The prophet of the Most High (Lk 1:76-1:76)

“You!

Child!

Will be called

The prophet

Of the Most High!

You will go

Before the Lord

To prepare

His ways.”

 

Καὶ σὺ δέ, παιδίον, προφήτης Ὑψίστου κληθήσῃ· προπορεύσῃ γὰρ ἐνώπιον Κυρίου ἑτοιμάσαι ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ,

 

Finally, Zechariah, via Luke in this canticle, turned to his child John.  He said to him (Καὶ σὺ δέ, παιδίον) that he would be called the prophet of the Most High (προφήτης Ὑψίστου κληθήσῃ).  He would go before or precede the Lord (προπορεύσῃ γὰρ ἐνώπιον Κυρίου) to prepare his ways (ἑτοιμάσαι ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ).  The term Most High was an attempt to translate the Hebrew word for God “Elohim.”  There was no Greek word equivalent for Yahweh, so that the tendency was to use the word “Lord” or “Κυρίου.”  Notice that Jesus was going to be the Son of the Most High, while John was going to be the prophet of the Most High.  John was to prepare the ways for the Lord, as in Isaiah, chapters 40:3 and 57:14.

 

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The Holy Spirit and the Son of God (Lk 1:35-1:35)

“The angel

Said to her.

‘The Holy Spirit

Will come upon you.

The power

Of the Most High

Will overshadow you.

Therefore,

The child to be born

Will be holy.

He will be called

The Son of God.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ, καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι· διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται Υἱὸς Θεοῦ.

 

Luke then has the Angel Gabriel reveal the whole plan.  Just as in Matthew, chapter 1:20, the angel told Joseph that the child conceived in Mary was from the Holy Spirit.  Luke did the same here.  This Angel Gabriel answered Mary (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ).  He said that the Holy Spirit would come over her (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ).  The power of the Most High God would overshadow or envelop her (καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι).  Her child would come forth or be born holy (διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον).  He would be called the Son of God (κληθήσεται Υἱὸς Θεοῦ).  This was a very theological statement uttered by the Angel Gabriel.  This child, Jesus would come about because of the Holy Spirit.  Elohim, the most high God, would overshadow her, the way that Yahweh had overshadowed the tent of dwelling with the covenant in Exodus, chapter 37:1-9.  This presence of God in Mary would make her pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The unique act of Jesus’ conception was a fully Trinitarian action involving the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit within the womb of Mary.  Obviously, the Son, her son, Jesus, would be born as a holy human person, clearly and rightfully called the Son of God.  This was a very developed theology of Luke, who always stressed the role of the Holy Spirit in his writings.

The throne of David (Lk 1:32-1:32)

“Jesus

Will be great.

He will be called

The Son

Of the Most High.

The Lord God

Will give him

The throne

Of his ancestor

David.”

 

οὗτος ἔσται μέγας καὶ Υἱὸς Ὑψίστου κληθήσεται, καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τὸν θρόνον Δαυεὶδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ,

 

Now comes the kicker.  This child Jesus would be special, really special.  Luke said that the Angel Gabriel told Mary that her child Jesus would be great (οὗτος ἔσται μέγας).  He would be called the Son of the Most High (καὶ Υἱὸς Ὑψίστου κληθήσεται).  The Lord God (Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς) will give him (καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ) the throne of his ancestor David (τὸν θρόνον Δαυεὶδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ).  This Most High indicated Elohim, one the Hebrew titles for God.  Jesus would have the Davidic throne because Joseph was a descendant of David.  This was really great news.

The Almighty Holy One (Hab 3:3-3:3)

“Elohim,

The Almighty One,

Came from Teman.

The Holy One

Came from Mount Paran.”

            Selah

Habakkuk has a series of names for Yahweh.  He was called Elohim, the Almighty One, and the Holy One.  This Almighty One was coming from Teman in Edom, the territory south of Judah.  Paran was a mountain in Edom.  Thus, Yahweh was going to enter Judah from the south.  Like in many of the psalms, there is an indication for a pause with the Selah.

The names of God (Ps 91:1-91:2)

“You live in the shelter of the Most High.

You abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

You will say to Yahweh.

‘My refuge and my fortress.

My God,

In whom I trust.’”

Psalm 91 has no title, unlike many of the other psalms. This psalm starts with 4 different names for God, which is unusual since normally only 2 or 3 names are used, God or Yahweh. First we live in the shelter of the Most High God that is El Elyon in Hebrew and gphyistos in Greek, the highest one. Next we abide in the shadow of the Almighty God that is El Shaddai in Hebrew and the more familiar Greek pantokrator, creator of all. Normally when the Israelites speak to God they call him with the more familiar Yahweh that is the proper name for the God of Israel, more commonly the Hebrew epigram YHW. He seems to be an Israelite warrior God who gets angry a lot. He could not be depicted with any statues or idols. Later Jewish prayer life changed the pronunciation of Yahweh with the word Adonai in its place. The common translation of Yahweh into Greek was kurios, or Lord. Thus many bibles use this term “Lord” for Yahweh. So what did he say to Yahweh? Yahweh is his refuge and fortress. However, then we have the 4th term for God, Elohim in Hebrew and Theos in Greek. Using Theos in Greek put God at the same level as other gods, but clearly Adonai or Yahweh was the monotheistic God in the later writings. Obviously this psalmist trusted in God.

The treaty between Jacob and Laban (Gen 31:43-32:2)

“Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, ‘The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine.  But what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about their children whom they have borne?  Come now let us make a covenant, you and I.  Let it be a witness between you and me.’  So Jacob took a stone, and set it up as a pillar.  Jacob said to his kinsfolk, ‘Gather stones.’ They took stones, and made a heap.  They ate there by the heap.  Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, the heap of witness.  But Jacob called it Galeed.  Laban said, ‘This heap is a witness between you and me today.’ Therefore he called it Galeed, and the pillar Mizpah, for he said, ‘Yahweh watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other.  If you ill-treat my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, though no one else is with us, remember that God is witness between you and me.’”

Laban responded that these were his daughters, sons, and flocks.  However, he also said ‘let us make a covenant, you and I.’ Jacob took a stone and set up a pillar and asked everyone to gather stones.  He called this place Galeed.  Laban said that this pile would be a witness of their parting, saying that God would watch over all, but he warned Jacob not to take other wives or mistreat his daughters.

 “Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘See this heap and see the pillar, which I have set between you and me.  This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, to harm each other.  May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.’ So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.  Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain height and called his kinsfolk to eat bread.  They ate bread and tarried all night in the hill country.  Early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he departed and returned home.  Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him.  When Jacob saw them he said, ‘This is God’s camp!’  So he called the place Mahanaim.”

This heap set up some sort of territorial line.  However, neither Galeed nor Jegar-sahadutha ever appears in biblical literature again.  Mizpah does many times.  Laban said good-bye to his daughters and grandchildren, blessing them.  The angels of God met Jacob and told him to call this place ‘God’s camp, Mahanaim, an east Jordan town that will appear again in biblical literature.  This story is a combination of the Yahweh and Elohim traditions.