ADIEU OOTLE 17? or CONTINUATION!

 

I can never forget the very first day, opening my twitter account for the first time in my life. It is now so easy, but I had trouble understanding at the time. My oldest daughter, 8th grade, asked that,”Mom, are you really living in the 21st century?”

21st century. We live in a world where everything changes in an unprecedented way. Then, how do the many ancient stories and themes of the Old Testament affect our present life? On the contrary, how should we understand the vital points of life and stories of the people of Hebrew Bible and apply it to our lives today?  During this spring semester, I was able to find out the answer little by little by learning the weekly lectures doing assignment, even though the study of each  week was really overwhelming and challenging to me.

What is the next step for me? As a music minister, not a pastor or education director at a church, how could I apply or share with the valuable lessons from this course to the church members?  To be honest with you, it is not easy to make great plans. However, I will try to come up with some ideas in light of my reflections.  The following is my tentative plan:

Future Projects and Plans 

  1. Review: During the semester, there were many tasks to be done, so I was almost always busy catching up each class. So I would like to spend more time reinforcing my study of the Old Testament by listening again of Dr. Lester’s lectures and reading again some parts that I need more time to ponder.
  2. Critical analysis: bid ideas and essential questions :   During the summer, I also would like to spend more time in thinking and finding the answers relating to several main questions that Dr. Lester provided for us.  I strongly  believe  doing assignments  were enabled us to enhance the abilities of critical analysis. Moreover, this leads me to grow my critical perspective to raise several questions like these: How to grasp the main idea of each story and analyze it? What is analogical interpretation of Hebrew Bible by the socio-economical/historical understanding? What is the effect of the interpretation of Old Testament on modern archaeological evidence? Finally, how we do we apply those knowledge and insights into to our current lives?  If someone asks you how to cope with these present social issues as a Christian, what answer will you give  them based on the lessons from Hebrew Bible?

For example, the  some stories of Old Testament, such as Abraham and David, provides familiarity, which easily makes me skim through. It was as if a performer played a piece without studying on the composer, the historical background  and the analysis of the score.  While doing each assignment, I was so excited to discover how the illustrations from Israel peoples’ life were related to our current religious matters and present issues. For instance,  through the books of letter prophets,  I can find many commonalities of the main issues of current religious leaders and  social problems. For instance, today, the spiritual complacency and social injustice  would be good examples. In addition, the study of treaty/ covenant  the ancient near east helped me to grasp more concrete understanding the covenant between God and Israel. These are knowledge that that I hope to share with my church members. Furthermore, I would like to lay out  the guide line, which will help them grow their insights on the stories of Hebrew Bible.

  1. How to practically approach and apply in my music ministry?

It is really difficult step because I am not a preacher. However, I hope to follow my musical role model. During high school years, I was an accompanist of youth choir led by a great choir director. He pushed me, including all choir members, to join bible study regularly in order to get to know the meaning of God’s word more clearly. I never forget his marks, “through our anthems and songs, we proclaim God’s Word to your friends, so it is no wonder that we should continue to reading and studying bible.” In order to follow my role model, based on the syllabus of ootle 17, I will like make my own syllabus, starting  with ‘Lament Psalms’ because there are tons of anthems relating to Psalms. I will review and use Dr. Lester’s lectures and Barry   Bandstra’s online text due to their clear and well organized description.  Let’s arrange and lead the bible study for my future choir members!

  1. Find and Build my own repertories for anthem or instrument repertoire for example of several topic: Someday, I will plan and give some lecture -concert  based on  several themes of Hebrew Bible, the concert will be presented for both congregations and  local communities in order to simultaneously immerse in the spiritual and musical abundance.

Lament of Psalms: Your unfailing love (music by Dan &Heide Goeller): SATB anthem http://dangoellermusic.com/shop/choral-2/satb-anthems/your-unfailing-love-satb-anthem/

                               Organ Sonata on the Psalm 94th by Julius Reubke (1834-1858)

 

Job: “Job for the Organ” by Petr Eben (1929-2007), came to my mind: It was composed of 8 movements (performing: c. 55 minutes) I would like to have an organ concert with explanation or narratives on based on what I have learned from the class. Ex; God’s reward: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjj9ZzUS-hc

 

Daniel and Apocalytic: Daniel in the Lion Den (composed Coldwell, by Paul & Sean    Ivory): SATB (bass divisi ) and soporano

http://acda.org/repertoire.asp?page=791

Responses to Exile:  An Wasserflüssen Babylon (By the waters of Babylon) by J.S. Bach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzUDhoYxuI8

 

Law: J.S. Bach’Clavier-Űbung III, Ten Commandments BWV678. 679.

 

  1. How do you plan to retain involvement with those participants who might make up part of your Personal Learning Network

Through the online communication, such as blog and tweeter, I would like to continue to share with current concerns / solutions on both our own theological developments and issues or even anything in personal concerns

Finally, I would like greatly appreciate Dr. Lester’s great lectures and Sun-Ah’s wonderful assistance, which led me to expand my insights and knowledge on the life and faith from the ancient Isralities in Hebrew Bible. In addition, even though I did not have a chance to meet all classmates in person, I am very grateful for their genial comments, encouragements and compliments on every my writings. In return, I would like to show my warm encouragement and support to their ministry and their faith journey as musch as possible.

 

 

Advertisements

Do you trust in God?

 

In the stories of Genesis we can find divine promises or covenants between God and our ancestor such as Abraham and Sarah. His promise ensures “fruitfulness” and “multiplication.”[1] While the promises of God have not changed, the processes of faith in our ancestors tended to fail, which was challenged or comforted us. What does it mean to believe in the promises of God? To what extent should we trust in Yhwh? Let’s look at some of the episodes relating to Abraham’s faith, Abram→Abraham and Sarai→Sarah, and scrutinize the formation of their faith and the impact on our life.

Episodes 1:  Abraham’s faith

Abraham shows a determination of faith that immediately trusts God’s Word. According to God’s first call, Abram left his father and the home-town, Ur, and started to following God’s direction in order to settle down in a new land, Canaan,[2] which we can call divine promise speech.[3] As a result of Abram’s obedience, God promised three things: new nation, offspring and Abram himself would be a blessing.[4] Another example is as follows: When Abram’s servants and Lot’s servants collide with the food of the livestock, Abram does not hesitate to give Lot a choice as to where he resides. After Lot separated from Abram, God once again pledges to Abram relating to a new land and offspring:  for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring[a] forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. (Gen 13:15-16)

Episode 2: Abraham’s lack of faith

Unlike Episode 1, Abram also showed his lack of faith during the famine in Canaan. When the famine struck, Abraham refused to ask God, but fled to Sarah and Egypt for a while. In this way, He tried to avoid the crisis with his way, his liar, but God intervenes to save Abram and Sarah from it (12:10-17). Moreover, after rescuing Lot from captivities of war, God finally made a divine charter covenant and promises with Abram (Gen. 15). However, despite God’s covenant with Abraham, the reward or blessings (offspring) promised by God were not made swiftly real to Abram. Abram and Sarai again chose their way m instead of trusting Yhwh’s Word: Abram obtains Ishmael from Hagar in the chapter 15 of Genesis. We know the result of Abraham’s human choice so well: The conflict between Sarah and Hagar also the confrontation between Isaac and Ishmael

Episode 3: A sign of the covenant of God to Abraham and Sarah

Even though Ishmael was born, God commands circumcision as a sign of the covenant and changes the names of Abram and Sarai: Abram →Abraham (“Father of Multitude”), Sarai→Sarah (The mother of a country). At last, according to the covenant of God, Abraham and Sarah gave birth to Isaac.

Episode 4: Testing and Faith

Through the testimony of Abraham’s faith, we find that it is quite different from what Abraham had seen so far (Gen.22).  While Abraham did work with his own thoughts and wisdom, instead of observing the covenant, he finally followed to God’s unreasonable command, the sacrifice of his son, Isaac.

The developments to trace in the growth and quality of Abraham’s trust

Looking into Abraham’s journey of faith, we easily find the frail aspects of man’s faith or trust. In other words, Abraham’s obedience to his first call, “Leave your father and the homeland, Haran”, is great challenges us, but we are comforted by the failures of his faith and frustration until the promise or covenant is fulfilled. Unlike Abraham who does not keep the covenant faithfully, God shows beneficial behavior or deeds. This is a feature of divine charter[5]: 1.God (superior)↔Abraham &Sarah (inferior) 2. God grants pure gift (blessings: multitudes and fruitfulness) to Abraham and Sarah. Yhwh even protects and blesses Hagar and Ishmael[6], despite not having a covenant relationship with them. This shows a good example of the character of the superiority in the divine charter.

The consequences of Abraham’s a breach of covenant can be discovered throughout the steps of his faithful life. The good illustrations are as follows:  his liar to Pharaoh and Ishmael. However, Yhwh tirelessly offered his gracious solution and reaffirmed the covenant, which were enabled Abraham to overcome his frustration and to continue to hold the covenant without giving up. In the end, his failure became opportunities to gradually grow his faith. Finally, getting through the final test of faith, Abraham’s righteousness was acknowledged by God: “I swear by myself  that because you did this, you did not withhold your son, your only one, I will richly bless you and greatly increase your offspring, like the stars of heaven and the sand of the sea shore. And your offspring will inherit the gate of their enemies. All the nations of the earth will bless themselves through your offspring, because you obeyed my voice.” (Gen.22:15–18).

Looking into the meaning of “trust” in Greek, “faith is always a gift from God, which is God’s divine persuasion.” [7] As we learned from Dr. Lester’s lectures on Covenant, we confirmed that the beneficious grace or pure gift was provided in both divine charter and suzerainty covenant.  Just as Abraham, we, Christians, are able to continue to build and strengthen our faith by the infinite of love and grace of God.

[1]Barry Bandstra, p. 110.

[2] Now Yhwh said to Abram, “Go from the land of your birth and your kin and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and through you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves/be blessed.” (12:1–3)  (12:1–3)

[3] Bandstra, p. 82

[4] Ibid, p. 83.

[5] According to Dr. Lester’s lectures on Covenant, there were 4 kinds of covenant at the area of Palestine, suzerainty, divine charter, party treaty, and marriage &adoption. ( lecture A)

[6] “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.” (Gen 17:20)

[7] http://biblehub.com/greek/4102.htm

Divine Council

Reading the book of Genesis, you will find the plural of first-person, “us”, or “our” describing God himself. What is the connection with God?  We are found three times by using the plural, “Let us. . . “from chapter one to eleven in Genesis: (1).“Let us make human kind our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26), (2) After the first sin,“ See,  the man has become like one of us.” (Gen 3:22)  (3) “Come, let us go down and confuse their language there.” (Gen 11:7)

Why did the author of Genesis write us or our, instead of using I or my? Who are they? The following three theories or possibilities are explained in the online textbook by Barry Bandstra (p.43) and Dr. Lester’s Lectures:

  1. Royal plural: “God was simply thinking out loud, talking to himself” According to some scholars by supporting this idea, “Elohim is grammatically plural”
  2. Christian Trinity: Supporters of this theory argued the identification of the Trinity may be found: God, the Son of God, according to Bandstra, and the Holy Spirit.
  3. Divine Council: “It was thought to be the governing assembly of angelic beings that managed the world with God.” Here, the meaning of the angels is “sons of God” and are “the administrative council of heaven.” As we have learned before in the book of Job, the good example can be found in Job 1–2, where the “sons of God” met in session with Yhwh and the accuser (the satan) to evaluate the sincerity of Job’ faith.

In addition, there are more biblical examples relating to “Divine Council.”: Angels in rebellion against God, Corruptability of angels, Devine being present at creation, and Celestial court.

I will briefly explain the passages based on Dr. Lester’s assignment.

 

Kings 22:19-22: “A spirit stood before God, I will entice him (King Ahab).” “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.”

(1)The function of this passage is like a royal court.

(2)  The human institution: Through his vision the prophet, Michaiah, delivered the God’s message to Ahab.

(3) Characters: the Lord, all of the host of Heaven, a spirit (later became of lying spirit), Ahab (because he will be impacted on the lying spirit.)

(4) Job description: A spirit is allowed to become a lying spirit to entice King Ahab.

 

Psalm29:1-2: As the function of the passage belongs to the celestial court

  • Character : “heavenly beings.” According to the online dictionary and Bible Odyssey, it means the sprits, cherub, divine messengers, super natural beings. In other words, they are “merely subservient to the one true God” and does not affect the concept of Christianity and Judaism.
  • The job description of this passage is to praise and glorify to God.

 

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

  • Human institution: “I” indicates the author of Book, Isaiah when king Uzziah (6:1) at the time. The author delivers God’s message through his vision.
  • Characters: I, the Lord
  • Job description: the author of Isaiah volunteers to go and deliver God’s message to the people of Israel.

Psalm 82: “A plea for justice”

(1) Characters: God, the mists of gods, children of most High, the wicked, the needy, the destitute.

(2) Human institution: I (Asaph)

(3) Job description: It highlights on God’s fair judgement, which shows the generosity for the marginalized class in a society.

Psalm 89:6-7: God’s absolute majesty

  • Human institution: the author of Psalm 89
  • Characters: the Lord, Heavenly beings, holy ones.
  • Job description: Compared to other gods ( heavenly beings) God and the Lord,

Yahweh is the only one to receive the most fear and respect.

 

Job 1:6, 2:1: The scene of divine council

  • Characters: heavenly beings, Lord, satan
  • Job description: Receiving permission from God to test Job’s faith and piety. It is a like courtroom function, accuser satan, the judge: God, the jury: heavenly beings.

 

      Job 38:7: The passage belongs to the category, “Devine being present at creation.

  • Characters: morning stars and heavenly beings
  • Job description: As Brandra mentioned, the verses shows that all heavenly beings praise to Yhwh’s work or creation

 

Deut. 32: 8-9 Moses’s farewell message to the people of Israel

  • Human institution; Moses
  • Characters: The most high ( the Lord), the number of gods
  • Job description: Based on what I am able to grasp the meaning of the verses, I can find it as follows: Yhwh’s creation (“the Most high appointed nations”), His way (“divided human kind and fixed the boundaries of the people), and His choice (the Lord’s own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share.)

 

Revisit the “we/us” passages from Genesis 1-11, imagining this Divine Council present and directly addressed by God. Does anything change for you when you imagine God addressing this council? How or how not?

First, according to study and speculation on Devine Councils, the vivid scene of courtroom can be captured. The Judgement is Yhwh, God, an accuser or a prosecutor is evil spirit or satan, the jury is other lessor of gods, and the accused one appeared as person like Job, or Ahab.  Second, we can find parallel structure between the will of people and God’s reactions:

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves (Gen.11:4)

7 Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”(Gen 11:7)

The meaning of “us”, in other words, “heavenly beings” has subservient relationship with one True God. So it can be indicated the God, the Son of God and the Holy Spirit described not only heavenly beings including other spiritual beings or angels, but also means the God, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.  Thereby, they joined God’s creation and the Tower of Babel form the aforementioned description Deuternomy 32:8-9 Surprisingly, I found out that God uses all things and all the spirits for the His providence for the people of Israel as we already learned in these scriptures. In the past,  just as God had done this for the people of Israel,  I become more convinced that He  now works for us.

 

The temple of God, Jerusalem versus two shrines of Jeroboam constructed.

2 Samuel 7:1-17

This Bible passage reflects well on royal theology, which Yhwh chose the dynastic house, House of David, and the city in eternity, Jerusalem.[1]  First, the verse from 4 to 7 shows that God does not stay in one place but move from the tent to the tabernacle, which is “emphasis on tent of meeting.”[2]  Second, the main element of the theology is clearly described from 9-16. Let’s pay particular attention to  the verse 14, “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.”  This verse expresses the relationship between the father and the adopted son with a legal language, as a key element of royal theology. Also one can find that Yhwh’s everlasting covenant with David is authentically presented. [3]

1Kings 12:1-33

In this chapter, there are detailed accounts relating to the process of Israel’s division[4] (1-24), the establishment of the kingdom of northern Israel (25-27), and the story of two golden calves (28-29).  These are associated with each sanctuary at Dan and Bethel. First, the complaint of King Rehoboam in the division of Israel is revealed in verse 16: “What share do we have in David?  We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, O David.”  After all, the tribe of Judah served King Rehoboam in Jerusalem, and Jeroboam became the king of other tribes of Israel. In verse 24[5], it explains that God himself made  the split of Israel. The king of Jeroboam not only built two golden calves to prevent the Israelites from going to the temple of Jerusalem, but also elected the priest from normal people, instead of Levites (26-29). Moreover, the King created the day for worship at the two shrines (31-33).

1King 16:29-33

The story and sin of Ahab, the worst king of Israel[6] , is briefly presented in this passage: the marriage of Jezebel, the woman of the Sidon nation, and  the worship and the temple of Baal in Samaria. (32-33)[7]

2 Chronicles 3:1-5:14

It describes in detail King Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem: the size, materials, and  the furnishings of the temple. After the completion of the temple, the ark of God was entered into the new temple.

Founding of temple and shrines, reasons, different opinions…

The founding of the temple can be found in the history of the Ark of the Covenant of God.  First, it  is inseparably related between the ark of covenant and the ten or tabernacle, since Israel’s wilderness life under Moses’ leadership. To be placed the ark of the covenant of God, David wants to build a new temple because the ark is dwelt in the tent. However, this construction of temple is started and completed by King Solomon in Jerusalem, by way of Yhwh’s command.  Then, the ark of the covenant was housed at the place called the most holy place in the temple. That is, it is considered to be where God’s presence is.[8]  Also since Jerusalem or Jebus located in Cannan conquered by David, the people of Israel was thought to be the city where the temple of God lives. In other words, Jerusalem became a very important city for their worship life.

The division of the kingdom of Israel provides the reasons of the construction of the two shrines of the north of Israel. The king of Jeroboam not only built these two shrines in order to break the nostalgia for people of northern Israel, but also offered the worship place with the two golden calves. This is similar to the story of the Israelites who asked Aaron to make a god while Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from Yhwh. Anyhow, the cult of Jeroboam led the northern Israelities to worship at the two Shrines at Dan and Bethel on the certain dates that Jeroboam created by himself. Fierce debate can be found  in the interpretation of the shrines. That is, there are two different points of view in regards to Jeroboam’s two shrines: the view of Deuternomic writer and J. Greer’s perspective.  First, according to the Dueternomic author, the two sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel belonged to the evidence of the sin of idolatry, which finally became a reason why northern Israel was destroyed by Assyria in 722BCE. Keep in mind Israel’s the cycle of repeated sin. (sin, punishment, repent, and deliverance). This feature can also be found the reason of Juda’s fall by the Babylonian’s attack. However, the viewpoint of Greer and other scholar is different from the Deuternomist. That is, Jeroboam’s cult looks like in “Yhwhsic in nature”[9] based on archaeological evidence, “intensive sacrifice and sacred feasting”[10] based on animal-bone concentrations. Greer also argues that the reconstructed practice of worship in Dan resembles the biblical text. So he and other scholars believe that the cult of northern Israel was syncretic, not idolatry. Thus, Greer suggests a slanderous plot against King Jeroboam,northern Israel. Stanley (p.207) also presents the Isralities worshiped golden calves, which can be regarded as the symbol of the throne of Yhwh by citing Judges 17:1-5, 18: 27-31 and 21:19. The both scholar, Stanley and Greer, discuss the excavations of temple remained well at Den, while there was no enough evidence at Bethel.

The fascinating fact is  that the cause of the division of Israel was by Yhwh in  the book of the first King 12:24. [11] In addition, the process of founding tabernacle is decided by God himself. Even though Jeroboam was chosen directly by Yhwh as a king, he saw the reminiscent of Northern Israel toward Jerusalem and the temple of God. The fear came in his mind, which they might return to Judah. (1 king 12: 26)  The two shrines might be inevitable choice for him in order to preserve his throne, or would it be the way of his lack of trust in Yhwh?  Anyhow, these stories form the perspective of deuteronomic history, choosing various stories and connecting a big theological theme, like a connective issue. It is finally created to bring the author’s desired view to readers or listeners, which we can call history.

 

[1] Dr. Brooke Lester’s Lecture Royal Theology B, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn6WlWxj7pk&feature=youtu.be&list=PL-VPCh99l1-mh0JGg9zQ6zbUO1GfLWIrG

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] In particular, the exploitation of the King Jeroboam’s labor power causes to divide Israel, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and Judah.

[5] “Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your kindred the people of Israel. Let everyone go home, for this thing is from me.”

[6] Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.

[7] Ahab did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than had all the kings of Israel who were before him

[8] Barry Brandra, p. 268.

[9] Jonathan, S, Creer, The Sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel.

[10] Ibid.

[11] “Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your kindred the people of Israel. Let everyone go home, for this thing is from me.”

How to interpret the poem of Deborah and Song (Judge 5:2- 31a)

               What is the history of Israel? Why did the author of the Hebrew Bible write history? What would historians of those days want to leave for their descendants?   We already found that the stories of Hebrew Bible, we have learned so far, convey a couple of theological perspective or theme. In other words, that is the purpose of writers of Hebrew Bible. In order to correctly understand, we need to comprehend not only the origin of the story based on historical and social context, but also the purpose of the writer. This process can be used to develop one’s perspective that enables to properly understand the Hebrew Bible. Furthermore, the lessons learned from the interpretation can be applied in our faith life. The poem of Deborah and Barak, Judge 5:2- 32a, will be analyzed based on the “source analysis sheet” provided by Dr. Lester.

Brief Background of the book of Judges

        Before analyzing Deborah’s praise poems, we need to understand brief background of the book of Judges. As we have learned this week, the book of Judges has been compiled stories of the Judges of northern Israel, which have been passed down for generations. The story of book might happen in the somewhere 1200-1000 BCE, Iron I age period.  The recording of the Book  might be assumed The book of Judges is sometimes called Deuternomistic History (DH).[1] According to Bandstra, the writer of Judges, deuteronomic historain, is written on the basis of deuternomic themes (Bandstra p. 225). That is, sin (Israelities’ disobedience)[2], punishment, repentance, and deliverance ( Deuteronomic cycle, Bandstra p. 228). The author also implies the necessity of a king to faithfully lead the tribes of Israel. The book of Judges presents the process of Israel’s settlement throughout the stories of each Judge. According to the Dr. Lester’s lecture B, the gradual infiltration model is considered to be appropriate among the several theories about the settlement of Canaan.

The genre,Origin, Author, and Purpose

          As mentioned above, the background of this poem is evident in the deuternomic theme: sin (the idolatry of Israel after Ehud’s death), punishment (the persecution of Jabin king of Hazor for about twenty year), repentance (the cry to the LORD of the Israelites), deliverance (salvation through the prophetess Deborah empowered by Yhwh).  For this reason, the poet’s author or editor is considered a deuteronomistic historian (Barry Bandstra, p. 192).  The genre of this document belongs to the praise poem or Deborah’s song containing the praise of God’s salvation. The origin of this song is written to praise God who has won the war, which finally delivered Israelites from the severe oppression of King Jabin. (Judge 5:2-5)[3] The purpose of this poem is also to convey to the God’s faithfulness and Israel’s unfaithfulness to the readers or descendants.

The viewpoint that breaks biased view in the Deborah’s song

        The status of women at the time belongs to the lower class of the society. Looking at the whole story of the Hebrew Bible, we can hardly find that the woman comes out as the main character. In addition, woman even tends to symbolized as gods (Delilah in Samson chapter 13-16).  However, the Deborah’s song breaks this biased concept, as a consequence, two women appeared as protagonists in here: Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth (4:4) and Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite (5:24). As  Deborah is described as an active and respected leader, the daring actions of Jael (5:24-27) also belongs to the good illustration. Thus, the writer strongly describes Deborah and Jael as the brave warrior and true heroines in the song.

The important facts we can learn from the document

           First, the duteronomic theme is also stressed in the song: Israel’s idolatry (verse 8. “they chose new gods.”), God’s punishment (verse 6. “caravans ceased”), salvation through Yhwh’s  prophet, Deborah (verse 7. “You arose mother in Israel.”) In particular, we can assume there was no true leader for Israel at those days in verse 8. (“Villagers disappeared; they disappeared in Israel.”)  Second, this emphasis of the theme are enabled the author to allude and justify the necessity of Kingship in Israel in order to settle down in Canaan. Furthermore, the absence of the king causes to a lack of cohesion and solidarity among between 12 tribes. (verse 16-17; the clan of Reuben, Manasseh, Dah, Asher, did not join the war because they thought sufferings of the other brother tribes were light.)  Next, the role of Judges in the book advocates the Israelities and delivers their suffering, instead of being a jurist or magistrate. The same principal can be applied to Deborah’ job. That is, God empowers Deborah and rescued the people of Israel. Finally, this song also verifies the scripture that neighboring nations are even used by God as tool of Israel’s judgment. (3:1 These are the nations Yhwh allowed to remain to test Israel.)

What inferences can I make for this document (in combination with other knowledge of historical period)

        Before taking Hebrew Bible history, I cannot understand why the people of Israel continually repeated their sin, abandoning God, even though they already conquered the Canaan under Joshua leadership. Why did they keep abandoning God? I would like to present two reasons based on Dr. Lester’s lectures (Emergence of Israel, A.B) and reading materials:  first, it would be the result from Israelities’ settlement and adaption in the Land of Canaan, instead of their conquest.Second it might be the absence of a king leading 12 tribes to become one nation. The song of Deborah can be a good source to support my answers. A couple of scriptures in the song can be supported my speculation (“the leaders disappeared”), as mentioned above. It is also very striking source to support that women are highly regarded as a leader or prophet (Deborah) and a woman warrior (Jael), as opposed to the notion of at the social perspective at the time. I also gleaned the concept of God’s instrument toward Israel, as a tool of grace (the use of women) or punishment (foreign countries). Also keep in mind that we need to consider the textural context and historical evidence when understanding the history of Hebrew Bible.

[1] Sometimes called the Deuteronomic History, the body of material that consists of the introduction to Deuteronomy (Chapters 1–4) and Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. Barry Bandstra,

[2] The Israelities worshiped the gods of Canaan, instead of Yhwh.

[3] Thanks to the prophet Deborah, Israel, who has won the battle against Jabin, king of Hazor, praises God for giving thanks and honoring all glory to Him

                                         Sh’ma Yisrael

The relationship between the Israelites and God, covenant begins with the Ten Commandments given to God in Mount Sinai by Moses.[1] The key content of the covenant is that Israelities should fear, worship only Yhwh and obey all the ordinances that He has commanded (Deuteronomy 28: 1-2). When the people of Israel break the covenant, God always used the neighboring countries punished their sins.  However, when Israelities repent their wrongdoing, Yhwh rescued them by Himself and even sent the Judges, chosen by God, to help people of Israel. The history of Israel repeats the repetition of sin, judgment, repentance, and salvation. (Dr. Lester, lecture B)

Did the prophets anticipate this recurrence? Or did God foresee it? The messengers of God delivered a farewell sermon emphasizing the importance of this covenant relationship (Deuteronomy 28:1-68, Joshua 23:1-16, and 1 Samuel 12:1-25). In particular, they addressed the blessings from their obligation to God’s Word and strongly emphasized the coming judgment if they do not keep the covenant.  When the new kingship (Saul) is established by God, Samuel prophesies the destruction of the kingdom by the coming judgment if the king and the Israelites would break the covenant with God and disobey His commandments.[2]  Eventually, the concerns of the prophets became come true, and the northern Israel and southern Judea were respectively destroyed in BCE 722 and BCE 587 (2King 17:5-18, 2 Chronicle 36:1-21). The following briefly summarizes the farewell sermons of the prophets, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and the breakdown of North Israel and Southern Judah.

Deuteronomy 28 is the last farewell message preached by Moses.[3] Just before entering the land of Canaan and standing near the eastern bank of Jordan River, Moses reemphasis the experience of the wilderness for 40 years, the Ten Commandments, and a covenant with God (Bandstra). The Deuteronomy 28 vividly describes God’s blessings and curses towards Israelities. That is, it explains in detail what blessings (Deut.28:1-14) they receive if Israel people faithfully keep the covenant with Yhwh and what penalties and curses (18:15-68) are coming to the Israel in the opposite case.  More specifically, it can be divided into four major categories: 1-6 is individual blessings, 7-14 is the blessings of Israelities, 15-19 is individual curses, and 20-68 is nation curses.

Joshua Chapters 23 can be called Joshua’s last farewell sermon. At that time, the conquest of Canaan and the division of the land, which Israel had already so dreamed of, were fulfilled according to God’s promises. At this juncture, Joshua gathered the leaders of all the tribes of Israel in one place, reminding them of what Yhwh had done to Israel.  Joshua (Verses 3-5) stresses that Yhwh conquered Canaan because He fought for Israel himself. In verse 6, Joshua exhorted that Israelities should only worship God and keep the law of Moses in full.[4]  In addition, Joshua explains in detail what is going to happen if Israel people do not serve God and worship idol (7-16).

Samuel, the last Judge, also addresses his farewell message to  Israelites in 1 Samuel 1-25. Samuel called the people of Israel to Gilgal to establish Saul as the official king of Israel who defeated Nahash of the Ammonites.  Samuel also believed that king of Israel had to be completely different from the kings of the Gentiles. Thus, he strongly urged the whole Israelite community about what the king of Israel should be like and what the Israelites should do in the future. Samuel also testifies his people that his righteousness regaling to his ministry (1 Sam.12:1-5).  In verse 7, Samuel tells the Israelites to stand still.[5] Why does Samuel tell the Israelites to stand still?   He tried to imprint on Israel people that Yhwh only has fought for their ancestors and Israelites. Samuel strongly continued to proclaim that Moses, Aaron, and other judges, chosen by Yhwh, were upholding and rescuing the Israelites from the crisis. (1 Sam.12:13-15). Samuel finally reemphasized that People of Israel and their king will fear and serve only God, if not, they will perish (1 Sam.12:16-25).

In 2 Kings and chapter 17, the destruction of northern Israel is recorded. That is, the author explains the wrath of God about the extreme of the sin of northern Israel, who forsakes the covenant with God, worship idols and follow the ordinances of Gentiles.[6] (2 Kings 17:5-17) As a result of that sin, God finally destroy the northern Israel through Assyria[7] in 722 BCE (2 Kings 17:18).  In addition, the author presents in detail the judgment of God on Judah in 2 Chronicles 36: 11-21. Here are Judas’ sins: The last king of Judas, Zedekiah’s disobedience to the word of God of, which means he relied on Egypt, instead of Babylonia and people including their priests’ idolatry. Even though God sent several prophets, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the people of  Judea continue to mock their message and do not repent the sins (11-16).  In the end, God used the king, Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and Judea (BCE 586), and the Jews to live in exile for 70 years. (17-21)

Do you find these claims coherent with other biblical witness?

Of course! If Israelities do not follow the God’s commands (Words), we are able to see the consequence of their wrongdoing, God’s wrath and Judgement in  Letter Prophets such as the book of Amos and Hosea. Moreover, from the prophets’s farewell messages, the same result can be discovered  in our current society.

More specifically, When looking into the causes of the destruction and fall of each nation, the reasons are as follows: idolatry, the spiritual dullness and ignorance of sins, the moral corruption of ruling elites, the oppression toward the lower class, and false prophecies of false prophet, and the complacency from Zion theology.[8]  In other words, the people of Israel, leaving God and worshiping idol, follows  the ordinances of the Gentile nations, which finally cause to overflow moral degradation and social injustice. Even worse, the false prophet, like Hananiah, and the blind faith in Zion theology lead them to ignore the warnings of true prophets sent by God. (Jeremiah 28). Then, finally they encounter their nations’ collapse (2 Chronicles 36: 12-14) and in they are in exile for 70 years (2 Chronicles 36:20-21) in Babylon.

Are they intelligible in light of the way we understand the world today? Are they moral? How or how not? What if they are not?

It is very helpful and insightful  for us understand of the  current society. When applying the analysis of bible scriptures of this week’s assignment to our society today,  I discover that the society of Israel resemble current situation in our community in terms of moral and faith. First, idolatry of Israel is replaced by materialism (or Mammonism), which is not only prevalent in the society, but also in the churches. Rather than obeying the Words and ordinances of God, some Christians tend to pursue their own interests at all times.  This value may causes to degrade the value of moral,social injustice, in both the society and the church. In other words, if Christians do not follow God’s covenant, we easily tend to love or care for ourselves only, instead of  loving neighbors. Thereby,   the social morality is prone to corrupt and deteriorate. The good illustration would be found the increasing of rate between the poor and the rich. Also the high indifference of minority people in the society.

 In addition to the perspective morality, there are  other perspectives we need to seriously consider. (What if they are not? )

The one of perspectives is to speculate on ‘blessing’ from God. Let us deeply meditate on true blessing in Deuteronomy 28: 1-14.  I assert that God’s blessing is not merely means a success or prosperity. True blessing is a life itself that Christians are willing to follow and keep our God’s covenant. Moreover, Christians should not only live according to one’s calling from God, but also love our neighbor. Thereby, all people can enjoy peaceful life.[10]  Next, remember to take care of orphans and the widows that God stresses this commandment so many times the book of Deuteronomy ( Chapter 10,16,18, 25,26.) Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. At that time, orphans and widows in society were the lowest classes, or marginalized people in the society. When applied our love to the community or the  society, minority classes, such as refugees, immigrants, LGBT, and poor people, should be cared and loved.  It would be a true disciples’ life that we will engrave God’s Word in our heart and obey them, not simply listening to God’s message.

[1] Moses convened all Israel, and said to them: Hear, O Israel, the statutes and ordinances that I am addressing to you today; you shall learn them and observe them diligently. ( Deuteronomy 5:1)

[2] But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king. (1Samuel 12:25)

[3] Moses’ farewell or  “dying speech” ( Dr. Lester’s Lecture B)

[4] “Therefore be very steadfast to observe and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right nor to the left, . . . “(Joshua 23:6) NRSV

[5]  “Now therefore take your stand, so that I may enter into judgment with you before the Lord, and I will declare to you[c] all the saving deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your ancestors.” ( 1Samul 12:7) NRSV

[6] This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced.[a] 9 The people of Israel secretly did things that were not right against the Lord their God.  (2Kings 17:7-9)

[7] Moses has already warned of these calamities, if the nation of Israel breaks the covenant with God.  (Deut. 28:49-52)

 

[8]  These can be found  in Prophets( Nevi’im), “the second main division of Hebrew Bible, comprising the Formal and Letter prophets.” http://barrybandstra.com/rtot4/rtot4-25-gls.html#Neviim

[9] http://kr.christianitydaily.com/articles/90432/20170109

[10] Christians should be called “peacemakers.” :“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Eun, who seeks the meaning of God’s Word

To My dear friend who wants to live according to God’s will

Grace, Mercy and Peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus Lord[1]

 

How are you doing these days? Are you still deeply into the Old Testament? I am writing to you because I would like to share a useful lesson, “Isaiah’s Servant”, from this week’s assignment. I hope this letter will help you a little bit in your hunger for the Old Testament.

Are you already curious about the title? As you might know, chapters 40- 55 of the book of Isaiah might come from the one who lived in Babylonian exile in 500 BCE. The bible scholars still do not know this prophet of exile period, not even his name. Also, the prophet is not the same one of Isiah 1-39, living in the 700s BCE in Jerusalem.[2] This is why we can also call him “Isaiah of the Exile” or “Deutro-Isaiah”.[3] The servant of Yhwh is a mysterious figure in the four poems, known as “servant poem (Isa. 42:1-6, 49:1-6, 50:4-9, 52:13-53:12)”[4], in Second Isaiah.

To help you understand better, the summary of each poem is as follows: the first poems explains that the servant who will bring justice to the nations by God’s choice. In the second poems, he has been called by God as a light to the nations through the servant’s own word. However, it is describing that the servant will be persecuted and abused physically in the third poem. (“My back to those who beat me.) The fourth poem, as the last and the longest servant poem, contains that the servant is suffering in detail by way of a third party’s observation.[5] As you read  the last one, it is expressed vividly about the suffering of the servant.  This is why the servant figure is also called “suffering servant.”[6] According to Bandra’s textbook and Dr. Lester’s lecture, the notions means that a shift from atonement by Israel people’s animal sacrifice. In other words, it represents the traditional ritual methods of atonement to new atonement by a human being’s suffering. Thereby, the servant of Yhwh receives divine and holy punishment for people’s sins.  The most interesting fact is that it is about an interpretation of this servant. That is, while some scholars believe that the servant of Yhwh is symbol of “Judah”[7] that suffered in the Babylonian exile, others suggest that the figure of the servant means an “actual individual”[8] in the history.According to Bandra, Moses and Jeremiah are good examples because they are called as God’s servant like “my servants”, or “servant of Yhwh”.  Also as we studied together on Jeremiah, he is another example because he was physically abused. Zerubbabel belongs to another example. In addition, if you would listen Dr. Lester’s lecture, “Responsive to Exile B[9], you will discover the interpretation of “the servant”, referring to “Israel.” That is, you can find that it is often called “Jacob” in the book of Isaiah.[10]  Dr. Lester explained “the servant of the Lord” is interpreted as “people of Israel.” [11] Thus, through Israel’s sufferings, other nations can be saved. However, there is a voice against this opinion in Christian tradition. Can you guess the answer?  The scholars in the tradition strongly believe that the servant of Yhwh is identified with Jesus Nazareth. The one of your favorite anthems, Messiah by F.Handel, is composed by this perspective. In addition, the people of Israel in Babylonian exile are considered as sinners, who also need Gods’ punishment. In another opinion, Dr. Lester introduces Bernard Duhm[12]’s theory, which is describing “the servant’ by expressing suffering one did not originally put the part of the second Isaiah, rather than addition to the book. Duhm believes the “servant of Ywhw indicates other persons or figures, not Israel. In order to demonstrate it, Duhm suggests several verses, so-called servant song, Isa. 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50:4-9. 52:1-3-53:2.

On the contrary, Dr. Lester affirms that scholars cannot find old manuscript to prove the correctness of such theological theory, which means not original ones. Moreover, he asserts that the servant songs naturally put the text with containing the coherency. Stanley also provides the debates with regards to the identity of “servant of Yhwh” between Christians’ tradition and other scholars, who believes the servants means Israel or prophetic figures. As mentioned before, Tovia Singer also demonstrates that “the servant of Israel” is considered as the “nation of Israel.”[13]  How about reading my letter so far?

In conclusion, we can come up with various interpretations of the servant of Yhwh; Israel, prophetic figures in the Old Testament and Jesus of Nazareth. These new and fresh theological perspectives are fascinating for me. What do you think of it?

I hope that my letter will benefit not only your ministry also your study.

In His Peace,

Eun Joo

[1] The writing style of greeting here is borrowed from 1Timothy 1:1-2. (NRSV)

[2]Barry Bandra’s  online textbook, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, Belmont: Cangage learning, 2004,  p. 350-351.

http://barrybandstra.com/rtot4/rtot4-16-ch12.html

[3] Ibid. It is presumend that he was an Exiled Judean refugee living in or near Babylon.

[4] Ibid. Some scholars argue that the features of the servant presents through these poems.  See the table 12.1 in the                 same page.

[5] “Surely, he has lifted our infirmities and carried our disease. But we reckoned him striken, struck down by Elohim, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our wrongs: upon him was inflicted the punishment that made us whole, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isa. 53:4-5)

[6] Ibid.

[7] Tovia Singer, The Rabbanic interpretation of Isaiah 53;“Who is God’s Suffering Servant?”

https://outreachjudaism.org/gods-suffering-servant-isaiah-53/

[8] Bandra’s Reading the Old Testament, p, 351.

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxogccIbysM&feature=youtu.be&list=PL-VPCh99l1-mh0JGg9zQ6zbUO1GfLWIrG

[10] Isaiah  41:8-9, 42:1-4, 19, 44:-1-2, 45:4, 48:20, 49:1-6, 50:4-9, 52:-13, 53:12.

[11] It is clearly presents in the book of Isaiah; 44:1-2, 44:21, 45:4

[12] Bernhard Duhm (1847-1928): As a German Lutheran theologian Duhm is remembered for his exegetical work on the prophets of the Old Testament, Jeremiah an Isaiah.

[13] “. . . who silently endured unimaginable suffering at the hands of tis gentile oppressors.”

Weeping Prophet, Jeremiah (option 2)

 

The messages or prophecy of prophets can be divided into two groups: optimistic (hope) and pessimistic (doom). What is the criterion for a hopeful or pessimistic message?  Through this assignment, I will look for the answer and deeply consider how it can be applied to the present Christians.

In the first part of chapter 1 (1-10), both the calling of Jeremiah and the encouragement of God is presented. Then, God shows his judgement about the iniquity of Israel through the vision (a branch of almond tree and a boiling pot: 11-19). It is full of doom-laden vision and prophecy.

Next, God rebukes the sins of the nation of Judah, who forsake the ‘foundation of living water’, (2: 13) and ‘cracked cisterns for themselves (13)’. That is, it is sinful sins that Judean people forsake the covenant with God and worshiped idols.

Third, through another vision (waste, void, no light from 4:23), Jeremiah is not only  announcing the fierce anger of God, but also declaring a firm decision on God’s judgement . However, it contains a message of faint hope that desolation will not come to an end (4:27)

Fourth, Jeremiah explained the appropriateness of God’s judgement. That is, Judean’s moral corruption and the heart of impudence about their sinful behavior. (‘They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused turn back. 5: 3) In addition, there are the wicked who regard the law of God as the yoke and the bond that binds them, whose thought caused awful sins.(5: 5.)

Fifth,   Jeremiah 7, together with chapter 26, is called a temple sermon: “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word.” (7:1). Jeremiah strongly blamed their hypocritical attitude and the oppression of the marginalized people (7:4-6) Also, the massage of Jeremiah (7:1-14) is proclaimed as opposed to Zion theology (Bandstra, p.329). According to the theology, there is a false assertion that God does not destroy the temple and Jerusalem. However,   Even in verse 11, 18, and 32, he roundly condemns their idolatry, which have made the temple of Lord, like a den of thieves. Jeremiah’s message of reproving is followed by the full of doom and desolate message or prophecy.

Sixth, it is a lament of the prophet, Jeremiah, concerning the people of Judea. (8:18-9:3) That is, it is heart- breaking grief of Jeremiah about the tragic destruction of stubborn people in Judea. Here, the message of doom expresses through lament of Jeremiah.

Next, Jeremiah likens the absolute sovereignty of God, who governs individuals nations and the world as pottery though the illustration the pottery and clay. (18:1-10). Then, from 11-12, Jeremiah is accusing the Judeans’ stubborn heart, not repent and continue to live in evil ways.

Eighth, it is a lament of Jeremiah (20:7-13), persecuted by Pashhur.  It is also called “Complaints of Jeremiah.” Jeremiah presents his frustration as a prophet (Bandstra, p.334)

Finally, in Jer. 23:9-32, there are severe warnings and prophecies of God concerning false prophets. (“steal my words” vs. 30)  As for false prophets who say there is no destruction, there will be a severe warnings and prophecy of God. This passage also includes prophecies of doom toward false ones.

Until now, there are messages or prophesies of fall of Judas as reproofs of their sin and consequence. Finally, there is a prophecy of hope in which the promise of the restoration of Israel (31:11, “redeemed him”) and the reconstruction of Jerusalem is proclaimed (32:1-13). According to Bandstra, p. 333, the chapter 31 is called “Book of Consolation”, which includes Jeremiah’s message of God’s planting and building. (31:28). In addition, we can find “renewed or new covenant with God, Yhwh in 31:31-34 (Bandstra, p.333). The newest feature is that God would write it on their hearts: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts (31:33). Moreover, God stresses that he would not remember Judeans’ sin again in vs.34. Besides, in chapter 32, this symbolic act ( sign act)that God told Jeremiah to buy his hometown field means that Judeans were taken captive to Babylon, but in the future God will make a covenant with the chosen people and live in peace.

Looking in to the relationship between Judas’ political circumstances and Jeremiah, he, a son of priest, Hilkiah, is called to God in the thirteen years of king Josiah’s reign. During Josiah’s years, Jeremiah has optimistic view because of the King’s faithfulness to God (Dr. Lester’s lecture).  After the death of Josiah, the other kings who succeed the throne abandon the covenant with God, and idolatry and moral corruption become rapid and worse. In the political and social turmoil, false prophets appear and proclaim a false message that the judgment and destruction of sin does not come to Judea due to the absolute invariance of God’s covenant. However, Jeremiah denounces and proclaims the prophecies of doom and the words which God command until the fall of Judas, while he was even persecuted by Kings. In the above example, the prophecies of destruction, or the messages of hope, are thought to be the proclamation of Jeremiah in light of the close link the relationship between political issues and the prophet himself.

Finally, what elements should be contained in a preacher’s message?  I believe one of the responsibilities of the preacher try to grow the faith of the congregation.  If I were to be a preacher and deliver the Word, I would strive to maintain a balanced preacher.   I believe that   Jeremiah’s pessimistic messages are also the expression of God’s love. As a mother of two daughters, I often tend to admonish them when they do something wrong. Reproof and scolding are another expression of love. That is, it is sort of paradoxical meaning. The message of God’s continued reproach or doom is to clear the sin, return to God and restore the beautiful relationship with Him.  It is somewhat true that it may be better to hear the message of comfort and hope to hear the sermon. But is not mature faith becoming aware of God’s love? It is as if a child grows up and understands the parent’s heart.

Amos, a prophet, who carries a burden given by God to proclaim the upcoming judgement.

During the heyday of Northern Kingdom of Israel (760-750 BCE, Bandstra, p. 288), Amos prophesied the wrath of God.  At the time, it can be found that the oppression and exploitation of the lower class people (peasants) and a hypocritical  and corrupted form of worship (Amos 2:11-12) containing no true meaning of it, and insensitivity and dullness of sinful behavior (4:1) became prevalent. In other words, Israel was full of iniquities and sins.

The book of Amos belonged to Latter Prophets, which means “the book associated with prophetic figures.” (Bandstra, p.187) At that time the prophets of Israel were classified into several kinds, according to Dr. Lester’s lecture (Part A), and Amos describes himself in Amos 1;1, 7:14-15, explaining how God directly called him. That is, he was neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, and even not a member of a prophetic guild. The third party introduces Amos as follows: “As a shepherd in Tekoa, a little town in Judea, he was called to be a prophet by God. (Bandstra, p. 288, Amos 1:1))   After receiving the call, Amos primarily predicts the fall (doom) of Israel, although he prophesy the Israel’s neighbors in the first chapter. Their sins are not only the failure to embody the justice of the society, the corruption of their own and the morality, but also the deterioration of the worship of spiritual leaders.  Also, based on Dr. Lester’s lecture, the style of book of Amos features a messenger formula genre by delivering message from the Lord, using this expression,” hear this word”(5:5), or “ Thus says the Lord.”(1:1). In addition it belongs to the two part saying genre, similar to courtroom style statement (accusation) and consequences( God’s judgement). The peculiar aspect of his prophesy also shows the writing style of  lament, “ Alas”, for the bitter criticism of the iniquity of Israel’s upper class in Chapter 5 and 6.

First, in Amos 2: 6-8, Amos sharply denounces not only the viciousness and the moral corruption of the ruling elites, but also the religious depravity in 2:12. Throughout their sin, he asserts God’s wrath will come decisively and surely. (2:13-16). It does not suggest the way to change God’s will and His wrath in this chapter.

Second, in 5: 10-12, Amos also reproaches the upper classes of Israel for abusing the righteousness, giving and receiving bribes, and injustice toward the poor. Then, from 5:14-17, he presents a way to avoid God’s wrath and to restore Israel by hating evil and loving good: “Seek good and not evil.”( 5:14) , ” Seek the Lord and may live.” ( 5:6)At this point, we need to consider, “what does God really want toward the Israel people?”  Is not it judgement and destruction of the nations, but a call for repentance? In particular, Amos chapter 5 is known as a prophet’s lament for Israel’s sin. According to Dr. Lester’s lecture, the use of the word “Alas”(v.18) signifies the meaning of “mourn” or “mourning ritual.” The style of mourning put stresses a lot the Israel’s sinfulness more than Amos directly criticizes it.

Next, the writing style of lament is continued through chapter 6: 1-6. That is, Amos laments the self-indulgence of Israel spiritual leaders. Here, he deplores the spiritual dullness of the leaders because they ignore God’s judgement that will come into their own pleasure and complacency. In respond to this, Amos uses the following expression, “The Lord has sworn by himself.”(6:8), and emphasizes that God’s punishment will surely be done to them: I abhor the pride Jacob. . . I will deliver up the city (6 :8)

Forth, Amos highlights on the God’s final judgement, destruction of Israel by reaffirming the persecution of lower class (peasants)’s life in 8:4 – 9:4. The judgement will be done by God’s himself.

What does Amos say is wrong with Israelite society?

What is wrong with Israel?  The  self- indulgence and corruption of spiritual leaders and the absurdity and injustice of social leadership groups led to the destruction of a nation, northern of Kingdom of Israel.

What will happen to people of Israel if they do not change?

Amos clearly shows illustration on God’s punishments: the form of military catastrophe, flight shell perish. ( 2:11-16), exile ( 6:7), wailing everywhere, mourning song, famine, ( 8:10-11), God’s direct judgement on people. ( 9:1-4)

Is there anything that they can do to avoid this fate?

There were several ways For the Isralities to avoid this fate, God’s Judgement:

(1) repent: If  the ruling class would repent their injustice and restore the moral corruption, the country could have faced different consequences.  Aforementioned, I wish they  always followed God’s Word, ” Seek Good, not Evil,”

(2) the spiritual leaders: The readers had to properly lead the people of Israel to worship God. Like Amos, if they would  rebuke  their sins and suggest the solutions, the Israelities would have followed what they heard such as sincere repent and turning around their vicious behaviors. Thereby, God would change his mind and save the people of Israel.  “Seek the Lord and May Live.”

My thought

If the rebuke and criticism of God had finally been understood to be God’s love for Israel, such a bad ending would not have come out. Also let’s compare it to the times of today! Like the spiritual leaders at the time, do we  just offer worship formally? What is our top priority instead of worshiping God? There might be no thorough reflection on our sin? Can we, Christians, boldly proclaim the word in God’s perspective, looking at the absurdity and inequality of society? Or will we be able to repent instantly when a Church leader see the seriousness of our sin and asks us to repent?  I can say I know correct answer, but can I live like that?

The Hidden Meaning of Apocalyptic Literature for Believers: Apocalypses (Daniel 7, 10:1-14, 11:1- 12:13)

         Human being struggles to gain comfort and hope when facing in a great disaster, crisis or trouble in their life. Just as the name of Daniel indicates that “God’s Judgement,” the latter half of Daniel (7-12) shows events of the future by using apocalyptic literary techniques.  I would like to explore the elements of apocalyptic literature based on Dr. Lester’s lectures and other readings and then, what it meant to Believers.  First, according to Brandstra’s online textbook, reading the Old Testament, (Chapter 16, p. 442) the term “Apocalyptic” means “to reveal, disclose, and uncover.” In other words, it is related to revelation, which is described by way of the word, dream or vision. For instance, here are good examples in Daniel 7:1-2, 10:1 “Daniel had a dream and visions of his head.”   This was seen by Daniel, using the pronoun, “I” (Daniel 1:2, 7:2, 10:2). Also the element of authorship should be looked into. According to Bandstra, “this phenomenon of ascribed authorship is technically called pseudonymity or pseudonymous authorship”( Bandstram Chapter 16, p.443) as an old practice at the time, it might provide much more  automatic authority to the book itself. Actually any specific evidences that Daniel wrote it by himself cannot be discovered throughout the Book of Daniel. Also Dr. Lester explains that we can presume that Daniel would have written during the Hellenistic period of Antiochus IV rule but most before his death.

Next, Daniel’s own way of interpreting is to understand directly (10:1), to ask one of the attendant (angel, 7:15), through his fast, pray and sees the angel.(10:2-9) These are one of  elements of apocalyptic literature, “a revelation of future events initiated by God and delivered through a mediator, an angel to a holy person. (Brandstra, p.442).   Brandstra also mentioned the apocalyptic eschatology , which regard God as  the one “ who sovereignly and overpoweringly breaks into history in cataclysmic ways to realize his goal.” Stanley also gave an explanation that “The word eschatological comes from the meaning, the study of last things.”(Stanley, p.483). The good illustration can be appeared 7:14, “His kingdom or kingship . . . everlasting dominion, . . .  never be destroyed.”

The third, the apocalyptic literature contains lots of symbolic language and imagery. The reason why this symbolism would be used to show that the apocalyptic content  are enable to changes the view of through familiar ways according to Dr. Lester’s lecture. That is, the four great beasts, which are later interpreted four gentile Emperors (nations) that dominated over Israelites, after Babylonia exile to Antiochus IV. (7:2-8, 9-10). Also in Daniel 7;13, “I saw one like human being.” , which could be interpreted an angel ( Michael), or Messiah ( fits well in the post-Babylonian Exile), or Jesus himself in the NT based on Bandstra’s opinion. It represented holy ones of the most high(7: 23-27)

The fourth, dualism is a significant element of apocalyptic literature according to Bandstra’s chapter 16: “as a binary or bipolar way of looking t matters that does not allow for ambiguoity.” (1). There is an example of cosmic dualism, which means  would can be divided heaven and earth with supernatural forces including good and evil.  There are two illustrations: first, 7:3-12, evil forces, beasts // a good Ancient one, Second, Michael who is fighting against a prince of Persia and a prince of Greece in Daniel 10. (2)Temporal dualism means the split between space and time into the new and time to come: “time arrived” (7;25 and chapter 10), “two time  or “the end of time” or “end of the day”(chapter 12.) (3) Ethical division: the good one who are afraid of God and suffered their troubles and persecution against those who evil ones who give the troubles and adversary. “beasts and princes” describe a evil ones in chapter 7, 11 and 12. “holy ones” or “people who are royal to their God.” indicates good one in Daneil11:33/35. “Those who are wise and lead others to righteousness and understanding.” (12:3-5)

Through the Daniel’s lecture, reading the book, and other materials, I have learned the apocalyptic literature gives hope and comfort when believers are going through adversaries and crisis. While realizing the despair of the present situation, we tend to only feel helplessness and alienation. However, look at the hope for God’s infinite power and the purpose of his creation!  In addition, God intervenes directly or through mediators in human history and rescues us from suffering. This truth leads us to not only discover God’s faithfulness, but also encourage us our faith, and ultimately obtain final victory in God’s Kingdom.