Friday, August 23, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 235

The scriptures read are Isaiah 52-54, Psalm 42 and Titus 2.

Isaiah 52-53. Good news! God is leading his people back to the promised land, out of exile.

At the end of chapter 52 and all throughout 53, we read the most famous of the servant songs, the one about the suffering servant. According to the Jewish Study Bible's notes, rabbis interpret this servant to be either the nation of Israel, or a pious minority within Israel, or Jeremiah. Some targum (paraphrases of scripture) and midrashim (rabbinic stories used to explain scripture) say the servant is the Messiah. It is impossible, however, for a Christian to read these without getting a chill since this seems to evoke so strongly Jesus' suffering and death. Imagine the reaction of the apostles and eyewitnesses of the crucifixion to this passage. Small wonder this passage is read in churches on Good Friday every year.

Isaiah 54. Images of fertility and God returning to claim Israel as his wife. God will never be angry with his people again.

Psalm 42. Another split decision. This is a heartfelt song based on just one section of the psalm. There are several videos of this version. Or for a much fuller treatment (if you have 25 minutes) here is Mendelssohn's gorgeous classical version of Psalm 42.

Titus 2. Paul gives Titus advice on how to treat people of all ages, genders and stations in life. The best way is to model good behavior. And don't let anyone diminish your authority.

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