08 August 2010

Aug 8

Reference links:
Old Testament

Ezra arrives in Jerusalem today. Who is Ezra you ask? Well, if he actually is the author of this part of the book of Ezra, he is someone who is quite willing to toot his own horn. Other than that,
This Ezra was a scribe who was well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to the people of Israel. He came up to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the king gave him everything he asked for, because the gracious hand of the Lord his God was on him.
Artaxerxes seems to think that Ezra is a pretty great guy, and so he gives Ezra the job of enforcing the law of Moses in the land of Judah. Now, this may make it seem like Ataxerxes though the God of Israel was pretty awesome, but it is worth pointing out that, in general, it is believed that policy at the time was to encourage people who were part of the Persian empire to follow their own religious laws as long as they were compatible with the laws of the empire.

Beyond that, nothing much exciting happened in today's reading. A lot of new people are introduced, but it is unclear how many of them will continue to be relevant.

New Testament

Paul pulls out the sarcasm today in his condemnation of some of the pride filled and judgmental attitudes of the people of Corinth:
You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us!
and
Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ!
But let's pop up a level and look at Paul's purpose in saying all this. In today's reading, Paul condemns, in no weak terms, those who felt they were better than others and were abandoning the attitudes Paul felt were proper in followers of Jesus.

This reading shows, one of the weaknesses of chopping up the New Testament into bite sized little chunks.  It is clear that today's reading is part of Paul's appeal at the beginning of the letter that the Corinthians not divide themselves into factions. This means that everything that comes between should be considered in light of that situation. Now, I do not have time to do that right now, but I strongly suspect that much of what Paul said would read differently if it were interpreted as part of a condemnation of those sewing division in the Corinthian church.

Psalms and Proverbs
Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king;
his throne is made secure through love.
Nice sentiment but, sadly, would not work for today's leaders, at least not in the world of American politics.
The glory of the young is their strength;
the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.
Another nice sentiment. I wish that our culture spent more time recognizing the wisdom and experience of the old instead of trying to color, suck, and inflate to preserve a false and artificial appearance of youth.
Physical punishment cleanses away evil;
such discipline purifies the heart.
This one, not so great. I am not a big fan of physical punishment.