Zechariah’s turn to burn incense (Lk 1:9-1:9)

“Zechariah

Was chosen by lot,

According to the custom

Of the priesthood.

He was to enter

The sanctuary

Of the Lord

To burn incense.”

                                                                     

κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας ἔλαχε τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου,

 

Luke pointed out that not only was his group of priests on duty, Zechariah was also chosen by lot (ἔλαχε), as was the priestly custom (κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας), to enter the sanctuary of the Lord (εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου) to burn incense (τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι).  Apparently, as mentioned elsewhere, choosing by lot or chance was a fairly common way to make decisions, since God would guide the choice.  This Levite priestly custom meant that Zechariah got to enter the holy of holies, the inner sanctuary of the Temple, where he would burn incense, a big honor.

Moral sense of the Bible

Others read the biblical texts looking for a moral sense or meaning.  What am I to do?  What is God calling me to do?  The answer can be found in reading the Bible.  By reading the Bible, I may find out how I should act.  The Bible is an aid in helping me to make decisions.  The Bible is my guide book in life, as it tells me what to do in difficult situations.  It has the moral standards by which I want to lead my life.

Fear of the Lord (Sir 32:14-32:17)

“Whoever seeks God

Will accept his discipline.

Whoever rises early

To seek him

Will find his favor.

Whoever seeks the law

Will be filled with it.

But the hypocrite

Will stumble at it.

Whoever fears the Lord

Will form true judgments.

They will kindle righteous deeds

Like a light.

The sinner

Will shun reproof.

He will find a decision

According to his liking.”

Once again, Sirach has linked everything to the fear of God. Anyone who is seeking God must accept God’s discipline. You have to get up early to seek God. You should seek the law and be filled with it. The law, of course, means the commandments of God. You should not be a hypocrite who stumbles around. If you fear the Lord, you will make true judgments that will end up with righteous deeds that kindle a light like a fire. The sinner does not like to be reprimanded. The sinner likes only the decisions that fit his way of thinking.

The role of the king (Prov 16: 10-16:15)

“Inspired decisions are on the lips of a king.

His mouth does not sin in judgment.

Honest balances and scales are Yahweh’s.

All the weights in the bag are his work.

It is an abomination for kings to do evil.

The throne is established by righteousness.

Righteous lips are the delight of a king,

He loves those who speak what is right.

A king’s wrath is a messenger of death.

Whoever is wise will appease it.

In the light of a king’s face

There is life.

His favor is like the clouds

That bring the spring rain.”

This next section follows the medieval concept of the diving right of kings. Thus the king speaks in the name of Yahweh. His decisions are thus inspired by Yahweh. He does not sin in making his judgments. He expects, like Yahweh, to have honest scales and balances, so that there should not be any false weights in bags on the scales. Thus, it is an abomination for a king to do evil because the throne was established by righteousness, which should be the delight of the king. The king loves those who speak correctly and rightly. On the other hand, his wrath is a messenger of death. The wise ones are able to appease his anger. You will have life if the king’s face lights upon you. His favors are like refreshing spring rains.