Archive for the ‘Amaziah’ Tag

Two Oracles Concerning Arabia   Leave a comment

Above:  Judas, by Edward Okún

Image in the Public Domain

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READING FIRST ISAIAH, PART XIII

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Isaiah 21:11-17

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INTRODUCTION

Immediately following an oracle of the Fall of Babylon (Isaiah 21:1-10), we read two short oracles that complete Chapter 21.

DUMAH (EDOM)

Duman was an oasis in northern Arabia (Genesis 25:14; 1 Chronicles 1:30).  Seir (Isaiah 21:11) was a place in Edom.  Poetically, Dumah equaled Edom.

One may recall a condemnation of Edom in Amos 1:1-12.

The oracle in Isaiah 21:11-12 is superficially vague.  “The night” is poetic language for suffering.  “Morning” is poetic language for liberation.  There is no encouraging news for Dumah from the watchman of Seir yet.  Despite the brief respite from Assyrian oppression, the morning of liberation will not dawn yet.

Edom, the nation, had pursued his “brother” (Israel) with the sword.  Edom, the nation, was metaphorically the brother of the Israelite people (Numbers 20:14; Deuteronomy 2:4; Deuteronomy 23:7; Obadiah 10, 12).  King David had added Edom to the (united) Kingdom of Israel (2 Samuel 8:13f; 1 Kings 11:15-17).  Edom, part of the (southern) Kingdom of Judah after the division of the (united) Kingdom of Israel, threw off Judean control during the reign (851-853 B.C.E.) of King Jehoram (Joram) (2 Kings 8:16-24; 2 Chronicles 21:4-20). Yet Judah reconquered Edom during the reign (798-769 B.C.E.) of King Amaziah of Judah (2 Kings 14:1-22; 2 Chronicles 25:1-28) and the reign (785-733 B.C.E.) of King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah (2 Kings 15:1-7; 2 Chronicles 26:1-23), contemporary with the time of the prophets Hosea, Amos, and Micah.  Edomites persisted in their anger; they raged in wrath without end.

Circa 715 B.C.E., Edom had rebelled against the Assyrian Empire during a time when that empire was temporarily in decline and Egypt’s new masters (from “Ethiopia”–really Cush/Nubia)–encouraged regional peoples, vassals of Assyria, to rebel.  Ultimately and sadly, Edom was no match for the Assyrian Empire.

KEDAR AND THE DEDANITES

Kedar was a northern Arabian tribe known for their military prowess.  Yet Assyrian King Sennacherib (r. 705-681 B.C.E.) conquered that tribe in 689 B.C.E.

The Dedanites were a northern Arabian tribe conquered by an unnamed power, presumably the Assyrian Empire.  The residents of the oasis city of Tema were to greet the fugitives from Assyrian conquest “with bread.”

CONCLUSION

This material fits thematically with material I covered in the previous post in this series.  The warning to Judah, militarily weak, was not to seek a military solution, which was futile.  Judah needed to commit to social justice, consistent with the Law of Moses, the prophetic voice tells us.  That voice also tells us that saving Judah depended not on the state, but on covenant community founded on a just social and economic order.  We read that military solutions did not resolve the problems, even those of renowned warriors, vis-à-vis more powerful neighbors.

The Law of Moses teaches mutuality.  This timeless principle informs many culturally-specific laws that, superficially, have no bearing on us in 2021.  Mutuality, in the context of complete dependence on God, teaches that all people are responsible to and for each other, and depend on each other.  The pursuit of the common good builds up all people and helps them become the best possible versions of themselves.  Selfishness, cruelty, indifference, and insensitivity tear down community and harm the whole.

Early in President Ronald Reagan’s first term (1981-1985), staffers at the headquarters of the Church of the Brethren (one of the Historic Peace Churches) peacefully protested the Administration’s budget priorities–less for social programs, more for the military.  These staffers pooled the money they received from tax cuts, purchased thirty pieces of silver, and mailed that silver (with a letter) to the White House.  Some people were paying attention to the moral lessons in the Hebrew prophets and making an allusion to the betrayal of Jesus and Christian principles.

Sadly, these Hebrew prophetic warnings had something in common with such symbolic protests:  they did not change the minds of authorities they addressed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS, THE MARTYRS OF LYONS, 177

THE FEAST OF ANDERS CHRISTENSEN ARREBO, “THE FATHER OF DANISH POETRY”

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPH HOMBURG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARGARET ELIZABETH SANGSTER, HYMN WRITER, NOVELIST, AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, BISHOP, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 1075

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Five Visions of Divine Judgment Against Israel   Leave a comment

Above:  Nature Morte au Vase de Porcelaine, by Pierre-Antoine Lemoine

Image in the Public Domain

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READING AMOS, PART V

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Amos 7:1-9:10

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The prophecies against King Jeroboam II (reigned 788-747 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 14:23-29) of Israel, his dynasty (842-747 B.C.E.), and the (northern) Kingdom of Israel were unpopular at Bethel, predictably.

One scholarly hypothesis holds that the original draft of the Book of Amos came into existence after the prophet (who humbly denied being a prophet in 7:14) had to return to the (southern) Kingdom of Judah.  If so, the existence of the Book of Amos constitutes an example of irony.  In 2021, many people can hear and/or read an expanded, amended version of what Amaziah, the priest at Bethel in the middle-to-late 700s B.C.E., tried to quash.

The first vision of judgment (7:1-3) was that of a swarm of locusts consuming late-sown crops after the royal reaping.  (King Jeroboam II had claimed a portion of the earlier harvest for his herds and horses to consume.)  God was not in a forgiving mood.

The second vision of judgment (7:4-6) was that of a rain of fire that, having devoured “the great abyss,” consumed these locust-devastated fields.  In the germane ancient cosmology, that of the creation myth in Genesis 1:1-2:4a, the Earth was flat, with waters below and a dome above.  (Do Creationists think that the planet is like this?  Do they belong to the Flat Earth Society?)  In this apocalyptic scene, God was really not in a forgiving mood.

The third vision of judgment (7:7-9) was that of a plumb line, or a plummet (depending on translation).  One used this tool to determine how far out of line a wall or building had become, if repair was possible, and if demolition was necessary.  The verdict on the kingdom of Jeroboam II was that the realm was beyond salvage.

The fourth vision of judgment (8:1-14) was that of a basket of fruit (or figs) from the end of summer.  (The Hebrew word for “summer” puns on the Hebrew word for “end.”)  God declared doom on the kingdom that had forsaken the covenant.  Rife, systemic social injustice, especially of the economic variety, was evidence of this abandonment of the covenant.  God was indeed distant from the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.  The people had spurned God, anyway.

The language of the fifth vision (9:1-10), the vision of the destruction of the sanctuary, is bleak, evocative, and apocalyptic.  The (northern) Kingdom of Israel had, in laymen’s terms, “torn it.”  The proverbial gig was up.  The fulfillment of this prophecy was simply a matter of time–about a quarter of a century.

Given that commentaries inform me of subsequent editing of the original version of the Book of Amos, I wonder how well some religious figures in the (southern) Kingdom of Judah handled these prophesies as that kingdom went into decline and vassalage, and as the threat of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire loomed.  I also wonder how much of the content in the texts in Amos 7-9 dates to after 722 B.C.E. and before 586 B.C.E.

Anyhow, a timeless lesson applies.  Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.  Divine patience is not infinite.  Neither is divine judgment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE DAY OF PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN CARR, ANGLO-AMERICAN COMPOSER AND ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AUGUSTUS BENNETT, FIRST MAORI ANGLICAN BISHOP IN AOTEAROA/NEW ZEALAND

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JÓZEF KURGAWA AND WINCENTY MATSUZEWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1940

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM OF PERTH, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BAKER AND MARTYR, 1201

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Divine Judgment Against Foreign Nations, Part I   2 comments

Above:  Map of the Assyrian Empire and Its Neighbors

Image Scanned from an Old Bible

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READING AMOS, PART II

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Amos 1:3-2:3

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Introduction

As I read the Book of Amos, I ask myself how much of the final version is original to the text from the prophet.  I know that the final version of the Book of Amos dates to the 400s B.C.E., three centuries after the time of the prophet.  Nevertheless, that question, germane for some matters of interpretation, is irrelevant for other matters of interpretation.  The message(s) of the Book of Amos for people, cultures, societies, and institutions in 2021 C.E. are what they are, regardless of which layer of composition to which a particular passage belongs.

Amos 1:3-2:16 consists of prophetic oracles of judgment against nations.  I choose to write about the oracles against Judah and Israel in the next post.  In this post, I focus on divine judgment against Aram, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab.

Notice, O reader, a motif:

For three crimes of _____, and now four–

I will not take it back–….

–Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

This motif indicates the end of divine patience after the third crime.  Divine patience is not infinite.  Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.

Amos 1:3-2:3 condemns neighboring nations for behavior that is anti-human or against nature.  These Gentiles, not being under the Law of Moses, had no covenant with God to keep.  They were still accountable according to certain standards, though.

Aram (1:3-5)

Aram was where Syria is today.  Aram was the main rival of the Assyrian Empire during the time of the prophets Amos, Hosea, Micah, and (First) Isaiah.  Aram was also a frequent foe of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.

Aram had “threshed Gilead with sledges of iron,” a reference to a military campaign (2 Kings 13:3-7).  King Hazael came to power circa 842 B.C.E. and reigned until circa 806 B.C.E. (2 Kings 8:7-15).  He founded a dynasty.  Hazael’s immediate successor was his son, King Ben-hadad II (2 Kings 13:3).  Hadad was a storm god, and “Ben” meant “son of.”

“Aven” meant “evil,” so the Valley of Aven was the “Valley of Evil.”  Beth-eden was an Aramaic city-state between the Euphrates and Balikh Rivers.  According to Amos 1:5, God would depose the King of Beth-eden and exile the Arameans.  During the Syro-Ephraimite War (734-732 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 15:27-31; 2 Kings 16:1-19; 2 Chronicles 28:1-26; Isaiah 7:1-8:23), King Pekah of Israel (r. 735-732 B.C.E.) and King Rezin of Aram (r. 750-732 B.C.E.), having formed an anti-Assyrian alliance, fought the (southern) Kingdom of Judah and besieged Jerusalem because King Ahaz (r. 743/735-727/715 B.C.E.) refused to join that coalition.  King Ahaz of Judah turned not to God, but to the Assyrian Empire.  That empire conquered part of Aram and reduced Israel to vassalage in 732 B.C.E.  The Assyrian Empire ended Aram’s existence as an independent kingdom in 720 B.C.E.  That empire relocated Arameans throughout the Assyrian Empire, including in Samaria (2 Kings 17:24, 30).

Philistia (1:6-8

Philistia was on the Mediterranean coast and east of the (southern) Kingdom of Judah.  Philistia was where the Gaza Strip is today.  Philistines were the people otherwise known as Phoenicians.

Philistia had “exiled an entire population,” probably from Israel or Judah.  This raid, perhaps during the reign (817-800 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 13:1-25) of King Jehoahaz of Israel, violated Exodus 21:16, not that the covenant applied to the Philistines.

Tyre (1:9-10)

Tyre, on the Mediterranean coast, was the chief Phoenician city in the middle 700s B.C.E.  It was a wealthy commercial capital of a trading network.

Tyre had violated a treaty with an unnamed partner and handed an entire population over to slave markets in Edom.

Edom (1:11-12)

Edom was south of the Dead Sea, in what is now the southern regions of Israel and Jordan.  Edom was the nation, by tradition, descended from Esau, a.k.a. Edom (Genesis 25:25-28:9; 32:3-33:16; 35:1-43).  Jacob/Israel had made their peace (Genesis 33), but their descendants had continued the conflict.

Edom, the nation, had pursued his “brother” (Israel) with the sword.  Edom, the nation, was metaphorically the brother of the Israelite people (Numbers 20:14; Deuteronomy 2:4; Deuteronomy 23:7; Obadiah 10, 12).  King David had added Edom to the (united) Kingdom of Israel (2 Samuel 8:13f; 1 Kings 11:15-17).  Edom, part of the (southern) Kingdom of Judah after the division of the (united) Kingdom of Israel, threw off Judean control during the reign (851-853 B.C.E.) of King Jehoram (Joram) (2 Kings 8:16-24; 2 Chronicles 21:4-20). Yet Judah reconquered Edom during the reign (798-769 B.C.E.) of King Amaziah of Judah (2 Kings 14:1-22; 2 Chronicles 25:1-28) and the reign (785-733 B.C.E.) of King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah (2 Kings 15:1-7; 2 Chronicles 26:1-23), contemporary with the time of the prophets Hosea, Amos, and Micah.  Edomites persisted in their anger; they raged in wrath without end.

Ammon (1:13-15)

Ammon was to the west of the River Jordan and north of the Dead Sea, in modern-day Jordan.  Ammon had been part of the (united) Kingdom of Israel under Kings David and Solomon.  The Ammonites had broken away circa 928 B.C.E., when the (united) Kingdom of Israel split into the (northern) Kingdom of Israel and the (southern) Kingdom of Judah.

Ammon had “ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, in order to extend their territory” (Amos 1:13).  Ammon had fought a border war with Israel, probably during the 800s B.C.E.  In the course of that conflict, Ammonite soldiers had ripped open pregnant women, a tactic not unheard of, sadly.

Ammon became a vassal state (742-630 B.C.E.) of the Assyrian Empire then a province thereof.  With the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian conquest of the Assyrian Empire, Ammon became a rebellious province of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  The rebellion failed, and mass deportations ensued.

Moab (2:1-3)

Moab was west of the Dead Sea, in modern-day Jordan.  Moab had been a vassal state of the (united) Kingdom of Israel under Kings David and Solomon then under the kings of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel.  King Mesha of Moab had successfully rebelled against vassalage during the reign (851-842 B.C.E) of King Jehoram (Joram) of Israel (1 Kings 3:1-27) and the reign (870-846 B.C.E.) of King Jehoshaphat of Judah (1 Kings 22:1-51; 2 Kings 3:1-27; 2 Chronicles 17:1-20:37).  Moab was also the homeland of Ruth.

Moab had “burned to ashes the bones of Edom’s king.”  This was an extreme disrespect usually reserved criminals (Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9), not that Moabites were subject to the Law of Moses.  This act, which had no effect on either the (northern) Kingdom of Israel or the (southern) Kingdom of Judah, was still a crime against God.

Moab came under Assyrian domination (c. 735 B.C.E.), became an Assyrian province (711 B.C.E.), and finally ceased to be a state (circa 600 B.C.E.).  (For more about the decline and fall of Moab, read Isaiah 15-16 and Jeremiah 48.)

Conclusion

A spiritual mentor of mine liked to read some portion of the Bible then ask:

What is really going on here?

God, who is sovereign over all the nations, does not tolerate injustice.  The Book of Amos beats the drum repeatedly.  God cares deeply about how people, cultures, societies, and institutions treat people.

In this post, I have focused on neighbors of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel and the (southern) Kingdom of Judah.  Many of the prophet’s original audience probably delighted to hear these proclamations of divine judgment against these foreign nations.

Then Amos stopped preaching and started meddling, so to speak.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, ABBOT OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS COLUMBA OF RIETI AND OSANNA ANDREASI, DOMINICAN MYSTICS

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELIOT, “THE APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIÁ ANGÉLICA LATHROP, FOUNDRESS OF THE DOMINICAN SISTERS OF HAWTHORNE

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The Reigns of Kings Jeroboam II, Zechariah, and Shallum of Israel   7 comments

Above:  King Jeroboam II of Israel

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XCVI

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2 Kings 14:23-29; 15:8-16

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Do not invite death by the error of your life,

nor bring on destruction by the works of your hands;

because God did not make death,

and he does not delight in the death of the living.

For he created all things that they might exist,

and the creatures of the world ware wholesome,

and there is no destructive poison in them;

and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.

For righteousness is immortal.

But ungodly men by their words and deeds summoned death;

considering him a friend, they pined away,

and they made a covenant with him,

because they are fit to belong to his party.

–Wisdom of Solomon 1:12-16, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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King Amaziah of Judah (Reigned 798-769 B.C.E.)

King Jeroboam II of Israel (Reigned 788-747 B.C.E.)

King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah (Reigned 785-733 B.C.E.)

King Zechariah of Israel (Reigned 747 B.C.E.)

King Shallum of Israel (Reigned 747 B.C.E.)

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The Kingdom of Israel seemed to be doing well during the reign of King Jeroboam II.  The military was strong, the borders were secure, Assyria was not yet the threat it went on to become. The Kingdom of Israel was prosperous, but the uneven distribution of wealth meant that the relative few rich people owed their money and status to the exploitation of the impoverished masses.  The devastating and timeless prophecies of Amos came from this time.

A quarter of a century after King Jeroboam II died, the Assyrians conquered Israel.

King Jeroboam II was the fourth of five monarchs of the House of Jehu.  The fifth monarch, King Zechariah, reigned for about half a year before he died in a coup d’état.  The next King of Israel, Shallum, reigned for about a month before he died in another coup d’êtat.

The accounts in 2 Kings 14 and 15 are brief.  I suspect that the author chose not to dwell on these three kings.  

For a fuller flavor of the time of Jeroboam II, read the Book of Amos.  Its moral standards should alarm many people around the world today.  After all, human nature is a constant.  So is God.  

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 6, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GREGOR, FATHER OF MORAVIAN CHURCH MUSIC

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI GABRIELI AND HANS LEO HASSLER, COMPOSERS AND ORGANISTS; AND CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI AND HEINRICH SCHÜTZ, COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS

THE FEAST OF HALFORD E. LUCCOCK, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDELEINE OF JESUS, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF JESUS

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The Reign of King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah   9 comments

Above:  King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XCV

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2 Kings 15:1-7

2 Chronicles 26:1-23

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Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth.

think of the Lord with uprightness,

and seek him with sincerity of heart;

because he is found by those who do not put him to the test,

and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.

For perverse thoughts separate men from God,

and when his power is tested, it convicts the foolish;

because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,

nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin.

For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit,

and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts,

and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

–Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-5, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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King Amaziah of Judah (Reigned 798-769 B.C.E.)

King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah (Reigned 785-733 B.C.E.)

King Jotham of Judah (Reigned 759-743 B.C.E.)

King Jeroboam II of Israel (Reigned 788-747 B.C.E.)

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Again, the account in 2 Chronicles expands on its source material in 2 Kings.  This elaboration creates a different impression regarding the cause of the monarchs’ skin disease (“leprosy”–not what most of us think of when we hear that word) than 2 Kings 15 does.

Anyway, the skin disease made King Azariah/Uzziah ritually impure, thereby excluding him from the Temple and isolating him.  His son Jotham served as the regent.

The primary theme regarding King Azariah/Uzziah is hubris.  Strength leads to pride.  The lack of repentance for pride leads to punishment.  Willful disobedience has terrible consequences.  

The scene of the monarch’s hubris, impenitence, and willful disobedience may seem odd to many.  Perhaps one recalls that King Solomon burned incense in a priestly manner in 1 Kings 9:25.  The Chronicler’s perspective, informed by postexilic standards that only Aaronic priests may burn incense at the Temple, may be anachronistic.

Nevertheless, the example of King Azariah/Uzziah should serve as a reminder not to rest on one’s spiritual laurels.  If we think we are spiritual insiders, we may set ourselves up for the fall that comes after pride goes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR AND LEWIS TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST BUSINESSMEN AND ABOLITIONISTS; COLLEAGUES AND FINANCIAL BACKERS OF SAMUEL ELI CORNISH AND THEODOER S. WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN MINISTERS AND ABOLITIONISTS

THE FEAST OF BERNARD LICHTENBERG, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

THE FEAST OF SAINT HRYHORII LAKOTA, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF JOHANN DANIEL GRIMM, GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN

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The Reign of King Amaziah of Judah   2 comments

Above:  King Amaziah of Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XCIV

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2 Kings 14:1-22

2 Chronicles 25:1-28

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The mourning of men is about their bodies,

but the evil name of sinners will be blotted out.

Have regard for your name, since it will remain for you

longer than a thousand great stores of gold.

The days of a good life are numbered,

but a good name endures for ever.

–Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 41:11-13, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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King Jehoash/Joash of Judah (Reigned 836-798 B.C.E.)

King Amaziah of Judah (Reigned 798-769 B.C.E.)

King Jehoash/Joash of Israel (Reigned 800-784 B.C.E.)

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King Jehoash/Joash of Judah had died via an assassination.  His son and successor, King Amaziah, remembered this and acted accordingly.  He had those responsible for the death of King Jehoash/Joash executed and spared their children, in accordance with Deuteronomy 24:16.

The Kingdom of Judah, compared to the Kingdom of Israel, was weak militarily.  King Jehoash/Joash of Israel invaded Judah, penetrated one of the walls of Jerusalem, and seized treasures and vessels from the Temple and palace.

The account in 2 Chronicles, based on that in 2 Kings, expands on the source material.  2 Chronicles 25, for example, elaborates on the Edomite campaign and its consequences.  Beware of resentful, dismissed mercenaries, one learns.

King Amaziah of Judah, like his father, became a victim of assassination.

King Amaziah inherited a difficult political and military situation.  He heeded good advice.  And Amaziah was not bloodthirsty, presiding over vengeful bloodbaths.  He received a mostly a favorable evaluation in the Bible.  The main caveat was that shrines remained intact and people continued to offer sacrifices and make offerings to gods and goddesses there.  But, reading the text through the lens of freedom of religion, theocracy is negative.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF LUDOLPH ERNST SCHLIGHT, MORAVIAN MINISTER, AND HYMN WRITER; JOHN GAMBOLD, SR., MORAVIAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS; AND JOHN GAMBOLD, JR.,, MORAVIAN COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF AUGUSTUS MONTAGUE TOPLADY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF LÉON BLOY, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST AND SOCIAL CRITIC; GODFATHER OF JACQUES MARITAIN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHER; HIS WIFE, RAÏSSA MARITAIN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC CONTEMPLATIVE

THE FEAST OF THEODORE WELD, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST THEN QUAKER ABOLITIONIST AND EDUCATOR; HIS WIFE, ANGELINA GRIMKÉ, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEN QUAKER ABOLITIONIST, EDUCATOR, AND FEMINIST; HER SISTER, SARAH GRIMKÉ, U.S. EPISCOPALIAN THEN QUAKER ABOLITIONIST AND FEMINIST; HER NEPHEW, FRANCIS GRIMKÉ, AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST; AND HIS WIFE, CHARLOTTE GRIMKÉ, AFRICAN-AMERICAN ABOLITONIST AND EDUCATOR

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Of God, Potentates, and Prophets   1 comment

Above:  The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, by Caravaggio, 1608

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.  David and all the people with him set out and went from Baalejudah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.  Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark.  David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.  David danced before the LORD with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

They brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the LORD.  When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.   Then all the people went back to their homes.

Psalm 24 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,

the world and all who dwell therein.

For it is who founded it upon the seas

and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?

and who can stand in his holy place?”

“Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,

who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,

nor sworn by what is a fraud.

They shall receive a blessing from the LORD

and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”

Such is the generation of those who seek him,

of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

7  Lift up your heads, O gates;

lift them high, O everlasting doors;

and the King of glory shall come in.

8  ”Who is this King of glory?”

“The LORD, strong and mighty,

the LORD, mighty in battle.”

9  Lift up your heads, O gates;

lift them high, O everlasting doors;

and the King of glory shall come in.

10  ”Who is he, this King of glory?”

“The LORD of hosts,

he is the King of glory.”

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Amos 7:7-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD said to me,

Amos, what do you see?

And I said,

A plumb line.

Then the Lord said,

See, I am setting a plumb line

in the midst of my people Israel;

I will never again pass them by;

the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,

and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,

and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.

Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying,

Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said,

“Jeroboam shall die by the sword,

and Israel must go into exile

away from his land.”

And Amaziah said to Amos,

O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.

Then Amos answered Amaziah,

I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

Psalm 85:8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

9 Truly, his salvation is very near those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

SECOND READING

Ephesians 1:3-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 6:14-29 (New Revised Standard Version):

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known.  Some said,

John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.

But others said,

It is Elijah.

And others said,

It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.

But when Herod heard of it he said,

John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.

For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.  And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him.  But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe.  When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.  But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.  For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl,

Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.

And he vowed to her,

Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.

And she went out, and said to her mother,

What shall I ask?

And she said,

The head of John the Baptist.

And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying,

I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.  And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head.  He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.  When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

The Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Martyr (August 29):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist-martyr-august-29/

2 Samuel 6:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/week-of-3-epiphany-tuesday-year-2/

Amos 7:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/week-of-proper-8-thursday-year-2/

Mark 6:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/week-of-4-epiphany-friday-year-1/

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The prophet Amos had been condemning the policies of King Jeroboam II of Israel, whose regime controlled certain religious sites.  There being no separation of religion and state in this context, the prophet faced a royal order to go home to Judah.  At least Jeroboam did not command the execution of Amos.

Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C.E. to 39 C.E., had entered into an incestuous marriage to Herodias.  John the Baptist had condemned this, and thus found himself in prison.  The combination of lust and pride led Herod Antipas to order John’s execution.

We read in Ephesians about redemption through the blood of Jesus.  The Roman authorities had ordered his execution, of course.

The powerful seem to have won immediately.  But look again; they lost in the long term.  The last vestige of the Roman Empire ceased to exist in 1453 C.E.  The Emperor Caligula exiled Herod Antipas to Gaul in 39 C.E.  And Jeroboam II died more than 2,750 years ago.  He failed to silence Amos, whose words are available in translation today.

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul….–Matthew 10:28a, New Revised Standard Version

God will win.  That is how the story will end.  I know, for I have read the book.  So I take courage and seek to play my part in the work of righteousness.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE PACIFIC

THE FEAST OF ELIE NAUD, HUGUENOT WITNESS TO THE FAITH

THE FEAST OF JANE LAURIE BORTHWICK, TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, POET

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/proper-10-year-b/

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Reading and Pondering Hosea, Part One   1 comment

Orthodox Icon of the Prophet Hosea

God, Who Takes Us Back

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Hosea 2:16-25 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Assuredly,

I will speak to her

And lead her through the wilderness

And speak to her tenderly.

I will give her her vineyards from there,

And the Valley of Achor as a plowland of hope.

There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,

When she came up from the land of Egypt.

And in that day

–declares the LORD–

You will call [Me] Ishi,

And no more will you call Me Baali.

For I will remove the names of the Baalim from her mouth,

And they shall nevermore be mentioned by name.

In that day, I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; I will also banish bow, sword, and war from the land.  Thus I will let them lie down in safety.

And I will espouse you forever:

I will espouse you with righteousness and justice,

And with goodness and mercy,

And I will espouse you with faithfulness;

Then you shall be devoted to the LORD.

In that day,

I will respond

–declares the LORD–

I will respond to the sky,

And it shall respond to the earth;

And the earth shall respond

With new grain and wine and oil,

And they shall respond to Jezreel.

I will sow her in the land as My own;

And take Lo-ruhamah back in favor;

And I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people,”

And he will respond, “[You are] my God.”

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The prophesies contained in the Book of Hosea speak of events from the 700s B.C.E.  Israel, the northern kingdom, is still strong, and Jeroboam II occupies its throne.  In the south, in the Kingdom of Judah, Uzziah/Amaziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah ruled in succession, sometimes with overlapping reigns between two of them.  There will be punishment for the persistent idolatry, God says through Hosea, but God will take his people back afterward.

The book uses adultery as a metaphor for idolatry.  So God, metaphorically speaking, is the cuckolded husband while the faithless population is the adulterous wife.  God, in the first part of Chapter 2, comes across as a violent husband.  Such a metaphor does offend many modern sensibilities regarding domestic violence, as it should.  I am not here to make excuses for biblical authors, and I do not feel obligated to pretend that parts of the Bible are not genuinely disturbing in a bad way.

But may we continue to read.

The abusive, cuckolded husband portion of Chapter 2 (verses 3-15) gives way to a lovely passage about reconciliation.  All will be forgiven, and idolatry will become a thing of the past.

Each person is more than the worst thing he or she has done.  True, certain actions carry dire consequences, but there can be forgiveness with God.  Do we seek it?

The end of Chapter 2 applies the names of Hosea’s children to Israel.  God had commanded the prophet to marry Gomer, “a wife of whoredom.”  He did, and they had three children.  The first was a son, Jezreel, which means “God sows.”  This personal name is a reference to a plain and a city on said plain, as well as the murder of Naboth, whose vineyard King Ahab had coveted.  Then came a daughter, Lo-ruhamah, which means “Unpitied.”  Finally, there was a second son, Lo-ammi, or “not my people.”

That was then. We read in verses 24 and 25 that the earth will respond to Jezreel with new grain, wine, and oil; God will sow, as in scattering the seeds.  And God will take the unpitied daughter, no longer unpitied, “back in favor.”  Furthermore, those whom God has renounced will again be his people, and they will respond in kind.

I am careful to focus on the main idea, not become distracted by less important issues.  If you, O reader, seek from me a definitive answer to how judgment and mercy balance each other in the Bible (especially the Hebrew Scriptures), you are looking in the wrong place.  Yet I do offer this nugget of what I hope is wisdom:  both exist, side by side.  There is discipline, but there is also forgiveness.  May we, by grace, live so that we do not grieve God, but gladden the divine heart (metaphorically speaking) instead.

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-monday-year-2/

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Reading and Pondering Amos, Part Four   1 comment

Above:  King Jeroboam II

Righteous Judgments and Mercies

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Amos 7:1-17 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

This is what my Lord GOD showed me:  He was creating [a plague of] locusts at the time when the late-sown crops were beginning to sprout–the late-sown crops after the king’s reaping.  When it had finished devouring the herbage in the land, I said,

O Lord GOD, pray forgive.  How will Jacob survive?  He is so small?

The LORD relented concerning this.

It shall not come to pass,

said the LORD.

This is what the Lord GOD showed me.  Lo, my Lord GOD was summoning to contend by the fire which consumed the Great Deep and was consuming the fields.  I said,

Oh, Lord GOD, refrain!  How will Jacob survive?  He is so small.

The LORD relented concerning this.

That shall not come to pass, either,

said my Lord GOD.

This is what He showed me:  He was standing on a wall checked with a plumb line and He was holding a plumb line.  And the LORD asked me,

What do you see, Amos?

I replied,

A plumb line.

And my Lord declared,

I am going to apply a plumb line to My people Israel; I will pardon them no more.  The shrines of Isaac shall be laid waste, and the sanctuaries of Israel reduced to ruins; and I will turn upon the House of Jeroboam with the sword.

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent this message to King Jeroboam of Israel:

Amos is conspiring against you within the House of Israel.  The country cannot endure the things he is saying.  For Amos has said, “Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall be exiled from its soil.”

Amaziah also said to Amos,

Seer, off with you to the land of Judah!  Earn your living there, and do your prophesying there.  But don’t ever prophesy again at Bethel; for it is a king’s sanctuary and a royal palace.

Amos answered Amaziah:

I am not a prophet, and I am not a prophet’s disciple.  I am a cattle breeder and a tender of sycamore figs.  But the LORD took me away from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, “Go prophesy to My people Israel.”  And so, hear the word of the LORD.  You say I must not prophesy about the House of Israel or preach about the House of Isaac; but this, I swear, is the the LORD said:  Your wife shall play the harlot in the town, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line.  And you yourself shall die on unclean soil; for Israel shall be exiled from its soil.

Psalm 19:7-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The law of the LORD is perfect and revives the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.

8 The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean and endures for ever,

the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold more than much fine gold,

sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.

Matthew 9:1-8 (An American Translation):

So he [Jesus] got into the boat and crossed the sea, and returned to his own city.

Some people came bringing to him on a bed a man who was paralyzed.  Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic,

Courage, my son!  Your sins are forgiven.

Some of the scribes said to themselves,

This man is talking blasphemy!

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said,

Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts?  For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”?  But would you know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth.

Then he said to the paralytic,

Get up, pick up your bed, and go home!

And he got up and went home. And when the crowd saw it, they were filled with awe, and praised God for giving such power to men.

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:  Grant to us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Sometimes the words and deeds of God offend or otherwise disturb us.  How we deal with such cognitive dissonance speaks to our spiritual state.

The Kingdom of Israel had run out of forgiveness.  Amos, as we have read in previous posts in this series, announced God’s impending judgment for a variety of sins, economic exploitation among them.  The religious establishment close to King Jeroboam II commanded Amos to leave the kingdom for his homeland, for his words did not affirm the ruling class.

Forgiveness and healing, not judgment, got Jesus into trouble with his critics in today’s reading from Matthew.  There can be many causes for paralysis, as medical science tells us these days.  But religious orthodoxy in Judea understood the paralytic to be paralyzed because of sin.  This theology, which the Book of Job contradicts, blamed the victims.  (True, much suffering results from one’s sins, but much does not.  Sometimes one’s suffering results from the sins of others or another.  And, at other times, suffering has no cause one can understand.)

The paralyzed man, who does not speak in this narrative, probably believed in “sin leads to suffering” theology.  It was what his culture told him.  He probably lived with needless guilt, a burden members of his community (excluding some kind friends) imposed upon him.  Jesus removed that burden from the paralytic, giving him spiritual wholeness.

Some commentators have suggested that the man’s paralysis was psychosomatic.  So, they say, of course the man could walk again after Jesus forgave his sins.  This might be accurate.  Whatever caused the physical paralysis, Jesus took that away from the man.

Yet our Lord faced criticism for forgiving the man.  Was this blasphemy?  No, it was mercy.

When God says and/or does something hard for us digest, we can humble ourselves before God graciously, in the spirit of Psalm 19:

…the judgments of the LORD are righteous and true altogether.

We might not like, agree with, or understand these judgments, but we can at least not oppose them.  Or we can react defensively, trying to silence an annoying prophet or condemning a merciful man.  But God will still be be God regardless of what we do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 25, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BAYARD RUSTIN, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/week-of-proper-8-thursday-year-2/

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Posted August 25, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Amos 7, Matthew 9, Psalm 19

Tagged with ,