Archive for the ‘Josiah’ Tag

The Reign of King Jehoahaz/Jeconiah/Shallum   Leave a comment

Above:  The Seal of the Kingdom of Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART VI

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2 Kings 23:31-35

2 Chronicles 36:1-4

1 Esdras 1:34-38

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But now you have cast off and rejected your anointed king:

and poured out your wrath upon him.

–Psalm 89:37, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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Before I get into the substance of this post, I must explain two names.  The Bible contains references to four Jeconiahs and fourteen Shallums.  To confuse matters in this case, “Jeconiah” applies to two of Josiah’s four successors.  Furthermore, the Book of Jeremiah mentions three Shallums.  One of the Shallums in Jeremiah is one of the Jeconiahs.  For the record, Jehoahaz (r. 609 B.C.E.) equals Shallum (Jeremiah 22) and Jeconiah (1 Esdras 1:9, 34-38).

The topic of this post is Jehoahaz, King of Judah.  A serious student of the Bible may recall that there was also a King Jehoahaz of Israel (r. 817-800 B.C.E.) in 2 Kings 10:35 and 13:1-9.

Jehoahaz means “YHWH has grasped.”  This is ironic because the tangible grasper evident in the accounts is Neco II, Pharaoh of Egypt.

Judah became a vassal state of Egypt.  Jehoahaz, after a brief reign (about three months), became a prisoner in Egypt.

Neco II had killed Josiah (2 Kings 23:21-27; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19; 1 Esdras 1:1-22).  After seizing and deposing Jehoahaz, he chose the next King of Judah.  The Kingdom of Judah had entered its terminal spiral toward oblivion.

One may notice the brevity of the accounts of the final four Kings of Judah relative to the lengths of the accounts of Josiah.  Perhaps the brevity constitutes a theological commentary on and an evaluation of the final four monarchs of Judah.  Perhaps the brevity of the coverage of the last four Kings of Judah in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and 1 Esdras indicates an opinion that they were insignificant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF ADAM OF SAINT VICTOR, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ALBRECHT DÜRER, MATTHIAS GRÜNEWALD, AND LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER, RENAISSANCE ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK ROOT, POET AND COMPOSER

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Evaluation of King Josiah   Leave a comment

Above:  King Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART V

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1 Esdras 1:23-24

Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 49:1-6

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O my God, remember to my credit all that I have done for this people!

–Nehemiah 5:19, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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And the deeds of Josiah were upright in the sight of the Lord, for his heart was full of godliness.  In ancient times the events of his reign have been recorded–concerning those who sinned and acted wickedly toward the Lord beyond any other people or kingdom, and how they grieved the Lord deeply, so that the words of the Lord fell upon Israel.

–1 Esdras 1:23-24, New Revised Standard Version (1989)

That passage from 1 Esdras has no parallel in 2 Chronicles or 2 Kings.

Sirach 49:1-6 heaps more praise upon Josiah.  That passage lauds only three Israelite monarchs–David, Hezekiah, and Josiah.  The rest were wicked, verse 4 tells us.  Sirach 49:1-6 also tells us that Josiah’s name is like “blended incense” and that his memory is precious.  One also reads that Josiah “kept his heart fixed on God” and led a virtuous life during “times of lawlessness.”  Such lawlessness, one reads, led to the Babylonian Exile.

Sirach 49:1-6 comes from a section (Chapters 44-50) in which Ben Sira praises heroes, but not always in chronological order.  The standard English translation of Sirach 44:1 begins,

Let us now praise famous men….

I wonder if the author of Hebrews (definitely not St. Paul the Apostle) had Sirach 44-50 in mind when dictating or writing the roll call of faith in Chapter 11.

The story of King Josiah of Judah confirms what most people know already:  the wisdom and character of those who sit in positions of power changes the courses of nations and the world.  And even those who walk with God make foolish decisions.  At least these rulers are not evil, though.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CLARENCE JORDAN, SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF RAVENNA AND DEFENDER OF ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICENTA CHÁVEZ OROZCO, FOUNDRESS OF THE SERVANTS OF THE HOLY TRINITY AND THE POOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM PINCHON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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The Death of King Josiah   Leave a comment

Above:  King Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART IV

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2 Kings 23:28-30

2 Chronicles 35:20-27

1 Esdras 1:25-33

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For I am full of trouble;

my life is at the brink of the grave.

–Psalm 88:3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Assyrian Empire had fallen in 612 B.C.E., despite the reference to the Assyrian king in 2 Kings 23:29.  The Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire had conquered the Assyrian Empire.  The political situation was unstable in 609 B.C.E.  Some remnant of Assyrian power may have remained.  Pharaoh Neco II (r. 610-595 B.C.E.) sought to establish Egyptian power in Syria.  His route went through Judah.  Josiah wanted to extend his power, too.  Josiah died, either in Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29) or Jerusalem, of mortal wounds inflicted in Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:24; 1 Esdras 1:31).  Neco II’s bid to extend Egyptian power into Egypt failed; Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian forces made sure of that.

Two recurring themes overlap in the readings for this post.  The first theme is that anyone may, at least once, speak for God.  In this case, the unlikely prophet (partly right) was Neco II, who encouraged Josiah to leave.  The other theme is that disregarding divine instructions, such as those even an unlikely prophet may speak, can lead to one’s death.  One may recall another example of this happening when an unnamed “man of God” from Judah died in 1 Kings 13.  One may also remember that Josiah left that prophet’s memorial intact in 2 Kings 23:15f.  Pulling these threads together may lead to great understanding of the texts.

People were correct to lament the passing of Josiah.  The Kingdom of Judah had about 22 years left.  His successors were terrible.

Even heroes have flaws.  What if Josiah had not acted foolishly in 609 B.C.E.?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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Posted July 29, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Esdras 1, 1 Kings 13, 2 Chronicles 35, 2 Kings 23, Psalm 88

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King Josiah’s Great Passover   Leave a comment

Above:  Solomon’s Temple

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART III

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2 Kings 23:21-27

2 Chronicles 35:1-19

1 Esdras 1:1-22

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He struck down the firstborn of their land,

the firstfruits of all their strength.

–Psalm 105:36, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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First, let us get the Books of Esdras straight, so that we may know what I mean by 1 Esdras 1:1-22.  The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha contains a useful chart explaining the names of all the Books of Esdras.  Depending on how one counts, there are as many as five Books of Esdras.  The Douay Old Testament lists Ezra as 1 Esdras and Nehemiah as 2 Esdras.  The Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, The New English Bible, and The Revised English Bible call the Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical (depending on one’s theological orientation) paraphrase of 2 Chronicles 35-35, Ezra, and part of Nehemiah  (with the tale of three young bodyguards in the court of King Darius I) as 1 Esdras and the apocalypse as 2 Esdras.  The Orthodox Study Bible (2008) lists 1 Esdras as 1 Ezra, Ezra as 2 Ezra, and Nehemiah as Nehemiah.  The apocalypse (2 Esdras) is, according to various sources, alternatively 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras, and, compositely, 2, 4, and 5 Esdras.  For my purposes, Ezra is Ezra, Nehemiah is Nehemiah, 1 Esdras is the paraphrase, and 2 Esdras is the apocalypse.  This is the naming system according to most English translations.

1 Esdras, originally in Greek, dates to no later than 100 B.C.E.  It opens with King Josiah’s great Passover and concludes with Ezra reading the Law to the people.  The focus of 1 Esdras is the Temple in Jerusalem–rather, both of the Temples.  And, just as chronology is not the organizational principle in Ezra and Nehemiah, neither is it the organizational principle in 1 Esdras.

The great Passover of Josiah was part of the monarch’s religious reform policy.  That policy pleased God yet did not prevent the coming judgment, 2 Kings reminds us.

Some minor discrepancies exist between texts.

  1. 1 Esdras 1:10 (originally Greek) reads, in part, “…having the unleavened bread.”  This is a bad translation of 2 Chronicles 35:10 (originally Hebrew), which reads, in part, “by the king’s command.”
  2. 2 Chronicles says that there were 5,000 small cattle and 500 large cattle for the Levites.  1 Esdras says there were 5,000 sheep and 700 calves for the Levites.  If I were a literalist, I would care.
  3. Chronology remains an issue.  As I wrote in the first post in this series, 2 Kings 22 establishes the beginning of Josiah’s religious reforms in the eighteenth year of his life.  In 2 Kings 23, therefore, the great Passover occurred that year.  However, 1 Esdras follows the chronology from 2 Chronicles  34 and 35, placing these events in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign instead.
  4. Differences in names may count as discrepancies yet not contradictions.  A careful student of the Bible should be able to think of more than one example of a character with names.  For the record, Conaniah (2 Chronicles 35:9) is reasonably close to Jeconiah (1 Esdras 1:9).  Jeiel and Jozabad (2 Chronicles 35:9) could easily be Ochiel and Joram (1 Esdras 1:9).  And Heman and Jeduthun (2 Chronicles 35:15) could be alternative names for Zechariah and Eddinus (1 Esdras 1:15).

Josiah was trying–really trying.  Kings had staged grandiose Passovers at the Temple prior to this Passover.  For example, Hezekiah, Josiah’s great-grandfather, had staged a grand Passover in 2 Chronicles 30.  Yet this was the first Passover on such a grand scale since the time of Samuel, prior to the monarchy.

However, a portent hung over the glorious occasion.  Josiah was mortal.  His successors were terrible.  The Kingdom of Judah fell.  Exile began.  Yet hope remained, even then.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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King Josiah’s Religious Reforms   Leave a comment

Above:  King Josiah Hearing the Book of the Law

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART II

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2 Kings 23:1-20

2 Chronicles 34:19-33

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I will keep your statutes;

do not utterly forsake me.

–Psalm 119:8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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If one pays attention to 2 Kings 22-23 and compares their contents to 2 Chronicles 34, one notices some irreconcilable differences, chiefly the rearrangement of material from 2 Kings 22-23.  The chronologies differ.  Some of the material from 2 Kings 22 shows up in 2 Chronicles 34:19-33.  Furthermore, 2 Kings 23 tells the story of Josiah’s religious reforms starting after the rediscovery of the Book of the Law in the Temple.  In contrast, the narrative in 2 Chronicles 34 is that Josiah had begun his reforms prior to the finding of the Book of the Law.

I generally consider the accounts in the Books of Samuel and Kings more reliable than those in 1 and 2 Chronicles.  I do this regardless of the internal contradictions present in the Books of Samuel and Kings due to the editing of different, sometimes mutually exclusive sources into one narrative.  Yet the Books of Samuel and Kings are brutally honest about the moral failings of characters who are supposed to be heroes.  However, 1 and 2 Chronicles put the best possible faces on heroes.  1 Chronicles 11 omits the civil war between Kings David and Ishbaal (2 Samuel 2:8-4:12) after the death of King Saul (1 Samuel 31; 2 Samuel 1; 1 Chronicles 10).  Also, 2 Samuel 11 and 12 tell of David and Bathsheba, a story absent from 1 and 2 Chronicles.

2 Kings 23:1-20 details how far folk religion had fallen during the reigns of Josiah’s grandfather (Manasseh) and father (Amon).  The text even mentions prostitution at the Temple in Jerusalem.  The text describes a folk religion that had assimilated with the cultures of neighboring peoples.  If one pays close attention to the Hebrew Bible, one knows that syncretism was an old pattern.  One may also recall that Elijah, after mocking Baal Peor in 1 Kings 17:20f, slaughtered the prophets of the Canaanite storm god.  Josiah resembles Elijah in 2 Kings 23:20.

2 Kings 23:15f refers to 1 Kings 13, in which an unnamed prophet, a “man of God,” from the southern Kingdom of Judah traveled to the northern Kingdom of Israel to condemn the altar in Bethel during the reign (928-907 B.C.E.) of Jeroboam I.  Shortly thereafter, we read, that prophet died because he disobeyed divine instructions.  That is an important detail, one to which I will return in another post before I finish writing about Josiah’s reign.  We also read that Josiah honored the memory of the unnamed “man of God.”

One theme present in both 2 Kings 23:1-20 and 2 Chronicles 34:19-33 yet more prominent in the latter is communal commitment to God.  This is imperative.

Raymond Calkins wrote in The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume III (1954):

The people might perform acts of worship as prescribed, yet go their way as before, living lives of greed and selfishness.  True reform, in a word, is the reformation of inward motives, impulses, desires.  We must begin there.  No outside scheme of salvation will avail so long as men themselves remain self-seeking, materially minded, unbrotherly, indulgent.  The world for which we wait depends not on outward organizations but upon the revival of a true religion in the hearts of men.  Precisely what we are, the world will become.  The reformation of the world depends upon the reformation of the soul.  Such are the lessons taught us by the reforms of Josiah.

–323-324

No theocracy can effect this reformation and make it last, keeping in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  However, the imperative of spiritually-healthy collective action, paired with individual action, remains.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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The Finding of the Book of the Law   1 comment

Above:  King Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART I

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2 Kings 22:1-20

2 Chronicles 34:1-18

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How dear to me is your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!

My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

–Psalm 84:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The parallel readings from 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles are similar yet different.  Many of the details are identical.  Yet contradictions exist.  A Biblical literalist must, for example, perform mental gymnastics to attempt to reconcile the different chronologies.  2 Kings 22:3, for example, places the discovery of an early version of Deuteronomy (probably) about a decade into King Josiah’s reign–the eighteenth year of his life–630 B.C.E. or so.  However, 2 Chronicles 34:8 places that discovery when Josiah was 26 years old–in the eighteenth year of his reign.  Furthermore, each account is the product of different theological concerns.  And the version from 2 Chronicles 34, consistent with the pro-Davidic Dynastic tone of 1-2 Chronicles, contains a portrayal of Josiah more flattering than the positive portrayal in 2 Kings 22.  Other differences may prove simply that one author chose not to use certain details the other one did.

If one consults three study Bibles, one may find three different ranges for the reign of King Josiah.  The reason for this is that working with ancient sources and working out dates on the B.C.E. scale (which did not exist until our 500s C.E.) is complicated.  Reasons for this intellectual-historical exercise being complicated are not germane to this post.  In this series of posts I use dates from The Jewish Study Bible.

If one backs up several Kings of Judah, one finds essential background.  King Hezekiah (r. 727/715-698/687 B.C.E.), the previous monarch to receive a positive evaluation in scripture, had died.  Two terrible king followed and Judah became an Assyrian vassal state.  Even Manasseh (r. 698/687-642)–see 2 Kings 21:1-18 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-20–received better press in 2 Chronicles than in 2 Kings.  Much of the apocryphal Prayer of Manasseh (based on 2 Chronicles 33:12f) has become a canticle in Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  The next monarch, Amon (r. 641-640 B.C.E.)–see 2 Kings 21:19-26 and 2 Chronicles 33:21-25–unlike his father Manasseh, died in his palace, not as a prisoner in a foreign land.  However, Amon died during a palace rebellion almost certainly related to anti-Assyrian politics.

Josiah (r. 640-609 B.C.E.), king from eight years of age, came to the throne of Judah as a vassal of Assyria.  Manasseh and Amon had allowed the Temple in Jerusalem to fall into a severe state of disrepair.  Josiah, finally of age to exercise authority, cared enough to begin repairs on the Temple.  Meanwhile, Assyrian influence waned.  The circumstances for reformation were in place.

Two major theological differences between the accounts jump out at me.  2 Kings 22:14-20 speaks of delayed and inevitable divine judgment.  The time to avert the fall had passed.  2 Chronicles 34 emphasizes the collective responsibility to maintain the Temple.  Both theological emphases focus on collective responsibility.

Rugged individualism is not a Biblical virtue.  No, mutuality in the context of recognition of complete dependence on God is a Biblical virtue.  Actions have consequences.  Good rulers make a positive difference.  Bad rulers make a negative difference.  People suffer because of the foolish decisions others make and benefit from the wise decisions others make.  And sometimes the train has left the station, so to speak, with regard to the collective neglect of duty before God and to the negative consequences thereof.  Yet even then a good ruler can make a positive difference, at least for a while.

Here ends the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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Active Faith IV   1 comment

Sacrifice of Isaac--Caravaggio

Above:  The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your church.

Open our hearts to the riches of your grace,

that we may be ready to receive you wherever you appear,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 44

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 33:1-17 (Monday)

2 Chronicles 34:22-33 (Tuesday)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Both Days)

Hebrews 11:1-7 (Monday)

Hebrews 11:17-28 (Tuesday)

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How blessed the nation that learns to acclaim you!

They will live, Yahweh, in the light of your presence.

–Psalm 89:15, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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That is the theology in the accounts of Kings Manasseh and Josiah of Judah.  We read of Manasseh (reigned 698/687-642 B.C.E.) in 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 and 2 Kings 21:1-18.  The story in 2 Kings is more unflattering than the version in 2 Chronicles, for the latter mentions his repentance.  Manasseh’s grandson, Josiah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.) is on the scene in 2 Chronicles 34-35 and 2 Kings 22:1-23:30.  His fidelity to the Law of Moses delays the destruction of Judah, we read.

Hebrews 11 focuses on faith.  Verse 1 defines faith as

the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

In context this definition of faith is consistent with the understanding of St. Paul the Apostle, for whom faith was inherently active, hence the means of one’s justification with God.  In the Letter of James, however, faith is intellectual, so justification comes via works.  This is not a contradiction, just defining “faith” differently.  Active faith is the virtue extolled consistently.

I argue with Hebrews 11:17-20.  The near-sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22) was a form of child abuse.  There was no way it did not damage the father-son relationship.  Earlier in Genesis Abraham had interceded on behalf of strangers in Sodom (Chapter 18).  Yes, he had relatives there (see Genesis 13, 14, and 19), but he argued on behalf of strangers.  In Chapter 22 he did not do that for his son, Isaac.  God tested Abraham, who failed the test; he should have argued.

Did I understand you correctly?

would have been a good start.

May we have the active faith to follow God.  May we know when to question, when to argue, and when to act.  May we understand the difference between an internal monologue and a dialogue with God.  Out of faith may we act constructively and thereby leave the world better than we found it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2016 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF GEORGE RUNDLE PRYNNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR, PATRIARCH OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH VON LAUFENBERG, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-14-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Divine Consolation   1 comment

Anna at the Presentation of Jesus--Giotto

Above:  Anna at the Presentation of Jesus, by Giotto

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Beautiful God, you gather your people into your realm,

and you promise us food from your tree of life.

Nourish us with your word, that empowered by your Spirit

we may love one another and the world you have made,

through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 34:20-33

Psalm 93

Luke 2:25-38

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The LORD is King;

he has put on splendid apparel;

the LORD has put on his apparel

and girded himself with strength.

He has made the whole world so sure

that it cannot be moved;

Ever since the world began, your throne has been established;

you are from everlasting.

The waters have lifted up, O LORD,

the waters have lifted up their voice;

the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the sound of many waters,

mightier than the breakers of the sea,

mightier is the LORD who dwells on high.

Your testimonies are very sure,

and holiness adorns your house, O LORD,

for ever and for evermore.

–Psalm 93, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Humility before God, whose testimonies are sure, is a virtue.  In the main two readings for this day we encounter five people who were humble before God:

  • King Josiah of Judah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.), who instigated religious reforms consistent with the Book of Deuteronomy,
  • Saints Mary and Joseph of Nazareth, who raised Jesus in an observant Jewish home, and
  • Saints Simeon and Anna the Prophetess, who testified regarding the infant Jesus.

As Father Raymond E. Brown pointed out in The Birth of the Messiah (Updated Edition, 1993), the law and the prophets framed birth and infancy of Jesus.  The Lukan language alluded to Isaiah 40:1 and 66:12-13, with their references to the consolation (paraklesis in Greek and parakalein in Hebrew, sounding like paraclete) of Israel.  Sts. Joseph and Mary obeyed legal customs.  Two prophets attested to our Lord and Savior’s bona fides, but only one prophet affirmed St. John the Baptist in Luke 1:67-79.  St. Anna the Prophetess looked for the redemption of Jerusalem, echoing Isaiah 52:9 (The Revised English Bible, 1989):

Break forth together into shouts of joy,

you ruins of Jerusalem;

for the LORD has comforted his people,

he has redeemed Jerusalem.

The author of the Gospel of Luke understood the life of Jesus as fitting neatly into a much longer narrative of consolation and redemption.  His subtle word choices helped to establish connections with subsequent texts, such as John 14:15f, in which Jesus promised that God the Father would send another Paraclete–Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate–the Holy Spirit, simply put.

Consolation is among the most frequent reasons many people seek God.  This makes sense to me.  The quest for comfort recurs throughout the Bible, especially in the Book of Psalms, because of the ubiquity of distress.  Turning to God might not end one’s distress, but it does provide one with a means of coping with it.  If we love God, we will obey divine commandments.  This might lead to suffering (John 15:18-27), but at least the Holy Spirit will be present with us during our ordeals.  There is much consolation in that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 5, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES JUDSON CHILD, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF LESLIE WEATHERHEAD, BRITISH METHODIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MARGARET MACKAY, SCOTTISH HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/devotion-for-wednesday-after-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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A Difficult Commandment   1 comment

Flowering Herbs

Above:  Flowering Herbs, 1597

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-71911

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The Collect:

Living God, in Christ you make all things new.

Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,

and in the renewal of our lives make known your glory,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 22:11-17

Psalm 120

Luke 11:37-52

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Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips

and from the deceitful tongue.

What shall be done to you, and what more besides,

O you deceitful tongue!

–Psalm 120:2-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A callous heart is at least as bad as a deceitful tongue.

YHWH’s criticism of King Jehoahaz (a.k.a. Shallum) of Judah (reigned 609 B.C.E.) was that he cared about himself, not justice.  King Josiah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.), of whom biblical authors approved, had died in battle against the forces of Pharoah Neco II of Egypt.  Shallum/Jehoahaz succeeded his esteemed father as King of Judah and reigned for about three months before the Pharaoh deposed him.  Shallum/Jehoahaz died in captivity in Egypt.  For full details, read 2 Kings 23:30-35 and 2 Chronicles 36:1-4, O reader.

More than once in the canonical Gospels Jesus condemns Pharisees for obsessing over minor regulations while neglecting commandments requiring social justice.  There is some repetition from one synoptic Gospel to another due to duplication of material, but the theme repeats inside each of the Gospels.  That theme is as germane today as it was when Jesus walked on the planet.  Keeping certain commandments, although difficult, is easier than obeying others.  The proverbial low-hanging fruit is easy to reach, but keeping other commandments proves to be inconvenient at best and threatening to one’s socio-economic standing at worst.  This is one reason, for example, for many socially conservative Christians having emphasized individual holiness while doing little or nothing to oppose racism, slavery, sexism, child labor, and other social ills in the history of the United States.  Yes, many Christians worked to end these problems, but many others accepted them or even used the Bible to justify them.  Yet, as the Bible testifies again and again, God desires holiness and social justice.

YHWH and Jesus call for proper priorities.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself, they command us.  That is a difficult order.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/devotion-for-wednesday-after-the-sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Something Old, Something New   1 comment

Josiah

Above:  Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God,

increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love;

and that we may obtain what you promise,

make us love what you command,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 23

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 34:1-7 (Thursday)

2 Chronicles 35:20-27 (Friday)

2 Chronicles 36:11-21 (Saturday)

Psalm 71:1-6 (All Days)

Acts 10:44-48 (Thursday)

Acts 19:1-10 (Friday)

John 1:43-51 (Saturday)

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I find my security in you, LORD,

never let me be covered with shame.

You always do what is right,

so rescue me and set me free.

Listen attentively to me and save me.

Be my rock where I can find security,

be my fortress and save me;

indeed you are my rock and fortress.

My God, set me free from the power of the wicked,

from the grasp of unjust and cruel men.

For you alone give me hope, LORD,

I have trusted in you since my early days.

I have leaned on you since birth,

when you delivered me from my mother’s womb.

I praise you continually.

–Psalm 71:1-6, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989), by Harry Mowvley

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The story of King Josiah of Judah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.) exists in two versions, each with its own chronology.  The account in 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:37 is more flattering than the version in 2 Kings 22:1-23:30.  Both accounts agree that Josiah was a strong king, a righteous man, and a religious reformer who pleased God, who postponed the fall of the Kingdom of Judah.  The decline of the kingdom after Josiah’s death was rapid, taking only about 23 years and four kings.

Josiah’s reforms met with opposition, as did Jesus and nascent Christianity.  The thorny question of how to treat Gentiles who desired to convert was one cause of difficulty.  The decision to accept Gentiles as they were–not to require them to become Jews first–caused emotional pain for many people attached to their Jewish identity amid a population of Gentiles.  There went one more boundary separating God’s chosen people from the others.  For Roman officialdom a religion was old, so a new faith could not be a legitimate religion.  Furthermore, given the commonplace assumption that Gentiles making offerings to the gods for the health of the empire was a civic, patriotic duty, increasing numbers of Gentiles refusing to make those offerings caused great concern.  If too many people refused to honor the gods, would the gods turn their backs on the empire?

Interestingly enough, the point of view of much of the Hebrew Bible is that the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah fell because of pervasive idolatry and related societal sinfulness.  The pagan Roman fears for their empire were similar.  How ironic!

The pericope from John 1 is interesting.  Jesus is gathering his core group of followers.  One Apostle recruits another until St. Nathanael (St. Bartholomew) puts up some opposition, expressing doubt that anything good can come out of Nazareth.  St. Philip tries to talk St. Nathanael out of that skepticism.  “Come and see,” he replies.  Jesus convinces that St. Nathanael by informing him that he (Jesus) saw him (St. Nathanael) sitting under a fig tree.  Father Raymond E. Brown spends a paragraph in the first of his two volumes on the Gospel of John listing a few suggestions (of many) about why that was so impressive and what it might have meant.  He concludes that all such suggestions are speculative.  The bottom line is, in the words of Gail R. O’Day and Susan E. Hylen, is the following:

The precise meaning of Jesus’ words about the fig tree is unclear, but their function in the story is to show that Jesus has insight that no one else has…because of Jesus’ relationship with God.

John (2006), page 33

Jesus was doing a new thing which was, at its heart, a call back to original principles.  Often that which seems new is really old–from Josiah to Jesus to liturgical renewal (including the revision of The Book of Common Prayer).  Along the way actually new developments arise.  Laying aside precious old ideas and embracing greater diversity in the name of God for the purpose of drawing the proverbial circle wider can be positive as well as difficult.    Yet it is often what God calls us to do–to welcome those whom God calls insiders while maintaining proper boundaries and definitions.  Discerning what God calls good and bad from one or one’s society calls good and bad can be quite difficult.  May we succeed by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DAVID NITSCHMANN, SR., “FATHER NITSCHMANN,” MORAVIAN MISSIONARY; MELCHIOR NITSCHMANN, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR; JOHANN NITSCHMANN, JR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; ANNA NITSCHMANN, MORAVIAN ELDRESS; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, MISSIONARY AND FIRST BISHOP OF THE RENEWED MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF BRADFORD TORREY, U.S. ORNITHOLOGIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR AND OPPONENT OF FUNDAMENTALISM

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, 1972

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-fourth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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