Archive for the ‘Revelation 3’ Tag

Devotion for the First Sunday of Advent (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:  The Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

Image in the Public Domain

Acknowledging One’s Complete Dependence on God

DECEMBER 1, 2019

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Daniel 2:24, 31-49

Psalm 38:15-22

Revelation 3:14-22

Mark 11:12-14, 20-25

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For in you, O LORD, have I fixed my hope;

you will answer me, O Lord my God.

For I said, “Do not let them rejoice at my expense,

those who gloat over me when my foot slips.

Truly, I am on the verge of falling,

and my pain is always with me.

I will confess my iniquity

and be sorry for my sin.

Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty,

and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.

Those who repay evil for good slander me,

because I follow the course that is right.

O LORD, do not forsake me;

be not far from me, O my God.

Make haste to help me,

O Lord of my salvation.

–Psalm 38:15-22, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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At first glance the readings David Ackerman has appointed for the First Sunday of Advent do not fit well together.  However, upon further reflection, one might realize that they do.  The message is that we–individuals, institutions, societies–ought to rely on God, not on our own devices.

In David 2 we have an interpretation of a dream.  There are four successive empires–traditionally Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Macedonian–of declining value.  The fifth in the sequence is the divided empire of the late Alexander the Great.  At the end of that sequence, according to Daniel 2, God’s reign on earth will commence.

O, if only it had!

The Roman Empire is the power in Mark 11.  Jesus curses a fig tree for producing no figs.  The text notes that this happened outside of fig season.  The story, however, is symbolic.  It follows directly from the Triumphal Entry of Jesus and wraps around the cleansing of the Temple.  The fig tree relates to the Temple.  Just as the fig tree is producing just leaves and not small green figs (as it ought to do), the Temple is barren of anything of spiritual worth.  The fig tree is also a recurring Biblical symbol of Israel itself, as in Jeremiah 8:13, Hosea 9:10, Joel 1:7, and Micah 7:1.  One can therefore reasonably read the cursing of the fig tree as a scathing critique of the religious life of Israel.

When we turn to the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3 we find another scathing critique.  The congregation relies on its wealth, not on God, who literally vomits (although many translations render the verb “spits”) that church out.  The church has succumbed to the temptation to convert material wealth into an idol.

The text from Psalm 38 explains itself.

In Beyond the Lectionary (2013) Ackerman emphasizes

the importance of awakening the insights that God provides

(page 8).

Those insights tell us both individually and collectively not to trust in military forces, in governments, in wealth, or in imagined righteousness when we ought to acknowledge our complete dependence on God.  To do anything other than to rely completely on God is to commit idolatry.  That is a difficult and strong statement, I know.  I also acknowledge that I have long been guilty of this idolatry and continue to be so.  I confess this sin here, in this post, readily.  Fortunately, grace abounds, so all of us have hope.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, PROTOMARTYR OF OCEANIA

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/acknowledging-ones-complete-dependence-on-god/

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Devotion for December 16 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  The Vision of John of Patmos

True Nobility

DECEMBER 16, 2019

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 32:1-20

Psalm 24 (Morning)

Psalms 25 and 110 (Evening)

Revelation 4:1-11

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As for the knave, his tools are knavish.

He forges plots

To destroy the poor with falsehoods

And the needy when they plead their cause.

But the noble has noble intentions

And is constant in noble acts.

–Isaiah 32:7-8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?

and who can stand in his holy place?

“Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,

who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,

nor sworn by what is a fraud.

They shall receive a blessing from the LORD

and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”

–Psalm 24:3-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Round the throne in a circle were twenty-four thrones, and on them twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white robes with golden crowns on their heads.

–Revelation 4:4, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Nobility, according to the standards of many traditional societies, is a matter of heredity or marriage.  One is a Lord, an Earl, a Duke, a Prince, a Lady, a Duchess, a Princess, a King, or a Queen because of who one’s parents are or one’s spouse is.  In this definition of nobility society is structured–ordered, really–with well-defined social barriers and with deference.  It is not, however, the standard in Isaiah 32.

Here I find the link between Isaiah 32 and Revelation 4.  There is far more going on in both texts, of course.  Revelation 4 is where the symbolism in that book begins to get hip-deep.  And Isaiah 32 also condemns those who exploit their fellow human beings.  That verdict appears earlier in Isaiah  and repeats throughout the rest of the Bible.  There are many rabbits I could chase, but the true standard of nobility is where I choose to dwell.

The aristocrats of God’s perfected Earth will be those who have noble intentions and who are constant in noble acts, Isaiah 32:8 tells us.  And the vision of John of Patmos echoes down the corridors of time to this day.  The count of twenty-four elders could mean several things; it might even mean more than one of them simultaneously.  The number might refer to twenty-four courses of priests, or to twelve Apostles plus twelve patriarchs, or simply to twelve doubled.  The latter option might indicate the combined company of faithful Jews and Gentiles.  But the elders represent faithful people, and they will be victorious in heaven.  The white robes of the elders remind one of the unstained robes of the faithful, as in Revelation 3:4; those who wear white robes are fit for the presence of God and Jesus in heaven.

As we read in 1 Samuel 16:7,

For not as man sees [does the LORD see];  man sees only what is visible, but the LORD sees into the heart.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

We are all imperfect, of course; God knows this.  What does God see (through grace-colored glasses) when looking at my heart  or at your heart?  May God see nobility.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE, BIBLE TRANSLATOR

NEW YEAR’S EVE

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/true-nobility/

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Devotion for December 15 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  Ruins at Laodicea

Image Source = Roymail

The Limits of Our Knowledge of God

DECEMBER 15, 2019

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 30:27-31:9

Psalm 90 (Morning)

Psalms 80 and 72 (Evening)

Revelation 3:1-22

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The church–or a congregation–as John of Patmos reminds us, needs to be alive in Christ, to endure suffering faithfully when it comes, and to embrace Christ and his promises firmly.  There will be reward for righteousness in the end and condemnation for its absence.  Likewise, in Revelation 30-31, there will be deliverance for Judah and destruction for Assyria.  Both will come from God.

But He too is wise!

He has brought on misfortune,

And has not canceled his word.

So He shall rise against the house of evildoers,

And the allies of the workers of iniquity.

–Isaiah 31:2, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

We monotheists lack the luxury which dualists and polytheists have; we cannot blame one deity for misfortune and credit another with causing blessings.  No, both flow from the God of Judaism and Christianity.  This can cause theological discomfort for some people (including me) some of the time, but this is a reality with which we need to wrestle.  Perhaps our discomfort arises from inaccurate (to some degree, if not entirely) God concepts.  I suspect, in fact, that all of us carry somewhat (at least) inaccurate God concepts in our heads.  So our discomfort is entirely predictable.

May we seek God all our days and seek to understand the only deity as best we can.  Admitting the limits of our knowledge while holding firmly to our eternal hope, may we receive more commendation than criticism from our Lord and Savior.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE, BIBLE TRANSLATOR

NEW YEAR’S EVE

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/the-limits-of-our-knowledge-of-god/

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