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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reflection on readings for September 16

O grant us help against the foe,
for human help is worthless.
(Psalm 60:11)

Isaiah 22:1-24:23
Walter Brueggemann, in his commentary on Isaiah 1-39: After reading the harsh oracles against the foreign nations, we are presented with an equally harsh one against Jerusalem and Judah. When the enemy threatened, Jerusalem built up defenses but did not bother to turn to Yahweh. They celebrated victory when the enemy departed but did not mourn their leaders who had deserted them but then been captured. The oracle condemns the bad steward who had not used his authority correctly. The Lord will appoint a new steward who will keep Jerusalem secure.

Oracles against foreign natures resume. Patricia Tull, in Women's Bible Commentary, points out the insults against Tyre employ sexual imagery and innuendo, an aging and forgotten prostitute who will return to her trade. Tull comments on the timeliness of this metaphor:
More than a million young women, and even girls, are enticed from home every year by the promise of jobs...and find themselves violently forced into foreign brothels, the earnings from their sufferings benefitting captors....
After the oracles against specific nations, Isaiah warns that the Lord is about to lay waste to the earth.

Galatians 2:17-3:9
To whom is Paul speaking in these verses? To the Galatians or to Peter?

In verse 14, Paul is quoting himself in what he said to Peter in a rebuke, "If you, a Jew, live like a Gentile, where do you get off asking Gentiles to be more Jewish than you are?"

So, in verse 15, when Paul says "We ourselves are Jews by birth," I'm suggesting that he's still quoting what he had said directly to Peter.

"You and I, Peter, believe in Christ Jesus. Although we, as Jews, had been entrusted with the law, the understanding of how God wanted us to live, we now know that God has a way of including not only Jews but others, as well."

BTW, Carl R. Holladay, in Preaching through the Christian Year C, reminds us that Jews already knew that no one is justified by works of the law (e.g., Psalm 143:2; Habakkuk 2:4; Genesis 15:6).

Although these words may have been addressed to Peter, they are of course part of his argument he is using to counteract the attempts of the Judaizers who had followed him to the Galatian congregation and tried to convert the new Christians to Judaism. Paul is asserting that Christians do not have to become Jews in order to be Christians.

"It is Christ who lives in me...I live by faith in the Son of God....I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing."

Tangent from Holladay: We usually read "faith in Christ" in verse 16 to mean that we place our faith and trust in him. Some recent commentators have pointed out that this phrase in Greek is more literally translated to mean the faith that Christ has. Holladay sums it up, "This places greater stress on the work of Christ in our behalf than on our faith in our own behalf."

Psalm 60:1-12

Proverbs 23:15-16
My child, if your heart is wise,
my heart too will be glad.
My soul will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, guide us into right decisions. Open us to the grace you are offering. Amen.

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