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Posts Tagged ‘Rahab’


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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Joshua 11-12: Seek Integrity

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

James J. Tissot: The Seven Trumpets of Jericho

Survey

Today we have the opportunity to read about a promise review.  God has promised territory to a people who were enslaved.  God promises a place in which they might live, work, play, celebrate and worship.  God promises to remain with them, to guide them and to protect them.  They, in turn, promise to reverence this God only, to follow the Lord’s commandments only, and to teach their children and their children’s children to do the same.  We might take this opportunity to pause and to survey our own promises . . . the ones we make willingly, the ones we perhaps make grudgingly, the ones we keep and the ones we forget.  How and why do we make promises?  When and why do we keep them . . . or disregard them?  Do we ever pause to remember what promises we have made . . . and why?

We do not only receive the gifts of our talents and souls, we also are given the gift of time and space each morning when we rise.  What do we chose to do with these presents from our creator?  When we examine our lives – as we do frequently during our Lenten journey – what new territories do we find that we now occupy?  Which harassing and recalcitrant tyrants have we conquered through God’s grace and hand?  What have we taken in that is new to us?  How has this newness affected the other parts of our lives?  What can we expect from ourselves?  Do we see others differently than we saw them before as a result of our newness?

Jericho

It is always good to evaluate and assess because from this kind of exercise can come a deeper and better understanding of who we are – why we are – where we are going – and who we are meant to be.  When we take a scan of our actions we have to be honest and sometimes this can be brutal; but it is the only method of integrating what we say with what we do.  The act of self-scrutiny, when done in a healthy and open manner, is the only real method of determining if and how we have kept the promises we have made.  It is also the only real way to discovering if we are making the proper kinds of promises.  This kind of examination is the only real path to integration.  It is the only true response to the God who creates us lovingly and tends to us unceasingly.

What are the promises we have already made?  What promises are we about to enter into?  What promises do we dream about?

What promises have we kept?  What promises do we intend to keep?  What promises do we hope to take into the future?

Only an honest survey will tell us what we will need to know. Only an honesty survey will tell us if and how we value integrity.

For an interesting perspective of the story of Rahab and Joshua, click on the image of the Jericho street above, or visit: http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/bad-girls-of-the-bible-rahab/

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 25, 2010.

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Hebrews 11Something Betterrainbow-forest-468

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. 

“This chapter draws upon the people and events of the Old Testament to paint an inspiring portrait of religious faith, firm and unyielding in the face of any obstacles that confront itThese pages rank among the most eloquent and lofty of the Bible”.

All these [holy women and men of the Old Testament] died in faith.  They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth . . . Perhaps when we feel as though we are alien to those around us it is because we are living in two different worlds: the first being what we see around us, the second being the reality of the world of the Spirit.

“The author gives the most extensive description of faith provided in the New Testament, though his interest does not lie in a technical, theological definition.  In view of the needs of his audience he describes what faith does, not what it is itself”.  

hebrews 11Women received back their dead through resurrection . . . Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment . . . The world was not worthy of them . . . Perhaps when we are persecuted for God’s sake it is because we bring a truth to those who wish to live in this world rather than build God’s world.

“Through faith, God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what he promises will eventually come to pass”. 

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac . . . By faith, Joseph spoke of the Exodus of the Israelites . . . By faith Moses was hidden by his parents . . . By faith the walls of Jericho fell . . . By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with the disobedient . . . What more shall I say? . . . Perhaps we might have more confidence in the future if we thank God for the many miracles we have received in the past and receive even today.

“Christians have even greater reason to remain firm in faith since they, unlike the Old Testament men and women of faith, have perceived the beginning of God’s fulfillment of his messianic promises”.

God had foreseen something better for us . . . And perhaps we already hold in our hands something better than what we had anticipated . . . if we might only live as if we have evidence of our faith.

Today, we hear from the 35th chapter of Isaiah in the first reading at Mass and I smile.  The prophet describes what he sees in the future . . . and I like to think he sees who and what Christ’s followers are and are becoming.  He speaks of the desert and the parched land will exult: the steppe rejoice and bloom . . . Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe.  The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water . . . No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it.  It is for those with the journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk.  Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee . . .

This is what God envisions for us.  This is what God promises us.  This is the gift we have been given . . . a faith that is the realization of what is hoped for . . . and is evidence of things not seen . . . a faith that is evidence of something better . . . 

Citations are from THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. 

A Favorite from December 6, 2010.

For more about Rahab, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/r/rahab_or_rachab.htm

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.363-364. Print.   

 

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Joshua 3: Crossing the Jordan

Friday, April 22, 2016stones-stack-940x3601

Each time we must embark on an essential task which appears to be impossible, we ought to read this book of how a determined band of faith-filled people were able to accomplish something which appeared to be impossible . . . but only impossible in human terms . . . for with God, all things are possible.

This chapter follows on the heels of the story of how Joshua and his fellow-spies were saved by Rahab, the woman who runs a brothel perched higher than the city wall.  Footnotes tell us some interesting details about this woman whom the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews praises.  Details like these allow us to remember that God uses many ways to gain the ends he seeks, and God does not allow discontinuity or aberrations to interfere with the end goal of bringing the kingdom to fruition.  And this is good news for all of us for when we read Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1, we read a litany of saints and sinners.  We are all members of Christ’s family.  We are his adopted sisters and brothers.  And as a community, we are his bride, invited to cross the Jordan in our journey home.

There are many river crossings for us to make. There are many currents that want to rip us away into an overwhelming tide.  There are many boulders hidden under the rippling water that have slippery surfaces and sharp edges.  The river is a beautiful life-giving place; yet it is full of danger.  The Hebrews carried their God in an Ark they had fashioned carefully of gold.  This Ark held the presence of Yahweh – desert manna, stone tablets of The Law, and Aaron’s rod.  This Ark was later replaced by the Blessed Mother who bore the incarnation of God to the world.  This Ark must now be the temple place we prepare in our hearts where Yahweh may dwell in each of us.  This is the Ark that we now take up as we wade into the swirling depths of life.

What does our Ark contain?  Have we made it with loving care?  When we lift the lid, what do we see?  Superficial lives or faithful service?  Hollow hearts of false oaths or full ones yearning to share what we experience?  Is the tablet still of stone or have we allowed God to write his promise on our hearts?  Do we see the Law of Self or the Law of Love?

If we are to reach the opposite shore of the river, we might want to unpack and re-pack the ark of our lives before we step into the eddying water.  Perhaps we will leave something behind.  Perhaps we will go in search of something we know we ought to have.  How do we know what to take with us?  It is simple.  We must ask and answer this question: When we open this ark before God, our creator, will we find an image of God?  Will God smile with the love of a parent who sees work well done by the child?

Before we step into the Jordan of our lives, let us think about the contents of the ark we carry on our shoulders and if we must . . . let us with honesty . . .  unpack and re-pack the contents of our lives.

Adapted from a favorite from May 26, 2008.

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James 2: Faith and Wisdom – Part IV

Tuesday, October 13, 2015faithblocks

From the Book of Wisdom 7:7-11: I prayed and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things came to me in her company, and countless riches to hand.

God’s wisdom is greater than silver or gold, more treasured than gems, beauty, or health. Prudence, prayer, and daily orientation to God’s ways bring us to God’s love.

Both Abraham and Rahab recognize that faith must be lived and not merely thought; they see that with care and practice we learn to act with God’s wisdom. They understand that through faith interwoven with works we receive God’s countless riches to hand.

Today we conclude the second chapter of James’ letter with a prayer as we reflect on how God’s wisdom becomes evident . . . through the interweaving of our offering of faith and works. And so we pray.

Faith-and-worksDear Lord, we will have to remember that our goal is not to be powerful or popular as the world so often tells us. Continue to remind us that our goal must be to act as you act, with mercy, humility and compassion. Continue to share your presence with us and keep us always close to you. Help us to integrate with you through our daily practice of prayer and works. And continue to shower on us your countless riches of love. Amen.

 

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James 2:21-26: Faith and Wisdom – Part III

Monday, October 12, 2015

Murillo: Abraham Receiving the Angels

Murillo: Abraham Receiving the Angels

Certainly none of us set out to become a corpse in this life; yet James challenges us with two examples of how one man and one woman fuse together works and faith to discover disciple wisdom.

Abraham, our first patriarch who responded to God’s call to move himself and all he possessed to a new, unknown location. In faith Abraham responded to God’s call. Click here to follow the link to learn more about Abraham as we reflect on how we might likewise use works to accompany our faith.

Van Dyck: Abraham and Isaac

Van Dyck: Abraham and Isaac

Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?

Tissot: The Harlot of Jericho and the Two Spies

Tissot: The Harlot of Jericho and the Two Spies

Rahab is an interesting woman and as a member of Jesus’ family tree she may hold particular interest for us. When we explore her life we give ourselves the opportunity to discover who and what she was, but who and what we are as well. Explore her story here or by clicking on the images.

Rahab the Harlot, Artist Unknown

Rahab the Harlot, Artist Unknown

The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.

James tells us today about wisdom engendered by a fusion of faith and works. Tomorrow we take a look at taming the tongue.

For more about Women in the Bible, click on the image of Rahab by an unknown artist and explore using the search bar.  Read her story in Joshua 2.

 

 

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