In our English Bibles we follow the order of the old Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Divided into 4 sections – Pentateuch, History, Wisdom and Prophets. But the Hebrew Bible itself places the various books of the Biblical library together in a different way, using just 3 main sections: Torah, Nevi’ im and Ketuvim – or the Law/Instructions, Prophets and Writings. Together they make the TaNaK.
- The Torah is the first 5 books of Moses.
- The Prophets includes the former prophets that we are used to calling the history books (Joshua, Judges, Samuel + Kings) as well as the later prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel + the 12 minor.
- The Writings is everything else.
The Book of Chronicles which we read from today concludes the Hebrew Bible. Our reading is the final words of the Bible and offers a summary of key experiences during the final days of the kingdom of Judah leading up to the exile and return. It ends with the decree of the Persian king Cyrus “let them go up” weya’al in Hebrew. This is signalling hope – but a story with no ending.
Our psalm today is one of a series written during the 6th century BCE period of Exile in Babylon. The Jewish people had lost everything – their temple, their city, their land, their wealth. After 70 years the people returned to the land, but many realised their exile was not yet finished..
We also need to return from Exile. Every year we begin lent by journeying with Jesus into the wilderness to face our own need for God. We question-what is God like? How can we live for him?
Paul invites us to consider what God is like. God is generous with his mercy. We did nothing to deserve Gods’ love, yet he loved us anyway. God’s love is sheer gift. That is what grace means. No one can claim the credit. God delights us as his work of Art. God loves us as a beautiful father who gives. We would never know what God is like without Jesus who invites us to believe that we may receive everything. Amen!
Lent 4B. 2 Chron 36:14-23; Psalm 137; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21