Jerusalem surrounded (Lk 21:20-21:20)

“When you see Jerusalem

Surrounded

By army camps,

Then know

That its desolation

Has come near.”

 

Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἱερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that when they would see Jerusalem (Ἱερουσαλήμ) surrounded by military army camps (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων), then they should know (τότε γνῶτε) that its desolation was near (ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer that used the word στρατοπέδων that meant a military camp, an army, or an encamped army.  Perhaps, this was a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:15, and in Mark, chapter 13:14.  Mark said that Jesus warned them that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing or set up in the place where it should not be (ἑστηκότα ὅπου οὐ δεῖ), those reading this should understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Matthew indicated that Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Only Matthew explicitly and specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple.  In 175 BCE, the prince, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to destroy the high priest Onias III, and the city of Jerusalem with its sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising.  During that time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple.  Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols.  Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological, about the end times, as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly two centuries earlier.  Have you ever seen a religious shrine or church destroyed?

God knows your heart (Lk 16:15-16:15)

“Jesus

Said to the Pharisees.

‘You are those

Who justify yourselves

In the sight

Of others.

However,

God knows

Your hearts.

What is prized

By human beings

Is an abomination

In the sight

Of God.’”

 

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ δικαιοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁ δὲ Θεὸς γινώσκει τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν· ὅτι τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν βδέλυγμα ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Once again, this is a unique statement of Luke, not found in the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus reproved the Pharisees.  He said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that they tried to justify themselves (Ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ δικαιοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς) in the sight of other men (ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  However, God knows their hearts (ὁ δὲ Θεὸς γινώσκει τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν).  What is prized or exalted by humans (ὅτι τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν) is an abomination or cursed in the sight of God (βδέλυγμα ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Once again, Jesus continued with his diatribe against the Pharisees.  The value system of the Pharisees was not in sync with the value system of God.  They wanted to look good before their fellow men, so as to be praised.  However, whatever humans praise, God does not.  Do you love human praise?

The importance of Daniel (Mt 24:15-24:15)

“When you see

The desolating sacrilege

Standing in the holy place,

As was spoken of

By the prophet Daniel,

Let the reader understand!”

 

Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω,

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:14, and in Luke, chapter 21:20, but only Matthew specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel.  Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Matthew explicitly named the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple.  In 175 BCE, the prince coming to destroy the high priest Onias III was probably King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising.  During this time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple.  Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols.  Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological about the end times as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly 2 centuries earlier.

The wicked uncleanness in Jerusalem (Ezek 22:10-22:12)

“In you,

They uncover

Their fathers’ nakedness.

In you,

They violate women

In their menstrual period.

One commits abomination

With his neighbor’s wife.

Another lewdly defiles

His daughter-in-law.

Another in you,

Defiles his sister,

His father’s daughter.

In you,

They take bribes

To shed blood.

You take both

Advance interest

With accrued increase.

You make gain

Of your neighbors

By extortion.

You have forgotten me.’

Says Yahweh God.”

There was a lot of violence and lewd brutal sexual behavior in Jerusalem. They uncovered their fathers’ nakedness. They violated women in their menstrual period. They performed some sort of abomination with their neighbor’s wife. They defiled their daughters-in-law. They even defiled their sisters, the daughter’s of their father. Besides all this lewd behavior, they took bribes to kill other people. They also took both advance and accrued interest. They exploited their neighbors with extortion. Perhaps, most grievous of all was that they had forgotten Yahweh, their God.

Opposition to worship cults (Isa 66:3-66:4)

“Whoever slaughters an ox is

Like one who kills a human being.

Whoever sacrifices a lamb is

Like one who breaks a dog’s neck.

Whoever presents a cereal offering is

Like one who offers swine’s blood.

Whoever makes a memorial offering

Of frankincense is

Like one who blesses an idol.

These have chosen their own ways.

They take delight in their abominations.

I also will choose to mock them.

I will bring upon them

What they fear.

Because,

When I called,

No one answered.

When I spoke

They did not listen.

But they did

What was evil in my sight.

They chose

What did not please me.”

Yahweh seems to rebuke those who sacrifice animals, saying that killing oxen is like killing humans. If they sacrificed lambs, they are sacrificing dogs. A grain offering was compared to unclean pig’s blood. The use of the frankincense was compared to worshiping idols. They have chosen their own ways that are an abomination to Yahweh. He would continue to mock and punish them because no one answered when he called. No one listened when he spoke. They continued to do evil and not please God.

The challenge to other gods (Isa 41:21-41:24)

“‘Set forth your case!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Bring your proofs!’

Says the King of Jacob.

Let them bring them!

Tell us!

What is to happen?

Tell us the former things!

What are they?

Thus we may consider them.

Thus we may know their outcome.

Declare to us the things to come!

Tell us what is to come hereafter!

Thus we may know that you are gods!

Do good!

Do harm!

Thus we may be afraid.

Thus we may be terrified.

You are indeed nothing!

Your work is nothing at all!

Whoever chooses you

Is an abomination.”

Yahweh challenges the people with other gods to respond. He wanted them to present their case or proof for their gods. Could their gods tell people about past things or future things? Can they do some good or harm? Can they make people afraid or terrified? Instead, Yahweh maintains that these gods are nothing and their work is nothing at all. Thus anyone who chooses these gods is an abomination, pure and simple.

Accursed false idol worship (Wis 14:8-14:11)

“But the idol made with hands is accursed.

So too the one who made it. Having made it,

The perishable thing was named a god.

Equally hateful to God

Are the ungodly man

With their ungodliness.

What was done

Will be punished together

With the one who did it.

Therefore there will be a visitation

Also upon the heathen idols.

Because,

Though part of what God created,

They became an abomination.

They became snares for human souls.

They became a trap to the feet of the foolish.”

Now here is a stinging rebuke of idols and their makers. Both the ungodly idol and the ungodly ones (ὁ ἀσεβῶν) who made it were accursed by God. They were making, calling, and naming these idols gods (θεὸς ὠνομάσθη). They and their idols both would be punished together. Although they are a good part of God’s creation (ἐν κτίσματι Θεοῦ), these idols (εἰδώλοις) have become an abomination or a scandal since they set snares and traps for foolish human souls (σκάνδαλα ψυχαῖς ἀνθρώπων).