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Wrestling with the Word, episode 90: Lectionary 24 (16 Pentecost), Year C (September 12, 2010) August 29, 2010

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Lectionary 24 (16 Pentecost)

When life takes its well-known detours that result in anguish of our souls, we sometimes stretch an accusing finger at God. Those unexpected turns seem at times to demonstrate that God is not faithful to promises—whether they were made or we imagine they were. We might find a biblical passage here or there that promises health or wealth or peace or security in our lifetimes, and there is plenty of evidence in the world to indicate we are not on the road we were hoping for. But the promise of God that occurs everywhere in the Bible, the one that provides hope and healing, even on the worst of roads, is forgiveness of our sin. That promise lies at the very nature of God, and it is the assurance of God’s forgiveness that enables us to negotiate the bumps and turns on our journey.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 90: Lectionary 24 (16 Pentecost), Year C.

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Psalm 51:1-10 (NRSV 1-9)
Like Psalms 38 and 130, the psalm is a penitential psalm. Accordingly, the psalm was used by someone suffering various torments as a result of one’s sinfulness against God. The plea for forgiveness in verses 1-2 sets the tone for the entire psalm and is offered only because of trust in God’s “steadfast love” and “abundant mercy.” The acknowledgement of guilt and confession in verses 3-6 moves beyond the understanding of sin as an ethical code. Verse 5 (NRSV) has sometimes been used to connect the origin of human sinfulness to the sexual act by which the person was conceived.  The intent of the words, however, is to indicate that from the very beginning of his existence the psalmist has been a sinner and a member of a world which has always been at odds with God. The depth of sin is nothing less than the dishonoring of God by all of humankind (see Isa. 6:5; Rom. 1—2; 11:32). The petition for forgiveness comes to focus in verses 7-12 with such words as “purge me,” “wash me,” “fill me,” “blot out all my iniquities.” As the psalm continues, such forgiveness results in the newness of life that can come only from God (see Jer. 31:31-34).

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Exodus 32:7-14
The Lord encourages those who have access to God to intercede even for those who make and worship false gods.

Context
Chapters 32-34 make up a relatively separate block of narrative material that separates the instructions of 25–31 from those in 35–40.  Chapter 32 is influenced by the account of the golden calves installed at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12).  Jeroboam’s infamous act following the division of the monarchy probably led the Jerusalem religious establishment to “prove” the error of his ways by demonstrating God’s judgment on a similar act back in the days of Moses.

Key Words
V. 8.  “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt”:  The statement already appeared at v. 4.  Note the request of the people at v. 1 contains:  “Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt”:  The same expression comes out of the mouth of God at v. 7.

V. 10.  we’e‘eseh ’ôtekā legôy gādôl = “and I will make you a great nation”:  The promise is identical to the words God uttered to Abraham at Gen. 12:2.

V. 13.  “multiply your descendants … and all this land … I will give …”:  These promises made to the patriarchs appear at Gen. 12:7; 15:1-6, 17-21; 17:4-8; 22:17; 26:4; 28:13-14.

V. 14.  wayyinnāchem YHWH = “and the Lord repented”:  That God changes the plan from judgment due to a human intercession, see also Amos 7:3 and Abraham’s attempt at Gen. 18:16-33.

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1 Timothy 1:12-17
As he begins his instruction and exhortation to Timothy, leader of the church in Ephesus, the apostle expresses thanks and praise for the goodness of the gospel to himself in words that sound like “amazing grace.”

Context
The authorship of the Pastoral Epistles has been debated for some time.  Whether or not this letter comes from Paul’s hand, the hand of a secretary, or from someone else entirely, the epistle, like that of 2 Timothy and Titus, provides us with instructions to individuals who are leaders of the churches in their respective geographical areas.  As such, they serve to remind leaders of the church at all times of the responsibilities they carry to prevent false teachings from entering the church and to abstain from the ways of the world.

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Luke 15:1-10
Addressing some prevailing religious positions of his day, Jesus explains his hospitality to outcasts on the basis of God’s love for the lost and joy over their recovery.

Context
In contrast to the preceding paragraphs which related Jesus’ teaching about the demands of discipleship to the crowds who had joined him on his journey, Jesus now deals with the grumbling on the part of the “religious” folk over the kinds of people to whom Jesus has been relating.

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Parallel Passage:  Matthew 18:12-13
In Matthew, Jesus addressed the parable to the disciples, making the point that the disciples should not extol themselves and despise the “little ones” but recognize that God rejoices at finding those who have gone astray. In Luke, Jesus addressed the parable to his religious opponents regarding God’s forgiveness of sin and the divine joy over the sinners’ restoration.

Key Words
Vv. 1-2.  pantes hoi telōnai kai hoi hamartōloi … diegoggyzon hoi te Pharisaioi kai hoi grammateis = “all the toll-collectors and sinners … the Pharisees and the scribes murmured”:  See 5:29-30 and 7:33-34 for similar reaction to the company Jesus was keeping.

V. 2.  diegogguzon = “kept murmuring”:  The imperfect tense of the verb indicates the continuing nature of their complaining (see 19:7). Their response to Jesus’ companions is not an isolated one; neither is his hospitality to the outcasts.

V. 4.  poreuetai epi to apolōlos heōs heurē auto = “goes after the lost one until he finds it”:  Forms of apollymi = “ruin, lose” appear to describe “lost sheep” at Matt. 10:6; 15:24; in OT cf. Ezek. 34:4 (11-16); Ps. 119:176.  God is the good shepherd who seeks out the lost (see John 10:11-12).  On the mission of Jesus to seek and save the “lost,” see Luke 19:10.

Vv. 6, 9.  sygcharēte moi = “rejoice with me”:  Joy is something to be shared, as in festal events (cf. Deut. 12:7; Pss. 33; 95; 98; Is. 9:3).

Vv. 7, 10.  chara en tō ouranō … chara enōpion tōn aggelōn tou theou = “joy in heaven … joy before the angels of God”:  For moments when God rejoices, see the new creation bliss at Isa. 65:19, the restoration of the people of Israel to God at Isa. 62:5, and the renewal of love with the people at Zeph. 3:17.  On God’s pleasure at having a wicked person repent and live, see Ezek. 18:23.  For the assembly before the throne of God, see 1 Kings 22:19-23; Job 1; Isa. 6:1-3; Ps. 82; 89:5-8, and often.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 89: Lectionary 23 (15 Pentecost), Year C (September 5, 2010) August 17, 2010

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Lectionary 23 (15 Pentecost)

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus proves to be a chip off the old block. Whatever God does in the Old Testament, Jesus does in the New. The names for God in the Hebrew Bible become the names the early church used also for Jesus. And when it comes to faithfulness or discipleship, YHWH and Jesus insist on unswerving allegiance. Following that kind of God costs a great deal, but what God promises is life that is just out of sight!

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 89: Lectionary 23 (15 Pentecost), Year C.

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Psalm 1
The first psalm in the Bible is a wisdom psalm, like 112, 119, 127, 128, and 133. Wisdom teaching, found also throughout the Book of Proverbs, teaches the simple doctrine that the good (the wise) are rewarded with health and wealth, but the wicked (the fools) are destined for destruction. Reactions to this doctrine appear in the Book of Job and in Ecclesiastes. In the Psalter itself, such reactions appear in Psalm 49 (see Lectionary 18 [10 Pentecost] in Episode 84) and Psalm 73. This first psalm promises blessing for those who “delight in the torah of the Lord and meditate on the torah day and night.” Standing as the lead psalm, it establishes the context of the entire Psalter as fidelity to the instruction of the Lord. The benefits of this “righteousness” are fruitful and continuing life (v. 3). The wicked will not be acquitted in the court of God’s law (v. 5) and will, therefore, “perish” (v. 6).

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Deuteronomy 30:15-20
In setting before the people the decision to choose life or death, God exhorts the people to choose life and provides the means by which that life might be achieved.

Context
Chapters 27-28 of Deuteronomy list the blessings and curses which the people of Israel can expect on the basis of the keeping or disobeying the laws in 12—26.  Chapters 29—30 admonish the people of Israel to follow the same instructions, indicating in the paragraph prior to our pericope that keeping the instructions is not impossible.

Key Words
Vv. 15, 16, 18, 19.  hayyôm = “today”:  The use of the word throughout the book conveys the contemporary nature of YHWH’s address to Israel. It gives the impression the book is intended to preach to the people of a different day from that of Moses.

Vv. 15, 19.  chayyîm = “life”:  The choice God offers is between life and death, between good and harm. As the pericope progresses to its end, the real issue is worship of YHWH over against the worship of other deities; thus “YHWH is your life and length of days,” and idols are death and harm.

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Philemon 1-21
On the basis of our common faith in Christ, God changes the nature of all relationships so that even slaves and masters become siblings in Christ.

Key Words
V. 10.  Onēsimon = “Onesimus”: The name means “useful, allowing Paul to play on word in the following verse where euchrēston = “useful” is used to describe one who is named “Useful.” See also v. 20 where Paul uses the related word onaimēn where it is translated by RSV/NRSV as “benefit.”

V. 10.  Onesimos:  At Col. 4:9 he is called “the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of yourselves.” This verse is sometimes used to demonstrate that Philemon released his slave in order to join in the missionary work of the gospel.

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Luke 14:25-33
As a warning to those multitudes who would casually follow Jesus, Christ asserts that discipleship means the willingness to forsake all other relationships, one’s self, and possessions that might cause conflict of interest.

Context
The preceding verses told of Jesus’ instruction to the Pharisees at the dinner to which he was invited.  That instruction concluded with the Parable of the Great Banquet at which he emphasized the invitation of the kingdom to people of various sorts and in a variety of places. Now once more, Jesus defines the radical cost of discipleship.

Parallel Passages:  Matthew 10:37-38; Mark 10:29

Key Words
V. 26.  ei tis … ou misei = “if someone … does not hate”:  For misein as the opposite of agapēn = “love,” see 16:13. For hate as the attitude of outsiders toward Christians, see 6:22, 27.  Compare Genesis 29:30-33 where because Jacob is said to have loved Rachel more than Leah, the latter is said to be “hated.”  Likewise, in a similar situation at Deut. 21:15-17 the wife who is not loved is “disliked” (RSV/NRSV), a trans. of the verb misein. The version of this verse at Matt. 10:37 softens the condition by describing the problem as “loving more” the family member than Jesus. [Mark’s version is the least offensive since it speaks only of leaving family members “for my sake and the gospel” (Mark 10:29)]. In any case, the content follows from Jesus’ demands at 12:52-53 and his call to discipleship at 9:59-62. The difficulty is balancing this demand to “hate” family members with the command to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Luke 10:27) and to acknowledge our closest neighbors as the members of our families. Further, the author of 1 John writes that people who say they love God but “hate” (misē) their neighbors are liars (1 John 4:20). Indeed, the author interprets God’s command as follows: “those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also” (v. 21).

V. 26.  ou dynatai einai mou mathētēs = “will not be able to be my disciple”:  The exact words repeated at vss. 27, 33.  Note the use of dynatai at 16:13 where “love” and “hate” appear as well in the context of God or mammon.

V. 26. eti te kai tēn psychēn heautou = “and yes, even his own life”: The words reflect Jesus’ teaching about cross-bearing at Mark 8:34: “let them deny themselves.” The prayer that Jesus taught the disciples to pray contains the words “your will be done” as an indication of self-surrender to God’s will.

V. 27.  hostis ou bastazei ton stauron heautou = “whoever does not bear his own cross”:  Recall 9:23.  stauros means an upright stake, used in ancient times as a means of torture and death by impaling or crucifying the victim.  Bastazein = carry” has no particular meaning in Luke.

V. 33.  pas ex hymōn hos ouk apotassetai pasin tois heautou hyparchousin = “whoever among you does not say farewell to everything that belongs to him”:  Note that apotassō = “say farewell” is used in the same sense at 9:61.  The same teaching appears at 12:33-34 where the treasures of this earth fail but that of the kingdom of heaven remains. At 18:22 Jesus commands the ruler to sell everything he owns and give it to the poor so that he “will have treasure in heaven.” However, at 18:30 Jesus implies that by leaving everything that he lists in our pericope a person will “get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” In Luke’s second volume, the Book of Acts, he reports the fidelity of early Christians to these demands of Jesus (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37).

Wrestling with the Word, episode 88: Lectionary 22 (14 Pentecost), Year C (August 29, 2010) August 10, 2010

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Lectionary 22 (14 Pentecost)

We spend a lot of time in church preaching and teaching about how to become better Christians. How does a good Christian act? Who are the role models for Christians? Good questions! Good issues to discuss. But for a moment, let’s not sweat the small stuff. Let us go for the big one: what would happen if God were our role model?  How does God act? How would we act if we were God? It sounds sacrilegious. Interestingly, the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, called on his readers to “be imitators of God, as beloved children.” What would it be like to imitate God? What would you do if God put divine identity and responsibility, even power, into your hands? May I read your minds? You are saying to yourselves, “I’d mess things up. The world would be more of a mess than it already is.” Maybe you’ve seen the movie “Bruce Almighty” where that is precisely what happens. But there is more to being like God, as our lessons for the day demonstrate.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 88: Lectionary 22 (14 Pentecost), Year C.

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Psalm 112
The psalm, like Psalm 1, 19, 119, and others, is a wisdom psalm, written as an acrostic in which each half-verse begins with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Its purpose is to instruct believers in righteous behavior and to promise rewards, that is, the Lord’s blessings, on their obedience. Living in the midst of darkness and evil tidings at the hands of their oppressors, the righteous demonstrate their fidelity to the Lord’s covenant by the way they conduct their lives. God is righteous. God’s people are righteous! God cares for the vulnerable. God’s people imitate God. Dealing generously with others and lending them money, conducting business with justice, acting with graciousness and mercy, giving to the poor—all result from their delight in the Lord’s commandments (recall Psalm 1:2; 111:2; 119:24 and often). The rewards promised for their righteousness include respected and blessed descendants, wealth and riches, security, fearlessness, and honored strength (exalted horn). The expectations for the “wicked” will result in such opposites that their fury will spell their end.

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Proverbs 25:6-7
Humility in the presence of royalty is far better than arrogance and haughtiness.

Context
These two verses conclude the first section of Book II in the Book of Proverbs.  According to the first verse in this chapter, “these also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.”  The cluster with which the second book begins contains four teachings about royalty.  Thus they are examples of royal wisdom taught to those who are to grow up as functionaries, even as princes, in the royal court.  These proverbs, like the rest of wisdom sayings, intend to educate youth in the ways of success.

Key Words
V. 6.  ‘al-hithhaddar liphnê-melek = “do not honor yourself in the presence of a king”:  RSV’s and NRSV’s “put yourself forward” does not do justice to the issue at hand, namely honoring oneself rather giving honor to others, e.g., the elderly (see Lev. 19:32).

V. 7.  mēhašpîlekā liphnê nādîb = “than to be humiliated in the presence of a noble”:  See among many other examples Prov. 29:23.  See the same use of the verb, even in a different form, at Isa. 2:9; 5:15.

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Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
The constancy of God lies at the heart of all that is expected of us in our relationship of praise to God and in our sharing with one another.

Context
The author of the epistle brings his major arguments to a conclusion at the end of chapter 12 with a call to be grateful for God’s gift of an unshakeable kingdom.  Now he turns to the conclusion of the work with exhortations, admonitions, and benediction.

OT Allusions and Quotations
V. 2.  “show hospitality … angels unawares”:  Recall Abraham at Gen. 18:1-8 and Lot at Gen. 19:1-11. For philoxenia/philoxenos = “hospitality” in NT, see Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9.

V. 3.  “those in prison”:  Recall the call in God’s kingdom to release the prisoners at Isa. 61:1; in Jesus’ prophecy about the day of judgment, recall the favor given to those who visited prisoners (Matt. 25:36, 39).

V. 4.  “marriage bed undefiled”:  Recall the commandment against adultery at Exod. 20:14.

V. 5.  “free from the love of money”:  Recall the fickleness of money and riches at Prov. 28:22; in NT see the exhortations at 1 Tim. 3:3, 6:10.

V. 5.  “never fail you nor forsake you”:  The expression sounds like Deut. 31:6, 8 where “the Lord your God will not fail you or forsake you”; for the same promise in the first person, see Josh. 1:5; cf. also the Lord’s promise to Jacob at Gen. 28:15. The resurrected Jesus makes a similar promise to the disciples in connection with “the great commissioning” at Matt. 28:20.

V. 6.  “The Lord is my helper …”:  The same confession occurs at Ps. 118:6-7 and is also similar to the confidence of the Servant at Isa. 50:9.

V. 8.  “the same”:  See Ps. 102:27 in the context of a confession in YHWH’s endurance even over the heavens and the earth that YHWH created. The blessing for those who make such confession are secure lives for themselves and a posterity that dwells in God’s presence.

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Luke 14:1, 7-14
Jesus points to the vision of the kingdom banquet in order to redefine table manners and guest lists here and now.

Context
Still on his fateful journey between Galilee and Jerusalem, Jesus had just been warned by Pharisees that Herod was out to kill him.  Jesus sent them off with a message to Herod that Jerusalem and his house are about to be destroyed.

Key Words
V. 1.  “into the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees to dine”:  For dining with Pharisees on other occasions see Luke 7:36; 11:37.  For dining occasions with other hosts, see 5:29; 10:38-42.  For meals at which Jesus is host see 9:13-17; 22:14; 24:30.

V. 1.  “and they were watching him”:  Note their observations of Jesus at 11:54; 20:20, in both cases with a view to catching him at something they could report to the authorities.

V. 7.  prōtoklisias = “the places of honor” beside the host of a dinner:  See also Matt. 23:6; Mark 12:39; Luke 20:46 (one of the practices for which the scribes will be condemned).

V. 11.  “exalts … be humbled … humbles … be exalted”:  For the opposites caused by the action of God, see Ezek. 17:24; 21:31; Matt. 23:12; Luke 18:14; Phil. 2:6-11; cf. Luke 1:52. In the spirit of the first lesson, recall also the beatitudes at Matt. 5:1-11 and Luke 6:20-26.

V. 12.  kai genētai antapodoma soi = “and repayment be yours”:  The word occurs in the good sense of “reward” (Isa. 1:23 [LXX] and here) or in the negative sense of “retribution” (usual in LXX and Romans 11:9).  The verb form appears in positive sense twice in v. 14.

V. 13. “But when you give a feast”: In light of Jesus’ statement in v. 14 about the resurrection, God’s hosting a feast comes to mind. At Isa. 25:6-8, the prophet envisions a feast that God will host “for all people” at which God will swallow up death and the invitees will enjoy the delicacies of meat and wine.

V. 13.  “the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind”:  The same foursome appears at v. 21.  The “poor” (ptōchoi) have been a special concern in Luke’s Gospel since 4:18.  On “lame” (chōloi) and “blind” (typhloi) and “poor” (ptōchoi), see Luke 7:22 where their reversal of fortune at the hands of Jesus signifies the presence of the kingdom of God.  See Mic. 4:6-7.

V. 14.  “and you will be blessed”:  See the promise of God at Deut. 14:28-29 where God’s blessing the work of the people is the reward for tithing the harvest so that the Levites, the sojourners, the orphans and the widows might eat.

V. 14.  en tē anastasei tōn dikaiōn = “at the resurrection of the righteous”:   See Dan. 12:2-3 for resurrection of both righteous and wicked; for the promise of resurrection elsewhere in Luke, see 20:35.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 87: Lectionary 21 (13 Pentecost), Year C (August 22, 2010) August 3, 2010

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Lectionary 21 (13 Pentecost)

Far from programming us to live our days as mindless robots, God gives us freedom to make choices. Those freedoms, the Bible tells us, force us to make responsible decisions about priorities for doing the will of God. Our lessons for this day challenge us to choose between two of God’s commandments when they conflict with each other: the keeping of the sabbath and the love for our neighbors.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 87: Lectionary 21 (13 Pentecost), Year C.

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Psalm 103:1-8
The psalm is a combination of a thanksgiving and hymn. It begins by calling upon the poet’s innermost being to bless the Lord for forgiving the individual’s sins and healing diseases, saving the worshiper from the clutches of death, and crowning the redeemed person with God’s loyalty and mercy. In verse 6 the psalm moves into the hymn, describing God as the one who establishes justice for the oppressed, even as the Lord revealed the entire torah to Moses. The words of verse 8 echo the self-revelation of God to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:6). As the psalm continues, the experience of the individual and the call to praise extends to the whole universe.

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Isaiah 58:9b-14
God promises the people of Israel divine guidance, light, restoration of city, delight, and nourishment on the conditions that they treat one another with respect and sharing and that they honor the Lord’s sabbath.

Context
The prophet called Third Isaiah faced the difficult problem of preaching the faithfulness of God when the experience of the people was still God’s absence.  The Lord’s absenteeism was all too prevalent during the exile in Babylon, and there it led to the refinement of the lament form.  The expectation preached by Second Isaiah was that the Lord would take them home and that their homecoming would coincide with the unambiguous reign of God over the world.  When they did return to Jerusalem sometime after 538 B.C., however, the scene was a far cry from God’s reign.  Some of the situation is described here.

Key Words
V. 10.  wetāphēq lārā‘ēb naphšekâ [lachmekâ] = “and (if) you pour out yourself [your food] for the hungry”:  The reading of NRSV in brackets is based on Syriac manuscripts; cf. v. 7. The parallelism “and satisfy life of the afflicted” does will fit either reading; the point is obviously the caring of the poor.

V. 10.  wezārach bachōšek ’ôrekā = “then your light will shine in the darkness”:  Whose light will shine? The temptation is to consider YHWH to be “your light” on the basis of 60:1 where “your light” stands in synonymous parallelism with “the glory of the Lord” and 10:17 where “the light of Israel” is parallel to “his Holy One” (cf. 9:2); above all, see 58:8 where “your light” appears to be the same as “your healing,” “your vindicator,” and “the glory of the Lord.”  On the other hand, see wisdom of Job’s friend Zophar at Job 11:17.

V. 11.  wehisbîa‘ betsachtsāchôt naphšekâ = “and he will satisfy your life in parched places”:  Compare this act of God with the expectation in verse 10 regarding the care of the needy.

V. 12.  weqōrā’ lekā gōdēd perets mešōbēb netîbôt lāšābet = “and you shall be called Repairer Of The Breach, Restorer Of Streets To Live In”:  Consider the various names by which Israel and the land will be called thanks to Yahweh’s acts:  “the City of God, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (60:14); “My Delight Is In Her,” “Married” (62:4); “The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord,” “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken”(62:12).

Vv. 13-14.  weqārā’tā laššabbāt ‘ōneg liqdōš YHWH mekubbād  … ’az tit‘annag ‘al-YHWH = “if you call the sabbath a delight, the holy (one) of the Lord honorable … you shall delight in the Lord”:  The blessings correspond to the behavior as is typical of ancient Semitic thinking: What one does comes back to roost on one’s own head. With the repetition of the sabbath here following 56:2, the emphasis on the sabbath frames this section of the book. Surprisingly, prophetic references to the sabbath are few. The speech attributed to Jeremiah at 17:19-27 shows a similar benefit for the people by keeping the sabbath, but there the emphasis, like that of Exodus 16, focuses on the prohibition against work on that day. (For other judgment speeches regarding work and business on the sabbath, see Ezek. 20:12-26; 22:8;, 26; 23:28; Amos 8:5.) On the other hand, the prophet Isaiah reports God’s word that repudiates the sabbaths and new moons and appointed feasts in favor of seeking justice, correcting oppression, and caring for the orphans and the widows (Isa. 1:12-17).

V. 14. kî pî YHWH dibbēr = “for the mouth of the Lord has spoken”: The effectiveness of God’s word—so common in Second Isaiah—assures the people that the prophecy will come true.

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Hebrews 12:18-29
In contrast to the people of Israel who had come to Mount Sinai, Christians have come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, to Jesus, in order to thank and praise God for an unshakeable kingdom.

Context
Having cited his cloud of witnesses in terms of the Old Testament examples of faith, the author opened chapter 12 with demonstrating that Jesus is the example to be followed, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  The writer indicates that Jesus’ example guides them through times of persecution and challenges them to pursue peace with one another. His concluding words of our pericope call the grateful people of God to “an acceptable worship with reverence and awe.”

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Luke 13:10-17
In response to the needs of the crippled woman, Jesus healed her, even though the law about the sabbath was interpreted to exclude such acts of mercy to people.

Context
Prior to our pericope Jesus had told the parable of the fig tree, indicating the nature of God’s grace to allow sinners one more chance.  Following our pericope Jesus told parables about the kingdom of God:  the Mustard Seed (verses 18-19), the Yeast (verses 20-21), and then teaching about the narrow door which is the entrance to the kingdom of God (verses 22-30).  The context of the last day and the kingdom sets the sabbath law within a brand new understanding.

Key Words
V. 10.  “on the sabbath”:  The pericope focuses not merely on the healing but on the sabbath, particularly Exod. 20:9-10.  The sabbath day played an important role in the stories about Jesus. Elsewhere in Luke, see 4:16, 31; 6:1-5, 6-11; 14:1ff. Clearly Jesus’ repudiation of the sabbath law in chapters 6 and 13 (here) was an issue in the early church that decided on the first day of the week, the day of resurrection, as the day for worship.

V. 11.  gynē pneuma exousa = “a woman having a spirit”:  In verse 16 that “Satan had bound her for eighteen years” indicates the origin of spirits in the New Testament world.  That Satan and his spirits stand against the kingdom of God is attested many times in the gospel stories.

V. 15.  Hypokritai = “Hypocrites”:  The word was used by the Greeks for actors on the stage.  At 6:42 the word describes people who make judgments on others, and at 12:56 Jesus uses the word for the crowds who do not know how to interpret the times.  hyopkrisis = “hypocrisy” at 12:1 is directed at the  Pharisees.

V. 17. autou katēskynonto pantes hoi antikeimenoi autō, kai pas ho ochlos echairen = “all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced”: The use of opposites in Luke’s Gospel is a common method for announcing the effects of kingdom that Jesus came to inaugurate: mighty—low, humble—rich, rich—poor, etc.