bible blog 620

This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news

PUTIN SAYS DEMOCRACY PROTEST LACKS A DICTATOR

Isaiah 44:1-8

44But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
2 Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you in the womb and will help you:
Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring.
4 They shall spring up like a green tamarisk,

like a green tamarisk

like willows by flowing streams.
5 This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’,
another will be called by the name of Jacob,
yet another will write on the hand, ‘The Lord’s’,
and adopt the name of Israel.
6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
7 Who is like me? Let them proclaim it,
let them declare and set it forth before me.
Who has announced from of old the things to come?
Let them tell us what is yet to be.
8 Do not fear, or be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
You are my witnesses!
Is there any god besides me?
There is no other rock; I know not one.

1 John 5:1-12

5Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. 7There are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. 9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

blood sacrifice: Christian image of divine life

For the prophet we know as Second Isaiah, one proof of God’s faithfulness is the Spirit he will pour out on his people, which will make them fruitful. The Spirit was once seen as the inspiration of the prophets, but for Isaiah it not only points to the future but blesses life in the present in order to create the future. This does not lessen the importance of prophecy: the knowledge that past prophecy has been accurate gives confidence that God is real and that his prophets are not crooks. Ultimately this prophet believes that fruitful life includes bearing the suffering that is unleashed by the evil actions of others, so that these others may see and turn to God. To speak for this God in the first person is an act of great imaginative daring which means that the reader is addressed by God and promised God’s companionship and affection. It is an inspiring experience to listen to this voice now; how much more so for the Jews in Babylon awaiting release from captivity. The word of God is self-authenticating. Read Isaiah 40-46 with a some minimal notes (Oxford or Cambridge Study Bibles are the best) and enter into the mystery of God and his people.

For the writer of the first letter of John also the truth of God is authenticated by experience. Love of God leads to keeping God’s commandments which is possible because the lover of God is born anew with God’s own life. Faith leads a person into this new birth which gives the capacity to conquer all merely worldly powers. John however appears to talk about “supporting evidence” (witnesses). These turn out to be: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. The believer is granted a share in the divine Spirit, which flows from Baptism (the sign of water) and Eucharist (the sign of blood). Jesus himself, the writer tells us, came not just by water (initiation into divine life), but also by blood (sharing the suffering of God). The writer’s conclusion, that those who have the Son of God have life, and those who don’t, don’t; should be rescued from any sectarian intention, by an inclusive interpretation: those who have eternal life are those who can recognise Jesus as God’s Son and themselves as His children.

Both of today’s texts encourage us to explore the mystery of the Word-made -flesh which is appropriate on the feast day of John the Apostle, identified as the author of the Gospel which bears his name.

 

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