Posts Tagged ‘Samaria’

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Amos 3:14-15

Ivory Apartments

On the day when I punish Israel for his crimes, I will visit also the altars of Bethel: the horns of the altar shall be broken off and fall to the ground. Then will I strike the winter house and the summer house; the ivory apartments shall be ruined, and their many rooms shall be no more, says the Lord.

“The reference to ‘houses adorned with ivory” in Amos 3:15 finds confirmation in the discovery of the Samaria Ivories, a collection of hundreds of pieces of artwork, including over 200 fragments uncovered in the rubbish heap of a building on the city’s acropolis.  This ‘ivory building’ is associated with the Israelite king Ahab (c. 874-853 B.C.), who is said to have constructed a palace ‘inlaid with ivory’ in Samaria (1Ki 22:39)”.  (Zondervan 1449)

God says: You are my chosen people. I have created you and I love. I have protected you, guided you, redeemed you and made you a holy people; and yet you turn from me. You have hidden away in your ivoried apartments and begun to worship this life of luxury you have fashioned for yourself. You have set up your own temple. You have begun to worship pagan gods who love nothing about you . . . for you are created in my image and not theirs.  ou are made to live with me in the towering forests and running streams of my heart. You are made for goodness rather than evil. You have no need of ivory and you have no need of the exclusive places apart into which you withdraw. Come out of your imagined shelter and serve my weak and little ones. For they are the ivoried pieces that adorn my heart.

We are easily drawn in by the lure of the false life of living as gods and we turn away from life in the Spirit of God.  We are called to live as the shimmering image of God.  Let us climb down out of the false ivory apartments in which we have taken illusory shelter; let us unite with Christ’s mystical body of love; and let us live and love in the Spirit of God who loves us so.

Tomorrow, the Cows of Bashan.

“The Samaria Ivories.” ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. Print.

Image from: https://www.redzonetech.net/blog/are-boards-suffering-from-its-ivory-tower-syndrome/

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1 Kings 16: Legacy

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ruins of Samaria

King Omri was successful in his political career and for this reason he appears in the ancient documents of several cultures.  He wielded his military power well, winning battles, capturing cities, and establishing the new capital of Samaria.  It seemed that anything he put his hand to was bound to do well, and yet . . . “Omri was an enormously famous and successful king, yet the Bible pays him virtually no attention. Political success, the eyes of the Biblical writers, counted for very little if an individual had turned away from God”.  (Zondervan 512) We might remember Omri more if we paused to remember that he fathered the man often considered the wickedest king in Israel history, Ahab.  The legacy of Omri then is this . . . he founded a major city that came to symbolize corruption, and his son numbered with the vilest of men.  We may want to reflect on this a bit today.

We humans focus too often on controlling the story we hope will be told of us once we have left this earth.

We humans put too much energy in building monuments to ourselves that will eventually crumble.

We humans expend our energy and talent gathering fortune and fame while we neglect the nurturing of heart and soul.

When we consider the legacy of King Omri, founder of Samaria and father of Ahab, we see that he has a great deal to teach us from the grave.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay will destroy, and thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus reminds his apostles – and he reminds us – that there is no point in gathering wealth and power; there is nothing eternal about building memorials to ourselves.  The testimonials that are everlasting are the many small acts we commit as we love our enemies and help one another to reach the fulfillment of our true potential – our potential in Christ.

No one can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and Mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

Jesus reminds his followers – and he reminds us – that we cannot try to live in both worlds.  We cannot be “just a little dishonest”.  We cannot turn a blind eye to corruption.  We cannot tell “just one little lie” for once we begin our journey into the world of Omri the lure of false success is too strong.  The end of that journey will be the monument we build to ourselves – an evil dwelling and wicked offspring.

Seek first the kingdom of God and all things will be given to you besides.  (Matthew 6:33) 

Once we learn to rely on God rather than the world of reputation and affluence . . . we will have taken the first steps in securing a legacy that will serve us forever.

A re-post from August 25, 2012.

Image from: http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Places/Place/339792

“Omri and Samaria.” ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 512. Print.

For more information about the ancient city of Samaria, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Places/Place/339792

For more information about Omri and Ahab, go to: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2005/10/omri-king-of-israel.aspx#Article  or http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2006/01/02/Ahab-the-Israelite.aspx#Article


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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

6648f45035a47efdafeee4d3f3f056e4_XL[1]Nehemiah 13

A Prayer for Willingness

True hope differs from waiting in that it expects the impossible to become possible through our petition and in God’s action.  Today we might reflect on a mirror image to hope and conversion that we pondered yesterday: the juxtaposition of willingness and desire.  It is this willingness – rather than our desire – that refines us as faithful.  It is this willingness – and not mere desire – that marks us as God’s disciples.

But what might we gain, we ask ourselves, from being willing rather than willful?

Perhaps it is our willingness that God nurtures patiently, waiting for our readiness to participate fully in God through Christ.  Perhaps it is this measure of willingness that indicates our full and ready understanding of who God is and why we are created in God’s image.   Perhaps is it our willingness to withstand any difficulty, our determination to be disciples of Christ that signals our preparedness to believe that God can truly make all things possible.  Do we desire to be with God but try to avoid all obstacles in our journey?  Or are we willing to travel the road, despite its roadblocks, in full willingness?

As we read about Nehemiah warning against stepping into alien and pagan territory and relationships, we might remember the Good Samaritan parable told by Jesus.  A man from Samaria, considered to be an outcast by the Jewish community, helps an injured traveler on the road to Jerusalem while the Levite, one who has special status in the Jewish community, keeps himself separate and pure.  As we mature from our Old Testament self who seeks to merely understand God and enter into our New Testament self to seek union with God we leave our desire behind . . . and we enter into willingness

We fully experience God’s presence when we give over our human desire of wishing for the end result through expedient or easy means, when we surrender our willfulness in order to become willing. But for this we need courage.

We genuinely live as God’s disciples when we cease asking for the easy route that has no brambles or pitfalls, when we take on the divine mantle of succumbing to the arduous journey of true willingness.  But for this we need strength.

And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God,

We hope to rest constantly in you; grant us your readiness.

We desire to follow faithfully the way of Christ; grant us your eagerness.

We expect to hurdle all obstacles that would keep us from you; grant us your strength.

We hope to respond willingly to your call no matter how difficult the journey; grant us your courage.

We ask that you hold us close to you. 

We ask that you keep us forever with you. 

We ask that you grace us with your willingness.

We ask this in Christ’s name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

For more information about the contrast of willingness and willfulness, click on the image above or go to the 21 February 2013 Brookhaven Retreat blog post at:  http://www.brookhavenretreat.com/cms/blog-22/item/845-willful-or-willing

Adapted from a reflection written on July 21, 2009, and posted on May 9, 2013. 

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