Danger is a militia with the right to say whatever comes to mind labelled as rhetoric. Rhetoric used to need no answer or explanation. Racist and religious bigotry do not rise to conversation.

Revolutionary Courage

In the ocean of commandment-keeping people in Babylon where covenant violation had landed them – three lads (count them!) had the courage to say no to state sanctioned idolatry. The chances of finding three courageous souls among just one thousand believers (of any religious persuasion) is highly unlikely.

What makes the three heroic is their refusal to continue the treachery of their ancestors. Daniel’s iconic prayer ought to sober up the drunkards of our times who see God’s kingdom and glory as rooted in Mosaic law (there is no law that did not come via Moses).

The Law that saves is the one-word covenant. You can call it grace, or faith, or love, and it does not come from Sinai. There was no law in Eden about Adam’s neighbour’s house, wife, nor manservant, maidservant, ox, or ass.

Who is likely to fall prey to state decrees? The law-abiding or lawless?

Incensed with your incense

What could have brought Yahweh to declare the offerings of Israel undesirable after two whole scrolls, Exodus and Leviticus, were dedicated to establishing the sacred tent and prescribing its procedures is neither mindboggling mystery nor monstrous myth. If atonement was the focus one had to be fairly brainnumb to invest in the belief that an animal could be an appropriate propitiation or could amount to suitable acknowledgment of guilt. If fellowship was the focus of the tabernacle an Israelite had to admit to being lonely most of the time.

Away with the killing and burning

The objection was intended to bring about awareness of the inadequacy of minchah and zebach מנחה זבח grain and animal offering. Nothing was going to change until the appointed time anyway, and it was clearly a review that could not be treated as a commendation.  The objection is real.  It is not rhetoric.  As long as the tabernacle (or temple) stood Isrselites could feel that they were still in possession of the way.  Without it there was no reason to believe that a kingdom of priests was functioning.

The alternative was a person whose ears were tuned to God, not to Adam or to the better parts of human nature. God had an effective sacrifice for the human race just as surely as he had a ram to save Isaac’s life and leather coats for Adam and Eve.

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

Psalms 40:6

The more sobering parts of the law are shown to be temporary and ineffective.  Here are two which have no righteous value.   The Sabbath – Matthew 12:5-8.

Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

The Bread of the Presence – Matthew 12:3-4 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

Who needs symbols when the real has arrived?

Incense is a symbol of prayer, and wood, stone, gold,and silver are not holy things that can affect our approach to God. All the sacred times are equally irrelevant, being matters of the divine timetable.

Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

Isaiah 1:13-14

All humanity: withering and falling grass flower

All humanity is like grass sounds like an insult.  The significance of all humanity is like the flower of the grass.

Insignificant and small grass flower

For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,
1 Peter 1:24 CSB


One has to be intrigued by the beauty and productivity of the lowly human and his potential to escape insignificance, one by one!