Who strengthened his hands . . .

in order that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers.  (Jdg 9:24 NAS77)

We seem to suffer with the delusion that we can be self-made.  We worship power and strength.  But it never achieves the peace and prosperity it promises.  History is testimony to an unrelenting cycle of rise and ruin.

Somebody comes along and unifies a group against perceived oppression (don’t get me wrong, many times it has been very real (although in this passage I don’t think it was)).  They devalue and dehumanize their opponents.  They destroy them with a great and righteous slaughter.  The liberator (or his descendants depending on whether the deterioration takes years, decades or centuries) believes himself to be “more” and demands greater rights and resources.  The oppression begins again until their is a new liberator.

Since the age of Enlightenment, there has been the idea that man is intrinsically good.  Given enough resources, education and love, man will naturally form a good and benevolent society.  The problem is the historic evidence does not show any indication of this.  Yes, there have been occasional pockets of “goodness”, but they don’t last long.

Whether you see Conrad’s assessment of man’s “heart of darkness” or God’s view,

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  (Gen 6:5 NAS77)

the result is the same.  Left to his own devices, man is deluded, selfish and dangerous.  We need God.

I am still a man in need of a savior.  Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning and I have another chance to choose something other than what I have been.

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