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     Leviticus  1 - 4


Leviticus 1

Laws for Burnt Offerings

Leviticus 1 1 The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

     No book in the Old Testament presents a greater challenge to the modern reader than Leviticus, and imagination is required to picture the ceremonies and rites that form the bulk of the book. However, it is important to try to understand the rituals in Leviticus for two reasons. First, rituals enshrine, express, and teach those values and ideas that a society holds most dear. By analyzing the ceremonies described in Leviticus, we can learn about what was most important to the Old Testament Israelites. Second, these same ideas are foundational for the New Testament writers. Particularly the concepts of sin, sacrifice, and atonement found in Leviticus are used in the New Testament to interpret the death of Christ.
     Precisely because the rituals of Leviticus are so central to Old Testament thinking, they are often obscure to us, because the writers did not need to explain them to their contemporaries. Every Israelite knew why a particular sacrifice was offered on a specific occasion and what a certain gesture meant. For ourselves, every hint in the text must be grasped to understand these things, and a judicious reading between the lines is sometimes required.
     Leviticus is part of the covenant law given at Sinai. The ideas that inform the whole Sinaitic covenant, including God’s sovereign grace in choosing Israel and His moral demands, are also presupposed here. Certain themes are especially prominent in Leviticus. First, God is present with His people. Second, because God is holy, His people must also be holy (11:45). Since man is sinful, he cannot dwell with the holy God. Contact between the sinner and the divine holiness may result in death. Hence, atonement for sin through the offering of sacrifice is of paramount importance.
  ESV Reformation Study Bible
3 “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. 4 He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. 5 Then he shall kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 6 Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, 7 and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; 9 but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

10 “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish, 11 and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood that is on the fire on the altar, 13 but the entrails and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

14 “If his offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or pigeons. 15 And the priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head and burn it on the altar. Its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16 He shall remove its crop with its contents and cast it beside the altar on the east side, in the place for ashes. 17 He shall tear it open by its wings, but shall not sever it completely. And the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.


Leviticus 2

Laws for Grain Offerings

Leviticus 2 1 “When anyone brings a grain offering as an offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it 2 and bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests. And he shall take from it a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all of its frankincense, and the priest shall burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 3 But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the LORD’s food offerings.

4 “When you bring a grain offering baked in the oven as an offering, it shall be unleavened loaves of fine flour mixed with oil or unleavened wafers smeared with oil. 5 And if your offering is a grain offering baked on a griddle, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mixed with oil. 6 You shall break it in pieces and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. 7 And if your offering is a grain offering cooked in a pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. 8 And you shall bring the grain offering that is made of these things to the LORD, and when it is presented to the priest, he shall bring it to the altar. 9 And the priest shall take from the grain offering its memorial portion and burn this on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 10 But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the LORD’s food offerings.

11 “No grain offering that you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the LORD. 12 As an offering of firstfruits you may bring them to the LORD, but they shall not be offered on the altar for a pleasing aroma. 13 You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.

14 “If you offer a grain offering of firstfruits to the LORD, you shall offer for the grain offering of your firstfruits fresh ears, roasted with fire, crushed new grain. 15 And you shall put oil on it and lay frankincense on it; it is a grain offering. 16 And the priest shall burn as its memorial portion some of the crushed grain and some of the oil with all of its frankincense; it is a food offering to the LORD.


Leviticus 3

Laws for Peace Offerings

Leviticus 3 1 “If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers an animal from the herd, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD. 2 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and kill it at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw the blood against the sides of the altar. 3 And from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as a food offering to the LORD, he shall offer the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 5 Then Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering, which is on the wood on the fire; it is a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

6 “If his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering to the LORD is an animal from the flock, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD, 8 lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it in front of the tent of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 9 Then from the sacrifice of the peace offering he shall offer as a food offering to the LORD its fat; he shall remove the whole fat tail, cut off close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 10 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 11 And the priest shall burn it on the altar as a food offering to the LORD.

12 “If his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD 13 and lay his hand on its head and kill it in front of the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 14 Then he shall offer from it, as his offering for a food offering to the LORD, the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 15 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 16 And the priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering with a pleasing aroma. All fat is the LORD’s. 17 It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither fat nor blood.”


Leviticus 4

Laws for Sin Offerings

Leviticus 4 4 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the LORD’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, 3 if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering. 4 He shall bring the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD and lay his hand on the head of the bull and kill the bull before the LORD. 5 And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it into the tent of meeting, 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the LORD in front of the veil of the sanctuary. 7 And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the LORD that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall remove from it, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 9 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys 10 (just as these are taken from the ox of the sacrifice of the peace offerings); and the priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering. 11 But the skin of the bull and all its flesh, with its head, its legs, its entrails, and its dung— 12 all the rest of the bull—he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, to the ash heap, and shall burn it up on a fire of wood. On the ash heap it shall be burned up.

13 “If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they do any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and they realize their guilt, 14 when the sin which they have committed becomes known, the assembly shall offer a bull from the herd for a sin offering and bring it in front of the tent of meeting. 15 And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull shall be killed before the LORD. 16 Then the anointed priest shall bring some of the blood of the bull into the tent of meeting, 17 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD in front of the veil. 18 And he shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is in the tent of meeting before the LORD, and the rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 19 And all its fat he shall take from it and burn on the altar. 20 Thus shall he do with the bull. As he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this. And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. 21 And he shall carry the bull outside the camp and burn it up as he burned the first bull; it is the sin offering for the assembly.

22 “When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the LORD his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 23 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, 24 and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD; it is a sin offering. 25 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 26 And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

27 “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 28 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. 29 And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering. 30 And the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 31 And all its fat he shall remove, as the fat is removed from the peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a pleasing aroma to the LORD. And the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

32 “If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish 33 and lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. 34 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 35 And all its fat he shall remove as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on top of the LORD’s food offerings. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.

ESV Study Bible



What I'm Reading

The Reception of the Book of Revelation in the Early Church

By Michael J. Kruger 11/1/2016

     There is little doubt that most people are confused by the book of Revelation. Perhaps is not surprising, then, that people are equally confused by its journey into the New Testament canon.

     Revelation is one of those “debated” books in the early church, along with books like 2 Peter, 2-3 John, and Jude.

     If you are looking for more on the canonical history of Revelation, I point you to my recent article entitled, “The Reception of the Book of Revelation in the Early Church” which has just come out in the new volume Book of Seven Seals: The Peculiarity of Revelation, its Manuscripts, Attestation, and Transmission (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament) (English and German Edition).

     In essence, I argue that Revelation had a very different canonical history than most other debated NT books. Other debated books tended to have a lukewarm reception at the earliest stages, only to gain more and more acceptance over time. Revelation, on the other hand, had nearly the opposite experience; it had a very early and positive reception in many parts of the church, only to run into serious challenges at a later point.

     For a briefer (and less academic) overview of Revelation’s canonical history, see my prior blog article “The Book of Revelation: How Difficult Was Its Journey into the Canon.”

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

The Likely Forger Behind the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

By Michael J. Kruger 6/16/2016

     It has been a while since the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife has been in the headlines. It was originally unveiled by Karen King at Harvard (here), but quickly exposed as a likely forgery. I have also written on the fragment (here and here).

     While this document’s status as a forgery is relatively certain, what has been uncertain (until now) is the identity of the forger. Who was the person who created this document and convinced King and others to promote it?

     The forger must have had some Coptic abilities. But, the abilities would have had limits–as demonstrated by the mistakes in the Coptic text.

     What is remarkable is that King herself has not undertaken a rigorous investigation of the document’s origins and provenance. Who discovered this document? Who owned it? And how was it passed along? If the authenticity of a document is in doubt, this is an important avenue to pursue. But no one has wanted to pursue it.

     But, now someone finally has.  A journalist named Ariel Sabar has just published a splendid piece in The Atlantic documenting the history of this forgery and tracing it back to the current owner, and likely forger, a rather shady German business man, and washed-out Coptic student, named Walter Fritz.

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

My Review of “How the Bible Became Holy

By Michael J. Kruger 12/14/2015

     This past week, my review of Michael Satlow, How the Bible Became Holy appeared in the latest volume of Themelios.

     As the title suggests, this is yet another book (in a long list of predecessors) that insists that the idea of an authoritative Scripture is a late invention of Christians.

     According to Satlow, the Bible was not originally holy. It became holy. And that didn’t even happen until well into the third century or later.

     Although Satlow’s volume covers both OT and NT issues, my review addressed some weaknesses on the NT side of things:

     "As for the development of the New Testament canon, Satlow provides a brief overview of some of the major players in the second century, including Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Irenaeus (pp. 241–56). Although there is substantial evidence that these individuals held a high view of New Testament writings, one gets the impression that Satlow is trying to minimize this evidence at every turn. For example, when it comes to Justin Martyr, he argues that the Gospels “play a relatively minor role for him” and “didn’t play much of a role in the lives of most ordinary Christians” (p. 250). But, then Satlow just glosses over the major text that shows otherwise, namely Justin’s description of how the Gospels are read in early Christian worship services as Scripture on par with the Old Testament writings (1 Apol. 67.3). Surely this suggests that the Gospels not only possessed a high authority, but that they did play an important role in the life of ordinary Christians.

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

What is the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?

By Michael J. Kruger 10/19/2015

     In the study of the New Testament canon, scholars like to highlight the first time we see a complete list of 27 books. Inevitably, the list contained in Athanasius’ famous Festal Letter (c.367) is mentioned as the first time this happened.

     As a result, it is often claimed that the New Testament was a late phenomenon. We didn’t have a New Testament, according to Athanasius, until the end of the fourth century.

     But, this sort of reasoning is problematic on a number of levels. First, we don’t measure the existence of the New Testament just by the existence of lists. When we examine the way certain books were used by the early church fathers, it is evident that there was a functioning canon long before the fourth century. Indeed, by the second century, there is already a “core” collection of New Testament books functioning as Scripture.

     Second, there are reasons to think that Athanasius’ list is not the earliest complete list we possess. In the recent festschrift for Larry Hurtado, Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado (The Library of New Testament Studies), I wrote an article entitled, “Origen’s List of New Testament Books in Homiliae on Josuam 7.1: A Fresh Look.”

     In that article, I argue that around 250 A.D., Origen likely produced a complete list of all 27 New Testament books–more than a hundred years before Athanasius. In his typical allegorical fashion, Origen used the story of Joshua to describe the New Testament canon:

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 17

In the Shadow of Your Wings
17 A Prayer Of David.

6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
7 Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.

8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9 from the wicked who do me violence,
my deadly enemies who surround me.

10 They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11 They have now surrounded our steps;
they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
12 He is like a lion eager to tear,
as a young lion lurking in ambush.
13 Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,

ESV Study Bible

Do We Have the Original Text? Some Optimism in Textual Criticism

By Michael J. Kruger 12/3/2014

     Over the last few decades, the world of textual criticism has had a less than an optimistic feel about it. While the central purpose of textual criticism has traditionally been the recovery of the “original” text (regardless of whether one is dealing with the New Testament or any ancient text), some are now suggesting that it should not necessarily be the goal of the discipline.

     Bart Ehrman, commenting on the attempts to recover the original text, declares, “It is by no means self-evident that this ought to be the goal of the discipline…there may indeed be scant reason to privilege the ‘original’ text over forms of the text that developed subsequently” (“Text as Window,” 361, n.1).

     In addition, others have express substantial skepticism about whether the “original” text can even be recovered at all. Helmut Koester has argued that the text has changed dramatically in the earliest time period of its transmission–a period prior to our earliest copies–and thus scholars are “naive” if they think it can be recovered (“Text of the Synoptic Gospels in the Second Century,” 19).

     Now, it is important to recognize that these scholars are correct in many ways. Prior generations of scholars have perhaps given too little attention to the complexities and challenges in recovering the original text of the New Testament. And it is correct that we cannot have absolutely 100% certainty regarding every single textual variation.

     That said, I thought it might be helpful to also revisit the more optimistic voices within in the practice of textual criticism. One key question is whether the original text has been lost entirely (and thus appears in none of our manuscripts), or whether our manuscripts (at least somewhere) contain the original text. Here are just a few quotes from scholars who think that the original text is still in our possession:

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Is the Original Text of the New Testament Lost? Rethinking Our Access to the Autographs

By Michael J. Kruger 5/13/2015

     One of the standard challenges for New Testament textual criticism is whether we can work our way back to the original text. Some scholars are notoriously skeptical in this regard. Since we only have later copies, it is argued, we cannot be sure that the text was not substantially changed in the time period that pre-dates those copies.

     Helmut Koester and Bart Ehrman are examples of this skeptical approach. Koester has argued that the text of the New Testament in the earliest stages was notoriously unstable. Most major changes, he argues, would have taken place in the first couple centuries.

     Ehrman makes a similar case. Since we don’t have the originals, and only copies of copies of copies, then who knows what the text was really like before our extant copies were made.

     But is it really true that we only possess copies of copies of copies? Is there really an enormous gap, as Koester and Ehrman maintain, between the autographs and our earliest copies?

     A recent article by Craig Evans of Acadia University suggests otherwise.  In the most recent issue of the Bulletin for Biblical Research, Evans explores the question of how long manuscripts would have lasted in the ancient world, and whether that might provide some guidance of how long the autographs might have lasted–and therefore how long they would have been copied.

Click here for entire article

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     1. From what has been said above, it must now be clear, that all whom, from the beginning of the world, God adopted as his peculiar people, were taken into covenant with him on the same conditions, and under the same bond of doctrine, as ourselves; but as it is of no small importance to establish this point, I will here add it by way of appendix, and show, since the Fathers were partakers with us in the same inheritance, and hoped for a common salvation through the grace of the same Mediator, how far their condition in this respect was different from our own. For although the passages which we have collected from the Law and the Prophets for the purpose of proof, make it plain that there never was any other rule of piety and religion among the people of God; yet as many things are written on the subject of the difference between the Old and New Testaments in a manner which may perplex ordinary readers, it will be proper here to devote a special place to the better and more exact discussion of this subject. This discussion, which would have been most useful at any rate, has been rendered necessary by that monstrous miscreant, Servetus, and some madmen of the sect of the Anabaptists, who think of the people of Israel just as they would do of some herd of swine, absurdly imagining that the Lord gorged them with temporal blessings here, and gave them no hope of a blessed immortality. [226] Let us guard pious minds against this pestilential error, while we at the same time remove all the difficulties which are wont to start up when mention is made of the difference between the Old and the New Testaments. By the way also, let us consider what resemblance and what difference there is between the covenant which the Lord made with the Israelites before the advent of Christ, and that which he has made with us now that Christ is manifested.

2. It is possible, indeed, to explain both in one word. The covenant made with all the fathers is so far from differing from ours in reality and substance, that it is altogether one and the same: still the administration differs. But because this brief summary is insufficient to give any one a full understanding of the subject, our explanation to be useful must extend to greater length. It were superfluous, however, in showing the similarity, or rather identity, of the two dispensations, again to treat of the particulars which have already been discussed, as it were unseasonable to introduce those which are still to be considered elsewhere. What we propose to insist upon here may be reduced to three heads:--First, That temporal opulence and felicity was not the goal to which the Jews were invited to aspire, but that they were admitted to the hope of immortality, and that assurance of this adoption was given by immediate communications, by the Law and by the Prophets. Secondly, That the covenant by which they were reconciled to the Lord was founded on no merits of their own, but solely on the mercy of God, who called them; and, thirdly, That they both had and knew Christ the Mediator, by whom they were united to God, and made capable of receiving his promises. The second of these, as it is not yet perhaps sufficiently understood, will be fully considered in its own place (Book 3 chap. 15-18). For we will prove by many clear passages in the Prophets, that all which the Lord has ever given or promised to his people is of mere goodness and indulgence. The third also has, in various places, been not obscurely demonstrated. Even the first has not been left unnoticed.

3. As the first is most pertinent to the present subject, and is most controverted, we shall enter more fully into the consideration of it, taking care, at the same time, where any of the others requires explanations to supply it by the way, or afterwards add it in its proper place. The Apostle, indeed, removes all doubt when he says that the Gospel which God gave concerning his Son, Jesus Christ, "he had promised aforetime by his prophets in the holy Scriptures," (Rom. 1:2). And again, that "the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets," (Rom. 3:21). For the Gospel does not confine the hearts of men to the enjoyment of the present life, but raises them to the hope of immortality; does not fix them down to earthly delights, but announcing that there is a treasure laid up in heaven, carries the heart thither also. For in another place he thus explains, "After that ye believed [the Gospel,] ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption of the purchased possession," (Eph. 1:13, 14). Again, "Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel," (Col. 1:4). Again, "Whereunto he called you by our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ," (2 Thess. 2:14). Whence also it is called the word of salvation and the power of God, with salvation to every one that believes, and the kingdom of heaven. [227] But if the doctrine of the Gospel is spiritual, and gives access to the possession of incorruptible life, let us not suppose that those to whom it was promised and declared altogether neglected the care of the soul, and lived stupidly like cattle in the enjoyment of bodily pleasures. Let no one here quibble and say, that the promises concerning the Gospel, which are contained in the Law and the Prophets, were designed for a new people. [228] For Paul, shortly after making that statement concerning the Gospel promised in the Law, adds, that "whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law." I admit, indeed, he is there treating of a different subject, but when he said that every thing contained in the Law was directed to the Jews, he was not so oblivious as not to remember what he had said a few verses before of the Gospel promised in the Law. Most clearly, therefore, does the Apostle demonstrate that the Old Testament had special reference to the future life, when he says that the promises of the Gospel were comprehended under it.

4. In the same way we infer that the Old Testament was both established by the free mercy of God and confirmed by the intercession of Christ. For the preaching of the Gospel declares nothing more than that sinners, without any merit of their own, are justified by the paternal indulgence of God. It is wholly summed up in Christ. Who, then, will presume to represent the Jews as destitute of Christ, when we know that they were parties to the Gospel covenant, which has its only foundation in Christ? Who will presume to make them aliens to the benefit of gratuitous salvation, when we know that they were instructed in the doctrine of justification by faith? And not to dwell on a point which is clear, we have the remarkable saying of our Lord, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad," (John 8:56). What Christ here declares of Abraham, an apostle shows to be applicable to all believers, when he says that Jesus Christ is the "same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," (Heb. 13:8). For he is not there speaking merely of the eternal divinity of Christ, but of his power, of which believers had always full proof. Hence both the blessed Virgin [229] and Zachariah, in their hymns, say that the salvation revealed in Christ was a fulfilment of the mercy promised "to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever," (Luke 1:55, 72). If, by manifesting Christ, the Lord fulfilled his ancient oath, it cannot be denied that the subject of that oath [230] must ever have been Christ and eternal life.

5. Nay, the Apostle makes the Israelites our equals, not only in the grace of the covenant, but also in the signification of the Sacraments. For employing the example of those punishments, which the Scripture states to have been of old inflicted on the Jews, in order to deter the Corinthians from falling into similar wickedness, he begins with premising that they have no ground to claim for themselves any privilege which can exempt them from the divine vengeance which overtook the Jews, since the Lord not only visited them with the same mercies, but also distinguished his grace among them by the same symbols: as if he had said, If you think you are out of danger, because the Baptism which you received, and the Supper of which you daily partake, have excellent promises, and if, in the meantime, despising the goodness of God, you indulge in licentiousness, know that the Jews, on whom the Lord inflicted his severest judgments, possessed similar symbols. They were baptised in passing through the sea, and in the cloud which protected them from the burning heat of the sun. It is said, that this passage was a carnal baptism, corresponding in some degree to our spiritual baptism. But if so, there would be a want of conclusiveness in the argument of the Apostle, whose object is to prevent Christians from imagining that they excelled the Jews in the matter of baptism. Besides, the cavil cannot apply to what immediately follows--viz. that they did "all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ," (1 Cor. 10:3, 4).

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream

By John Bunyan 1678

THE FOURTH STAGE

     Then there came to him a hand with some of the leaves of the tree of life, the which Christian took and applied to the wounds that he had received in the battle, and was healed immediately. He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given him a little before: so, being refreshed, he addressed himself to his journey with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, I know not but some other enemy may be at hand. But he met with no other affront from Apollyon quite through this valley.

     Now at the end of this valley was another, called the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Christian must needs go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it. Now, this valley is a very solitary place. The prophet Jeremiah thus describes it: “A wilderness, a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought, and of the Shadow of Death, a land that no man” (but a Christian) “passeth through, and where no man dwelt.”

Jer. 2:6  They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD
who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
in a land that none passes through,
where no man dwells?’
  ESV

     Now here Christian was worse put to it than in his fight with Apollyon, as by the sequel you shall see.

     I saw then in my dream, that when Christian was got to the borders of the Shadow of Death, there met him two men, children of them that brought up an evil report of the good land

Num 13:32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height.

making haste to go back; to whom Christian spake as follows.

     CHR. Whither are you going?

     MEN. They said, Back, back; and we would have you do so too, if either life or peace is prized by you.

     CHR. Why, what’s the matter? said Christian.

     MEN. Matter! said they; we were going that way as you are going, and went as far as we durst: and indeed we were almost past coming back; for had we gone a little further, we had not been here to bring the news to thee.

     CHR. But what have you met with? said Christian.

     MEN. Why, we were almost in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but that by good hap we looked before us, and saw the danger before we came to it.

Psa. 44:19  yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
  ESV

Psa 107:19  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
  ESV

     CHR. But what have you seen? said Christian.

     MEN. Seen! why the valley itself, which is as dark as pitch: we also saw there the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit: we heard also in that valley a continual howling and yelling, as of a people under unutterable misery, who there sat bound in affliction and irons: and over that valley hang the discouraging clouds of confusion: Death also doth always spread his wings over it. In a word, it is every whit dreadful, being utterly without order.

Job 3:5  Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
Let clouds dwell upon it;
let the blackness of the day terrify it.
  ESV

Job 10:22  the land of gloom like thick darkness,
like deep shadow without any order,
where light is as thick darkness.”
  ESV

     CHR. Then, said Christian, I perceive not yet, by what you have said, but that this is my way to the desired haven.

Psalm 44:18-19 18  Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
19  yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
  ESV

Jer. 2:6  They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD
who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
in a land that none passes through,
where no man dwells?’
  ESV

     MEN. Be it thy way; we will not choose it for ours.

     So they parted, and Christian went on his way, but still with his sword drawn in his hand, for fear lest he should be assaulted.

     I saw then in my dream, so far as this valley reached, there was on the right hand a very deep ditch; that ditch is it into which the blind have led the blind in all ages, and have both there miserably perished. Again, behold, on the left hand there was a very dangerous quag, into which, if even a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on: into that quag king David once did fall, and had no doubt therein been smothered, had not He that is able plucked him out.

Psa. 69:14  Deliver me
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
  ESV

     The pathway was here also exceeding narrow, and therefore good Christian was the more put to it; for when he sought, in the dark, to shun the ditch on the one hand, he was ready to tip over into the mire on the other; also, when he sought to escape the mire, without great carefulness he would be ready to fall into the ditch. Thus he went on, and I heard him here sigh bitterly; for besides the danger mentioned above, the pathway was here so dark, that ofttimes when he lifted up his foot to go forward, he knew not where, or upon what he should set it next.

     About the midst of this valley I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and it stood also hard by the wayside. Now, thought Christian, what shall I do? And ever and anon the flame and smoke would come out in such abundance, with sparks and hideous noises, (things that cared not for Christian’s sword, as did Apollyon before,) that he was forced to put up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon, called All-prayer,

Eph. 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,   ESV

so he cried, in my hearing, O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

Psa. 116:4  Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”
  ESV

     Thus he went on a great while, yet still the flames would be reaching towards him; also he heard doleful voices, and rushings to and fro, so that sometimes he thought he should be torn in pieces, or trodden down like mire in the streets. This frightful sight was seen, and these dreadful noises were heard by him for several miles together; and coming to a place where he thought he heard a company of fiends coming forward to meet him, he stopped, and began to muse what he had best to do. Sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then again he thought he might be half-way through the valley. He remembered also, how he had already vanquished many a danger; and that the danger of going back might be much more than for to go forward. So he resolved to go on; yet the fiends seemed to come nearer and nearer. But when they were come even almost at him, he cried out with a most vehement voice, I will walk in the strength of the Lord God. So they gave back, and came no farther.

     One thing I would not let slip. I took notice that now poor Christian was so confounded that he did not know his own voice; and thus I perceived it. Just when he was come over against the mouth of the burning pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stepped up softly to him, and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind. This put Christian more to it than any thing that he met with before, even to think that he should now blaspheme Him that he loved so much before. Yet if he could have helped it, he would not have done it; but he had not the discretion either to stop his ears, or to know from whence these blasphemies came.

     When Christian had travelled in this disconsolate condition some considerable time, he thought he heard the voice of a man, as going before him, saying, Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

Psa. 23: 4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
  ESV

     Then was he glad, and that for these reasons:

     First, Because he gathered from thence, that some who feared God were in this valley as well as himself.

     Secondly, For that he perceived God was with them, though in that dark and dismal state. And why not, thought he, with me? though by reason of the impediment that attends this place, I cannot perceive it.

Job 9:11  Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not;
he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
  ESV

     Thirdly, For that he hoped (could he overtake them) to have company by and by.

     So he went on, and called to him that was before; but he knew not what to answer, for that he also thought himself to be alone. And by and by the day broke: then said Christian, “He hath turned the shadow of death into the morning.”

Amos 5:8  He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning
and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the LORD is his name;
  ESV

     Now morning being come, he looked back, not out of desire to return, but to see, by the light of the day, what hazards he had gone through in the dark. So he saw more perfectly the ditch that was on the one hand, and the quag that was on the other; also how narrow the way was which led betwixt them both. Also now he saw the hobgoblins, and satyrs, and dragons of the pit, but all afar off; for after break of day they came not nigh; yet they were discovered to him, according to that which is written, “He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.”

Job 12:22  He uncovers the deeps out of darkness
and brings deep darkness to light.
  ESV

     Now was Christian much affected with this deliverance from all the dangers of his solitary way; which dangers, though he feared them much before, yet he saw them more clearly now, because the light of the day made them conspicuous to him. And about this time the sun was rising, and this was another mercy to Christian; for you must note, that though the first part of the Valley of the Shadow of Death was dangerous, yet this second part, which he was yet to go, was, if possible, far more dangerous; for, from the place where he now stood, even to the end of the valley, the way was all along set so full of snares, traps, gins, and nets here, and so full of pits, pitfalls, deep holes, and shelvings-down there, that had it now been dark, as it was when he came the first part of the way, had he had a thousand souls, they had in reason been cast away; but, as I said, just now the sun was rising. Then said he, “His Candle shineth on my head, and by his light I go through darkness.”

Job 29:3  when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness,   ESV

     In this light, therefore, he came to the end of the valley. Now I saw in my dream, that at the end of the valley lay blood, bones, ashes, and mangled bodies of men, even of pilgrims that had gone this way formerly; and while I was musing what should be the reason, I espied a little before me a cave, where two giants, Pope and Pagan, dwelt in old times; by whose power and tyranny the men whose bones, blood, ashes, etc., lay there, were cruelly put to death. But by this place Christian went without much danger, whereat I somewhat wondered; but I have learnt since, that Pagan has been dead many a day; and as for the other, though he be yet alive, he is, by reason of age, and also of the many shrewd brushes that he met with in his younger days, grown so crazy and stiff in his joints that he can now do little more than sit in his cave’s mouth, grinning at pilgrims as they go by, and biting his nails because he cannot come at them.

     So I saw that Christian went on his way; yet, at the sight of the old man that sat at the mouth of the cave, he could not tell what to think, especially because he spoke to him, though he could not go after him, saying, You will never mend, till more of you be burned. But he held his peace, and set a good face on it; and so went by, and catched no hurt. Then sang Christian,

“O world of wonders, (I can say no less,)
That I should be preserved in that distress
That I have met with here! O blessed be
That hand that from it hath delivered me!
Dangers in darkness, devils, hell, and sin,
Did compass me, while I this vale was in;
Yea, snares, and pits, and traps, and nets did lie
My path about, that worthless, silly I
Might have been catch’d, entangled, and cast down;
But since I live, let Jesus wear the crown.”

     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.


  • Make Me Understand It!
  • It Is I Myself
  • Gifts of the Ascended Lord


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The marriage covenant (1)
     2/1/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘For those who are married, I have a command that comes…from the Lord.’

(1 Co 7:10) To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband ESV

     Having God’s blessing on your marriage is contingent upon your operating according to His rules. To enjoy His protection, peace, and prosperity you must follow His instructions. For example, you can spend hours arguing and still not resolve the issue, when if you’d just followed God’s rules, the argument could have been over in a matter of minutes. And both parties would have been satisfied at the end of the process. When your car breaks down, you take it back to the dealership. Why? Because they sold it to you and they know how to fix it! God performed the first marriage. So, when your relationship gets into trouble, if you’re wise you’ll talk to Him about it before talking to each other. Furthermore, when you get married with the attitude, ‘If this doesn’t work out I can always get a divorce,’ you’re running in the opposite direction from the truth of God’s Word. Paul writes: ‘For those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife’ (vv. 10-11 NLT). Yes, there are some acceptable reasons for divorce, but they are the exception and not the rule! Recently a Hollywood celebrity spent millions of dollars on her wedding and then divorced her husband two months later on the grounds of ‘incompatibility’. When you say, ‘Till death us do part,’ you say it before God and you’re supposed to mean it.

Exodus 19-20
Matthew 18:21-35

UCB The Word For Today

Unlocking the Secrets
     Of the Last Supper

     Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother, received the Jewish sign of circumcision, and grew up in a Jewish town in Galilee. As a young man, he studied the Jewish Torah, celebrated Jewish feasts and holy days, and went on pilgrimages to the Jewish Temple. And, when he was thirty years old, he began to preach in the Jewish synagogues about the fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures, proclaiming the kingdom of God to the Jewish people. At the very end of his life, he celebrated the Jewish Passover, was tried by the Jewish council of priests and elders known as the Sanhedrin, and was crucified outside the great Jewish city of Jerusalem. Above his head hung a placard that read in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19).

     As this list demonstrates, the Jewishness of Jesus is a historical fact. But is it important? If Jesus was a real person who really lived in history, then the answer must be “Yes.” To be sure, over the centuries, Christian theologians have written books about Jesus that don’t spend much time studying his Jewish context. Much of the effort has gone into exploring the question of his divine identity. However, for anyone interested in exploring the humanity of Jesus—especially the original meaning of his words and actions—a focus on his Jewish identity is absolutely necessary. Jesus was a historical figure, living in a particular time and place. Therefore, any attempt to understand his words and deeds must reckon with the fact that Jesus lived in an ancient Jewish context. Although on a few occasions Jesus welcomed non-Jews (Gentiles) who accepted him as Messiah, he himself declared that he had been sent first and foremost “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5). This means that virtually all of his teachings were directed to a Jewish audience in a Jewish setting.


Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Five dollars was all she was paid by the Atlantic Monthly Magazine for her poem, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was published this day, February 1, 1862. The Union’s theme song during the Civil War Julia Ward Howe wrote it while visiting Washington, D.C., and seeing it teem with military, galloping horses and innumerable campfires. Sleeping unsoundly one night, Julia Ward Howe penned: “In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea; With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me: As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     But periods of dawning simultaneity and steadfast prayer may come and go, lapsing into alternation for long periods and returning in glorious power. And we learn to submit to the inner discipline of withdrawing of His gifts. For if the least taint of spiritual pride in our prayer-growth has come, it is well that He humble us until we are worthy of greater trust. For though we begin the practice of secret prayer with a strong sense that we are the initiators and that by our wills we are establishing our habits, maturing experience brings awareness of being met, and tutored, purged and disciplined, simplified and made pliant in His holy will by a power waiting within us. For God Himself works in our souls, in their deepest depths, taking increasing control as we are progressively willing to be prepared for His wonder. We cease trying to make ourselves the dictators and God the listener, and become the joyful listeners to Him, the Master who does all things well.

     There is then no need for fret when faithfully turning to Him, if He leads us but slowly into His secret chambers. If He gives us increasing steadiness in the deeper sense of His Presence, we can only quietly thank Him. If He holds us in the stage of alternation we can thank Him for His loving wisdom, and wait upon His guidance through the stages for which we are prepared. For we cannot take Him by storm. The strong man must become the little child, not understanding but trusting the Father.

     But to some at least He gives an amazing stayedness in Him, a well-nigh unbroken life of humble quiet adoration in His Presence, in the depths of our being. Day and night, winter and summer, sunshine and shadow, He is here, the great Champion. And we are with Him, held in His Tenderness, quickened into quietness and peace, children in Paradise before the Fall; walking with Him in the garden in the heat as well as the cool of the day. Here is not ecstasy but serenity, unshakableness, firmness of life-orientation. We are become what Fox calls "established men."


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Our ideals, laws and customs should be based on the proposition that each generation, in turn, becomes the custodian rather than the absolute owner of our resources and each generation has the obligation to pass this inheritance on to the future.
--- Alden Whitman


Seeing you make this tremendous effort to come, showing your sympathy, solidarity, and belief in the future of Israel, this to us is tremendous. We bless you and consider you a part of the accomplishment of the prophetic vision spoken of by Zechariah in chapter 14.
--- Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren
[To Christians standing in support of Israel - September 1980]

I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition … we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.
--- Sir John C. Eccles (1903-1997)

So he had them into the slaughter house, where was a butcher killing a sheep. And behold, the sheep was quiet and took her death patiently. Then said the Interpreter, "You must learn of this sheep to suffer, and put up wrongs without murmurings and complaints. Behold how quietly she takes her death! And without objecting she suffereth her skin to be pulled over her ears. Your King doth call you his sheep.
--- John Bunyan

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 7:1-5
     by D.H. Stern

1     My son, keep my words,
store up my commands with you.
2     Obey my commands, and live;
guard my teaching like the pupil of your eye.
3     Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4     Say to wisdom, “You are my sister”;
call understanding your kinswoman;
5     so that they can keep you from unknown women,
from loose women with their seductive talk.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                The call of God

     For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. ---
1 Cor. 1:17.

     Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel; but remember what Paul means by “the gospel” viz., the reality of Redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are apt to make sanctification the end-all of our preaching. Paul alludes to personal experience by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We are nowhere commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification; we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (
John 12:32). It is a travesty to say that Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to redeem the whole world, and place it unimpaired and rehabilitated before the throne of God. The fact that Redemption can be experienced by us is an illustration of the power of the reality of Redemption, but that is not the end of Redemption. If God were human, how sick to the heart and weary He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation, for our sanctification. We tax His energies from morning till night for things for ourselves—something for me to be delivered from! When we touch the bedrock of the reality of the Gospel of God, we shall never bother God any further with little personal plaints.

     
John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoplee to myself.”

     The one passion of Paul’s life was to proclaim the Gospel of God. He welcomed heart-breaks, disillusionments, tribulation, for one reason only, because these things kept him in unmoved devotion to the Gospel of God.


My Utmost for His Highest

Inside
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Inside

I am my own
  geology, strata on strata
  of the imagination, tufa
  dreams, the limestone mind
  honeycombed by the running away
  of too much thought. Examine
  me, tap with your words'
  hammer, awaken memories
  of fire. It is so long
  since I cooled. Inside me,
  stalactite and stalagmite,
  ideas have formed and become
  rigid. To the crowd
  I am all outside.
  To the pot-holing few there is a way
  in along passages that become
  narrower and narrower,
  that lead to the chamber
  too low to stand up in,
  where the breath condenses
  to the cold and locationless
  cloud we call truth. It
  is where I think.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The First Chapter / Imitating Christ and Despairing all Vanities on Earth

     HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord. (John 8:12) By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.

     The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

     What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.

     This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides.

     Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.” (Eccles. 1:8) Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God.


The Imitation Of Christ

Teacher's Commentary
     The Story of Joseph

     The story of Joseph has fascinated laymen and scholars for centuries. As a man Joseph is one of the Bible’s most commendable characters. And his experiences remind us in many ways of Jesus. As a historical record, the portrait given in Genesis of life in Egypt has been demonstrated to be amazingly accurate—amazing at least to those who used to argue that Joseph’s story was written a millennium or so after the supposed events. Leon Wood ( Survey of Israel's History, A ) summarizes some of the details in the Genesis account that ring so true.

     "Corroboration of details in this overall story with contemporary Egyptian practices and customs illustrates the accuracy of the biblical record. The titles, “chief of the butlers,” and “chief of the bakers,” occur both in Genesis 40:2 and extant Egyptian texts. Famines were known in Egypt and the idea of persons being assigned to dispense food during these famines is borne out in tomb inscriptions. One inscription even speaks of a seven-year famine at the time of the Third Dynasty (2700 B.C.). Indication is made on the Rosetta Stone that the Pharaoh had a custom of releasing prisoners on his birthday, as he did the butler (40:20). Joseph shaved before seeing Pharaoh (41:14), and shaving was a distinctive practice of Egypt. Pharaoh gave Joseph a signet ring, linen clothing, and a gold chain (41:42), all three of which are mentioned in Egyptian texts for similar use. Some scholars have objected to the idea of Joseph, a Semite, being elevated to such a high position in Egypt; but a letter dating from the Amarna period has been found written to a person in similar position having the Semitic name Dudu (David). It fits too that the Twelfth Dynasty, ruling at this time, had now moved the capital back from Thebes to the northern site of Memphis. Joseph was thus more accessible to his brothers coming down from Canaan, as the continuing story indicates, and also to them living later in Goshen after Jacob’s arrival."

The Teacher's Commentary
Take Heart
     February 1

     In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up.
--- Luke 16:23.

     At death we are going to lose something, each of us. ( Classic Sermons on Heaven and Hell (Kregel Classic Sermons Series) ) We are going to lose the physical. We are going to lose our possessions. Whatever may be our material wealth in this world, we may depend on it that the hands of the dead are not clutching hands. Our shrouds will have no pockets. Death will rob us of all that is material.

     But there is one something that death cannot take away from us. It cannot rob us of ourselves. Yesterday I was myself. I will be myself still tomorrow. I will continue to be myself as long as heaven is heaven, as long as God is God.

     In spite of this fact, however, there is a tremendously great tendency to believe that death will work a moral change, that you can lie down one moment self-centered, sin-conquered, godless—and by the mere act of dying, wake up the next moment holy, sinless, and Christlike. It is absolutely false. If Christ does not save you in the here and now, do not expect death to accomplish what he was unable to accomplish. If the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cleanse you from all sin, do not be so mad as to expect that cleansing at the hands of the undertaker, the shroud, and the coffin. Believe me that as death finds you, so you will be the instant after when you open your eyes in the world unseen.

     The truth of the matter is that God has no way of getting anyone into heaven who has hell in his or her own heart. You cannot mix the living and the dead even in this life.

     So the conclusion of the whole matter is this: Forever you are going to live. Forever you are going to be yourself. You are going to have to keep house with yourself for all eternity. Forever you are going to remember. Forever you are going to enjoy or suffer the destiny that you make for yourself while in this life. If it sounds foolish, remember it is the foolishness of him who spoke the way no one ever spoke. If it seems heartless, remember that it is the heartlessness of infinite love. Remember, too, that though some people are lost, no one needs to be lost. Everyone can be saved who will. This minute you can be saved if you will only be wise enough and brave enough to make a right choice. “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” Will you come? Will you come now?
--- Clovis Gillham Chappell


Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day   February 1
     Stubbornly Generous

     In the fifth century, according to Irish church tradition, a king impregnated a slave, and the baby, Brigid, was raised a servant who grew up grinding corn, washing feet, tending livestock, and giving the king’s bacon to hungry dogs and his butter to working boys.

     Losing patience, he took her nearby intending to sell her. He entered the castle to settle the arrangements. A leper passed by, and Brigid gave him her father’s battle sword from the chariot. The king was enraged, and the prospective husband backed out, saying that he could not afford such a wife.

     Brigid was beautiful and full of spunk, and since she loved music and conversation, her father arranged her marriage to a poet. But resolving to belong only to Christ, Brigid found the man another wife, then deserted the castle.

     Her father thought it good riddance.

     Brigid sought other women wanting to belong only to Christ, and with seven of them she organized a community of nuns like the communities of monks established by Patrick. The monastic settlement at Kildare became a buzzing compound within a great stone wall and peppered with thatched-roof buildings. Artists’ studios, workshops, guest chambers, a library, and a church evolved. This and similar settlements became beehives of industry, producing some of the most beautiful craftsmanship in Europe. The slaves and the poor bettered their lot by becoming artisans.

     Brigid herself traveled by chariot as an evangelist through the countryside, helping the poor, preaching the gospel, and organizing nunneries. By her death on February 1, c. 453, 13,000 women had escaped from slavery and poverty to Christian service and industry. Throughout ensuing centuries, Christians across Ireland have placed St. Brigid’s crosses of woven straw over their doors on February 1, and housekeepers have repeated a rhyme bidding them give a portion of their butter to working boys.

     If you forget to bring in a stack of harvested grain, don’t go back in the field to get it. Leave it for the poor, including foreigners, orphans, and widows, and the LORD will make you successful in everything you do.
--- Deuteronomy 24:19.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 1

     “They shall sing in the ways of the Lord.” --- Psalm 138:5.

     The time when Christians begin to sing in the ways of the Lord is when they first lose their burden at the foot of the Cross. Not even the songs of the angels seem so sweet as the first song of rapture which gushes from the inmost soul of the forgiven child of God. You know how John Bunyan describes it. He says when poor Pilgrim lost his burden at the Cross, he gave three great leaps, and went on his way singing ---

     “Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
     The Man that there was put to shame for me!”


     Believer, do you recollect the day when your fetters fell off? Do you remember the place when Jesus met you, and said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; I have blotted out as a cloud thy transgressions, and as a thick cloud thy sins; they shall not be mentioned against thee any more for ever.” Oh! what a sweet season is that when Jesus takes away the pain of sin. When the Lord first pardoned my sin, I was so joyous that I could scarce refrain from dancing. I thought on my road home from the house where I had been set at liberty, that I must tell the stones in the street the story of my deliverance. So full was my soul of joy, that I wanted to tell every snow-flake that was falling from heaven of the wondrous love of Jesus, who had blotted out the sins of one of the chief of rebels. But it is not only at the commencement of the Christian life that believers have reason for song; as long as they live they discover cause to sing in the ways of the Lord, and their experience of his constant lovingkindness leads them to say, “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” See to it, brother, that thou magnifiest the Lord this day.

     “Long as we tread this desert land,
     New mercies shall new songs demand.”


          Evening - February 1

     “Thy love to me was wonderful.” --- 2 Samuel 1:26.

     Come, dear readers, let each one of us speak for himself of the wonderful love, not of Jonathan, but of Jesus. We will not relate what we have been told, but the things which we have tasted and handled-of the love of Christ. Thy love to me, O Jesus, was wonderful when I was a stranger wandering far from thee, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Thy love restrained me from committing the sin which is unto death, and withheld me from self-destruction. Thy love held back the axe when Justice said, “Cut it down! why cumbereth it the ground?” Thy love drew me into the wilderness, stripped me there, and made me feel the guilt of my sin, and the burden of mine iniquity. Thy love spake thus comfortably to me when, I was sore dismayed—“Come unto me, and I will give thee rest.” Oh, how matchless thy love when, in a moment, thou didst wash my sins away, and make my polluted soul, which was crimson with the blood of my nativity, and black with the grime of my transgressions, to be white as the driven snow, and pure as the finest wool. How thou didst commend thy love when thou didst whisper in my ears, “I am thine and thou art mine.” Kind were those accents when thou saidst, “The Father himself loveth you.” And sweet the moments, passing sweet, when thou declaredst to me “the love of the Spirit.” Never shall my soul forget those chambers of fellowship where thou has unveiled thyself to me. Had Moses his cleft in the rock, where he saw the train, the back parts of his God? We, too, have had our clefts in the rock, where we have seen the full splendours of the Godhead in the person of Christ. Did David remember the tracks of the wild goat, the land of Jordan and the Hermonites? We, too, can remember spots to memory dear, equal to these in blessedness. Precious Lord Jesus, give us a fresh draught of thy wondrous love to begin the month with. Amen.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 1

          WALK IN THE LIGHT

     Bernard Barton, 1784–1849

     But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from every sin. (1 John 1:7)

     How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior
     Led in paths of light.
     --- E. Hewitt


     Walking in the light means walking as Christ walked while here on earth—seeking to imitate His life style in all that we do. When we walk in the light, our paths become illuminated and purposeful, and there is a glow of warmth and love in our lives that makes us want to care for the needs of others. This life of love is not merely a soft sentimental feeling—but rather a life of action.

     Sometimes we as Christians seem to minimize this basic quality in our lives. We spend our time seeking the unusual and “deep” truths of the Scriptures or arguing with those with whom we may differ. A life devoid of Christ’s tender love for others, both fellow-believers and non-believers, can negate much of our Christian witness. The Bible teaches that a life without love, counts for nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1–3).

     Walking in the light is in the present tense. It is a new experience with God each day. It is always helpful to recall God’s faithfulness and leading in the past. But our past blessings must always be blended into the present wonder of walking this day with the Lord.

     The author of “Walk in the Light,” Bernard Barton, was known as England’s “Quaker Poet.” Although he never rose above the position of a bank clerk, his reputation as a man of letters was recognized by many literary leaders of his day. In all, Barton had 10 books of verse published, from which about 20 hymns came into usage.

     “Walk in the Light” first appeared in Barton’s Devotional Verses, published in 1926. Make walking in the light your experience today.

     Walk in the light! So shalt thou know that fellowship of love His Spirit only can bestow, who reigns in light above.
     Walk in the light! And thou shalt find thy heart made truly His, who dwells in cloudless light enshrined, in Whom no darkness is.
     Walk in the light! And thou shalt own thy darkness passed away, because that light hath on thee shone in which is perfect day.
     Walk in the light! And thine shall be a path, though thorny, bright: For God, by grace, shall dwell in thee, and God Himself is light.


     For Today: Psalm 36:9; John 8:12; Romans 12:10; 2 Corinthians 4:6.

     Consciously leave time in your schedule to be responsive to the needs of another.
Share Christ and His love with them. ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

One Body, One Spirit, One Hope
     Alistair Begg


Pt One





Pt Two




Leviticus 1 - 5
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


The Sin Cycle Leviticus 4:27-31
s2-063 | 2-15-2015






Leviticus 1-5
m2-060 | 2-18-2015




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Levitical 1- 4
Lean-into-GOD





Humility and Unity
Alistair Begg






One Lord
Alistair Begg





One Faith
Alistair Begg






My Help Comes From the Lord
Alistair Begg





The Beginning of Wisdom
Josh Moody






One Baptism | Alistair Begg





True Freedom | Alistair Begg






One God and Father of All
Alistair Begg





Over, Through and In All
Alistair Begg






Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul Jr. | Ligonier