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Wrestling with the Word, episode 96: Lectionary 30 (22 Pentecost), Year C (October 24, 2010) October 19, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
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Lectionary 30 (22 Pentecost)

One of the last, if not indeed the final, message Martin Luther wrote in his deathbed was one of his most profound and succinct expressions of the gospel of Jesus Christ: “We are beggars, that is true.” As he lay dying, Luther anticipated what it would be like to stand before the Almighty and Enthroned God. What could he offer to escape the well-deserved judgment of God? What can any of us offer that would compensate for our lives as rebels against God’s honor? Our lessons for this Sunday steer us along several related courses as we make our pilgrimages through life.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 96: Lectionary 30 (22 Pentecost), Year C.


Psalm 84:1-7
The psalm belongs to the category of Zion psalms and was probably used by, and for, pilgrims who were entering the temple for some festival like the Feast of Tabernacles. Particularly striking is the awe the pilgrim experiences after longing for this next visit to the temple where the Lord was present in a particular way: seated as King on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. The worshiper finds comfort in observing the birds fly here and there within the Temple structures, acknowledging that even they find security and comfort in the near presence of God.  As for the pilgrims “dwelling” in the precincts during this festival time, they express their blessedness in song. Strikingly, even though the journey to Mount Zion was filled with physical challenges and with some fear, the pilgrims experienced along the way the blessings still to come—watering holes filled by the “early rain.” They even increased their strength on the journey rather than became weary, because they knew God would appear to them in Zion.


Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22
Because the people of Israel had so dishonored God by their infidelities with other gods, the Lord rejects their lament and their confession and continues toward the judgment of the city and land.

In Jeremiah’s day, the people of God in Israel and in Judah experienced tragic times. The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and so God’s promise of the land came to a crushing disconnect. While the Assyrians controlled Judah for the following century, other countries were vying for control of the land. Egypt defeated and controlled the land for a few years, but in 605 B.C. the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians, and Judah now belonged to Babylon. In 597 B.C., Nebuchadrezzar’s armies crushed an uprising and carried leading citizens off to Babylon as exiles. In 587, the Judeans revolted again Nebuchadrezzar again responded, this time destroying the temple and the walls of the city, besides carrying off more people to exile. During this entire period, the Lord seemed to have reneged on promises: the land, the Davidic dynasty, the temple, and the city of Jerusalem. In the process, God appeared to have abandoned the covenant with the people of Israel. The laments from the people rose to heaven, and so did those of Jeremiah whom God had called as a prophet to “pluck up and to break down” (Jer. 1:4-10). It is possible that 14:1—15:21 reports a dialogue between God and Jeremiah who speaks both his own words and those of the people: Jeremiah speaks in 14:2-9, 13, 19-22; 15:10, 15-18; God speaks in 14:10-12, 14-18; 15:1-9, 11-14, 19-21.

Key Words
V. 7. YHWH ‘aseh lema‘an šemekā = “O, Lord, act for your name’s sake”: The call on God to act for lamenters on the basis of his own identity is common in such laments (see Ps. 25:11; 31:3; 143:11). The expression will return in v. 21.

V. 8. miqwēh yisrā’ēl mewōšî‘ô be’ēt tsārâ = “O Hope of Israel, its Savior in time of trouble”: Throughout the Bible the people of Israel expressed their hope in the Lord (see v. 22; Ps. 39:7). Here, however and elsewhere (17:13; 50:7) their hope is the Lord. As for the title “Savior,” the root of the word means “wide, spacious” and seem to point to freedom from confinement (see Exod. 3:8).

Vss. 8-9. lāmâ = “why?” The question is typical of laments as people struggle with the apparent absence of God during their tribulations. See, e.g., Ps. 10:1; 22:1 (Heb. v. 2). Another common word for the same interrogative (maddûa‘) appears at v. 19.

V. 9. kegibbōr lō’-yûkal lehôšîa‘ = “like a hero who cannot save”: This ridicule against the lord will one day fly in their faces when God comes to take the exiles in Babylon home (Isa. 50:2).

V. 9. we’attâ beqirbēnû YHWH = “But you (are) in our midst, O YHWH”: The conjunction can mean “and,” “but,” or often “yet.” The expression often appears in psalms of lament in the midst of the questions and complaints; see Ps. 22:3, 9, 19.

V. 20. kî chātā’nû lāk = “for we have sinned against you”: The same confession appeared in v. 7.

V. 22. magšimîm = “that bring rain”: The word serves two purposes here. First, it appears to connect this lament with the setting described in 14:1, namely, that this word of God came to Jeremiah “concerning the drought” (see vs. 2-4). Second, the people had spent centuries idolizing Baal, the Canaanite god, as the fertility deity who brings rain. That devotion now lay at the heart of their rejection by YHWH.


2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Having finished the race and fought the good fight, the author/apostle faces an imminent death fully hopeful of the prize, “the crown of righteousness,” and thankful for the Lord’s loyal presence throughout his mission to the gentiles.


Luke 18:9-14
Against those who feel they are righteous in God’s sight, God declares righteous the outcast who brings before God only his confession about his own unworthiness.

The first eight verses of the chapter deal with the importance of incessant prayer to God.  Now appears this parable stressing the importance of approaching God in humility and asking for mercy. The emphasis on Jesus at prayer is again indicated to be a mark of discipleship.

Key Words
V. 9.  tous pepoithotas eph’ heautois hoti estin dikaioi = “those who were convinced about themselves that they were righteous”:  The lawyer in 10:29 tried to “justify himself” by asking Jesus to identify his neighbor. At 16:15, Jesus told the Phatisees “who were lovers of money, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others.” The use of dikaios here paves the way for the contrast made by the Pharisee about the “unjust” (adikoi) in v. 11 and for the judgment made by Jesus at the conclusion (dedikaiōmenos) in v. 14.

V. 10.  anebēsan eis to hieron = “went up to the temple”:  Pilgrims always “went up” to the temple because of its height on the summit of the mount (see Ps. 24:3; 121:1; 122:1-4).

V. 10.  proseuxasthai = “to pray”:  The author of Luke-Acts begins his book with the people and  Zechariah at prayer in the Temple (Luke 1:8-13) and virtually concludes with Paul at prayer over Publius who lay sick (Acts 28:8).

V. 11.  houtos ho telōnēs = “this tax-collector”:  Tax collectors appear regularly in the Pharisees’ lists of “sinners”:  see 5:30; 7:34; 15:1; 19:2-7.

V. 11.  harpages … moichoi = “robbers … adulterers”:  Listed on either side of the general term adikoi = “unrighteous”; these two groups describe persons who transgress God’s commandments, at least two:  Exod. 20:15 and 14 respectively.

V. 12.  apodekatō = “I tithe all that I get”:  The Torah instructs tithing at Lev. 27:30-33; Num. 18:12; Deut. 14:22-27; 14:28-29. The patriarchal role model is Jacob (Gen. 28:22).

V. 14. dedikaiōmenos = “having been justified”:  The passive indicates that God is the subject of “justifying” and thus emphasizes that any claim to be dikaios = “just(ified)” or “righteous” on one’s own is in error. For the declaration of righteousness or innocence in its profound theological sense, see Isa. 53:11 and Romans 3:24.

V. 14.  “everyone … exalted”:  The same words appear at 14:11 to conclude Jesus’ instruction to the guests at the banquet about seating arrangements;  for OT background, see Ezek. 21:26.