Bad things ahead (Lk 19:44-19:44)

“They will crush you

To the ground,

You

And your children

Within you.

They will not leave

Within you

One stone

Upon another.

You did not recognize

The time of your visitation

From God.”                                                                

 

καὶ ἐδαφιοῦσίν σε καὶ τὰ τέκνα σου ἐν σοί, καὶ οὐκ ἀφήσουσιν λίθον ἐπὶ λίθον ἐν σοί, ἀνθ’ ὧν οὐκ ἔγνως τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς σου.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the enemies would crush Jerusalem to the ground (καὶ ἐδαφιοῦσίν σε).  Luke was the only one among all the Greek biblical writers to use this word ἐδαφιοῦσίν, that means to raze, dash to the ground, or level with the ground.  Jesus used the second personal singular, when he said that the city along with their children or inhabitants (καὶ τὰ τέκνα σου ἐν σοί) would be destroyed.  Their enemies would not leave one stone upon another in that city (καὶ οὐκ ἀφήσουσιν λίθον ἐπὶ λίθον ἐν σοί), because the people of Jerusalem had not recognized the time of the visitation from God (ἀνθ’ ὧν οὐκ ἔγνως τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς σου), Jesus himself.  In predicting the future fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Jesus projected many of the same warnings that the Israelite and Judean prophets had proclaimed before the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.  The people of Jerusalem had failed to recognize what was happening around them.  Are you aware of your situation in the city that you live?

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Clear the path (Lk 3:5-3:5)

“Every valley

Shall be filled.

Every mountain

Shall be made low.

Every hill

Shall be made low.

The crooked ways

Will be made straight.

The rough ways

Will be made smooth.”

 

πᾶσα φάραγξ πληρωθήσεται καὶ πᾶν ὄρος καὶ βουνὸς ταπεινωθήσεται, καὶ ἔσται τὰ σκολιὰ εἰς εὐθείας καὶ αἱ τραχεῖαι εἰς ὁδοὺς λείας·

 

Only Luke has this continuation of the prophecy from Deutero-Isaiah.  As a further description on how to prepare the way for the Lord, Luke quoted Isaiah, chapter 40:4-5.  Every valley will be filled (πᾶσα φάραγξ πληρωθήσεται).  Every mountain and hill will be made low (καὶ πᾶν ὄρος καὶ βουνὸς ταπεινωθήσεται).  The crooked ways will be made straight (καὶ ἔσται τὰ σκολιὰ εἰς εὐθείας).  The rough ways will be made smooth (καὶ αἱ τραχεῖαι εἰς ὁδοὺς λείας).  This would be a time of upheaval.  The valleys would rise as the mountains and hills would fall.  Also, the uneven and rough places would become level and plain so that all the people would then see the glory of God revealed.

Supreme power of Yahweh (Isa 45:11-45:13)

“Thus says Yahweh!

The Holy One of Israel!

It’s Maker!

‘Will you question me

About my children?

Will you command me

Concerning the work of my hands?

I made the earth.

I created humankind upon it.

It was my hands

That stretched out the heavens.

I commanded their entire host.

I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness.

I will make all his paths straight.

He shall build my city.

He shall set my exiles free,

Not for a price or a reward.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

There is no doubt that this is an oracle of Yahweh, the Most Holy One of Israel, and its maker, here in Second Isaiah. Yahweh was defending his choice of Cyrus. Why would any of his children question him? Why should they say anything about how he is doing things? Yahweh has made the heavens and the earth with all the humans that live here. Thus he has appointed Cyrus in his righteousness. Yahweh is going to level the ground in front of him. In turn, Cyrus was going to build a city and set his exiles free, but he would not receive any money or reward for this action.

The intervention of Yahweh (Isa 42:14-42:17)

“For a long time,

I have held my peace.

I have kept still.

I have restrained myself.

Now I will cry out

Like a woman in labor.

I will gasp.

I will pant.

I will lay waste mountains.

I will lay waste hills.

I will dry up all their herbage.

I will turn the rivers into islands.

I will dry up the pools.

I will lead the blind

By a road that they do not know.

I will lead the blind

In paths that they have not known.

I will guide them.

I will turn

The darkness before them into light.

I will turn

The rough places into level ground.

These are the things I will do.

I will not forsake them.

They shall be turned back.

They shall be utterly put to shame.

All those who trust in craved images,

All those who say to cast images,

‘You are our gods.’”

Once again, we have the first person singular, as Yahweh speaks directly in Second Isaiah. Yahweh had been quiet, still, and restrained. Now, however, Yahweh was going to yell out with gasps and pants, like a woman in labor about to give birth. He was going to tear down the mountains and the hills, dry up vegetation and pools, as well as turn rivers into islands. He was going to lead the blind on unknown roads with unlevel ground. He would turn their darkness into light and level the rough ground. He was not going to give up on the blind, perhaps a reference to the Israelites being led blindly in the desert wilderness during the Exodus. However, he was going to shame those who relied on carved and cast images as their gods. This was a strong plea for monotheism among the Israelites.

The voice in the wilderness (Isa 40:3-40:5)

“A voice cries out.

‘In the wilderness,

Prepare the way of Yahweh!

Make straight in the desert

A highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up.

Every mountain shall be made low.

Every hill shall be made low.

The uneven ground shall become level.

The rough places shall become a plain.

The glory of Yahweh shall be revealed.

All the people shall see it together.

The mouth of Yahweh has spoken.’”

Here we have the famous phrase that was used by the Christian writers of the New Testament to speak about John the Baptist. The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke both use these phrases from the Greek Septuagint when citing them from Isaiah. Apparently this new path is a way out of the Exile, just as there was the path of the Exodus. In this wilderness or desert, they were to make a straight path, like a highway for God or the Holy Way that was mentioned earlier in chapter 35, to prepare a path for Yahweh. This would also be a time of upheaval. The valleys would rise as the mountains and hills would fall. Also the uneven and rough places would become level and plain. All the people would then see the glory of God revealed. In case there was any doubt, Second Isaiah said that this was spoken by the mouth of Yahweh.

Walk in integrity (Ps 26:11-26:12)

“But as for me,

I walk in my integrity.

Redeem me!

Be gracious to me!

My foot stands on level ground.

In the great congregation

I will bless Yahweh.”

This psalm ends with the innocent David’s self-righteous plea that he had always walked in integrity. He wanted Yahweh to redeem him. He wanted Yahweh to be gracious to him. He had kept his feet on the level right path. In the congregations he blessed Yahweh. Therefore he was on the right side with Yahweh.

King Antiochus IV reverses himself about the Jews (2 Macc 9:13-9:18)

“Then the abominable fellow made a vow to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on him. He stated that the holy city, which he was hastening to level to the ground in order to make it a cemetery, was now declared to be free. He had not considered the Jews worth burying. He had planned to throw them out with their children for the wild animals and for the birds to pick on. However, now he would make all of them equal to citizens of Athens. The holy sanctuary, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the finest offerings. All the holy vessels he would give back many times over. The expenses, incurred for the sacrifices, he would provide from his own revenues. In addition to all this he also would become a Jew. He would visit every inhabited place to proclaim the power of God. However, when his sufferings did not in any way abate, for the judgment of God had justly come upon him, he gave up all hope for himself.”

This deathbed reversal of King Antiochus IV goes into greater detail here than in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. For Jerusalem, the city that he was going to make into a cemetery, now he was declaring it a free city. For the Jews themselves, instead of letting their bodies lay in the open for the wild animals and birds, he was making them citizens like the people in Athens. He was going to give fine offerings for the sanctuary he had plundered. He was going to return all the holy vessels that he took and more. He would pay for the expenses of the sacrifices out of his own revenue. He also was willing to become a Jew. He was going to go every place to proclaim God. However, his own just sufferings did not stop. He gave up all hope for himself. Thus this born again conversion of the king included the idea of becoming a Jew, which was extraordinary.