Sermon for Sunday, June 11, 2023

Which kind of WISDOM do you have?

James 3:13-18

James 3:13–18 (NIV): 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

2 Peter 2:4-12 (NIV) 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell*, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

*Ταρταρος (Tartarus) was the great pit beneath the earth in the oldest of the Greek cosmogonies. The universe was envisaged as great sphere–or egg-shaped ovoid–with the solid dome of the sky forming the upper half and the inverse dome of the pit of Tartaros the lower. The flat, horizontal disc of the earth divided the interior of the cosmic sphere into two halves–the homes of men and gods above, and the gloomy, storm-wracked prison of the Titanes below.

Haides, was originally quite distinct from the pit of Tartaros. The land of the dead was located either at the very ends of the earth beyond the river Okeanos (Oceanus) and the setting-places of the sun or else in the hollow depths of the earth’s belly. Tartaros on the other hand descended as far beneath Haides–i.e. the deepest recesses of the flat earth–as the sky rose above the earth.

Tartaros was secured with a surrounding wall of bronze set with a pair of gates guarded by the hundred-handed Hekatonkheires.

The primordial deity of the Tartarean pit sired a single child by Gaia (Earth) named Typhoeus–a monstrous, serpentine storm-giant who attempted to seize the throne of heaven. Zeus vanquished the creature and cast it back down into the pit of Tartaros where it remained as the cosmic-source of hurricanes and storm winds. The protogenos (primordial deity) Tartaros scarcely figures in myth and was a purely elemental deity, i.e. the pit itself instead of an anthropomorphic god.

Later, classical writers re-imagined Tartaros as a hellish prison-house for the damned conflating it with Homer’s Haidean chamber of torments. This realm is described on a separate page–Tartaros, the Dungeon of the Damned. The oldest of the Greek poets–Homer and Hesiod–represent Tartaros as the great cosmic pit beneath the earth. It is located “as far beneath the house of Haides as from earth the sky lies.”[1]

Isaiah 1:10–20 (NIV): 10 Hear the word of the LORD,

         you rulers of Sodom;

         listen to the instruction of our God,

         you people of Gomorrah!

      11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—

         what are they to me?” says the LORD.

         “I have more than enough of burnt offerings,

         of rams and the fat of fattened animals;

         I have no pleasure

         in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

      12 When you come to appear before me,

         who has asked this of you,

         this trampling of my courts?

      13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!

         Your incense is detestable to me.

         New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—

         I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.

      14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals

         I hate with all my being.

         They have become a burden to me;

         I am weary of bearing them.

      15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,

         I hide my eyes from you;

         even when you offer many prayers,

         I am not listening.

         Your hands are full of blood!

      16 Wash and make yourselves clean.

         Take your evil deeds out of my sight;

         stop doing wrong.

      17 Learn to do right; seek justice.

         Defend the oppressed.

         Take up the cause of the fatherless;

         plead the case of the widow.

      18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”

         says the LORD.

         “Though your sins are like scarlet,

         they shall be as white as snow;

         though they are red as crimson,

         they shall be like wool.

      19 If you are willing and obedient,

         you will eat the good things of the land;

      20 but if you resist and rebel,

         you will be devoured by the sword.”

           For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Ezekiel 16: 49-58 (NIV) 49 “ ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. 51 Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. 52 Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

53 “ ‘However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them, 54 so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort. 55 And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before. 56 You would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride, 57 before your wickedness was uncovered. Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom  and all her neighbors and the daughters of the Philistines—all those around you who despise you. 58 You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the Lord.


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