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Wrestling with the Word, episode 86: Lectionary 20 (12 Pentecost), Year C (August 15, 2010) July 26, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
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Lectionary 20 (12 Pentecost)

Our options for the day are either “Lectionary 20: Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C,” or “Mary, the Mother of our Lord.” I have chosen to discuss the pericopes for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, because in previous episodes I had discussed some of the pericopes for Mary’s special day. If you are celebrating this festival on August 15, 2010, I invite you to listen to the podcast on Luke 1:46-55, Mary’s Magnificat, in Episode 52, Fourth Sunday in Advent, Year C. For the psalm, Psalm 34:1-9, listen to Episode 33, Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B.

So much of the Bible’s view of God runs smack against the views of religious and moral systems, especially when they get tied up with economic and political ideologies. It was as true in biblical times as it is in our day (and has been true over the millennia in between). Preaching and teaching on any of the lessons for this Sunday might raise the hackles of many listeners. However, failing to proclaim the news contained in these lessons throws us into the group of false prophets that Jeremiah emphatically denounces and into the multitudes that Jesus scolded for failing to catch on to the meaning of his mission.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 86: Lectionary 20 (12 Pentecost), Year C.


Psalm 82
The psalm is basically the report of a vision of an event that takes place “in the divine council.” [Psalm 29, 89, Job 1, Isaiah 6; comparisons in Babylon. Canaan. And Egypt] Yahweh, the judge of the assembly, accuses the gods of failing to live up to their divine identity. They have taken the side of the wicked who oppress the poor. Their responsibility as gods is to provide justice for the weak, the orphans, the afflicted, and the destitute. Neither the gods nor their followers, like the idol worshipers at Isaiah 44, 4, 18, have a clue about life and the world. Since the gods have failed to live up to their responsibility, Yahweh announces the verdict: they will lose their divine status and become mortal like human beings. The psalm concludes with a prayer that God establish justice in the earth, because all the nations of the world belong to the One who is known for justice and righteousness.


Jeremiah 23:23-29
Against false prophets who side with the idols, God stands apart from  manipulative attempts, even by those who call themselves prophets, by remaining beyond reach and control.


God makes prophecy true by providing the word and sending the prophet.

The passage is part of a longer section running from v. 9 through 40 that falls under the heading “Concerning the prophets.” It actually includes priests as well from verses 33-40. After explaining their general wickedness and their impending judgment (vv. 9-15), the section details the particular problem:  the prophets fill the people with vain hopes, speaking visions of their own minds rather than the word from the Lord (vv. 16-22).  Following our assigned verses, the problems are that they steal words from one another (v. 30), they say, “Says the Lord,” (v. 31), they prophesy lying dreams and they lead the people astray (v. 32), and behind it all, they are not sent by God (v. 32).

Key Words
V. 23.  ha’elōhê miqqārōb ’ānî … welō’ ’’elōhê mērāchōq = “Am I a god from near … and not a god from far?”:  opposite in LXX:  “I am a god at hand … and not a god far off.”

V. 26.  šeqer = “deception”:  The word appears often in Jeremiah for false prophecy:  5:31; 14:14; 20:6; 27:10, 14, 16; 29:9, 21; perhaps the molten image as the great deception lies at the heart of the problem (10:14 = 51:17).

V. 25.  chālamtî = “I have dreamed”:  In a positive sense, see Jacob (Gen. 28:12); Joseph (Gen. 37:5-10); Daniel (Dan. 1:17); in a false sense, see  Deut. 13:1-6; Zech. 10:2.

V. 26.  tarmît = “deceitfulness”:  See Jer. 8:5 for the people’s deceit; elsewhere for prophets, see 14:14; for the “wicked” generally, see Ps. 119:118.

V. 27.  lehaškîach … še = “to make forget … my name”:  Note later in the same verse,  “their fathers forgot my name for Baal”; opposite is “remember YHWH’s name” at Ps. 119:55; or simply “remember YHWH” at Deut. 8:18; Isa. 64:4; Jer. 51:50; Ezek. 6:9; Zech. 10:9; “not remember” at Judg. 8:34; Isa. 17:10; 57:11.

V. 29.  ’ēš = “fire”:  See note on Luke 12:49 below.

For commentary see Robert P. Carroll, The Book of Jeremiah (Philadelphia:  Westminster, 1986):  463-474.


Hebrews 11:29–12:2
Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who by faith experienced miracles and endured persecutions, Christians look to Jesus to endure hardship so that, with him, they might share in the glory to come.

After defining faith as the opposite of what is seen, the author began his long list of faith examples from the Hebrew Bible.  He illustrated faith by starting with Abel, who though dead is still speaking through faith.  The list continues to include Enoch who did not see death but lives with God, then Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses.  While they did not receive the fulfillment of God’s promise, because of their faith God has reserved a heavenly city for them.

V. 1.  ogkon apothemenoi panta = “let us lay aside every impediment”:  The expression appears only here in the NT.

V. 2.  tēs pisteōs archēgon kai teleiōtēn = “the originator and perfecter of faith”:  The term archēgos appears elsewhere in NT only at 2:10 where Jesus is described as archēgon tēs sōtērias = the originator of salvation.”


Luke 12:49-56
Committed to establishing the promised kingdom, God sent Jesus Christ not merely to save and comfort but to judge the earth as well, pitting even family members against one another.

Still on the way between Galilee and Jerusalem, Jesus turned from speaking to the multitudes (12:1-21) to addressing his disciples about God’s care for them and about God’s desire to give the kingdom to those who are ready.  Now Jesus continues talking to the disciples (vv. 49-53) before turning once again to address the crowds (vv. 54-59).


Parallel Passage:  Matthew 10:34-36

Key Words
V. 49.  pur = “fire”:  The functions of fire in OT are [1] sign of the presence of God (Exod. 3:2; 19:18; Isa. 31:9); [2] purification from disease (Lev. 13:52); [3] ritual purification (Num. 31:23); and [4] judgment (Gen. 19:24; Isa. 33:14; 43:2; Jer. 23:29).

V. 50.  baptisma echō baptisthēnai = “I have a baptism to be baptized (with)”:  See Luke 3:16 where Jesus will baptize with the fire of eschatological judgment. Recall also Jesus’ question to the sons of Zebedee about their ability to endure the baptism that Jesus himself faces (Mark 10:38).

V. 50.  pōs synechomai = “how I am distressed/absorbed”:  The word appears elsewhere in Luke:  4:38 (“tormented” by a high fever; also 28:8); 8:37 (“seized” with terror); 8:45 (the multitudes “crowd” you); 19:43 (enemies “crowd” you); 22:63 (“were holding in custody”). The author uses the word also in Acts: 7:57 (“closed” ears); 18:5 (“absorbed” in the word).

V. 51.  diamerismon = “division, disunity”:  The verb forms follow in vv. 52-53 as the opposite of “peace.” Note the similarity to Micah 7:6 in the description of conflicts that exist, even within families, as they wait for the Day of the Lord.

V. 52.  apo tou nun = “from now on”:  In Luke-Acts, the phrase marks the beginning of the New Age:  1:48; 5:10; 22:18, 69; Acts 18:6.