09 October 2010

Oct 9

Reference links:
Old Testament

Just one minute! I thought we were reading Jeremiah, not Job. Jeremiah brings his case before God to ask why the wicked prosper. However, God's answer is quite different than in Job. In Job, the answer to this question was "I am totally awesome and powerful, and you just don't get it." In Jeremiah, God's answer to the question is that he has abandoned his people.

The result of all this is that Judah and its neighbors will all be destroyed, but they will be restored if they turn to the Lord.

After that God takes Jeremiah through a rather exercise. God tells Jeremiah to buy a loin cloth, wear it, and bury it. Later, God tells Jeremiah to dig the loin cloth up. To no one's surprise, it is decaying and useless. The point of this exercise is to show how God will rot away the pride of Judah. In that discussion, we get this... interesting bit of imagery:
As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the Lord.
After that we read more fairly standard ranting.

New Testament

New letter! Let's see what Understanding The Bible has to say about it:
1 Thessalonians is Paul's earliest surviving letter and thus the oldest Christian document in existence. Written from Corinth about 50 CE to a church that Paul, with his companions Timothy and Silas (Silvanus), had recently founded, it is remarkable chiefly for its eschatology, particularly the urgent expectation of Christ's Parousia and the resurrection of the dead.
... 1 Thessalonians is remarkable in showing how quickly essential Christian ideas had developed and how thoroughly apocalyptic Paul's message was. Referring to the Parousia in now fewer than six different passages, at least once in each of the letter's five brief chapters, Paul makes the imminence of Jesus' return his central message. 
Harris comments that this letter also contains a good dose of Paul's standard self-justification of his authority even though he seems to have a friendly relationship with the Thessalonian church.

The Wikipedia article notes that some people consider some passages in the letter to be interpolations by later authors.

On to today's content! Greetings are followed by praise for the believers in Thessalonia. Their faith in the face of hardship has earned them quite the reputation amongst believers in the region. Paul then recalls his visit and the way he and his companions lived while there. Amongst other things, we learn that they had not been treated well at Philippi and they worked to earn their keep while in Thessalonia.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverbs talk about the evils of laziness. The message culminates in the lines,
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
These lines show the difference between an agrarian economy and a modern economy. While it is certainly true that laziness can bring ruin in a modern economy, we have come into a world where it is much easier to overwork. As a farmer, the amount you could work was limited by the seasons and by the available light. Yes, you might have to work as hard as you possibly could during the times you could work, but there were times when you could not work at all.

Applying this advice to a modern worker, however, could be disastrous. These days, it is possible to work to the point where you destroy your health, well being, and relationships with others. Both the nature of the work and modern conveniences such as electricity make this possible. In that setting, taking this advice too much to heart would be damaging and unhealthy.