Thursday, November 14, 2013

Daily Old Testament: Zechariah 13-14 and My Own Article on "What DId I Say?" (Part 8)

Zechariah 13 – Some words here I fear have been taken too seriously – “I will also rid the country of the prophets, and of the spirit of impurity” (13:2). The prophets uttered too many lies to have enduring respect. It says in the note that the ancient prophets used to gash their bodies and scar them. Why? But they got too caught up in ignorance and false prophesy. There follows a messianic prophesy! God will “strike the shepherd so that the sheep may be scattered. . .turn my hand against the weak” (13:7). Two-thirds of the people will be lost and the remnant shall be refined in a fire. “They will call on my name and I shall listen; and I shall say; ‘These are my people’; and each will say, ‘Yahweh is my God!’” (13:9)

Zechariah 14 – This chapter is a recounting of the eschatological struggle and the new order that will follow: The nations will gather at Jerusalem to do battle. Half the city will go captive but the remnant will find refuge with God. The Mount of Olives will be split. God will come with all the holy ones. Day and night will disappear; running waters will issue from Jerusalem – going east and west. Yahweh will be king of the whole world and Jerusalem will be safe to live in again. The enemies of Jerusalem will be infested with plague. There will be violence. And the last sentence is “there will be no more traders in the Temple of Yahweh Sabaoth, when that day comes” (14:21).

It is clear that the words of this book have been very influential both today among those who constantly meditate on what the Last Days shall be like and on those of history – especially those who knew Jesus and tried to understand what he was. But I am left puzzled at how anyone could read these words and believe themselves enlightened on the topic in any substantive way.

From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism -
“What Did I Say?”
Part 8       
The outward dimension of religious faith is important—the principle ideas or “notions” that make up the Christian gospel, the information Scripture contains about the journey of redemption, about Christ, the apostolic preaching, and even the working of the Holy Spirit are all important—not because they are the “end” we seek, but because the spiritual dimension that is what we seek lays somehow behind or within them. This is the mystery of our existence as human beings, this interpenetration of outward and inward, this coexistence of matter and spirit. Early Friends had not bypassed the outward; they had penetrated it. That they believed they had bypassed it did not make it so. We who were dealing with the results of excluding it were in a better position to judge its necessity.

Still, while I felt it was a matter of some consequence that I return, I did not want to go back with the usual message about how messed up the Protestant churches were and how the Catholic Church was the answer to all the mess that was outside it. That was not it. There was a mess inside the Society of Friends, but that mess was not at the heart of the experience Friends had given me. I had come into Christ among them. There was a dimension of the gospel they knew about that I had not found among Catholics, and this God did not want me to lose. This was the thing that I needed to offer up to the Church—a part of the “fullness of the gospel” that they saw as their job to protect and nurture. I still wanted very much to be a Christian after the manner of early Friends; I wanted to know Christ at the very center of my life in everything I did, and I did not feel a desperate need to partake of sacraments or do the kind of outward things that were so much a part of the Catholic religious culture.

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