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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday: Micah 3:1-8; Psalms 28; Revelation 7:9-17; Luke 10:1-16

Micah turns his judgment against the rulers, nobles, prophets and priests of Jerusalem for their corrupt ways. Those who are responsible for maintaining justice actually hate the good and love the evil, and devour the very people they are to be caring for. When the time comes for them to cry out to the Lord, he will not listen. The prophets lead the people astray, giving their prophecies for hire, promising peace where there is none and declaring war on those who refuse to put food in their mouths. Their vision shall fail; all will be darkness and night, without any revelation or word from God. On other hand, Micah is filled with power and the spirit of the Lord and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgressions. Finally, the rulers and chiefs of the house of Israel are condemned for their abhorrence of justice and perversion of equity. They build Zion with blood; they take bribes in return for their judgments. Priests teach for a price and prophets give oracles for pay, yet claim to be leaning on the Lord, who they are sure will protect them. The judgment is that because of them Jerusalem will be plowed as a field and become a heap of ruins, its mountain (the Temple mount), a wooded height.

The psalmist prays, “Listen Lord, listen, lest I be like those who go down to the pit! Hear the voice of my supplication when I cry to you for help, when I lift my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.” The prayer then turns to reflect on the wicked, pleading “do not drag me away with them!” It then calls on God to repay them for their evil work and the fact that they do not regard the works of the Lord. God’s judgment is invoked: “break them down and build them up no more. Then the psalm makes a shift and blesses the Lord, for he has heard the sound of my pleading (note the tense shift). Therefore, the Lord is blessed and the strength and shield in whom the psalmist’s heart trusts. Helped and given an exultant heart, the psalmist sings songs of thanks and hints at the fact that he may be the king. The final hymn of praise ends with a call for God to save his people, bless his heritage and be their shepherd forever.

The sealing of the 144,000 of Israel is followed by seeing a crowd so large it is innumerable, from all the nations, peoples, tribes and languages of the earth standing before God’s throne, singing a hymn of salvation. Both Israel and the church are now united into one people of God, and together with the angels, elders, and four living creatures, fall on their faces to worship God. The hymn is a seven-fold blessing: “Glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power and might be to our God forever and ever.” As John stands on looking at the scene, one of the elders approaches him saying, “Who are these robed in white and where have they come from?” When John asks for the answer the elder replies, “These are those who have come out of the great ordeal,” (tribulation in the KJV). They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This is the only place the “tribulation” is mentioned, and it is clearly a reference to the persecution and martyrdom being experienced in the Roman Empire because of believed loyalty to Jesus. These are now before the throne worshiping God day and night under the shelter of his presence. Never again will they know hunger, thirst, nor the heat of the sun. The Lamb is in the center of them as their shepherd, who will guide them to the springs of the waters of life (picking up the image of Jesus in the Temple offering living water to all who seek it). God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

As Jesus had sent forth the twelve, he now commissions seventy, or, is it seventy-two? Ancient manuscripts carry two numbers, the latter being what was believed to be the number of nations in the world. The number, seventy-two, witnesses to the fact that the gospel is being sent to every tribe and nation on the earth. The disciples are sent out in pairs to every town and place where Jesus himself intends to go as he makes his way to Jerusalem, or, does Luke mean something far larger than the number seventy-two would imply? The travel instructions are the same as for the twelve (Luke 9:1-5), but now there is the warning and judgment: they are being sent out like lambs among wolves, but those who resist them will meet the same fate as Sodom. This is followed by a series of woes against cities that did not receive them, cities where they had ministered in Galilee but had been rejected. Notice that it includes Capernaum, the center from which Jesus’ Galilean ministry emerged. The section ends with a promise: whoever listens to them listens to Jesus; whoever rejects them rejects Jesus, and whoever rejects Jesus rejects the one who sent him. They are his presence and voice wherever they go.


Posted October 23, 2012

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The Rev. Dr.       Fred R. Anderson

Author: The Rev. Dr.       Fred R. Anderson
Created: June 21, 2012

The Rev. Dr. Fred R. Anderson, Pastor of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, offers thoughts on today’s lectionary readings.

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