Christ stilling the waves June 2013 111



Handel's Messiah

Why do the nations so furiously rage together?


As we begin yet again to prepare for Christmas, many people, Christian and non-Christian, religious and non-religious, will be attending performances of the Messiah, which is surely one of the great musical masterpieces and can take its place next to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Both works of course centre on the life of Christ, and the Passion. However Handel covers much more ground in his evocation of Christ’s life, as he takes us from his birth to his Passion, to his Resurrection and finally to the Resurrection of the dead at the end of Time.  Everything is covered, so to speak, in a faith that gloriously radiates through the music.


I suspect that not a few politicians and ideologists, who have for some time now been taken up with an obsession regarding “Weapons of mass destruction” will be attending performances of the Messiah. Sadly the irony of their attendance will be lost on them.  When the Bass begins the great aria “Why do the nations so furiously rage together” which is, of course the opening line of Psalm 2, will he or she reflect, especially if they are American or British, that they worried in the past that Saddam Hussein was harbouring weapons of mass destruction, when he had in fact destroyed them, and now are worrying that Iran will soon have them, which is a moot point. The one important thing they conveniently forget is that  America, Britain, Russia, France, China, Pakistan, North Korea most definitely have weapons of mass destruction.  The other irony that will be lost on them is that Christ, the Messiah, and the Son of God instructed his followers not to worry about those who killed the body, but rather those who destroy the soul. The great and terrifying weapons of mass destruction are our sins.


The usual jibe against religion is that religion causes wars; this is rubbish.  It is economic expansion, and greed that causes war.  During the Crusades the Catholic Church was simply trying to reclaim the Christian holy places and make the pilgrim routes safe. Both the Christian and Moslem armies were inspired by religious ideals. Both were heroic and despicable by turn. In the later Crusades things went wrong precisely because of European economic expansionism and greed, aided and abetted by Italian commercial interests; nothing changes. With regard to weapons of mass destruction, it is sobering to recall that more people were killed in Dresden than were killed in Hiroshima, and normally more people are killed as the result of war, namely by famine and disease, than by war itself. The great weapon of mass destruction, if our liberal politicians of the West have not noticed, is that legally and socially acceptable form of murder, called abortion.  In a world where sex has become the new religion, or perhaps it has just been rejuvenated since it was laid to rest with the Christianization of the Roman Empire, it finds itself yet again utterly absorbed by sex. However does the West not realize that it is in its death throes, and its other harbingers of death are sexually transmitted diseases . Another weapon of mass destruction is the drugs culture, usually an acolyte of sexual promiscuity. It is sobering to note that in 2007 The British Medical Council said that 38,000 children were heroin addicts. Here is another weapon of mass destruction, drug addiction. This could not be more poignantly portrayed than in the picture of a little 10 year old girl, found dead of a heroin overdose at her desk in the classroom.


The nations that furiously rage together against Iraq, and Iran, and that continue a futile war in Afghanistan against terrorism, are apparently somewhat oblivious to the latter country being the chief heroin producer in the world, and would seem to be aiming their weapons at the wrong targets. They should aim their weapons against their greed, their lust for power, and their sensual preoccupations. They need to be awakened from their spiritual death by the voice of John the Baptist calling us all, leaders and led, political and spiritual, all peoples, to repentance before the Trumpet shall sound:


He said therefore to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.  Even now the axe is laid to the root of the tree; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke3: 6-7)


What is the good fruit that John, the new Elijah, the precursor of the Messiah is talking about? He asks us, as all prophets do, to obey God’s Law. We should not kill, we should not covet our neighbours goods, or their husbands or wives. We must be pure and chaste, and we have no right to prevent life by artificial contraception, or destroy children in the womb by abortion. Today these vices are epidemic, internationally, nationally, and locally.  Never has life been so cheap, despite our wonderful health services.  The great weapon of mass destruction is not hidden nuclear bombs, or chemical bombs, it is the desire for corporate self- destruction on a grand scale, and yet few can see it.


Why do the nations so furiously rage together? Because they will not accept the reign of the Prince of Peace.  Let us hope that “The people that walked in darkness will see a great light” namely our Western leaders, some of whom profess to be Christian, will soon walk humbly in the footsteps of the Messiah King, who came not be served, but to serve and whose only war was against sin and Satan, the Prince of Lies, and whose only weapon was the Cross.