the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19
The rich queen of Sheba visits Solomon and is overwhelmingly impressed with his wisdom and his displays of wealth. We are told that also all the kings of the earth came to Solomon to hear his wisdom. He was so rich that silver in Jerusalem was as common as stone.
After his death, accusations by some arose that Solomon had enslaved workers to build the impressive structures.
God's law was intended to help humans live the kind of life and to have the kind of community that God wanted them to have. God's law outlined for them how to have the right relationship with God. Yet, being humans, they didn't do so well.
God has a new plan: Christ Jesus. "Those of you who cannot comply with the old law are not required to try. God's Son has dealt with sin. Life in the Spirit of Christ serves as compliance."
Eugene Boring and Fred Craddock, in The People's New Testament Commentary, suggest reading Deuteronomy 30 to remind ourselves of the life-giving original function of the law. They are also helpful in pointing out that the word that the NRSV translates as "flesh" refers to human life as a whole, rather than being limited only to our "lower nature," as translated by the NIV.
We English speakers read "You are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit," and think "He's talking about me. He's making promises to me about my life." Well, so he is, but he's talking to the me that is part of us. The Greek pronoun translated as you is in the plural. Paul is talking to the Christian community. "Church, you're not in the flesh. Church, the Spirit of God dwells in you. Church, God's breath gives you life."
Paul, in this letter addressed to Gentile Christians, discusses their disobedience and their redemption (Chapters 1-4) and their new life in Christ (5-8).
"You have been adopted into the family," Paul says. "You will share in the inheritance." Then Paul gives us a BTW: part of that shared inheritance is suffering.
Sharing in the Spirit does not immunize us against the suffering that is part of creation; but, suffering is not the last word.
Paul believed that the end was coming very soon. We now believe this earth and our attachment to it are going to continue for quite a while. This difference in timetable forces us to consider how we are to interpret Paul's words about hope and patience.
Sources: Reinventing Paul, John G. Gager; Paul and His Letters, Leander E. Keck
Here's what Boring and Craddock say:
God is concerned with saving not only individuals but with all of creation."We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now," Paul writes to the Romans.
Sin also is concerned with the individual and with all creation.
The evil we are experiencing is not the last word.
Through the Spirit, we have a foretaste of what God's new world will be like.
Hope is not just a wish; hope is confidence.
In labor pains? Creation was not complete in a week? I'm making a connection between this verse and Psalm 104:30, "When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground."
A difference--in the psalm, the Spirit creates, but there's no mention of pain.
So, I'm back to the word "groaning." I looked up the word in my Aland dictionary and my Thayer's lexicon and learned that it implies not only groaning but groaning together.
All of creation is groaning. And, according to Paul, even we who have received fruits of the Spirit are also groaning. Groaning while we wait for adoption.
As I read this, I don't think Paul is talking about some life after death, but is talking about a life here on this earth, a life in which the Spirit lives in and through and around us--and we are aware of that presence.
The psalmist lists reasons that he deserved rescue.
Those who do violence to their father and chase away their mother
are children who cause shame and bring approach.
Prayer for Today: O Lord, you have adopted us into your family. You have made us your heirs. Direct us now to use our inheritance in the way you intend. Amen.