Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 202

The scriptures read are Proverbs 20-22, Psalm 16 and Ephesians 6.

Proverbs 20. "Switching price tags and padding the expense account are two things God hates."

Proverbs 21. "We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives."
"Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance."
"You're addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied."
"Do your best, prepare for the worst--then trust God to bring victory."

Proverbs 22. "The rich and the poor shake hands as equals--God made them both!"
"Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to the poor."

Psalm 16. It's very hard to find a sung video of this entire psalm. This fellow seems to be recording his version of every psalm. This is a very simple and haunting setting, followed by a message from the singer. Hear his version here. On the other hand there is a rocking version of just a few of the verses here.

Ephesians 6. Paul continues to ring changes on the standard household rules. Kids, obey your parents. That's not surprising. But telling fathers not to provoke anger in their kids when correcting them puts him in the minority of moralists for his time. So too does Paul's command that masters not threaten their slaves. And saying that that masters and slaves are equal in God's eyes and implying that God will judge masters who mistreat their slaves is again radical. We judge Paul by modern standards and wonder why Paul doesn't advocate slave revolt (there were an estimated 5 to 8 million slaves in the Roman Empire, perhaps a quarter of the population) which would have been bloody on both sides. (See what the Romans did to Spartacus and his largely slave army; 6000 survivors of his troops in the Third Servile War were crucified.)  But Paul does tell slaves to get their freedom when possible (1 Corinthians 7:21, remember?) and we will see more of his real feelings when we read his letter to Philemon.

Paul uses the analogy of the armor of God, perhaps inspired by the Roman soldier he would have been chained to while in prison. Notice that it is all protective. The only offensive weapon is God's Word, the sword of the Spirit. No physical violence is justified by this extended metaphor.

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