The Northern Tribes Secede (2 Chr 10:1–19)1 Kings 12:1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 3 And they sent and called him; and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.” 5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away.
6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the older men who had attended his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7 They answered him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he disregarded the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him and now attended him. 9 He said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus you should say to this people who spoke to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us’; thus you should say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. 11 Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’ ”
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had said, “Come to me again the third day.” 13 The king answered the people harshly. He disregarded the advice that the older men had given him 14 and spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, because it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat.
16 When all Israel saw that the king would not listen to them, the people answered the king,
“What share do we have in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
To your tents, O Israel!
Look now to your own house, O David.”
First Dynasty: Jeroboam Reigns over Israel (2 Chr 11:1–4)20 When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was no one who followed the house of David, except the tribe of Judah alone.
21 When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, one hundred eighty thousand chosen troops to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23 Say to King Rehoboam of Judah, son of Solomon, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 “Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your kindred the people of Israel. Let everyone go home, for this thing is from me.” So they heeded the word of the Lord and went home again, according to the word of the Lord.
Jeroboam’s Golden Calves25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and resided there; he went out from there and built Penuel. 26 Then Jeroboam said to himself, “Now the kingdom may well revert to the house of David. 27 If this people continues to go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, the heart of this people will turn again to their master, King Rehoboam of Judah; they will kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” 28 So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. He said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29 He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one at Bethel and before the other as far as Dan. 31 He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not Levites. 32 Jeroboam appointed a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the festival that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. 33 He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he alone had devised; he appointed a festival for the people of Israel, and he went up to the altar to offer incense.
A Man of God from Judah1 Kings 13:1 While Jeroboam was standing by the altar to offer incense, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel 2 and proclaimed against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘A son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who offer incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’ ” 3 He gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the Lord has spoken: ‘The altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’ ” 4 When the king heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him!” But the hand that he stretched out against him withered so that he could not draw it back to himself. 5 The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the Lord. 6 The king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, so that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the Lord; and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as it was before. 7 Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and dine, and I will give you a gift.” 8 But the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your kingdom, I will not go in with you; nor will I eat food or drink water in this place. 9 For thus I was commanded by the word of the Lord: You shall not eat food, or drink water, or return by the way that you came.” 10 So he went another way, and did not return by the way that he had come to Bethel.
11 Now there lived an old prophet in Bethel. One of his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words also that he had spoken to the king, they told to their father. 12 Their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 Then he said to his sons, “Saddle a donkey for me.” So they saddled a donkey for him, and he mounted it. 14 He went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak tree. He said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” He answered, “I am.” 15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat some food.” 16 But he said, “I cannot return with you, or go in with you; nor will I eat food or drink water with you in this place; 17 for it was said to me by the word of the Lord: You shall not eat food or drink water there, or return by the way that you came.” 18 Then the other said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord: Bring him back with you into your house so that he may eat food and drink water.” But he was deceiving him. 19 Then the man of God went back with him, and ate food and drank water in his house.
20 As they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; 21 and he proclaimed to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the Lord: Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment that the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but have come back and have eaten food and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, ‘Eat no food, and drink no water,’ your body shall not come to your ancestral tomb.” 23 After the man of God had eaten food and had drunk, they saddled for him a donkey belonging to the prophet who had brought him back. 24 Then as he went away, a lion met him on the road and killed him. His body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. 25 People passed by and saw the body thrown in the road, with the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the town where the old prophet lived.
26 When the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him according to the word that the Lord spoke to him.” 27 Then he said to his sons, “Saddle a donkey for me.” So they saddled one, 28 and he went and found the body thrown in the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or attacked the donkey. 29 The prophet took up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to the city, to mourn and to bury him. 30 He laid the body in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” 31 After he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the saying that he proclaimed by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.”
33 Even after this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people; any who wanted to be priests he consecrated for the high places. 34 This matter became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.
Judgment on the House of Jeroboam1 Kings 14:1 At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam fell sick. 2 Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go, disguise yourself, so that it will not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh; for the prophet Ahijah is there, who said of me that I should be king over this people. 3 Take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what shall happen to the child.”
4 Jeroboam’s wife did so; she set out and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age. 5 But the Lord said to Ahijah, “The wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son; for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her.”
When she came, she pretended to be another woman. 6 But when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam; why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with heavy tidings for you. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because I exalted you from among the people, made you leader over my people Israel, 8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David to give it to you; yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my sight, 9 but you have done evil above all those who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods, and cast images, provoking me to anger, and have thrust me behind your back; 10 therefore, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will consume the house of Jeroboam, just as one burns up dung until it is all gone. 11 Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city, the dogs shall eat; and anyone who dies in the open country, the birds of the air shall eat; for the Lord has spoken.’ 12 Therefore set out, go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. 13 All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him; for he alone of Jeroboam’s family shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the Lord, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. 14 Moreover the Lord will raise up for himself a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today, even right now!
15 “The Lord will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; he will root up Israel out of this good land that he gave to their ancestors, and scatter them beyond the Euphrates, because they have made their sacred poles, provoking the Lord to anger. 16 He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and which he caused Israel to commit.”
17 Then Jeroboam’s wife got up and went away, and she came to Tirzah. As she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. 18 All Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant the prophet Ahijah.
Death of Jeroboam19 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred and how he reigned, are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel. 20 The time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years; then he slept with his ancestors, and his son Nadab succeeded him.
Rehoboam Reigns over Judah (2 Chr 11:5–12:16)21 Now Rehoboam son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city that the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. 22 Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their ancestors had done. 23 For they also built for themselves high places, pillars, and sacred poles on every high hill and under every green tree; 24 there were also male temple prostitutes in the land. They committed all the abominations of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.
25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; 26 he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took everything. He also took away all the shields of gold that Solomon had made; 27 so King Rehoboam made shields of bronze instead, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house. 28 As often as the king went into the house of the Lord, the guard carried them and brought them back to the guardroom.
29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? 30 There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 31 Rehoboam slept with his ancestors and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. His son Abijam succeeded him.
My take away from today's reading is that it is much easier to break up what should not be broken up; marriage, friendship, contracts, treaties, nations, ... than it is to reconcile and restore what is broken.
Is America breaking up now? What is tearing us apart? Jesus calls the sons of God peacemakers in Mat 5:9.
Are there any sons of God in America?
The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
by Bill Federer
300,000 miles on horseback, from the Atlantic to the Appalachians, from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, for forty-five years, he spread the Gospel. This was Francis Asbury, Methodist Circuit riding preacher who was born this day, August 20, 1745. When the Revolution started, he refused to return to England. He befriended Richard Bassett, a signer of the Constitution, who converted, freed his slaves and paid them as hired labor. He met personally with George Washington, congratulating him on his election. By the time he died, the Methodist Church in America had grown from 300 members to over 200,000.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Christ is the sun,
and all the watches of our lives
should be set by the dial of his motion.
--- Thomas Brooks
Let us see that our knowledge of Christ be not a powerless, barren, unpractical knowledge: O that, in its passage from our understanding to our lips, it might powerfully melt, sweeten, and ravish our hearts! Remember, brethren, a holy calling never saved any man, without a holy heart; if our tongues only be sanctified, our whole man must be damned. We must be judged by the same Gospel, and stand at the same bar, and be sentenced to the same terms, and dealt with as severely as any other men.
--- John Flavel
I thank God for my handicaps,
I have found myself, my work,
and my God.
--- Helen Keller
Forgiveness is the very opposite of anything which can be taken for granted. Nothing is less obvious than forgiveness.
--- Emil Brunner, Mediator
Forgiveness is to man the plainest of duties; to God it is the profoundest of problems.
The fact of Christ: a series of lectures
... from here, there and everywhere
And practical Sense?
The noted Canadian atheist Kai Neilsen said:
We have been unable to show that Reason requires the moral point of view, or that really rational persons.. .need not be egoists or classical amoralists. Reason doesn’t decide here. The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me__ Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.
Kai Neilsen, “Why Should I Be Moral?” American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1984): 90.
Do you hear what Nielsen is saying? Reason cannot lead you to morality. Reason cannot argue against an amoral or egoistic lifestyle. One cannot call upon sheer rationality to argue for an “ought” in life. This is the prison of secular reasoning. This is the dead end of “one mans terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” This is the voice of the student saying, “I would not like it, but I cannot call it morally wrong.” This is America’s quandary. How do we determine what is evil? Do we do so intuitively or rationally, when one is so personal and the other so beyond reason?
Let me take you one step further. Ultra-rationalists tell you not only that reason cannot lead you to morality; they tell you that your very hope for moral reasoning is irrational. Listen to the words of Richard Dawkins from Oxford:
In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reasoning to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (Science Masters Series)
Do you see what he is saying? Is he saying that the moralist is rationally wrong-headed because there is no such thing as good? Indeed! But he is saying more. Even the likes of Alan Dershowitz, who does not believe that we know what is right, is also wrong, says Dawkins, because Dershowitz at least believes that evil is recognizable. But according to Dawkins, there is no such thing as evil either. In short, no good, no evil. We are all just dancing to our DNA, and DNA neither knows nor cares.
Light in the Shadow of Jihad: The Struggle for Truth
Other Ravi Zacharias Books:
Jesus Among Secular Gods: The Countercultural Claims of Christ
The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists
Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn't Make Sense
Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message
Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows
Why Jesus?: Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality
The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives
Can Man Live Without God
Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend
The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha (Great Conversations)
Who Made God?: And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith
Cries of The Heart
I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah: Moving from Romance to Lasting Love
Has Christianity Failed You?
Recapture the Wonder
The Lamb and the Fuhrer: Jesus Talks with Hitler (Great Conversations)
Deliver Us From Evil: Restoring the Soul in a Disintegrating Culture with Study Guide
The Real Face of Atheism
New Birth or Rebirth?: Jesus Talks with Krishna (Great Conversations)
Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks to Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure (Great Conversations)
The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ
Is Your Church Ready? Motivating Leaders to Live an Apologetic Life
The Kingdom of the Cults
Can Man Live without God
Can I Trust the Bible? (RZIM Critical Questions Discussion Guides)
There Is a Plan
Doubting: Growing Through the Uncertainties of Faith
Hitler's Cross: How the Cross Was Used to Promote the Nazi Agenda
Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case
Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn't Make Sense by Ravi Zacharias (16-Oct-2014) Paperback
Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks to Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure (Great Conversations) by Ravi Zacharias (June 01,2006)
Thanks to Meir Yona
33. But as the people of Jotapata still held out manfully, and bore up under their miseries beyond all that could be hoped for, on the forty-seventh day [of the siege] the banks cast up by the Romans were become higher than the wall; on which day a certain deserter went to Vespasian, and told him how few were left in the city, and how weak they were, and that they had been so worn out with perpetual watching, and as perpetual fighting, that they could not now oppose any force that came against them, and that they might be taken by stratagem, if any one would attack them; for that about the last watch of the night, when they thought they might have some rest from the hardships they were under, and when a Morning sleep used to come upon them, as they were thoroughly weary, he said the watch used to fall asleep; accordingly his advice was, that they should make their attack at that hour. But Vespasian had a suspicion about this deserter, as knowing how faithful the Jews were to one another, and how much they despised any punishments that could be inflicted on them; this last because one of the people of Jotapata had undergone all sorts of torments, and though they made him pass through a fiery trial of his enemies in his examination, yet would he inform them nothing of the affairs within the city, and as he was crucified, smiled at them. However, the probability there was in the relation itself did partly confirm the truth of what the deserter told them, and they thought he might probably speak truth. However, Vespasian thought they should be no great sufferers if the report was a sham; so he commanded them to keep the man in custody, and prepared the army for taking the city.
34. According to which resolution they marched without noise, at the hour that had been told them, to the wall; and it was Titus himself that first got upon it, with one of his tribunes, Domitius Sabinus, and had a few of the fifteenth legion along with him. So they cut the throats of the watch, and entered the city very quietly. After these came Cerealis the tribune, and Placidus, and led on those that were tinder them. Now when the citadel was taken, and the enemy were in the very midst of the city, and when it was already day, yet was not the taking of the city known by those that held it; for a great many of them were fast asleep, and a great mist, which then by chance fell upon the city, hindered those that got up from distinctly seeing the case they were in, till the whole Roman army was gotten in, and they were raised up only to find the miseries they were under; and as they were slaying, they perceived the city was taken. And for the Romans, they so well remembered what they had suffered during the siege, that they spared none, nor pitied any, but drove the people down the precipice from the citadel, and slew them as they drove them down; at which time the difficulties of the place hindered those that were still able to fight from defending themselves; for as they were distressed in the narrow streets, and could not keep their feet sure along the precipice, they were overpowered with the crowd of those that came fighting them down from the citadel. This provoked a great many, even of those chosen men that were about Josephus, to kill themselves with their own hands; for when they saw that they could kill none of the Romans, they resolved to prevent being killed by the Romans, and got together in great numbers in the utmost parts of the city, and killed themselves.
35. However, such of the watch as at the first perceived they were taken, and ran away as fast as they could, went up into one of the towers on the north side of the city, and for a while defended themselves there; but as they were encompassed with a multitude of enemies, they tried to use their right hands when it was too late, and at length they cheerfully offered their necks to be cut off by those that stood over them. And the Romans might have boasted that the conclusion of that siege was without blood [on their side] if there had not been a centurion, Antonius, who was slain at the taking of the city. His death was occasioned by the following treachery; for there was one of those that were fled into the caverns, which were a great number, who desired that this Antonius would reach him his right hand for his security, and would assure him that he would preserve him, and give him his assistance in getting up out of the cavern; accordingly, he incautiously reached him his right hand, when the other man prevented him, and stabbed him under his loins with a spear, and killed him immediately.
36. And on this day it was that the Romans slew all the multitude that appeared openly; but on the following days they searched the hiding-places, and fell upon those that were under ground, and in the caverns, and went thus through every age, excepting the infants and the women, and of these there were gathered together as captives twelve hundred; and as for those that were slain at the taking of the city, and in the former fights, they were numbered to be forty thousand. So Vespasian gave order that the city should be entirely demolished, and all the fortifications burnt down. And thus was Jotapata taken, in the thirteenth year of the reign of Nero, on the first day of the month Panemus [Tamuz].
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
or encroach on the land of the fatherless;
11 for their Redeemer is strong;
he will take up their fight against you.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
And I will give you rest. --- Matthew 11:28.
Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace. Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say—‘Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me’, and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all. Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. ‘Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up.’ Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute.
The complete life is the life of a child. When I am consciously conscious, there is something wrong. It is the sick man who knows what health is. The child of God is not conscious of the will of God because he is the will of God. When there has been the slightest deviation from the will of God, we begin to ask—‘What is Thy will?’ A child of God never prays to be conscious that God answers prayer, he is so restfully certain that God always does answer prayer.
If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any commonsense method, we develop it tremendously. Jesus says “Come unto Me and I will give you rest,” i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of RS Thomas
And God thought: Pray away,
Creatures; I'm going to destroy
It. The mistake's mine,
If you like. I have blundered
Before; the glaciers erased
I saw them go
Further than you -- palaces,
Missiles. My privacy
Was invaded; then the flaw
Took over; they allied themselves
With the dust. Winds blew away
Their pasture. Their bones signalled
From the desert to me
After the dust, fire;
The earth burned. I have forgotten
How long, but the fierce writing
Seduced me. I blew with my cool
Breath; the vapour condensed
In the hollows. The sun was torn
From my side. Out of the waters
You came, as subtle
As water, with your mineral
Poetry and promises
Of obedience. I listened to you
Too long. Within the churches
You built me you genuflected
To the machine. Where will it
Take you from the invisible
Viruses, the personnel
Of the darkness that do my will?
At times, people will use the line “Run the synagogue like a business” as their mantra for making the synagogue into an efficient, cost-effective operation. These are often people whose concerns are the physical plant and financial ledgers—important considerations for those in positions of responsibility.
Yet, just as “A carpenter who doesn’t have a tool isn’t a carpenter,” so too a synagogue that is not run on the values of Torah is not truly a synagogue. The building must be more than a warehouse, a repository for Torah. The synagogue has to stand as a living representation of Torah and its values. For example, handicap access is mandated by American law in many public places. It may not be required in a synagogue, either because of the way the law is worded or because the synagogue is considered under a “grandfather clause.” Yet, there is more than civil law at stake here. The Torah tells us not to put a stumbling block before the blind (Leviticus 19:14), which Jewish tradition has interpreted to mean putting anything in the way of a person with a handicap, physical or mental. Wouldn’t Torah rules require handicap access for the synagogue even if American law may exempt it? Shouldn’t “Run it like a business” be secondary to “Run it by the values of our Jewish tradition”?
Bezalel had not only the skill to physically build the mishkan, but also—in the Rabbis’ view—חָכְמָה/ḥokhmah, “wisdom” to know the purpose of the place. Our challenge is to have not only the skills, but also the wisdom—and the heart—to go along with them.
ANOTHER D’RASH / What would the perfect rabbi be like? A number of years ago, Ann Landers printed a humorous piece that painted this picture:
The perfect pastor preaches exactly 15 minutes. He condemns sin but never embarrasses anyone. He works from 8 a.m. till midnight, and is also the janitor. He makes $60 a week, wears good clothes, drives a new car and gives $50 a week to the poor. He is 28, and has been preaching for 25 years, is wonderfully gentle and handsome, loves to work with teenagers and spends countless hours with senior citizens. He makes 15 calls daily on congregation families, shut-ins, and hospital patients, and is always in his office when needed.…
A congregational rabbi today must be many things: a biblical and talmudic scholar, an eternal student, a master teacher, a feeling and caring pastor, a dynamic preacher, a take-charge yet delegating administrator, a successful fund-raiser, a personable master of ceremonies, a gifted writer, a moral exemplar. No human being can excel at all of those things.
Realizing that no one person is “the perfect pastor,” which qualities would we consider the most important? What weaknesses would we be willing to accept? If we sat on the search committee, what kind of person would we look for in our religious leader?
In the Bible, when God is ready to build the Tabernacle, comparable to the modern synagogue, God hires Bezalel, whose chief qualifications are skills, ability, and knowledge. But constructing a building does not a synagogue make. Bezalel, we have to remember, was merely the chief craftsman. The spiritual leader was Mosheh Rabbenu, Moses “our Rabbi.”
Moses had many strengths. He cared deeply for his people (saving them from God’s anger on more than one occasion). He was a man of great courage (standing before Pharaoh and demanding his people’s freedom). He was a great writer (you may recall his Five Books). But he also had many weaknesses. He was not a good public speaker (he had a speech impediment). He couldn’t always control his temper (he struck the rock twice with his staff instead of speaking to it). He wasn’t very organized (his father-in-law Jethro had to show him how to set up the nation’s bureaucracy).
Despite his imperfections, Moses has gone down in history as our greatest religious leader. Perhaps a clue as to what made him the perfect Rabbi is found in the simple verse: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth” (Numbers 12:3). Humble does not mean shy or meek; those are not qualities that Moses had. Humility means the knowledge that we are not perfect, and it is the acceptance that Someone—God—is so much greater than we are. Humility also means, in the words of Rabbi Hoshaya, “the fear of sin,” that we have reverence, not for ourselves, but for the position that we hold and that we realize the terrible consequences of doing wrong.
Ironically, the perfect rabbi may be the one who realizes that he or she isn’t perfect.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me.
--- John 17:24.
I mention one more petition. (John A. Broadus, “The Saviour Praying for Us,” downloaded from the Blessed Hope Ministries of Shiloh Baptist Church, Gainesville, Ga. at members.aol.com/blesshope, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) They had beheld his humiliation, those who accompanied him, and he longed that they might be with him to behold his glory. He offers the same prayer for all that would believe on him through their word.
There are two reasons why Jesus Christ made this petition. He asked it partly for his own sake. Did you never imagine that he was sad at leaving his disciples? You know that they were sad, but wasn’t he? Did you never suppose that he longs to have those who love him more immediately with him? He said to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1), and it will all be well. “I am going… to prepare a place for you. And… I will come back and take you to be with me” (vv. 2–3). He says it not only to comfort them, but more than they know perhaps, he says it to comfort his own heart also. And so Jesus said, “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.” He wants to have his people with him.
But the other reason is more obvious to us; he made the prayer for their sake. He makes the prayer for our sake, “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.” To be with him is to be delivered from all the infirmities and imperfections and conflicts of this earthly life. I do not suppose we could bear all this if it were not for the fact that it is to end—and to end in victory. I suppose we would give up the struggling effort to do right and to do good in this world were it not for the assurance that we will at last be conquerors and “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). To be with him will be to be with all who have loved us and who have gone before us to him. To be with him is to be free from all sin, and safe. Safe! O my soul, safe from all temptation to sin. To be with him is to behold his glory.
So the Savior prays for us, and how grateful we are. Let us strive to fulfill his petitions that one day we may be with him.
--- John A. Broadus
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Study in Contrasts August 20
Jesus, the very thought of Thee, With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy presence rest.
This hymn, sung for nearly 1,000 years, is attributed to a puzzling man in France named Bernard, a deeply spiritual Christian who advanced a militant Christianity.
Bernard seemed destined for a promising secular career until as a youth he turned toward Christ and persuaded more than two dozen of his friends to give themselves to celibacy and to the monastery of Citeaux. He soon became the most famous figure there and was sent to found a similar institution at Clairvaux.
The monastery of Clairvaux became his headquarters, and he seldom left it; but his influence radiated from its walls like spokes of a wheel. During his lifetime, he founded 70 more monasteries and oversaw 90 others. He loved the Scripture and became deeply acquainted with its teachings; but he loved the sword almost as much. He advanced monastic military orders—communities of knights and men-at-arms living under monastic discipline committed to the defense of church and faith. He wrote the rule book for the Knights Templar and inspired German military orders that forcibly Christianized parts of Europe. He envisioned the Second Crusade and persuaded Pope Eugene, his former pupil, to authorize it. And when it ended in disaster, Bernard commented, “It is better that they blame me than God.”
Many Christians today do blame Bernard. He was a fighter who battled the devil in his own life by rigid disciplines; and heresy by asserting orthodoxy at every stop; and paganism by preaching with a Bible in one hand and a sword in the other; and Muslims by sending Europe’s finest on an ill-fated crusade. He didn’t give up his battles until August 20, 1153, when at age 63 he departed—“Thy face to see and in Thy presence rest.”
We question his judgment, but we still sing his song. And we remember his life every August 20, the feast day of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
One of Jesus’ followers pulled out a sword. He struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. But Jesus told him, “Put your sword away.”
--- Matthew 26:51,52a
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - August 20
“The sweet psalmist of Israel.” --- 2 Samuel 23:1.
Among all the saints whose lives are recorded in Holy Writ, David possesses an experience of the most striking, varied, and instructive character. In his history we meet with trials and temptations not to be discovered, as a whole, in other saints of ancient times, and hence he is all the more suggestive a type of our Lord. David knew the trials of all ranks and conditions of men. Kings have their troubles, and David wore a crown: the peasant has his cares, and David handled a shepherd’s crook: the wanderer has many hardships, and David abode in the caves of Engedi: the captain has his difficulties, and David found the sons of Zeruiah too hard for him. The psalmist was also tried in his friends, his counsellor Ahithophel forsook him, “He that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me.” His worst foes were they of his own household: his children were his greatest affliction. The temptations of poverty and wealth, of honour and reproach, of health and weakness, all tried their power upon him. He had temptations from without to disturb his peace, and from within to mar his joy. David no sooner escaped from one trial than he fell into another; no sooner emerged from one season of despondency and alarm, than he was again brought into the lowest depths, and all God’s waves and billows rolled over him. It is probably from this cause that David’s Psalms are so universally the delight of experienced Christians. Whatever our frame of mind, whether ecstasy or depression, David has exactly described our emotions. He was an able master of the human heart, because he had been tutored in the best of all schools—the school of heart-felt, personal experience. As we are instructed in the same school, as we grow matured in grace and in years, we increasingly appreciate David’s Psalms, and find them to be “green pastures.” My soul, let David’s experience cheer and counsel thee this day.
Evening - August 20
“And they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall.”
--- Nehemiah 3:8.
Cities well fortified have broad walls, and so had Jerusalem in her glory. The New Jerusalem must, in like manner, be surrounded and preserved by a broad wall of nonconformity to the world, and separation from its customs and spirit. The tendency of these days break down the holy barrier, and make the distinction between the church and the world merely nominal. Professors are no longer strict and Puritanical, questionable literature is read on all hands, frivolous pastimes are currently indulged, and a general laxity threatens to deprive the Lord’s peculiar people of those sacred singularities which separate them from sinners. It will be an ill day for the church and the world when the proposed amalgamation shall be complete, and the sons of God and the daughters of men shall be as one: then shall another deluge of wrath be ushered in. Beloved reader, be it your aim in heart, in word, in dress, in action to maintain the broad wall, remembering that the friendship of this world is enmity against God.
The broad wall afforded a pleasant place of resort for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, from which they could command prospects of the surrounding country. This reminds us of the Lord’s exceeding broad commandments, in which we walk at liberty in communion with Jesus, overlooking the scenes of earth, and looking out towards the glories of heaven. Separated from the world, and denying ourselves all ungodliness and fleshly lusts, we are nevertheless not in prison, nor restricted within narrow bounds; nay, we walk at liberty, because we keep his precepts. Come, reader, this Evening walk with God in his statutes. As friend met friend upon the city wall, so meet thou thy God in the way of holy prayer and meditation. The bulwarks of salvation thou hast a right to traverse, for thou art a freeman of the royal burgh, a citizen of the metropolis of the universe.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
J. Edwin Orr, 1912–1988
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9)
The inspiration of a thrilling revival in New Zealand prompted the late J. Edwin Orr to blend the 23rd and 24th verses of Psalm 139a with a lovely Polynesian melody that has since become one of our most challenging hymns of revival. Dr. Orr’s text opens with the prayer that the revival begin in him. Then he reminds us that revival begins only after God’s people recognize their sin, receive cleansing from it and surrender their “will, passion, self and pride.” The hymn ends appropriately with the assurance of knowing that God will hear and supply our needs.
J. Edwin Orr has been widely known as a challenging evangelist and a noted scholar of historical revival movements. He has written many textbooks and was a professor of world missions. He also lectured and held workshops throughout the world while visiting 150 countries.
“Cleanse Me” was written in 1936 after a stirring Easter convention in Ngaruawahia, New Zealand. Fervent meetings sprang up throughout the city. Inspired by this intense movement of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Orr took time as he left New Zealand to write the verses of “Cleanse Me” on the back of an envelope in the post office. The tune he used was the lovely Maori Song of Farewell, sung to him by four Aborigine girls as he was leaving. In following campaigns in Australia and other parts of the world, Dr. Orr often used this hymn to encourage new spiritual awakenings. His ceaseless prayer was that the people of God would be stirred to pray for yet another world-wide awakening.
Search me, O God, and know my heart today; try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray. See if there be some wicked way in me; cleanse me from ev’ry sin and set me free.
I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin; fulfill Thy Word and make me pure within. Fill me with fire where once I burned with shame; grant my desire to magnify Thy name.
Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine; fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine. Take all my will, my passion, self and pride; I now surrender, Lord—in me abide.
O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; send a revival—start the work in me. Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need; for blessings now, O Lord, I humbly plead.
For Today: Leviticus 19:2; Psalm 51:7, 10; 85:6; 139:23, 24; Ephesians 1:4
Ask God to reveal any attitudes or actions that may be displeasing to Him. Confess each specific one, then claim His cleansing forgiveness and go forth with His joy and power. Use the words of this hymn to guide you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Sunday, August 20, 2017 | After Pentecost
Proper 15, Sunday
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 118
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 145
Old Testament 2 Samuel 17:1–23
New Testament Galatians 3:6–14
Gospel John 5:30–47
Index of Readings
1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 With the LORD on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in mortals.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to put confidence in princes.
10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they blazed like a fire of thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.
15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the LORD does valiantly;
16 the right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.”
17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
18 The LORD has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
29 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Praise. Of David.
1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The LORD is faithful in all his words,
and gracious in all his deeds.
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of all who fear him;
he also hears their cry, and saves them.
20 The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.
2 Samuel 17:1–23
Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. 2 I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged, and throw him into a panic; and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down only the king, 3 and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace.” 4 The advice pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
5 Then Absalom said, “Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear too what he has to say.” 6 When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “This is what Ahithophel has said; shall we do as he advises? If not, you tell us.” 7 Then Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.” 8 Hushai continued, “You know that your father and his men are warriors, and that they are enraged, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9 Even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits, or in some other place. And when some of our troops fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.’ 10 Then even the valiant warrior, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear; for all Israel knows that your father is a warrior, and that those who are with him are valiant warriors. 11 But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beer-sheba, like the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. 12 So we shall come upon him in whatever place he may be found, and we shall light on him as the dew falls on the ground; and he will not survive, nor will any of those with him. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.” 14 Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring ruin on Absalom.
15 Then Hushai said to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, “Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and so I have counseled. 16 Therefore send quickly and tell David, ‘Do not lodge tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over; otherwise the king and all the people who are with him will be swallowed up.’ ” 17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En-rogel; a servant-girl used to go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David; for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a boy saw them, and told Absalom; so both of them went away quickly, and came to the house of a man at Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard; and they went down into it. 19 The man’s wife took a covering, stretched it over the well’s mouth, and spread out grain on it; and nothing was known of it. 20 When Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman said to them, “They have crossed over the brook of water.” And when they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, “Go and cross the water quickly; for thus and so has Ahithophel counseled against you.” 22 So David and all the people who were with him set out and crossed the Jordan; by daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order, and hanged himself; he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.
6 Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” 7 so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” 9 For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. 33 You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.
39 “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 I do not accept glory from human beings. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”
The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church