Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ancient perspectives on ruling

I have been reading a great book called The Symbolism of the Biblical World by Othmar Keel. It is takes hundreds of scriptures from the Old Testament and places them in contrast and comparison with the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Babylon. These powerful nations (especially Babylon) were used anciently as prophetic types representing Israel’s greatest enemies.

Just like many countries today, those mighty powers sought to establish governments and kingdoms that would endure until the end of time.

That goal was shared by the Israelites who believed that the Davidic dynasty would rule forever under Israel’s God.

A famous passage from the psalms expresses that belief:

May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the *ends of the earth. (Psalms 72:8)

Interestingly, Babylonian political documents state twice that their king ruled from sea to sea and from the River Euphrates to the ends of the earth.

Anciently, whenever a kingdom was established under God’s authority, it was always challenged by a rival kingdom who sought to destroy the freedom of the Lord’s people and impose their power and false precepts upon their subjects.

*In Hebrew, the ends of the earth means “end” in the sense of cessation or discontinuation of existence. In other words, “until life ceased to exist.” (pg. 21) In order for the Davidic dynasty to rule forever, it had to be furnished with new descendants (Ps 89:4a, 29a, 36a), through all generations (Ps 89:4b) (pg. 264).

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