 185,000 men, and nobody woke up? This guy has to be the most silent killer of all time. Another thing to note, we never get to hear how the angel killed all these men. Did they all just die in their sleep, or were they hacked to bits? This seems like a relevant thing to tell us.

The next part of the story is the part that sounds familiar. Some time later Hezekiah falls ill and God tells him he is about to die. Hezekiah then prays to God and tells him to remember how faithful he's been all the years of his life. God, apparently remembering that Hezekiah was faithful, says he can have 15 more years to live. God then makes the sun go backwards in the sky as a sign that he is going to keep his promise. If only that worked these days. The most faithful among us these days die just like the rest of us, no matter how much they pray.

Isaiah then passes down the prophecy that the Israelites will become servants of Babylon. This really sounds familiar, considering it's already happened. It's hard to put the prophecies of Isaiah in context when it's hard to tell what time frame Isaiah is writing in. However, I don't think I've said anything about his prophecies that are wildly incorrect. I'm fairly certain the world hasn't ended before, so those prophecies still seem silly.

The entirety of chapter 40 is God bragging about how wonderful he is, and how he created everything. We get it God, you really don't need to repeat how wonderful you are in almost the exact same words every chapter.

All of chapter 41 is God reminding the Israelites that they are the chosen people. God says that he has never rejected Israel (except for those couple of times where he let them be destroyed) so Israel should think that he's great, I guess. The best part of this chapter is Isaiah 41:14, " 'Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,' declares the LORD." I don't think it's possible for God to be any more condescending.

School officials in Roswell, New Mexico have banned students from passing out fetus dolls with bible verses and contact information for a local pregnancy resource center tied to them. The Christian Post is feeling oppressed.

The students are claiming their freedom of speech rights were violated, citing other situations where they passed out things on campus:
Relentless members, Corry said, have helped janitors with trash after lunch, given chicken salad lunches to teachers, provided hot cocoa to students and faculty, and passed out decorated rocks and candy canes to fellow students without needing to get approval from officials beforehand.
They really don't see any difference between chicken salad and a fetus baby with bible verses on it?

The school officials actually say it was not the bible verses, or even the fetus baby that caused them to stop the students. The students were soliciting the services of the pregnancy resource center. Also, even if the babies had not had pregnancy resource center information attached, passing out fetus babies is a huge distraction. The report said that people were ripping the heads off the fetus babies, and saying they "aborted" them. Damn heathens (who were probably other Christians).

(via The Christian Post)
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