Violence (Mt 11:12-11:12)

“From the days

Of John the Baptist

Until now,

The kingdom of heaven

Has suffered violence.

The violent seize it

By force.”

 

ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται, καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν

 

This saying about John the Baptist can be found in a different context with different meaning in Luke, chapter 16:16.  This strange saying of Jesus, via Matthew, talked about the days of John the Baptist until the present (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι), not a very long time.  The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται).  What does that mean?  What kind of violence was taking place in the heavenly kingdom?  Did this mean that so many people were violently seeking the kingdom of heaven that John was talking about?  Is this some kind of violence within the kingdom of heaven?  Were these violent people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven?  The next sentence seems to support this idea that violent people wanted to seize the kingdom of heaven by force (καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν).

Help during the Exodus from Egypt (Jer 32:20-32:21)

“You!

You showed signs!

You showed wonders

In the land of Egypt!

To this day

In Israel,

As well as among all humans,

You have made yourself

A name,

That continues to this very day.

You brought

Your people Israel

Out of the land of Egypt

With signs,

With wonders,

With a strong hand,

With an outstretched arm,

With great terror.”

The prayer of Jeremiah continues as he says that Yahweh performed many signs and wonders in Egypt. Thus even until the present, not only in Egypt and Israel, but throughout the whole world, everyone knows the name of the God of Israel. Yahweh brought his people out of Egypt with many signs and wonders that brought terror to the Egyptians. He had used a strong outstretched arm and hand to protect them in their journey from Egypt.

The human task (Eccl 3:9-3:11)

“What gain have the workers received

From their toil?

I have seen the business

That God has given to everyone

To be busy with.

He has made everything suitable

For its time.

Moreover,

He has put a sense of past and future

Into human minds.

Yet they cannot find out

What God has done

From the beginning to the end.”

God has given workers things to busy themselves with, but they do not know their gain or profit. Everything, however, is suitable for its time. Humans have a sense of past and future, not just the present. Despite this, they do not know what God has done from the beginning until now or what he will do in the future.

Rescue me from the wicked (Ps 71:4-71:6)

“Rescue me!

O my God!

From the hand of the wicked!

Rescue me!

From the grasp of the unjust!

Rescue me!

From the cruel man!

Yahweh!

You are my hope!

You are my trust!

From my youth!

Yahweh!

I have leaned upon you from my birth.

You took me

From my mother’s womb.

My praise is continually of you.”

Another common theme is the rescue from the hands of the wicked. This psalmist is no exception. He wants to be rescued and saved from the wicked, the unjust, and the cruel ones. This psalmist has hoped and trusted in Yahweh from the day of his birth to the present time. All his life he has continually praised God.