False prophets (Mt 7:15-7:15)

“Beware of false prophets!

They come to you

In sheep’s clothing.

But inwardly they are

Ravenous wolves.”

 

Προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν, οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες.

 

Another great Old Testament theme was the warning against false prophets, as can be found in Jeremiah, chapters 5:6, 5:31, and 6:12-15, Ezekiel, chapter 22:27-28, Zechariah, chapter 13:2, and Micah, chapter 3:5-8.  Mark, chapter 13:22 had a similar warning from Jesus.  The followers of Jesus should be on guard, should pay attention, and be aware (Προσέχετε) of these false or pseudo prophets (ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν).  They come to them with their sheep’s clothing (οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων), but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες).  These false prophets look like meek sheep, but they are really like veracious wolves.

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The unique perspective of Joseph

The Gospel of Matthew presented the infancy story of Jesus from the perspective of Joseph, unlike the Gospel of Luke that presented the same story from the perspective of Mary. What do they have in common and what is unique. Mary and the child Jesus play a secondary role in this narration, since it was all about Joseph, the son of Jacob, the father of the child. There were certain things in common with the Luke story. Both Joseph and Mary were troubled by this pregnancy. Both had an angel come and explain that the child was from the Holy Spirit. Both were told that the name of the child would be Jesus. In both stories, the child is born in Bethlehem. Beyond that, there were some unique things to the story of Joseph in Matthew. He almost divorced Mary. He had a number of angelic dreams. He was told to go to Egypt, which he did. He then returned to Israel and settled in Nazareth in Galilee. In between, there was the strange story of King Herod and the magi. Matthew used 5 different Old Testament Hebrew prophecies to show that Jesus was truly within the Jewish prophetic tradition. Clearly, in these two opening chapters, Matthew was a Jewish scripture scholar with his use of 1 Chronicles in the genealogy and the various prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah, and Judges. Whatever sources he used for this unique perspective on the birth of Jesus, they were clearly Jewish based. Joseph was a righteous Jewish man. After this presentation, Joseph seemed to drift off the center stage in the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Five Scrolls

Then there are the five scrolls that includes the poetic love story the Song of Solomon, or the Song of Songs from the 6th century BCE.  The Book of Ruth was about the story of Ruth, a Moabite foreigner who came to Israel, from the 9th to the 6th century BCE.  Lamentations has usually been ascribed to Jeremiah the prophet from the 6th century BCE.  Ecclesiastes is like a book of wisdom proverbs from the 4th century BCE.  The story of Esther is about a Jewish lady who becomes a Persian queen also from the 4th century BCE.

The three major later prophets

The later prophets are what we normally think of as prophets.  They stood out against authority and asked people to reform their ways to that of Yahweh, their God.  They were writing prophets, as opposed to the early prophets who did not write, but were written about.  These later prophets are normally divided into the three major prophets and the twelve Minor Prophets.  There were three famous major writing prophets whose works are very long.  Isaiah lived in the 8th century BCE, but his work was not finished until around the 6th century BCE.  On the other hand, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were 6th century BCE prophetic writers around the time of the Babylonian Exile.

The bad situation will come to ruin (Mic 3:9-3:12)

“Hear this!

You rulers

Of the house of Jacob!

You chiefs

Of the house of Israel!

You abhor justice!

You pervert all equity!

You build Zion

With blood!

You build Jerusalem

With wrong!

Its rulers give judgment

For a bribe!

Its priests teach

For a price!

Its prophets give oracles

For money!

Yet they lean

Upon Yahweh.

They say.

‘Surely Yahweh is

With us.

No harm shall come

Upon us.’

Therefore,

Because of you,

Zion shall be plowed

As a field.

Jerusalem shall become

A heap of ruins.

The mountain of the house

Shall become a wooded height.”

Yahweh, via Micah, called out the rulers in northern Israel and southern Judah.  These rulers and chiefs had abhorred justice and perverted equity in Jerusalem and on Mount Zion.  Everything was done for money.  The rulers wanted a bribe for their judgment.  The priests had a price for their teaching.  The prophets only gave an oracle when money was supplied to them.  However, they all felt that Yahweh was on their side, so that he would protect them from any harm.  However, the response was quite different.  Mount Zion was going to be plowed like a field, while Jerusalem would become a heap of ruins.  The Temple mountain would become a pile of wood.  This specific prophecy of Micah was explicitly cited in Jeremiah, chapter 26, at the trial of Jeremiah.

Oracle of Yahweh (Ob 1:1-1:1)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning Edom.

We have heard a report

From Yahweh.

A messenger has been sent

Among my nations.

‘Rise up!

Let us rise against it

For battle.’”

The Israelites had a long history with Edom because they believed that Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, had founded this country.  The Book of Genesis listed the kings of Edom in chapter 36.  The country of Edom was south of the Dead Sea, south of Moab and south of Judah.  It eventually stopped being a country with most of the people drifting into southern Judah.  Many of the prophets had spoken against the Edomites, including Jeremiah, chapter 49, Isaiah, chapter 34, Ezekiel, chapter 25, Amos, chapter 1, and Joel, chapter 3.  This was a report from Yahweh, since he had sent his messengers to the various countries.  They were to rise up and get ready for the battle.

Take a prostituting wife (Hos 1:2-1:2)

“When Yahweh

First spoke

Through Hosea,

Yahweh said to Hosea.

‘Go!

Take for yourself

A wife of prostitution!

Have children

Of prostitution!

The land commits

Great prostitution

By forsaking Yahweh.’”

The command of Yahweh to Hosea is a little strange at first sight. Yahweh God wants Hosea to take a wife, which is not odd. However, she should be a prostitute or whore. He should have children with this prostitute. Thus, the life of Hosea the prophet became symbolic in itself. The reason for the emphasis on prostitution was that the land of Israel had prostituted itself by giving up on Yahweh. The great theme of the infidelity of the Israelites was lived out by Hosea in a real symbolic way. The later prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel would mention this infidelity of Israel also.