I suggested at the end of the last Gem that you take time to ponder the meaning of Jesus’ use of Hosea’s prophetic statement and its application to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. As I told you the focus of Hosea’s prophecy relates to the invasion of the Assyrians in the Northern kingdom of Israel but the passage in Hosea is specifically focused on Samaria. Jesus is taking something that related to the dreaded Samaritans. But in this context Jesus is applying it to the Jerusalemites themselves. The comparison is being made between when the Assyrians invaded Israel and the coming destruction of Jerusalem.
This reminds me of the Lachish Reliefs I saw in a large room in the British Museum where the Assyrian invasion of Lachish is depicted. The savagery and the inhumanity is seen in those reliefs. It is this savagery which is in store for the Jewish population of Jerusalem. The point of all of this is the reversal of things which are considered normal. People have children in the normal course of events. We love to have children as it brings joy to all. But in this situation the warning is for people not to have children. Why? Because during the Assyrian invasion there was extreme danger to women and children. Once the men have been defeated then the savagery of the invaded army turns against the women and children as well. Children who were feeding at their mothers’ breasts were taken and put to the sword in front of the mother who was then promptly killed as well. Jesus is using this prophecy from Hosea as a warning of the events in store for Jerusalem.
Why would the people ask for the mountains to fall on them or the hills to cover them? There is debate about the meaning of this segment. Either the thought is a parallelism expressing the same notion or it is antithetical parallelism where the opposite thought is being expressed. That being said, here are the two statements:
People will beg the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and plead with the hills, ‘Bury us.’Luke 23:30
In the contest of what I said above, these thoughts are either saying the same things with different words or the mountains and hills are being contrasted and there is different meaning to be found in the verbs.
The mountains and the hills are most often used together as a pair in Scripture.
Why should they pray for the mountains and the hills to fall on them or bury them or cover them?
There are two possible meanings here: A positive meaning and a negative meaning.
- + [kalupto] means to cover, hide or conceal
- – [pipto] means to fall on, bury, cover up
- So if the sense is normal poetic parallelism then the meaning is for the mountains and hills to fall on us, kill us, bury us in order to end our suffering quickly. We don’t want prolonged, drawn out suffering. End our misery quickly.
- If the sense is antithetic parallelism then the meaning is for the mountains to kills us or bury us or for the hills (smaller in size) to cover us and conceal us and hide us from our enemies.
There you have the choice to make as to which of these meanings is meant here. I will leave that choice to you. If you wish to talk about it with me feel free.
And now we come to Luke 23:31 – “For if these things are done when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry”.
What is the meaning of that statement? I don’t know if you have had time to look into this verse. I suspect most of you have passed it over in the hope that either Ian will deal with it for you or someday, some place God will give you the revelation as to what it means:
- when you read something that gives you inspiration as to the meaning of this verse.
- when a preacher gives you the answer.
- when you pray for revelation and the Lord Himself fills your room with light and gives you the answer by the power of His Holy Spirit.
- when you read this passage and apply Deeper Bible principles and methods to it.
The key for us is to find out what green and dry are referring to. Clearly they are being used symbolically for something else. To understand this verse we have to crack the code. At this stage I am merely drawing your attention to the challenge before us. It is also clear that the solution must relate both to the events leading up to the cross and the pending fate of Jerusalem in the light of the coming Roman destruction of it that has been prophesied by Jesus in His use of the clip from Hosea.
What steps would you take to help you solve this problem? It is not as hard as it seems. Happy hunting.
The World’s Perspective on Green and Dry:
I have run out of the green stuff. Can you loan me a few bucks?Anon
This new salad dressing is great for making men eat the green stuff because it tastes awesome.Anon
Her gardening skills are excellent; she has a green thumb.Anon
He is still green when it comes to that job, he is only just out of school.Anon
The matter is cut and dried.Anon
His speech was so dry it put me to sleep.Anon
She was hung out to dry by her husband, before the ink was dried on their divorce he was already seeing another woman.Anon
The Bible’s Perspective on Green and Dry:
Like trees, they will be cut down in the prime of life; their branches will never again be green.Job 15:32
Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.Psalms 92:14
“O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the One who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from Me.”Hosea 14:8
All the greenery along the riverbank and all the crops along the river will dry up and blow away.Isaiah 19:7
Now the vine is transplanted to the wilderness, where the ground is hard and dry.Ezekiel 19:13
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’Ezekiel 37:11
Tell the southern wilderness, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Hear the word of the LORD! I will set you on fire, and every tree, both green and dry, will be burned. . .Ezekiel 20:47