SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Isaiah 40: 1-11
In 539 BC, Babylon, where the Jews had been held in slavery for fifty years, was captured by the Persians. The Persians had set about establishing a more stable empire than Assyria or Babylon had been able to effect. A key policy was tolerance of local customs, governments, and religions so long as the vassal states gave them money and soldiers. Accordingly, as Second Isaiah has just learned, the Jews are to be released from their captivity and allowed to return to their homeland. You will hear one of the most joyful poems in the Bible. The opening words of Handel’s great oratorio, “The Messiah.”
Second Peter 3: 8-15a
A great many Christians today believe that First and Second Peter were written by St Peter the fisherman and apostle. I know of no scholar who thinks so. In fact, scholarly sources hold that the two letters by “Peter” were by different authors. Both seem to have followed the common practice of the age of complimenting the apostle by naming him as author.
In this sermon-like letter, the author counsels the people to lead holy lives as they wait for the Day of the Lord. This letter and the Book of Revelation seem to have been written about the same time, say 90-110 CE; Revelation has the most fully developed apocalypse in Scripture, while this author has a vision of the Day of the Lord that is a throw-back to the visions of Amos and Isaiah. There is no mention of a messiah, a Son of Man, or of Christ.
©Arthur H. Cash