Category Archives: Lenten study

Daily Lenten Readings

Lenten reflections are offered for each of the daily readings listed in the Revised Common Lectionary for the Season of Lent. These are in addition to the Sunday and Holy Day homilies.

To access these reflections press the word  LENT in the top heading above and then scroll down.

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Fat Tuesday Teaching

Breaking the Yoke

Let us look at several translations of Isaiah 10:27, which has to do with breaking a burdensome yoke. We will start with the King James Version (KJV):

And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.

The KJV a wonderful translation. It has a certain beauty, power, and authority. True, some of the language is archaic. However, the translation on the whole is a fairly accurate one, except for the verse we are exploring.

What does the original Hebrew say? The text reads, “The yoke shall be destroyed because of shamen” (pronounced SHA-MEN). The KJV translators understood shamen to be the equivalent of shemen, oil, which apparently led them to think of oil for anointing.

What is the text actually saying? It’s best to understand shamen here as “fatness” (pronounced SHA-MEYN), which would produce a literal translation of, “The yoke will be destroyed because of the fat.”

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is a very literal translation.

So it will be in that day, that his burden will be removed from your shoulders and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be broken because of fatness.

It is accurate, but is not the most readable. What does fatness mean?

The New International Version (NIV) expresses it well:

In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be broken because you have grown so fat.

The NIV is somewhat of a paraphrase, but its meaning is not obscure. It gets right to the point.

What about our “modern” New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)?

On that day his burden will be removed from your shoulder, and his yoke will be destroyed from your neck.

The NRSV bypassed the whole discussion of fatness altogether.

Let us look at fatness. We have an ox with a yoke on its neck, enslaving it to the will of its master. But eventually, it gets so healthy and fat that the yoke simply bursts from off its neck. That ox is now free!

Today is Fat Tuesday. It refers to the day when people might fatten themselves up with food and drink in order to prepare for the day of fasting that follows on Ash Wednesday.

Perhaps we need to fatten ourselves up in a different fashion. When we find ourselves bound or oppressed or beaten into submission by the enemy. We simply feed our spirits the living Word day and night, we continue in worship and praise and prayer and communion, and little by little, we get so healthy and strong—so “fat”—that suddenly the yoke of oppression has to burst. The fatness destroys the yoke!

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Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent

The Potter’s House

Has this ever happened to you? You come up with a game plan that seems right. To carry it out you realize that you will have to sell it to others. However, it could be a difficult sell if those others were not invited to give their input on the plan. This was true for James and John, the sons of thunder:

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers.   (Matthew 20:20–24)

Do we often make plans in a vacuum, mistakenly believing that we are in charge of our own destiny? This was the house of Israel:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.   (eremiah 18:1–7)

Our ultimate destiny lies in the hands of God. King David discovered this was so. He wrote:

But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord.
I have said, “You are my God.

My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.   (Psalm 31:14-15)

When we learn to trust God we then find great comport and peace in living under his loving care and direction. Fear enters into our lives when we believe we are in charge and have to make things happen.

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Monday in the Second Week of Lent

Forgive Us As We Have Forgiven Others

Daniel, the great prophet and prayer warrior, has set an example for us in how to pray and intercede for a nation.

“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.   (Daniel:9:4-6)

Daniel was a holy man by the standards of his day. Yet Daniel identified with those Israelites who rebelled against God. He did not hold himself apart. The psalmist pleaded for Israel as well, appealing to God’s mercy, but he did not overlook his sin or that of the nation.

Remember not our past sins;
let your compassion be swift to meet us;
for we have been brought very low.

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name;
deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name’s sake.   (Psalm 79:8-9)

How do we pray? Do we judge ourselves more highly than others? Jesus warned against this:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”   (Luke 6:37-38)

God does not need our lecture prayers, telling him what he must do. He is looking for a broken and contrite heart. If we want to intercede for others as well as ourselves, then we must stop judging others. All judgment belongs to God. The way to stop judging people is to forgive them. Jesus tells us that we must forgive even our enemies:

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.   (Luke 6:27–28)

 

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