Advent Series - December 17
Yesterday we talked about how God took Elias up in a fiery chariot.
Eliseus (Elisha) succeeded Elias around the year 850 B.C. By God’s power, Eliseus raised a boy to life and multiplied food to feed the hungry. Eliseus sent the general Naaman, to wash 7 times in the river Jordan, and Naaman was cured of his leprosy.
As you remember, King Achab and Queen Jezebel were also living at that time. They were the 2 worst rulers in Israel. They both came to a bitter end. Achab was shot with an arrow in battle and Jezebel was thrown out of a window.
Jehu became king of Israel. King Jehu killed all the sons of Achab, and cut off their heads.
King Jehu also killed all the followers of the idol Baal. However, King Jehu did not get rid of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, which had been set up by the first king of Israel to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice. (4 Kings 10)
About this time, around the year 770 B.C. God told the prophet Jonas to go to the people of Ninive, and preach to them. Ninive was the capital of Assyria. Jonas did not want to go because the Assyrians were the enemies of Israel, but being afraid of God (because he was not obeying His command), Jonas got on a ship headed in the opposite direction.
God sent a great storm and the ship was in danger of sinking. Jonas knew that the storm was on account of his disobedience. He told the sailors to toss him overboard, and when they did the sea became calm.
God caused a great fish to swallow Jonas. And Jonas was in the belly of the fish 3 days.
(Our Lord said that Jonas in the fish was a symbol of the 3 days He would spend in the tomb before He rose again.)
After 3 days, the fish spat Jonas out onto dry land, and God told Jonas again to go to Ninive. This time Jonas obeyed. Jonas told the people of Ninive that because of their wickedness, God would destroy their city in 40 days. Now Ninive was a large city with more than 120 000 people. When they heard Jonas message, everyone did penance, fasting and wearing sackcloth and ashes and praying to God, so that after 40 days, God had mercy on them.
Incidentally, there is something special about the number 40;
1) During the world wide flood it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and thus cleansed the earth.
2) Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai when God gave the 10 Commandments
3) The Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years before they entered the Promised Land
4) Elias is given bread by an angel and walked 40 days and nights to Mount Horeb
5) Jonas was sent to tell the people of Ninive that God would destroy them in 40 days, but because they did penance, God spared them
6) Our Lord fasted and prayed 40 days in the desert before beginning His public ministry
7) And so it is fitting that the Church asks us that we do penance every year for 40 days during lent!
In the meantime, the kingdom of Israel was still worshiping idols; the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. For many years God had sent prophets to lead them back, but they kept falling into idolatry. Finally God had enough. In 722 B.C., just 50 years after Jonas preached to Ninive, God allowed the Assyrians to take over the kingdom of Israel. The people were dispersed and became known as the “Lost Tribes of Israel”.
After that the only 2 remaining tribes were the Tribe of Benjamin and the Tribe of Judea in the kingdom of Judea in the south.
The time of Our Lord’s coming is getting nearer.
Today, the Church begins the 7 Great Antiphons or “O Antiphons” in her Divine Office. These are very old parts of the liturgy. They are solemn prayers, calling on the Savior to come. Each antiphon begins with a different title of Our Lord.
The 7 “O Antiphons” are named after the first 2 words which begins each prayer:
O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
O Adonai (O Leader)
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
O Clavis David (O Key of David)
O Oriens (O Orient)
O Rex Gentium (O King of Gentiles)
O Emmanuel (O God With Us)
It is interesting to note that the first letter of each antiphon from bottom to top spells “ERO CRAS”.
This means “I will be tomorrow” or “I will come tomorrow”!
The O Antiphon for today is “O Sapientia”
“O Wisdom, who comest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.”
Jesus is the Word of God, proceeding from the Father from all eternity.