Lectionary Scriptures and Comments

Blog 121410

The Jordan River

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Blog Entry 121410

Psalm 42

Ezekiel 47:1-12

Jude 17-25

 

Psalm 42

Longing for God and His Help in Distress

To the leader. A Maskil of the Korahites.
1 As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,*
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help 6and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock,
‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?’
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

Ezekiel 47:1-12

Water Flowing from the Temple

47Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate that faces towards the east;* and the water was coming out on the south side.

3 Going on eastwards with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. 4Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the waist. 5Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. 6He said to me, ‘Mortal, have you seen this?’

Then he led me back along the bank of the river. 7As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on one side and on the other. 8He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. 9Wherever the river goes,* every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. 10People will stand fishing beside the sea* from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’

Jude 17-25

Warnings and Exhortations

17 But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18for they said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.’ 19It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. 20But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to* eternal life. 22And have mercy on some who are wavering; 23save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.*

Benediction

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, 25to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.

Our day’s scriptures begin with repetition (from 121310 blog)  of Psalm 42, but the passage from Ezekiel is new today and it is a strange one. I, at least, find it very strange because it talks about water, life giving water, flowing from the temple in Jerusalem, bringing life and abundance of vegetation to the Jordan River’s banks, and then to the waters of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, which is made fresh when mixed with the Jordan River, according to Ezekiel.

 

What I find strange is that this passage seems to predict the end of the deadly and violence-laden water struggles of the Middle East. Many people have noted that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are also about oil pipelines (and oil, of course) in addition to being about self-governance, terrorism and religious strife.

 

But I have often speculated that the entire nature of the conflict(s) in the Middle East are about water. The fertile crescent of ancient Babylon are in Iraq, which has better and more water than it has oil. A pipeline from Iraq to Jerusalem would change the nature of Israel, and ensure its continued growth and abundance.

 

If I could paraphrase Ezekiel I might say that for Jerusalem and Israel to survive and thrive, clean, sweet water must flow from the temple of Jerusalem. It seems the crisis’s of each generation are linked to problems we might have seen long ago, if we had only opened our eyes. We missed the problems of steam power replacing slave power, missed the effects of large portions of the world becoming deserts, missed the problems of climate change and desertification.

 

Maybe we can read Ezekiel’s prophecy to waken us to the coming world crisis of water shortages (already evident in Israel). But a more symbolic, spiritual interpretation may be more common today, as Christians prepare for Christmas, but maybe Christians might listen to Ezekiel not as predicting the ‘life water’ of Jesus to come, but predicting the peace that can come in the Kingdom of God, if we pray for, and work for, clean waters to flow all over the middle east, watering crops and livestock and bringing life to all beings there.

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