Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle with an insistence on the mercy of their God. Zechariah said that by the heart felt tender mercy and compassion of their God (διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν), a new day or a sunrise (ἀνατολὴ) from on high (ἐξ ὕψους) would break out upon them or visit them (ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς). As many of the prophets had pointed out already. the messiah or savior would come like a sunrise to break into their lives. So too, John, his son, would be part of this process that would culminate in Jesus.
Jesus told his disciples how to save their lives. Something similar can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 16:25, Luke, chapter 9:24. and here, almost word for word. Mark indicated that Jesus said that whoever wished, desired, or wanted to save their life (ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι), they would lose it (ἀπολέσει αὐτήν). However, anyone who lost their life for the sake of Jesus (ὃς δ’ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ), or for the sake of the gospel or good news of Jesus (καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου), they would save their lives (σώσει αὐτήν). This last phrase was not in the other 2 gospel stories.
Jesus told his disciples how to save their lives. Something similar can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 8:35-37, Luke, chapter 9:24-25, and here, almost word for word. Jesus said that whoever wished, desired, or wanted to save their life (ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι), they would lose it (ἀπολέσει αὐτήν). However, anyone who lost their life for the sake of Jesus (ὃς δ’ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ), they would find their life (εὑρήσει αὐτήν). What is the profit or benefit for a person (τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος) to gain the whole world (ἐὰν τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κερδήσῃ) if they lose their life or soul (τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ). What will a person give in exchange for his life or soul (ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ)? Give up your life to Jesus, and you will live.
Agnosticism holds that we cannot know if there is a transcendent God out there or not. There are a variety of agnostics. The most common are the practical agnostics. They act in their lives as if there is no transcendent power. They are even too lazy to declare that there is no God. They just act as if there is none. To the question of whether there is a God or not, they say, “who cares?” Then there are the intellectual agnostics who says that the question is too difficult, so just leave it alone, since they believe that they can never know if there is a God or not.
The Old Testament Hebrew Bible raises questions of interpretation for a Christian. To what extent am I, as a Christian, projecting Christian views and values on the children of Israel, the people of Israel, the Israelites? There are various terms that translators have used to describe the slowing forming group of Yahweh believers over three thousand years ago. Yahweh was their God and intervened in their lives. They had a special relationship or covenant with him. The Hebrew sacred writings were incorporated into Christianity because all the early Christians were Jewish. However, the writings were not originally meant for Christians, but for the Hebrew people. Can I really fully understand the Semitic thought process of three thousand years ago? Will I be able to appreciate how important the promised land of Israel was to Jewish people? What role did the exodus from Egypt, the Temple, the exile, and the various codes play in their lives? I can try, but I doubt if I will be fully successful.
On the day of Yahweh, Yahweh was going to search through Jerusalem with lamps. He would punish the complacent people, those who had drunk too much of the dregs of their wine casks. Yahweh was going to punish those who said that they didn’t care about Yahweh, because he had no effect on their lives, either for good or bad. Yahweh was going to take the wealth of these rich people by plundering their belongings and destroying their homes. If they were planning to build a house, they would never live in it. If they were planting vineyards, they would never enjoy the wine from those vines. Wealth would not save them from the Day of Yahweh.
Yahweh, via Amos, issued his punishment. The Israelites were going to be pressed down like a bundle of hay or sheaves. The swift people would lose their quick agility. The strong people would lose their strength. The mighty people would lose their lives. The archers would not be able to stand. The fast people would not be able to save themselves. The horse riders would lose their lives also. The mighty strong people would run away naked. Yahweh said that all this would take place on the appointed day.
Finally, the 3 young men, using their Judean names and not their Babylonian names, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, would bless, praise, and exalt the Lord. However, they had a particular reason to bless God, because he had rescued them from hell or hades. He had saved them from the power of death itself. He had delivered them and kept them safe. Right in the middle of this fiery furnace, God had saved their lives.
Daniel went home and shared his information with his 3 other companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. He told them to ask mercy from the God of heaven. Once again it is not Yahweh, but the God of heaven. He wanted help with this great mystery. He hoped and prayed that they and the other wise men of Babylon would be able to spare their lives.
Some of the sheep were messing up the food supply for the other sheep. They had these wonderful pastures with plenty of food and drink. However, some of these sheep were walking all over the place keeping the grass from growing. They were also walking in the water holes, so that they became polluted. Pollution has always been a problem. In other words, Yahweh, via Ezekiel was complaining that some sheep were messing up the good clean drinking water and the lush green pastures by stomping all over them. Among the sheep of Israel, some were causing problems by fouling things up. The emphasis on their feet was an indication that the actions of these bad Israelite sheep were making it difficult for the good Israelite sheep to sustain their lives with good food and pure water.