Build well!

“That one

Who heard his word

And acted on it is

Like a man

Building a house.

He dug deeply.

He laid the foundation

On a rock.

When a flood came,

The river burst

Against that house.

However,

It could not shake it,

Because it had been

Well built.”

 

ὅμοιός ἐστιν ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδομοῦντι οἰκίαν, ὃς ἔσκαψεν καὶ ἐβάθυνεν καὶ ἔθηκεν θεμέλιον ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν· πλημμύρης δὲ γενομένης προσέρηξεν ὁ ποταμὸς τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν σαλεῦσαι αὐτὴν διὰ τὸ καλῶς οἰκοδομῆσθαι αὐτήν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said the one who had heard his word and acted on it was like a man building a house (ὅμοιός ἐστιν ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδομοῦντι οἰκίαν).  He dug deeply (ὃς ἔσκαψεν καὶ ἐβάθυνεν).  He laid the foundation on a rock (καὶ ἔθηκεν θεμέλιον ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν).  When a flood came (πλημμύρης δὲ γενομένης), the streams of the river burst against that house (ροσέρηξεν ὁ ποταμὸς τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ).  However, they could not shake it (καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν σαλεῦσαι αὐτὴν), because it had been well built (διὰ τὸ καλῶς οἰκοδομῆσθαι αὐτήν).  This is just like Matthew, chapter 7:24-25, which might indicate a Q source.  Jesus said there that these wise people built a house on a rock foundation or solid rocky ground.  The rains fell and the floods came.  The winds would blow and beat against this house, but it did not fall, because it was built on a strong foundation.  This rock foundation was the words of Jesus carried out in daily life.  The fairy tale story of the 3 pigs with the brick, straw, and grass houses is similar to this saying about the stone foundation that could not be destroyed.  How have you built your house?

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How to read the Bible

Be a faithful reader, regularly and with the eyes of faith.  Be an active reader, intelligently and critically.  Put the texts in context, read from a tradition and a believing community.  Read the Bible as a whole, not isolating passages.  Understand the background of each book.  Try to understand the consensus opinion about texts.  Appreciate the major themes and narratives.  Be open to God and his word.  Be aware of the continuity and discontinuity.  Try to translate the Bible to your life situations

The chosen ones (Am 3:1-3:2)

“Hear this word

That Yahweh has spoken

Against you!

O people of Israel!

He has spoken

Against the whole family

That I brought up

Out of the land

Of Egypt!

You only

Have I known

Of all the families

Of the earth.

Therefore,

I will punish you

For all your iniquities.”

Yahweh, via Amos, wanted the people of Israel to listen to his word. This diatribe was against the whole family of Israel. Yahweh had chosen them as the special ones from all the families on earth, when he took them out of Egypt. They were special. Nevertheless, he was still going to punish them for their iniquities.

All the lovers in one place (Ezek 16:35-16:37)

“Therefore!

O whore!

Hear the word of Yahweh!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Your lust

Was poured out.

Your nakedness

Was uncovered

In your prostitution activities

With your lovers.

All your idols

Were laid bare.

The blood

Of your children

That you gave them

Was poured out.

Therefore,

I will gather

All your lovers,

With whom

You took pleasure.

I will gather

All those you loved.

I will gather

All those you hated.

I will gather them

Against you

From all around.

I will uncover

Your nakedness

To them.

Thus they may see

All your nakedness.’”

Yahweh clearly called Jerusalem a whore who was going to listen to his word. Jerusalem’s lust was apparent in her nakedness. She had revealed herself with her prostitution activities with all her lovers. Her idols were laid bare. The blood of her children was poured out. Yahweh was going to gather all her lovers with whom she had pleasure. He would gather the ones that she loved and as well as those she hated from all over. Then when they were all gathered together, Yahweh was going to embarrass her by uncovering her nakedness. Thus everyone could see the naked Jerusalem.

Yahweh and the battle in Babylon (Jer 51:11-51:14)

“Sharpen the arrows!

Fill the quivers!

Yahweh has stirred up

The spirit of the kings

Of the Medes.

His purpose concerning Babylon

Is to destroy it.

That is the vengeance of Yahweh,

That is the vengeance

For his temple.

Raise a standard

Against the walls of Babylon!

Make the watch strong!

Post sentinels!

Prepare the ambushes!

Yahweh has both planned

As well as done

What he spoke

Concerning the inhabitants

Of Babylon.

You who live

By mighty waters,

Rich in treasures,

Your end has come.

The thread of your life

Is cut.

Yahweh of hosts

Has sworn by himself.

Surely I will fill you

With troops,

Like a swarm of locusts.

They shall raise

A shout of victory

Over you.”

Here there is a serious of commands from Yahweh, via Jeremiah. The warriors were to have their quivers ready full of arrows. Yahweh has stirred up the Medes, the people to the north of Babylon with the Persians. They were going to destroy Babylon because of Yahweh’s vengeance for what the Babylonians had done to his temple in Jerusalem. There was going to be an invasion of Babylon with wise watchmen and sentinels as well as strong ambushes. Yahweh had planned and carried out his word against Babylon, the land of mighty waters such as the Euphrates and the Tigris, with all their treasures. Their end has come. The thread of their life has been cut. There will be troops in Babylon, like swarms of locusts, shouting about victory.

Temple worship (Isa 66:1-66:2)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Heaven is my throne.

The earth is my footstool.

What is the house

That you would build for me?

What is my resting place?

My hand has made

All these things.

So all these things are mine.’

Says Yahweh.

‘But this is the one

To whom I will look.

I will look to the humble.

I will look to the contrite in spirit.

I will look to the one

Who trembles at my word.’”

This is an oracle about Temple worship. Yahweh said that heaven was his throne, while the earth was his footstool. What kind of resting house should they build for him? Yahweh has made everything, so that everything was his. What was he looking for? He wanted someone who was humble, contrite in spirit, and trembled at his word.

The vengeance of Yahweh against Israel (Isa 9:8-9:12)

“Yahweh has sent a word

Against Jacob.

It fell on Israel.

All the people knew it.

Ephraim with the inhabitants of Samaria

In pride with arrogance of heart,

They said.

‘The bricks have fallen.

But we will build

With dressed stones.

The sycamores have been cut down.

But we will put cedars in their place.’

Thus Yahweh raised adversaries

Against them.

He stirred up their enemies.

The Syrians were on the east.

The Philistines were on the west.

They devoured Israel

With an open mouth.

For all this,

His anger has not turned away.

His hand is still stretched out.”

This poem shows how Israel in the north is being devastated by the Philistines on the west coast and Syrians to the northeast. Yahweh sent his word of vengeance on them via these invaders. The people of Samaria and the whole territory of Ephraim knew it was coming. Nevertheless their pride and their arrogance told them not to worry. Although bricks of ordinary houses were falling and sycamores were chopped down, they contended that they would rebuild with fine stones and fine cedar wood in place of them, so that the new houses would be more like palaces. Yahweh, the Lord, stirred up their enemies so that they devoured the northern territory of Israel. Yahweh had stretched out his hand against them and he continued to do so up to the present time. This refrain will be repeated twice more in the next few sections. The various 8th century BCE disputes between Judah and Israel, as well as between Israel with the Syrians can be found in 2 Kings, chapters 14-17, and 2 Chronicles, chapters 25-28.