You are more valuable than birds (Lk 12:24-12:24)

“Consider the ravens!

They neither sow

Nor reap.

They have neither

A storehouse

Nor a barn.

Yet God feeds them.

Of how much more

Value are you

Than the birds!”

 

κατανοήσατε τοὺς κόρακας, ὅτι οὔτε σπείρουσιν οὔτε θερίζουσιν, οἷς οὐκ ἔστιν ταμεῖον οὐδὲ ἀποθήκη, καὶ ὁ Θεὸς τρέφει αὐτούς· πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμεῖς διαφέρετε τῶν πετεινῶν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus told his disciples to think about the ravens (κατανοήσατε τοὺς κόρακας).  They neither sow (ὅτι οὔτε σπείρουσιν) nor reap (οὔτε θερίζουσιν).  They have neither a storehouse (οἷς οὐκ ἔστιν ταμεῖον) nor a barn (οὐδὲ ἀποθήκη).  Yet God feeds them (καὶ ὁ Θεὸς τρέφει αὐτούς).  Of how much more value are you than the birds (πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὑμεῖς διαφέρετε τῶν πετεινῶν).  Once again, Matthew, chapter 6:26, has a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source.  Luke called the birds ravens, but Matthew did not.  Matthew had Jesus tell his disciples to look and see the birds of the heavenly skies (ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  These birds did not sow or scatter (ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν) or gather crops (οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν) into a granary or barn (εἰς ἀποθήκας).  They were freeloaders.  Yet they were able to eat off the land, because the heavenly Father fed them (καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά).  Are the disciples or followers of Jesus not more valuable than these birds (οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν)?  Matthew said the Father fed the birds, but Luke said that it was God who fed them.  Birds did not do any farm work, yet they did not have to worry about food.  Are you worried about where your next meal is coming from?

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The good and evil man (Lk 6:45-6:45)

“The good person,

Out of the good treasure

Of his heart,

Produces good.

The evil person,

Out of his evil treasure,

Produces evil.

Out of the abundance

Of the heart,

The mouth speaks.”

 

ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ τῆς καρδίας προφέρει τὸ ἀγαθόν, καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ προφέρει τὸ πονηρόν· ἐκ γὰρ περισσεύματος καρδίας λαλεῖ τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus continued with his sayings.  The good person (ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος), out of the good treasure of his heart (ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ τῆς καρδίας), produces good things (προφέρει τὸ ἀγαθόν).  The evil person (καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς), out of his evil treasure (ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ), produces evil (προφέρει τὸ πονηρόν).  Out of the abundance of the heart (ἐκ γὰρ περισσεύματος καρδίας), the mouth speaks (λαλεῖ τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ).  The heart was considered the moral center of a person.  Thus, we often say a person has a good heart.  Just like a tree, if the heart is good or evil, it will show up in either good or evil deeds and words.  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 12:35, thus indicating a possible Q source.  Matthew had Jesus speak about the same theme that only good can come from good people and only bad can come from bad people.  This is a common-sense statement that talks about the good and the evil people.  The good or kind person brought good things out of his good treasure or storehouse.  The evil or wicked person brought evil things out of his evil treasure or storehouse.  There never was any ambiguity.  Your treasure, your storehouse, your heart, or your morality would be revealed in your words or deeds.  What do you reveal in your activities?

The false pursuits (Bar 3:15-3:19)

“Who has found

Her place?

Who has entered

Her storehouses?

Where are the rulers

Of the nations?

Where are those

Who lorded it over

The animals on earth?

Where are those

Who have made sport

Of the birds of the air?

Where are those

Who hoarded up

Silver with gold

In which people trust ?

Where are those

With no end

To their getting?

Where are those

Who schemed

To get silver?

Where are those

Who are anxious?

There is no trace

Of their works.

They have vanished.

They have gone down

To Hades.

Others have arisen

In their place.”

Baruch talks about the vanity and uselessness of various life pursuits as in wisdom literature. What happens to people who store up treasures in a storehouse? Where are all the rulers of the various nations? Where are all the people who felt superior to animals. Where are the sportsmen who tried to shoot the birds in the air with their arrows? What happened to all those who hoarded up and put their trust in silver and gold? Where are all the people who never had enough? Where are those who schemed to get silver? Where are all the people who were so anxious? Baruch’s response is simple and clear. There is no trace of any of these people and their works. They have vanished and gone to hell, Hades, the Greek word for Sheol, the shadowy underworld that we often call hell. However, there are always others to take their place to do the same thing over and over again.

The tithing Temple obligations (Neh 10:32-10:39)

We also lay upon ourselves the obligation to charge ourselves yearly one-third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God. This was to pay for the rows of bread, the regular grain offering, the regular burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the new moons, the appointed festivals, the sacred donations, and the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. We have also cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, by ancestral houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn upon the altar of Yahweh our God, as it is written in the law. We obligate ourselves to bring the first fruits of our soil and the first fruits of every tree, year by year, to the house of Yahweh. We will also bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the first-born males of our livestock, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks. We will bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God. We will bring to the Levites the tithes from our soil. The Levites will collect the tithes in all our rural towns. The priest, the descendent of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. The Levites shall bring up a tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers, to the storehouse. The people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the storehouses, where the vessels of the sanctuary are. That is where the priests that minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers are. We will not neglect the house of our God.”

The Temple in Jerusalem will be the center of worship. They are each going to give 1/3 of a shekel, the Temple tax, about the equivalent of $2.00 USA. The bread and the burnt offerings come from Leviticus, chapter 24, and Numbers, chapter 26. The bringing of wood is a new idea here. The first fruits concept comes from Deuteronomy, chapter 26. The offering of the first born male of the livestock comes from Exodus, chapter 13. However, the first part of dough, wine, and oil was not in Exodus. The Levites would collect the tithes in all the rural towns, based on Numbers, chapter 18. There is a clear procedure of how the tithes are to be brought from the rural areas to the Temple. The priests, the gatekeepers, and the singers should not be neglected. The house of God should not be neglected.