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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 102 (Faith)

[reaction to OYB's Nov. 12-17]

The giant selection is two fold. First, I want to catch up so that I can have a shot of finishing on Christmas. Second, Ezekiel has had a run of really boring lists of all the nations God is going to smite. Finally, I wanted to finish Hebrews.

In this reading, chapter 11 of Hebrews illuminates faith, one of the most important concepts in Christianity. The chapter lists all that was accomplished through faith. I emphasize accomplished because the point is that faith is not simply believing something that is hard to believe. It is about trusting in something and that gives one courage to do that which is good.

Faith involves trusting in God as you would a Good Shepherd. Indeed, there is a break in the ugliness of Ezekiel's prophesy to talk about knowing God through his love, as a Good Shepherd, in Ezekiel 34. It closes with this, "Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.’” And again, as Hebrews says, "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

4 comments:

Matt Dick said...

This is a non-attack, real, honest question. How can you take comfort from a benediction for "us" like this when it is located so clearly and closely to the list of people who are to be smited for being "not-us".

squit

JimII said...

A couple of things. First, I distinguish this from the ugliness of Leviticus when we had a similar discussion. Ezekiel is prophesying first the destruction of Jerusalem and then of the powers that did the destroying. That's ugly to think of God as creating all of this torment, but it is much different--for me--than the ugliness of legal codes that oppress women and require executing people who don't follow the law.

Second, Ezekiel and the author of Hebrews were writing in a time of political oppression. It is not surprising that Ezekiel spent most of his time with the Revenge motif; but that doesn't mean--for me-- that it is not heartening when he sometimes reminds us of the nurturing nature of God. As for the us/them; yeah, that division remains until Paul.

Matt Dick said...

I hate that I'm always in this position, so I apologize.

Again.

podents

JimII said...

No reason to apologize at all. Your questions always provide an opportunity for greater clarity, and often inspire significant, genuine growth.