Devotion for Proper 21, Year D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Nero

Image in the Public Domain

Deceptive Appearances

SEPTEMBER 25, 2022


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


Genesis 16:1-15 or Nehemiah 9:5-38

Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24

Revelation 13:11-18

John 12:1-11


As I wrote in the previous post in this series, the author (“John,” whoever he was) of the Revelation depicted the Roman Empire as being evil.

When we–you, O reader, and I–turn to Revelation 13:11-18, we read of the Antichrist–perhaps Nero (“666” in Greek), originally.  Anyhow, the reference is to a Roman Emperor.  To make matters especially confusing, some of the Antichrist’s works are legitimate and wondrous.  In other words, appearances can deceive.

The reading from Nehemiah 9 speaks of faithful acts of God and of faithless, oblivious people.  It also mentions penitent people.  Genesis 16 follows up on the covenant in Genesis 15.  Genesis 16 sets up a series of unfortunate events in subsequent chapters.  One may draw the conclusion the text invites one to make:  Wait for God to fulfill divine promises.  Do not act to make them happen.  Have faith.  Trust God.

Yet one may also wonder how to know which works come from God.  Appearances can deceive, after all.  Besides, one may not expect God to act in a certain way (such as the Incarnation or the crucifixion).  Therefore, one may see God act and fail to recognize what God has done and is doing.

I offer no easy answer to this difficult question.  I have only one answer:  pray.  Prayer consists primarily of listening and watching, actually.  The best definition of prayer I can muster is the heightened sense of awareness of being in the presence of God.  As Psalm 139 tells us, we can never leave the presence of God.  We can, however, be oblivious to it or be aware of it.

May God help us to identify correctly all that is of God.  And may we pay attention.






One response to “Devotion for Proper 21, Year D (Humes)

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  1. Pingback: Deceptive Appearances | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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