Bow your heavens, O Lord,
and come down;
touch the mountains so that
I will sing a new song to you,
upon a ten-stringed harp,
I will play to you....
(Psalm 144:5, 9)
2 Kings 9:14-10:31
Jehu, after having been secretly anointed by Elisha, led his supporters to where the wounded King Joram, had returned. King Ahaziah of Judah was also visiting there. The two kings went out to meet Jehu on the property that had been taken from Naboth. Jehu slayed both kings and ordered the murder of Jezebel. Further bloodbath ensued. To please Jehu, seventy sons of Ahab were killed, as were the entire household--leaders, close friends, and priests. Jehu then had worshipers of Baal killed and their temple destroyed.
The Lord tells Jehu that he had done well and that four generations would rule Israel. But, Jehu continued in the tradition of not following the law of the Lord the God of Israel with all his heart and instead continued to sin as Jeroboam had.
Our modern question is whether the Lord actually approved of the slaughter.
Paul stood in front of the Areopagus in Athens. I looked it up. The word means "Temple of Ares (god of war)" or "Mars" (another name for Ares) Hill." This building in Paul's time was the meeting place for the highest judicial and legislative council.
He begins by complimenting the Athenians on how religious they are. Or is he being a little snarky when he says that they worship even an unknown god?
He continues "Although you may not know the god you worship, I can tell you about the God who made the world, everything in it, a God not confined to any building, a God who does not need anything but instead provides everything."
Paul then tells them that God is the source and director of all people, and that while we may be looking for God, God is not far from us.
The one-God part may have been difficult for the Athenians to grasp. We moderns on the other hand may not be able to admit how many temples of unknown gods we spend time in and money on. We think our jobs are important, as are our leisure activities. Like the ancients, we also search for meaning or affirmation or security, physical or psychological, and, of course, amusement.
And like them, God is not far from us--even when we are looking in the wrong direction. God has created us--all of us--and continues to provide us life.
Paul had been raised as a Jew and had lived among Jews. So, A god not made by human hands would have been a basic, long-accepted truth for him--but not so for the Athenians. As would the existence of God not lots of gods.
Paul is talking to people who would not have been brought up on the Scriptures that had formed and nurtured his understanding.
They may not have known about God, but God knows about them. "We are God's offspring," he tells them. It's hard for some of us to go this far. Although like Paul, we may believe that God created them since God created everything, we still aren't quite ready to accept that non-Christians are also God's children.
Paul then talks about the future, what is necessary for them and for all of us to do--Repent. We might be able to plead ignorance if we really had not been told something, but once we have been told, ignorance is no longer a valid excuse or even explanation. Paul tells them, "The day is coming when God will appoint a man to judge the world in righteousness."
What we do does matter. We will be judged. And since we will be judged righteously, that's the way we should be behaving.
"You can be assured of this," Paul tells them, "because he has raised this judge from the dead."
Also see John Holbert's commentary, Interreligious Dialogue or Interreligious Monologue?
One who spares words is knowledgeable;
one who is cool in spirit has understanding.
Even fools who keep silent are considered wise;
when they close their lips, they are deemed intelligent.
Prayer for Today: God, turn us away from relying on earthly successes to recognize our dependence on you. Help our belief. Amen.
Prayer for Today: