Week of Proper 10: Saturday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:  An Orthodox Icon of the Prophet Micah

God is More Powerful than Evil

JULY 21, 2018

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Micah 2:1-5 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Ah, those who plan iniquity

And design evil on their beds;

When morning dawns, they do it,

For they have the power.

They covet fields, and seize them;

Houses, and take them away.

They defraud men of their homes,

And people of their land.

Assuredly, thus says the LORD:

I am planning such a misfortune against this clan that you will not be able to free your necks from it.  You will not be able to walk erect; it will be such a time of disaster.

In that day,

One shall recite a poem about you,

And utter a bitter lament,

And shall say:

My people’s portion changes hands;

How it slips away from me!

Our field is allotted to a rebel.

We are utterly ravaged.

Truly, none of you

Shall cast a lot cord

In the assembly of the LORD

Psalm 10:1-9, 18-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Why do you stand so far off, O LORD,

and hide yourself in time of trouble?

2  The wicked arrogantly persecute the poor,

but they are trapped in the schemes they have devised.

3  The wicked boast of their heart’s desire;

the covetous curse and revile the LORD.

4  The wicked are so proud that they care not for God;

their only thought is, “God does not matter.”

5  Their ways are devious at all times;

your judgments are far above out of their sight;

they defy all their enemies.

6  They say in their heart, “I shall not be shaken’

no harm shall happen to me ever.”

7  Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and oppression;

under their tongue are mischief and wrong.

8  They lurk in ambush in public squares

and in secret places they murder the innocent;

they spy out the helpless.

9  They lie in wait, like a lion in a covert;

they lie in wait to seize upon the lowly;

they seize the lowly and drag them away in their net.

18  The LORD will hear the defense of the humble;

you will strengthen their heart and your ears shall hear;

19  To give justice to the orphan and the oppressed,

so that mere mortals may strike terror no more.

Matthew 12:14-21 (An American Translation):

But the Pharisees left the synagogue and consulted about him, with a view to putting him to death.

But Jesus knew of this, and he left that place.  And numbers of people followed him about, and he cured them all, and warned them not to say anything about him–fulfilment of what was said by the prophet Israel,

“Here is my servant whom I have selected,

My beloved, who delights my heart!

I will endow him with my Spirit,

And he will announce a judgment to the heathen.

He will not wrangle or make an outcry,

And no one will hear his voice in the streets;

He will not break off a bent reed,

And he will not put out a smoldering wick,

Until he carries his judgment to success.

The heathen will rest their hopes on his name!”

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The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 10:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/week-of-proper-10-saturday-year-1/

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There are Christian understandings (plural) of the mechanics and meaning of the Atonement.  This fact might shock some people, but so be it; “facts are,” as John Adams said, “stubborn things.”  One of these understandings is the Conquest of Satan.  This case, dating to at least Saint Justin Martyr (Second Century), quotes Colossians 1:13 and 2:15, 1 Corinthians 15:25-25, and Romans 8:38-39.  (Thanks to Linwood Urban, A Short History of Christian Thought, Revised and Expanded Edition, 1995, page 108, for much useful information.)

The reading from Micah reminded me of this, minus Jesus, of course.  (The historical figure of Jesus had not been born yet.)  No matter how powerful the powers of evil are or seem to be, God has more might.  “Evil” is an appropriate adjective for those who “plan iniquity,” covet and seize fields and homes, and defraud people with malice aforethought.   There will be justice, Micah tells us.  The rich, who already have plenty, will pay the price for defrauding the poor.

The battle is not yet finished, of course.  Genocides continue, cruelty has not ended, and white-collar crime involving mind-boggling sums of money persists.  So the suffering of innocents continues.  Yet there will be justice, and the battle is the Lord’s.

So, to quote the Conquest of Satan interpretation of the Atonement, God has made a public example of evil powers, and nothing–not even evil–can separate us from the love of God in Christ.  The conquest of evil is not yet complete, but it has at least begun.

My theology of the Atonement is broader than this understanding, but I do borrow from the Conquest of Satan interpretation.  There is much merit in this aspect of Saint Justin Martyr’s theology.  God is sovereign, despite certain appearances to the contrary.  May we never forget this, and so may we trust in God and live faithfully and confidently in Christ.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/god-is-more-powerful-than-evil/

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