What's ahead in the Bible readings for this week
October 11 to 19, 2018
The Twentieth Week After Pentecost
The Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time*
Bible Review: The Message
The most important thing you need to know about The Message is that it is in contemporary American English. You won't find any stilted language in this translation! The Message translation is by Eugene Peterson, a pastor, Bible scholar, and translator. Peterson's aim is to get the Bible into our heads and hearts, and get the message lived. (That is exactly what we are trying to do by providing you with these Bible lessons every day.) The transaltion grew out of his work as a pastor, from conversations in living rooms and hospital rooms and coffee shops. He has solid grounding for making this translation from his years as a teacher of Hebrew and Greek in a seminary.
In his introduction he says
I lived in two language worlds, the world of the Bible and the world of Today.…So out of necessity I became a “translator” (although I wouldn't have called it that then), daily standing on the border between two worlds, getting the language of the Bible that God uses to create and save us, heal and bless us, judge and rule over us, into the language of Today that we use to gossip and tell stories, give directions and do business, sing songs and talk to our children.
And all the time those old biblical languages, kept working their way underground in my speech, giving energy and sharpness to words and phrases, expanding the imaginations of the people with whom I was working to hear the language of the Bible in the language of Today and the language of Today in the language of the Bible.
This week's Wednesday Gospel (Luke 16:19-31) is from The Message. Here it is:
“There once was a rich man, expensively dressed in the latest fashions, wasting his days in conspicuous consumption. A poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, had been dumped on his doorstep. All he lived for was to get a meal from the scraps off the rich man's table. His friends were the dogs who came and licked his sores.
“Then he died, this poor man, and was taken by the angels to the lap of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell and in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance with Lazarus in his lap. He called out, “Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I'm in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things and Lazarus got the bad things. It's not like that here. Here he's consoled and you're tormented. Besides, in all these matters there is a huge chasm set between us so that no one can go from us to you even if he wanted to, nor can anyone cross over from you to us.’
“The rich man said, ‘Then let me ask you, Father: Send him to the house of my father where I have five brothers, so that he can tell them the score and warn them so that won't end up here in this place to torment.’
“Abraham answered, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them.’
“‘I know, Father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but they're not listening. If someone came back to them from the dead, they would change their ways.’
“Abraham replied, ‘If they won't listen to Moses and the Prophets, they're not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead.’”(The Message)
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(The prices above are as of Saturday, October 6, 2018).
This week's illustration
Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, while the rich man is in torment. It's a reminder to me (and I hope to you) that our actions in this life have consequences, sooner or later.
The pivotal reading for this week is Sunday's Gospel, the parable of the rich young man. This man has observed the Torah. Jesus challenges him to sell all he has and give it to the poor and become Jesus' follower. He goes away sad because he has many possessions. The Wednesday Gospel (see above) is the parable of Lazarus, the rich man who ignores Lazarus, a beggar at his doorstep, with dire consequences. There are a couple of things to notice in this parable. Lazarus is the only character in any of Jesus' parables given a name. His name in Hebrew means "helped by God." And the rich man remains anonymous. In ancient times, as now, wealth is sometimes considered a sign of God's favor. The Sunday reading is a reminder that our wealth isn't really ours, and the Wednesday reading is a reminder that wealth is not always a sign of God's favor.
Our Epistle readings during the time of preparation are from the letter to the Hebrews. It is sometimes attributed to Paul, but most scholars doubt that Paul is the author. Nevertheless, it has much that is powerful for us to understand. I particularly like these lines from the Sunday reading:
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Complementary Series Hebrew Scripture
Our Sunday reading from the Hebrew Scriptures is from Amos. It condemns those who “trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain.” Again we are called to consider how our wealth is gained. Today is close to the annivesray of the death of John Woolman, an American Quaker, who would not eat anything made with sugar or molasses, since these were the products of slave labor in the West Indies. He was determined not just to avoid any direct oppression of others, but to root out any indirect enjoyment of exploited labor. This week we are reading the entire book of Obadiah. It is the shortest book in the Hebrew Scriptures. In my study Bible it takes up two pages. The background is that the Edomites returned escaping Israelites to the Babylonians, who had conquered Israel. Edom was settled by Esau, Jacob's brother, so the Edomites were betraying their blood relatives. As the New Interpreter's Study Bible says, “The Book of Obadiah is a vividly harsh reminder of the intense hatred that can develop between closely related individual or groups. It is also a reminder that we reap what we sow.”
Both Amos and Obidiah are called minor prophets. It is important to remember that these minor prophets are ones that left shorter books behind. They are not minor in the sense that their message is unimportant, only in the sense that their written legacy is smaller. Sometimes the minor prophets are called “The Twelve” because all twelve of them were written on a single scroll in ancient times.
In the Friday reading, the people remember their fear when being present when God's self was revealed on Mount Sinai. I am sure I would have been trembling in fear and awe.
Semi-continuous Hebrew Scriptures
We continue to read in Job this week. Here are brief sketches of Job's three friends and of Elihu, who appears late in the story (this week on Wednesday).
Eliphaz: He is the oldest of the three friends. He is often described as having great dignity and urbanity. As Job continues to complain about God (despite his friends' insistence that only evil people have bad things happen to them), Eliphaz angrily answers Job, attributing to Job a number of uncharitable acts that Job did not do.
Bildad: He insisted that if only Job would admit his faults, God would forgive him. He is often dogmatic and mean-spirited.
Zophar: He tells Job that God extracts from Job less than he deserves. Like Bildad, he is often dogmatic and mean-spirited.
Elihu: Elihu suggests that Job say to God, “teach me what I do not see, and I will do it no more.” Some scholars think that the Elihu chapters were inserted by a later editor, as he is not mentioned other than in the six chapters in which he speaks.
The New Interpreter's Bible, Volume IV, suggests that Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu function as a collective character, and the thing to consider is the contrast between them and Job, rather than differences among them.
I hope these readings bring a blessing into your life. Thank you for all that you do to help God's children.
Links and summaries for the week ahead
Thursday to Sunday Psalms.
Complementary Psalm 90:12-17 Teach us to number our days.
Semi-continuous Psalm 22:1-15 Why have you forsaken me?
Thursday: Preparation for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 5:1-21 The Ten Commandments.
Semi-continuous Job 17 Job prays for relief. .
Both Hebrews 3:7-19 Warning against unbelief, as at Meribah
Friday: Preparation for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 5:22-33 Moses is mediator of God's will. .
Semi-continuous Job 18 Bildad tells Job God punishes the wicked. .
Both Hebrews 4:1-11 A Sabbath-rest for the people of God
Saturday: Preparation for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Amos 3:13-4:5 Israel's guilt and punishment.
Semi-continuous Job 20 Zophar tells Job wickedness receives retribution. .
Both Matthew 15:1-9 Jesus berates the Pharisees.
The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Amos 5:6-7, 10-15 Lament for Israel's sins and a call to seek God.
Semi-continuous Job 23:1-9, 16-17 The Almighty is hidden from Job. .
Both Hebrews 4:12-16 The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. .
Both Mark 10:17-31 How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
Monday to Wednesday Psalms.
Complementary Psalm 26 Prayer for justice.
Semi-continuous Psalm 39 Prayer for wisdom and forgiveness
Monday: Reflection on the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Obadiah 1-9 Edom will be brought low, their cruelty repaid by pillage and slaughter. .
Semi-continuous Job 26 Job replies God's majesty is beyond our understanding. .
Both Revelation 7:9-17 The nations stand before God's throne.
Tuesday: Reflection on the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Obadiah 10-16 Edom mistreated his brother. .
Semi-continuous Job 28:12-29:10 Where is wisdom found? .
Both Revelation 8:1-5 The Lamb opens the seventh seal.
Wednesday: Reflection on the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Obadiah 17-21 Israel's final triumph.
Semi-continuous Job 32:1-22 Elihu rebukes Job's friends.
Both Luke 16:19-31 The parable of Lazarus and the rich man
The links to the readings become active at 3:05 a.m. eastern time.
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*Denominations have different ways of designating the weeks during the year, so your church may refer to this week by a different name or number or both. Regardless of the name or number, the readings are the same. Here is an explanation: Calendar Explanation
Selections from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © 1995 by the Consultation on Common Texts.
Unless otherwise indicated, Bible text is from Holy Bible New Revised Standard Version with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books (NRSV) copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All right reserved.
Passages ending with (The Message) are from The Message Ministry Edition: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright ©1993, 1994, 1995,, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Note: The links in the titles above take you to Amazon, where you can purchase them and benefit The Lectionary Company.
Image credit: The Rich Man in Hell and the Poor Lazarus in Abraham's Lap from Das Plenarium via picryl.com. This is a public domain image.