It’s Still The Task At Hand

“Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.” (Ps. 82:3-4)

Don’t believe the ‘Evangelicals’ who act as though such things were part of the ‘liberal’ agenda.  These things are still the task at hand for the people of God.

Truth

The LORD sent all his servants the prophets to you time and time again, but you have not obeyed or even paid attention.  He announced, ‘Turn, each of you, from your evil way of life and from your evil deeds. Live in the land the LORD gave to you and your ancestors long ago and forever.  Do not follow other gods to serve them and to bow in worship to them, and do not anger me by the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm. ” ‘But you have not obeyed me’– this is the LORD ‘s declaration– ‘with the result that you have angered me by the work of your hands and brought disaster on yourselves.’ (Jer. 25:4-7)

Famine in the Land

I shall turn your festivals into mourning and all your singing into lamentation; I shall make you all wear sacking round your waists and have all your heads shaved. I shall make it like the mourning for an only child, and it will end like the bitterest of days. ‘The days are coming- declares the Lord Yahweh- when I shall send a famine on the country, not hunger for food, not thirst for water, but famine for hearing Yahweh’s word. People will stagger from sea to sea, will wander from the north to the east, searching for Yahweh’s word, but will not find it. ‘That Day, fine girls and stalwart youths will faint from thirst. The people who swear by the Sin of Samaria, who say, “Long live your god, Dan!” and “Hurrah for the pilgrimage to Beersheba!” will all fall, never to rise again.’ (Amos 8:10-14)

UCL Institute of Jewish Studies Lecture Series

They have a number of lectures forthcoming.  These are the ones related to Biblical Studies that may be of interest to you all:

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 22nd
6pm GMT
Nili Samet (Bar-Ilan University)
(Re)contextualizing Qohelet after Two Centuries of Modern Research
Chair: Lily Kahn (UCL)
Register (free or donation ticket): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/424489017077

And

THURSDAY DECEMBER 1st
6pm GMT
Ra’anan Boustan (Princeton University)
Making Space: The Huqoq Synagogue Mosaics and the Viewing Experience
Chair: Sacha Stern (UCL)

Register (free or donation ticket): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/424555736637

God Is Sick of Your ‘Praise Songs’, He Wants You to Act Justly!

I hate, I scorn your festivals, I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies. When you bring me burnt offerings . . . your oblations, I do not accept them and I do not look at your communion sacrifices of fat cattle. Spare me the din of your chanting, let me hear none of your strumming on lyres, but let justice flow like water, and uprightness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:21-24)

Despair Has a Way to Getting Hold of People…

We are subjected to every kind of hardship, but never distressed; we see no way out but we never despair; we are pursued but never cut off; knocked down, but still have some life in us; always we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are continually being handed over to death, for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our mortal flesh. In us, then, death is at work… (2 Cor. 4:8-12)

It’s Just as True Now as it Was Then

This is a rebellious people, they are lying children, children who will not listen to Yahweh’s Law.  To the seers they say, ‘See nothing!’ To the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy the truth to us; tell us flattering things; have illusory visions; turn aside from the way, leave the path, rid us of the Holy One of Israel.’ 

So the Holy One of Israel says this, ‘Since you have rejected this word and put your trust in fraud and disloyalty and rely on these, for you this guilt will prove to be a breach opening up, a bulge at the top of a wall which suddenly and all at once comes crashing down. (Isa. 30:9-13)

Harming the Poor Brings the Judgment of God

My child, do not refuse the poor a livelihood, do not tease the needy [with empty promises].  Do not add to the sufferings of the hungry, do not bait anyone in distress.  Do not aggravate a heart already angry, nor keep the destitute waiting for your alms.  Do not repulse a hard-pressed beggar, nor turn your face from the poor.  Do not avert your eyes from the needy, give no one occasion to curse you; for if someone curses you in distress, his Maker will give ear to the imprecation. (Sir. 4:1-6 )

Trust

Yahweh is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? Yahweh is the fortress of my life, whom should I dread?  When the wicked advance against me to eat me up, they, my opponents, my enemies, are the ones who stumble and fall.  Though an army pitch camp against me, my heart will not fear, though war break out against me, my trust will never be shaken.  One thing I ask of Yahweh, one thing I seek: to dwell in Yahweh’s house all the days of my life, to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh, to seek out his temple. (Ps. 27:1-4)

To All The ‘Christians’ Cheering the Mistreatment of Migrants, Maybe You Should Buy a Bible

And read it.  Not too far in you’ll read this-

If you have foreigners in your country, you will not molest them. You will treat them as though they were native-born and love them as yourself — for you yourselves were once foreigners in Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.  (Lev. 19:33-34)

If you can’t abide by that it’s probably best if you stop calling yourself a Christian, since you are ignoring God’s specific commands regarding the treatment of others.

When People Have a Guilty Conscience…

I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee; they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues. They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues (Lev. 26:36-37)

Zephaniah

Disaster to the rebellious, the befouled, the tyrannical city! She has not listened to the call, she has not bowed to correction, she has not trusted in Yahweh, she has not drawn near to her God.  The rulers she has are roaring lions, her judges are wolves of the wastelands which leave nothing over for the morning, her prophets are braggarts, impostors, her priests have profaned what is holy and violated the Law.  

Yahweh the Upright is in her, he does no wrong; morning by morning he gives judgement, each dawn unfailingly (but the wrong-doer knows no shame).  I have exterminated the nations, their corner-towers lie in ruins; I have emptied their streets, no one walks through them; their cities have been destroyed and are now deserted and unpeopled.  

I thought, ‘At least you will fear me, at least you will bow to correction,’ and none of the punishments I brought on them will disappear from their view. But no, it only made them more anxious to do whatever was corrupt. (Zeph. 3:1-7)

Wise Words from Ben Sira

Resentment and anger, these are foul things too, and a sinner is a master at them both.  Whoever exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin. Pardon your neighbour any wrongs done to you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.  If anyone nurses anger against another, can one then demand compassion from the Lord?  Showing no pity for someone like oneself, can one then plead for one’s own sins?  

Mere creature of flesh, yet cherishing resentment!-who will forgive one for sinning? Remember the last things, and stop hating, corruption and death, and be faithful to the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not bear your fellow ill-will, remember the covenant of the Most High, and ignore the offence. Avoid quarrelling and you will sin less; for the hot-tempered provokes quarrels.  (Sir. 27:30-28:8)

True Exegesis

The study of the language of the N. T. is the fundamental condition of all true exegesis.  — G. B. Winer.

This can’t be said enough.

A Psalm for Politicians

Why take pride in being wicked, you champion in villainy, all day long plotting crime? Your tongue is razor-sharp, you artist in perfidy.  You prefer evil to good, lying to uprightness.  You revel in destructive talk, treacherous tongue!   That is why God will crush you, destroy you once and for all, snatch you from your tent, uproot you from the land of the living. (Ps. 52:1-5)

Job Is Not Wrong

Why do the wicked still live on, their power increasing with their age?  They see their posterity assured, and their offspring secure before their eyes.  The peace of their houses has nothing to fear, the rod that God wields is not for them.  No mishap with their bull at breeding-time, nor miscarriage with their cow at calving. 

They let their infants frisk like lambs, their children dance like deer. They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the pipe. They end their lives in happiness and go down in peace to Sheol.  Yet these are the ones who say to God, ‘Go away! We do not want to learn your ways.  What is the point of our serving Shaddai? What should we gain from praying to him?’  Surely they have won their own prosperity, since God is kept so far from their plans? 

Do we often see the light of the wicked put out, or disaster overtake him, or the retribution of God destroy his possessions, or the wind blow him away like a straw, or a whirlwind carry him off like chaff?   So God is storing up punishment for his children? But the wicked himself should be punished, and should know it!  — (Job 21:7-19)