Seek and you shall find (Jer 29:12-29:14)

“Then when you call

Upon me,

I will listen.

When you come,

I will see you.

When you pray to me,

I will hear you.

When you search for me,

You will find me.

When you seek me

With all your heart,

I will let you find me.’

Says Yahweh.”

In somewhat beautiful poetic terms, Yahweh, via Jeremiah’s letter, says that if they called on him, he would hear them. If they prayed to him, he would listen to them. If they searched for him, they would find him. If they sought him with their whole hearts, he would let himself be found. Yahweh was ready and willing to help them. They just had to reach out to him with calls, prayers, and sincere searching.

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Title (Prov 10:1-10:1)

“The proverbs of Solomon”

This is the main part of this work after the previous introduction. Obviously this is a reference to Solomon, the son of David, and King of Israel, as described in 1 Kings, chapters 1-11. One of the attributes of Solomon was his wisdom. These proverbs are poetic wisdom sayings without any real order. In general, as we have already seen, there is a correlation between the wise and the righteous against the foolish and the wicked on the other side. Just like the so-called psalms of David, not every proverb is directly from Solomon. However, these are ancient Hebrew poetic sayings.

Introduction (Prov 1:2-1:6)

Let them learn about wisdom.

Let them learn about instruction.

Let them understand words of insight.

Let them gain instruction in wise dealing.

Let them gain instruction in righteousness.

Let them gain instruction in justice.

Let them gain instruction in equity.

Let them teach shrewdness to the simple.

Let them teach knowledge to the young.

Let them teach prudence to the youth.

Let the wise also hear.

Let them gain in learning.

Let the discerning acquire skill.

Let them understand a proverb.

Let them understand obscure figures.

Let them understand the words of the wise.

Le them understand their riddles.”

Just like the psalms, this book of proverbs has a poetic rather than prose format. Originally this section was one long Hebrew sentence. In order to become wise, they have to learn and understand words of insight, wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity. These proverbs will teach shrewdness, knowledge, and prudence to young people. Even the wise people can gain knowledge and acquire skills in understanding proverbs, obscure statements, and symbols. In fact, these proverbs will help you understand the wise men and their riddles. These obscure figures are more like metaphors, parables, or allegories, while the riddles use analogy.

God controls thunder, lightning, and rain (Job 37:1-37:13)

“At this also my heart trembles.

My heart leaps out of its place.

Listen!

Listen to the thunder of his voice.

Listen to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.

Under the whole heaven he lets it loose.

His lightning goes to the corners of the earth.

After it his voice roars.

He thunders with his majestic voice.

He does not restrain the lightning when his voice is heard.

God thunders wondrously with his voice.

He does great things that we cannot comprehend.

To the snow he says.

‘Fall on the earth.’

The shower and the rain,

His heavy shower of rain,

Serve as a sign on everyone’s hand.

Thus all whom he has made may know it.

Then the animals go into their lairs,

They remain in their dens.

From its chamber comes the whirlwind.

Cold comes from the scattering winds.

By the breath of God ice is given.

The broad waters are frozen fast.

He loads the thick cloud with moisture.

The clouds scatter his lightning.

They turn round and round by his guidance.

They accomplish all that he commands them

On the face of the habitable world.

Whether for correction,

Or for his land,

Or for love,

He causes it to happen.”

God as the weather man continues in this hymn to the power of God. The voice of God can be heard in thunder. His lightning reaches the ends of the earth. He makes snow fall. He sends rains, heavy and light. We feel the rain as a way that God touches us. Animals know when to get out of the cold. God sends the cold and ice as he freezes up the rivers. God causes all this to happen here on earth. This is a Theo-centric climate concept. All comes from God, not man. He guides the climate to correct us, help the land, and show his love. God makes it happen. Humans are merely passive to the actions of God. This is very poetic and thus not literal. It is anthropomorphic in that we assign the voice of God, who has no voice, to the thunder. God does not literally speak to us in thunder.

The hymn to the divine power over the climate (Job 36:24-36:37)

“Remember to extol his work!

Men have sung to his work.

All people have looked on it.

Everyone watches it from far away.

Surely God is great!

We do not know him.

The number of his years is unsearchable.

He draws up the drops of water.

He distils his mist in rain.

The skies pour down rain.

Rain drops upon mortals abundantly.

Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds?

Can anyone understand the thundering of his pavilion?

See!

He scatters his lightning around him.

He covers the roots of the sea.

For by these he judges peoples.

He gives food in abundance.

He covers his hands with the lightning.

He commands it to strike the mark.

Its crashing tells about him.

He is jealous with anger against iniquity.”

Elihu wanted Job to understand and extol the power of God over the climate we live in. Interesting enough I began working on this the day that Pope Francis I issued his encyclical on the climate “Laudato Si.” Yet here, Elihu in his hymn clearly sees God as the controller of the climate. God controls the rain, so that quite often we pray to God for more or less rain. This is especially true in strong farming communities. They also pray for good harvests from the land. We have seen both drought and over flooding this year in the USA. God has control over thunder and lightning as well as the seas.   God is jealous and angry against the wicked. Perhaps we do not pray to God enough about the climate. Just as we have moved from the poetic flat world concept of sunrise and sunset to the earth moving around the sun, so too we might see climate as not the poetic unique concern of God alone, but see the impact of human actions on the climate also.

The lament over Jerusalem of Mattathias (1 Macc 2:7-2:14)

“Mattathias said.

‘Alas!

Why was I born to see this?

The ruin of my people,

The ruin of the holy city,

I had to live there when it was given over to the enemy.

The sanctuary was given over to aliens.

Her temple has become like a person without honor.

Her glorious vessels have been carried into exile.

Her infants have been killed in her streets.

Her youth have been killed by the sword of the foe.

What nation has not inherited her palaces?

What nation has not seized her spoils?

All her adornment has been taken away.

She is no longer free.

She has become a slave.

See!

Our holy place,

Our beauty,

Our glory have been laid waste.

The gentiles have profaned it.

Why should we live any longer?’

Mattathias and his sons tore their clothes. They put on sackcloth. They mourned greatly.”

Once again we have poetic fragment. This one is ascribed to Mattathias as he laments the state of Jerusalem. He wanted to know why he was born and why should he live. The situation in Jerusalem was so bad with the ruin of his people and the holy city as it was given over to the alien enemy. Her sanctuary and vessels were defamed and all gone. There was no honor, as infants were killed in the streets. Young people were killed. Every nation has seized some part of her palaces. Jerusalem was not free, but a slave. The holy, beautiful places of glory lay wasted. He and his sons tore their clothes and put on sackcloth. They mourned greatly over Jerusalem with the traditional signs of mourning, ashes and sackcloth. They left their wonderful Jerusalem in shambles.