By The Rev. John Peterson
One of my favorite Psalms, if not my favorite, is Psalm 82. It is my favorite because this Psalm helps us to understand how God does God’s business.
The setting is a court room which is called the Divine Council. In the midst of other gods (notice that the Psalmist does not deny the existence of other gods – they are simply inferior) God “holds judgment”. Why is God witnessing in the court room in the first place?
Because the other gods have been judging unjustly. It is here that we see what God expects from us: “give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lonely and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
It is interesting that in Jesus’ first sermon in the Synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4) the same themes were the at core of Jesus’ ministry.
In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17, Jesus picks up on the concerns of the Divine Council. Here Jesus gives us a new understanding of how we should live. Here Jesus is the perfect embodiment of God “so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23b). In other words, Jesus witnesses to the truth of the Righteous God who loves us and calls us to be a part of God’s nature – – to live in the perfect image/icon of God.
1) Have you ever thought about the Divine Council in the context of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, particularly in the light of the gods or “ the evil one”?
2) In the Church today, does God have a controversy/lawsuit against us because we act like the gods?
Open my heart today so that I can hear the controversy that God has with me.
The Rev. John Peterson is Former Secretary General of the Anglican Communion