Psalm 70 • Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28 • Romans 2:12-24 • John 5:19-29
This is not a day of friendly readings. They remind me of last Advent: the separation of sheep and goats followed by, “Repent, you brood of vipers.”
Psalm 70, Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies, begins gently enough, “1 Be pleased, O God, to deliver me,” and “4 Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you.” Prayerful supplications to God until the last, “5 But I am poor and needy. . . . O Lord, do not delay!” A lot of doom and destruction.
Jeremiah writes, “9 courage shall fail the king” and “the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.” Verse 19 begins a section called Sorrow for a Doomed Nation. Not a nation in trouble but a doomed nation. “19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart!” and “19 the trumpet, the alarm of war, 20 Disaster overtakes disaster, the whole land is laid waste.” The earth, “23 was waste and void . . . the heavens had no light.” A return to before creation. Not very friendly.
John 5:19-29 speaks of the authority of the Son, “19 Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.’” The passage moves on to its great promise and hope, “24 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.” “Has passed” sounds awfully present tense to me. Not, “will pass from death to life,” but “has passed.”
Thus our great promise and hope, “24 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.”
— Lawrence Elliott