Skip to comments.What does God mean when He says He will provoke us with “a no-people?”
Posted on 08/01/2012 2:45:08 PM PDT by NYer
The reading of Responsorial verses from Deuteronomy 32 in the Mass this past Monday provided something of an insight into our problems in these current days.
We have discussed on this blog before how scripture, among other things, is a prophetic interpretation of reality. And, as the verses were read at Mass, I thought of our current times and how these verses describe what is going on. As such it prophetically interprets reality, speaking of whence our problems come and where they ultimately lead. Please understand that what I am doing here is applying these verses to today. I realize that biblical scholars may place emphasis on understanding them as a Jew would have in the 8th century B.C. But here, I want to largely read them in the context of current times.
First lets review the pertinent verses
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you, You forgot the God who gave you birth….What a fickle race they are, sons with no loyalty in them! Since they have provoked me with their no-god and angered me with their vain idols,I will provoke them with a no-people; with a foolish nation I will anger them. (Deuteronomy 32:18-19)
As I reflect on these verses, I think first of Post-Christian Europe, (but America is not far behind). For the text speaks of a people, a segment of the Church, who have forsaken God. Corporately speaking, they have rejected the God who made them.
Even a casual reading of the history of Western Culture must reasonably conclude that until the middle of the last century, the Christian faith was what both made and untied European Culture. It was from the life of faith that many pagan and waring tribes began to find unity and settle into nations. As the Roman Empire waned in the West, the Church even provided years of governance in the leadership vacuum that was created. It was largely in the context of faith that the great universities were founded and grew, as did hospitals, monasteries, which preserved and collected learning into libraries. The Church and the faith also inspired great art, architecture, music and culture. Feast days, Holy days and the modern calendar itself, sprang from the life of the Church. In her schools of theology and universities came forth the scientific method, and many other methodologies and philosophies that have blessed the world.
More could be said, and it need not be argued that the centuries of Christian faith were without blemish, and had no problems. But it is a simple fact that the Christian faith nourished and underlay what we have come to call Western Culture and brought significant blessings.
Yet in recent decades the Christian faith has been largely rejected through secularism, materialism, and outright Atheism. As early as the 1950s, CS Lewis and many others were lamenting the descent of Europe into unbelief. It has only worsened, and now most polls show that the majority of western Europeans no longer believe in the existence of God. In many countries Mass attendance is below ten percent.
In America the descent has been less steep, most still believe in God, but the faith here is increasingly syncretistic and only 27% of Catholics attend Mass. Mainline Protestant Churches usually fare worse and the Evangelicals are only a little better.
Has the Christian West forsaken God? Largely yes. We have forgotten the God who gave us birth, and the faith that formed and blessed us: a fickle race, sons and daughters with little loyalty, as the verses above say.
And what does the verse go on to say? Since they have provoked me with their no-god and angered me with their vain idols, I will provoke them with a no-people. It is interesting to see this verse in the context of the dangerously low birthrates in the West. For it would seem that as we have forsaken God, and embraced the things of this world as idols, we have thus adopted a lavish lifestyle wherein children get in the way and cost too much. Our no-god becomes a no-people as we increasingly abort and contracept ourselves out of existence. It is no wonder that our economies stop growing as we stop growing, and that the elaborate social safety net we have constructed becomes unsustainable as the old outnumber the young. Yes, our no-god is becoming a no-people.
In the final line God says, “with a foolish nation I will anger them. In ancient Israel God punished the infidelity of his chosen people by allowing the non-Jewish people around them to invade and often destroy the nation and exile them: the Canaanites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Romans all in their turn brought punishment to ancient Israel.
What of us? The traditional denizens of the Europe are being replaced by Muslims. And while we should hesitate to call them a “foolish nation” as the Scripture does, it should be noted that the Hebrew word nabal translated here as “foolish”, can also be understood as referring simply to those who do not share the religious and ethical vision of biblical believers. It is a true fact that the Muslim world thinks very differently from the Christian, and even post-Christian West, in quite a number of matters. And, while it remains to be seen how Muslims will adapt to a Western setting when they reach the majority status, it seems reasonable to state that the Europe of 2050 and beyond, may be a very different Europe from today. God may indeed afflict us with a foreign nation for our casting off of faith.
The scene in America is a bit more complicated in the short run. But it seems clear we are intent on following Europe’s decline into increasing unbelief and we too, if the Biblical text is, in fact, a prophetic interpretation of reality, will see similar decline in the decades ahead.
As always, I value your insights, additions and even rebuttals. how does this text from Scripture speak to you?
Soon...being a public Christian will be politically and economically dangerous. In a somewhat longer time it will become personally, physically dangerous.
There are some dark days ahead for Christians in America.
Plenty of contenders for that role.
I think God is referring to paganism. Under paganism, anything goes and there are no defining characteristics.
The reason why they are a no-people is because of a lack of defining characteristics. They are also an easily enslaved people.
Those who are “not a people” - could be the irreligious or those who do not effectively practice.
I think this years election is similar to what this verse (and others) is about. After years and years of turning our backs on God, God is giving us what we want.
Opps - my post was really in reply to yours.
He is referring to the coming Islamic Caliphate (the No-people), to punish this Country for its many transgressions.
“But here, I want to largely read them in the context of current times.”
Great way to end up in the ditch.
Thank You both! I am going to study this verse.
A canticle for the remembrance of the law. Moses is commanded to go up into a mountain, from whence he shall see the promised land, but not enter into it.
1 Hear, *O ye heavens, the things I speak, let the earth give ear to the words of my mouth.
2 Let my doctrine gather as the rain, let my speech distil as the dew, as a shower upon the herb, and as drops upon the grass.
3 Because I will invoke the name of the Lord: give ye magnificence to our God.
4 The works of God are perfect, and all his ways are judgments: God is faithful, and without any iniquity, he is just and right.
5 They have sinned against him, and are none of his children, in their filth: they are a wicked and perverse generation.
6 Is this the return thou makest to the Lord, O foolish and senseless people? Is not he thy father, that hath possessed thee, and made thee, and created thee?
7 *Remember the days of old, think upon every generation: ask thy father, and he will declare to thee: thy elders, and they will tell thee.
8 When the Most High divided the nations: when he separated the sons of Adam, he appointed the bounds of people according to the number of the children of Israel.
9 But the Lord’s portion is his people: Jacob the lot of his inheritance.
10 He found him in a desert land, in a place of horror, and of waste wilderness: he led him about, and taught him: and he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 As the eagle enticing her young to fly, and hovering over them, he spread his wings, and hath taken him, and carried him on his shoulders.
12 The Lord alone was his leader: and there was no strange god with him.
13 He set him upon high land: that he might eat the fruits of the fields, that he might suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the hardest stone.
14 Butter of the herd, and milk of the sheep, with the fat of lambs, and of the rams of the breed of Basan: and goats with the marrow of wheat, and might drink the purest blood of the grape.
15 The beloved grew fat, and kicked: he grew fat, and thick and gross, he forsook God who made him, and departed from God his Saviour.
16 They provoked him by strange gods, and stirred him up to anger with their abominations.
17 They sacrificed to devils and not to God: to gods whom they knew not: that were newly come up, whom their fathers worshipped not.
18 Thou hast forsaken the God that begot thee, and hast forgotten the Lord that created thee.
19 The Lord saw, and was moved to wrath: because his own sons and daughters provoked him.
20 And he said: I will hide my face from them, and will consider what their last end shall be: for it is a perverse generation, and unfaithful children.
21 They have provoked me with that which was no god, and have angered me with their vanities: *and I will provoke them with that, which is no people, and will vex them with a foolish nation.
22 A fire is kindled in my wrath, and shall burn even to the lowest hell: and shall devour the earth with her increase, and shall burn the foundations of the mountains.
23 I will heap evils upon them, and will spend my arrows among them.
24 They shall be consumed with famine, and birds shall devour them with a most bitter bite: I will send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the fury of creatures that trail upon the ground, and of serpents.
25 Without, the sword shall lay them waste, and terror within, both the young man and the virgin, the sucking child with the man in years.
26 I said: Where are they? I will make the memory of them to cease from among men.
27 But for the wrath of the enemies, I have deferred it: lest perhaps their enemies might be proud, and should say: Our mighty hand, and not the Lord, hath done all these things.
28 They are a nation without counsel, and without wisdom.
29 *O that they would be wise, and would understand, and would provide for their last end.
30 How should one pursue after a thousand, and two chase ten thousand? Was it not because their God had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?
31 For our God is not as their gods: our enemies themselves are judges.
32 Their vines are of the vineyard of Sodom, and of the suburbs of Gomorrha: their grapes are grapes of gall, and their clusters most bitter.
33 Their wine is the gall of dragons, and the venom of asps, which is incurable.
34 Are not these things stored up with me, and sealed up in my treasures?
35 *Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time, that their foot may slide: the day of destruction is at hand, and the time makes haste to come.
36 The Lord will judge his people,* and will have mercy on his servants: he shall see that their hand is weakened, and that they who were shut up have also failed, and they that remained are consumed.
37 And he shall say: *Where are their gods, in whom they trusted?
38 Of whose victims they ate the fat, and drank the wine of their drink-offerings: let them arise and help you, and protect you in your distress.
39 See ye that I alone am, and there is no other God besides me: *I will kill, and I will make to live: I will strike, and I will heal, **and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
40 I will lift up my hand to heaven, and I will say: I live for ever.
41 If I shall whet my sword as the lightning, and my hand take hold on judgment: I will render vengeance to my enemies, and repay them that hate me.
42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh, of the blood of the slain and of the captivity, of the bare head of the enemies.
43 *Praise his people, ye nations, for he will revenge the blood of his servants: and will render vengeance to their enemies, and he will be merciful to the land of his people.
44 So Moses came and spoke all the words of this canticle, in the ears of the people, and Josue, the son of Nun.
45 And he ended all these words, speaking to all Israel.
46 And he said to them : Set your hearts on all the words which I testify to you this day: which you shall command your children to observe and to do, and to fulfil all that is written in this law:
47 For they are not commanded you in vain, but that every one should live in them: and that doing them, you may continue a long time in the land whither you are going over the Jordan to possess it.
48 And the Lord spoke to Moses the same day, saying:
49 Go up into this mountain Abarim, (that is to say, of passages) unto Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, over-against Jericho: and see the land of Chanaan, which I will deliver to the children of Israel to possess, and die thou in the mountain.
50 When thou art gone up into it, thou shalt be gathered to thy people, *as Aaron thy brother died in Mount Hor, and was gathered to his people:
51 *Because you trespassed against me, in the midst of the children of Israel, at the waters of contradiction, in Cades, of the desert of Sin: and you did not sanctify me among the children of Israel.
52 Thou shalt see the land before thee, which I will give to the children of Israel, but thou shalt not enter into it.
A people, Biblically, refers to a cohesive unit of humanity, often represented in a manner that we would understand as nations but not always. A no-people would be a false cohesion, imho. Not a people but representing themselves as a people. Palestinians spring to mind.
Actually, that verse seems to be about Israel, not Christians or the Church. Christians are not a race, but Israel is. So, I would say the “no-people” are probably the Palestinians, the made-up nation that harries modern-day secularist Israel.
Translation, be ready to “lock and load”.
This is a strange interpretation of the verse in Deuteronomy. God is positively speaking about the Gentile nations when He says "a no people". People that are of all the nations that are not the nation of Israel as they will be welcomed into the Kingdom of the LORD when, at one time, they were alien to the kingdom. In Lamentations 5:2 we read:
Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.
And as the Apostle Paul told the believers at Ephesus:
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-13)
This would be how the LORD would provoke Israel to jealousy - He would make the Gentiles co-heirs with the redeemed of Israel. As Paul told the believers in Rome:
But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. (Romans 10:19)
And again in:
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (Romans 11:11)
I'm afraid the author is taking this statement of Almighty God WAY too far to presume He might be referring to a decreased population - a very simplistic interpretation IMO.
If we keep pounding them in elections and go after those who bother us with our consumer power, they will go back into their caves.