The kingdom of God (Mt 21:43-21:43)

“Therefore.

I tell you!

The kingdom of God

Will be taken away

From you.

It will be given

To a people

That produces

The fruits of the kingdom.”

 

διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἀρθήσεται ἀφ’ ὑμῶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ δοθήσεται ἔθνει ποιοῦντι τοὺς καρποὺς αὐτῆς.

 

This is a unique saying of Matthew.  However, strangely enough, he called the kingdom “the kingdom of God” rather than his usual “kingdom of heaven.”  Jesus had a solemn pronouncement (διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν) that the kingdom of God will be taken away from them (ὅτι ἀρθήσεται ἀφ’ ὑμῶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Instead, it would be given to a people that would produce the fruits of this kingdom (καὶ δοθήσεται ἔθνει ποιοῦντι τοὺς καρποὺς αὐτῆς).  Thus, the productive followers of Jesus that produced fruits, rather than the chosen people, especially the Jewish religious leaders, would inherit the kingdom of God.

The bad harvest (Hab 3:17-3:17)

“The fig trees

Do not blossom.

There is no fruit

On the vines.

The produce

Of the olive tree fails.

The fields yield

No food.

The flock is cut off

From the fold.

There is no herd

In the stalls.”

These farmers have hit bad times.  The fig trees were not blossoming, while there were no fruits of grapes on the vines in the vineyard.  The fields were not yielding any kind of food.  The flocks were running aimlessly, while the herd was not in its stalls.  Things were in bad shape.

The naked Jerusalem (Ezek 23:29-23:30)

“They shall deal

With you

In hatred.

They shall take away

All the fruit

Of your labor.

They shall leave you

Naked.

They shall leave you

Bare.

The nakedness

Of your prostitution activities

Shall be exposed.

Your lewdness

Has brought this

Upon you.

Your prostitution activities

Have brought this

Upon you.

Because you played

The whore

With the nations,

You polluted yourself

With their idols.”

Yahweh said that Jerusalem would be exposed. Everyone would see their nakedness. Her former angry and hateful lovers were going to take away all the fruits of her labor. She would be left naked and bare, as her sexual prostitution actions would be seen by all. Her lewd behavior would be out in the open. She had played the whore with all these different nations. She had polluted herself with all their idols.

The speech of Gedaliah (Jer 40:9-40:10)

“Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan,

Swore to them

With their troops.

Saying.

‘Do not be afraid

To serve the Chaldeans!

Stay in the land!

Serve the king of Babylon!

It shall go well with you.

As for me,

I am staying at Mizpah,

To represent you

Before the Chaldeans

Who come to us.

But as for you,

Gather wine!

Gather summer fruits!

Gather oil!

Store them in your vessels!

Live in the towns

That you have taken over!’”

Gedaliah, whose father Ahikam and grandfather Shaphan were well known, swore to these field leaders and their troops. As in 2 Kings, chapter 25, he told them not to be afraid of these Chaldean officials. They would be better off staying in the land and serving the Babylonian king. He would take care of things with the Chaldean officials, representing their causes. They should just go home and enjoy their wine, fruits, and oils. They should store them up and live in their towns. Everything was okay. Thus it was clear that not everyone was sent into captivity.

The truly wise person (Sir 37:22-37:26)

“If a person is wise

To his own advantage, T

he fruits of his good sense

Will be praiseworthy.

They will be trustworthy.

A wise person

Instructs his own people.

The fruits of his good sense

Will endure.

A wise person

Will have praise heaped upon him.

All those who see him

Will call him happy.

The days of a person’s life

Are numbered.

But the days of Israel

Are without number.

Whoever is wise

Among his people

Will inherit honor.

His name will live forever.”

Sirach now points out who the truly wise person is. The wise ones work to their own advantage. They have good sense that is praiseworthy, trustworthy, and honored. The truly wise ones instruct their own people. The fruits of these happy wise people will endure with praise. Although the days of everyone are numbered and limited, that is not true about Israel since its days are not numbered. So too, the honorable wise person will have his name last forever. This hyperbolic use of forever indicates a long time, rather than eternity.

The fear of the Lord (Sir 19:18-19:19)

“The fear of the Lord

Is the beginning of acceptance.

Wisdom obtains his love.

The knowledge of the Lord’s commandments

Is life-giving discipline.

Those who do what is pleasing to him

Enjoy the fruit of the tree of immortality.”

These verses were missing in some manuscripts. Once again there is an emphasis on the fear of the Lord. Without it, you cannot accept life. Wisdom will bring love. True wisdom is the knowledge of the Lord’s commandments in a life of discipline. Those who are pleasing to the Lord will enjoy the fruits of an immortal life.

Watch out for evil passions (Sir 6:2-6:4)

“Do not fall

Into the grip of passion.

You may be torn apart

As by a bull.

Your leaves will be devoured.

Your fruit destroyed.

You will be left

Like a withered tree.

Evil passion destroys

Those who have it.

It makes them the laughingstock of their enemies.”

You should not fall into the grip of evil passions. You will be torn apart as if a bull were attacking you. You life will be like a tree with its leaves and fruits destroyed. You will be like a withered tree. Evil passion destroys the ones who have it. It also makes them the laughingstock of their enemies.