The curse on the earth (Isa 24:4-24:6)

“The earth dries up.

It withers.

The world languishes.

It withers.

The heavens languish

Together with the earth.

The earth lies polluted

Under its inhabitants.

They have transgressed laws.

They have violated the statutes.

They have broken the everlasting covenant.

Therefore a curse devours the earth.

Its inhabitants suffer

For their guilt.

Therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled.

Few people are left.”

This oracle of Isaiah says that the earth and the heavens were drying up and withering away. The earth was polluted by its inhabitants. Does that sound familiar? They had transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the eternal covenant. The Mosaic laws and statutes only pertained to the Israelites. However, the eternal covenant came after the flood for all people. Thus everyone was guilty. Yahweh was going to curse all the earth and its inhabitants because of their guilty ways. A lot of people would be wiped out, but a few would be left, like the “Left Behind” series of books, movies, and video games by Tim LaHaye (1926-2016).

Friends (Sir 6:5-6:13)

“Peasant speech multiplies friends.

A gracious tongue multiplies courtesies.

Let those who are friendly with you be many.

But let your advisers be one in a thousand.

When you gain friends,

Gain him through testing.

Do not trust them hastily.

There are friends,

Who are such,

When it suits them.

But they will not stand by you

In time of trouble.

There are friends

Who changes into enemies.

They disclose a quarrel to your disgrace.

There are friends

Who sit at your table.

But they will not stand by you

In time of trouble.

When you are prosperous,

They become your second self.

They lord it over your servants.

But if you are brought low,

They will turn against you.

They will hide themselves from you.

Keep away from your enemies.

Be on guard with your friends.”

Sirach has a warning about friends. They come and go. Pleasant speech and a gracious tongue will get you many friends. However, your advisors should be few, 1 in 1,000. Test people who are becoming your friends. Some will be friends when it suits them. They will not stand by you when there is trouble. Some will change into enemies. Even some who eat at your table will not stay with you when problems arise. Some like to be your friends when you are prosperous. They lord it over your servants. However, if you are brought low, they will hide themselves from you. Sirach’s final advice was to stay away from your enemies, but be on guard with your friends.

Wisdom versus strength (Eccl 9:13-9:16)

“I have also seen this example of wisdom

Under the sun.

It seemed great to me.

There was a little city

With few men in it.

A great king came against it.

He besieged it.

He built great siege works against it.

Now there was found in it

A poor wise man.

He by his wisdom delivered the city.

Yet no one remembered that poor man.

So I said.

‘Wisdom is better than might.

Yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised.

His words are not heeded.’”

Qoheleth has an interesting story about a great king who went after a small city with a few people in it. He set up siege works against this town, but a poor wise man helped to save the city. The problem is that no one remembered the poor wise man. Thus Qoheleth proclaimed that wisdom was better than strength. However the poor wise person is now despised. No one listened to his words.

Job wants to know why he was ever born (Job 10:18-10:22)

“Why did you bring me forth from the womb?

Would that I had died before any eye had seen me,

It would be as though I had not been.

You could have carried me from the womb to the grave.

Are not the days of my life few?

Let me alone!

May I find a little comfort!

Before I go,

Never to return,

To the land of gloom and deep darkness,

To the land of gloom and chaos,

Where light is like darkness.”

This is pretty much what he said back in chapter 3. He wished that he had never been born. He wished that he had gone directly from the womb to the tomb. As the days of his life are few, why cannot he be alone? Can he find some comfort? He knew that he was going where he would never return, the land of gloom, darkness, and chaos, Sheol.   There light was like darkness.

The story of Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 2:19-2:22)

“This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. This is about the purification of the great temple and the dedication of the altar. Further there is an explanation of the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator. There were appearances that came from heaven to those who fought bravely for Judaism. Although few in number, they seized the whole land and pursued the barbarian hordes. They regained possession of the temple famous throughout the world. They freed the city. They re-established the laws that were about to be abolished. The Lord with great kindness became gracious to them.”

For the first time, we have a biblical author tell us what he is going to do. This style is based on the custom of Greek historians. He summarized what he was going to do. This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. They purified the Temple and dedicated the altar. They fought wars with King Antiochus IV and his son, King Antiochus V. There was heavenly help for the Jews. Although small in number, they chased the barbarian hordes. They took possession of the Temple and freed the holy city of Jerusalem. They reestablished the laws because God was kind to them. This so-called historical work has a clear Theo-centric basis. God was on their side.