The good news (Lk 16:16-16:16)

“The law

And the prophets

Were in effect

Until John came.

Since then,

The good news

Of the kingdom of God

Is proclaimed.

Everyone

Tries to enter it

By force.”

 

Ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται μέχρι Ἰωάνου· ἀπὸ τότε ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐαγγελίζεται καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the law (Ὁ νόμος) and the prophets (καὶ οἱ προφῆται) were in effect until John came (μέχρι Ἰωάνου).  Since then (ἀπὸ τότε), the good news has been proclaimed (εὐαγγελίζεται) about the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Everyone tries to enter it by force (καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται).  The law and the prophets were the two major parts of the Hebrew Bible.  John the Baptist represented some sort of turning point.  His preaching about the kingdom of God meant that the days of the law and prophets were numbered.  There is something similar, but in a different context with a different meaning in Matthew, chapter 11:12-13.  There Jesus talked about the days of John the Baptist until the present (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι), not a very long time.  The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται).  What kind of violence was taking place in the heavenly kingdom?  Did this mean that so many people were violently seeking the kingdom of heaven that John was talking about?  Is this some kind of violence within the kingdom of heaven?  Were these violent people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven?  The next sentence seems to support this idea that violent people wanted to seize the kingdom of heaven by force (καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν).  In Matthew, chapter 17:11-13, Jesus compared John to Elijah.  Like here in Luke, all the prophets and the law had prophesied until the time of John the Baptist (πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν).  Then Jesus said that John was the new Elijah (αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας), the one who was to come (ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι).  However, they had to be willing to accept this (καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι).  Anyone who had ears to hear should listen to this (ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω).  Clearly, something fundamental changed with John the Baptist and his proclamation of the kingdom of God.  How were John and Jesus connected in their preaching?  What is your opinion about John the Baptist?

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Violence (Mt 11:12-11:12)

“From the days

Of John the Baptist

Until now,

The kingdom of heaven

Has suffered violence.

The violent seize it

By force.”

 

ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται, καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν

 

This saying about John the Baptist can be found in a different context with different meaning in Luke, chapter 16:16.  This strange saying of Jesus, via Matthew, talked about the days of John the Baptist until the present (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι), not a very long time.  The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται).  What does that mean?  What kind of violence was taking place in the heavenly kingdom?  Did this mean that so many people were violently seeking the kingdom of heaven that John was talking about?  Is this some kind of violence within the kingdom of heaven?  Were these violent people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven?  The next sentence seems to support this idea that violent people wanted to seize the kingdom of heaven by force (καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν).

The exposed prostitute city of Nineveh (Nah 3:4-3:7)

“Because of the countless

Debaucheries

Of the prostitute,

Her graceful allure

As the mistress of sorcery,

She enslaved nations

Through her debaucheries.

She enslaved people

Through her sorcery.

‘I am against you.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will lift up

Your skirts

Over your face.

I will let nations look

On your nakedness.

I will let kingdoms

Look on your shame.

I will throw filth at you.

I will treat you

With contempt.

I will make you

A spectacle.

Then all who see you

Will shrink from you.

They will say.

‘Nineveh is devastated.

Who will bemoan her?

Where shall I seek comforters

For her?’”

Nahum said that Nineveh had become a prostitute by her actions.  She had been a graceful alluring mistress sorcerer.  She had enslaved people through her debaucheries, her sensual sexual corruption.  Nineveh tricked people with her sorcery.  However, Yahweh said that he was against Nineveh.  He would force her to lift up her skirts over her face, so that all the different countries could see her nakedness.  Everyone would see her shame.  Yahweh was going to throw filth at her.  He was going to treat her with contempt, making a spectacle out of Nineveh.  Then, everyone who saw Nineveh would shrink from her, because they would say that she was devastated.  There would be no one to moan or comfort her.  Nineveh would go away in disgrace.

The role of the remnant of Jacob (Mic 5:7-5:9)

“Then the remnant of Jacob,

Surrounded by many people,

Shall be

Like dew from Yahweh,

Like showers on the grass.

They do not depend

Upon people,

Nor wait for any mortal.

The remnant of Jacob,

Among the nations,

Surrounded by many people,

Shall be

Like a lion

Among the beasts of the forest,

Like a young lion

Among the flocks of sheep.

When it goes through,

It treads down.

It tears in pieces.

No one would deliver them.

Your hand shall be lifted up

Over your adversaries.

All your enemies

Shall be cut off.”

The remnant of Jacob, those in captivity, would be both a blessing and a curse to those around them.  They would be surrounded by many people from different countries.  However, they would be independent of other people, since they would be like the gentle dew from Yahweh or quiet rain showers on the grass.  However, they could also be like a lion among the beasts of the forest or a lion attacking a flock of sheep.  If they were attacking sheep, they would tread on them and tear them to pieces.  They would surely act like lions against their enemies.  Thus, the remnant of Jacob could be a force for goodness or an attacking lion.

Yahweh is his name (Am 4:13-4:13)

“For lo!

The one who forms the mountains!

The one who creates the wind!

The one who reveals

His thoughts to mortals!

The one who makes

The morning darkness!

The one who treads

On the heights

Of the earth!

Yahweh is his name!

The God of hosts!”

In a great show of force and praise. Amos revealed that it was Yahweh who formed the mountains. Yahweh has created the wind. He has revealed his thoughts to mortals. He has made the morning darkness. He has walked on the heights of the earth. It is of course Yahweh, the God of heavenly hosts. Yahweh is his name.

These shepherds do not take care of their sheep (Ezek 34:3-34:4)

“You eat the fat.

You clothe yourselves

With wool.

You slaughter

The fatlings.

But you do not

Feed the sheep.

You have not strengthened

The weak ones.

You have not healed

The sick ones.

You have not bound up

The injured ones.

You have not brought back

The strayed ones.

You have not sought

The lost ones.

You have ruled them

With force.

You have ruled them

With harshness.”

Yahweh complained, via Ezekiel, to these shepherds that they ate the good fat things and clothed themselves with wool clothing. They slaughtered the fat livestock, but they did not feed the sheep. They did not strengthen the weak ones or heal the sick or injured sheep. They never brought back the straying or lost sheep. These shepherds ruled over the sheep with force and harshness.

Secrecy (Jer 38:24-38:26)

“Then Zedekiah said

To Jeremiah.

‘Do not let anyone else

Know of this conversation!

Otherwise you will die!

If the officials should hear

That I have spoken

With you,

They would come to you.

They would say to you.

‘Just Tell us

What you said

To the king!

Do not conceal it from us!

Otherwise we will put you

To death!

What did the king say to you?

Then you shall say to them.

‘I was presenting my plea

To the king

Not to send me back

To the house of Jonathan

To die there.’”

Once again, the wishy-washy King Zedekiah wanted Jeremiah to keep this conversation with him a secret. If Jeremiah told anyone about this exchange of views, he would be killed. The problem was that the king’s officials might come to Jeremiah and force him to talk under the same threat of death. They would want to know all of what they said to each other. The king had a plan for Jeremiah to tell anyone who asked what they talked about.   Jeremiah was to say that he just did not want to go back to the dungeon prison at the house of Jonathan, mentioned early in the preceding chapter during his arrest by the king’s officials. In other words, the whole conversation was about what prison Jeremiah should be in. No one seemed to worry about how Jeremiah got out of the cistern well.