31 December 2010

Dec 31

Reference links:
Old Testament

We have reached the last day! I will have a post or two summing up some thoughts, but first, let's finish this thing.

Amongst other reasons, Christians reordered the Jewish scriptures so that the Old Testament would end with what could be considered a messianic prophecy. Let's see whether today's reading, the last in Malachi and the last in the Old Testament, manages to pull that off.

Today's reading talks all about the end times, the day of judgment, and the coming of the Lord. That coming is described at length:
But who will be able to endure it when [the Lord who follows the messenger] comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.
Certainly, this does not refer to the life of Jesus as described in the New Testament. Jesus the man certainly cannot live up to the description above. But the New Testament makes clear that Levites and sacrifices will not be the issue of the day when their visions of Jesus are fulfilled. Thus, taken as a whole, Jesus seems like a week candidate for filling the role of Malachi's returned Lord.

This is followed by a exchange where God accuses the people of leaving him, cheating him, and saying terrible things about him, they deny it, and he illustrates how they have.

The OT ends with a declaration that the day of judgment is coming to consume the wicked. The righteous will be blessed and the wicked destroyed. And, just to provide one more illustration of how the New Testament does not really fit the bill as a fulfillment of the Old Testament, the penultimate declaration of the Old Testament is
Remember to obey the Law of Moses, my servant—all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel.
The people are told to remember to obey the Law of Moses, the law that was considered obsolete in much New Testament thought (especially from Paul). By contrast, the reading, book, and OT end with a NT cited statement that Elijah will be sent before the day of the Lord comes.

Thus, our Old Testament readings end with yet another illustration of the the pervasive theme of selective application of the Hebrew scriptures by the early Christian authors.

New Testament

The end of Revelation continues its cheery tone (well, cheery for those who did not die horrible and painful deaths or get condemned to eternal torture). The speaker sees a river filled with the water of life and two trees of life whose leaves bring healing. Past curses are removed, and everyone remaining will live in the light of God.

This is followed by a postscript from the author. John declares that he is the one who heard and saw these things and was told to share his vision for the end times are near. The message John received is declared to be from Jesus. A warning is given not to change the words of this book. And the book is closed and the Bible ends.

Thus, the NT, like the old, ends on a theme that we have seen throughout the year: the NT authors consistently declare the end times to be near.

Psalms and Proverbs

Our readings end on kind of a random note: the rest of the proverbial poem about the virtues of a good wife.