The vicar’s wife and I were the 287th and 288th members of the public to see the Staffordshire Hoard this morning, on the first day of the exhibition. We had stumbled into the queue and media circus outside Birmingham’s museum and art gallery just as the doors were about to open.
We queued for 50 minutes and were delighted to see the treasure, especially the gold cross and a band with a Latin inscription of Numbers 10:35
“Arise, O LORD, and let your enemies be scattered,
and let those who hate you flee before you.” [ESV]
The exhibit focuses visitors on the warring tendencies of the Mercians and the fact that the verse was probably removed from a shield. In its original context, the verse would have encouraged Israel to scatter the tribes already occupying the promised land. The Mercians seem to have used the verse in its original context to motivate troops in battle, but not in the context of the cross. Since the death of Christ for sins, the verse has an eschatological focus. Anyone who hates God the Father of Christ will one day flee before him. I hope that many visitors will pause to think about whether they themselves love or hate God. As the verse has been placed next to the cross in the exhibit, I hope too that the cross will remind them of the love of God for sinners.