bible blog 718

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

Outcast from the American dream in Orlando, evicted for failing to pay

american nightmare

Exodus 18:13-27

13 The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening.14When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?’15Moses said to his father-in-law, ‘Because the people come to me to inquire of God.16When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God.’17Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good.18You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.19Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases before God;20teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do.21You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.22Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.23If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will go to their home in peace.’

24 So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said.25Moses chose able men from all Israel and appointed them as heads over the people, as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.26And they judged the people at all times; hard cases they brought to Moses, but any minor case they decided themselves.27Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went off to his own country.

Toyohiko Kagawa

Moses is shown attempting single-handedly to establish justice amongst the people. He imagines that justice can come by referring all disputes to God and delivering his judgment. In fact God’s wisdom speaks through the foreigner, Jethro, who tells him that justice must engage the will of the people a) who must follow wise statutes and b)  accept the judgments of group arbiters appointed by Moses. Justice cannot simply descend from above; it must be accepted, learned and practised. God is the source of justice, that is, the people’s belief in the character of God moulds their creation of social norms and laws. Faith in God as the unique and transcendent guarrantor of justice is fundamental to Judaism; and has often been lost by Christianity. Toyohiko Kagawa (1888-1960), a Japanese Presbyterian, whom the Church remembers today, spent his life witnessing to the need for God’s justice in Japan, but also organised trades unions, credit unions and other forms of mutual self-help amongst the poorest in his society.  As Japan became militaristic he formed the Anti-War League. He knew that divine justice had to become incarnate amongst the people. People who imagine that there can be justice without the institutions which protect the poorest and weakest from injustice, have not learned the lesson Jethro taught Moses.

Matthew 1:1-17

The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

1An account of the genealogy* of Jesus the Messiah,* the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram,4and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,5and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,6and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,7and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,*8and Asaph* the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,9and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,10and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,* and Amos* the father of Josiah,11and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel,13and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor,14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud,15and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.*

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah,* fourteen generations.

The one whose story is told from the start of each of the four Gospels is not the unknown Galilean preacher but the Lord Jesus Messiah, crucified and risen. He is the one in whom the members of the church have placed their faith. Now as the Gospel is read to them, they hear of the origins of the exalted Lord. Matthew tells them, and us, that the origins of the Messiah are in the history of Israel, which is marked by the promises of God and the trust of the people. Those mentioned are good and bad rulers, prophets, patrtiarchs, nomads, farmers, priests, slaves, prostitutes and emigrants. It’s a specific history but includes all sorts and conditions of humanity. Who could feel excluded from the family of Jesus Messiah? Indeed the hint that the Messiah may overturn some of the accepted hierarchies of society is given when Joseph, the Messiah’s father, is called the husband of Mary, the consort to the important parent! God’s son, this passage tells, comes from amongst us, flesh of our flesh, DNA of our DNA; and yet, in God’s goodness, is a new beginning for all families and all races.

 

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