An important word in Christendom... patience. The Lord, indeed, is very patient... with his children, and with the entirety of the human family, the sons (and daughters) of Adam, and Noah. Is there an end? Yes, and yes... however, this being an area of which I am not all too certain, it is also an area of which I cannot speculate, behond merely suggesting that we should be patient, with each other, but even additionally with Almighty God Himself. Not to say that his promises are not sure, and that we cannot rest in them, we can; but that there exist trials on the Earth, and many a great trial, in which heavenly rest may, at times, appear distant. We have seen Jesus Ben Sirach speak of such trials in the last chapter, 34:9 - 13, and in a sense, trials can be seen as a training in righteousness (as long as we abide in the word of God).
"Dune" (1985), directed (masterfully) by David Lynch, expresses this concept throughout, and towards the end, of the movie. I recommend it: however, only his own version, as opposed to the extended one, which he did not allow his name to be placed upon. Not really a Christian movie, as one may label them; notwithstanding, there does exist some concepts expressive of Christian warfare, such as what Ben Sirach was writing of in the last chapter.
Ecclesiasticus, Chapteer 35, Comments.
This chapter, along with the last, I have found the most interesting, and pious, in the whole book, with the exception of chapter 15 (of which, I believe, I would like to go back to before we finish the book). Must remember, of course, this book is not in the canon; yet it is one of the 7 books of wisdom.
Looking back, again, to 34, and in particular 34:14 - 35:13, we see Ben Sirach looking onward, if you would, to the 'latter days', as the prophets termed them, that is, the coming of the Messiah, and the New Covenant, or perhaps more accurately, the New Testament times... Please examine 35: 1 - 9. We see Sirach equating the Legal Sacrifices with obedience; and obedience to God truly is a sacrifice... a sacrifice of our personhood: for to obey the lay, we must disobey ourselves, and our nature. See verses 5, 8 - 9.
5: "To depart from iniquity is that which pleaseth the Lord, and to depart from injustice, is an entreaty for sins....
8: The oblation of the just maketh the altar fat, and is an odour of sweetness in the sight of the most High.
9: The sacrifice of the just is acceptable, and the Lord will not forget the memorial thereof."
In these verses, Sirach is transposing significance, as the prophets of old did, from what is offered on the altar, and the mere procedure thereof, to how it is so offered, and the men doing the offering. The focus then becomes not so much the ancient, and various, offerings and oblations of the Law, and the associated intricate procedures, but rather the heart condition, and obedience, of the people, and above all, the priest himself - being the man standing for, and representing, them in front of God. We see this literally in verse 3.
3: "And to depart from injustice, is to offer a propitiatory sacrifice for injustices, and a begging of pardon for sins."
*The Atonement*, never fully described in the Old Testament, was being pointed to here, somewhat unwittingly.
One must be careful in the use of various eschatological terms, by the way, such as "latter days", "the Day of the Lord", and the "end" or "end times", because, even though all three are biblical, they each seperately have different meanings. It was due to confusion on this, and related, prophetical issues, that John Calvin, master expositor of the Bible, would actually subtly err on occasion. (Often he would class Day of the Lord prophesies as 'latter day' events - a serious error.) Further, and if you note above, I tried to switch emphasis away from "Covenant" to "Testament", for even though, again, the use of "New" and "Old" with Covenant is Biblical (Jeremiah 31), the terms were used more accurately, I believe, to expess different manners and ways in which the Lord was to deal with his people, rather than a strict covenantal agreement, per se.
I, truthfully, need to do a little more studying on this end (I am going through the book of Jeremiah right now, with master Calvin's notes); but such is the terminology of the Bible: it is not all that simple.
So therefore, that's 34 and 35 for all; among the more important chapters, I think. I'll place up 36 soon. I believe we will finish with Ecclesiasticus by the year's end. Have a good night!