Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary From the Book of Common Prayer
Psalm 148, 149, 150, 114, 115
Job 11:1-9, 13-20
Where is the hope in even challenging scripture?
Scriptures focusing on the end times normally make us shy away from in depth investigation because it is all so mysterious. From the occasional passage in the Old Testament to the entire book of Revelation, we find a great challenge in eschatological Biblical literature. As confusing as it may be, these scriptures offer us the great promise.
The Psalms today approach an eschatological tone in considering the tone of worship centering on God on his throne. The throng of people praising God with the angels with instruments and song. At the time these Psalms were composed, Jews did not believe in an afterlife (115:17), so it was a job in life to join the heavenly host in worshiping the God who had done so much for them.
The speech from Zophar focuses on the doctrinal theme of reward and punishment. Wisdom held that those who suffered did so because of some wrong they had done. Throughout much of the Old Testament, much of the scripture shared examples of that reward/punishment based on the behaviors of the people in the story. Zophar demands that Job refrain from his righteous speech because there is no way he can be righteous compared to God which comes from the traditional interpretation of the law at that time founded in the wisdom tradition.
In Revelation we see the manifestation of the Christ presented as both a lion and a lamb. The passage uses names, numerology, situation, and history to exult the risen Christ and his role in the eternity of the church. The numbers represent completeness and the names reflect title for the Messiah from the Old Testament. The persons present (24 elders) represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. As cryptic as the text may seem, it begins the revelation of the beginning of the new kingdom of God.
In the beatitudes beginning the “Sermon on the Mount” we find a guide for living through the tough times. They provide hope for the faithful in eternity. While often overlooked, they are eschatological in that the rewards promised in verse 12 will come when those who endured the hardships named (and foretold) in the passage come upon the person reaching heaven. We return to these verses very often for the hope they inspire for those who live a good life of those qualities.
The challenge in eschatological literature come from language filled with symbolism for an audience far different than we are today. Whether we fully understand any of the interpretations that come from reading of those scriptures, we can take hope from the promises made across scripture for those who achieve salvation.
Let us cling to the promise of Heaven.