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Wrestling with the Word, episode 99: Lectionary 33 (25 Pentecost), Year C (November 14, 2010) November 7, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
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Lectionary 33 Pentecost 25
I shudder when I think of how I contribute to our country’s consumer spending problem. We have become accustomed to spending on just about everything and to satisfying our needs for instant gratification. We know the problems for the economy that go with that habit we share. At times of personal financial crises, we manage to cover the income loss by continuing our buying on credit, and, well, the results become more obvious all the time. Are we just spoiled? Oblivious to long term results? Or is it because we wait so long for the truly important things in life that we feel a need to treat ourselves in the meantime? God’s promises throughout the Bible are for the long term. They require divine repetition. God works hard to keep our trust in order to deliver the gratification that is still to come.

Download and listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 99: Lectionary 33 (25 Pentecost), Year C.

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Psalm 98
The psalm summons worshipers to join the hymn of all creation because God has done wondrous things on the world’s behalf. The Lord has announced “his victory” (salvation) and revealed “his righteousness (recall Rom. 3:21). The motive for that universal saving event is God’s remembrance of “his steadfast love and faithfulness (chasdō we’emûnātō) to the house of Israel” (v. 3). Like 47, 93, 96-97, and 99, Psalm 98 acclaims the rule of YHWH on the basis of God’s victory (yešû’â in vss. 1, 2, 3) over the enemy. The nature of YHWH’s reign is announced: “he will judge the world with righteousness (tsedeq), and the peoples with equity (mêšārîm).”

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Malachi 4:1-2a
To the post-exilic community in Jerusalem whose social life was disintegrating and when the pious had begun to wonder about the usefulness of serving God, the Lord promises a Day when the wicked will be judged but those who fear the Lord will.

Context
This collection of prophecies is attributed to a certain “Malachi,” although that name is simply the Hebrew word for “my messenger.” The prophecies derive from between 500-450 B.C. on the basis of evidence regarding the religious and social institutions of the time.  The prophets Haggai and Zechariah had promised that when the temple was rebuilt following the return of the exiles from Babylon, the blessings of YHWH would finally become a reality. In fact, the people came to believe that the promised Day of the Lord would occur at the dedication of the new temple. However, after the temple had been rebuilt and the priesthood reestablished, religious and social life became lax and verged on disaster. It seemed to the people that God was absent: “Where is the God of justice?”(2:17). According to the prophet, the people were convinced that, if present at all, YHWH favored the wicked over the righteous.

Key Words
3:15.  gam bāchanû ʼelōhîm = “they put God to the test”:  While God tests humans in many places in the OT, God forbids humans from testing him. At Deut. 6:16 the word for “test” there is nāsâ rather than bāchan as here; however, Psalm 95:9 describes that same incident with the word bāchan.

3:17.  segullâ = “(a king’s) private treasure”: The word appears at Exod. 19:5; Deut. 7:6; 14:2; Ps. 135:4 for the relationship between YHWH and Israel; at 1 Chron. 29:3, however, it refers to the private treasure of a king.

4:1. YHWH tsebāʼōt = “the Lord of hosts”: The title is common in Malachi, Haggai, and Zechariah. The word “hosts” can bear the meaning “armies” or at least military-like powers, and the title is especially appropriate here to point to God’s coming judgment on the wicked.

4:2.  šemeš tsedāqâ ûmarpeʼ biknāpehâ = “sun of righteousness and healing in its wings”: The imagery derives from ancient understandings of the sun with wings that enable it to fly across the sky. The promise of “righteousness” here appears to be God’s response to the people’s question, “Where is the God of justice? (mišpāt)” (2:17). That same lamenting question occurred among the exiles in Babylon: “My justice (mišpāt) is disregarded by my God” (Isa. 40:27).  The promise of healing recalls the lament in Jeremiah’s day when “healing” (//šālōm) were nowhere to be found in the land (Jer. 14:19). Here God promises healing and righteousness to those who fear God’s name, that is, God will answer their laments. The day of the Lord is still to come.

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2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Called to be active in the world, Christians are called to participate in daily work, earning their own living rather than contributing to the idle chaos of the world.

Context
Continuing some of the issues that were raised in 1 Thessalonians regarding the need to be about daily work as they await the coming of our Lord, the author here ostracizes those whose idleness leads to disorderliness.

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Luke 21:5-19
In response to the fascination over the splendor of this age, Jesus speaks of its destruction and adds words of warning about false messiahs who presume to know when the end is coming, about persecutions of disciples, and about the ultimate deliverance of those who remain faithful.

Context
Still teaching the people in the temple, Jesus dealt with the issue of Christ being David’s son and then proceeded to warn his disciples in the hearing of the people about the unscrupulous ways of the scribes.  Immediately prior to our pericope, Jesus commended the poor widow for her temple offering of two copper coins.

Parallel Passages:  Mark 13:5-8, 21-23; Matt. 24:4-8, 23-25

Key Words
Vv. 5-6.  “the temple”:  The destruction of the temple was already a theme in some OT prophets, particularly Jeremiah 7 and 26; also Micah 3:9-12.  Solomon’s temple built was destroyed in 587 B.C.  Rebuilt in 520 B.C. on a modest scale, it was enhanced and enlarged by Herod the Great in 40 B.C.  In this Second Temple Jesus is standing with the people.

V. 8.  mē planēthēte = “not led astray”:  The word appears only here in Luke but see John 7:47; cf. also 1 Cor. 15:33 (from the truth).

Vv. 8-11.  the signs of the end:  see Isa. 19:2; Jer. 4:20; Ezek. 38:19-22; Dan. 2:28; Joel 3:9-14; 2 Chron. 15:6; Rev 2:20; 12:9; 13:14; 18:23; etc.

V. 8.  egō eimi = “I am (he)”:  The claim, even title, comes from God in OT:  see Exod. 3:14; Isa. 43:10-11; 48:12; 52:6. As Son of God, Jesus used the title of himself at Mark 6:50; 14:62; John 8:24, 28 and, of course, the many “I am” sayings in John’s Gospel.

V. 8.  ho kairos ēggiken = “the time is at hand”:  Recall Mark 1:14-15 where it is clear the reference is not to the Messiah but to the reign of God; cf. Zeph. 1:7; Dan. 7:22; Rom. 13:12; Rev. 1:3.

V. 9.  mē ptoēthēte = “do not be afraid”:  The expression occurs often in LXX in regard to the facing of enemies:  Deut. 31:6; 2 Chron. 32:7; Jer. 1:17; Ezek. 3:9.

V. 10.  “Nation will rise against nation”:  2 Chron. 15:6 (contrast Isa. 2:2-4); “kingdom against kingdom”:  see 4 Ezra 13:31.

V. 12.  diōxousin = “they will persecute you”:  See 11:49; Acts 7:52.

V.  12.  hēgemonas = “prefects”:  Gentile governors such as Felix (Acts 23:24–24:27) and Porcius Festus (Acts 24:27–26:32); cf. the persecution of Stephen, Peter, James, and Paul in Acts.

V. 15.  egō gar dōsō hymin stoma kai sophian = “I will give you a mouth and wisdom”:  Recall God’s promises at Exod. 4:15; cf. Jer. 1:7, 9; cf. also Luke 12:11-12.

V. 16. “You will be given up even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends”: The list sounds like those who persecuted Jeremiah for preaching the word of God faithfully (Jer. 11:18-23; 20:10).

V. 18.  “not a hair of your head will perish”:  See 1 Sam. 14:45; 2 Sam. 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52; Acts 27:34.