18 April 2010

Apr 18

Reference links:
Old Testament

More land allocation descriptions. The most exciting part of today's reading is this:
Joshua replied, “If there are so many of you, and if the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest where the Perizzites and Rephaites live.”
It is strange that Joshua is giving the people of Ephraim the land where the Rephaites live given we have read several times that King Og of Bashan was the last of the Rephaites.

New Testament

Today's reading contains a story about a short tax collector climbing a tree. I am amused.
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name.“Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
This story also provides an interesting contrast to the story of the rich man who wants to know how to get into heaven (in Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, and Luke 18:19-30). To quote Luke's version of that story,
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
In today's story, the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector, we read,
Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”
Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Why is it sufficient for Zacchaeus to give away half of his wealth? Is it because he volunteered it while the rich man had to be told to give up his wealth? Is it because Zacchaeus was sinful while the rich man kept the law, and so Zacchaeus's sacrifice represented a larger change in himself? It's a mystery!

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's psalm is kind of odd, but in a nice way, no wishing suffering upon anyone.
On the holy mountain
stands the city founded by the Lord.
He loves the city of Jerusalem
more than any other city in Israel.
O city of God,
what glorious things are said of you!

I will count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me—
also Philistia and Tyre, and even distant Ethiopia.
They have all become citizens of Jerusalem!
Regarding Jerusalem it will be said,
“Everyone enjoys the rights of citizenship there.”
And the Most High will personally bless this city.
When the Lord registers the nations, he will say,
“They have all become citizens of Jerusalem.”

The people will play flutes and sing,
“The source of my life springs from Jerusalem!”
I suspect that today's proverb had a little modernization in the exact choice of phrasing,
Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.
That said, I am amused to see that the concept of get rich quick schemes have been around for a long long time.