13 October 2010

Oct 13

Reference links:
Old Testament

I have not been tracking the chronological ordering (or rather, lack thereof) in Jeremiah, but today we have a what seems like a jump back in time. We have gone from the imminent doom of Jerusalem to Jeremiah giving what are, for him, reasonably friendly warnings to the king.
This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects. But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the Lord, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.
Then we seem to jump forward again with messages about Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim. Quick review. Jerhoahaz was the king taken to Egypt and replaced with essentially a puppet king, his brother Jehoiakim. Although Judah had not been completely destroyed at this point, its kings were pretty much powerless. This makes it seems like Jeremiah's warning above to an earlier king or, at latest, Jehoahaz before he was deposed. On the other hand, the repeated references to the palace do thematically link the opening warning and the message to Jehoiakim.

In any case, the picture is pretty grim for Jehoiakim. Jeremiah most emphatically does not think he will come to any good. After that, the Lord sends message to Jehoiakim that he will an unmourned death. We then read prophecies again Jehoiakim's son Jehoiachin. He does not fare much better in the eyes of the Lord. He'll die in exile.

Jeremiah then prophecies eventual restoration and lasting safety of his people. Those are most certainly unfulfilled prophecies. Even for those who consider Jesus to be the "Righteous Descendant", there is certainly some delay in the implementation of this plan:
But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing.
Also, Jeremiah doesn't like false prophets because they encourage evil. People should not listen to them.

New Testament

New book! I must admit that just from today's reading, I could go either way on Pauline authorship. That said, the bit in the middle gave me pause:
He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe.
Mighty angels and flaming fire do note seem like standard Paul, and generally thus far Paul has talked about praise given to God, not Jesus (or human praise, but that is generally in a negative context).

Other than that, greetings, thankfulness for the growing faith of the church, and prayers to them all seem typically Pauline.

So now let's see what Understanding The Bible has to say:
Although repeating themes from 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians  reinterprets Paul's original eschatology, asserting that a number of traditional apocalyptic "signs" much precede the eschaton. 
Many scholars question Paul's authorship  of 2 Thessalonians. If Paul composed it, why does he repeat -- almost verbatim -- so much of what he had just written to the same recipients? More seriously, why does the author present an eschatology so different from that given in the first letter? In 1 Thessalonians, the Parousia will occur stealthily, "like a thief in the night." In 2 Thessalonians, a number of apocalyptic "signs" will first advertise its arrival. The interposing of these mysterious events between the writer's time and that of the Parousia has the effect of projecting the eschaton further into the future -- a contrast to 1 Thessalonians, in which the end is extremely close. 
Scholars defending Pauline authorship advance several theories to explain the writer's apparent change of attitude toward the Parousia. In the first letter, Paul emphasizes the tension between the shortness of time the world has left and the necessity of believers' vigilance and ethical purity as they await Christ's return. In the second missive, Paul writes to correct the Thessalonians' misconceptions of his earlier emphasis on the nearness of end time.
... Paul rarely predicts specific events in the course of future history, particularly in the vague and cryptic style of 2 Thessalonians.
2 Thessalonians contains a warning that forged letters were already circulating in Paul's name and ends by insisting that Paul verified his genuine letters with his own signature. Scholars doubting Pauline authorship view the pseudonymous writer as protesting overmuch, but the apostle appends similar comments to undisputed letters. 
The Wikipedia article has more details.

So it sounds like we're in for vague, not typically apocalyptic warnings in a letter that may or may not be genuinely Pauline.

Psalms and Proverbs

All of today's proverbs are rather poetic:
Timely advice is lovely,
like golden apples in a silver basket.

To one who listens, valid criticism
is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.

Trustworthy messengers refresh like snow in summer.
They revive the spirit of their employer.

A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it
is like clouds and wind that bring no rain.