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Posts Tagged ‘judgment’


Zephaniah 3:18-20: Seek Restoration

Nubian Museum: Shebitku’s Statue

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The prophet Zephaniah wrote sometime between the years of 635 to 630 B.C.E.  His is a brief prophecy and its message is succinct: there is a day if universal judgment which will arrive surely . . .  and this judgment will be followed by restoration.  Earlier in this chapter he refers to the town of Cush saying that beyond the rivers of this town the scattered peoples will bring offerings.  Cush was located south of the upper cataracts of the Nile in the area referred to as Nubia.  It was a land of great wealth with commerce routes which brought to the Mediterranean materials such as gold and silver, cosmetics, balsam, incense, myrrh, ostrich eggs, and other wild animal products.  Jeremiah also refers to this place as a source of topaz.  Further, these people were from to time a powerful political force: the Nubian pharaoh Shebitku defeats the Assyrian Sennacherib in Israel in 701 B.C.E. – an astounding account recorded in 2 Kings.  (Zondervan 1519.)  Their power, however, seems to have collapsed after 671 B.C.E.

What does all of this signify?  The restoration this prophet foretells is universal.  It will be bestowed on even those who have been scattered as far off as Cush – even those who have been held captive by her alluring power and cosmopolitan life.

Sing, O Daughter Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!  Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!  . . .  I will give you honor and praise among all the people of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your eyes.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1519. Print. For more about Cush, click on the map image, or visit: https://ancientpatriarchs.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/who-was-cush/ 

A Favorite from November 23, 2007.

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James the Lesser – Sunday, September 27, 2015

El Greco: James the Lesser

El Greco: James the LesserSunday, September 27, 2015

We have reflected on our restoration from dry bones, placed memorial stones to mark the importance of our relationship with God; we have entered in to the apostolic Spirit and marked the wisdom and prudence we want to govern our lives. And we have given over our interior temple to the transformation God has in mind for us, knowing that from our strife comes our great reward. For the next few weeks we will spend time with the letter of James, examining the message

This letter is likely written by “a relative of Jesus who is usually called “brother of the Lord” (see Mt 13, 55; Mark 6, 3). He is the leader of the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem whom Paul acknowledged as one of the “pillars” (Gal 2, 9). In Acts he appears as an authorized spokesman for the Jewish Christian position in the early Church (Acts 12, 17; 15, 13-21)”. (Senior 368)

The letter, written in Greek despite the fact it is penned by a Jew, is considered one of the best of the New Testament and many believe that it was actually put down by a secretary. Some also regard these verses as some the earliest written after the Christ’s death and, quite likely, before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Senior 369)

James’ message is universal and timeless, emphasizing “sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but form a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sin, and expectation of judgment. (1, 17; 4, 12)”. (Senior 369)

When we spend time with this short letter today, we find that its structure is neat and concise, focusing on the value of trials and temptation, the importance of heeding warnings, and the power of prayer. Using the scripture link we can skim differing versions of the letter to examine the themes and structure ourselves as we prepare to hear the message James wants to bring to us.

To learn more about James the Less, as he is often called to distinguish him from the Apostle James (James the Greater), follow the scripture links above in Matthew, Mark and Acts, click on the image above, or use a reference that you find helpful.

Tomorrow, James’ message. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.368-369. Print.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Camel in the Judean Wilderness

Camel in the Judean Wilderness

Matthew 23:23-26

Gnats and Camels

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.

It is too easy to judge others and forget to look in the mirror.

You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law; judgment and mercy and fidelity.

The words come to us quickly: I am too busy. I already know that. This is just the way I am. We cringe when we think we might have to change our perception of self.

Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

We fuss with details and avoid authentic conversion.

You cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.

We recognize our sense of entitlement but refuse to move forward in transformation.

Cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.

Jesus is clear. There are steps to be taken. Christ leads the way. There are changes to be made. Do we persist with a lifestyle that is comfortable and known but lacking in judgment, mercy and fidelity? Or do we choose a life of honesty and understanding?

Christ speaks to each of us today of gnats and camels. Christ speaks to us today of honesty and hypocrisy. Christ speaks to us of an opportunity to change. Let us spend some time today with Matthew 23 and look for the occasions we have wanted to strain gnats and swallow camels.

For a humorous post on How to Swallow a Camel with No Gnats, click on the image above or go to: http://www.waynestiles.com/how-to-swallow-a-camel-with-no-gnats/

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bible_Warrior_Angel_37877871-P-1024x531[1]Amos 1 & 2

The Swift-of-Foot and the Stout-hearted

When we scan the list of crimes committed by the many nations who shared the Mediterranean Levant in ancient days, we see that they are indeed serious.  And perhaps most appalling is that God’s chosen people number in the list of offenders.  For this reason Amos speaks out clearly.

God says: Aram, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, Israel . . . for three crimes and four I will not revoke my word. Because they threshed Gilead with sledges if iron; because they took captive whole groups; because they did not remember the pact of brotherhood; because he pursued his brother with a sword; because they ripped open expectant mothers; because he burned to ashes the bones of the king; because they spurned the law of the Lord; because they sell the just man for silver . . . they shall be exiled; they shall perish; I will send fire; their king shall go into captivity; I will root out the judge from her midst and her princes I will slay.  The swift of foot shall not escape, nor the horseman save his life.  And the most stout-hearted warriors shall flee naked on that day.

When we scan the headlines on our smartphones and cable channels we see these ancient crimes repeated.  Amos sees direct cause and effect in the disaster that befalls humans as a result of their own action.  With a good commentary we can understand the gravity of the atrocities committed here and we pause to reflect we see this list of crimes as a stark contrast to the list of gifts God bestows on us. We are an ungrateful people and so Amos warns us that there are consequences for our refusal to see clearly.  Amos asks us to re-think and repent all that we do individually and collectively.  Amos opens a window onto a final world that we will not want to visit.  To the swift-of-foot and the stout-hearted who believe themselves safe or immune . . . there is no escape.

These are heavy words.  These are dark images. This is a world to which God continues to call out in hope.

Locate the nations named in this reading with an online Atlas at: http://bibleatlas.org/

Tomorrow, words and woes.

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