Archive for the ‘Ahab’ Tag

Devotion for Thursday Before Proper 29, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

The Death of Ahab--Gustave Dore

Above:   The Death of Ahab, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

Three Kings and Two Deaths

NOVEMBER 21, 2019

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The Collect:

O God, our true life, to serve you is freedom, and to know you is unending joy.

We worship you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory.

Abide with us, reign in us, and make this world into a fit habitation for your divine majesty,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 53

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 18:12-22

Psalm 46

Hebrews 9:23-28

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God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

–Psalm 46:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The account from 2 Chronicles 18, quite similar to one in 1 Kings 22, agrees with that sentiment and emphasizes the impropriety of a military alliance with an evil ally–in this case, King Ahab of Israel (reigned 873-852 B.C.E.).  King Jehoshaphat of Judah (reigned 870-846 B.C.E.) enters into a military alliance with Ahab against Aram, a shared enemy.  Only Micaiah, one prophet in a particular group of prophets, says that the planned attack at Ramoth-gilead is a bad idea.  He resists pressure to claim otherwise.  Micaiah is, of course, correct.  Ahab dies.  Jehoshaphat survives, to hear from one Jehu son of Hanani of God’s displeasure over the alliance:

For this, wrath is upon you from the LORD.  However, there is good in you, for you have purged the land of the sacred posts  and have dedicated yourself to worship God.

–2 Chronicles 19:2b-3, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

One can read of the reign of Jehoshaphat in 1 Kings 22:1-51 and 2 Chronicles 17:1-20:37.

Hebrews 9:23-28 concerns itself with the atoning qualities of the crucifixion of Jesus.  I, as a student of Christian history, in particular of the development of doctrine and theology, know of three early theories of the Atonement.  Two of these include the death of Christ.  Penal Substitutionary Atonement does not satisfy me (forgive the double entendre), for it depicts a deity in which to stand in dread, not awe.

I will not be satisfied until people torture and kill my son,

that deity proclaims.  The Classic Theory, or Christus Victor, however, places correct emphasis on the resurrection.  Without the resurrection we have dead Jesus, who cannot save anyone.

Both Ahab and Jesus died.  Ahab, who died foolishly (despite warning) and was idolatrous and evil (consult 1 Kings 16:29-22:40 and 2 Chronicles 18:1-34) had it coming.  Jesus, however, was innocent of any offense before God.  The death of Ahab brought to the throne of Israel his son, Ahaziah, who followed in his father’s ignominious footsteps (consult 1 Kings 22:52-54; 2 Kings 1:1-18).  The death of Jesus, in contrast, played a role in the salvation of the human race from sin.

May we who follow Jesus respond to him, treating him as our savior, not merely another martyr to admire.  Grace is free yet not cheap; ask Jesus.  It demands much of us, such as that we not be as Kings Ahab and Ahaziah were.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 7, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK LUCIAN HOSMER, U.S. UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY GIANELLI, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI AND THE SISTERS OF MARY DELL’ORTO

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR THEN EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT OF NEWMINSTER, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND PRIEST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/three-kings-and-two-deaths/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 29, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

New Jerusalem

Above:  The New Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

Out With the Old; In With the New

NOVEMBER 19 and 20, 2020

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The Collect:

God of power and might, your Son shows us the way of service,

and in him we inherit the riches of your grace.

Give us the wisdom to know what is right and

the strength to serve the world you have made,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 53

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 2:13-23 (Thursday)

1 Chronicles 17:1-15 (Friday)

Psalm 95:1-71 (Both Days)

Revelation 14:1-11 (Thursday)

Revelation 22:1-9 (Friday)

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Come, let us sing to the LORD;

let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving

and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the LORD is a great God,

and a great king above all gods.

–Psalm 95:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Out with the old; in with the new:  that is the unifying thread I have found connecting the readings for these days.  1 Kings 2 contains a prediction of the demise of King Ahab of Israel and Revelation 14 speaks of the fall of the Roman Empire.  On the other side of the proverbial coin is the establishment of the new order–the New Jerusalem in Revelation 22 and the Davidic Dynasty in 1 Chronicles 17.  The latter proved imperfect and did not live up to the high expectations of 1 Chronicles 17, of course.  And the New Jerusalem remains a future hope.

Finally the readings reflect some optimism.  I spent most of the previous two posts complaining about excessive gloominess in the pericopes.  Now, however, we read of the creative side of creative destruction.  This is consistent with the proximity of the assigned days for these lessons to the beginning of Advent.  Yes, the world is a troubled place, but a physical manifestation of hope is near liturgically.  Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 7, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 18:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE PACIFIC

THE FEAST OF ELIE NAUD, HUGUENOT WITNESS TO THE FAITH

THE FEAST OF JANE LAURIE BORTHWICK, TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, POET

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 8, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Death of Naboth

Above:  The Stoning of Naboth, by Caspar Luiken

Image in the Public Domain

Tenants, Not Landlords

JUNE 29 and 30, 2020

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The Collect:

O God, you direct our lives by your grace,

and your words of justice and mercy reshape the world.

Mold us into a people who welcome your word and serve one another,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 40

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 21:1-16 (Monday)

1 Kings 21:17-29 (Tuesday)

Psalm 119:161-168 (Both Days)

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (Monday)

1 John 4:1-6 (Tuesday)

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Princes have persecuted me without a cause,

but my heart stands in awe of your word.

I am as glad of your word

as one who finds great spoils.

As for lies, I hate and abhor them,

but your law do I love.

–Psalm 119:161-163, Common Worship (2000)

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The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants.

–Leviticus 25:23, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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But we belong to God….

–1 John 4:6a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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As for brotherly love, there is no need to write to you about that, since you have yourselves learnt from God to love another….

–1 Thessalonians 4:9, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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One of the great lessons of the Bible is that we belong to God, the world belongs to God, and we are only tenants and stewards responsible to God and each other. The Law of Moses, in Leviticus 25:23-28, addresses the issue of the ownership, sale, purchase, and redemption of land in the light of that ethic. God is watching us and we have no right to exploit or trample each other. If God is our parental figure metaphorically (usually Father yet sometimes Mother; both analogies have merit), we are siblings. Should we not treat each other kindly and seek to build each other up?

King Ahab and his Canaanite queen, Jezebel, abused their power and violated the ethic I just described. Neither one was of good character. Jezebel plotted perjury, false accusations, and the execution of an innocent man. Ahab consented to this plan. His responsibility flowed partially from his moral cowardice, for he could have prevented his wife’s plot from succeeding. And he, of course, could have been content with what he had already in the beginning of the story. The man was the monarch, after all.

Many of us seek after wealth or try to retain it while laboring under the misapprehension that it does or should belong to us. Actually, all of it belongs to God. Yes, there is a moral responsibility in all societies to provide a basic human standard of living for all people, given the ethic of mutuality and the fact that there is sufficient wealth for everyone to have enough to meet his or her needs. (I do not presume that there is one way all societies must follow to accomplish this goal.) And, if more of us thought of ourselves as stewards and tenants answerable to God, not as lords and masters, a greater number of our fellow citizens would be better off. That is a fine goal to which to strive en route to the final destination of a society based on mutuality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 24, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF IDA SCUDDER, REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA MEDICAL MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD KENNEDY “DUKE” ELLINGTON, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JACKSON KEMPER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WISCONSIN

THE FEAST OF MOTHER EDITH, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE SACRED NAME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/tenants-not-landlords/

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Devotion for September 10 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Jehu

Above:  Jehu

Image in the Public Domain

2 Kings and Philippians, Part III:  Violence in the Name of God

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2020

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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 everlasting 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

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 9:1-13; 10:18-29

Psalm 42 (Morning)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening)

Philippians 2:12-30

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For the whole house of Ahab shall perish:  and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel….

–II Kings 9:9, Authorized Version

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A few years ago someone showed me a YouTube video of a portion of a sermon from an Independent Baptist church in Arizona.  The minister quoted the above part of 2 Kings 9 and, instead of focusing on the narrative context of the verse, fixated on the word “pisseth” and preached about the meaning of manhood.  Apparently this meaning, according the reverend, involved urinating while standing up.  The sermon excerpt has, for me, functioned as comic relief (pun intentional).  I, unlike that preacher, have a college degree-three of them, in fact.  Yet one does not need formal education to read the Bible and place its passages in narrative context.

The violence ascribed to God’s command to Jehu in the fall of the House of Ahab troubles me.  In the previous post in this series sworn foreign enemies received kind treatment.  Those aliens went home safely after enjoying good food.  Did God cease to be merciful in 2 Kings 9 and 10?  The narrative of those chapters is inconsistent with the ethic of Philippians 2:15-16a:

Show yourselves innocent and above reproach, faultless children of God in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in a dark world and proffer the word of life.

–Revised English Bible

May we be as stars, not as Jehus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS KASATKIN, ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF ALL JAPAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSKAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MILLARD FULLER, FOUNDER OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/2-kings-and-philippians-part-iii-violence-in-the-name-of-god/

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Proper 6, Year C   7 comments

Above:  A Scene from Passing Through Gethsemane, a 1995 Episode of Babylon 5

Sin, Consequences, Remorse, Repentance, and Forgiveness

The Sunday Closest to June 15

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14), 15-21a and Psalm 5:1-8

or 

2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15 and Psalm 32

then 

Galatians 2:15-21

Luke 7:36-8:3

The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-pentecost/

 1 Kings 21:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/week-of-proper-6-monday-year-2/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/week-of-proper-6-tuesday-year-2/

2 Samuel 11-12:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/week-of-3-epiphany-saturday-year-2/

Galatians 2:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/week-of-proper-22-wednesday-year-2/

Luke 7-8:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-eighteenth-day-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-nineteenth-twentieth-and-twenty-first-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/week-of-proper-19-thursday-year-1/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/week-of-proper-19-thursday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-19-friday-year-2/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/week-of-proper-19-friday-year-1/

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The Old Testament options are stories of perfidious people (one alleged to be a man after after God’s own heart), each arranging for the death of an inconvenient person.  Naboth had no desire to surrender his vineyard, nor should he have.  And Uriah was a good commander and a loyal husband.  In each case there were divine judgment and consequences.  Ahab’s dynasty fell.  Jezebel died.  David faced internal political troubles.  And the first child of David and Bathsheba died.  That an innocent suffered troubles me; one does not ask one’s parents to conceive one.  But at least David, when confronted, expressed remorse.

The sinful woman (not St. Mary of Magdala, by the way) in Luke 7 was both remorseful and repentant.  Her act of gratitude was sincere, if not dignified.  Yet she did not care about appearances, nor should she have.

In Pauline theology faith is inherently active.  In the Letter of James, in contrast, faith is intellectualized.  This need not prove confusing.  Choose a word–such as “faith” or “day” or “believe,” O reader.  How many meanings do you attach to each word?  And how many ways have you heard others use those same words?  Biblical writers did not always attach the same meaning to a given word either.  Anyhow, as I was saying, in Pauline theology faith is inherently active.  As a person thinks, so he or she behaves.  So, in Pauline theology, faith saves us from our sinful selves and grace–God’s unearned favor–justifies us with God.  So, after we have sinned, we still have hope.  That is excellent news.

Yet do we forgive ourselves?  God forgives the remorseful and repentant.  Many of our fellow human beings forgive us.  And do we forgive those who have expressed remorse and who have repented?

As Brother Theo, a Roman Catholic monk and a character in Babylon 5 (1994-1998), a wonderful series, said in Passing Through Gethsemane, a profound episode, said of forgiveness,

I don’t anything can ever be more difficult.

Theo continued,

I believe you were saying that forgiveness is a hard thing but something ever to strive for, were you not, Captain?

Here ends the lesson, and I need to learn it at least as much as many others do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 12, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN GUALBERT, FOUNDER OF THE VALLOMBROSAN BENEDICTINES

THE FEAST OF NATHAN SODERBLOM, ECUMENIST

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/sin-consequences-remorse-repentance-and-forgiveness/

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Week of Proper 9: Monday, Year 2   1 comment

Orthodox Icon of the Prophet Hosea

God, Who Takes Us Back

JULY 6, 2020

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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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Hosea 2:16-25 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Assuredly,

I will speak to her

And lead her through the wilderness

And speak to her tenderly.

I will give her her vineyards from there,

And the Valley of Achor as a plowland of hope.

There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,

When she came up from the land of Egypt.

And in that day

–declares the LORD–

You will call [Me] Ishi,

And no more will you call Me Baali.

For I will remove the names of the Baalim from her mouth,

And they shall nevermore be mentioned by name.

In that day, I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; I will also banish bow, sword, and war from the land.  Thus I will let them lie down in safety.

And I will espouse you forever:

I will espouse you with righteousness and justice,

And with goodness and mercy,

And I will espouse you with faithfulness;

Then you shall be devoted to the LORD.

In that day,

I will respond

–declares the LORD–

I will respond to the sky,

And it shall respond to the earth;

And the earth shall respond

With new grain and wine and oil,

And they shall respond to Jezreel.

I will sow her in the land as My own;

And take Lo-ruhamah back in favor;

And I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people,”

And he will respond, “[You are] my God.”

Psalm 138 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart;

before the gods I will sing your praise.

I will bow down toward your holy temple

and praise your Name,

because of your love and faithfulness;

3 For you have glorified your Name

and your word above all things.

4 When I called, you answered me;

you increased my strength within me.

All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD,

when they have heard the words of your mouth.

They will sing of the ways of the LORD,

that great is the glory of the LORD.

7 Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly;

he perceives the haughty from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;

you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;

your right hand shall save me.

9 The LORD will make good his purpose for me;

O LORD, your love endures for ever;

do not abandon the works of your hands.

Matthew 9:18-26 (An American Translation):

Just as he [Jesus] said this to them, an official came up to him and bowing down before him said to him,

My daughter has just died.  But come!  Lay your hand on her and she will come to life!

And Jesus got up and followed him with his disciples.  And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel of his cloak.  For she said to herself,

If I can just touch his cloak, I will get well.

And Jesus turned and saw her, and he said,

Courage, my daughter!  Your faith has cured you!

And from that time the woman was well.

When Jesus reached the official’s house,and saw the flute-players and the disturbance the crowd was making, he said,

Go away, for the girl is not dead; she is asleep.

And they laughed at him.  But when he had driven the people out, he went in and grasped herhand, and the girl got up.  And the news of this spread all over that part of the country.

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The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 9:  Monday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/week-of-proper-9-monday-year-1/

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The prophesies contained in the Book of Hosea speak of events from the 700s B.C.E.  Israel, the northern kingdom, is still strong, and Jeroboam II occupies its throne.  In the south, in the Kingdom of Judah, Uzziah/Amaziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah ruled in succession, sometimes with overlapping reigns between two of them.  There will be punishment for the persistent idolatry, God says through Hosea, but God will take his people back afterward.

The book uses adultery as a metaphor for idolatry.  So God, metaphorically speaking, is the cuckolded husband while the faithless population is the adulterous wife.  God, in the first part of Chapter 2, comes across as a violent husband.  Such a metaphor does offend many modern sensibilities regarding domestic violence, as it should.  I am not here to make excuses for biblical authors, and I do not feel obligated to pretend that parts of the Bible are not genuinely disturbing in a bad way.

But may we continue to read.

The abusive, cuckolded husband portion of Chapter 2 (verses 3-15) gives way to a lovely passage about reconciliation.  All will be forgiven, and idolatry will become a thing of the past.

Each person is more than the worst thing he or she has done.  True, certain actions carry dire consequences, but there can be forgiveness with God.  Do we seek it?

The end of Chapter 2 applies the names of Hosea’s children to Israel.  God had commanded the prophet to marry Gomer, “a wife of whoredom.”  He did, and they had three children.  The first was a son, Jezreel, which means “God sows.”  This personal name is a reference to a plain and a city on said plain, as well as the murder of Naboth, whose vineyard King Ahab had coveted.  Then came a daughter, Lo-ruhamah, which means “Unpitied.”  Finally, there was a second son, Lo-ammi, or “not my people.”

That was then. We read in verses 24 and 25 that the earth will respond to Jezreel with new grain, wine, and oil; God will sow, as in scattering the seeds.  And God will take the unpitied daughter, no longer unpitied, “back in favor.”  Furthermore, those whom God has renounced will again be his people, and they will respond in kind.

I am careful to focus on the main idea, not become distracted by less important issues.  If you, O reader, seek from me a definitive answer to how judgment and mercy balance each other in the Bible (especially the Hebrew Scriptures), you are looking in the wrong place.  Yet I do offer this nugget of what I hope is wisdom:  both exist, side by side.  There is discipline, but there is also forgiveness.  May we, by grace, live so that we do not grieve God, but gladden the divine heart (metaphorically speaking) instead.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/reading-and-pondering-hosea-part-one/

Week of Proper 7: Wednesday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  King Josiah

The Inevitable is Still Inevitable

JUNE 24, 2020

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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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2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Then the high priest Hilkiah said to the scribe Shaphan,

I have found the scroll of the Teaching in the House of the LORD.

And Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, who read it.  The scribe Shaphan then went to the king and reported to the king:

Your servants have melted down the silver that was deposited in the House, and they have delivered it to the overseers of the work who are in charge at the House of the LORD.

The scribe also told the king,

The high priest Hilkiah has given me a scroll;

and Shaphan read it to the king.

When the king heard the words of the scroll of the Teaching, he rent his clothes.  And the king gave orders to the priest Hilkiah, and to Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Michaiah, the scribe Shaphan, and Asaiah the king’s minister:

Go, inquire of the LORD on my behalf, and on behalf of the people, and on behalf of all Judah, concerning the words of this scroll that has been found.  For great indeed must be the wrath of the LORD that has been kindled against us, because our fathers did not obey the words of this scroll to do all that has been prescribed for us.

At the king’s summons, all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem assembled before him.  The king went up to the House of the LORD, together with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests and prophets–all the people, young and old.  And he read to them the entire text of the covenant scroll which had been found in the House of the LORD.  The king stood by the pillar and solemnized the covenant before the LORD; that they would follow the LORD and observe His commandments, His injunctions, and His laws with all their heart and soul; that they would fulfill all the terms of this covenant as inscribed upon the scroll.  And all the people entered into the covenant.

Psalm 119:33-40 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes,

and I shall keep it to the end.

34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law;

I shall keep it with all my heart.

35 Make me go in the path of your commandments,

for that is my desire.

36 Incline my heart to your decrees

and not to unjust gain.

37 Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless;

give me life in your ways.

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,

which you make to those who fear you.

39 Turn away the reproach which I dread,

because your judgments are good.

40 Behold, I long for your commandments;

in your righteousness preserve my life.

Matthew 7:15-20 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you disguised as sheep but are ravenous wolves underneath.  You can tell them by their fruit.  Do people pick grapes off thorns, or figs off thistles?  Just so any sound tree bears good fruit, but a poor tree bears bad fruit.  No sound tree can bear bad fruit, and no poor tree can bear good fruit.  Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and burned.  So you can tell them by their fruit.

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The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 7:  Wednesday,  Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/week-of-proper-7-wednesday-year-1/

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Since our last reading in 2 Kings…

God healed the dying Hezekiah.  Isaiah predicted the Babylonian Exile/Captivity.  Hezekiah died eventually.

Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, succeeded him as king.  The years of Manasseh’s reign (55 years) are uncertain; The Jewish Study Bible lists his regnal dates as 698/687-632 B.C.E.)  The text explains that Manasseh displeased God.   It reads in part:

…he erected altars for Baal and made a sacred post, as King Ahab of Israel had done.  (21:3)

Manasseh also rebuilt the altars and shrines which his father had destroyed.

Moreover, Manasseh put so many innocent persons to death that he filled Jerusalem [with blood] from end to end–besides the sin he committed in causing Judah to do what was displeasing to the LORD.  (21:16)

Amon, Manasseh’s son, reigned for two years (641-640 B.C.E.).  The text says that he forsook God and that courtiers assassinated them.  The assassins died shortly thereafter.

Then Josiah succeeded his father and began a 31-year reign (640-609 B.C.E.).  Of Josiah the text says:

He did what was pleasing to the LORD and he followed all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not deviate to the right or to the left.  (22:2)

Josiah ordered a renovation of the Temple.  During that process people found a scroll containing part or all of Deuteronomy.

That catches us up.

We read after the assigned lessons from 2 Kings that Josiah extended the life of his kingdom yet could not prevent the collapse of the nation.

The tone of 2 Kings is generally somber.  The kingdoms will fall; the observant reader knows this.  So one treads through much grim material while the narrator’s voice repeats warnings against committing idolatry.  Then there are bright spots, such as the reign of Josiah of Judah, who postponed the destruction of his kingdom without being able to prevent it.  And what happened to this monarch whom the narrator admired?  The Pharaoh Neco slew him in battle (2 Kings 23:29).

It is almost too much to bear.  The gloom and doom gather, people continue to sin, and a bad fate awaits a good king.  Unfortunately, the events get worse after the death of Josiah.

As we proceed toward the inevitable end of the Kingdom of Judah, may we remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  There is life after conquest, and there is a return from this exile.  Hope need not die.  But that depends greatly on the attitudes upon which we act.

KRT

Week of Proper 6: Tuesday, Year 2   6 comments

Above:  King Ahab

Actions Have Consequences

JUNE 16, 2020

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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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1 Kings 21:17-29 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The the word of the LORD came to Eljah the Tishbite:

Go down and confront King Ahab of Israel who [resides] in Samaria.  He is now in Naboth’s vineyard; he has gone down there to take possession of it.  Say to him, “Thus said the LORD:  Would you murder and take possession?  Thus said the LORD:  In the very place where the dogs lapped up Naboth’s blood, the dogs will lap up your blood too.”

Ahab said to Elijah,

So you have found me, my enemy?

He replied,

Yes, I have found you.  Because you have committed yourself to doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD, I will bring disaster upon you.  I will make a clean sweep of you, I will cut off from Israel every male belonging to Ahab, bond and free.  I will make your house like the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because of the provocation you have caused by leading Israel to sin.  And the LORD has spoken concerning Jezebel:  “The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the field of Jezreel.  All of Ahab’s line who die in the town shall be devoured by dogs, and all who die in the town shall be devoured by dogs, and all who die in the open country shall be devoured by the birds of the sky.”

(Indeed, there never was anyone like Ahab, who committed himself to doing what was displeasing to the LORD, at the instigation of his wife Jezebel.  He acted most abominably, straying after the fetishes just like the Amorites, whom the LORD had dispossessed before the Israelites.)

When Ahab heard these words, he rent his clothes and put sackcloth on his body.  He fasted and lay in sackcloth and walked about subdued.  Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite:

Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before Me?  Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the disaster in his lifetime; I will bring the disaster upon his house in his son’s time.

Psalm 51:1-11 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

2 Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you only have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight.

5 And so you are justified when you speak

and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,

a sinner from my mother’s womb.

7 For behold, you look for truth deep within me,

and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;

wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness,

that the body you have broken may rejoice.

10 Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquities.

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

Matthew 5:43-48 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

You have heard that they were told, “You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for your persecutors, true sons of your Father in heaven, for he makes his sun to rise on bad and good alike, and makes the rain fall on the upright and the wrongdoers.  For if you love only those who love you, what reward can you expect?  Do not the very tax-collectors do that?  And if you are polite to your brothers and no one else, what is there remarkable in that?  Do not the very heathen do that?  So you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is.

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The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 6:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/week-of-proper-6-tuesday-year-1/

Matthew 5:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/tenth-day-of-lent/

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Actions have consequences.

Two important features of the Law of Moses were (A) a certain amount of reciprocity, as in “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and (B) the lack of class distinctions in determining sentences.  Jezebel had arranged for perjury and so manipulated the court system so that Naboth, an innocent man, would die and Ahab would acquire the desired vineyard.  God, through Elijah, pronounced that the Queen would die.  She could shield herself from the courts, but not God.

Elijah, in this account, does his job; he relay’s God’s words.  Jezebel had tried to have the prophet killed, so she was an enemy.  And Ahab had not stopped any of her murderous plans, so he was also a foe.  Yet there is no hint in the text that Elijah took delight in the divine judgments.

There is a great and valuable lesson in this.  The powerful evil people, even the banal ones, must face the consequences of their actions.  Perhaps these cannot come soon enough for our satisfaction sometimes, but they will arrive.  But we need not rejoice when the wrath of God befalls them, for such an attitude does not reflect love.  We ought to resist evil, not become it.  We need to hold forth against our enemies, not become like them.

KRT

Week of Proper 6: Monday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:  Queen Jezebel

The End of Vengeance

JUNE 15, 2020

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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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1 Kings 21:1-16 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

[The following events] occurred sometime afterward:  Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel, adjoining the palace of King Ahab of Samaria.  Ahab said to Naboth,

Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it as a vegetable garden, since it is right next to my palace.  I will give you the price in money.

But Naboth replied,

The LORD forbid that I should give up to you what I inherited from my fathers!

Ahab went home dispirited and sullen because of the answer that Naboth the Israelite had given him:

I will not give up to you what I have inherited from my fathers!

He lay down on his bed and turned away his face, and he would not eat.  His wife Jezreel came to him and asked him,

Why are you so dispirited that you won’t eat?

So he told her,

I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and proposed to him, “Sell me your vineyard in exchange for money, or if you prefer, I’ll give you another vineyard in exchange; but he answered, ” I will not give my vineyard to you.”

His wife Jezebel said to him,

Now is the time to show yourself king over Israel.  Rise and eat something, and be cheerful; I will get the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived in the same town with Naboth.  In the letters she wrote as follows:

Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the front of the assembly.  And seat two scoundrels opposite him, and let them testify against him:  “You have reviled God and king!”  Then take him out and stone him to death.

His townsmen–the elders and nobles who lived in his town–did as Jezebel had instructed them, just as was written in the letters she had sent them.  They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the front of the assembly.  Then the two scoundrels came and sat down opposite him; and the scoundrels testified against Naboth publicly as follows:

Naboth has reviled God and king.

Then they took him outside the town and stoned him to death.  Word was sent to Jezebel:

Naboth has been stoned to death.

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab,

Go and take possession of the vineyad which Naboth the Jezreelite refused to sell you for money; for Naboth is no longer alive, he is dead.

When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite to take possession of it.

Psalm 5:1-6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Give ear to my words, O LORD;

consider my meditation.

2  Hearken to my cry for help, my King and my God,

for I will make my prayer to you.

3  In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;

early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.

4  For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,

and evil cannot dwell with you.

5  Braggarts cannot stand in your sight;

you hate all those who work wickedness.

6  You destroy those who speak lies;

the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O LORD, you abhor.

Matthew 5:38-42 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

You have heard that they were told, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  But I tell you not to resist injury, but if anyone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other to him too; and if anyone wants to sue for your shirt, let him have your coat too.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go two miles with him.  If anyone begs from you, give to him, and when anyone wants to borrow money from you, do not turn away.

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The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, 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 6:  Monday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/week-of-proper-6-monday-year-1/

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Mohandas Gandhi once observed that following the rule of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” leaves much of the world’s population blind and toothless.  He was perceptive.

The Mosaic Law, for all his harshness, was actually a moral advance.  The older Code of Hammurabi, to which it bears certain similarities yet more striking differences, established varying punishments for the same offense, depending on the class of the victim and the accused.  So, for example, a wealthy person convicted of a crime against a poor person got off lightly, but a poor person convicted of an offense against a rich individual faced a stiff penalty.  In the Law of Moses, there is one punishment per offense without regard to anyone’s socio-economic standing.  And there is, in some circumstances, a sense of proportionality, as in “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Nevertheless, the cycle of retribution must end for the common good.

The reading from 1 Kings is the first part of the story of King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, and Naboth’s vineyard.  Naboth’s judicial execution was a great injustice.  He had no escape from the corrupted and manipulated court system.  Vengeance, however, belonged to God.  There–and there alone–it should remain for all time and circumstances.

KRT