The Redemption Context

African Christians put emphasis on creation and deliverance from hardship, while European Christians put emphasis on sin and salvation.  These differences show up in death rituals and funerals.  The early Church suffered political persecution.  Freedom from slavery saw redemption as the main form of freedom.  The early Medieval Church (4th-11th centuries) was more concerned about freedom from the power of the devil after Augustine had emphasized the concept of original sin.  The early Scholastic theologians like Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) put less emphasis on the ransom from the devil.  Adam had disobeyed and dishonored God.  Christ has saved us by being the second Adam, the so-called satisfaction theory.  Order and honor were more important.  The Third world today sees redemption as something else.  Christian redemption is the same reality, but there are different interpretations of what it means to be redeemed.

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The mute persons at the temple for Bel (Bar 6:40-6:41)

“Besides,

Even the Chaldeans themselves

Dishonor these gods.

When they see

Someone who cannot speak,

They bring Bel.

They pray to Bel

That the mute

May speak,

As though Bel

Were able

To understand.

Yet they themselves

Cannot perceive this.

They abandon them.

They have no sense.”

The Chaldeans dishonored their own gods. Whenever they saw a mute person, they would bring the god Bel to them. Then they would pray to Bel to make him speak, as if this false god could understand. But then they would leave him or her there with Bel with no response, because these worshipers of Bel had no sense themselves.   Bel was the term used for the Babylonian god Marduk, or Lord. It also was used for many gods in the region. This may have been the start of the use of Lord for the God of Israel, Yahweh.

The destruction of Judah (Lam 2:2-2:2)

Beth

“Yahweh has destroyed,

Without mercy,

All the dwellings

Of Jacob.

In his wrath,

He has broken down

The strongholds

Of daughter Judah.

He has brought down

To the ground,

In dishonor,

The kingdom

With its rulers.”

Yahweh had no mercy when he destroyed all the buildings in the land of Jacob. He was so angry that he broke down all the strong fortresses of his beloved daughter Judah. He has brought down and dishonored the kingdom of Judah and its rulers. Yahweh, not the Babylonian king, was considered the cause of the downfall of Judah. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Beth. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Stay away from the adulterous women (Prov 6:24-6:35)

“Preserve yourself from the wife of another!

Preserve yourself from the smooth tongue of the adulteress!

Do not desire her beauty in your heart!

Do not let her capture you with her eyelashes!

A prostitute’s fee is only a loaf of bread.

But the wife of another stalks a man’s very life.

Can fire be carried in one’s bosom

Without burning one’s clothes?

Can one walk upon hot coals

Without scorching one’s feet?

So is he who sleeps

With his neighbor’s wife.

No one who touches her will go unpunished.

Thieves who steal

Only to satisfy their appetite,

When they are hungry,

Are not despised.

Yet if they are caught,

They will pay sevenfold.

They will forfeit all the goods of their house.

But he who commits adultery has no sense.

He destroys himself.

He will get wounds and dishonor.

His disgrace will not be wiped away.

Jealousy arouses a husband’s fury.

He shows no restraint when he takes revenge.

He will accept no compensation.

He refuses a bribe

No matter how great.”

This is a very long presentation on the evils of adultery. In fact, it almost seems to condone prostitution and thievery as lesser evils than adultery. Very clearly, you should stay away from the wife of another person. Watch out for her smooth tongue and eyelashes. I did not know that eyelashes were signs of beauty 2,500 years ago. The prostitute’s fee was just that of a loaf of bread. They were a lot cheaper back then. However, being involved with another man’s wife can ruin your entire life. If you play with fire, you will get burned. If you walk on hot coals, you will burn your feet. If you sleep with your neighbor’s wife, it will not go unpunished. If you stole something because you were hungry, you would have to pay for it 7 times over from the goods of your house. However, you would continue to live. However, with adultery you destroy yourself. You will be wounded, dishonored, and disgraced in a way that it will not go away. In fact, the jealous husband will not be restrained when attacking you. No compensation or bribe will make him forget. You put your life on the line. So be careful with your neighbor’s wife.

The plight of David (Ps 69:6-69:8)

“Do not let those who hope in you

Be put to shame

Because of me!

Yahweh!

God of hosts!

Do not let those who seek you

Be dishonored

Because of me!

O God of Israel!

It is for your sake

That I have borne reproach!

It is for your sake

That shame has covered my face.

I have become

A stranger to my kindred.

I have become

An alien to my mother’s sons.”

David has brought shame to those who believed in Yahweh. They were being dishonored because of what David had done. He maintains that he did whatever he did for the sake of God. He was personally willing to bare this blame and shame. He had become a stranger to his relatives and an alien to his brothers because of this incident.

The angel of Yahweh and David’s enemies (Ps 35:4-35:6)

“Let them be put to shame!                         

Let them be put to dishonor!

All who seek after my life,

Let them be turned back!

Let them be confounded!

All who devise evil against me,

Let them be like chaff before the wind!

Let the angel of Yahweh drive them on!

Let their way be dark!

Let their way be slippery!

Let the angel of Yahweh pursue them!”

David wanted all those who were after his life and devising evil against him be put to shame, dishonored, turned back, and confounded. He wanted them to be chaff in the wind. He wanted the angel of Yahweh to drive them into darkness on a slippery slope. He wanted the angel of Yahweh to pursue them. He wanted bad things to happen to his enemies. He wanted Yahweh or his angel to seek vengeance for him.