Short Lives are a Grace

From Skin in the Game:

If humans were immortals, they would go extinct from an accident, or a gradual build-up of misfitness.

According to the Bible, this is, indeed, what happened. When humans could live almost 1000 years, we got so bad that God had to wipe the slate clean with the Flood. Something similar happened with the Tower of Babel. Lifespans had begun to shrink, but Shem still lived for 600 years and mankind had to be dispersed, or else the evil they would be able to accomplish would be considerable.

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Pretend Benevolence and the Code of the Coward

Pretending to love the poor half a world away is a common problem, especially in an age where everyone is trying to signal their virtue. Like the old saying goes, “Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to do the dishes.” Nowadays, it can be properly modified to say:

Everyone wants to post pictures and memes about saving the world, but no one wants to do the dishes.

This is just a slight intensification.

Both NN Taleb in his Skin in the Game and C.S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters highlighted the phenomenon.

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The Ruins of the Tower of Babel

John Lennon’s Imagine: a song whose lyrics are picked straight from the ruins of the Tower of Babel, mangled into a corpse held together by a saccharine melody.

It is amazing to me how the sin of Babel is always relevant. C.S. Lewis was indeed insightful and prophetic when he wrote That Hideous Strength, in which the villains are foiled by Merlin bringing down the curse of Babel once again.

The New Hierarchy of Creation – Why Satan Rebelled

Hebrews 1:13-14 (ESV)

And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Chapter one is a build up to one of the author’s many “therefores,” and the end, just quoted, is a stout one. The kind that makes you want to sit down if you are standing. Let’s follow the logic:

  1. Jesus has become superior to angels (v.4)
  2. Why and how? Jesus is the Son, and no angel has been called that (v.5)
  3. Angels are to worship the Son, and are now servants of wind and fire (v.6,7)
  4. Jesus’s throne is forever. Not only that, but He has laid the foundation of the earth itself (v.8-12)
  5. Jesus sits at God’s right hand, and no angel has been invited to do that (v.13)
  6. Angels are to minister to those who will inherit (v.14)

THEREFORE (going into chapter 2):

We must pay all the more attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away, because what we have heard has come from the Son. The Son! And if the message declared by angels was reliable, how much greater the Son’s word? If we neglect His word, what else is there? He is above every name. There is no testimony that could have more authority or weight.

So that’s the general flow. And while the first THEREFORE could be studied extensively, I want to focus on the final reasoning leading up to it, the final guidepost before the author arrives at his point. His whole argument is telling us what the new hierarchy of creation is, ending by telling us that angels now serve us.

A man now sits on a throne in heaven, ruling with all authority. Even over the angels. This inverts what was before, the old order of creation. And because we are united with the Son and King through baptism and by the Spirit, we are part of his body.

We who were made a little lower than the angels are now above the angels, thanks to the saving work of Christ.  This is even corroborated by 1 Cor 6:3a.

Do you not know that we are to judge angels?

Chew on that. We have angels ministering on our behalf, and why? Because we are now adopted into the royal household, and have the full rights of sonship, which includes use of the household servants, who used to be over us as guardians and managers (Gal. 4:1-3). But then Galatians 4:7:

So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Heirs of what? Heirs of the world.

C.S. Lewis, in his Space Trilogy, hints that this is one of the main reasons that Satan rebelled: jealousy over the authority that mankind would eventually wield over him and his like. And I think he has a point.

Satan, an angel, had some semblance of authority over mankind, but he knew that it was not to be forever. Eventually, man would mature and come fully into his kingdom. So while he still had authority, he tempted Adam to grasp for his kingdom early, the same temptation he would eventually try on the last Adam (Matt. 4:8-9).

Satan, one of the guardians or managers set to watch over us, didn’t want us to grow up into our inheritance. So he ensured we would not…at least not without drastic measures that he couldn’t foresee.

Next, I’ll delve a little into the significance of the angels being wind and fire, as that seems to be a hinge of the structure listed above.