Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Power and Faith (anti-) Correlation

A while ago I was doing a study on the history of the Jewish people.  I stumbled upon an interesting correlation, or more correctly, negative correlation.  Perhaps others have known it earlier.  For me, however, I learned something new.   Abraham was and continues to be an example of admirable faith in God; but he had no political power.  In fact, he was wandering around for long periods of time, trying to find a place to settle down. Moses introduced the Ten Commandments from God; but the Israelis had to flee from Egypt and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  

After Joshua’s victories, the Israelis continued to conquer and populate Palestine; but the spiritual and moral decay was shocking.  David led the fight against the Philistines and gradually built up a small empire; he gained God’s favour, with some lapses.  His son, Solomon, oversaw the glorious period in Israeli history; but he had numerous pagan women and worshipped their idols.  

When the Jews were exiled to Babylon, they entered one of the darkest periods in their history; prophets lamented, yet somehow they retained and in fact renewed their faith in God, and stopped worshipping idols.  

When the Hasmoneans drove away the Greeks and Herod subsequently went into a building frenzy, their power was evident in the great buildings such as the Second Temple; yet their spiritual corruption was equally evident, e.g., as recorded in the New Testament.  

When Jerusalem and the Second Temple was destroyed by the Roman army, the Jews were driven away, again.  Yet they developed the powerful Rabbinic Judaism which has sustained them for 2,000 years.  

It seems that spiritual power and political power may be mutually exclusive. Perhaps political power corrupts the spirit?  Jesus himself said in Matthew 6:21 “… where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Throughout history, political power and material prosperity have a natural affinity with each other.   When we set our hearts on prosperity, we are not focused on God.  

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