Saturday, October 20, 2012

Norse Seers

Just don’t even try to tell me that in the olden days, God never revealed Himself except to Israel, or that knowledge of Him was/is only to be found in the Holy Scriptures. Then, as now and always, God revealed Himself all over the place, to all men as far as they were able and ready to receive the revelation. Some people had more of the Truth than others, but nobody has ever had any monopoly on It Him. Rob Bell, in his book, Love Wins, speaks of (but doesn’t substantiate or supply examples of) missionaries who went to faraway places to preach Christ, and the natives, as surprised as the missionaries, said, “Oh, is that His name? We’ve always worshipped Him.” You already know from the book of Acts that the Athenians had a statue to the Unknown God. I’ve already written recently about the ancient Greeks who expected Christ’s coming; now I find out, so did the ancient Norsemen.

The Norsemen knew perfectly well their gods would ultimately fail, eventually die. But they also knew what would happen after that. From Edith Hamilton’s wonderful book, Mythology:

The Frost Giants and the Mountain Giants who lived in Jötunheim were the enemies of all that is good. They were the brutal powers of earth, and in the inevitable contest between them and the divine powers of heaven, brute force would conquer.

But such a belief is contrary to the deepest conviction of the human spirit, that good is stronger than evil. Even these sternly hopeless Norsemen, whose daily life in their icy land through the black winters was a perpetual challenge to heroism, saw a far-away light break through the darkness. There is a prophecy in the Elder Edda, singularly like the Book of Revelation, that after the defeat of the gods, – when
The sun turns black, earth sinks in the sea,
The hot stars fall from the sky,
And fire leaps high about heaven itself,
– there would be a new heaven and a new earth,
In wondrous beauty once again.
The dwellings roofed with gold,
The fields unsowed bear ripened fruit
In happiness forevermore.

Then would come the reign of One who was higher even than Odin and beyond the reach of evil –
A greater than all,
But I dare not ever to speak his name.
And there are few who can see beyond
The moment when Odin falls.

How’s your throat doing? Mine has a lump in it.