The use of the Bible

We all stand within a cultural tradition with concepts, ideals and values of what is a meaningful life.  Christianity transmits the wisdom of the past and is always conservative, but sometimes prophetic.  All Christian traditions use the Bible in their worship services and as a source of wisdom and spiritual development.

The future good harvests (Hag 2:18-2:19)

“Consider from this day on,

From the twenty-fourth day

Of the ninth month!

Consider since the day

That the foundation

Of Yahweh’s temple

Was laid!

Is there any seed

Left in the barn?

Does the vine

Still yield nothing?

Does the fig tree

Still yield nothing?

Does the pomegranate tree

Still yield nothing?

Does the olive tree

Still yield nothing?

From this day on,

I will bless you.”

As opposed to the bad harvests of the past, the harvests of the future would be good from this day forward, because this 24th day of the 9th month was the day of the foundation laying for the Second Temple of Yahweh.  Then in a series of questions, Yahweh indicated that there would be no seeds left in the barn.  The vines, the fig trees, the pomegranate trees, and the olive trees would yield great harvests rather than nothing.  From this day on, they were going to be blessed.

Good things for the Israelites (Jer 32:42-32:42)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Just as I have brought

All this great disaster

Upon this people,

So I will bring upon them

All the good fortune

That I now promise them.’”

Just as Yahweh had brought the tough times to his people for their evil ways, he now was going to bring them good fortune. Thus as bad as the past was, the future was going to be that much better.

Jeremiah explains the role of a prophet (Jer 28:6-28:9)

“The prophet Jeremiah said.

‘Amen!

May Yahweh do so!

May Yahweh fulfill

The words

That you have prophesied.

May he bring back

To this place

From Babylon

The vessels

Of the house of Yahweh,

With all the exiles.

But listen now

To this word

That I speak in your hearing,

In the hearing of all the people.

The prophets

Who preceded you,

As well as me,

From ancient times

Prophesied war,

Prophesied famine,

Prophesied pestilence

Against many countries,

Against great kingdoms.

As for the prophet

Who prophesies peace,

When the word of

That prophet comes true,

Then it will be known

That Yahweh

Has truly sent this prophet.’”

Jeremiah admitted that maybe Yahweh would fulfill the words of Hananiah that the exiles and the sacred vessels would return to Jerusalem from Babylon. However, Jeremiah reminded everybody that the prophets of the past quite often prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and kingdoms. If there was a true peace, then they would all know that Yahweh had sent this prophet of peace.

Remembering Moses (Isa 63:11-63:14)

“Then he remembered the days of old.

He remembered Moses his servant.

Where is the one

Who brought them up out of the sea?

Where are the shepherds of his flock?

Where is the one

Who put within them His Holy Spirit?

Who caused his glorious arm

To march at the right hand of Moses?

Who divided the waters before them?

Who made for himself an everlasting name?

Who led them through the depths?

Who was like a horse in the desert

So that they did not stumble?

Like cattle that go down into the valley,

The Spirit of Yahweh gave them rest.

Thus you led your people

To make for yourself a glorious name.”

Despite all their unfaithful actions, Yahweh kept his people safe as in the days of his servant Moses. In a series of questions, he reminds them of the good things in the past. He brought them out of the sea depths as he divided the waters with his mighty arms. Yahweh gave them the Holy Spirit to lead his flock like a shepherd. He was like a horse leading in the desert so that they would not stumble. He protected them like cattle in the valleys that finally got rest. He made his name glorious.

Yahweh is in charge (Isa 42:6-42:9)

“‘I am Yahweh!

I have called you in righteousness!

I have taken you by the hand!

I have kept you!

I have designed you

As a covenant to the people.

I have designed you

As a light to the nations.

You are to open the eyes

That are blind.

You are to bring out the prisoners

From the dungeons.

You are to bring out from the prisons

Those who sit in darkness.

I am Yahweh!

That is my name!

My glory!

I give to no other!

I do not give my praise to idols!

See!

The former things have come to pass.

I now declare the new things.

Before they spring forth

I will tell you of them.’”

In this section of Second Isaiah, Yahweh apparently speaks directly to the people of Israel, rather than to an individual person. He is Yahweh. He has called his people in righteousness. He took them into his hand. He kept them with a covenant. They were to be the light to the nations in order to give sight to the blind as well as bring out prisoners from dungeons and dark prisons. He is Yahweh. That is his name and his glory. He has no other names, nor does he praise any other idols. He has told you about the past, but he will tell you about things to come before they happen.

The beautiful prayer of King Hezekiah (Isa 37:15-37:20)

“King Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh.

He said.

‘O Yahweh of hosts!

God of Israel!

You are enthroned above the cherubim!

You alone are God

Of all the kingdoms of the earth.

You have made heaven and earth.

Incline your ear!

O Yahweh!

Hear!

Open your eyes!

O Yahweh!

See!

Hear all the words of King Sennacherib

That he has sent to mock the living God!

O Yahweh!

The kings of Assyria have laid waste

All the nations with all their lands.

They have hurled their gods into the fire.

They were no gods,

But the work of human hands,

Wood with stone.

So they were destroyed.

O Yahweh!

Our God!

I pray you,

Save us

From his hand!

Thus all the kingdoms of the earth

May know that you,

O Yahweh,

Are God alone.’”

Once again, this beautiful prayer of monotheism is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. There is no doubt or question that there is only one God, Yahweh. There are no other gods, since this is the monotheistic religion of Yahweh. There might have been some ambiguity in the past, but not here. This is a personal direct prayer to Yahweh. King Hezekiah cries out to Yahweh, who is almighty in heaven, above all the kingdoms of the earth. He has made heaven and earth as its creator. Now the personal plea comes, as King Hezekiah asks Yahweh to listen to how King Sennacherib of Assyria has mocked Yahweh. It is true that he has destroyed many nations and many gods, but those gods were manmade gods of sticks and stones. King Hezekiah wants Yahweh to show his glory to all the nations of the world by saving Jerusalem.