“People will faint
About what was coming
Upon the world.
Of the heavens
Will be shaken.”
ἀποψυχόντων ἀνθρώπων ἀπὸ φόβου καὶ προσδοκίας τῶν ἐπερχομένων τῇ οἰκουμένῃ· αἱ γὰρ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθήσονται.
Luke had a section of this warning from Jesus that was unique, yet the last phrase was similar to the other synoptics. Jesus said that people would faint (ἀποψυχόντων ἀνθρώπων) from fear (ἀπὸ φόβου) and expectations (καὶ προσδοκίας) over what was coming upon the world (τῶν ἐπερχομένων τῇ οἰκουμένῃ). Luke was the only one to use this Greek term ἀποψυχόντων, meaning to leave off breathing, fainting, breathing out of life, dying, or dismayed. The powers of the heavens would be shaken (γὰρ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθήσονται). Thus, this last phrase is like Mark, chapter 13:25, and Matthew, chapter 24:29, who were word for word the same. Mark indicated that Jesus said that the powers of the heavens would be shaken or stirred up (καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς σαλευθήσονται), while Matthew said precisely the same thing. The powers of the heavens would be shaken or stirred up (καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθήσονται). They were going to experience big time problems, in this time of complete darkness, during this celestial disturbance. Do you worry about the sky above you?
“As the lightning
And lights up
From one side
To the other,
So will the Son of man
Be in his day.”
ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἀστράπτουσα ἐκ τῆς ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰς τὴν ὑπ’ οὐρανὸν λάμπει, οὕτως ἔσται ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ αὐτοῦ.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that as the lightning flashes (ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἀστράπτουσα) and lights up the sky (ἐκ τῆς ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανὸν) from one side of the sky to the other (εἰς τὴν ὑπ’ οὐρανὸν λάμπει), so will the Son of man be (οὕτως ἔσται ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) in his day (ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ αὐτοῦ). Luke was the only Greek biblical writer to use the word ἀστράπτουσα that means to lighten and flash forth. There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:27, indicating a Q source, about the Son of Man coming like lightening, but in a more succinct way. In Matthew, Jesus said that as the lightning came from the east (ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἐξέρχεται ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν) but flashed or shined in the west (καὶ φαίνεται ἕως δυσμῶν), so the Parousia or the second coming of the Son of Man would happen (οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου). Wherever the corpse was (ὅπου ἐὰν ᾖ τὸ πτῶμα), there the vultures gathered (ἐκεῖ συναχθήσονται οἱ ἀετοί). The Son of Man was a clear reference to Jesus in his return, the Parousia, who would return like a flash of lightening. The vultures or eagles were a reference to the Roman soldiers with their eagle symbols. There was nothing about the corpses and the eagles or vultures here in Luke, just the lightning flash. However, later in this chapter, verse 37, there was a mention of the corpses and these vultures. Are you afraid of lightning?
You know how
The appearance of earth
And the sky.
But why do you not know
How to interpret
This present time?”
ὑποκριταί, τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γῆς καὶ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ οἴδατε δοκιμάζειν, τὸν καιρὸν δὲ τοῦτον πῶς οὐ δοκιμάζετε;
Luke indicated that Jesus called these people hypocrites (ὑποκριταί). They were able to know how to interpret (οἴδατε δοκιμάζειν) the appearances of the earth (τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γῆς) and the sky (καὶ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ). However, they did not know how to interpret (πῶς οὐ δοκιμάζετε) this present time (τὸν καιρὸν δὲ τοῦτον). There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 16:3, perhaps indicating a Q source, where Jesus asked them how come they were so good at discerning the overcast stormy weather signs in the heavens (τὸ μὲν πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γινώσκετε διακρίνειν), but they were unable to interpret the signs of the times (τὰ δὲ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν οὐ δύνασθε), since the weather signs were in the heavenly skies also. In other words, they were very good at predicting the weather, but had no idea about other heavenly things to come. Are you good at predicting the weather?
To the crowds.
‘When you see
A cloud rising
In the west,
You immediately say.
‘There is going to be
A violent rain storm.’
Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις Ὅταν ἴδητε νεφέλην ἀνατέλλουσαν ἐπὶ δυσμῶν, εὐθέως λέγετε ὅτι Ὄμβρος ἔρχεται, καὶ γίνεται οὕτως·
Luke indicated that Jesus said to the crowds (Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις) that when they saw a cloud rising in the western setting sun (Ὅταν ἴδητε νεφέλην ἀνατέλλουσαν ἐπὶ δυσμῶν), they immediately say that a violent rain storm was coming (εὐθέως λέγετε ὅτι Ὄμβρος ἔρχεται,). Thus, it happened (καὶ γίνεται οὕτως). The use of the word Ὄμβρος, that means a violent rain storm was unique to Luke here among all the biblical literature. Jesus issued some weather commentary about the western setting sun wind and a violent rain storm. The western winds from the Mediterranean River meant that a rain storm was coming. There was something somewhat similar in Matthew, chapter 16:2, where Jesus told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they could read the signs in the sky about weather and storms, but they were unable to recognize the signs in their own world. Jesus said that at evening time, people would say that there would be fair weather if the setting sun in the sky was red. On the other hand, if the sky was red today in the morning, they thought that it would be a stormy day. Most farmers are aware of the red sky in the morning was a warning, while the red sky at night was a delight. Are you good at predicting the weather?
“Jesus said to them.
Like a flash
εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς Ἐθεώρουν τὸν Σατανᾶν ὡς ἀστραπὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεσόντα
Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus told his 70 returning disciples (εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς) that he had watched Satan (Ἐθεώρουν τὸν Σατανᾶν) fall (πεσόντα) from heaven (ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) like a flash of lightning (ὡς ἀστραπὴν). If Jesus and his disciples were making progress that meant that the prince of evil, Satan, was not doing well. Thus, Jesus said that Satan was falling or failing. He would no longer be in the higher heavens. This image of a lightning flash as a falling Satan was very vivid. Would you consider lightning in the sky the falling of Satan?
Christianity is an encounter within human experience. We push out towards the horizon, the boundary between earth and sky, the mystery of God. We seem to get to that horizon, but then it eludes us. We get glimpses of God in this horizon experience. You always know that there is more, and so it is with the friendship of Jesus. This is an active faith that goes beyond understanding, feeling and experience to a way of life. Experience is at the heart of all belief. We all have had a personal development to our faith. We live our discipleship of Jesus in justice, love, and healing, as our faith springs into action.
Than the eagles
In the heavens.
They chased us
On the mountains.
They lay in wait
In the wilderness.”
Continuing with the first person plural, the people of Jerusalem and this author believed that they were being pursued by their enemies that were faster than the eagles in the sky. Their foes chased them into the mountains and lay waiting to ambush them in the desert wilderness, since their enemies were all around them. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Qoph in this acrostic poem.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven,
You are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol,
You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning,
If I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me.
Your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say.
‘Surely the darkness shall cover me.
The light around becomes night.’
Even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night is as bright as the day.
The darkness is as light to you.”
David wanted to know where he could go to avoid the presence of Yahweh. He wanted to know where he could go without Yahweh’s spirit not being there. If he went to heaven, obviously Yahweh would be there. However, he also said that if he went down to Sheol, the underworld of eternal darkness, Yahweh would be there also. If he flew to the farthest place in the sky or the sea, Yahweh would still be there. His hand held him tightly. Even in darkness he could not escape. For Yahweh, there was no difference between day and night, he had infra-red vision to see him whether it was dark or not. Thus the presence of Yahweh was everywhere. He was omnipresent.
“When the waters saw you!
When the waters saw you,
They were afraid.
The very deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water.
The skies thundered.
Your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder
Was in the whirlwind.
Your lightnings lit up the world.
The earth trembled.
The earth shook.
Your way was through the sea.
Your path was through the mighty waters.
Your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
This psalm ends with a remembrance of the power and presence of Yahweh when he was with Moses and Aaron. He recalled the power of God in the storms. He remembered how Yahweh had helped his people get out of Egypt. These themes were captured in this ancient hymn to God. The waters were afraid of God, as if the waters had feelings of trembling before God. The lightnings in the sky were the arrows of Yahweh. The thunder was his voice. The earth trembled, much like the waters. The earth shook. However, he led his people by way of the great sea so that they were no footprints left behind. He led his people like a flock of sheep through the hands of Moses and Aaron. Notice that Aaron is considered the equivalent to Moses here.
“To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David.
The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech.
Night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech.
There are no words.
Their voice is not heard.
Yet their voice goes out through all the earth.
Their words go to the end of the world.”
Once again, Psalm 19 is a simple choral psalm of David, without any explicit setting. The Assyrians and Babylonians were interested in the heavenly bodies and often considered some of them gods. There was a natural preoccupation with the heavens and creation. The heavens proclaim the glory and handiwork of God. Day talks to day and night talks to night, but no words are exchanged. You never hear a voice or a sound. However, the voice and words of day and night go throughout the world to the ends of the earth. The heavens and the sky speak to us even if they do not have a voice or words.