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.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Reflection on readings for August 29

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people;
from those who are deceitful and unjust
deliver me!
(Psalm 43:1)

Job 31:1-33:33
Job gives a list of sins that would deserve being punished and asserts his innocence of each one of them. For example, he hasn't been unfaithful to his wife or told lies or mistreated his slaves or withheld anything from the poor or widows.

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have nothing to say. A fourth accuser appears, Elihu, who is angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He says, "Since I am young, I gave you others the change to impart some wisdom, but you didn't. So, I will." Elihu demands that Job is wrong to claim that he is sinless because God can't be wrong. God forgives sinners who admit that they have sinned.

2 Corinthians 3:1-18
Since Paul's understanding of the purpose of Moses' veil differs from that of the version in Exodus, we are prompted to wonder why. Boring & Craddock, in their New Testament Commentary, suggest that Paul thought that the veil like other components of Jewish religious faith were not necessary for Christians.

For Paul, none of us need to be protected from a view of the glory of the Lord. The New Interpreter's Study Bible suggests that Paul may be referring to the new covenant as described by Jeremiah, "No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, 'Know the Lord.' for they shall all know me...." (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

When we try to get a modern meaning from an ancient text, we really ought to spend some effort on thinking about what the text meant when it was written--in this case: what was the underlying problem that Paul was addressing.

Allen & Williamson, in Preaching the Letters are helpful. Paul is trying to overcome the problems he believes that the super apostles have caused in Corinth. He is rebutting claims that they have made about him:
....The other missionaries have incorrectly used Exodus 34:29-34. Paul speaks with great boldness, that is, not viewed but frankly and publicly. The super apostles imitate Moses, but not in the way they think they do. According to Paul, they speak from behind a veil, preventing the community "from gazing at the end of the glory." In other words, they prevent the congregation from seeing clearly the nature of the coming realm of God beside which the glory so prized by the super apostles will fail. Therefore, the super apostles and those who follow them are "hardened against the purposes of God in the same way as Pharaoh."
Psalm 43:1-5
Many times when we pray, we are expressing gratitude for what has already been provided for us. But, sometimes, we are in situations of despair, of loss, of fear. Psalm 43 gives us the words to pray to God when we have been treated unfairly.

We ask for defense and for refuge.  And when we need defense and refuge, we turn to God. We ask God to spread light on our situation so we will know what we should do. We have known this, and we have to re-know it from time to time.

Caution: William Holladay, in Long Ago God Spoke, reminds us that the word translated as soul, nepes, should not be understood as some religious part of us but rather as all that makes up our total being.

Proverbs 22:8-9
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of anger will fall.
Those who are generous are blessed.

Prayer for Today: In times of frustrating despair, pray the words of Psalm 43.

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