Archive for the ‘Uzziah’ Tag

Week of Proper 9: Saturday, Year 2   7 comments

Above:  Isaiah’s Vision

Image Source = Cadetgray

Tough Rooms

JULY 11, 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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Isaiah 6:1-13 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

In the year that King Uzziah died, I beheld my Lord seated on a high and lofty throne; and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple.  Seraphs stood in attendance on Him.  Each of them had six wings:  with two he covered his face, with two he covered his legs, and with two he would fly.

And one would call to the other,

Holy, holy, holy!

The LORD of Hosts!

His presence fills all the earth!

The doorposts would shake at the sound of the one who called, and the House kept filling with smoke.  I cried,

Woe is me; I am lost!

For I am a man of unclean lips

And I live among a people

Of unclean lips;

Yet my own eyes have beheld

The King LORD of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphs flew over to me with a live coal, which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.  He touched it to my lips and declared,

Now that this has touched your lips,

Your guilt shall depart

And your sin be purged away.

Then I heard the voice of my Lord saying,

Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?

And I said,

Here am I; send me.

And He said,

Go, say to that people:

“Hear, indeed, but do not understand;

See, indeed, but do not grasp.”

Dull that people’s mind,

Stop its ears,

And seal its eyes–

Lest, seeing with its eyes

And hearing with its ears,

It also grasp with its mind,

And repent and save itself.

I asked,

How long, my Lord?

And He replied:

Till towns lie waste without inhabitants

And houses without people,

And the ground lies waste and desolate–

For the LORD will banish the population–

And deserted sites are many

In the midst of the land.

But while a tenth part yet remains in it, it shall repent.  It shall be ravaged like the terebinth and the oak, of which stumps are left even when they are felled; its stump shall be a holy seed.

Psalm 93 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The LORD is King;

he has put on splendid apparel;

the LORD has put on his apparel

and girded himself with strength.

He has made the whole world so sure

that it cannot be moved;

Ever since the world began, your throne has been estabished;

you are from everlasting.

4 The waters have lifted up, O LORD,

the waters have lifted up their voice;

the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the sound of many waters,

mightier than the breakers of the sea,

mightier is the LORD who dwells on high.

Your testimonies are very sure,

and holiness adorns your house, O LORD,

for ever and for evermore.

Matthew 10:24-33 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued instructing his disciples,]

A pupil is not better than his teacher, nor a slave better than his master.  A pupil should be satisfied to come to be like his teacher, or a slave, to come to be like his master.  If men have called the head of the house Beelzebub, how much worse names will they give to the members of his household!  So do not be afraid of them.  For there is nothing covered up that is not going to be uncovered, nor secret that is going to be known.  What I tell you in the dark you must say in the light, and what you hear whispered in your ear, you must proclaim from the housetops.  Have no fear of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.  You had better be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in the pit.  Do not sparrows sell two for a cent?  And yet not one of them can fall to the ground against your Father’s will!  But the very hairs of your heads are all counted.  You must not be afraid; you are worth more than a great many sparrows!  Therefore everyone who will acknowledge me before men I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but anyone who disowns me before men, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

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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:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/week-of-proper-9-saturday-year-1/

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Stand-up comedians speak of “tough rooms,” or audiences which do not laugh at their jokes.  That seems like an apt analogy for what Isaiah faced, only he was not telling jokes.  He experienced a majestic vision of God with the divine retinue, during which he perceived a commission.  Whether his mission was supposed to result in the hardening of hearts or that was merely the unintended consequence is a knot which Jewish and Christian scholars have been trying to untangle for a very long time.  This post will not settle that argument, nor do I attempt to do so with it.  What is beyond dispute, however, is that the result was far from mass bewailing of sins, repentance, and conversion from idolatry.

Meanwhile, in Matthew 10, Jesus told his Apostles that they would face great opposition and perhaps even martyrdom.  Most of them, according to ecclesiastical tradition, did die for the faith.  Yet, as we read, in 10:28a,

Never be afraid of those who can kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul!  (J. B. Phillips, 1972)

It can be difficult to stand seemingly alone or with little company for the sake of righteousness.  Often those who stand for what is moral are unpopular.  Abolitionists, for example, never gained enough support to end the slavery before the U.S. Civil War.  This was not due to their lack of effort.  Today, nearly universally, even in the South, where slavery was concentrated, modern Americans agree that the Abolitionists were correct.  Yet, in their day, many white Southern Evangelicals regarded the Abolitionists as heretics for opposing slavery, an institution which, according to white Southern Evangelical orthodoxy of much of the 1800s, the Bible supported and even mandated.

Attitudes can change slowly, especially when they are ingrained deeply in society and culture.  Those who tell us that we have gotten something terribly wrong might seem less than reliable, even when they are correct.  Yet, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, God calls us to be faithful, not successful.  The victory, when it comes, will be God’s.  May our labors contribute to, not resist that triumph.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/tough-rooms/

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: Monday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  A Chart of the Kings of Israel and Judah

Needlessly Sad Stories

JUNE 22, 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 17:5-18 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Then the king of Assyria marched against the whole land; he came to Samaria and besieged it for three years.  In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured of Samaria.  He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, at the [River] Habor, at the River Gozan, and in the towns of Media.

This happened because the Israelites sinned against the LORD their God, who had freed them from the land of Egypt, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  They worshiped other gods and followed the customs of the nations which the LORD had dispossessed before the Israelites and the customs which the kings of Israel had practiced.  The Israelites committed against the LORD their God acts which were not right.  They built for themselves shrines in all their settlements, from watchtowers to fortified cities; they set up pillars and sacred posts for themselves on every lofty hill and under every leafy tree, and they offered sacrifices there, at all the shrines, like the nations whom the LORD had driven into exile before them.  They committed wicked acts to vex the LORD, and they worshiped fetishes concerning which the LORD had said to them,

You must not do this thing.

The LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet [and] every seer, saying:

Turn back from your wicked ways, and observe My commandments and My laws, according to all the Teaching that I commanded your fathers and that I transmitted to you through My servants the prophets.

But they did not obey; they stiffened their necks, like their fathers who did not have faith in the LORD their God; they spurned His laws and the covenant that He had made with their fathers, and the warnings He had given them.  They went after delusion and were deluded; [they imitated] the nations that were about them, which the LORD had forbidden them to emulate.  They rejected all the commandments of the LORD their God; they made molten idols for themselves–two calves–and they made a sacred post and they bowed down to all the host of heaven, and they worshiped Baal.  They consigned their sons and daughters to the fire; they practiced augury and divination, and gave themselves over to what was displeasing to the LORD and vexed Him.  The LORD was incensed at Israel and He banished them from His presence; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone.

Psalm 60 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  O God, you have cast us off and broken us;

you have been angry;

oh, take us back to you again.

2  You have shaken the earth and split it open;

repair the cracks in it, for it totters.

3  You have made your people know hardship;

you have given us wine that makes us stagger.

4  You have set up a banner for those who fear you,

to be a refuge from the power of the bow.

5  Save us by your right hand and answer us,

that those who are dear to you may be delivered.

6  God spoke from his holy place and said:

“I will exult and parcel out Shechem;

I will divide the valley of Succoth.

7  Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine;

Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my scepter.

8  Moab is my wash-basin,

on Edom I throw down my sandal to claim it,

and over Philistia will I shout in triumph.”

9  Who will lead me into the strong city?

who will bring me into Edom?

10  Have you not cast us off, O God?

you no longer go out, O God, with our armies.

11  Grant us your help against the enemy,

for vain is the help of man.

12  With God we will do valiant deeds,

and he shall tread our enemies under foot.

Matthew 7:1-5 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Pass no more judgments upon other people, so that you may not have judgment passed upon you.  For you will be judged by the standard you judge by, and men will pay you back with the same measure you have used with them.  Why do you keep looking at the speck in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the beam that is in your own?  How can you say to your brother, “Just let me get that speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a beam in your own?  You hypocrite!  First get the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see to get the speck out of your brother’s eye.

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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:  Monday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/week-of-proper-7-monday-year-1/

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The Canadian Anglican Lectionary has skipped over many details to arrive at the summary, so follow the bouncing balls with me while I summarize those parts of 2 Kings over which the lectionary has skipped.

We begin in the Kingdom of Judah.

  • Jehoash/Joash (836-798 B.C.E.)
  • Amaziah (798-769 B.C.E.)
  • Azariah/Uzziah (785-733 B.C.E.)
  • Jotham (759-743 B.C.E.)
  • Ahaz (743/735-727/715 B.C.E.)
  • Hezekiah (727/715-698/687 B.C.E.)

(Dates from page 2111 of The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004)

We have already part of the account of the reign of Jehoash/Joash of Judah from 2 Chronicles.  So we can move along to his son and successor, Amaziah.  He generally pleased God but did not remove the idolatrous shrines and altars.  The text criticizes him for killing just his father’s assassins but sparing their children.  (See 2 Kings 14:5-6 and Deuteronomy 24:16.)  He also lost a war to King Jehoash/Joash of Israel.

Azariah/Uzziah, Amaziah’s son, reigned for 52 years.  Like his father, he generally pleased God yet did not remove the places of idolatry.  The text says that God struck him with leprosy as punishment for this sin of omission.  So his son Jotham reigned as regent then king.  Jotham, the text tells us, displeased God and did not remove the shrines and altars either.

The narrator condemns Ahaz, Jotham’s son.  Ahaz, the text tells us, practiced idolatry openly.  He

even consigned his son to the fire,

which might indicate a rite of passage, not a child sacrifice, but does not sound good, whatever it was, and

sacrificed and made offerings at the shrines, on the hills, and under every leafy tree.

And Ahaz, while a captive of King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel, bribed the Assyrian king to deliver him.  The bribe consisted of the gold and silver at the Jerusalem Temple.   Ahaz also ordered the construction of a new pagan altar–a replica of one at Damascus–at Jerusalem then made a public offering at it.

Hezekiah succeeded his father, Ahaz, as king.  We will read about him another day.

A note about dating the reigns of ancient kings is in order.  I have checked various study Bibles and found slightly different regnal dates for the same monarchs.  The B.C./A.D. or, if you prefer, B.C.E./C.E. dating system is about 1500 years old.  So it obviously did not exist at the time of the events of which we are reading.  Converting dates from one calendar to another can also be tricky.  And ancient documents provided relativistic dates, such as

In the twelfth year of King Ahaz of Judah….

If one does not know when King Ahaz of Judah reigned, this does not help.  Furthermore, taking a literal reading of all these relativistic dates leads to chronological inconsistencies.  So sometimes an honest historian or student of history must plead confusion.

Now I move along to the Kingdom of Israel.

  • Jehoahaz (817-800 B.C.E.)
  • Jehoash/Joash (800-784 B.C.E.)
  • Jeroboam II (788-747 B.C.E.)
  • Zechariah (747 B.C.E.)
  • Shallum (747 B.C.E.)
  • Menachem (747-737 B.C.E.)
  • Pekahiah (737-735 B.C.E.)
  • Pekah (735-732 B.C.E.)
  • Hoshea (732-722 B.C.E)

(Dates from page 2111 of The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004)

The last Kings of Israel came in for bad reviews from the narrator.  A recurring condemnation is that they persisted in the sins of their predecessors.  Among these sins was idolatry.  The last strong monarch of Israel was Jeroboam II, who reigned for 41 years and expanded his kingdom’s borders.  Then everything went downhill.  Zechariah was the last king of the Jehu Dynasty.  His reign ended because Shallum assassinated him.  Shallum reigned for one month before Menahem killed him.

Menahem was an especially bad character.  He attacked the territory of Tiphsah.  The people did not surrender, so he

massacred [its people] and ripped open all its pregnant women.

Like his predecessors, Menahem persisted in the traditional sins of the Kings of Israel.  He also paid tribute to the Assyrian king after an Assyrian invasion.  Pekahiah succeeded his father, persisted in the sins of the Kings of Israel, and reigned for two years, dying of an assassination.

Pekah, the next king, was the assassin.  The text says that he reigned for twenty years, but he ruled from Samaria for closer to two years.  The only way to avoid a contradiction between these two facts is to say that he was running a parallel government for the rest of the time.  The Assyrian conquest of Israel began during his reign, for the first part of the forced exile commenced.  Hoshea assassinated Pekah and became the last King of Israel.  He was really a vassal of the Assyrian king, however.

Here ends the history lesson and begins the rest of my text.

I admit it:  I have little new to say.  “Idolatry is bad.”  There is a post about that in this series.  “Theocracy is also a bad idea.”  I have written that in at least two posts, one of them in this recent series.  “Let us be quick to comfort, not cast blame, in difficult times.”  There is also a recent post about that.  So, instead of repeating myself in this post, I conclude with the preceding recap and move along.

The ten northern tribes lost their identities religiously before they lost them politically.  But their descendants live on the planet.   The populations are spread out across the Old World.  Their cultural markers have not faded entirely.  But the ten tribes did not return home.

The recent stories from 1-2 Kings have been sad.  They did not have to be this way, however.  May our choices work out better.

KRT