Clear the path (Lk 3:5-3:5)

“Every valley

Shall be filled.

Every mountain

Shall be made low.

Every hill

Shall be made low.

The crooked ways

Will be made straight.

The rough ways

Will be made smooth.”

 

πᾶσα φάραγξ πληρωθήσεται καὶ πᾶν ὄρος καὶ βουνὸς ταπεινωθήσεται, καὶ ἔσται τὰ σκολιὰ εἰς εὐθείας καὶ αἱ τραχεῖαι εἰς ὁδοὺς λείας·

 

Only Luke has this continuation of the prophecy from Deutero-Isaiah.  As a further description on how to prepare the way for the Lord, Luke quoted Isaiah, chapter 40:4-5.  Every valley will be filled (πᾶσα φάραγξ πληρωθήσεται).  Every mountain and hill will be made low (καὶ πᾶν ὄρος καὶ βουνὸς ταπεινωθήσεται).  The crooked ways will be made straight (καὶ ἔσται τὰ σκολιὰ εἰς εὐθείας).  The rough ways will be made smooth (καὶ αἱ τραχεῖαι εἰς ὁδοὺς λείας).  This would 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 so that all the people would then see the glory of God revealed.

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The second part of the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:11-6:13)

“Give us

Our daily bread

Today!

Forgive us

Our debts!

We also have forgiven

Our debtors.

Do not bring us

Into the time of trial!

Rescue us

From the evil one!

 

Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

 

In the second part of the “Lord’s Prayer,” “The Our Father,” Matthew and Luke, chapter 11:3-4, have the 4 human petitions, perhaps indicating a common Q source.  We should ask the Father to give us (δὸς ἡμῖν) our daily bread or sustenance to sustain our human life (Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον) today (σήμερον).  Every day, even today, we need our daily nutrition to live.  The hope is that God the Father will provide for us.  We should ask the Father to forgive our debts (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν).  This includes whatever we owe to God, because our sins that have put us in debt with God.  If we ask for forgiveness, that assumes that we have forgiven our debtors (ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν).  We ask the Father not to lead us into temptation or be tested in a trial (καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν).  Finally, we ask the Father to rescue or deliver us from painful evil or the evil one (ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ).  A Byzantine manuscript has an addition here that has become popular as the ending of the Lord’s Prayer because it has an “Amen” at the end of it.  “For the kingdom (Ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία) and the power (καὶ ἡ δύναμις) and the glory (καὶ ἡ δόξα) are yours forever. Amen (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν).”  This would have fit in better after the first 3 petitions about God the Father, since these 4 petitions are about us here on earth.

The man with the writing case at his side (Ezek 9:2-9:4)

“Among the executors

Was a man

Clothed in linen,

With a writing case

At his side.

They went in.

They stood beside

The bronze altar.

Now the glory

Of the God of Israel

Had gone up

From the cherubim

On which it rested

To the threshold

Of the house.

Yahweh called

To the man

Clothed in linen,

With the writing case

At his side.

Yahweh said to him.

‘Go through the city,

Through Jerusalem,

Put a mark

On the foreheads

Of those who sigh,

Of those who groan

Over all the abominations

That are committed in it.’”

Now a new character enters the scene. This man dressed in white linen with a writing case at his side was among the 6 executioners from the north. They were all standing at the bronze altar when the glory of the God of Israel left the cherubim where it was resting and went to the threshold of the house. Then Yahweh called to the man, who was clothed in linen, with the writing case at his side. Yahweh told him to go into Jerusalem. He was to find all the people who were sighing and groaning about all the abominations in town. He was to put a taw mark on their forehead, like a mini cross, since taw was the last consonant of the Hebrew alphabet. Thus he acted like the angel of death in the Passover story. He marked those who cared about the situation there, who might be spared.

Be aware of this situation (Bar 2:16-2:18)

“O Lord!

Look down

From your holy dwelling!

Consider us!

Incline your ear!

O Lord!

Hear!

Open your eyes!

O Lord!

See!

The dead

Who are in Hades,

Whose spirit

Has been taken

From their bodies,

Will not ascribe glory

To the Lord.

They will not ascribe justice

To the Lord.

But the person

Who is deeply grieved,

Who walks bent over

Who is feeble,

Who has failing eyes,

That person

Will declare

Your glory.

They will declare

Your righteousness.

O Lord!”

This prayer of Baruch continues by asking God to look down from his heavenly holy dwelling. He should consider their situation. God should incline his ear and listen. He should open his eyes and see. The dead in Hades or Sheol have no spirit. They cannot give glory or justice to the Lord. On the other hand, those who are still living, but grieving, bent over, and feeble with poor eye sight can still declare the glory and righteousness of the Lord. Thus it is better to be alive and weak than dead.

The forgotten happiness (Lam 3:16-3:18)

Vav

“Yahweh has made

My teeth grind

On gravel.

He made me

Cower in ashes.

My soul is bereft

Of peace.

I have forgotten

What happiness is.

So I say.

‘Gone is my glory,

All that I had hoped for

From Yahweh.’”

This suffering person proclaims that Yahweh has made him grind his teeth on gravel, which is not a pretty thought. Yahweh made him cower or be afraid with ashes on him, as if in mourning. His soul had no peace. He had forgotten what happiness was. All the glory that he had hoped for from Yahweh was gone. He was almost in despair. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Vav in this acrostic poem.

The gathering from the whole world (Isa 66:19-66:19)

“I will set a sign among them.

From them,

I will send survivors to the nations,

To Tarshish,

To Put,

To Lud,

To those who draw the bow,

To Tubal

To Javan,

To the coastlands far away.

They have not heard of my fame.

They have not seen my glory.

They shall declare my glory

Among the nations.”

How were they going to get all these people into Jerusalem? Some people would go out to various places and have people from there come to Jerusalem to see the glory of Yahweh. Tarshish was the place that had the famous sailing ships. Perhaps it was some place in Spain or on the Mediterranean Sea. Put or Pul may have been in Somalia. Lud refers to some place in Libya or Asia Minor. Tubal and Javan were probably wealthy places in Asia Minor that would send ships to Tyre on the Mediterranean coast. Obviously all the coastal cities on the great sea were to be included. They had no idea about the fame and glory of Yahweh. They would all like to see the fame and glory of Jerusalem. The glory of Yahweh was to be declared to all these nations.

The gathering in Jerusalem (Isa 66:18-66:18)

“I know their works.

I know their thoughts.

I am coming to gather all the nations.

I will gather all tongues.

They shall come.

They shall see my glory.”

There will be one great reunion at Jerusalem. Yahweh was going to gather all their works and thoughts from all the nations, no matter what language they spoke. They all would come to see the glory of Yahweh.