Chapter 3: Guardians for the Way of Wholeness

Problems with Law and Sacrifices

  • “These books (the books of Moses) meant the law and sacrifices to enhance justice in the community. Once they were established, though, the danger inevitably arose that either or both would be separated from their grounding in God’s merciful liberating works.” (Problems with Law and Sacrifices, AK Location 1405)
    • Law: tendency to focus on external expressions, easily enforced and susceptible to becoming tools of people in power.
    • Sacrifices: became means of salvation, ritual acts separated from practical justice in the community. “Presenting sacrifice as a necessary means to salvation enabled people who controlled access to sacrificial rituals in the temple to exercise enormous power in the community.” (AK Location 1416)
  • “The prophets emerged as the voice of loyalty to Torah following the establishment of kingship.” (AK Location 1416)
    • 1 Kings 21
  • Quotes Brueggemann:
    • “Prophets arise in Israel when covenantal modes of existence are endangered.” (AK Location 1450)
    • “The prophets are to invite a ‘turning’ in Israel, a turn from pride to trust, from despair to hope, from abusiveness to covenantal neighborliness.”
  • “… these prophets exerted a profound influence on Jesus.” (AK Location 1460)

What Causes the Disharmony?

  • “All three of the eighth-century prophets, Amos, Hosea, and Micah, spoke in response to the disharmony they perceived among the Hebrew people.” (AK Location 1470)
  • “In the prophet’s view, the people have always known that Yahweh expected justice.” (AK Location 1483)
  • “‘The reason the commands are so urgent and insistent is that they are Yahweh’s (and therefore Israel’s) strategy for fending off a return to pre-Exodus conditions of exploitation and brutality within the community.'”

Injustice

  • “According to these prophets, the people had changed their original social structure.” (AK Location 1518)
  • “The presence of widespread injustice among the Hebrews contradicted the dynamics of liberation that characterized Yahweh’s original intervention.” (AK Location 1540)

Violence

  • “All these prophets identified violence as a key manifestation of disharmony.” (AK Location 1553)
  • “Hosea, of the three prophets, speaks of the curse of violence the most forcefully and extensively.” (AK Location 1553)
  • “To the prophets, the covenant community, with its injustice and violence, denies the character of its founding God.” (AK Location 1610)
  • “The prophetic rhetoric of judgement does not stem from God’s retributive eye-for-an-eye justice that must punish wrongdoing. No, this rhetoric stems from God’s continuing love and its meant to call the people back.” (see Hos 11:8-9) (AK Location 1620)

Idolatry

  • While Amos’ critique of Israel says little about idolatry, Hosea places the central focus on it.
  • Idolatry seems to be the root cause of the injustice and violence.
  • “As Psalm 135:18 points out, people become like that which they worship. So, to offer sacrifices to Baal instead of Yahweh leads to a society becoming violent instead of peaceable, given Baal’s status as the source of violent storms.” (AK Location 1644)

Vain Religiosity

  • “All three prophets forcefully express their rejection of the possibility that the Hebrews’ rituals effectively connect them with Yahweh. However, they do not reject religions or cultic practices per se; they reject religious practices separated from their original intention.” (AK Location 1659)

How Is Harmony Restored?

  • “The prophets reject a sacrifice-centered approach to restoring harmony…The prophets assume that God remains the source of wholeness, that God still loves the people in the same way as God had in the time of Moses. Hence, the restoration of harmony is not complicated…” (AK Location 1706)
  • Hosea 12:6: “Return to your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”
    • Repent. Do kindness and justice. Trust.

Repent

  • “Behind prophetic call to ‘return’ or ‘repent’ lies the presumption of God’s availability.” (AK location 1719)

Justice

  • “In calling Israel to justice, the prophets do not call for impersonal ‘fairness’ nor eye-for-an-eye vengeance. They call to covenant community. Doing justice relates to salvation. Saved people know themselves to be loved by the justice-seeking God, and out of this love, walk in God’s paths.” (AK Location 1743)

Kindness

  • Hosea and Micah link the call to kindness with justice
  • “Salvation, then, in the context of the disharmony the prophets spoke so strongly against, led to the healing of relationships within the community.” (AK Location 1756)

Trust

  • “Repent, turn from idolatry and toward God. Let justice and mercy characterize your lives. Trust in your loving and faithful God. And that is it.” (AK location 1769)

Salvation In The Prophets

  • “These three eighth-century prophets often assert that God initiates salvation out of love for the Hebrew people.” (AK Location 1816)
  • “The entire context for theological reflection concerning salvation must be seen in terms of the covenant relationships God has established with God’s people. Justice is not about God’s internal processes and impersonal holiness. Rather, justice encourages health in the community of people who seek to live together in a way that glorifies God.” (AK Location 1855)
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