A Community of Believers

No man is an island.  We exist in a society, in a community.  We grow up in a family, in a community of people.  As a Christian, we must live in a Christian community.  The Christian religious experience is always lived within a community.  Individual spirituality leads to a commitment not merely as an individual, but to the larger community of Christian believers.  Even the hermits understood that they shared in the larger Christian community.  Just as there is no religious practice without a religion, there cannot be any Christian belief except within a Christian community, a Christian Church.  An individual and communal faith goes hand in hand, not face to face.  God created us out of love, so faith is within a community.  If faith is not communal it is not complete.  Nevertheless, nearly half of American Christian believers are not affiliated with a church, because we live in a highly individualist country.  There is a certain hypocrisy that allows each of us to define our morality as what we would like to do.  We have lost the sense of personal and social responsibility for the common good as “me” and my individual personal experience becomes more important.  We are social by nature and need the common experience of worship.

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The ships of Tarshish (Ezek 27:25-27:25)

“The ships of Tarshish

Traveled for you

In your trade.

So you were filled.

You were heavily laden

In the heart

Of the seas.”

There is the problem of trying to situate Tarshish, which is often mentioned in the biblical literature. It could be Carthage in North Africa, Tarsus in Turkey, or Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. This town had a lot of precious metals and important ships, as well as ship building. Thus the trade merchandise of Tyre was on these ships of Tarshish. They were filled with lots of items, as they moved on the high seas.

All the Judeans in Egypt (Jer 44:1-44:1)

“The word came

To Jeremiah

For all the Judeans

Living in the land

Of Egypt,

At Migdol,

At Tahpanhes,

At Memphis,

As well as in the land of Pathros.”

Jeremiah received an oracle that was to be addressed to all the Judeans living in Egypt. No longer was this a small group of the remnant led by Johanan at Tahpanhes, but this was addressed to all the other Judeans living in different cities and places in Egypt. How did these Judeans get there? How big were these Israelite colonies? Were they left over from Exodus times? Were they also recent immigrants? The remnant group with Jeremiah and Baruch at Tahpanhes had just arrived. Were there other Judeans before they arrived in that town? Migdol was an island in the Nile River, east of Tahpanhes. Memphis was the ancient capital of lower Egypt, in the Nile River delta area. Pathros was also in the southern part of Egypt where Judean colonies might have been. As these places are mentioned, the assumption is that there must have been some other Judeans there. At least the author of this work knew something about them. Like the preceding chapter, this section has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapters 51, not chapter 44 as here.