Posts Tagged ‘history’

Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

Posted: April 14, 2017 in Life, religion
Tags: ,
Christ's_Crucifix

The Crucifixion of Jesus

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? which is translated, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34]

At a glance, this passage from the crucifixion scene seems to show that Jesus is accusing God of betraying him to this horrorshow of an execution. But there are a two details about first-century Jerusalem that make this verse much more meaningful to our twenty-first-century ears.

First, two thousand years ago the average Jew in Galilee could recite the scriptures from memory; most children had memorized the entire Torah by the age of six. The written word was rare and usually available only in the local synagogue. Radically honed memorization skills were a crucial ingredient for the integrity of oral literary traditions, and the communities themselves, to survive. If anyone got a detail wrong, everyone else in the village was obligated to correct him.

Second, Jesus is conveying much more than a single statement of anguish; it was a common technique for a rabbi of the era of Jesus (or any other devout Jew) to relate the meaning of an entire Psalm by quoting only the first sentence. A full reading of David’s prophetic Psalm 22 sheds some light about why Jesus quoted it and what it really meant, especially these verses:

1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. 19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

And verses 22-24 are the opposite of an accusation of betrayal:

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. 23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. 24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

Casting LotsBy quoting the first verse Jesus is quoting the entire Psalm, and in doing so is making an enormous statement: this prophecy is fulfilled today (in shockingly accurate detail), Jesus surrenders to the Father who keeps his promises, and the whole world will praise God for what He has done this day.

The nuances of Jesus’ dramatic words would have been obvious to first century Jews and Christians. This Holy Week, take a minute to challenge our assumptions and look closer at the context for those things that at first seem difficult or contradictory. There are riches to be found when digging into the holy word of God.

Some quick hits, from a couple of very good political columnists – not because I have any poignant observation that will illuminate their meaning, but because I admire the way these short paragraphs sum up a complex or controversial point and I didn’t want to forget how they said it.

 “Dismantling America – Part II”, Thomas Sowell, 8/18/10:

Not since the Norman conquerors of England published their laws in French, for an English-speaking nation, centuries ago, has there been such contempt for the people’s right to know what laws were being imposed on them.

Dismantling America – Part III”, Thomas Sowell, 8/19/10:

Threatening to launch nuclear retaliation against the people of Iran will not deter them. They have already shown how little they care about the people of Iran and how much they care about their fanatical beliefs and hate-filled agendas.

and:

Sometimes small things can give you a better clue than large things. A recent editorial in Investor’s Business Daily pointed out that hundreds of captured illegal aliens from terrorist-sponsoring nations were released on their own recognizance within the United States. Are these the actions of an administration that is serious about the national security of the American people?

Dismantling America – Part IV“, Thomas Sowell, 8/20/10:

President Barack Obama said that the Court’s decision [on the first amendment rights of corporations] “will open the floodgates for special interests”– as if all you have to do to take away people’s free speech rights is call them a special interest.

… The history of this country is taught in many schools and colleges as the history of grievances and victimhood, often with the mantra of “race, class and gender.” Television and the movies often do the same.

When there are not enough current grievances for them, they mine the past for grievances and call it history. Sins and shortcomings common to the human race around the world are spoken of as failures of “our society.” But American achievements get far less attention– and sometimes none at all.

…Why? Partly, if not mostly, it is because that is the vogue. It shows you are “with it” when you reject your own country and exalt other countries.

Islamophobia? Not Really”, Jonah Goldberg, 8/25/10:

In 2001, there were twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as there were anti-Muslim, according to the FBI. In 2002 and pretty much every year since, anti-Jewish incidents have outstripped anti-Muslim incidents by at least 6 to 1. Why aren’t we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America?

Because there isn’t one. And there isn’t an anti-Muslim climate either. Yes, there’s a lot of heated rhetoric on the Internet. Absolutely, some Americans don’t like Muslims. But if you watch TV or movies, or read, say, the op-ed page of the New York Times — never mind left-wing blogs — you’ll hear much more open bigotry toward evangelical Christians (in blogspeak, the “Taliban wing of the Republican Party”) than you will toward Muslims.

and:

And when Muslim fanatics kill Americans — after, say, the Fort Hood slaughter — a reflexive response from the Obama administration is to fret over an anti-Islamic backlash.

Obama and Co. automatically proclaim that such orchestrated terrorist attacks are “isolated” events. But when it comes to mainstream Americans, veterans, ObamaCare opponents or (shudder) tea partiers, there’s no generalization too broad or too insulting for the left.

It’s fine to avoid negative stereotypes of Muslims, but why the rush to embrace them when it comes to Americans?

Nicely said, fellas.

This quote has been credited to Mark Twain, Dave Ramsey and MacMcMillan, but most sources attribute it (or something very close to it) to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones: “You’re the same today as you will be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

I have always been a ravenous reader; mostly I have read fiction, and it used to be that you would usually find me re-reading an old favorite. It was often because my reading schedule moved faster than my book-buying schedule. There’s something exasperating about having thousands of books in the house, all of which I have read at least once before, but being in a mood for something new. Lately I’ve kept stocked up, and tried to pick up five or six books at the used bookstore at a time. I’ve also discovered much more nonfiction in my rotation in the last couple of years.

A couple of months ago I found in the library’s sale bin “The End of Marketing As We Know It” by Sergio Zyman, former CocaCola executive and scapegoat for the “New Coke” mess. I still don’t know why it caught my eye, but I’m glad it did because I really enjoyed it.

Someone gave me (and everyone else on their Christmas list) Bill Bennett’s two volumes on US history, “America: The Last Great Hope”. I looked forward to it, because I have noticed that sometime in my early thirties I had developed an interest in history. It was a fun read, but every once in awhile (especially when writing about events in his own lifetime) he would let his personal prejudices slip through. To his credit, the rest of it was an entertaining and unbiased look at world events and America’s place in them.

I am currently re-reading The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis). This book continues to creep me out, because I feel like I have fallen in real life for some of the diabolical tactics that Lewis’ fictitious demons employ. I’m currently leading a Bible study on this book; hopefully this will give me a chance to scripturally work out some of my doubts, questions and heretic thinking on the subject of Satan and evil. Something about teaching a subject helps embed it into your mind quite firmly, especially if you try to be thorough doing the research. The same thing happened when I taught the high-school youth group at our previous church; it helped me put together the lessons that I wanted my own kids to learn.

I wrote this down on an index card in 2004, after observing reluctance by one of my kids to participate in one of their classes: “Learning is one of the few things, maybe the only thing, that immediately becomes easier once the decision is made to pursue it as a goal. Without that desire, it becomes only a difficult chore.”

I’ve run through all of the nonfiction books I had available and will have to find a new one soon. I should probably set aside a few minutes this week to think about what topic I would like to learn about.

Wednesday February 13, 2008 – 10:49am (EST)