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Posts Tagged ‘Sinai Covenant’


Luke 20:20-26: Mercy

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Gustave Dore: Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount

In today’s Noontime we listen to Jesus as he gives us a homily and we watch as Jesus puts himself at great risk by speaking to and about the power structure that governs his society.  Much like Moses, Jesus descends from the summit to gather his leadership; Jesus draws together his apostles and disciples.  Moses leads the former slaves to a promise; Jesus aligns himself with the disadvantaged, and speaks aloud the message of hope and rescue that he brings from God.  And it is this way that he forms his kingdom from the rejected and deprived.

The keystone of Jesus’ sermon is in the difficult teaching which many of his followers cannot accept: that he requires us to change our behavior.  Rather than launch weapons and force at our enemies, rather than gather up allies to join us in the shunning or destruction of one who crosses us in any way; we are called by Jesus to love our enemies into goodness.  In this sermon Jesus expands upon the Law as presented to and then by Moses.  Whereas the Old Law focuses on the rules of the Sinai covenant that unite the Hebrew people to hold them together, apart from the world, the New Law asks that we now focus on building our capacity to tolerate, accept and even advocate for the destitute . . . and those who harm us.  We are asked to see that these are the people who make up this new kingdom . . . these wounded and ousted people are our neighbors . . . these people are us.

God does not return like behavior, curse for curse, blow for blow.  He does not walk away when frustrated.  He does not turn away in disgust.  He does not curse us in anger.  He does not plot in hiding.  Rather, in spite of the fact that we reject him in that we refuse to love our enemies, he loves us all the same.  He waits infinitely and patiently for us to return to him.

Jesus knows how difficult all of this is for us; yet he lays down before us the thorniest challenge we will ever meet.  For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do the same.  If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners and get back the same amount.  But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

And so we that God show us mercy . . . and that God show us how to act in mercy ourselves.

Lord, grant us mercy.  Mercy in the face of ugliness.  Mercy against cruelty.  Mercy before deception.  Mercy rather than retribution.  Mercy after all.  Mercy before for all.  Mercy for all.  Mercy in all.  Mercy in Christ’s name.  Amen.


A re-post from May 13, 2012.

Image from: http://www.jesuswalk.com/manifesto/0_preface.htm

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Nebuchadnezzar Cylinder

Nebuchadnezzar Cylinder

Jeremiah 27

Obeying Babylon

In Jeremiah 27 we find an odd command from God: obey Babylon or perish. This may puzzle us until we look more closely for deeper meaning.

Now I have given all of these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant; even the beasts of the field I have given him for his use.

This may seem odd to us. The Lord speaks through Jeremiah, telling the faithful that a foreign king will now have control of the kingdom they struggled so mightily to pull together. Corruption had allowed it to split in two, Israel to the North and Judah to the south, and now was the hour of the conqueror. The people of David’s Kingdom have strayed too far from the Sinai Covenant.

You must not listen to your prophets, to your diviners and dreamers, to your soothsayers and sorcerers, who say to you, “You need not serve the king of Babylon”. They prophesy lies to you in order to drive you far from your land.

This may also seem an unusual message from the Living God until we consider the considerable exploitation that the priests had used in their sacred work. These elect had taken advantage of those with no recourse and now they have lost credibility with God.

To Zedekiah, king of Judah, I spoke the same words: Submit your necks to the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, so that you may live.

Even to the King, Yahweh has spoken. Even the king will be forced to submit to circumstances of the ruling class’s making. This too, may seem odd, until we reflect on the deterioration in leadership that had taken place in recent centuries.

To Babylon they shall be brought, and there they shall remain, until the day I look for them, says the Lord; then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.

Despite the deception and deceit, Yahweh remains. Through exile and captivity, Yahweh abides. During turmoil and frustration, Yahweh continues to shepherd the remnant. For now . . . during exile . . . the faithful must do the unthinkable . . . and obey Babylon.

Enter the word Babylon into the blog search bar and spend time reflecting on her role in our Judeo-Christian history.

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