Aloha Friday Message – October 20, 2017 – Who knew?

1742AFC102017 – Whaddya think of that, eh?

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Acts 2:7-11 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs – in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

Isaiah 44:24a, 28-45:1 – 24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, …

28 who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd,
and he shall carry out all my purpose”;
and who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”

45 1 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped
to subdue nations before him
and strip kings of their robes,
to open doors before him—
and the gates shall not be closed!

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) This weekend we celebrate the 29th Sunday in Ordinary time. You can find the readings here. Today I am going to be looking into the passage from Isaiah. I believe many churchgoers will hear about the passage from the Gospel where Jesus lays out the basis for his followers to submit to civil authority in Matthew 22:20-21 […] “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” In other gatherings, the faithful may hear about the power of the Gospel and how it was preached to them in the Authority of the Holy Spirit as the Apostle Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 1:5our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.

This is an early testimony to the concept of Apostolic Authority; believers know the source of that Authority, and should therefore respect because it is Authority that comes from God through God’s chosen emissaries. The civil authority of Rome and the Divine Authority of the Church were readily seen. They were part of the day-to-day life of the contemporaries of Jesus and later of Paul and the other Apostles.

But what if you were told about a man who would come into civil and divine power simultaneously? That would be pretty amazing! Even more amazing is that this man’s entry into biblical history would be made 150 years before he was born. To top it off, the LORD gave the name of this man to the nation of Israel. Yes, 150 years before this brilliant soldier, politician, ruler, and benefactor of Israel was born, God told his People, that Cyrus would be God’s Anointed, a redeemer who would restore Israel. Wouldn’t that just knock your socks off? Who knew?

Isaiah was actively prophesying from about 740 to about 700 BC. Cyrus was born in Anshan, Persia sometime around 598-600 BC. Isaiah received from God not only the man’s name, but also the ways Cyrus would quell Israel’s enemies and restore Israel – and the temple – to the Israelites. You are aware that several nations had overrun Israel and carried of hundreds-of-thousands of its citizens to Assyria and Babylon. In addition, the city had been sacked and burned and the Temple obliterated. The Temple vessels were carried off and scattered to various nations and cities across the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Toward the end of Babylonian’s iron rule, God sent Cyrus – the son of Cambyses I,  a.k.a. Cambyses the Elder – to conquer and subdue a huge area of “the known world.” He was the leader of the Persians, conquered the Medes and united the Iranian people under one ruler for the first time. Cyrus became the first king of the Persian Empire; under his remarkable leadership he was able to establish one of the largest and most enduring empires in history. He was very tolerant of other religions (he himself appears to have followed Zoroastrianism), and in short order determined that the violent and dehumanizing repression of Babylonia against the Hebrews must be reversed. He sent several delegations back to Israel with instructions to rebuild the altars, the temple, and the city walls. It was at this time that the Second Temple was built.

At one point the work on the Second Temple was suspended for 18 years but was restarted under the benevolence of Darius II. It’s difficult to assign an exact date to the completion and rededication of the Second Temple, but it would have been around 514-518 BC. It was nowhere near as grand as Solomon’s Temple, nor were they able to return to it the Ark of the Covenant; nonetheless, the Altar of Sacrifice was restored. This is the Temple at which Jesus worshipped. It is the same temple what was utterly destroyed by Rome in about 70 AD. Now, that’s enough history. Let’s go back and see how the history supports the prophecy regarding Cyrus. I ask you to scrutinize these to passages from Isaiah, please. Please use the link to see them properly laid out. I apologize in advance for taking them out of their poetic form:

Isaiah 44:6-8 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let them proclaim it, let them declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be. Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.

Isaiah 45:18-19 18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): I am the Lord, and there is no other.19 I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek me in chaos.” I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right.

This week’s readings all center on authority. Jehovah alone is God; there is no other deity who commands power and truth as he does. Jesus tells his Disciples (and his enemies) that God’s requirements are not the same as Rome’s requirements; we are to respect the authority of both. Paul tells us that through Jesus’ Divine Authority as the Son of God we are given the inspiration, empowerment, and Apostolic Authority to share the Gospel ” … in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

In the Second Chapter of Acts – quoted above – we have a list of locations that include much of Cyrus’ empire. All these nationalities are brought together through the authority and protection of the Holy Spirit as God’s Anointed, the Christ of God, establishes the Authority of God in Heaven and on Earth, over the Divine and the Human. The “Promised of Ages” has come to rule the World, not through the power of might, but through the Authority of the Law of Love – the same Law through Which and by Whom all of Creation was formed. It was, is, and will be through God’s Authority (which includes all the “Omni-” words we have studied) that the universe – including you and me – was created. In God’s Omniscience, he meticulously named Cyrus 150 years in advance to show how the Mercy of God surpasses any human expectation or understanding. There is no greater Authority than Truth, and the LORD declares “I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right.” The Truth is what is right.

In the past, I have mentioned Frank Peretti’s explanation about the truthfulness of Truth (You can find the quote here.) He said, “There has to be a truth that is fixed and objective and separate from you. It has to be true whether you believe it or not! (Pthum) It has to be true whether you like it or not! (Pthum) It has to be true whether you ever heard of it or not! (Pthum) It’s just true!” God and God alone is Truly Truth. Remember now, when we say “God,” we mean our El Shaddai-Olam, God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity:

LIGHT ≡ GOD ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ ETERNAL ≡ JUSTICE ≡ OMNIPOTENCE

≡ ONE GOD IN THREE PERSONS

Let me reiterate: There is no greater Authority than Truth, and the LORD declares “I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right.” The Truth is what is right. God grant that none of us is foolish enough to say, “Well, what’s true for you may not be true for me, and what’s right for you may not be what is right for me.” Saying that denies God’s Authority over us and all the rest of his Creation. That is the favorite deception of the Father of Lies. Give God what belongs to God (hint: that’s us – you and me). Give God what is Right, not what is left. Submit to Divine and Civil Authority whenever Truth is found in them.

Who knew? Anyone who knows the Truth!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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