Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8

OT: Hosea 10:1-14:9

Today's reading reminded me of one of my recent Advent readings. It was by a Jesuit priest named Alfred Delp, and it was written in a Nazi prison, shortly before Delp was hanged as a traitor for his opposition to Hitler in 1945:

"There is perhaps nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up. Where life is firm we need to sense its firmness; and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, no foundation, we need to know this too and endure it.

"We may ask why God has sent us into this time, why he has sent this whirlwind over the earth, why he keeps us in this chaos where all appears hopeless and dark and why there seems to be no end to this in sight. The answer to this question is perhaps that we were living on earth in an utterly false and counterfeit security. And now God strikes the earth till it resounds, now he shakes and shatters; not to pound us with fear, but to teach us one thing--the spirit's innermost moving and being moved."

I don't honestly know what that last phrase means, which is sad, b/c it's clearly significant. But I thought that his attitude toward the horrible disasters that had befallen the world during that time was interesting, in light of the pictures of death and destruction that Hosea is predicting today. Hosea portrays truly gruesome occurrences, such as "little ones" being "dashed to the ground" and "pregnant women ripped open" (13:16). And those kind of things happened in WWII; I have specifically read about both of those occurrences. And I guess it was just interesting to hear a modern person who was actually in the midst of that type of horror take a similar view taken by the prophets. Somehow, Delp--who was already condemned to die--was able to see how God's will could even encompass such horror. And however you define God's will, the fact is that He let the Nazi regime happen. And Delp doesn't shrink from that. Like I said, that is fascinating to me, and today, it made the foreign attitude of Hosea somehow more accessible.

NT: Jude 1:1-25

The whole time I was reading Jude, I was thinking, "Wow, this sounds exactly like...something else. Um, the Johns? No, not them. What was before? Peter? Maybe 2 Peter." So I looked it up in Writings of the NT. And sure enough, it was 2 Peter. And the relationship between 2 Peter and Jude is fascinating, just amazingly intriguing. I do not have time to do it justice, but clearly, there is some dependence there. Many people think, for example, that Jude is the source for 2 Peter. Or maybe it was a quick letter, a stopgap, addressing the crisis, and then 2 Peter was the longer letter written when there was more time. Maybe the "first letter" referred to in 2 Peter 3:1 was not 1 Peter, but...wait for it...Jude! Oh, the intrigue! In my book, Johnson explores all of these positions and more, and gives various pros and cons to each of them, but doesn't give a definite conclusion. He leaves it open.

I wish I could just type out everything Johnson wrote b/c there is so much more than that. He talks about how disliked and even despised 2 Peter and Jude are, makes some fascinating observations about dating, describes some interesting conclusions drawn from their content...seriously, I was riveted. But I had to tear myself away, b/c I'm in a time crunch. All I can say is that I can't wait to study this more in next year's study of the epistles!

But Jude itself. Yeah, it was just like 2 Peter 2. It wasn't incredibly pleasant to read, being a polemic and containing some seriously hard-to-understand references (the whole slandering angels thing went straight over my head).

My favorite verses of the book were 22-24: "Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh." I like how the author acknowledges that different situations call for different responses, but they all should contain some combination of mercy and concern for people's eternal soul. And yet at the same time, showing mercy should not lead us to compromise our morality. I think that's what is meant by "mercy mixed with fear," and the idea of "hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."

Anyway, that's what I took away from the actual reading of Jude. But I also got a ton of good info about the book that I look forward to exploring later.

Psalm 127: 1-5

A rather famous psalm about our total dependence on God. I cannot rely on my own competence and work ethic to save me: "Unless the Lord builds the house/ its builders labor in vain" (1).

Prov. 29: 15-17

Two on the value of disciplining your children, and one contrasting the wicked and the righteous.

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