He will be like Elijah (Lk 1:17-1:17)

“With the spirit

And power

Of Elijah,

He will go

Before the Messiah.

He will turn

The hearts

Of parents

To their children.

He will turn

The disobedient

To the wisdom

Of the righteous.

He will

Make ready

A people

Prepared for the Lord.”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία, ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων, ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον.

 

Luke then introduced the concept of Elijah to this new child. The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as in Matthew, chapter 17:11, where the disciples of Jesus asked him why the Scribes said that Elijah the prophet had to come first.  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  Malachi had said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things.  There was no doubt about the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, as in the Elijah cycle in 1 Kings, chapter 17-19.  He dominated late Jewish thought.  In Matthew, Jesus had a clear link of Elijah to John the Baptist, since he was the new Elijah.  Here Luke said that this child would precede or go first before the Lord (καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ).  He would have the spirit and the power of Elijah (ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία).  Then he would turn the hearts of parents to their children (ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα), as well as turn the disobedient ones into wise righteous ones (καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων).  He would prepare people to be disposed to get ready for the Lord (ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον), by teaching about repentance and restoring families.  This child was going to be the forerunner for the Messiah, since all the prophets and the law had predicted this right up until the time of this child John.

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The citation from Isaiah (Mk 4:12-4:12

“Thus,

They may indeed look,

But not perceive.

They may indeed listen,

But not understand.

Thus,

They may not

Turn again

To be forgiven.”

 

ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσιν καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν, μή ποτε ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς.

 

This citation of Isaiah about the people unable to understand the meaning of parables can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels.  Matthew, chapter 13:14-16, had a longer citation from Isaiah with an introduction and a final comment, while Luke, chapter 8:10, had a short summary, like here in Mark.  This prophecy of Isaiah was from chapter 6:9-10, where Isaiah told the people that they were listening without comprehending.  They were looking without understanding.  Their hearts were dull.  Their eyes and ears were closed.  He wanted them not to look with their own eyes, but he wanted them to turn to Yahweh, so that they would be healed.  Mark indicated that they could see, but not perceive (καὶ βλέποντες βλέπωσιν).  They were experiencing and listening (καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες), but they could not hear or understand (ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν).  They would not turn back (καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν) and be forgiven (καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς).  The reason that Jesus spoke in parables was that some people would see, but not perceive. They would hear, but not understand what they heard.

The prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 13:14-13:15)

“With them indeed is fulfilled

The prophecy of Isaiah

That says.

‘You will indeed listen,

But never understand!

You will indeed see,

but never perceive!

This people’s heart

Has grown dull.

Their ears are

Hard of hearing.

They have shut their eyes,

So that they might not look

With their eyes.

So that they do not listen

With their ears.

So that they do not understand

With their hearts.

They should return.

I would heal them.’”

 

καὶ ἀναπληροῦται αὐτοῖς ἡ προφητεία Ἡσαΐου ἡ λέγουσα Ἀκοῇ ἀκούσετε καὶ οὐ μὴ συνῆτε, καὶ βλέποντες βλέψετε καὶ οὐ μὴ ἴδητε.

ἐπαχύνθη γὰρ ἡ καρδία τοῦ λαοῦ τούτου, καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν, καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν ἐκάμμυσαν· μή ποτε ἴδωσιν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν ἀκούσωσιν καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν, καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς.

 

This prophecy of Isaiah is based on chapter 6:9-10, where Isaiah told the people that they were listening without comprehending.  They were looking without understanding.  Their hearts were dull.  Their eyes and ears were closed.  He wanted them not to look with their own eyes, but he wanted them to turn to Yahweh, so that they would be healed.  Only Matthew, among the synoptics, saw the fulfillment of this Isaiah prophecy in Jesus (καὶ ἀναπληροῦται αὐτοῖς ἡ προφητεία Ἡσαΐου ἡ λέγουσα).  They would listen and hear, but not understand (Ἀκοῇ ἀκούσετε καὶ οὐ μὴ συνῆτε).  They would see, but not perceive (καὶ βλέποντες βλέψετε καὶ οὐ μὴ ἴδητε).  Their hearts had grown dull or unfeeling (ἐπαχύνθη γὰρ ἡ καρδία τοῦ λαοῦ τούτου).  Their ears were hard of hearing, as they could barely hear (καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν).  They have shut their eyes (καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν ἐκάμμυσαν), so that they might not see with their eyes (μή ποτε ἴδωσιν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς).  Thus, they did not hear with their ears (καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν ἀκούσωσιν).  Thus, they did not understand with their hearts (καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν).  They should return (καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν).  Yahweh or now Jesus would heal them (καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς).

Be careful with your holy treasures (Mt 7:6-7:6)

“Do not give

What is holy

To the dogs!

Do not throw

Your pearls

Before swine!

They will trample them

Under foot.

They will turn on you.

They will attack you.”

 

Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον τοῖς κυσίν, μηδὲ βάλητε τοὺς μαργαρίτας ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων, μή ποτε καταπατήσουσιν αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτῶν καὶ στραφέντες ῥήξωσιν ὑμᾶς.

 

This is a Jesus saying, only found here in Matthew.  They were not to give holy things (Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον) to the wild despised dogs (τοῖς κυσίν).  They were not to cast their pearls (μηδὲ βάλητε τοὺς μαργαρίτας ὑμῶν) in front of the equally hated swine, hogs, or pigs (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων).  If they did, these dogs and pigs would trample with their feet (μή ποτε καταπατήσουσιν αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτῶν) on the sacred Temple meat and pearls.  These animals might turn on them to tear them to pieces (καὶ στραφέντες ῥήξωσιν ὑμᾶς).  Be careful around dogs and pigs.

The peaceful reign of Yahweh (Mic 4:3-4:3)

“He shall judge

Between many people.

He shall arbitrate

Between strong nations far away.

They shall beat their swords

Into plowshares.

They shall turn their spears

Into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up

Its sword

Against another nation.

Neither shall they learn

War anymore.”

This was a vision of a time of perpetual peace that is often cited by pacifists, exactly the same as an oracle in Isaiah, chapter 2, word for word.  Yahweh would arbitrate and judge all nations.  Then there is the famous saying that they would beat their swords into plows.  They would turn their spears into pruning hooks.  No one would lift a sword against anyone else.  People would forget how to wage war since no one would learn how to do it.  This is the utopian theocratic peace that has Jerusalem rule the world through Yahweh.  It has never happened and probably will not.

The cosmic power of Yahweh (Am 5:8-5:9)

“He made

The Pleiades,

The Orion.

He turns deep darkness

Into the morning.

He darkens the day

Into night.

He calls for the waters

Of the sea.

He pours them out

On the surface

Of the earth.

Yahweh is his name.

He makes destruction

Flash out

Against the strong.

Thus destruction

Comes upon the fortress.”

Once again, Amos has a praise for the all-powerful cosmic God, Yahweh, as in chapter 4. Yahweh has made the star constellations of the Pleiades, or 7 stars, as well as the Orion, the hunter star constellation. Notice that these ancient prophets were aware of the night sky. Yahweh was able to turn darkness into morning light. At the same time, he was able to darken the day until it became night. Clearly, Yahweh or God controlled the day and night lights. Yahweh also controlled the waters of the sea that could be poured out on the earth. He also was able to bring destruction to the strongest fortresses that they had. Yahweh was a truly powerful cosmic God.

The new slaves (Joel 3:7-3:8)

“‘But now,

I will rouse them up

To leave the places

To which you have

Sold them.

I will turn your deeds

Upon your own heads.

I will sell your sons,

With your daughters,

Into the hands

Of the people of Judah.

They will sell them

To the Sabeans,

To a nation far away.’

Yahweh has spoken.”

Yahweh was going to arouse the sold Judean slaves in faraway places to return home. Then Yahweh was going to turn this around. The new slaves would be the sons and daughters of these coastal people. They would be given to the Judeans, who in turn would sell them to the faraway southern Arabian Sabeans. This matter was settled because Yahweh had spoken.