The prayer of Zechariah (Lk 1:68-1:68)

“Blessed be the Lord!

The God of Israel!

He has looked favorably

On his people.

He has redeemed them.”

 

Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,

 

Luke then had this so-called Benedictus prayer, based on the Latin translation of Εὐλογητὸς.  At the same time, this prayer is a prophesy also.  First, Zechariah was thankful for all the people of Israel, not just himself.  He used the familiar blessing that David said to Abigail in 1 Samuel, chapter 25:32, and to Solomon in 1 Kings, chapter 1:48.  Solomon used this same blessing in 1 Kings, chapter 8:35.  He said that the Lord was blessed (Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος).  He was the God of Israel (ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ) who had visited, intervened, or looked favorably (ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο) on his people (τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,), since he has saved or brought them redemption (καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν).  Zechariah had a sense of what the scope of John’s birth would be on all Israel, not just his family.  He implied that salvation or redemption had already taken place with the birth of his son John, not waiting for Jesus.

Chief priests mock Jesus (Mk 15:31-15:31)

“In the same way,

The chief priests,

Along with the Scribes,

Were also mocking him

Among themselves.

Saying.

‘He saved others!

He cannot save himself!’”

 

ὁμοίως καὶ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ἐμπαίζοντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους μετὰ τῶν γραμματέων ἔλεγον Ἄλλους ἔσωσεν, ἑαυτὸν οὐ δύναται σῶσαι

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 27:41-42.  However, Mark did not mention the elders nor anything about the Son of God.  In Luke, chapter 23:35-36, there is only a mention of leaders and soldiers, without any specific indication of which leaders.  On the other hand, there is nothing similar in John.  Mark said that the chief priests (καὶ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) were mocking Jesus among one another or among themselves (ἐμπαίζοντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους) with the Scribes (μετὰ τῶν γραμματέων), in the same way as those passing by (ὁμοίως).  These religious leaders said that Jesus had saved others (ἔλεγον Ἄλλους ἔσωσεν).  Why could he not save himself (ἑαυτὸν οὐ δύναται σῶσαι)?  They seemed to take a sense of self satisfaction that they had Jesus right where they wanted him.

The inspired Scriptures

The Old Testament or Hebrew scriptures were the scriptures mentioned in the New Testament writings.  In what sense are these inspired writings?  There have been a number of theories to explain this.  Were these writers possessed by God in a hypnotic state?  Did God verbally dictate every word?  Did God provide negative assistance to make sure that the writer did not make an error?  Is this inspiration retroactive?  Every word in the Bible is true if we understand the literary form.  There was a divine influence on the minds and wills of the biblical writers, but they lived and wrote in a specific time and place.

The Word of God

In what sense is the Bible “the word of God”?  Certainly, the Bible was written by humans.  However, there are a number of times when the human authors were citing the words of God himself.  Sometimes these are called oracles or sayings of God.  This series of books portray humans interacting with God.  God wants them to do something and then the humans react.  The Bible contains words about God and words of God himself spoken to humans.  Thus, we can say that the Bible is the inspired words of God in human terms.

Daniel was anxious (Dan 7:15-7:15)

“As for me,

Daniel,

My spirit

Was troubled

Within me.

The visions

Of my head

Terrified me.”

Thus, Daniel, the great interpreter of dreams, was terrified and troubled by his own dreams. Could he make any sense of these visions or dreams in his head?

Using the north and south gates (Ezek 46:9-46:10)

“When the people

Of the land

Come before Yahweh,

At the appointed festivals,

Whoever enters

By the north gate

To worship

Shall go out

By the south gate.

Whoever enters

By the south gate

Shall go out

By the north gate.

They shall not return

By way of the gate

By which they entered.

But they shall go out

Straight ahead.

When they go in,

The prince shall

Come in with them.

When they go out,

He shall go out.”

Interesting enough, Yahweh, via Ezekiel, had a sense of crowd control for these religious festivals. Although you could enter from either the north or south side gates, you could not turn around. You had to go straight ahead. If you came in on the north side, you went out the south side, and vice versa. Here the prince came in with the people, while just earlier he had a special entrance.

The mute persons at the temple for Bel (Bar 6:40-6:41)

“Besides,

Even the Chaldeans themselves

Dishonor these gods.

When they see

Someone who cannot speak,

They bring Bel.

They pray to Bel

That the mute

May speak,

As though Bel

Were able

To understand.

Yet they themselves

Cannot perceive this.

They abandon them.

They have no sense.”

The Chaldeans dishonored their own gods. Whenever they saw a mute person, they would bring the god Bel to them. Then they would pray to Bel to make him speak, as if this false god could understand. But then they would leave him or her there with Bel with no response, because these worshipers of Bel had no sense themselves.   Bel was the term used for the Babylonian god Marduk, or Lord. It also was used for many gods in the region. This may have been the start of the use of Lord for the God of Israel, Yahweh.

Wisdom and incarnation (Bar 3:35-3:37)

“This is our God!

No other can be

Compared to him!

He found the whole way

To knowledge.

He gave her

To his servant

Jacob.

He gave her

To Israel

Whom he loved.

Afterward she appeared

On earth.

She lived

With humans.”

This section of Baruch indicates that wisdom became human in some sense, like an incarnation. Surely God, and not Yahweh, was the creator of the world. Thus no other god or person could compare with him. He had full knowledge of everything. He was omniscient. Thus he gave wisdom to his servant Jacob. He also gave wisdom to Israel, whom he loved. The use of both Jacob and Israel is interesting, since it implies that Jacob was a person and Israel was a name of all his descendants. Then there is the final intriguing comment about how she, wisdom, appeared on earth and lived with humans. Some Christians see this as a hint about the incarnation of Jesus. However, it should be noted that the reference is to a she, a female. Wisdom was generally seen as feminine, not masculine like Jesus. Finally, she has already appeared, so that this is not a future aspirational comment. Wisdom is already living among humans. You just have to find this personification of wisdom here on earth.

Yahweh and the Judeans (Lam 5:19-5:20)

“But you!

O Yahweh!

You reign forever!

Your throne

Endures

To all generations.

Why have you

Forgotten us

Completely?

Why have you

Forsaken us

These many days?”

Yahweh reigns forever. His throne will endure through all generations. The question is why has he forgotten the Judeans? Why has he forsaken them for so many days? There is a sense of urgency in these questions.

The rich and the poor (Jer 5:4-5:5)

“Then I said.

‘These are only the poor.

They have no sense.

They do not know

The way of Yahweh.

They do not know

The law of their God.

Let me go to the rich!

I will speak to them.

They know

The way of Yahweh.

They know

The law of their God.’

But they all alike

Had broken the yoke.

They had burst the bonds.”

Jeremiah went to both the rich and the poor people in Jerusalem. At first, he thought that the little poor people had no sense. They did not know Yahweh or the law of God. However, he found the same thing among the privileged rich people also. He had expected the rich to know Yahweh and the law. However, they both turned out the same. They had both broken the yoke of Yahweh and burst out of his bonds.