The first part of the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:9-6:10)

“Pray then in this way!

‘Our Father

In heaven!

Holy be your name!

Let your kingdom come!

Your will be done,

On earth,

As it is in heaven.’”

 

οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου·

ἐλθάτω ἡ βασιλεία σου· γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·

 

Matthew, as well as Luke, chapter 11:2-3, both have the “Lord’s Prayer,” “The Our Father,” with only slightly different versions, perhaps indicating a Q source.  The text in Luke is shorter than here, since Matthew has 7 demands of God, one of his favorite numbers.  The first part of the prayer is about the glory of God himself, the Father.  Jesus simply tells them to pray like this (οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς).  The Greek word for praying “προσεύχεσθε” means an exchange of wishes.  Jesus opened this prayer with a call to their common “our” Father (Πάτερ ἡμῶν) who is in the heavens (ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  The heavenly father was a major theme throughout Matthew.  His name should be holy (Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου), just as in the Hebrew scriptures where the name of Yahweh was holy, especially Psalm 105:1-5.  His kingdom should come (ἐλθάτω ἡ βασιλεία σου).  His will should be done (γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου) on earth (καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς), just as it is done in heaven (ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ).  Obviously following the will of God, Yahweh, was a common theme of Judaic life.  The followers of Jesus would not be exempt from following the will of their heavenly Father.

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The prophet Isaiah and John (Mt 3: 3-3:3)

“This is the one

Of whom

The prophet Isaiah

Spoke

When he said.

‘The voice of one crying out

In the wilderness.

Prepare

The way of the Lord!

Make his paths straight!’”

 

οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ.

 

Matthew followed Mark who introduced John as a fulfilment of a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah. However, the text from Mark, chapter 1:2, was a composite of texts from Isaiah, Malachi and Exodus. Matthew, as well as Luke, dropped the first part of these references. However, Luke, chaper 3:4-6, has a more extended citation from Isaiah. Matthew began with the modified quotation from Isaiah, chapter 40:3, while he moved the Malachi and Exodus material to later in the text, where Jesus quoted them. However, it was clear that John the Baptist was the one (οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς) that Isaiah the prophet was talking about (διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος). He was the messenger being sent ahead. He was a voice crying out in the wilderness (Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ). He was to prepare the way for the Lord (Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου,). He was going to make the paths straight (εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ). Deutero-Isaiah originally talked about a voice in the wilderness leading to a new path out of the Exile, in this oracle of Yahweh, just as there had been a path out of the Exodus. In this wilderness or desert, they were to make a straight path, like a highway for God or the Holy Way. However, this would also be a time of upheaval. The valleys would rise as the mountains and hills would fall, so that the uneven and rough places would become level and plain. All the people would then see the glory of God revealed. Clearly, there was a connection between John the Baptist and Isaiah the prophet.

The glory of God (Hab 3:3-3:4)

“His glory

Covered the heavens.

The earth was

Full of his praise.

His brightness was

Like the sun.

Rays came forth

From his hand.

His power

Lay hidden.”

The glory of God covered the heavens, while the earth was full of his praise.  His brightness was like the sun.  Rays of light came from his hands, although his power was hidden.  This was a glorious description of God’s glory.

This vision stuns Ezekiel (Ezek 43:3-43:3)

“The vision

That I saw was

Like the vision

That I had seen

When he came

To destroy the city.

It was

Like the vision

That I had seen

By the river Chebar.

I fell upon my face.”

Ezekiel explicitly referred to his earlier visions of the glory of God. In chapter 8, he saw the abominations in the Temple. Later, he saw the fall of Jerusalem in chapter 24. He mentioned his vision of God’s glory at the River Chebar in Babylon that he described at the beginning of this book, in chapters 1-3. Once again, in the first person singular, Ezekiel noted that he fell on his face in reverence to the glory of God that stunned him, just as it had before.

 

The return of the exiles (Bar 5:5-5:9)

“Arise!

O Jerusalem!

Stand upon the height!

Look toward the east! See your children

Gathered from the west,

Gathered from the east, At the word

Of the Holy One! They are rejoicing

That God has remembered them. They went out from you

On foot.

They were led away

By their enemies.

But God will bring them

Back to you.

They will be carried in glory

As on a royal throne.

God has ordered

That every high mountain

With the everlasting hills

Will be made low.

The valleys will be filled up

To make level ground.

Thus Israel may walk safely

In the glory of God.

The woods

With every fragrant tree

Have shaded Israel

At God’s command.

God will lead Israel with joy,

In the light of his glory,

With the mercy,

With the righteousness

That comes from him.”

This author concludes this book of Baruch with a call to Jerusalem to arise and stand tall. They were to look to the east to see their children, both from the east and west, returning and rejoicing because God had remembered them. They went out on foot, led away by their captive enemies. However, they would return as if carried in glory on a throne. Every high mountain and hill would be leveled, while the valleys would fill up, to make a level ground so that they could walk safely in the glory of God. The fragrant trees of the woods would shade them. God would lead them with the joy and the light of his glory that comes from his mercy and righteousness.

The return of the exiles (Bar 4:36-4:37)

“Look toward the east!

O Jerusalem!

See the joy

That is coming

To you

From God!

Look!

Your children

Are coming!

Those you sent away

Are coming.

They are gathered

From the east,

From the west,

At the word

Of the Holy One,

Rejoicing

In the glory

Of God.”

Jerusalem was to look to the east to see the joy of those coming back to Jerusalem. The children, who were sent away, are now returning to this holy city. They are being gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, not Yahweh. They are rejoicing in the glory of God.

The voice in the wilderness (Isa 40:3-40:5)

“A voice cries out.

‘In the wilderness,

Prepare the way of Yahweh!

Make straight in the desert

A highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up.

Every mountain shall be made low.

Every hill shall be made low.

The uneven ground shall become level.

The rough places shall become a plain.

The glory of Yahweh shall be revealed.

All the people shall see it together.

The mouth of Yahweh has spoken.’”

Here we have the famous phrase that was used by the Christian writers of the New Testament to speak about John the Baptist. The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke both use these phrases from the Greek Septuagint when citing them from Isaiah. Apparently this new path is a way out of the Exile, just as there was the path of the Exodus. In this wilderness or desert, they were to make a straight path, like a highway for God or the Holy Way that was mentioned earlier in chapter 35, to prepare a path for Yahweh. This would also be a time of upheaval. The valleys would rise as the mountains and hills would fall. Also the uneven and rough places would become level and plain. All the people would then see the glory of God revealed. In case there was any doubt, Second Isaiah said that this was spoken by the mouth of Yahweh.