It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reflection on readings for July 26

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
(Psalm 20:1)

2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34
The king preferred favorable comments from his prophets. Some prophets prefer to tell the king what he wants to hear. Results may turn out not so well.

Romans 9:25-10:13
The righteousness that come from the law is one thing according to verse 5; the righteousness that comes from faith is something else, according to verse 6-8. But, this is not an argument about which is superior--Judaism or Christianity, because both arguments come from what Christians call the Old Testament. Jewish arguments presented for an aid to understanding Christianity?

Righteousness from the law: see Leviticus 18:5, You shall keep my statues and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord.

Righteousness is not something human beings are capable of achieving on their own. God's help is necessary: see Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it? No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

Faith is in your heart but cannot be confined there. As Boring & Craddock put it in their People's New Testament Commentary: "'Internal' faith without 'external' confession is as defective as external pretense without faith in the heart...."

The prophet Joel goaded his Jerusalem listeners: Be aware, the Day of the Lord is coming. Repent, return to the Lord. Be glad and rejoice in God. Joel told them that good times would replace the devastation they they had been experiencing. Then he said, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." For I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem" (Joel 2:32).

Centuries later, Paul quotes this prophet, Romans 10:13.

Many have read this promise stated by Paul as an exclusionary statement. They assert that Paul is saying "Only those who believe that Jesus is Christ and Lord are included in God's promises." Others, influenced by verse 12, read Paul's remarks as inclusionary rather than exclusionary. "You, even you, are included. You don't have to be a Jew to be part of God's promises."

Psalm 20:1-9
The psalmist is addressing the King who is going into battle
--Here is my prayer to the Lord for you.
May the Lord answer you when you call for help.
May the Lord accept your offerings.
May the Lord grant your requests and fulfill your plans.

We want and need the king to defeat our enemies. We acknowledge that the king needs God's help.

Our enemies, on the other hand, says the psalmist, depend on chariots and horses. They fail. We, who depend on God, succeed.

We might ponder how we apply Bible scriptures written in a different society and different time to our own situations. In countries like mine with no king, how do we read that question? Who is king for us? What does the term anointed mean to us? Are there any modern-day equivalents?

Another tangent--I'm struck by the last verse, "Give victory to the king, O Lord; answer us when we call." The psalmist seems to recognize that the king's victory is not the end of the story. Rather, we still have request of the Lord, and, even after the king's success, we want the Lord to respond to our prayers.

Yet another tangent--and a reward for those who kept reading to this point. I'm reading Walter Brueggemann's Out of Babylon that calls Americans to consider how attached we are to being a modern-day Babylon. Here's an excerpt from a review:
It was the center of learning, commerce, wealth, and religion. Devoted to materialism, extravagance, luxury, and the pursuit of sensual pleasure, it was a privileged society. But, there was also injustice, poverty, and oppression. It was the great and ancient Babylon—the center of the universe. And now we find Babylon redux today in Western society. Consumer capitalism, a never-ending cycle of working and buying, a sea of choices produced with little regard to life or resources, societal violence, marginalized and excluded people, a world headed toward climactic calamity. Where are the prophets—the Jeremiahs—to lead the way out of the gated communities of overindulgence, the high rises of environmental disaster, and the darkness at the core of an apostate consumer society?
Proverbs 20:2-3
The dread anger of a king is like the growling of a lion;
anyone who provokes him to anger forfeits life itself.
It is honorable to refrain from strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, we yearn for our own comfort, we pray for your support. Remind us now that others are in need today, that you can use us to extend your help to them. Amen.

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