Now comes the jolt, as the role of this John would be made clear. This angel, via Luke, pointed out that this child will not be just another Jewish kid, but someone special, befitting his special birth. Luke had the angel continue that John would be great in the sight of the Lord (ἔσται γὰρ μέγας ἐνώπιον Κυρίου). However, he must never drink wine, or any strong intoxicating drink (καὶ οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίῃ), like a Nazirite, a person dedicated to God, as in Numbers, chapter 6:1-4. Either a man or woman could take these Nazirite vows that made them closer to Yahweh. In Hebrew the term “nazir” meant a vow, so that it was possible for a non-Levite to be a favorite of Yahweh also. Vow taking in most religious groups sets those people apart, just as the religious vows of the medieval Catholic Church became popular, producing vowed monks and nuns. A striking English comment would be that these are “Nazi rites.” This Nazirite vow separates them from normal life, especially from wine and anything to do with grapes. The Nazirite stayed away from grapes of any kind. Thus, John was to be filled with the Holy Spirit (καὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου πλησθήσεται) even before his birth, from his mother’s womb (ἔτι ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ). John would be holy before he was born. The Holy Spirit would play a major role in the works of Luke here and in Acts. This special role of John is similar to Samuel in 1 Samuel, chapter 1:11, and Samson in Judges, chapter 13:4-7, in the Hebrew Bible. Both were dedicated to be Nazirites before their birth. John was to be a special dude.
There are similar statements to this in Matthew, chapter 12:31, and Luke, chapter 12:10. Both Matthew and Luke said that it might be okay to disrespect the Son of Man, but it was quite another thing to speak against or blasphemy the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy was profaning the name of God. If you profaned the Holy Spirit, you were hopeless. If you gave up on God and his Spirit, there was no hope of forgiveness. God would forgive all human sins and blasphemies. Whoever blasphemed against the Holy Spirit (ὃς δ’ ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον), would never be forgiven even in eternity (οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα). He would be guilty of an eternal sin (ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος). Anyone who spoke against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven either now or in the future.
There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:27, and Luke, chapter 20:39-40, but Luke has the scribes so astonished that they never asked him another question. Once again, Matthew noted that when the crowds heard this (καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ ὄχλοι), they were astonished or amazed (ἐξεπλήσσοντο) at his teaching (ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ).
Daniel then talked about the fifth and final kingdom, the eternal kingdom, set up by the God of heaven that shall never be destroyed. No other people would inherit this kingdom, since it would crush all the other kingdoms, like the stone in the king’s dream that crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and gold kingdoms. The great God in heaven has informed King Nebuchadnezzar about the future. Thus, Daniel concluded that the dream was certain and his interpretation was also trustworthy.
This commentary on the “burden of Yahweh” seems to be a later addition trying to explain why you should never say “The burden of Yahweh.” A burden is something that you bare. Perhaps it is the heavy burden that the prophet Jeremiah’s words brought to the people. Yahweh was going to punish people and their households who said that the word of Yahweh was a burden. Rather, it seems like it should be a blessing. The prophet, the priest, or the people all should never mention the “burden of Yahweh.” They should say that Yahweh has spoken or answered them. He has not given them a burden, since this would be a perversion of the word of God. Simply put, stop using the term burden when speaking about God and his words.
Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.
If you wait for the perfect wind or the perfect clouds, you will never sow or reap. You have no idea how breath comes to bones in a mother’s womb. So too you have no idea how crops grow. Qoheleth reminds us that God made everything. In the morning, you sow your seeds, but you should not be idle in the evening. You are not sure which seeds will prosper, this one, that one, or both, only God knows.
Finally, we have the last 4 and 3 numerical proverb. There are 4 stately striders: 1) the lion, 2) the rooster, 3) the male goat, and 4) the king. Interesting enough the bull and the deer are missing from this stately list. The lion is the mightiest among all the animals that never turn back. The strutting rooster and the male goat once again emphasis the strutting male. The king, however, also strides before all his people.
God led his people like sheep. Thus the image of the good shepherd goes back to the Exodus itself. He guided his flock of sheep through the wilderness as he led them to safety. Thus they were not afraid. After all he had led them through the waters that never touched them. He brought them to his holy hill or mountain, Mount Sinai. He drove out nations before them as they entered the holy land. The apportionment of this holy land among the Israelite tribes can be found in Joshua, chapters 14-19.
Instead of destroying them all, the compassionate God forgave them. He restrained his anger as he remembered that they were only human. They were like the wind that passes away never to return. They continued to rebel in the wilderness as they grieved him in the desert. Thus the wilderness time lasted longer than they had expected. They continually tested and provoked the God of Israel.