15 October 2010

Oct 15

Reference links:
Old Testament

I'll admit it here and now. I'm a wimp who prefers narrative to prophetic poetry. Today we get some lovely narrative. Not content wise; that's all gloom and doom as usual. But there are good stories to be had.

Jeremiah pronounces the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple if the people do not change their ways and he is threatened with death! The palace officials rush over for a sudden trial. After a passionate presenting of accusations against Jeremiah and an equally passionate defense of his innocence, the officials declare Jeremiah's words to not be worthy of death. Then some wise old men rise up, speak of prophets of old, and indicate that Jeremiah should be listened to. Later we learn that this required persuasion from Ahikam son of Shaphan.

To show how amazing Jeremiah's rescue is, we are then presented with the story of Uriah, another prophet who predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. The king threatened to kill Uriah. When Uriah fled to Egypt, men were sent after to drag him back. Then he was killed. The political environment was not friendly to prophets.

And that's an illustration of why I am glad I live in a country that supports free speech. Even though I think religious folks often despair at the way that we evil atheists use our free speech, without giving everyone protection, the potential Jeremiah's would also be unable to express their unpopular views.

The other story in today's reading involves a bit of performance art. Jeremiah wears around a yoke to show how Judah and the surrounding nations should submit to the yoke of Babylon. The false prophets may spread good news, but Jeremiah is convinced that Babylon will take away what little independence they left Judah with after the first deportation.

The existence of these other prophets makes me skeptical of the idea of Biblical prophets. Jeremiah's prophecies were, one would assume, included because he was determined to be a true prophet. This was, I against would assume, at least partially because the people who chose the canon realized that Jeremiah was right. But it sounds like you could find prophets to predict any outcome. Thus it seems that whatever the outcome of the conflict with Babylon, there would have been some prophet to canonize, some prophet whose words were correct. This makes the correctness of the general gist of Jeremiah's prophecies much less impressive.

New Testament

We finish 2 Thessalonians. Paul requests prayers and asks the people to live proper lives. This includes working for a living. The author of the letter also show what a diversity of early Christianities there were by preaching avoidance of those who do not obey what is in this letter. Like with Jeremiah and the people who could have taken his place, I wonder who would have taken Paul's place if some other variant of Christianity had won out.

Psalms and Proverbs
Do you like honey?
Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!
Honey is tasty!