Archive for the ‘Zerubbabel’ Tag

Restoration of Worship in Jerusalem and Opposition to the Rebuilding of the Temple   2 comments

Above:  Darius I

Image in the Public Domain

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

PART XII

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1 Esdras 5:47-53

Ezra 3:1-4:5

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O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you,

as in a barren and dry land where there is no water.

–Psalm 63:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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I detect chronological confusion in each text and between the two of them.  Ezra 3:1-4:6 places these events circa 538 B.C.E., during the reign of Cyrus II and shortly after the conquest of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  Yet Ezra 3:1-46 also names Zerubbabel as the governor.  In objectively correct  chronology, we find that Zerubbabel received his appointment after the death of Cyrus II.  (Cyrus II died in 530 B.C.E.)  On the other hand, 1 Esdras 5:47-73 correctly places these events and Zerubbabel’s governorship post-Cyrus II.  Nevertheless, 1 Esdras 5:73, following the lead of Ezra 4:5, mentions Cyrus II as being one of the kings during these events.  These hiccups are minor matters.  Now I turn my attention to major issues.

Proper worship of YHWH in Jerusalem had been impossible for decades, since Nebuchadnezzar II had taken (in stages) sacred vessels from the Temple to Babylon.  The restoration of proper liturgical worship in YHWH in Jerusalem (whenever that occurred) was a great joy and a communal blessing.  It was essential to communal restoration.  Many local Gentiles delayed the rebuilding of the Temple, unfortunately.

By the way, 1 Esdras 5:47-73 acknowledges that Gentile opposition while softening the attitude evident in Ezra 3:1-4:6.  1 Esdras is less hostile to Gentiles than Ezra.  1 Esdras 5:50, for example, says that some of the

other peoples of the land

joined Jews in preparing the altar of the God of Israel.

I can only imagine what joy those returned exiles must have felt when they could worship God properly, according to the Law of Moses.  I can identity with not being able to worship God as part of a congregation.  I write these words during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Attending church each Sunday consists of watching a video on YouTube, and I cannot take communion.  This seems to be the pattern I will continue to live indefinitely.  I know that, when the vaccine will be widely available and the pandemic is over, returning to church services will be especially joyful.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MACKILLOP, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH OF THE SACRED HEART

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALTMAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PASSAU

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS

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Three Young Bodyguards in the Court of Darius I   Leave a comment

Above:  Zerubbabel

Image in the Public Domain

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

PART XI

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1 Esdras 3:1-5:6

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My God, my rock in whom I put my trust,

my shield, the horn of my salvation and my refuge;

you are worthy of praise.

–Psalm 18:2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Our story jumps ahead a few years, past the reign (530-522 B.C.E.) of Cambyses to that (522-486 B.C.E.) of Darius I.

Zerubbabel was of the lineage of David.  Zerubbabel, a bodyguard in the court of Darius I, won a contest.  He provided the winning answer in a contest to state what is strongest.  Our bodyguard (not named) argued that wine is strongest, for it affects people regardless of social class.  Another unnamed bodyguard, citing the great power of Eastern monarchs, insisted that the king is the strongest.  Zerubbabel, the third bodyguard, first argued that women are the strongest and that even Darius I’s concubine had power over the monarch.  Then Zerubbabel changed his answer to truth.

To quote Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of John,

What is truth?

Truth is objective, not subjective.  Truth is right, upright, and everlasting.  Truth is not relative.  Truth is reliable.  That is important to understand at all times, especially during a polarized age in which many people speak shamelessly of

alternative facts.

I cannot have my truth.  You, O reader, cannot have a competing truth.  No, the truth is the truth.

In this charming story, probably originally in Aramaic, Darius I accepted Zerubbabel’s second answer.  Our hero’s prize was the opportunity to help rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.  Darius I did more; he put the Persian Empire on the side of the reconstruction effort and sent sacred vessels back to the holy city.

Zerubbabel’s prayer glorifying God (4:59-60) is suitable for many occasions.

Consistent chronology is not the organizing principle in 1 Esdras, Ezra, and Nehemiah.  For example, when reading Ezra and Nehemiah, one has to move from one book to another sometimes to keep the timeline in order.  And the chronologies of 1 Esdras and Ezra-Nehemiah are sometimes inconsistent with each other.  That is a minor point for me; I prefer to focus on major points.

With [truth] there is no partiality or preference, but it does what is righteous instead of anything that is unrighteous or wicked.

–1 Esdras 4:39a, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MACKILLOP, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH OF THE SACRED HEART

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALTMAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PASSAU

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS

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Significance and Insignificance   1 comment

snapshot_20140603

Above:  One of My Favorite Books

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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The Collect:

You are great, O God, and greatly to be praised.

You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

Grant that we may believe in you, call upon you, know you, and serve you,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41

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The Assigned Readings:

Zechariah 4:1-7

Psalm 145:8-14

Luke 10:21-24

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The LORD is faithful in all his words

and merciful in his deeds.

–Psalm 145:14, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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At that moment Jesus exulted in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the wise, and reveal them to the simple.  Yes, Father, such was your choice.”

–Luke 10:21, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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Those Hebrews who returned to their ancestral homeland to rebuild their society, Jerusalem, and the Temple during the Persian period had to contend with major obstacles.  These included people who plotted, lied, and otherwise obstructed plans.  And Persian kings and/or certain underlings were not always sympathetic to the Hebrews.  Within this context First Zechariah received a message from God for Zerubbabel, the governor of Davidic descent:

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

–Zechariah 4:6b, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Often that divine spirit falls not upon the prominent and the powerful, but upon the marginalized and other powerless people.  This segue brings me to our Lord and Savior’s prayer in Luke 10:21.  What are we to make of it?

Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the greatest and most influential theologians of the twentieth century, reflected on that prayer in the intellectual autobiography he wrote for the Library of Living Theology volume about his thought (New York:  Macmillan Company, 1961).  He wrote of two dying elderly women who were parishioners at the Bethel Evangelical Church, Detroit, Michigan, which he served fresh out of seminary.  (“Evangelical” here was in the German sense of word, that is Protestant, in this case, a Lutheran-Reformed hybrid.)  The first lady was filled with anxiety and resentment, not serenity, during the illness which took her life.  This woman, Niebuhr wrote,

was too preoccupied with self.

–page 6

The second woman had experienced much difficulty during her life.  She had functioned as both breadwinner and homemaker for her two daughters because her husband, prone to insanity, could not provide for the family.  At the end of the lady’s life, when she was dying of cancer, she was serene and filled with gratitude to God for mercies and her daughters, however.  This contrast, Niebuhr wrote, taught him the meaning of Christ’s prayer.

The major difference between the two women seems to have been the way each approached death and dying.  In that context Niebuhr wrote that

the ultimate problem of human existence is the peril of sin and death in the way that these two perils are so curiously compounded; for we fall into sin by trying to evade or to conquer death  or our own insignificance, of which death is the ultimate symbol.  The Christian faith holds out the hope that our fragmentary lives will be completed in a total and larger plan than any which we control or comprehend, and that a part of the completion is forgiveness of sins, that is the forgiveness of the evils into which we fall by our frantic efforts to complete our own lives or to endow them with significance.

–pages 6 and 7

Then Niebuhr wrote that

we in the churches ought to admit more humbly than is our wont that there is a mystery of grace which no one can fathom.

–page 7

That mystery was available to our Lord and Savior’s Apostles and other disciples, whom N. T. Wright described as

the diverse and motley group

Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), page 125

with whom he had chosen to associate.

May we recognize that our significance resides in God alone and that the greatest in the Kingdom of God is the servant of all.  Then may we, by grace, act on that reality and succeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARGARET E. SANGSTER, HYMN WRITER, NOVELIST, AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF LYONS (A.K.A. SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS)

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

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Adapted from This Post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/devotion-for-saturday-before-proper-9-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Be Strong and Act   1 comment

Above:  Zerubbabel

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Haggai 1:14-2:9 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Then the LORD roused the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the rest of the people.  They came and set to work on the House of the LORD of Hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.  In the second year of Darius, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:

Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to the high priest  Joshua son of Jehozadak, and to the rest of the people:  Who is there left among you who saw this House in its former splendor?  How does it look to you now?  It must seem like nothing to you.  But be strong, O Zerubbabel–says the LORD–be strong.  O high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak; be strong, all of you people of the land–says the LORD–and act!  For I am with you–says the LORD of Hosts.  So I promised you when you came out of Egypt, and my spirit in your midst.  Fear not!

For thus said the LORD of Hosts:

In just a little while longer I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land; I will sake all the nations.  And the precious things of all the nations shall come [here], and I will fill this House with glory,

said the LORD of Hosts.

Silver is Mine and gold is Mine–says the LORD of Hosts.  The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former one,

said the LORD of hosts;

and in this place I will grant prosperity–declares the LORD of Hosts.

Psalm 43 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Give judgment for me, O God,

and defend my cause against an ungodly people;

deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.

2 For you are the God of my strength;

why have you put me from you?

and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?

Sent out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,

and bring me to your holy hill

and to your dwelling;

4 That I may go to the altar of God,

to the God of my joy and gladness;

and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?

and why are you so disquieted within me?

Put your trust in God;

for I will yet give thanks to him,

who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Luke 9:18-22 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now one day when he [Jesus] was praying alone in presence of his disciples he put this question to them,

Who do the crowds say I am?

And they answered,

John the Baptist; others Elijah; and others say one of the ancient prophets come back to life.

He said,

But you, who do you say I am?

It was Peter who spoke up.

The Christ of God,

he said.  But he [Jesus] gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.

The Son of Man

he said

is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.

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The Collect:

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; 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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Some Related Posts:

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/feast-of-the-confession-of-st-peter-the-apostle-january-18/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/week-of-6-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/week-of-proper-13-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/proper-16-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/proper-17-year-a/

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The returned exiles lived within the Persian province Beyond the River.  It was a minor and impoverished province, far from the glorious heart of the empire.  So there arose an important question:  How could they build a temple appropriate to the glory of God?  They lacked the resources that Solomon could summon.  God’s answer is that he will glorify the house; the people need merely to be reverent and do their best.  Above all, they need to be strong in God and to act accordingly.  God will handle the rest.

I have been inside some wondrous church buildings, from the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, D.C., to the Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah, Georgia.  It is indeed appropriate to make a church building beautiful; this indicates reverence.  More years ago than I like to admit, I watched a 1970s documentary series calledThe Christians.  One episode showed working men and women of one town in the Soviet Union donating their time and talents to make their local parish church building as lovely as possible.  This was an expression of their faith.  May nobody question the sincerity of architectural beauty born of reverence.

Yet, in a larger sense, no structure, regardless of how stunningly beautiful it may be, is sufficient to show the glory of God.  But God is present in such places.  This is a grace.

If we think that we have little or nothing to offer, that what we have to offer to God is inadequate, we need to remember that God is gracious to the the honestly faithful.  No gift, no matter how large or impressive it is in human terms, is adequate to pay God back for mercy.  So may we bring the small gifts and offerings, too.  It is the thought behind the gift and offering that counts, too.

The reading from Luke is one of the Synoptic accounts of the Confession of Saint Peter.  It is important to remember where this falls in that book.  So here is the sequence of Chapter 9, to verse 51:

  • Jesus sends out the Twelve. (1-6)
  • Herod the tetrarch thinks Jesus might be John the Baptist back from the dead. (7-9)
  • The Twelve return.  Jesus feeds 5000+ people with some loaves and fishes.  (10-17)
  • Peter professes his faith.  (18-21)
  • Jesus foretells his death and resurrection.  (22)
  • Jesus says to take up a cross and follow him.  (23-26)
  • “I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”  (27)  See this:  http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/week-of-6-epiphany-friday-year-1/
  • Jesus is transfigured.  (28-36)
  • Jesus heals an epileptic child.  (37-43a)
  • Jesus predicts his death and resurrection again.  (43b-45)
  • Jesus contradicts notions of greatness.  (46-48)
  • “Anyone who is not against you is for you.”  (49-50)
  • Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem.  (51)

Then Jesus begins to utter some really hard sayings.  Read them yourself.

The only adequate offering is Jesus himself, so let us not fool ourselves with delusions of grandeur or with inferiority complexes.  Our strength is in God alone.  Our identity is in God alone.  Our kinship is in Jesus, through whom we have adoption into the household of God.  We need to act reverently, bringing what we can for the service and glory of God.  But we also must remember that God alone glorifies our gifts, regardless of the form or quantity in which we have them.

So, with that in mind, I offer my devotional blog posts for this purpose.  May they do their job, with God’s help.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 8, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RYAN WHITE, RENEWER OF SOCIETY

THE FEAST OF JAMES CHALMERS, PROTESTANT MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF JULIE BILLIART, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME DE NAMUR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 8, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/week-of-proper-20-friday-year-1/

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Posted October 25, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Haggai 1, Haggai 2, Luke 9, Psalm 43

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