Saturday after Sexagesima Sunday
Posted on February 13, 2021 byunder
Scripture: Jeremiah 11:1-7 (NKJV)
11:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 “Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; 3 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant 4 which I commanded your fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and do according to all that I command you; so shall you be My people, and I will be your God,’ 5 that I may establish the oath which I have sworn to your fathers, to give them ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ as it is this day.”’”
And I answered and said, “So be it, Lord.”
6 Then the Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: ‘Hear the words of this covenant and do them. 7 For I earnestly exhorted your fathers in the day I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, until this day, rising early and exhorting, saying, “Obey My voice.”
Bible translators often make decisions about how to translate a specific word in a specific context so that those who do not read the original languages of the Bible can get the essential meaning of a portion of Scripture and still read it smoothly. Generally, this is a great thing. Sometimes, though, a translator’s misunderstanding of Law and Gospel slips through.
One word often misused in this way is “obey.” In today’s reading, the word being translated this way is actually just the word “hear.” From the context, one might say, “to hear and to do what you are commanded is to ‘obey’,” and this is true. However, when we lose the word “hear,” we lose the “how” of God’s treaty with Israel at Mt. Sinai, as well as the fullness of what St. Paul writes about “hearing” in Romans 10:14-16.
“To hear” is a “pregnant” idea in the Bible: except for when it is negated (cf. Matt. 13:13-14), “to hear” means “to hear effectively.” That is, it indicates that you react appropriately to the thing that is heard: to a command, with obedience; to a promise, with faith; to a treaty/covenant/testament, with faith that leads you to live in accord with it. In this way, the LORD says that one who does not trust Him to be his God, as is shown by their refusal to do what He has commanded, is “cursed” because they have refused to hear. Jeremiah’s job, therefore, is to bring them back to hearing His voice—through which will come restoration to faith and, thereby, to obedience.
Prayer: O God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do, mercifully grant that by Thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.