John as Elijah (Mt 11:13-11:15)

“All the prophets

And the law

Prophesied

Until John came.

If you are willing

To accept it,

He is Elijah,

Who is to come.

Let anyone with ears

Listen!”

 

πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν

καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι, αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι

ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω

 

This saying of Jesus, via Matthew, was based on the prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, where Yahweh said that he was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  Mark has something similar in chapter 9:11-13.  Matthew repeated this saying later in chapter 17:11-13, where Jesus again compared John to Elijah.  There was no question here.  All the prophets and the law had prophesized until the time of John the Baptist (πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν).  Then Jesus said that John was the new Elijah (αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας), the one who was to come (ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι).  However, they had to be willing to accept this (καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι).  Anyone who had ears to hear should listen to this (ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω).

 

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Those not accepting you (Mt 10:14-10:15)

“If anyone

Will not receive you

Or listen to your words,

Shake off the dust

From your feet,

As you leave

That house

Or town.”

 

καὶ ὃς ἂν μὴ δέξηται ὑμᾶς μηδὲ ἀκούσῃ τοὺς λόγους ὑμῶν, ἐξερχόμενοι ἔξω τῆς οἰκίας ἢ τῆς πόλεως ἐκείνης ἐκτινάξατε τὸν κονιορτὸν τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν.

 

Equivalent passages to this can be found in Mark, chapter 6:11, and Luke, chapter 9:5.  If anyone (καὶ ὃς ἂν) would not receive you (μὴ δέξηται ὑμᾶς) or listen to your words (μηδὲ ἀκούσῃ τοὺς λόγους ὑμῶν), leave that house or town (ἐξερχόμενοι ἔξω τῆς οἰκίας ἢ τῆς πόλεως).  Shake off the dust from your feet (ἐκείνης ἐκτινάξατε τὸν κονιορτὸν τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν).  This indicated that the dust of that house or town was useless.

Prayer

A Christian is not without contact with God.  Prayer in its various forms is the normal contact with the transcendent reality, whatever name we place on it.  The ceremony of all religions is the point of contact with the divine.  Prayer can and should be both personal and public.  Thus, the Christian never forgets the admonition to pray always.  He or she remembers the great prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  The importance of prayer is like good communication.  Take time to pray.  Develop a personal prayer life.  Faith without prayer is impossible.  Request, give honor, praise, thank, listen, and share verbal and non-verbal prayer.  Prayer is the breath of the Christian spiritual life.  If we stop praying, it is like as if we stop breathing.  Your spiritual life will die without prayer.

The curse (Mal 2:2-2:3)

“Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘If you will not listen,

If you will not lay it to heart

To give glory

To my name,

Then I will send

The curse

On you.

I will curse your blessings.

Indeed,

I have already cursed them.

Because you do not lay it to heart.

I will rebuke your offspring.

I will spread dung

On your faces,

The dung of your offerings.

I will put you

Out of my presence.’”

Yahweh, via Malachi, said that if they did not listen and take to heart his words by giving glory to Yahweh’s name, he was going to send a curse on them.  In fact, he had already cursed their blessings.  They had not taken their worship of Yahweh to heart.  Thus, they would have the dung of their offerings spread out over their faces.  He was going to put them and their offspring out of his presence.

The punishment (Zech 7:12-7:14)

“Therefore,

Great wrath

Came from Yahweh of hosts.

‘Just as when I called,

They would not hear,

So,

When they called,

I would not hear.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I scattered them

With a whirlwind

Among all the nations

That they had not known.

Thus,

The land they left

Was desolate.

Thus,

No one went to and fro.

A pleasant land

Was made desolate.’”

Thus, Yahweh sent punishments to these stubborn Israelites.  Great wrath and anger came from Yahweh of hosts.  Since they would not listen to Yahweh, he was not going to listen to them.  He decided to scatter them to the winds among the various other countries.  Many of these countries, they knew nothing about them.  Thus, the great land of Israel was left desolate.  No one was moving about in this pleasant land that became a desolation.

The role of the branch (Zech 3:8-3:8)

“‘Now listen!

Joshua!

High priest!

You!

With your colleagues

Who sit before you!

They are an omen

Of things to come.

I am going to bring

My servant,

The Branch.”

Yahweh. via Zechariah, wanted the high priest Joshua and his colleagues to listen to him.  Yahweh was going to bring his servant, the branch or a sprout of some kind, sort of a Davidic figure, perhaps Zerubbabel, the grandson of the last king of Judah.  Or is this a messianic notice about a future King of Israel?

The cry for justice (Hab 1:2-1:4)

“O Yahweh!

How long

Shall I cry for help?

You will not listen.

I cry to you.

‘Violence!’

You will not save me.

Why do you make me

See wrongdoing?

Why do you make me

Look at trouble?

Destruction is before me.

Violence is before me.

Strife arises

Contention arises.

So,

The law becomes slack.

Justice never prevails.

The wicked surround

The righteous.

Therefore,

Judgment

Comes forth perverted!”

Habakkuk complained to Yahweh that there was no justice in the land.  He wanted to know how long he would have to cry to be heard by Yahweh, since Yahweh did not seem to listen to him.  Habakkuk has cried out about this violence, but there was no one to save him.  Why did he have to see so much wrongdoing and trouble?  There were all kinds of destruction and violence all around him, since his life was full of strife and contention.  The law had become slack, so that justice did not prevail.  The wicked were in fact surrounding the righteous, so that there were only perverted judgments, not true justice from Yahweh.