Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Psalm 142 – A prayer for God’s help. To Him I bring all my complaints, all my despair. No one seems to care for me, so I cry to you for help: “you are all I really want in this life” (142:5).
Psalm 143 – “Do not put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent in your sight” (143:2).
And he asks God to kill his enemies, destroy those who oppress him. “I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain” (143:6).
The psalmist has suffered a defeat from his enemies and is in a dark prison. He remembers the days gone by and lifts his hands to God in prayer. “Remind me each morning of your constant love, for I put my trust in you. My prayers go up to you, show me the way I should go” (143:8).
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing” (143:10).
Psalm 144 – My Lord protects me, trains me for battle and is my shelter. “Lord, what are mortals, that you notice them; mere mortals, that you pay attention to us? We are like a puff of wind; our days are like a passing shadow” (144:3-4).
Tear open the sky, Lord, and come down to us. “Reach down from above, pull me out of the deep water, and rescue me; save me from the power of foreigners, who never tell the truth and lie even under oath” (144:7-8).
I will sing to you, Lord. May our children grow up to be an honor to us and to you. “May there be no cries of distress in our streets” (144:14). Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.
First Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (96/97 AD)
There “are many more of the elect who have undergone hardships and torments instigated by jealousy, and provide admirable object lessons for ourselves” (Early Christian Writings, 25).
Clement is not writing of all this just to warn the Corinthians, but “for a reminder to ourselves as well, because we too are in the same arena and have the same conflict before us” (25).
“So let us be done with these barren and vapid fancies, and turn instead to the honorable, holy Rule of our tradition, so that we can find out what is good and pleasing and acceptable in the sight of Him who made us. Let us fix our thoughts on the Blood of Christ; and reflect how precious that Blood is in God’s eyes, inasmuch as its outpouring for our salvation has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind” (25).
In every generation of human history, “the Lord has offered the chance of repentance to any who were willing to turn to Him” (25-26). He mentions the times of Noah and Jonah in particular.
“All those who were ministers of the grace of God have spoken, through the Holy Spirit, of repentance” (26). The Lord himself said, “By my life . . . it is not the sinner’s death that I desire, so much as his repentance” (26).
And further quoting the Lord, “He says somewhere else, Wash yourselves, and be clean; put away the evil of your souls from my eyes. Leave off your wickedness, and learn to do right. Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, do right by the fatherless, act fairly to the widow. Come, let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins are crimson-red, I will make them as white as snow; though they are like scarlet, I will make the them white as wool” (26).
“Let us bow, then, to that sovereign and glorious will. Let us entreat His mercy and goodness, casting ourselves upon His compassion and wasting no more energy in quarrels and a rivalry which only ends in death” (26).
Remember Enoch, whose obedience brought him unending life; and Noah, “herald of a new birth for the world” (26).
“Abraham, who was named the Friend, showed his loyalty by obeying the voice of God” (26). He took his household to a new land. For his “faith and his hospitality” (27), “a son was given to him in his old age, and this son his obedience afterwards led him to offer up as a sacrifice to God, on the mountain which He had showed him” (27).