Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Flies, Bees and Razors

Daily Readings
Psalm 6 Genesis 7 Isaiah 7 Acts 6

Daily Text: Isaiah 7

Flies, Bees and Razors
Ahaz, son of Jotham, young king of Judah, has refused to become part of a regional military coalition to oppose Tiglath-pileser III and his nation Assyria. Backed by Syria, the kings of Israel and Aram mount an attack on Jerusalem. Perhaps Ahaz’ non-participation jeopardized the coalition in some way. Ahaz, so far, has held out against them, but is very fearful, as is the entire city. Isaiah encourages him to stay neutral. Isaiah’s son, Shear-jashub, has been named to reflect Isaiah’s encouraging prophecy. Stay out of the intrigue between these groups and only a remnant of your enemies will survive.
A second prophecy at a later date addresses this same issue. Ahaz is now considering contacting Assyria directly for protection. This prophecy might be called the Immanuel prophecy, for a second child, most likely the prophet’s own, is named to encourage Ahaz to stay neutral with the assurance that God is with him. This prophecy is controversial because it has also been picked up by Christians as preparing the way for the Messiah. But the context is clear, only the identification of the mother is unclear. However, ‘Immanuel’ falls between Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal –Hashbaz, and all three children’s names are used in the same fashion. Note, that in each of these cases it is the name that is critical, not the birth or the child himself.
Finally, there are four threats, each prefaced by the words “On that day.” In the first, concerning flies from Egypt and bees from Assyria, Ahaz is warned to stay neutral. The nuisance of being covered by a buzzing, stinging confusion from these nations will outweigh the stress of standing firm. The second threat, is that unless he stays neutral, the LORD will use Assyria to ‘shave the head, beard and genitals’ of Ahaz—that is, he will have nothing left. (Note that ‘feet’ in the Hebrew is often a softening of the word ‘genitals’.) The third threat brings ruin to good agricultural land leaving it fit only for cattle, and foraging for curds and honey for food. Finally, the fourth threat is explicit that producing vineyards will become briar patches good only for foraging cattle and hunting. The issue for Ahaz is to both listen and to act. Ahaz does not want to listen because he knows his own reluctance to act. Isaiah, however, is committed to the Davidic dynasty in Judah, and he is loath to give up on this man.

Simple Trust
R. F. Mayer

I do not know why sin abounds
Within this world so fair,
Why numerous discordant sounds
Destroy the heavenly air—
I can’t explain this thing, I must
Rely on God in simple trust.

I do not know why pain and loss
Oft fall unto my lot.
Why I must bear the heavy cross
When I desire it not—
I do not know, unless ‘tis just
To teach my soul in God to trust.

I know not why the evil seems
Supreme on every hand:
Why suffering flows in endless streams
I do not understand—
Solution comes not to adjust
These mysteries, I can but trust.

I do not know why grief’s dark cloud
Bedims my sunny sky,
The tear of bitterness allowed
To swell with my eye—
But, sorrow-stricken to the dust,
I will look up to God and trust.

Collect for the Day
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [BCP:]


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