Saturday, 13 April 2013

Israel the Adultress - and Poor People

This is a follow-up to our last post: Lust and Alms. This post just walks through a few biblical passages related to the issues raised in that post, to encourage further reflection. Nathanael and I will be talking more about these themes in future posts as we continue to ponder them ourselves. May these serve to frame the further discussion.

Jeremiah 3

19 The Lord says,

20 But like an unfaithful wife,
    you have not been faithful to me.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”

Hosea 2

“Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’

“Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
    for she is not my wife,
    and I am not her husband.

Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
    and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.

Amos 5

Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
“Fallen is Virgin Israel,
    never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
    with no one to lift her up.

There are those who turn justice into bitterness
    and cast righteousness to the ground.
10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
    and detest the one who tells the truth.
11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
    and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
    you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
    you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
    and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
    and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
    for the times are evil.


Throughout the Old Testament prophetic literature, the 'unfaithful bride' motif is tied to justice, righteousness, and treatment of the poor, etc. 

Hosea predicts a future restoration where a renewed marriage will occur between the Lord and His people, and they will love righteousness and justice: 

Hosea 6

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
    but he will heal us;
he has injured us
    but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will restore us, 
    that we may live in his presence.

Hosea 2

19 I will betroth you to me forever;
    I will betroth you in[e] righteousness and justice,
    in[f] love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in[g] faithfulness,
    and you will acknowledge the Lord.

Isaiah 61

 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.

Matthew 25:1

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom"

Revelation 19

    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.

Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.”

Ephesians 5:28

28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wivesas their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body. . . 

Mark 20

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Luke 4:18

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them,“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

'Good news to the poor' coincides with the coming of 'the year of the Lord's favor' which I and many scholars believe to be the prophesied day of restoration intimated in the prophets, a fulfillment that was partially fulfilled in the restoration of Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah but was still only a shadow or anticipation of the death and resurrection of Christ. 

Matthew 25

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


To love our Lord is to give of ourselves to those in need. In this way, we love the body of our Beloved Saviour, and should do with a love that is fully selfless and not concerned with our own needs. 

He has redeemed us and made us his bride, and we are His. We are one. He is in us and we are in Him. To love the least of these is to live out this marriage to our Saviour. 


"Don’t exchange your love toward your neighbor for some type of object, because in having love toward your neighbor, you acquire within yourself Him, Who is most precious in the whole world. Forsake the petty so as to acquire the great; spurn the excessive and everything meaningless so as to acquire the valuable.
He who shows kindness toward the poor has God as his guardian, and he who becomes poor for the sake of God will acquire abundant treasures. God is pleased when He sees people showing concern for others for His sake. When someone asks you for something, don’t think: "Just in case I might need it, I shall leave it for myself, and God — through other people — will give that person what he requires." These types of thoughts are peculiar to people that are iniquitous and do not know God. . . . But you, having sent away the destitute with nothing, spurned the honor offered to you by God and thereby, distanced yourself from His grace."   -St. Isaac the Syrian

(St. Isaac the Syrian)

No comments:

Post a Comment