07 December 2010

Dec 7

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today's reading contains a sentiment that I think would surprise some (but not all) modern day Christians. It is not a sentiment that is new to Hosea, but Hosea provides a good example.
Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.
Hosea's God is not a good God, in any sense that we humans would recognize. He is a God who is responsible for both the good and the bad. He is a God of justice, but his justice is a particularly violent kind. Destructive not only of other people but of his own people.

This theme continues throughout this long poem of Israel's sin and upcoming punishment. This God wants to love his people:
I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.
But his love is highly conditional and has, because of Israel's sins, turned to hate:
All their wickedness began at Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
I will drive them from my land
because of their evil actions.
I will love them no more
because all their leaders are rebels.
Can justice really be given by a judge who hates the judged? Or will justice turn into a justification for an unjust degree of cruelty in the punishment?

New Testament

Another one day book. According to Harris, 3 John, is
an appeal to show hospitality to an itinerant Johannine teacher.
Like 1 and 2 John, it was written by John the Elder who is believed to be a member of a community who based their beliefs on the teachings of the apostle John. This letter is considered to be a private note to the author's friend.

The recipient, Gaius, is praised for taking care of travelling teachers. Gaius is then contrasted with an opposing leader, Diotrephes. Diotrephes refuses to take care of the travelling teachers and tells others not to take care of them. Gaius is warned not to be like Diotrephes.

The author then iterates his characteristic belief that external actions can be used to determine those who are God's children:
Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.
The letter closes with the author's hope that he will see Gaius soon.

Tomorrow we have our last one day epistle (Jude), and then we are onto Revelations for the rest of the year.

Psalms and Proverbs

A miscellany of proverbs. One advises rulers against listening to liars. The third praises fair judgment of the poor. Those two are straight forward. The second one is a bit more complex:
The poor and the oppressor have this in common—
the Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.
Given the oft stated calls for justice for the poor, I am guessing this is advising people not to ignore the views and insights of the poor just because they have a lower station.