Pray for reign…

A good friend of mine died this morning. Her painful battle with cancer over the last few years has been a constant reminder that our hope is in the resurrection at the future reign of our Lord. While this is a blog on all things jacobean, the apostle Paul every once in a while gets it right!

Λογίζομαι γὰρ ὅτι οὐκ ἄξια τὰ παθήματα τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ πρὸς τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι εἰς ἡμᾶς. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18 NIV).

I find it interesting that Paul compares our “present sufferings” with the glory to be revealed in us. After all, in human experience it is pain that often makes the deepest impression on us in our lives. The abuse we suffer at home or on the playground can scar us deeply, and the misery of illness can wear thin the thickest shield of faith. Yet all of this present suffering is nothing compared to the glory revealed in us at the resurrection. James calls his readers to faithful endurance while waiting for what Paul called the “glory to be revealed” at the coming of the Lord.

Μακροθυμήσατε οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἕως τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου. ἰδοὺ ὁ γεωργὸς ἐκδέχεται τὸν τίμιον καρπὸν τῆς γῆς μακροθυμῶν ἐπ᾽αὐτῷ ἕως λάβῃ πρόϊμον καὶ ὄψιμον. μακροθυμήσατε καὶ ὑμεῖς, στηρίξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν, ὅτι ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου ἤγγικεν Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near (James 5:7-8 NIV).

In this passage James likens the coming of the Lord to the arrival of the rain in Palestine. As a farmer waits for the rain, we are to wait for the “reign” of Christ. The farmer, whose livelihood and survival depends on the proper timing of the rain, is still subject to the timing of things. He can do nothing but wait patiently. We, who often don’t realize it but also depend wholly upon the “reign” must wait patiently as well. We are to endure faithfully, but we do not endure without hope. Our wait should be tempered with the reality that any suffering we endure is a shadow of the intensity of an eternity under the righteous rule of the Savior.

My thesis is dedicated to Sandy who no longer has to wait for the reign. May its words teach me and perhaps others to pray with Elijah-like fervency for the coming reign.

Abraham, Rain, Monotheism & the Evil Yezer in Jubilees and James?

Rinaldo Fabris, in a footnote (p. 347, n. 46) mentions a string of citations illustrating the importance of rain (in reference to his comments on Jas 5:17-18). One of the citations was to Jubilees 12:4, 18. Below is the text of Jubilees 12 according to Charles’ APOT:

1 And it came to pass in the sixth week, in the seventh year thereof, that Abram said to Terah his father, saying, ‘Father!’ 2 . . . , ‘What help and profit have we from those idols which thou dost worship, . . . ? . . . 4 Worship the God of heaven, Who causes the rain and the dew to descend on the earth And does everything upon the earth, And has created everything by His word, And all life is from before His face. . . .

Though his father does not react positively to Abraham’s revelation at first, Abraham does destroy all of the household idols. (He also marries Sarah here in the narrative. The theme of rain continues, however:

16 And in the sixth week, in the fifth year thereof, Abram sat up throughout the night on the new moon of the seventh month to observe the stars from the evening to the morning, in order to see what would be the character of the year with regard to the rains, and he was alone as he sat and observed. 17 And a word came into his heart and he said: All the signs of the stars, and the signs of the moon and of the sun are all in the hand of the Lord. Why do I search (them) out? 18 If He desires, He causes it to rain, morning and evening; And if He desires, He withholds it, And all things are in his hand.’ 19 And he prayed that night and said, ‘My God, God Most High, Thou alone art my God, And Thee and Thy dominion have I chosen. And Thou hast created all things, And all things that are the work of thy hands. 20 Deliver me from the hands of evil spirits who have dominion over the thoughts of men’s hearts, And let them not lead me astray from Thee, my God. And stablish Thou me and my seed for ever That we go not astray from henceforth and for evermore.’

Note that he prays for deliverance from “evil spirits who have dominion over the thoughts of men’s hearts” (cf. Jas 1:13-15) and that he and his seed will not go astray (cf. Jas 5:19-20). Verbal parallels should be checked… David Instone-Brewer suggests that James is a homily on the life of Abraham (as transmitted in Jubilees). He does not mention the possibility of a connection here at James 5:17-18 via Jubilees 12. This should be explored.