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Posts Tagged ‘Judges’


Hebrews 10:30-39: Trials Well Borne

Friday, May 11, 2018

James Tissot: The Mess of Pottage – Jacob and Esau

This reflection continues thoughts posed in the Revenge and Forgiveness post from September 9, 2012.

Obadiah, one of the Minor Prophets, offers us ideas we will want to examine further.

From the ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE we discover themes. We learn that Obadiah’s  name means “servant of Yahweh,” and many scholars believe that his brief prophecy was written between 586 and 553 B.C.E. We know that Obadiah does not specify that his prophecy is meant for any particular king or event; yet he indicates that a major calamity has occurred in Judah and that the Edomites have capitalized on this event.  In general, scholars believe that there was a post-exilic setback for the Israelites, and most believe it to be the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. They also remind us that Edom itself fell to this same empire in 553 B.C.E.  All of this sets up a story of intense tribalism, payback, and retaliation. We look a little further.

Who are the Edomites and where is their land? These people descended from Esau, the son of Issac, who was cheated of his heritage by his brother Jacob and his mother. Obadiah writes to the people of Judah (the descendants of Jacob) condemning the Edomites for their treachery and violence toward the people of Judah.  He also rails against the people for their sins of arrogance and indifference toward God.  So this prophecy harkens back to the conflict between these two brothers.  Judah feels that the hostility shown to them when they are at a low point by the people of Edom is cruel and unjustified.  Edom’s arrogance was founded in its nearly impregnable mountain strongholds where the Edomites safeguarded their wealth (gained from trade) in rock vaults.  Obadiah teaches that God is sovereign over all nations. (Zondervan 1464-1465)

James Tissot: The Meeting of Esau and Jacob

So much of what we read here reminds us of the story we live each day; our modern world is occupied with ancient themes: indifference to a higher authority, arrogance of the ego, injustice of systems and structures, and the use of cruelty as a fair means to any end. The rivalries in this prophecy echo the petty rivalries we set up early in life and, as we grow older, carefully nurture.

Turning to today’s reading, we see these familiar words in verse 18: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay”. Yet, despite our recognition of the truth these words bring to us, we need more urging. The prophet, knows that despite enlightenment we will have setbacks, and so he lays them out for us to examine in ourselves: the malignant hope for revenge, the overpowering force of hubris, the willingness to use any means to achieve our ends, the animal-instinctive fear of others. Obadiah asks us examine the suffering of our daily experience as we reflect on his prophecy.

As New Testament believers, we want to be poised for Jesus’ coming into our lives and receptive to the Spirit that lives among us. Feeling Christ’s call to our highest goodness, we might look at Hebrews 11 and determine to follow the example of the faithful lived by the Patriarchs: Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and the Judges . . . “all these . . . approved by the testimony of faith”.  We might look to these people as models of how and what we are to do, how and why we are to overcome our lust for revenge, how and why we are to practice love.  When we study their individual stories, we see that these ancestors do not lead perfect lives; but they strive for that perfection in their loyalty to Yahweh.  They listen, they obey, and they bear their trials well.

In the name of Jesus, let us call out our best selves to serve God, to fulfill his hope in us.  Let us be good and loyal servants who want nothing more than to discern our mission and to complete it well.  We ask this in the name of Jesus, the one who dwells among us to lead us, to heal us, to restore us, to be one with us.

Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 27, 2007.

Read the brief prophecy of Obadiah and compare varying translations to better understand our tendency to seek revenge . . . and our need to rely on God’s wisdom rather than our own.  


ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1464-1465. Print.

Visit the Obadiah – Outrageous Hope page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/obadiah-outrageous-hope/  or the Revenge and Forgiveness page at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/09/09/revenge-and-forgiveness/

 

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Saturday, August 4, 2012  – Judges 16 – Samson and Delilah

Matthais Stom: Samson and Delilah

This is a familiar story to us – and when we open scripture to a comfortable place, we look more closely, more intensely, to see if we have perhaps missing something because of the familiarity.

Samson was one of the series of Judges who protected and guided the Hebrew people before they asked for a king.  In this book we see the people of God continually repeat a cycle of dissent into separation from God . . . which causes loneliness and anguish followed by sorrow and repentance.  Yahweh always responds by forgiving and tending to his lost sheep.  There are periods of complacency and quiet when the people forget that God is central to their lives which separate the judges.  Samson is one of the most famous.  But look at the following verses: 2 – And all the night they waited saying, “Tomorrow we plan to kill him”, verse 19 – Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him, verse 28 – Samson cried out to the Lord and said,  “O Lord God, remember me!  Strengthen me, O God, this last time . . . let me die with the Philistines!”

Samson succumbs to Delilah and to the plot surrounding him.  He is human.  He fails.  He suffers.  He has hope.  He repents.  He makes reparation for his former action.  He is honored.  He brings the light of truth into the darkness of greed and corruption.  We do not understand the mystery of what happened more, but what we do understand is that nothing ultimately wins over destruction and death.  

From MAGNIFICAT today: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1:5)  God is mystery.  The maker of the universe dwells in light inaccessible, so bright that it blinds the probing eye, the questioning mind.

For those who are powerless, that they may experience your power employed on their behalf. 

For those who have abandoned hope, that they may know your mercy.

For those who fail to see you in mystery, that they may come to feel your gentle love.

Amen.

Written on April 9, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.9 (2008). Print.  

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Summary


Saturday, January 7, 2012 – Acts 13:13-43 – Summary

Pisidian Antioch Church of Saint Peter

What we read today is Paul’s summary of salvation history to the people who have gathered in the synagogue in PisidiaThe synagogue officials sent word to [Paul and his companions]. “My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak”.  And so Paul rises to address the assembly.

If we allow ourselves to pause with these verses we will easily see that what Paul delineates as the history of the Jewish people can also serve as the outline of our own life of conversion. 

God chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in Egypt.  We too are chosen and exalted by God.  We too are the apple of God’s eye, the desire of God’s heart.  Let us rejoice and be glad in this news.

With uplifted arm he led them out of [Egypt] and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert.  We too, have been led by God.  We too have been protected; we are guided by the Spirit.  Let us rejoice and be glad that God has the patience to put up with us.

When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance at the end of about four hundred and fifty years.  We too, once we have grown and matured in the Spirit, have come to see that our inheritance of God’s love has been within our reach since the beginning of time.  Let us rejoice and be grateful in this gift.

Artifact from Pisidian Antioch

After these things he provided judges . . . then they asked for a king.  God gave them Saul . . . then he removed him and gave up David as their king.  We too have been given leaders along the path of our spiritual journey.  We too have been guided by those who seek God persistently and who tell the stories of their own conversion.  Let us rejoice and be grateful for their willingness to share their life-giving experiences.

From this man’s descendents God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.  John heralded his coming.  We too have been given this savior. We too have heard the heralding of Jesus’ coming. Let us rejoice and be glad in the promise of the Christ Child.

The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him, and by condemning him they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets . . . They asked Pilate to put him to death . . . they took him down from the tree and put him in a tomb.  We too have lived through trial and travail.  We too have suffered disappointment and betrayal.  Let us rejoice in the knowledge that we are not alone and that our God accompanies us in our journey of sorrow. 

But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem.  These are [now] his witnesses before the people.  We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our ancestors he has brought to fulfillment for us [their] children, by raising up Jesus.  We too have seen the fulfillment of these oracles.  We too have witnessed this death and this rising.  Let us rejoice and proclaim the good news that God has fulfilled and continues to fulfill the promises he makes to us. 

El Greco: St. Paul

Today we reflect on the summary of our lives and we wonder . . . can it be true that all we have hoped for has been given?  Can we suppose that what others have witnessed is the promise fulfilled that we have longed for through long and lonely nights?  Can we believe that the Christ humbles himself to birth in a stable?  Can we believe that although we believe him gone . . . he loves us still?

Can we act on this summary of our lives . . . and go forward to tell the Good News?  

Tomorrow we will reflect on Paul’s words to the gentile people.  For more on Pisidia, go to the Bible Places link: http://www.bibleplaces.com/pantioch.htm

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