The angel said not to be afraid (Lk 1:13-1:13)

“But the angel

Said to him.

‘Do not be afraid!

Zechariah!’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ ἄγγελος Μὴ φοβοῦ, Ζαχαρία,

 

Luke then has this oracle of the angel of God, almost like a theophany.  Zechariah got a direct message from God, via this angel.  First, the angel told Zechariah (εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ ἄγγελος) not to be afraid (Μὴ φοβοῦ, Ζαχαρία).  That was easier said than done.  This was an attempt to set Zechariah at ease.

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Do not be too confident (Am 6:1-6:3)

“Woe to those

Who are at ease

In Zion!

Woe to those

Who feel secure

On Mount Samaria!

Woe to

The notable men

Of the first

Of the nations,

To whom the house of Israel

Resorts!

Pass over to Calneh!

See!

Go to Hamath the great!

Go down to Gath

Of the Philistines!

Are they better

Than these kingdoms?

Or is your territory

Greater than their territory?

O you!

You put far away

The evil day!

Do you not bring near

A reign of violence?”

Yahweh, via Amos, warned the Israelites in Zion and Samaria not to be at ease, feeling secure, and over confident. They should be aware of the important people that they have had contact with in other countries. They should look at the great commercial centers in Calneh and Hamath in Syria. They should see the Philistine city of Gath. All these kingdoms have more territory and were better off than they were. The Israelites thought that they could put off the evil day, but the reign of violence was getting closer.

The fearful dream of the king (Dan 4:4-4:5)

“I,

King Nebuchadnezzar,

Was living at ease

In my house.

I was prospering

In my palace.

I saw a dream

That frightened me.

My fantasies in bed

Terrified me.

The visions of my head

Alarmed me.”

This author of the Book of Daniel has the king of Babylon speaking in the first-person singular. He was living at ease in his house, prospering in his palace. Everything was all good. Then he had a dream that frightened him. These fantasies and visions terrified and alarmed him.

Wonderful Moab (Jer 48:11-48:11)

“Moab is at ease

From his youth.

He has settled

Like wine,

On its dregs.

He has not been emptied

From vessel to vessel.

He has not gone

Into exile.

Therefore his flavor

Has remained.

His aroma is unspoiled.”

Moab is masculine instead of feminine as in the preceding verses. He has been at ease since his youth. He has settled like good wine. However, there are dregs that have not been emptied or moved from barrel to barrel. Moab has never gone into exile. Thus his flavor and aroma have remained unspoiled. In other words, things have been pretty good for the Moabites up until now.

They refuse wisdom (Prov 1:24-1:33)

“I have called.

But you have refused.

I have stretched out my hand.

Yet no one has heeded it.

You have ignored all my counsel.

You would have none of my reproof.

I also will laugh at your calamity.

I will mock you

When panic strikes.

When panic strikes you

Like a storm.

Your calamity comes like a whirlwind.

When distress and anguish comes upon you,

Then they will call upon me.

But I will not answer.

They will seek me diligently.

But they will not find me.

Because they hated knowledge

They did not choose the fear of Yahweh.

They would have none of my counsel.

They despised all my reproof.

Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way.

They shall be sated with their own devices.

Waywardness kills the simple.

The complacency of fools destroys them.

But those who listens to me

Will be secure.

They will live at ease

Without dread of disaster.”

Wisdom continues to speak in the first person singular. Wisdom called but they refused to listen. Wisdom stretched out her hand but no one heeded her. They ignored all her counsel. They would not accept her criticism. Now the tables were turned. When calamity and panic hit them like a storm, she would then laugh and mock them. When they might be in distress and anguish, they might call on wisdom, like they did Yahweh. However, wisdom was not going to answer. They might seek her, but they will not find her. They have chosen not to fear Yahweh so that wisdom will not come to them. They hate knowledge and do not accept her counsel. They despised her criticism so that they will eat the fruit of their way. They are full of their own devices. Waywardness kills the simple. Complacent fools destroy themselves. However, those who listen to wisdom will be secure, at ease, and without any fear of disaster.

Do the wicked really suffer? (Job 21:17-21:26)

“How often is the lamp of the wicked put out?

How often does calamity come upon them?

How often does God distribute pains in his anger?

How often are they like straw before the wind?

How often are they like chaff that the storm carries away?

You say.

‘God stores up their iniquity for their children.

Let it be paid back to them.

Thus they may know it.

Let their own eyes see their destruction.

Let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty Shaddai.’

What do they care for their household after them?

When the number of their months is cut off?

Will any teach God knowledge?

He judges those that are on high.

One dies in full prosperity.

They are at ease and secure.

Their loins are full of milk.

The marrow of their bones is moist.

Another dies in bitterness of soul.

They have never tasted of good.

They lie down alike in the dust.

The worms cover them.”

Job wondered whether the wicked were really punished at all. The wicked people seem to be surviving pretty well. Where is their pain and calamity? They do not seem to be like chaff or straw in the wind. As for their children getting the punishment, what do they care about that? What do they care about their inheritance after they have died? They seem to die at ease and secure with their prosperity. What else could you ask for? They die like everyone else. Dust and worms will cover them up whether they were prosperous or not, whether they were wicked or not. Where is God’s punishment to them since they do not seem to care or know about God?