Pride led to his downfall (Dan 5:20-5:21)

“But when his heart

Was lifted up,

His spirit

Was hardened.

Thus,

He acted proudly.

He was deposed

From his kingly throne.

His glory

Was stripped

From him.

He was driven

From human society.

His mind was made

Like that of an animal.

His dwelling was

With the wild asses.

He was fed grass

Like an ox.

His body was bathed

With the dew of heaven.

Finally,

He learned

That the Most High God

Has sovereignty

Over the kingdom

Of mortals.

The Most High God

Sets over it

Whomever he will.”

Daniel reminded this King Belshazzar of what had happened in the preceding chapter of this work to his father or grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar, with his hard-prideful heart. Thus, the Most High God deposed him of his kingly throne and stripped him of his glory. The king was driven from human society, as his mind was like that of an animal, living among wild asses. He ate grass like an ox. He was bathed with a heavenly dew. He finally learned that the Most High God ruled over the kingdom of mortals, because God decides who will be in charge.

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The good son of the unrighteous man (Ezek 18:14-18:17)

“But if this man

Has a son

Who sees all the sins

That his father

Has done,

Then considers it,

But does not do likewise,

Should he live?

This son does not

Eat upon the mountains

Or lift up his eyes

To the idols

Of the house of Israel.

He does not

Defile his neighbor’s wife

Or wrong any one.

He does not

Exact pledges

Or commit robbery.

But he gives his bread

To the hungry.

He covers the naked

With a garment.

He withholds his hand

From iniquity.

He takes no advance

Or accrues interest.

He observes

My ordinances.

He follows

My statutes.

He shall not die

For his father’s iniquity.

He shall surely live.”

What happens to the son of an unrighteous person? What if the son sees all the sins that his father has done, but decides to not follow in his father’s footsteps? This son does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or wrong any one. He does not exact pledges for loans or commit any robberies. However, he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment. He stays away from iniquity. He does not take any advances or accrue interest. He observes Yahweh’s ordinances and statutes. He is not going to die because of his father’s iniquity. Rather he will live.

God’s creative uniqueness (Sir 33:7-33:13)

“Why is one day

More important than another?

All the daylight in the year

Is from the sun.

By the Lord’s wisdom

They were distinguished.

He appointed

The different seasons.

He appointed

The different festivals.

He exalted some days

He hallowed some days.

He made some days ordinary.

All human beings come

From the ground.

Humankind was created

Out of the dust.

In the fullness of his knowledge

The Lord distinguished them.

He appointed their different ways.

He blessed some.

He exalted some.

He made some holy.

He brought them

Near to himself.

He cursed some.

He brought some low.

He turned them out of their place.

Like clay

In the hand of the potter,

To be molded as he pleases,

We are all in the hands

Of our maker

To be given

Whatever he decides.”

Sirach asks the question why some days are more important than others. After all, the sun shines every day, so what is the difference? Sirach’s response is that the Lord’s wisdom distinguishes between ordinary days and the different seasons. The Lord, not humans, have made holy days and festival days. Using the chapter one story of Genesis, chapter 1, he mentions that all humans come from dust, yet some are better than others. Some were blessed and lifted up. Some were holy and close to God. On the other hand, some were cursed. They are all like clay in the great potter’s hands. He molds them however he pleases and whatever way he decides. This is a very deterministic view of humans since everything is controlled by God.

The right time (Eccl 3:1-3:8)

“For everything there is a season.

There is a time

For every matter under heaven.

A time to be born.

A time to die.

A time to plant.

A time to pluck up what is planted.

A time to kill.

A time to heal.

A time to break down.

A time to build up.

A time to weep.

A time to laugh.

A time to mourn.

A time to dance.

A time to throw away stones.

A time to gather stones together.

A time to embrace.

A time to refrain from embracing.

A time to seek.

A time to lose.

A time to keep.

A time to throw away.

A time to tear.

A time to sew.

A time to keep silence.

A time to speak.

A time to love.

A time to hate.

A time for war.

A time for peace.”

This is the famous poem about a correct time for everything. Sometimes it is read at funerals. There also was the 1950s and 1960s Pete Seeger popular song Turn, Turn, Turn that took its lyrics from this poem. God decides the time. We do not. There is a time and place for all the dichotomies of life, birth and death, planting and harvesting, killing and healing, breaking down and building up, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, throwing away and gathering stones, embracing and not embracing, seeking and losing, keeping and throwing away, tearing and sowing, keeping silent and speaking, loving and hating, making war and making peace. Everything under heaven has its place and season.

Discipline your child (Prov 19:18-19:22)

“Discipline your child while there is hope.

Do not set your heart on their destruction.

A violent tempered person will pay the penalty.

If you effect a rescue

You will only have to do it again.

Listen to advice!

Accept instruction!

Thus you may gain wisdom for the future.

The human mind may devise many plans.

But it is the purpose of Yahweh that will be established.

What is desired in a man is loyalty.

It is better to be a poor

Than a liar.”

You can discipline your child as long as there is hope. However, you should not try to destroy your children. A violent person will pay the penalty. If you try to help a violent person, you may have to do it again. You should listen to advice and instruction so that you will have future wisdom. The human mind can devise many plans, but Yahweh is the one who finally decides things. Loyalty is a desirable feature. It is better to be poor than lie.

Judas Maccabeus prepares for battle (2 Macc 15:20-15:21)

“When all were now looking forward to the coming issue, the enemy was already close at hand with their army drawn up for battle. The elephants were strategically stationed. The cavalry were deployed on the flanks. Judas Maccabeus, observed the masses that were in front of him. He saw the varied supply of arms and the savagery of the elephants. He then stretched out his hands toward heaven. He called upon the Lord who works wonders. He knew that it is not by arms, but as the Lord decides, that he would gain the victory for those who deserve it.”

Judas Maccabeus knew that the enemy was close at hand. They were ready for the battle with elephants, cavalry, and all the infantry in front of him. Then he stretched out his hands to heaven. He knew that he would not win this battle with superior weapons that he did not have. He knew that the victory would come from the Lord, who would work wonders to give victory to the ones who deserved it.