October - Reading 16

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Oct 16, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    Song of Songs

    Textual evidence points to Solomon being the author of this well known Book, though there is nothing conclusive forthcoming. There is little doubt that this Book is worthy of canonization as it appears in all of the acknowledged manuscripts. Traditionally, Jewish boys were not exposed to this Book until they reached the age of 30 years because of its obvious amorous overtones.
    It was a long held tradition among modern Christians that the Book is an allegory of the love between Christ and the church or God and Israel or Christ and the soul. It is interesting to note, though, that not a single passage of the Songs occurs outside of the text of this Book.
    Personally, I think that this Book belongs here because it expresses the tenderness, the passion, and the overwhelming power of an emotion that God gave us for our marriages. The Book speaks powerfully even to the modern reader of the anguish of yearning and the ecstacy of being with the one that we love.
    We may chuckle a little at the woman's breast being compared to gazelles or her hair being like a flock of goats because of the cultural differences but it is hard not to be moved by the beautiful, masterfully constructed poetry of such phrases as "Like a lily among the thorns is my darling among the maidens," and if you have never read this Book before, do yourself a favor and skip over to verses 8:6-7. The theology of this Book? The Song of Songs puts into words the most desirable and coveted gifts God gave mankind: the shared, mutual, and reciprocated love of a man and a woman.

    Beginning in chapter 46 of Jeremiah and continuing until chapter 51 we see a succession of prophecies against specific nations beginning with Egypt. The message is often rather sarcastic towards this nation. The Egyptians were notorious for deifying many things, one of which was cattle for their perception of the false god Apis. That could very well be the reference point for the words "heifer" in verse 46:20 as well as the more literal translation in verse 15 of "bulls" than "warriors." Jeremiah also points out in verse 17 that the Egyptians made a serious tactical error in not pushing their advantage when Nebuchadnezzar retreated to Babylon at the death of his father. 2Kings 24:7 explains that this was because of a prior defeat where the Egyptians suffered a major territory loss. It also explains their lack of help during the 2 1/2 year seige on Jerusalem.

    In John today we read of the authority given to Christ, the Son, from God, the Father. One point that is made in this narrative is that just as the Father supplies a physical ressurection, Christ gives a Spiritual ressurection. The spirit of the physically living may already be dead and that is why the term has eternal life is in the present tense in verse 24.

    In 1Peter, the Apostle uses the analogy of "living stones" for believers. This is a very clever metaphor built upon previous passages including Christ's own affirmation of Peter as "the rock." We build out from the Cornerstone which is Christ. As long as we build upon Christ the structure of the church will be correctly aligned.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. mark brandwein

    mark brandwein
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    Clint, the Song of Songs, is this letters between Husband and Wife ? Great read, I have never studied this before. Interesting.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    That's an interesting question, Mark.

    First of all let there be no doubt that the New Testament is adamant that sex, as it was presented to the first couple before the Fall, is between one man and one woman who are married to each other. Any corruption of this original intent is described as sin.

    If the man and woman are not married and have sex, it's fornication.

    If either the man or woman are married but not to each other, it's adultery.

    If the genders are the same, it's homosexuality. We won't even go into the other perversions. I think the point is made.

    But this begs the question of the Song of Songs: is the Book talking about sex? It is difficult to read the passion filled lines and not recognize the amorous overtones as being sexual in nature. However, it is also difficult to point at any metaphor presented and say with certainty that it is.

    Keep in mind that the central theme of the Book is not sex, but love. As opposed to (but not in contradiction to) the love of God, or the love rooted in Christ we display as Christian believers, or the love we have for our children, this is the love that promotes the Will of the Creator that draws us together for not only the sake of procreation, but also for companionship (Genesis 2:18).

    So, are they married? I'm not sure that I can say so with certainty. I honestly do not know enough about what constituted a marriage in that time. If we accept the traditional view that Solomon is the author, he certainly knew about marriage. According to 1Kings 11:3 he had 700 wives and 300 concubines!

    Here's a critical text that may help you appreciate the Book more fully, but it does not really answer your question:

    http://www.studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T8288

    and here is a study on marriage but it does not address the Song of Songs:

    http://www.studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T5814

    [ October 17, 2003, 01:35 PM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson 5/15/05

    Jeremiah 44-45

    Chapters 40-44 are a look at the final days of Jeremiah. Chapter 40 picks up chronologically right where 39, the fall of Jerusalem, leaves off. The Babylonians have now fully occupied Palestine and the majority of the Judean population has been marched west to the exile. A remnant of the poorest folk remained in the area to tend fields and vineyards. By special order of Nebuchadnezzar himself, Jeremiah was given special privilege (Jeremiah 39:10-12). Despite this decree, Jeremiah is bound in chains, probably due to a lack of communication or case of mistaken identity, and marched to Ramah where the captives were readied for their deportation. While in the city of Ramah, Nebuzaradan recognizes the error that has occurred and releases the prophet. He then gives the prophet the option of remaining with the remnant or going with his countrymen to Babylon.

    Jerusalem, in the meantime, had acquired a new governor by appointment of Nebuchadnezzar, Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan (the scribe in the reign of Josiah). After the demoralizing defeat of their nation, this familiar Jew being appointed governor gave those who had fled and the remnant a new hope and they began to return from hiding to their homes (Jeremiah 40:11-12). Jeremiah was among those who went to live in Mizpah with Gedaliah.

    Just as in the modern time when occupying forces gain control of a land, guerilla groups begin to form. One such group was headed by Ishmael, a former prince of Judah who had fled to Ammon when Jerusalem was destroyed. Through an act of extreme treachery, Ishmael and ten of his followers assassinated Gedaliah by command of Baalis, king of the Ammonites, and took hostages from Mizpah. The unscrupulous rebel was then forced to flee for his life with eight of his band back to Ammon.

    As a result of the assassination the people of Mizpah, some of whom had been hostages, became panicked, thinking Nebuchadnezzar would blame them for killing the man he had appointed governor. In their panic, they devised a plan to flee to Egypt to escape the wrath they assumed Nebuchadnezzar would have against them. They went en masse to Jeremiah and asked them to pray to God for direction in their decision and swore to abide by whatever advice the prophet reported. After ten days in prayer, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah and it was that the people remain in Judah and not fear the Babylonians. Upon receiving this report, the people recanted their promise and accused Jeremiah of lying. They were going to go to Egypt anyway and they took all the people of Mizpah with them, including Jeremiah and Baruch.

    So now the stage is set for today’s lesson. As we open the curtain the scene is Egypt. The players are Jeremiah, the prophet forced to leave his homeland that he loved, and a band of Jews that have disobeyed the word of God in a reversal of the Exodus. Chronologically speaking, this is our final glimpse of Jeremiah and chapter 44 represents his last recorded prophecy. These final records of his ministry show him doing what he had done for forty years – shattering illusions and preaching reality.

    Jeremiah 44:1-30 Judgment for Idolatry

    Jeremiah 44:1-14 The Prophecy


    Jeremiah’s opening remarks remind the people of the history they had as a covenant people. The reason that the promised land lay in ruins now was because of the breaking of the Covenant made at Sinai and in particular the breaking of the First and Second Commandments (Exodus 20:3-4). Idolatry had been a long-standing problem among the early Hebrew nation. From the very first days of the Exodus to the final fall of the city of Jerusalem it was a problem confronted by every righteous religious leader and prophet. Now that the Jews had come full circle and were once again in Egypt, the problem persisted. When the people refused to listen to God’s servants, God Himself took the matter into His hands and punished the people.

    Despite the punishment so recently experienced by Jeremiah’s audience, they refused to learn. They had once again begun casting idols and worshipping the established false gods of Egypt, Assyria and Canaan. As promised in Exodus, there would be divine retribution for such blatant disregard of God’s statutes. Specifically, God would “set [His} face against [them] for harm, to cut off all Judah.” The face of God is often used in Scripture to denote His anger (Psalm 34:16; Revelation 6:16). The purpose of setting His anger upon them was that the idolaters would be subject to punishment wherever they should flee. The very fate they sought to escape in Mizpah would follow them to Egypt – the sword and the famine. The memory of them would be a spoken curse or a taunt. Jeremiah told them that very few of them would make it out of Egypt.

    Jeremiah 44:15-19 The People’s Response to the Prophecy

    This Passage is quite interesting in a number of respects. The people refused to listen to Jeremiah’s claim that their hardship was the result of idolatry. To the contrary, they reasoned that things had gone well for them while they worshiped idols and started to go downhill when they ceased! The “queen of heaven” spoken of here was likely the Phoenician goddess, Astarte, or the equivalent of this false deity in many other cultures - Ashur for the Assyrians, or even Isis for the Egyptians. She was a fertility goddess especially revered by women. Part of the cultic practice in the worship of this goddess was to make cakes in the likeness of a woman to be used in ceremony. The Jews likely remembered the relative peace and secular posterity they had experienced under Mannaseh and how after the Josianic reform things started going downhill for them. The Geneva Study Bible makes a clear summary of these people’s attitude:

    This is still the argument of idolaters who esteem religion by the belly and instead of acknowledging God's works who sends both plenty and famine, health and sickness. They attribute it to their idols and so dishonour God.

    Jeremiah 44:20-30 Jeremiah’s Retort

    In his last recorded message, Jeremiah reiterates the real reason for the calamity. One can almost hear the disgust in his voice as he sarcastically replies, “Go ahead, then! Keep it up! But there is an awful price to pay for such blatant apostasy.” In the test of wills between God and the Jews of Egypt who abandoned Him, God would win. As a sign of surety of the prophecy, the Egypt would fall to the Babylonians just as Judah had.

    This discourse between Jeremiah and a remnant of the people he loved is a bitter note on which to end. It must be set in the context of the entire ministry of one who is often called the greatest prophet of ancient Israel. For forty years Jeremiah served, suffered and sacrificed driven by his unswerving dedication to God and his dogged loyalty to his people. God had hurled Jeremiah upon the Israelites at their bleakest hour and they still refused to listen. Tradition holds that the Jews in Egypt martyred Jeremiah. We certainly see nothing in the context of the Scriptures that would lead us to believe otherwise. He would not be the first nor the last to suffer such a fate at the hands of the people who broke the covenant.

    It would not be long after his death that these same people would canonize him and make the recordings of his prophecies sacred. When Jesus walked the highways and byways of Palestine the people said that He reminded them of, or even was, Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14). Indeed, we have before us one of the most Christlike men of the Old Testament. Next to Jesus, he is one of the most successful “failures” in the Bible.

    Jeremiah 45 The Prophet and the Secretary

    We would be quite remiss in our study of Jeremiah if we were to overlook this short but significant chapter. Situated at the end of the biographical section, which began in chapter 34, this acts as a seal and signature by the secretary. While Baruch remains in the background throughout most of the Book, he obviously was well known as an associate of Jeremiah as is attested in 43:3. Here he comes to the forefront in what has come to be known as "“Baruch's confession." Chronologically, these 5 verses probably fit in between 36:8 and 36:9 when Jeremiah was dictating the scroll that would be burned by Jehoiakim.

    While it is merely conjectural, there may have been three primary causes for the confession. First, the man may have been overcome with grief at the people’s sin as Jeremiah dictated to him. Secondly, he had likely suffered many of the same persecutions that Jeremiah had and may have been anticipating more of the same when he read these words out loud to the public. Third, as the son of a prominent family, he may have seen his ambitions of his youth destroyed by the life of loyalty he had chosen.

    God through Jeremiah, however, made it clear that Baruch’s laments paled when compared to what He was suffering. He was having to pull down what He had built and pull up what He had planted. We see also in this Passage that if man is to serve God, he must do so on God’s terms. We are not to put our selves at the center but God. True greatness does not equal personal ambition in the way of the cross. The reward for his service would be his life as a prize of war. This Passage reflects a period in Baruch’s life when he was facing a crossroad. He made his choice and it was the right one. Baruch was not the prophet, but he served as an invaluable member of the community of faith. Through his perseverance, during the hard times of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah’s reigns, the sack of the city, the failure of the new start and the flight 0of the city, he stuck it out and made one of the most valuable contributions to mankind in history – the transmission of the word of God. Baruch stands as an example to us today as one who was totally committed to God.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

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    Song of Solomon

    Sunday School 8/27/06



    Song of Songs


    It would be a major understatement if I were to say that the Song of Songs is an interesting Book to study. It is somewhat unique in the Canon as its central issue is the strongest of human emotions: love.

    The Bible speaks of love in several different contexts. There is the love of God for man, the love of the Christian brotherhood, the destructive love of money. 1Corinthians 13 is one of the most beautiful Passages of the New Testament and is dedicated to the subject of love as it relates to the Christian body. The Song of Songs, however, is a testament to the most widely talked about concept of love: the love between a man and a woman.

    When one studies the Book of Song of Solomon, as it is titled in many texts, it is very striking that the text lacks many of the elements that other Books accentuate. There is no mention of the Temple, or priestly rites, no prayers are offered, no sacrifices made. The Book, in fact, makes no mention of God except in passing. There is no mention or quoting of the Book in the New Testament. It seems to stand quite alone and non-related to the rest of the Bible. In actuality, the Book almost missed being put into the Canon at all.

    Many schools of the ancient rabbis tried to “justify” the Book’s placement in the Canon by taking a purely metaphorical line of interpretation in which the Book was speaking of the love of God for Israel. The Catholic Church slightly modified this approach by saying that the official line of interpretation was Christ’s love for the church. Some of the Protestant reformers followed this line in their interpretations. Such a line of interpretation is, at best, a bit of a reach. Even while the Jewish scholars wrestled with metaphors, they were also having to place injunctions against singing selected verses as bawdy songs in “wineshops” as early as 90AD. A straight reading of the text leaves little to the imagination: the Song of Songs is a Book describing love and the strong desires that accompany it.

    Make no mistake, however, the Song of Songs is a necessary element of our Bible. Of all the human experiences, love and sexual desire are among the most potent and prevalent. The author, likely a young Solomon, speaks to us frankly and unapologetically about one of the strongest facets of our nature in this Book. This is not the only place in the Bible which speaks of sex, but it is certainly the most graphic. These are the thoughts of lovers’ translated into poetry. It is neither vulgar nor coarse. To the contrary, it is acknowledgement of the power of a gift of God.

    As this is a single unit discussion of the Book, this commentator will attempt to give a synopsis of the entire story conveyed in these eight chapters. I hope to convey the elements of the story as they relate to a straight and literal interpretive line. When taken literally, the Song of Songs teaches the futility of love when practiced illicitly and the complete futility of trying to resist it.

    Song of Songs 1:2-8 The Absentee Lover

    If we think of the Song of Songs as a drama, there are three main characters: the maiden, the shepherd, Solomon, and the chorus of women also called the daughters of Jerusalem. The woman and the shepherd are both very attractive people and the Book goes into many descriptive Passages of both. The woman is described as darkened from the sun, some have even speculated that she was black, though the text is not specific on that matter. More likely, she is swarthy from working the vineyards. Verse 4 describes her current situation as being in the chambers of the king. The narrative that follows describes how she got there and why she wishes she weren’t

    Verses 7-8 clearly describe the man as a shepherd. Both of these characters begin as working class people. The woman’s obvious beauty gives her an opportunity to rise out of the working class environment. Her family, specifically, her brothers, have become angry with her in verse 6 because she has not kept “her own vineyard.” As one reads on into the Book, the metaphor indicates that the brothers are aware of the clandestine meetings she has had with the shepherd and in an effort to maintain her chastity, an important characteristic for a young woman to marry, they have banished her to the vineyards to work.

    The young lovers were not to be overruled, however, and verse 8 describes the shepherd suggesting that she pose as a shepherdess and meet him in the fields while the sheep find pastureland. Verses 16-17 describe another meeting in the woods, saying their couch is green (grass) and the beams of the house are cedar and pine (trees). Verse 2:5 describe a “date” at a banquet house. The two would not be parted.
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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