Archive for the ‘Micah’ Category

God is More Powerful than Evil   1 comment

Above:  An Orthodox Icon of the Prophet Micah

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Micah 2:1-5 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Ah, those who plan iniquity

And design evil on their beds;

When morning dawns, they do it,

For they have the power.

They covet fields, and seize them;

Houses, and take them away.

They defraud men of their homes,

And people of their land.

Assuredly, thus says the LORD:

I am planning such a misfortune against this clan that you will not be able to free your necks from it.  You will not be able to walk erect; it will be such a time of disaster.

In that day,

One shall recite a poem about you,

And utter a bitter lament,

And shall say:

My people’s portion changes hands;

How it slips away from me!

Our field is allotted to a rebel.

We are utterly ravaged.

Truly, none of you

Shall cast a lot cord

In the assembly of the LORD

Psalm 10:1-9, 18-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Why do you stand so far off, O LORD,

and hide yourself in time of trouble?

2  The wicked arrogantly persecute the poor,

but they are trapped in the schemes they have devised.

3  The wicked boast of their heart’s desire;

the covetous curse and revile the LORD.

4  The wicked are so proud that they care not for God;

their only thought is, “God does not matter.”

5  Their ways are devious at all times;

your judgments are far above out of their sight;

they defy all their enemies.

6  They say in their heart, “I shall not be shaken’

no harm shall happen to me ever.”

7  Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and oppression;

under their tongue are mischief and wrong.

8  They lurk in ambush in public squares

and in secret places they murder the innocent;

they spy out the helpless.

9  They lie in wait, like a lion in a covert;

they lie in wait to seize upon the lowly;

they seize the lowly and drag them away in their net.

18  The LORD will hear the defense of the humble;

you will strengthen their heart and your ears shall hear;

19  To give justice to the orphan and the oppressed,

so that mere mortals may strike terror no more.

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There are Christian understandings (plural) of the mechanics and meaning of the Atonement.  This fact might shock some people, but so be it; “facts are,” as John Adams said, “stubborn things.”  One of these understandings is the Conquest of Satan.  This case, dating to at least Saint Justin Martyr (Second Century), quotes Colossians 1:13 and 2:15, 1 Corinthians 15:25-25, and Romans 8:38-39.  (Thanks to Linwood Urban, A Short History of Christian Thought, Revised and Expanded Edition, 1995, page 108, for much useful information.)

The reading from Micah reminded me of this, minus Jesus, of course.  (The historical figure of Jesus had not been born yet.)  No matter how powerful the powers of evil are or seem to be, God has more might.  ”Evil” is an appropriate adjective for those who “plan iniquity,” covet and seize fields and homes, and defraud people with malice aforethought.   There will be justice, Micah tells us.  The rich, who already have plenty, will pay the price for defrauding the poor.

The battle is not yet finished, of course.  Genocides continue, cruelty has not ended, and white-collar crime involving mind-boggling sums of money persists.  So the suffering of innocents continues.  Yet there will be justice, and the battle is the Lord’s.

So, to quote the Conquest of Satan interpretation of the Atonement, God has made a public example of evil powers, and nothing–not even evil–can separate us from the love of God in Christ.  The conquest of evil is not yet complete, but it has at least begun.

My theology of the Atonement is broader than this understanding, but I do borrow from the Conquest of Satan interpretation.  There is much merit in this aspect of Saint Justin Martyr’s theology.  God is sovereign, despite certain appearances to the contrary.  May we never forget this, and so may we trust in God and live faithfully and confidently in Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 20, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRI NOUWEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ANDREW KIM TAEGON, PAUL CHONG HASANT, AND THEIR COMPANIONS MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF C. (CHALRES) H. (HAROLD) DODD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN COLERIDGE PATTESON, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF MELANESIA, AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF JOHN WESLEY TROUT, FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN U.S. LUTHERAN BISHOP

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on September 20, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/week-of-proper-10-saturday-year-2/

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Reading and Pondering Hosea, Part Four   1 comment

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Image Source = FranzMayerstainedglass

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Prodigal_Son_CHS_cathedral.jpg)

Divine Love

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Hosea 11:1-11 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

I fell in love with Israel

When he was still a child;

And I have called [him] My son

Ever since Egypt.

Thus were they called,

But they went their own way;

They sacrifice to Baalim

And offer to carved images.

I have pampered Ephraim,

Taking them in My arms;

But they have ignored

My healing care.

I drew them with human ties,

With cords of love;

But I seemed to them as one

Who imposed a yoke on their jaws,

Though I was offering them food.

No!

They return to the land of Egypt,

And Assyria is their king.

Because they refuse to repent,

A sword shall descend upon their towns

And consume their limbs

And devour [them] because of their designs.

For My people persists

In its defection from Me;

When it is summoned upward,

It does not rise at all.

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?

How surrender you, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah,

Render you like Zeboiim?

I have had a change of heart,

All My tenderness is stirred.

I will not act on My wrath,

Will not turn to destroy Ephraim.

For I am God, not man,

The Holy One in your midst:

I will not come in fury.

The LORD will roar like a lion,

And they shall march behind Him;

When he roars, His children shall come

Fluttering out of the west.

They shall flutter from Egypt like sparrows,

From the land of Assyria like doves;

And I will settle them in their homes

–declares the LORD.

Hosea 14:2-10 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,

For you have fallen because of your sin.

Take words with you

And return to the LORD.

Say to Him:

Forgive all guilt

And accept what is good;

Instead of bulls we will pay

[The offering of] our lips.

Assyria shall not save us,

No more will we ride on steeds,

Nor ever again will we call

Our handiwork our god,

Since in You alone orphans find pity!

I will heal their affliction,

Generously will I take them back in love;

For My anger has turned away from them.

I will be to Israel like dew;

He shall blossom like the lily,

He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree.

His boughs shall spread out far,

His beauty shall be like the olive tree’s,

His fragrance like that of Lebanon.

They who sit in his shade shall be revived:

They shall bring to life new grain,

They shall blossom like the vine;

His scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim [shall say]:

What more have I to do with idols?

When I respond and look to Him,

I become like a verdant cyprus.

Your fruit is provided by Me.

He who is wise will consider these words,

He who is prudent will take note of them.

For the paths of the LORD are smooth;

The righteous can walk on them,

While sinners stumble on them.

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In Hosea we have another metaphor for the relationship between God and the rebellious people:  parent and child.  Despite the ingratitude on one side and anger on the other, divine love remains.  Elsewhere in Hosea we read of God as the jilted husband.  The constant factor, however, is divine love.

So the rebellious people must face the consequences of their actions yet will not face annihilation.  This stands in contrast to other groups, which perished utterly.  As a Christian, I accept that God loved them also.  Yes, the violent depictions of God in the Bible disturb me; I will neither excuse nor ignore them.  My understanding of God comes from the person of Jesus, who said to love one’s enemies and to pray for one’s persecutors.

Nevertheless the main point remains the love of God (expressed via various metaphors) for us.  May we reciprocate.  May we love the image of God in our fellow human beings. This is often difficult, for anger is a powerful emotion.  Yet love is more powerful, not to mention much healthier.

I can think of a few people I need to contemplate in compassionate and loving ways, not with wrath and indignation.  You, O reader, can probably do the same within your context.  Empowered by grace, may we love not only God and those we like, but also those we dislike, perhaps intensely.  God is also their parent.

I think also of the Prodigal Son’s father.  The father, a stand-in for God, permits the foolish son to make his mistakes then to come home.  The father watches for his son, whom he welcomes back into the fold.  Then the other son, the dutiful one who stayed home, did not welcome his brother back, however.  Who are you in this story?  Are you resentful, not greeting those who have amended their ways?  Or have you come to your senses and corrected your ways?  Maybe the parental role fits better.

Divine love does not prevent us from making mistakes or suffering certain consequences of our misdeeds, but it does welcome us home.  May we, who have benefited from such love, extend it to others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES ELLIOT FOX, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF MADELEINE L’ENGLE, NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF PETER CLAVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/week-of-proper-9-thursday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-9-friday-year-2/

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Posted September 6, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Hosea 14, Hosea 7-13, Micah

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