Archive for the ‘Hebrews 1’ Tag

Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After the Second Sunday in Lent, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Sacrifice of Isaac--Caravaggio

Above:  The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

To Argue Faithfully

MARCH 1 and 2, 2021

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The Collect:

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death

to be for us the means on life.

Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ that we may gladly suffer shame and loss

for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 21:1-7 (Monday)

Genesis 22:1-19 (Tuesday)

Psalm 105:1-11, 37-45 (Both Days)

Hebrews 1:8-12 (Monday)

Hebrews 11:1-3, 13-19 (Tuesday)

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For he remembered his holy word

and Abraham, his servant.

–Psalm 105:42, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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The New Testament defines faith three ways, for that anthology is the product of more than one writer.  Faith, in the Pauline sense, is inherently active, hence justification by grace.  Yet, in the Letter of James, faith is intellectual, hence that book’s theology of justification by works.  Those two schools of thought affirm active faith, so they are two ways of making the same point.  Then there is faith according to Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the assurance of things not hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Faith, according to this definition, which overlaps with the Pauline meaning, keeps one going in the absence of evidence in support of or in contradiction to a proposition.

Abraham, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, was an exemplar of that kind of faith.  As we have read in Genesis in this lectionary-based series of devotions, this was not always true.  (The author of Hebrews glossed over some content from Genesis.)  And I argue that, in Genesis 22, the patriarch failed the test of faith, for the faithful response was to argue.

Did I hear you correctly?  Do you want me kill my own son?  Have I not sacrificed Ishmael already by sending him away with Hagar?  What kind of God commands me to kill my son?

The near-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham must have caused psychological damage to the son (how could it not?), for he became a passive, minor figure and the least of the patriarchs.

My favorite aspect of Judaism is arguing faithfully with God.  In Islam one is supposed to submit to God, but Jews get to confront the deity in good conscience.  This ethic is evident in the Psalms, with frequent complaints to God.  I recall, decades ago, reading a review of a translation of the Psalms.  The new translation avoided King James-style politeness, as in

Lord, I beseech thee,

preferring

Look, Yahweh.

The review, from a Christian magazine, was favorable.  I have kvetched to God with great honesty often.  Is not honesty essential to any healthy relationship?

Pondering the art of faithful arguing led me to remember an incident from the Gospels.  The four Gospels are wonderful texts, but they lack any description of tone of voice at some crucial points in the narratives.  Tone of voice, of course, can change the meaning of dialogue.  In Matthew 15, for example, Jesus was in Gentile country–the region of Tyre and Sidon.  There a Gentile woman begged our Lord and Savior to heal her daughter.  He replied,

It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.

–15:26, The Revised English Bible (1989)

She answered,

True, sir, and yet the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table.

–15:27, REB

Jesus replied,

What faith you have!  Let it be as you wish.

–15:28a, REB

The context if that story tells me that Jesus said what he did to prompt her to reply as she did.  She passed the test.  All she had to do was argue.  Isaac would have been better off had Abraham been as faithful as that Gentile woman.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 8, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE NINTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATUS OF LUXEUIL AND ROMARIC OF LUXEUIL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS AND ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, ARCHDEACON OF EILENBURG

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BAXTER, ANGLICAN THEOLOGIAN

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/to-argue-faithfully/

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Devotion for the Thirty-Sixth Day of Lent: Tuesday in Holy Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image Source = Edal Anton Lefterov

Exodus and Hebrews, Part III: The Supremacy of Christ Jesus

MARCH 30, 2021

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 9:29-10:20

Psalm 34 (Morning)

Psalms 25 and 91 (Evening)

Hebrews 3:1-19

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A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-tuesday-of-passion-weekholy-week/

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It is true that Moses was trustworthy in the household of God, as a servant is, acting as witness to the things which were yet to be revealed, but Christ is trustworthy as a son is, over his household.  And we are his household, as long as we maintain the hope in which we glory.

–Hebrews 3:5-6, The New Jerusalem Bible

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[Aaron and Miriam] came forward; and [the LORD] said, “Hear these My words:  When a prophet of the LORD arises among you, I make Myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream.  Not so with my servant Moses; he is trusted throughout My household.  With him I speak mouth to mouth, plainly and not in riddles, and he beholds the likeness of the LORD.  How then did you not shrink from speaking against My servant Moses?”  Still incensed with them, the LORD departed.

–Numbers 12:5b-9, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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In Exodus 10 we find a new wrinkle in the narrative:  Courtiers of the Pharaoh criticize him for his obstinancy.  They understood what he ought to do.  Confronting such a monarch was no small risk, and this was no sympathetic king.

Moses, meanwhile, was faithful to God’s instructions.  This is a point the author (probably the Elohist–E) wanted the audience to understand.  It was a point the author of the Letter to the Hebrews grasped.  In Hebrews Jesus was greater than the prophets (1:1-4), the angels (1:5-2:18), and Moses (3:1-6), who was very close to God.  Moses was great, but he was only a servant in the household of faith, a household with Jesus built (3:2, 3, and 5).

We who have read the Bible know the outline of the rest of the story.  Yes, God will liberate the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.  (The name of the book is Exodus!)  But almost immediately afterward the troubles will start.  Grumbling will ensue.  People will express nostalgia for Egypt.  And the next generation will be the one to enter the Promised Land.  The liberated generation will not enter the Promised Land because it will not believe and will not abandon its slave mentality.  It will not enter the Promised Land because it will insist on hardening its collective heart.

Likewise, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, Christians ought not to harden their hearts.  Our Promised Land is spiritual, not geographical.  And Jesus, whose Hebrews name translated directly into English is Joshua, will lead us there.  The parallels between the Old Testament and the New Testament are beautiful, are they not?

This is a devotion for Tuesday in Holy Week.  This day has meaning only in relation to subsequent days, namely Maundy/Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.  Most of all it derives meaning from its position relative to Easter Sunday, for that Sunday gives us a Resurrected Jesus, not a dead one.  As scholars of the New Testament observe accurately, the point of perspective in the canonical Gospels is a post-Resurrection one.  And that is appropriate.  We Christians follow a Resurrected Lord and Savior, not a dead Messiah.  We follow him, who is superior wo even the greatest figure of the Hebrew Scriptures.  We follow the one of whom St. Paul the Apostle wrote

But what were once my assets I now through Christ Jesus count as losses.  Yes, I will go further:  because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything as loss.  For him I have accepted the loss of all other things, and look on them as filth if only I can gain Christ and be given a place in him….

(Sorry for the ellipses, but the text is a run-on sentence in The New Jerusalem Bible.  The citation is Philippians 3:7-9a.)

St. Paul summarized the case well; I cannot do better.  So I encourage you, O reader, to ponder the supremacy of Christ during all weeks, but especially during Holy Week, and to do so while remembering St. Paul’s words from Philippians 3.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, ANGLICAN EVANGELIST

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/exodus-and-hebrews-part-iii-the-supremacy-of-christ-jesus/

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Devotion for the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Exodus and Hebrews, Part I:  Misunderstanding Events

MARCH 28, 2021

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 8:1-32

Psalm 84 (Morning)

Psalms 42 and 32 (Evening)

Hebrews 1:1-14

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A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-monday-of-passion-weekholy-week/

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TECHNICAL NOTE:

Exodus 7:26-8:28 in Jewish and Roman Catholic Bibles equals Exodus 8:1-32 in Protestant ones.  So the Exodus citation in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod daily lectionary refers to the Protestant versification.

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With this post I turn to that part of the LCMS daily lectionary (2006 version) which pairs the Book of Exodus and the Letter to the Hebrews.  The epistle belongs to the Pauline tradition without St. Paul being its author.  Origen, my favorite excommunicated theologian, wrote in the 200s,

As to who wrote the epistle, only God knows.

The epistle opens by explaining the superiority of Jesus:

He is the reflection of God’s glory and bears the impress of God’s own being, sustaining all things by his powerful command; and now that he has purged sins away, he has taken his seat at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high.

–1:3, The New Jerusalem Bible

Meanwhile, in the Book of Exodus, the plagues continue.  Frogs, lice or gnats (depending on the translation one consults), and flies overrun Egypt.  But the Pharaoh is stubborn.  He is the same uncaring character who, in 7:23-24, went home as common Egyptians, desperate for drinking water, dug wells.

How is one supposed to tie these two readings together?  Psalm 32:10 (The New Jerusalem Bible) reads

Countless troubles are in store for the wicked,

but one who trusts in Yahweh is enfolded in his faithful love.

Were the ordinary Egyptians wicked?  No, course not!  They were no more or less sinful than anyone else.  So I have difficulty reconciling the God concept in Exodus 8 with the one in Hebrews 1.  Is the God who inflicts plagues on innocent  civilians the same one whose impress Jesus bears?

I think that a series of natural disasters befell Egypt in rapid succession and that the Hebrews escaped in the process.  I think that authors of now-canonical texts interpreted these disasters as acts of God.  But I do not think that God victimized innocent civilians.  No, that is not the God whose glory I see in Jesus of Nazareth, who sacrificed himself out of love rather than betray it.  We have begun Holy Week.  May we not proceed through it with a concept of God who attacks innocent populations.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/exodus-and-hebrews-part-i-misunderstanding-events/

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