Declaration of Isaiah to his disciples (Isa 8:16-8:20)

“Bind up the testimony!

Seal the teaching

Among my disciples!

I will wait for Yahweh,

Who is hiding his face

From the house of Jacob.

I will hope in him.

See!

I am a sign.

The children

Whom Yahweh has given me

Are portents in Israel

From Yahweh of hosts.

He dwells on Mount Zion.

Now if people say to you.

‘Consult the wizard ghosts!

Consult with the familiar spirits

Who chirp and mutter!’

Should not a people consult their gods?

Should they not consult the dead

On behalf of the living

For teaching,

For instruction?

Surely those who speak like this

Will have no dawn.”

Isaiah wanted his disciples to have and keep his testimony. He wanted his teachings to be put aside and bound up his works. This is probably why we have so many oracles of Isaiah. He was waiting on Yahweh, the Lord, who was hiding his face from the house of Jacob. However, Isaiah had hope because he and his children were signs or omens of good things to come. He knew that Yahweh lived on Mount Zion. He then warned his disciples not to be fooled when people told them to consult with various idol gods, ghosts, mediums, wizards, or spirits to find out what to do. Why would you want to consult with the dead to find out instructions on how to live? As he points out, people like this probably will not see the dawn, since they are destined for death.

Praise for the Divine presence (Sir 43:27-43:33)

“We could say more.

But we could never say enough.

Let the final word be.

‘He is the all.’

Where can we find the strength

To praise him?

He is greater

Than all his works.

Awesome is the Lord.

He is very great.

His power is marvelous.

Glorify the Lord!

Exalt him as much as you can!

He surpasses even that.

When you exalt him,

Summon all your strength.

Do not grow weary!

You cannot praise him enough.

Who has seen him?

Who can describe him?

Who can extol him as he is?

Many things greater

Than these lie hidden.

I have seen

But a few of his works.

The Lord has made all things.

To the godly,

He has given wisdom.”

Sirach assumes the first person plural saying that he or we could say more, but it would never be enough. In fact, Sirach is very close to a pantheistic view when he maintains that the Lord is all things. However, he quickly corrects himself when he says that the Lord is greater than all his works, separating him from his creation. The Lord is awesome, very great, marvelous, and powerful. Where do we get the strength to praise the Lord? We should glorify him and exalt him as much as we can. We should not grow weary because we can never praise God enough. Nobody has seen him or described him. How can we extol him enough? Sirach has related what he has seen, but there are many more hidden things about the Lord, since he is the creator of all things. Luckily, he has given wisdom to the godly, so that they will experience a few of these marvels of the Lord.

The hymn of praise (Sir 39:16-39:21)

“All the works of the Lord

Are very good.

Whatever he commands

Will be done

At the appointed time.

No one can say.

‘What is this?’

‘Why is that?’

At the appointed time,

All such questions

Will be answered.

At his word,

The waters stood in a heap.

The reservoirs of water

Stop in a heap

At the word of his mouth.

At his commands,

His every purpose is fulfilled.

None can limit his saving power.

The works of all

Are before him.

Nothing can be hidden

From his eyes.

From the beginning

To the end of time,

He can see everything.

Nothing is too marvelous for him.

No one can say.

‘What is this?’

‘Why is that?’

Everything has been created

For its own purpose.”

Sirach begins this hymn of praise to the Lord by saying that all his works are very good. The Lord commands everything in his own time. No one should question him with what is this or why is it that way. All the questions will be answered at the appropriate time. He made the waters and the reservoirs of water stand in a heap. No one can limit his saving power since all his commands get followed. He sees everything, since nothing can be hidden from him, since the beginning of time to the end of time. Nothing is too marvelous for him. Therefore no one should question the Lord because everything has a purpose.

The invitation to praise God (Sir 39:12-39:15)

“I have more on my mind

To express.

I am full

Like the full moon.

Listen to me!

My faithful children!

Blossom like a rose!

May it grow

By a stream of water!

Send out fragrance

Like incense!

Put forth blossoms

Like a lily!

Scatter the fragrance!

Sing a hymn of praise!

Bless the Lord

For all his works!

Ascribe majesty to his name!

Give thanks to him

With praise!

Give thanks

With songs on your lips!

Give thanks

With harps!

This is what

You shall say in thanksgiving.”

Sirach assumes the first person singular in talking to his children. He has a lot more to tell them because his mind is like a full moon. He wanted his children to be like rose blossoms and grow by a water stream. He wanted the scent of the lily blossoms to be like incense that would be scattered around. He wanted them to sing a hymn of praise to the majestic Lord. The Lord should be blessed for all his works. Praise and thanksgiving should be given to the Lord with songs and harps. He was about to tell them what they should say in their thanksgiving prayer.

The greatness of God (Sir 18:1-18:7)

“He who lives forever

Created the whole universe.

The Lord alone is just.

There is no other beside him.

He steers the world

With the span of his hand.

All things obey his will.

He is king of all things

By his power.

He separates the holy things

From the profane.

To none has he given power

To proclaim his works.

Who can search out his mighty deeds?

Who can measure his majestic power?

Who can fully recount his mercies?

It is not possible to diminish or increase them.

It is not possible to fathom the wonders of the Lord.

When human beings have finished,

They are just beginning.

When they stop,

They are still perplexed.”

The eternal God has created the whole universe. The Lord alone is just since there is no one beside him. He steers the world with his hands. Everything obeys his will, since he is the king of all things. The Lord separates the sacred from the profane. No one can proclaim his works, search out his mighty deeds, measure his majestic power, or tell all about his mercy. You cannot increase or decrease his power. You cannot imagine all the wonders of the Lord. Humans think that they are finishing things, but they are only beginning, since they are still perplexed. The Lord is the great creator of this wonderful world.

The responsibility of humans (Sir 17:8-17:14)

“The Lord put the fear of him

Into human hearts.

He showed them

The majesty of his works.

They will praise

His holy name.

They will proclaim

The grandeur of his works.

He bestowed knowledge

Upon them.

He allotted to them

The law of life.

He established with them

An eternal covenant.

He revealed to them

His decrees.

Their eyes saw

His glorious majesty.

Their ears heard

The glory of his voice.

He said to them.

‘Beware of all evil.’

He gave commandments

To each of them

Concerning their neighbor.”

Sirach believed that the Lord put the fear of hin into human hearts. He showed humans the majesty of his works. However, they had to praise his holy name and proclaim the grandeur of his works because they had knowledge about it. The Lord gave these humans the law of life by an eternal covenant with them. He revealed his decrees to them. Their human eyes saw his glorious majesty. Their ears heard the glory of his voice. They were able to see and hear God. He told them to watch out for evil. He gave them commandments on how they were to treat their neighbors.

You cannot hide from the Lord (Sir 16:17-16:23)

“Do not say.

‘I am hidden from the Lord.

Who from on high

Has me in mind?

Among so many people,

I am unknown.

What am I

In a boundless creation?

Look!

At his visitation,

Heaven trembles,

The highest heaven trembles.

The abyss trembles.

The earth trembles.

The very mountains quiver.

The foundations of the earth shake,

When he looks upon them.

No human mind can grasp this.

Who can comprehend his ways?

Like a tempest

That no one can see,

So most of his works are concealed.

Who will announce

His acts of justice?

Who will await them?

His decree is far off.’

Such are the thoughts

Of one devoid of understanding.

A senseless person

Thinks foolishly.

A misguided person

Thinks foolishly.”

Sirach warns those who say that God is too busy to worry about them. They think that that they can hide from the Lord because there are so many people in this great boundless created world. After all the heavens, the seas, and the earth tremble and quake when the Lord comes. The mountains and the foundations of the earth shake when he sees them. No human mind can comprehend the ways of the Lord because most of his works are concealed to us. The Lord is like a storm that we never see coming. Who is going to announce his judgments because his decrees seem so far away? These are the thoughts of the foolish misguided people who think that God does not care about them.