Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 10
Thesis: God will absolutely frustrate the unloving because of the wicked nature of all of their pursuits.
Introduction: We have been looking with some care at Mary's statements regarding the shifting of her theological understanding. This "shifting" has been driven by God's selection of her to be the human instrument of His plan to bring His Son into the world. She sees this as a fundamental challenge to her culture's imbedded legalism. She is fully aware of the fact that she had no foundations in legalism to be chosen by God for the enormous privilege that was suddenly hers. She is also becoming aware that God's selection of her had to have been rooted in His grace. In other words, her thinking about God is shifting from the problem of relating to Him on the basis of His holiness to the privilege of relating to Him on the basis of His mercy. In our studies, we have seen that Mary's experience of this theological shift is what Luke wants for Theophilus and, by extension, what God wants for those of us who are studying Luke's inspired words. God wants us to move away from a focus upon confidence in the adequacy of our performance and move toward a focus upon confidence in the efficacy of His merciful performance on our behalf.
This morning we are going to look into another of Mary's declarations so that we may see yet another reason for moving from Law to Grace. This particular declaration is found in the second half of Luke 1:51: God has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
June 13, 2004
- I. The Difficulty in the Translations.
- A. No one seems to be able to figure out either what Mary meant, or how to express it in English.
- B. Help comes from two directions...
- 1. Looking at the forms of the actual words Mary used.
- 2. Considering how those actual words are used by other inspired writers of the New Testament.
- C. The conclusions we draw...
- 1. Mary was speaking of a kind of judgment from God that she calls "scattering".
- 2. She was speaking of a specific reason for this judgment as an explanation for why people ought to abandon the practice of trying to gain divine pleasure by their performance as the key characteristic of the "proud".
- 3. She assigns a particular cause for this judgment upon the "proud" in terms of the "mind of their heart".
- II. The Meaning of Mary's pithy statement.
- A. In regard to "scattering".
- 1. When we look into the use of this word in the New Testament we discover that it has both a positive and a negative connotation.
- a. It is used of a farmer who "scatters" his seed as the method of bringing about great physical benefit.
- b. It is used of a fool who "scatters" his money so that he runs out at a particularly crucial time of need.
- c. It is used of what happens to sheep when the shepherd is wounded or killed as they flee in thoughtless abject terror...having no idea of where their flight will take them or what will be their condition once they have fled.
- 2. When we look at Mary's statement, it is abundantly clear that she is not talking "positively".
- a. Her statement is an absolute past historical fact: God "scattered" the proud.
- 1) The question this raises is the historical context toward which she is pointing: what past historical event is she thinking about?
- 2) The only hint we have is the record of Luke about Mary...
- a) She, instead of the "proud", was chosen to be the agent of the divine plan regarding the coming of Messiah into the world.
- b) She, instead of the "proud", is described in terms that the "proud" typically take to refer to a "nobody" from "nowhere".
- c) She, instead of the "proud", is related to the seed of David in a way that allows her to be the progenitor of the Son of David...this is the Coniah/Jeconiah conundrum. [This conundrum consists in the appearance of an irresolvable conflict between the words of God to David in 2 Samuel 7 and the words of God about Coniah in Jeremiah 22:24.]
- 3) The conclusion we draw is that she has God's curse upon Coniah and his lineage in mind.
- a) She knows that she is not of the Solomonic/Coniah line.
- b) She cannot be ignorant that her espoused is of the Solomonic/Coniah lineage.
- c) She cannot be overlooking the fact that her espoused, as the heir of the regnal lineage is a carpenter in Nazareth as opposed to a prince in Jerusalem awaiting his ascension to the throne of David.
- d) The only contextual issue of "pride" that we can find is to be found in the conundrum of the curse upon Coniah.
- i. We need absolute clarity here: Coniah was an abuser of privilege who thought his privilege exempted him from divine judgment.
- ii. Mary's statement is absolute: none of the "proud" escape the judgment of God.
- b. Her statement is a warning that God not only acted this way in the past, He acts this way as a matter of course (if I have not love, I am profited nothing).
- B. In regard to the "proud".
- 1. The way this word is used in the New Testament reveals that the chief characteristic of the "proud" is that they think that their wants/needs are to be considered first by those who will make the decision about whose wants/needs will be met.
- 2. Mary's statement is that God will demolish two things in respect to the "proud".
- a. First, "scattering" typically is a dilution of "ability"...the resources of the proud are tossed away in bits and pieces so that in the day of critical need there are no resources to call upon so that the critical need can be met. This indicates that God will frustrate the plans of the "proud" in regard to their abilities...He will humble them into the dust.
- b. Second, "scattering" typically is a separation from others...the sense of safety that one gains from being surrounded by others (as a sense of safety through the corporate pooling of the abilities of all concerned). This indicates that God will not permit the "proud" to be delivered from the danger they face...there will be no solution to their terror.
- 3. This occurs on a regular basis.
- a. This is actually the explanation for a lot of the disaster that overtakes people.
- 1) Most people are not walking daily in the light of the Lord and, consequently, are walking in "pride".
- 2) Bad things happen as a matter of course to people who are walking apart from the light of the Lord.
- b. It is not "bad luck" that occurs; it is God's activity in "scattering the proud".
- C. In regard to the "mind of the heart".
- 1. The "heart" is regularly used to refer to the system of values that a person holds in answer to the question: What/Who is Valuable?
- 2. The "mind" is regularly used to refer to the faculty of a person which decides how valuable things will be pursued.
- 3. The issue of the verse is causal: God scatters the proud because of the way their minds work in specific reference to the values they hold.