Posts Tagged ‘Luke 4’

2 Kings 3: Withdrawal

Thursday, January 23, 2020

2 Kings 3: Withdrawal

imagesCAHQ96XWElijah has ascended to heaven.  Jehoram reigns over Israel.  King Mesha of Moab has decided to rebel now that Ahab is no longer king of Israel.  King Jehoram musters his troops and prepares for battle and he calls on King Jehoshaphat of Judah to join in the struggle against the Moabites.  Will you go with me to battle?

They go into Edom where that king joins them and so the three of them stand ready to fight, except . . . there is no water.  The king of Israel cries out: Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?  And Elisha, Elijah’s servant, is named and consulted.  Water arrives and the battle is engaged.  Things go badly for Mesha who immolates his son on the wall to appease his pagan god.  Commentary suggests that “the text may be implying that the anger of the Moab’s god caused the Israelites to withdraw”.  (Mays 564)  In the face of this human sacrifice, the Israelites pull back.  So might we all.

Our natural instinct may be to avoid evil; it may also be to strike out against it.  We may be inspired to form solidarity with the weak in order to empower them against the aggressor.   Or we may hide in order that we protect what little we have.  Today’s story leaves us with these words: And so they withdrew from him and returned to their own land. 

I heard a sermon recently advising Christians to be cautious when dealing with evil.  The idea that we risk too much danger when we operate in close combat with the devil is one we spent time with several weeks ago when we considered Luke 4 and the devil’s temptation of Jesus.  We noted that day that Satan departed from Jesus until an opportune time.  We concluded that: The devil never gives up . . . nor does God.

When we find ourselves shoulder deep in a situation that does not make sense, we know that somewhere someone is lying.

When we realize that betrayal is taking place on a deep and intimate level, we know that danger is quite near.

In all circumstances there is only one place to seek haven or ask for help: in God.  We may determine that we need to withdraw and return to our own land.  We may as likely determine that we need to gather troops, consult with the prophet and make a stand.  In either case, it is important that we remain in God no matter what.  For in God is our only hope of salvation.  No wickedness is too great for God to handle.  No malicious act is too horrible for God to transform.  No evil can overcome or outlast God’s love for his people.

So if we must withdraw . . . let us open our hearts . . . and withdraw into God.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 564. Print.

For a reflection on Matthew’s description of Christ’s temptation, go to The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations

Written on March 18, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://daleallynphoto.com/index.php/gallery/image_full/20/

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Genesis 3God Has a Plan

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Written on March 5 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Yesterday we reflected on the idea that God sets a sign before us; he comes to live among us in the person of Jesus.  Today we reflect on the reality that God has a plan in mind; he does not come to humanity as an afterthought.  It has always been his idea to be born of woman as a redeemer of his own creation.  God’s plan is to create us and to give us a choice of eternal life or death in the world.  God’s plan is to come to us as a saver and protector who will lead us out of the physical and into the spiritual world.  God’s plan is to abide with us as a comforter and lover who brings us wisdom, forgiveness and compassion.  God’s plan is to lay before us life and death.  God’s plan is that we choose life . . . but he allows us to choose death.

Amazingly, even though we may make poor choices, God is still willing to allow us to atone and in fact God rejoices when we reverse course to turn back to him.  God knows that Satan patrols the world as we have examined in Job 1:7.  God knows it is Satan who has tempted Adam and Eve to think that he holds the mystery of eternal life when it is God who actually does.   And God knows how and why we will choose between self-serving pride and life-sustaining humility at the hinge points of our lives.  And through all of this, God abides.  This is God’s plan.

Satan tempts Jesus in the desert and when he does, these are Jesus’ responses.

Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone.

You must do homage to the Lord your God, him alone must you serve.

Do not put your Lord your God to the test. 

At the end of this passage, the Gospel remarks: Having exhausted every way of putting [Jesus] to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment. 

And so when Satan approaches to test us and to draw us away from God, as he does so often, let us stick to God’s plan and let us pray the words Jesus uses when tempted by Satan in the desert – the words of God come to walk among us on earth.

Dear Lord, deliver us and remind us that we do not live on bread alone.

Dear Lord, protect us and remind us that it is you alone we serve.

Dear Lord, love us and deliver us from this test. 

Dear Lord, do not allow us to become blind by the light of adversaries who seek to dazzle us with their moments of opportunity

Dear Lord, abide with us always. 

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

A re-post from August 19, 2011.

Image from: http://www.i-church.org/gatehouse/index.php?page=25 

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Mark 1:14-34: The Beginning

Abbot Handerson Thayer: Mary, Jesus and John the Baptist

Abbot Handerson Thayer: Mary, Jesus and John the Baptist

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

We have spent a number of days reflecting on the Gospel of Mark and today we remember the struggle of darkness and light that Jesus endures as he brings freedom, light and the good news to the faithful.  Today we see how Jesus began.

We are accustomed to associating the words in the beginning with the opening words of Genesis of the soaring Gospel of John; today we see it and hear it in connection with the shortest and possibly the most powerful of the Gospels.  Mark recounts that Jesus began his ministry when John the Baptizer was executed, when he saw that God’s plan was ready for the Good News, when he knew that fulfillment of God’s promise was at hand . . . through him.

In Luke’s Gospel we are told of how the people attending a service where Jesus proclaims God’s promise fulfilled in himself rose up, drove him out of town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed away through the midst of them and went away.  Luke 4:29-30

Many of us may have decided that the world is too crazy and too volatile to try to bring the message of hope to cranky and churlish people; yet these Gospels both record that after Jesus escaped this ugly mob, he went out among the people and immediately cured a “demoniac” in Capernaum.  He then healed Simon’s mother and finally . . . at sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him.  (Luke 4:40)  When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.  The whole town was gathered at his door.  He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove our many demons, not permitting them to speak because he knew them.  (Mark 1:32-34)

We today are grateful that Jesus does not give up in the beginning when he was rejected by the rabble.

And so we pray . . .

We today are grateful that God never turns away from us when we have gone astray. 

We today are grateful that the Spirit always resides in us to bring comfort as we confront our hectic days.

We today are grateful that Jesus is constantly beside us to rescue us from the coming whirlwind. 

We today are grateful that from the beginning there is a plan, and that this plan is good and solid . . . even though we cannot fully comprehend its height, and breadth and depth. 

We today are grateful that from the beginning there is a plan, and that this plan is authentic and beautiful . . . even though we cannot fully comprehend its present, past or future.

We today are grateful that from the beginning there is a plan, and that this plan is, and was and always will be . . . one which turns all harm to good, all darkness to light, all anger to peace, all deception to fidelity, all fear to trust, and all hatred to love . . . if we only allow it. 


A favorite from September 11, 2010.

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