You are watching Shrek except that you never have read a single fairy tale. So the whole movie
references fairy tale after fairy tale, children’s story after children’s story. They make a Pinocchio joke,
a Snow White reference, characters from the three little pigs, and you don’t get any of it. It is truly
a bizarre, unfunny tale.
The Bible is packed with references to ancient myths, histories, folk tales and literary references
to other portions of the Bible. In fact, the book of Revelation alone holds approximately 2000
references to passages in the Old Testament and countless references to Jesus’ teaching, but
most people want to think of it as a unique vision of their newspapers. When we miss the context
of a literary work, we usually miss the intent of that work. We can read something over and over
again and just don’t get it.
First, we gotta go back, waaaaay back…
section of the poem is a detailed description of how God continues to supply all creation with water.
God supplies water through springs and rain, the mountains and streams distribute the water and the
trees and animals are sustained through that distribution. It describes an ecosystem, begun by God
and perpetuated by all creation. In the midst of this description the mountains are seen as a home for
all creation with the line, “Beside them the birds of heaven nest, lifting up their voices among the
branches.” So the birds thrive because of God’s provision through the mountain, through the trees,
through the streams, from the spring. It all works together.
that Assyria was like a huge cedar tree that took on a huge amount of resources, but supplied the
animals and birds. In this analogy, the birds are the nations of the world whom Assyria took on as
clients. “All the birds of heaven nested in its branches,” the text says. God provided the resources of
the earth to Assyria, and Assyria’s responsibility was to fairly distribute them among all the nations.
themselves, causing their tree to rise higher and higher and leaving the nations to survive on scraps.
In reality, the Assyrians destroyed and tortured whole civilizations in order to retain everything for
themselves. So, says Ezekiel, God chopped down that tree and the birds thrived on the remains.
Because the nations of the world could thrive better with Assyria dead than alive.
branches”. But the tree was shown to be inadequate and it was chopped down. Sound familiar?
Daniel tells the Emperor that the tree was him and he was in danger of seeing his power drained.
Daniel’s recommendation was that the Emperor “give to the poor” generously, and to give glory to
God as the creator of his empire. That his empire had a divine purpose— to distribute to many,
especially the poor, so that all might thrive together, according to the creation-plan of God.
a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes
the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can nest in its shade.”
birds nest in.” In the ancient Greek translations, the group of phrases use the same words as the
three passages quoted above.
the kingdom. The kingdom is the distribution of the resources of God, according to the mercy and
love of God.
deliverance and forgiveness to as many as he could reach.
and religions join in God’s distribution network, making sure that everyone obtain what they need to
both survive and thrive. As the kingdom’s distribution network grows, so does the world thrive.
Acts, distributed food to the poor in Jerusalem, and when their was controversy whether enough
people are being feed, the church leaders made sure that everyone was provided for.
they agreed that distribution to the poor was an essential aspect of the church.
the church “provided for our own poor as well.”
be a “church” unless they had a distribution network for the poor in their system.
kingdom of God is distribution to the poor, needy and outcast, as Jesus displayed and taught. Not
everyone who teaches Jesus displays this basic understanding. Many who proclaim the name of
Jesus, teach or display a withholding of resources, sowing a distrust of the poor or outcast. These
y: “arial”; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;”>churches are not a part of the kingdom of God as Jesus described it.
Even as in Jesus’ teaching of the Sheep and the Goats shows, many who have done the acts of the
kingdom will be a part of it, even though they didn’t know who Jesus was.
do not organize and provide for the physical needs of the people in our community, we are not a part
of Jesus’ kingdom.