Men of little faith (Lk 12:28-12:28)

“But if God

Clothes

The grass

Of the field,

That is alive today

Yet tomorrow

Is thrown

Into the oven,

How much more

Will he clothe you.

You!

Of little faith!”

 

εἰ δὲ ἐν ἀγρῷ τὸν χόρτον ὄντα σήμερον καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον ὁ Θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέζει, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς, ὀλιγόπιστοι.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that if God clothed (ὁ Θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέζει) the grass of the field (εἰ δὲ ἐν ἀγρῷ τὸν χόρτον), that is alive today (ὄντα σήμερον) yet tomorrow (καὶ αὔριον) is thrown into the oven or furnace (εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον), how much more will he clothe them (πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς) of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι).  Once again, Matthew, chapter 6:30, had a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that the Father, and not God as here, clothed the field grass that is here today (εἰ δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ σήμερον ὄντα) and gone tomorrow (καὶ αὔριον), by being thrown into the furnace or oven (εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον).  This use of “κλίβανον,” oven or furnace, is unique to Matthew and Luke here.  Would God, not the Father, also take care of their clothing needs (ὁ Θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν, οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον)?  Obviously, he rebuked them as were men of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι).  This word about little faith was a favorite term for Matthew, since he used it 5 times more, with this Luke parallel here the only other usage in the New Testament literature.  Are you a person of little faith?

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Blessing God and his name (Dan 3:29-3:31)

“Blessed are you!

O Lord!

God of our ancestors!

You are to be praised!

You are highly exalted forever!

Blessed is

Your glorious,

Holy name!

It is to be highly praised!

It is to be highly exalted forever!

Blessed are you

In the temple

Of your holy glory!

You are to be extolled!

You are to be

Highly glorified forever!”

The 3 men together in the furnace now broke into a prayer or hymn of praise to God. First, they blessed God, the God of their ancestors, who is not called Yahweh. He was to be praised and exalted forever. Next, they blessed his glorious holy name that should also be praised and exalted forever. Finally, they blessed the temple of his glory. God was to be highly glorified forever.

Azariah stands still to pray (Dan 3:1-3:2)

“They walked around

In the midst

Of the flames.

They were singing

Hymns to God.

They were blessing

The Lord.

Then Azariah stood still

In the fire.

He prayed aloud.”

Like the Book of Esther, this Book of Daniel has several sections that were not in the Hebrew text. Thus, they did not make it into the English King James Bible, and so became known as Apocrypha. This prayer of Azariah, one of the 3 men in the furnace, and then their joint prayer that follows, can be found in the Greek Septuagint, but not in the Hebrew text. The Bible of Jerusalem also includes it here. The New Oxford Standard lists it as “additions to Daniel, inserted between 3:23 and 3:24.” I have given it its own separate verse numbers as if it were complete in itself. The 3 men in the furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, walked around in the middle of the hot flames. They were singing hymns and blessing God, the Lord. Then Azariah, who was called Abednego, stood still. He uttered his prayer out loud. The rest of this section is his beautiful prayer.

They have become worthless dross metals (Ezek 22:17-22:18)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

The house of Israel

Has become

Worthless dross

To me.

All of them,

Silver,

Bronze,

Tin,

Iron,

Lead,

Are worthless dross.

In the smelter,

They have become

Worthless dross.’”

Yahweh once again came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This time he proclaimed that the house of Israel had become worthless dross, the left over elements after smelting in a furnace. Thus silver, bronze, tine, iron, and lead were all worthless, as if they were the remains of a refining process in a smelting furnace.

Protect the name of Yahweh (Isa 48:9-48:11)

“For my name’s sake,

I defer my anger.

For the sake of my praise

I restrain it for you.

Thus I may not cut you off.

See!

I have refined you,

But not like silver.

I have tested you

In the furnace of adversity.

For my own sake!

For my own sake!

I do it.

Why should my name be profaned?

I will not give my glory to another.”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh protect his name. Yahweh was deferring his anger. He was going to restrain himself. He was not going to cut off the Israelites for the sake of his own praise. He has refined them, not like silver in a fire, but in the furnace of life’s adversities. For his own sake, he did not want his name profaned or glory given to anyone else. Yahweh wanted his name brand protected.

The defeat of the Assyrians (Isa 31:8-31:9)

“‘Then the Assyrian shall fall

By a sword

Not of mortals.

A sword,

Not of humans,

Shall devour him.

He shall flee from the sword.

His young men

Shall be put to forced labor.

His rock shall pass away in terror.

His officers desert the standard in panic.’

So says Yahweh.

‘His fire is in Zion.

His furnace is in Jerusalem.’”

Once again, we have an oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah. Yahweh proclaimed that the Assyrians would not die from the sword of men or humans. They would flee and be put into forced labor. They would be terrified as their officers would desert their places. This oracle of Yahweh indicates that his fire was in Zion, while his furnace was in Jerusalem.

The artisans (Sir 38:27-38:30)

“Every master artisan

Labors by night

As well as by day.

Those who cut the signets of seals,

Each is diligent

In making a great variety.

They set their heart

On painting a lifelike image.

They are careful

To finish their work.

The smith sits by the anvil.

He is intent on his iron-work.

The breath of the fire

Melts his flesh.

He struggles

With the heat of the furnace.

The sound of the hammer

Deafens his ears.

His eyes are

On the pattern of the object.

He sets his heart

On finishing his handiwork.

He is careful

To complete its decoration.

The potter sits at his work.

He turns the wheel

With his feet.

He is always deeply concerned

Over his products.

He produces them in quantity.

He moulds the clay with his arm.

He makes it pliable with his feet.

He sets his heart

To finish the glazing,

He takes care

In firing the kiln furnace.”

Sirach then explained in detail about the various skilled artists who work day and night to finish their creative works. First, there were those who made the various colorful painted seals as lifelike as possible. Then there were the blacksmiths who worked in iron with a hammer, anvil, and a hot furnace that affected their hands, ears, and eyes. Finally, there was the potter who made lots of different products. He molded the clay with his hands and feet. He finished it off by glazing it in the kiln furnace. All these artisans worked diligently until they completed their products.