Possessions (Lk 12:15-12:15)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Take care!

Be on your guard

Against all kinds of greed!

One’s life

Does not consist

In the abundance

Of possessions.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς Ὁρᾶτε καὶ φυλάσσεσθε ἀπὸ πάσης πλεονεξίας, ὅτι οὐκ ἐν τῷ περισσεύειν τινὶ ἡ ζωὴ αὐτοῦ ἐστιν ἐκ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων αὐτῷ.

 

Luke had another unique saying of Jesus about worldly possessions.  Jesus said to them (εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς) to take care (Ὁρᾶτε) and guard against all kinds of greed (καὶ φυλάσσεσθε ἀπὸ πάσης πλεονεξίας).  Their life did not consist of merely an abundance of possessions (ὅτι οὐκ ἐν τῷ περισσεύειν τινὶ ἡ ζωὴ αὐτοῦ ἐστιν ἐκ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων αὐτῷ).  Jesus warned them about a life of greed that was only measured by how many things they owned.  This is a particularly good message for a highly technological society where access to wealth is reasonably easy.  Do you judge your life by where you live and what you own?

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The hidden treasure and the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13:44-13:44)

“The kingdom of heaven is

Like a treasure

Hidden in a field.

Someone found it.

He hid it.

Then in his joy

He goes

And sells

All that he has.

Then he buys that field.”

 

Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν θησαυρῷ κεκρυμμένῳ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ, ὃν εὑρὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔκρυψεν, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς αὐτοῦ ὑπάγει καὶ πωλεῖ ὅσα ἔχει καὶ ἀγοράζει τὸν ἀγρὸν ἐκεῖνον.

 

Only Matthew has this parable about the treasure in the field.  Jesus. via Matthew, compared the kingdom of heaven to a hidden treasure in a field (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν θησαυρῷ κεκρυμμένῳ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ).  If a man found it (ὃν εὑρὼν ἄνθρωπος), he would re-hide it again (ἔκρυψεν).  Then with great joy or gladness (καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς αὐτοῦ), he would sell everything that he had (ὑπάγει καὶ πωλεῖ ὅσα ἔχει), so that he could buy that field (καὶ ἀγοράζει τὸν ἀγρὸν ἐκεῖνον).  In Jewish law, if you owned the property, you were entitled to everything on that property.  In other words, this man would give up everything for this treasure.  Thus, you should give up everything for the heavenly kingdom treasure.

 

Woe to the wicked (Mic 2:1-2:2)

“Woe to those

Who devise wickedness!

Woe to those

Who devise evil deeds

On their beds!

When the morning dawns,

They perform them,

Because it is

In their power.

They covet fields.

They seize them.

They covet houses.

They take them away.

They oppress

The householder

With his house.

They oppress

People

With their inheritance.”

Yahweh, via Micah, warned about the evil wicked people, who were devising evil deeds from their beds.  Then when they got up in the morning, they put their thoughts into action, because of their power.  If they wanted a field or a house, they would seize the field and the house.  By taking them away, they were oppressing the one who owned the house, his household, and the house itself, the people with their inheritance.

The live style of the Rechabites (Jer 35:7-35:10)

“‘You shall not

Build a house!

You shall not

Sow seed!

You shall not

Plant a vineyard!

You shall not

Own a vineyard!

You shall live

In tents

All your days!

Thus you may live many days

In the land where you reside.’

We have obeyed

This charge

Of our ancestor Jonadab

The son of Rechab,

In all that he commanded us.

Thus we ourselves,

Our wives,

Our sons,

Our daughters

Do not drink wine

All our days.

We do not build houses

To live in.

We have no vineyard.

We have no field.

We have no seed.

But we have lived in tents.

We have obeyed Jonadab.

We have done

All that our ancestor Jonadab

Commanded us.”

These Rechabites followed the commandments of Jonadab the son of Rechab. Thus they lived a unique nomad live style. Jonadab had commanded them not to build houses or sow seeds. They were to live in tents. They did not practice any kind of agriculture, so that they neither planted nor owned any vineyards or fields. They would live a long life, as long as they abstained from intoxicants, as they, their wives, and their children did not drink any wine. Since they did not cultivate grapes, they drank the milk of their animals. Thus they seem to be closer to the Hebrew Nazirites, who vowed a sacred separate life style, but only for a set time period, not cutting their hair, not drinking intoxicating liquids, and not touching unclean things. These Rechabites seem to be like a religious order or communal monks, actually like wandering desert Arabs.

The restoration of good fields (Jer 32:43-32:44)

“‘Fields shall be bought

In this land

Of which you are saying.

‘It is a desolation!

It is without humans!

It is without animals!

It has been given

Into the hands

Of the Chaldeans.’

Fields shall be bought

For money.

Deeds shall be signed,

Sealed,

As well as witnessed

In the land of Benjamin,

In the places about Jerusalem,

In the towns of Judah,

In the towns of the hill country,

In the towns of the Shephelah,

In the towns of the Negeb.

I will restore their fortunes.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh said, via Jeremiah, that the time of the desolation of the land was over. Fields were going to be bought and sold. It is not clear who owned some of these fields, since they might have changed hands a few times, since the beginning of the exile. However, the land was desolate, since there were no humans or animals on them after the Chaldeans took over. Who was going to sell this land? However, there would be a legal process. Money would exchange hands with deeds signed, sealed, and witnessed. The example of Jeremiah buying a field in the preceding chapter may be an example of how things would operate. Now this restoration would take place in the Benjamin territory, around the city of Jerusalem, and the towns of Judah. However, there are places mentioned, like the towns in the hill country of Judah, the Shephelah, the old Dan territory next to Benjamin, as well as the Negeb, the semi arid land southeast of Jerusalem near the Dead Sea. There was no mention of the northern territory from the old northern Israelite kingdom and their tribal territory.